Honolulu, Hawaii

When people think of heaven on Earth, they're usually picturing someplace that looks like Honolulu, Hawaii. This narrow city runs along the southeastern coast of Oahu and receives millions of visitors every year. They come from all over the world to enjoy Honolulu's unusual combination of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, cosmopolitan city life, and unique cultural heritage.

Honolulu is the capital of the United States' 50th state. It's Hawaii's most populous city with nearly 350,000 people. The island of Oahu is right in the middle of the Hawaiian archipelago, which makes Honolulu and its international airport the state's primary arrival point. As it's an island, nearly all visitors arrive by plane. However, Honolulu is also a mainstay of the vibrant cruise industry, so a small percentage of visitors arrive by sea.

Honolulu, Oahu, HawaiiThe word "Honolulu" means "sheltered bay" in the Hawaiian language, which describes this city nestled between sea and mountains perfectly. There is some evidence that the area of Honolulu has been populated since the 11th century. All the islands of Hawaii were separate entities until King Kamehameha I, from the Big Island of Hawaii, conquered Oahu and brought all the area's islands under his control. The king moves his court to Honolulu in 1804. His descendant, King Kamehameha III made Honolulu the capital city of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1845. One of Honolulu's most popular areas, the famed Waikiki neighborhood and its beach, is the exact area where Hawaii's royalty went to play.

Queen Lili'uokalani was overthrown by American anti-monarchists in 1893 and all of Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1898. Honolulu officially became an American city when 94 percent of the Hawaiian population voted to make Hawaii a state in 1959. Once it became a state, tourism to the area skyrocketed as more Americans learned about its great beauty. They came to enjoy places in Honolulu like the lush Ala Moana Park and Hanauma Bay, which was created when a volcanic crater filled with water centuries ago.

Tourism is one of Honolulu's main industries. However, the city's strategic location as the epicenter between East and West has made it a key hub for international trade and manufacturing. Its strategic location has also made it a popular place for military defense companies and installations. Pearl Harbor, site of Japan's infamous attack, is in Honolulu and now houses a museum and memorial worth visiting.

The temperate weather of Honolulu makes it easy to enjoy many outdoor activities, like swimming, kayaking, hiking, and parasailing. Its average temperature is 85 degrees and it only rains about 90 days each year. Everyone appreciates the light summer rains that are part of Honolulu's charm.