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Destination Guide

 
 
As the geographical center of the Pacific, Honolulu is also the entertainment capital of this vast region. Hawai'i is a top tourist destination, and there much to do and see in its many entertainment venues.

Art
Hawai'i is home to many world-class artists, and Honolulu has multiple galleries displaying their work. The Arts of Paradise Gallery in Waikikis International Marketplace features the art of 43 of Hawaiis best. The Wyland Gallery across Kalakaua Boulevard displays not only the beautiful and evocative undersea art of its famous namesake, but also that of several others. Many other fine art galleries are located nearby.

Downtown, the Honolulu Academy of Arts is a museum/gallery with more than 34,000 permanent works of art and an ever-changing roster of special exhibits. Serving the people of Hawai'i and the islands' many visitors for seven decades, this is a small complex with many wonders and delights to see. The Academy, which opened its doors to the general public in 1927, was the dream of Anna Rice Cooke, one of the daughters of New England missionaries. She was instrumental in acquiring a core group of artworks that set the standard for future selections. The museums primary mission was to be the institution of the arts where "East meets West." The Academy is continuing its mission into the 21st century through a variety of classes, exhibits and special events. There is a large main exhibit area that is used for three-month special exhibits. In addition, there are several other permanent galleries along with a wonderful shop and a delightful restaurant, The Garden Café, set in a tropical courtyard. The Academy is located in downtown Honolulu at 900 South Beretania and is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4:30pm and Sunday from 1-5pm. For 24-hour recorded information, phone +1 808 532 8701. You can also visit the website at http://www.honoluluacademy.org/.

Cinema
You can find almost any kind of movie you want in Honolulu, from first-release blockbusters to art films and the classics. The IMAX Theater in Waikiki has a sensational feature called 'Hidden Hawai'i?, which explores the beauty and wonders of the islands. Other screens feature an ever-changing schedule of titles produced for this dynamic medium. The nearby Waikiki Theatre is a complex of three large cinemas showing first-run features. Both this center and the IMAX theatre are close to all the hotels in Waikiki. In Honolulus prestigious Restaurant Row near downtown, nine cinemas with first-run features await. In the old Dole Cannery area on the other side of Honolulus downtown area there are The Signature Theatres. The King Street Cinema, located a few blocks toward the mountains when traveling from the Ala Moana Center, shows art, classic and foreign films.

Music and Dance of Polynesia and Beyond
The colorful islands of the Pacific are well represented in music and dance in Honolulu. Many of the hotels in Waikiki have showrooms with nightly, long-running shows that are first-rate. Two excellent choices are The Magic of Polynesia at the Waikiki Beachcomber and the legendary Don Ho Show at the same hotel. Many luaus are presented nightly around the island. (See the next section for more information.) The Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahus North Shore also presents daily and nightly music and dance extravaganzas.

Lovers of classical music should make a date with the The Honolulu Symphony, the oldest American orchestra west of the Rocky Mountains. It performs on the stage of the Blaisdell Center Concert Hall downtown. In April 1996, Hong Kong born conductor Samuel Wong was appointed music director. Now 100 years old, the highly reputed Symphony attracts some of the worlds finest guest conductors and soloists. Visit its web site at http://www.honolulusymphony.com. The Hawaii Opera Theatre has been entertaining lovers of the genre for 40 years. The theatres web site is: http://www.hawaiiopera.org/.

Those who appreciate the art of the dance have two options in Honolulu: Ballet Hawaii, teaching and performing in Manoa Valley, and The Hawaii State Ballet which performs at the comfortable Mamiya Theatre at St. Louis School.

Luaus
One of the most popular forms of entertainment for the visitor to Hawaii is the luau?a traditional Hawaiian festival party. Guests are served sumptuous food and drink and treated to a music and dance extravaganza. There are several great choices for luaus on O'ahu. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, on the beach at Waikiki, offers one of the best. Germains Luau is another favorite (+1 808 949-6626) as is the luau at Paradise Cove. On the North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center has one of the best nightly luaus to be found in all of the islands.

Museums
Honolulu boasts one of the most interesting local history and culture archives, the Bishop Museum. Located at 1523 Bernice Street downtown, this fascinating place was founded in 1889 by a member of Hawai'is royalty, Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The museums primary focus is on the islands of the Pacific Basin, but there is also a fascinating astronomy exhibit with many images from the Keck Observatory on the Big Island. The museums European classic architecture is itself a work of art. The main exhibit area, the Hawaiian Hall, is a Victorian-style design marvel adjacent to the Hawaiian Court?a place to rest and contemplate in a beautiful, serene garden setting.

