Sightseeing in Downtown Honolulu

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Enchanted by a walking tour of Manhattan he took in 2007, the Honolulu Star Bulletin reports, Casey Hewes decided that his hometown of Honolulu deserved a similar guided trek focused on its rich history and culture. After recruiting former police officer and fellow lifelong history buff Richard Wong, Hewes opened Ohana Walking Tours one year later. Richard meets patrons beneath the Aliiolani Hale archway—situated right behind the King Kamehameha statue—and leads a two-hour jaunt past such attractions and landmarks as the Iolani Palace and the mayor's office. Guests also visit numerous Hawaiian firsts, including the state's first church, police station, and pizzeria, which was formed by a cooling volcano full of ham and pineapple. Throughout the tour, Richard connects rich anecdotes about Honolulu's past with their relevance to contemporary issues affecting the city today.

417 South King Street
Honolulu,
HI
US

The story of the Ionali Palace is rich in drama and makes many historical novels look tame. After the original palace was razed because of severe termite damage, the second Ionali Palace that stands today was completed in 1882. Only King Kalākaua and Queen Lili’uokalani governed from the palace. The monarchy was overthrown in 1893 and by 1898 the U.S. flag flew over the palace. The only royal palace now part of the United States, it has been painstakingly restored and is located in downtown Honolulu. The palace is open Monday – Saturday (closed Sunday). There are two tour options – a docent-led tour and a guided audio tour which are 60 – 90 in length. Reservations are required and ticket purchase must be made at the Iolani Barracks.

364 S King St
Honolulu,
HI
US

Nestled in the luscious garden oasis of a historic missionary house, Mission Houses Museum Café and Tea Parlor immerses guests with bountiful varieties of tea, sandwiches, petite pleasure cakes, and exotic, leafy cups of mirth. The Lucia Holman's Tea package inaugurates balmy afternoons with assorted tea sandwiches served on an elegant platter ($39.90 for two). A medley of merry dessert pastries saunter across the table, stringing along drooling tongues and lazy suitors as freshly baked scones dance alongside homemade lemon curd and devonshire cream. Loose-leaf teas pour from a charitable spout caressing shallow cups with a warm splash of worldly beverages. Tea service is only valid on Fridays and Saturdays, and you must call ahead with an alphorn to make a reservation.

553 South King Street
Honolulu,
HI
US

WWII was a scandalous time for the Red Light District of Honolulu's infamous Chinatown. Though the area is now best known for its strong drinks, those tumultuous years turned the district into a destination for "boogie houses" and practitioners of the world's oldest profession. The guides at Honolulu Exposed lead 75-minute walking tours that explore the debauchery of that era. Groups depart from the historic Hawaii Theatre, then weave through the neighborhood's surrounding streets. Guides spin a rich narrative of the district's past, and attendees should be warned: they may hear occasional profanity, but that's par for the course considering the subject matter.

1130 Bethel Street
Honolulu,
HI
US

Taking its name from the Hawaiian word for "adopt", Hanai Tours helps visitors become better acquainted with the people, food, and culture of Honolulu. Over the past 10 years, founder [Ed Korybski] http://www.hanaitours.com/about.html) has promoted Honolulu's Chinatown by producing street festivals, setting up commemorative plaques, and rehabilitating the facades of historical buildings. Today, he and his guides lead curious tourists through the beloved neighborhood, taking them through pub crawls and restaurant samplings that allow them to taste some of the local specialties and ethnic dishes. A dessert tour, for example, might include a stop at Mauankea Marketplace and a taste of homemade mango ice cream or Chinese candies, while a tour of Pau Hana—once known as Chinatown's red light district—might focus on area nightlife destinations and samples of wine and sake. Regardless of the food served, each tour also includes interesting historical facts and stories enhanced by digital photographs and video.

1159 Nuuanu Avenue
Honolulu,
HI
US

Paradise Pedals Hawaii offers fun, pedal-propelled tours through the streets of Oahu on a 15-person ?bike caf?.? These Waikiki Tours on wheels are led by a guide and protected from the elements by the vehicle?s attached roof. Depending on the route, captains steer the road-ship to various bars, restaurants, and scenic beer gardens in the city.

1 Aloha Tower Drive
Honolulu,
HI
US