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|Until the Europeans came, HONOLULU was insignificant; soon so many foreign ships were frequenting its waters that it had become Kamehameha's capital, and it remains the economic center of the island. The city covers a long (if narrow) strip of southern Oahu, but downtown is a manageable size, and a lot quieter than its glamorous image might suggest.
The tourist hotels, and most of Honolulu's hustle, are concentrated among the skyscrapers of very distinct WAIKIKI , a couple of miles east. The setting is beautiful, right on the Pacific and backed by dramatic cliffs and the extinct volcanoes of Punchbowl (a military cemetery) and Diamond Head ; but then beauty is not so rare a commodity on Hawaii, and you can see this sort of scenery in plenty of other places without a city in the middle of it.
What attracts most visitors to stay in Honolulu, and especially Waikiki, is the sheer hedonism of shopping, eating and generally hanging out in the sun. It's also the center of an exemplary public transportation system, facilitating exploration of the whole island.
Most of Honolulu's nightlife is concentrated in Waikiki, where fun-seeking tourists set the tone. On the whole, the available entertainment is on the bland side. Hawaii tends to be off the circuit for touring musicians, so if you enjoy live music you'll probably have to settle for little-known local performers (rising stars of contemporary Hawaiian music tend to prefer to keep their credibility by not playing in Waikiki too often). Look out also for special events at downtown's beautifully restored Hawaii Theater... more »