The gorgeous ‘Iolani Palace is the only palace in the US that was ever used as an official residence by a reigning monarch. After the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, the Palace fell into disrepair but was beautifully restored and reopened to the public in 1978. Exhibits in the Palace tell the story of the fallen monarchy and the two monarchs who lived here: King Kalākaua, and his sister and successor, Queen Lili‘uokalani.
Honolulu’s two major art galleries are definitely worth visiting. The Honolulu Museum of Art has one of the largest collections of Asian art in the US alongside a major Western collection that includes works by many impressionist masters. The Contemporary Museum houses rotating exhibits of new work in a lovely estate that has beautiful views of the city.
The large and impressive Bishop Museum has a fantastic collection of Hawaiian artifacts, tracing the history of the Hawaiian people until annexation. The Museum is also slowly incorporating more science-based exhibits, including a planetarium, a natural history center, and a volcanology department.
The US Naval base at Pearl Harbor is well-remembered for the December 7, 1941 surprise attack by Japanese forces that killed more than 2,000 personnel and crippled the US Navy, bringing the US into World War II. Visitors pay homage to the fallen soldiers at several memorials on the base. The USS Arizona Memorial floats over the sunken USS Arizona battleship, where many who died on that day remain. Guarding it is the Battleship Missouri Memorial, where the Japanese military formally surrendered to the Allies, bringing World War II to a close.
Visitors can also tour the USS Bowfin, a decommissioned World War II submarine, and the Pacific Aviation Museum, where World War II fighter planes are on display.
A popular gay beach where Kapaluhu Avenue intersects with Kalakaua Avenue in the heart of Waikiki; a fairly secluded stretch of sand, along a section with no direct hotel frontage and a mostly gay-male crowd. There's no nudity here, and the cruising remains discreet, but it's a relaxed hang-out for making friends, and checking out what's going on around town.
The Honolulu Zoo, Kapiolani Park, and Waikiki Aquarium are all nearby. The grassy area above the beach has restrooms and snack bar, and some people prefer this over the sand as a tanning area. A volleyball court is located a bit further down from here. Hula's bar, also nearby in the Waikiki Grand Hotel, is a favorite place for after-beach drinks and snacks.