Navigating Honolulu: Locals' Favorite Beaches, Neighborhoods and More

Whether you’re moving or playing tourist for a week or two, you want to do what the locals do. In Honolulu, there’s no need to settle. Every one of Hawaii's islands has it's unique character but no place offers a taste of everything better than Oahu and the states capitol, Honolulu.

You can try the best Loco Moco in town, hang out at the most exotic beaches and find a home in the most popular neighborhoods. To help you experience Honolulu to the fullest, here are a few insights from locals passionate about the protected bay.*

1. Most common misconception about Hawaii? 

  • "Aloha!" means "hello." "Aloha" in Hawaiian actually means a combination of love, compassion and peace and the literal translation of "Aloha" is "the presence of breath."

  • People who live in Hawaii are Hawaiian.
    Nope, "Hawaiian" refers to Hawaiian natives who can follow their ancestry back to the Polynesian settlers who began populating the island around 300 CE.

  • This is a "Hawaiian Shirt" 
    Wrong again. It's actually called an "Aloha shirt" and in Hawaii, some Aloha shirts are actually considered pretty cool.

2. Favorite Beach

Although Honolulu has some spectacular beaches such the world famous Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head Beach, I would not limit the recommendation to Honolulu alone. Instead, HERE IS A LIST of my favorite beaches throughout the entire island of Oahu which you won't regret visiting.

3. Best way to experience the culture?

  • Experiencing the Hula: For a real, authentic hula experience on Oahu, check out the Bishop Museum, which stages excellent performances on weekdays, or head to the Halekulani's House Without a Key at sunset to watch the enchanting Kanoelehua Miller dance beautiful hula under a century-old kiawe tree. The first week after Easter brings Hawaii's biggest and most prestigious hula extravaganza, the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, in Hilo on the Big Island; tickets sell out by January 30, so reserve early. In May, Molokai holds the Ka Hula Piko Festival at Papohaku Beach Park, a wonderful daylong affair that celebrates the hula on the island where it was born.

  • Watching the Ancient Hawaiian Sport of Canoe Paddling (Oahu): From February to September, on weekday evenings and weekend days, hundreds of canoe paddlers gather at Ala Wai Canal and practice the Hawaiian sport of canoe paddling. Find a comfortable spot at Ala Wai Park, next to the canal, and watch this ancient sport come to life.

  • Attending a Hawaiian-Language Church Service (Oahu): Kawaiahao Church is the Westminster Abbey of Hawaii. The vestibule is lined with portraits of the Hawaiian monarchy, many of whom were crowned in this very building. The coral church is a perfect setting in which to experience an all-Hawaiian service, held every Sunday at 9am, complete with Hawaiian song. Admission is free; let your conscience be your guide as to a donation.

4. Favorite Hawaii Sport Team

No question - Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

If you happen to be in town during the season I can only recommed to stop by the stadium and talegate with the fans. A very welcoming atmosphere and true fan spirit will greet you.

5. Best Hawaiian Style Food

Two venues are sharing my gold medal in this category 

Helena's & Ono Hawaiian Food

Not much more I can say except - GET THERE ASAP and let me know if the commets how thankful you are.

6. Best up-and-coming neighborhoods?

Asking a realtor for up and coming neighborhoods is like asking a foody for his or her favorite restaurant. It can be just a matter of taste for certain weather conditions, future growth or distance to the beach. That being said, my pick will be: Kakaako

Due to the developments in Kakaako such as Ward Village and many other project that will follow, one can be sure that this neighborhood is and continuously will gain in popularity. The luxury condominium projects offer attractive returns for investors and promise the development of a walkable, hip neighborhood that will turn the current artsy district into Honolulu's "place to be" as soon as those promises come true.

UPDATE: Check out Howard Hughes' latest Penthouse Collection in the Anaha Tower


If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to help!

“Hono” means “bay” and “lulu” means “peaceful or protected.” Honolulu means “protected bay.”