With a cosmopolitan population of 950,000, Honolulu is Hawaii's largest city. It also is the hub of cultural, educational, political, dining, shopping, business and entertainment activities in the Aloha State.
After Captain James Cook put the Hawaiian Islands on the map of the world in 1778, Honolulu became an increasingly important stop for ships traveling between America and Asia. First came fur traders, who made fortunes exchanging otter pelts from the Pacific Northwest for teas, spices and silks from China. Later, fragrant sandalwood became such a prized commodity that Island forests were nearly stripped clean of it. Then came the whalers, who plied the seas relentlessly in search of the gentle giants that were the source of rich oil.
Around 1843, recognizing the importance of the harbor to local commerce, King Kamehameha III moved the capital of Hawaii from Lahaina, Maui to Honolulu, and it has held that designation ever since.
Honolulu Harbor bustles with activity every day of the week. Fishing boats, tugboats, tour boats, container ships, cruise vessels and barges berth at its piers. A mega-ship, NCL's Pride of America, even homeports year-round in the harbor (at Pier 2). Its centerpiece, Aloha Tower Marketplace, is a trendy shopping, dining and entertainment complex that sprawls over 11 waterfront acres. This is your jumping-off place for an unforgettable Oahu stay.
Honolulu Cruise Port Address: Pier 2 Cruise Terminal, 521 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96813
Most cruise ships visiting Honolulu dock at Piers 10-11, adjacent to Aloha Tower Marketplace. Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America, which is based year-round in Honolulu, cruises from Pier 2, about a quarter mile south of the marketplace. As a general policy, Aloha Tower Marketplace management will provide courtesy shuttle (trolley) service to port call visits at Pier 2.
Numerous banks are located in downtown Honolulu. Hours are generally 7:30 or 8:30 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with hours extended to 6 p.m. on Friday. Most offer foreign exchange services.
English is spoken everywhere.
Popular choices include items handcrafted from native woods (from bowls to sculptures to jewelry); bags and baskets woven from coconut fronds and the leaves of the hala tree; Niihau shell and seed lei; Hawaiian quilts; Island attire (aloha shirts and muumuu for the ladies); coffee table books; CDs featuring the music of local performers; artwork; bath and beauty products imbued with tropical scents; and food (teas, jams, jellies, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, and Island-grown pineapple and coffee). Stores in or near downtown Honolulu that specialize in made-in-Hawaii gifts include Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii (808-596-8885), Martin & MacArthur (808-524-6066) and Nohea Gallery (808-596-0074). If you're visiting Honolulu in August, you'll also find quality local products at the Made in Hawaii Festival at Neal Blaisdell Center (808-533-1292 x3).