The Historic Centre of Honolulu
"The only royal palace in the U.S.," 'Iolani Palace (tel. 808-522-0832 or 522-0823, www.iolanipalace.org) stands in the middle of a spacious park with large trees, between the State Capitol to the north and the Supreme Court (Ali'iolani Hale) to the south. Several annexes surround the palace, such as the 'Iolani Barracks and the Coronation Pavilion ('Iolani Bandstand), where the Royal Hawaiian Band (tel. 808-922-5331, www.royalhawaiianband.com) presents its concerts. Towards the south is the Ali'iolani Hale courthouse.
The Kawaiaha'o Church (957 Punchbowl St., tel. 808-522-1333) is nicknamed "the Westminster Abbey of Hawaii" and is the oldest stone church on O'ahu. It was made with some 14,000 slabs of coral, each with an average weight of half-a-ton, that were directly chiselled from the reef at a depth of between 3m and 6m!
Located north of the Capitol, the War Memorial commemorates the Hawaiian men and women who fought in the American Armed Forces.
Just west of Washington Place towers the great Gothic Revival-style St. Andrew's Cathedral (Queen Emma Square, tel. 808-524-2822, www.saintandrewscathedral.net). King Kamehameha V and his wife had this church built in 1867. The large stained-glass windows that frame the cathedral's entrance are magnificent.
A short drive along South Beretania Street will take you to the Honolulu Academy of Arts (900 S. Beretania St., tel.808-532-8701, www.honoluluacademy.org), the Hawaiian capital's main art museum. The academy's very diverse collections include a few magnificent pieces.
The museum offers a guided tour of Shangri La (tel.808-734-1941, www.shangrilahawaii.org), once the residence of Doris Duke, the rich heir of tobacco and electric energy tycoon James Buchanan Duke, who fell in love with Hawaii during her 1930s honeymoon trip around the world.
The Financial Centre and Chinatown
The Fort Street Mall, between Bishop and King streets, is a lively pedestrian shopping mall. A few of the mall's buildings huddle around the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace (1184 Bishop St.), the oldest Catholic cathedral in the United States (1843).
The bronze lions of the Chinatown Gateway Park mark the entrance of Honolulu's Chinatown. This lively area adds character to the grid of streets and skyscrapers of the adjacent downtown area. Pauahi Street leads to the nearby Hawaii Theatre (1130 Bethel St., tel. 808-528-0506, www.hawaiitheatre.com), the former "Carnegie Hall of the Pacific." Two blocks past Nu'uanau Avenue, Hotel Street crosses Maunakea Street, where all the lei shops are located. At the intersection of North King and Kekaulike is the Downtown Market. Many island cooks come here to buy their products.
On the other side of the river on Kukui Street stands the magnificent Izumo Taisha Temple, fronted by a grand torii entrance, a symbolic pi-shaped gate. Settled in Hawaii in 1905, this dissident Shinto religious movement has more than 400 temples in its native Japan
The Foster Botanical Garden (50 North Vineyard Blvd., tel. 808-522-7060, www.honolulu.gov/parks/hbg) is a great place for a stroll. It neighbours the Kuan Yin Temple, which honours the Chinese goddess of compassion and is the oldest Asian temple in Honolulu.