Nearby on Beretania Street, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, mentioned above, is in its 8th decade. It displays the works of Hawaiian and Pacific Basin artists as well as special exhibits of world art.

Also downtown, the Mission Houses Museum allows one to step back in time to the early 19th century, when Honolulu was a bustling whaling port full of missionaries trying to convert the native Hawaiians to Christianity. There are three remaining houses dating from 1822 to 1863. They are open, as are most Honolulu monuments and museums, Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm.

For persons interested in Military history, the island of O'ahu offers many choices. At the northern end of Waikiki, you'll find the armys museum of 20th century history, Fort DeRussy. The mighty Battleship Missouri has been turned into a Navy and World War II museum at Pearl Harbor. Nearby, the USS Bowfin Museum has many exhibits about undersea warfare in the last century.

The Music Scene
Honolulu has several large venues for Rock and Pop music concerts. The most popular is the Neal Blaisdell Arena, located between downtown Honolulu and Waikiki. This great venue has a circular design with a maximum seating capacity of nearly 9000 persons. Conventions, sporting events and rock concerts can be accommodated within the immense space. Recent music events include Celine Dion and Carlos Santana.

Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Café Honolulu do their share to entertain the rock and pop fans visiting Waikiki.

Nightclubs
Honolulu, like most cities, has a wide variety of spots where nightlife flourishes. Most of these nightclubs are in the tourist area of Waikiki, and there is something for everyone. If country music and ambience is desired, , located in the Waikiki West Hotel, is the place to visit. Eurasia, on the second floor of the Hawaiian Nashville WaikikiRegent Hotel, features DJs and live bands with a mixture of rock and Asian pop. Virtual Experience on Lewers Street in Waikiki has Hip-Hop and R&B played by DJs nightly in a high-tech environment. In the Waikiki Trade Center you will find Zanzabar Nightclub. This is a large and luxurious club that concentrates on Disco and Soul music for dancing.

Breathless, also on Kuhio Street, is a combination restaurant and nightclub. The eatery is on the ground floor and the club on the second. The music is a mix of current rock hits and other styles played by live bands and DJs. Legends in Concert (on Kalakaua Boulevard) features Elvis and Barbra impersonators among others. Rounding out the Waikiki night spots are the Pipeline Café on Pohukaina Street, which styles itself a 'Boston-style sports bar" with dancing, and the Red Lion, with nightly entertainment and pool tables.

In the Aloha Tower Marketplace on the Port of Honolulu downtown, you'll find Chais Island Bistro. This spot features the best local Hawaiian performers and has a large dance floor. The Venus Nightclub, in back of the Ala Moana Center on Kapiolani Boulevard, is a high-energy dance bar that presents a male revue every Friday and Saturday evening.

There are countless karaoke and hostess-bars throughout Honolulu. Ala Moana is the main area for these establishments. The most active spots are on Kapiolani Boulevard between Kalakaua Avenue and Piikoi Street, and Keeamouku Street between Kapiolani and King. These days the bars are mostly Korean owed and operated, but their music list includes titles from all nations.

Theatre
Surprisingly, live theater has a strong presence in Honolulu. The premier house for plays of all kinds is the Diamond Head Theater on Makapuua Avenue in the shadow of the famous Waikiki landmark. Another venue for live theatre is the Manoa Valley Theatre near the University of Hawaii. This theatre presents 10 plays a year with a well-known company of actors. The Honolulu Academy of Arts in downtown Honolulu has a small theatre that sometimes presents plays and musical showcases.

Golf
One of the main reasons visitors come to the Hawaiian Islands is the abundance of beautiful golf courses. Honolulus home island of Oahu has a number of great choices. West of Pearl Harbor in Eva Beach, the Coral Creek Golf Course is a par 72 course that features coral rock formations in a lush tropical layout with cascading waters. On the North Shore, the Links at Kuilima is a par 72 course designed by Arnold Palmer. Its part of the Hilton Turtle Bay Resort. The Ala Wai Golf Course is adjacent to Waikiki, and offers the visiting golfer a convenient and reasonably priced option. If saving a few dollars is important, Stand By Golf (+1 808 553-8222) can get you next day and same day tee times at rates not offered by the courses.

Rodger Layng