The capital and most populous area in the state of Hawaii, Honolulu means “sheltered bay” or “place of shelter” in Hawaiian. The city itself is located on the southeastern coast of the island Oahu, while the County of Honolulu encompasses the entire island. Settled by Polynesian migrants, Honolulu became a main stopping point for ships traveling between Asia and North America. Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1989 and became a state in 1959.
Waikiki is the most famous area in Honolulu. This neighborhood was once a popular retreat for Hawaiian royalty but is know considered a tourist district with many high-rise and historic hotels. One of the most famous beaches in the world, Waikiki beach is known both for its surfing, as well as for “Sunsets On the Beach,” which features free movies on an outdoor screen.
Honolulu is the center for music in Hawaii, with the Hawaii Opera Theater and the Honolulu Symphony, the oldest US symphony orchestra west of the Rockies. Also in Honolulu is the Honolulu Academy of the Arts which features the largest collection of Western and Asian art in Hawaii and a year-round film and video program. On the first Friday of each month there is an art walk in downtown Honolulu. Enjoy the tropical climate in any of the gardens, such as the Foster Botanical Garden or the Liliuokalani Botanical Garden.
Hawaiian food is a combination of traditional Hawaiian, Portuguese, American and Asian Pacific Flavors. Pacific "fusion" cuisine comes largely from this area. Seafood is popular, as are tropical fruits such as papaya, guava, pineapple, mango and banana. Hawaii is often recognized for the coffee beans grown on its islands. Attending a Hawaiian Luau is one of the best settings for enjoying the full range of Hawaiian cuisine and culture.