A city steeped in history and bursting with culture, the Hawaiian Capital city is a thing of wonder. With beautiful panoramic views and access to both the stunning Pacific Ocean as well as lush jungles, it’s no wonder Honolulu is consistently rated as one of the greatest in the country – in terms of visitors, and quality of life. Where else in America will you find a city that combines unique cultural institutions, a hub of industry, a love for the outdoors, and a chill vibe that puts SoCal to shame?
While Honolulu has its drawbacks like long commute times and a high cost of living, the beauty and the benefits far outweigh the negatives. And we’re here to show that there is more to Honolulu than the overcrowded, overdeveloped, tourist destination that so many think it is – because the city is much more than just the place for a layover to a “more Hawaiian” destination. In fact, here are 12 reasons Honolulu is a fantastic place to visit, or live.
1. Honolulu is a major tourist destination for Americans as well as others across the globe.
Hawaii is undoubtedly a major tourist destination for mainlanders, and while many opt to visit other less-developed Hawaiian Islands, the famous Waikiki alone accounts for approximately 44 percent of Hawaii’s tourist traffic. Where else can you explore a major city one day, hike in the jungle the next, and spend all your free time on the beach?
2. The city is bursting with energy.
From the soft energy of surfers waking up before sunrise to catch waves before work, to the spirited nightlife of Waikiki and bustling streets, Honolulu is a city teeming with energy and positive vibes – except maybe when you’re stuck in traffic.
3. BudgetTravel.com lists Honolulu as the third most beautiful city in the country – behind New York City and San Francisco.
With stunning white sand beaches, beautiful architecture, palm trees and the striking silhouette of Diamond Head, we’d like to argue that Honolulu is, in fact, the prettiest city in the country.
4. Honolulu is home to some of the country’s best beaches.
It wouldn’t be Hawaii without pristine beaches and sparkling turquoise waters. From the crystal waters and white sand of Waikiki Beach to the magnificent snorkeling destination of Hanauma Bay, Honolulu is home to some pretty incredible beaches.
5. The city is full of culture, and steeped in history.
If America is a melting pot of diversity, Hawaii is easily the best cultural soup around. With no true minorities, and a history that includes the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, there is no American city quite like Honolulu. If you’re looking for some cultural activities, Honolulu has got you covered – from the Honolulu Museum of Art to working Buddhist temples in the city’s Chinatown.
6. Honolulu is the greenest city in America, according to NerdWallet.com.
The state was one of the first to implement a ban on plastic bags, use of solar energy is widespread, and Honolulu was ranked as number one in air quality among large American cities.
7. Honolulu is a foodie’s heaven.
According to Conde Naste Traveler, Honolulu is an up-and-coming food destination; the city “ is in the midst of a culinary revolution with a bumper crop of new food trucks, farmers’ markets, pop-ups, and restaurants making it America’s latest gourmet destination.” And we definitely agree – from incredible local eats to scrumptious Japanese and Korean cuisine, Honolulu’s food scene is truly incredible.
8. You can easily escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Honolulu without ever leaving the city’s limits.
Head to Honolulu’s Manoa Valley to experience the beauty of Hawaiian jungles, bamboo forests and cascading waterfalls – just a few miles away from the city’s center.
9. And if jungles aren’t your thing, you can climb to the top of volcanoes.
Honolulu is home to two beautiful dormant volcano hikes: the crowded tourist destination that is Diamond Head, and the grueling, staircase climb that is a trek to the summit of Koko Head. Where else can you climb to the summit of a dormant volcano without leaving the city?
10. The city is a fascinating mix of architecture styles.
You won’t find a more eclectic mix of architecture styles in any other American city. From resort towers and the Gothic Cathedral of St. Andrews, to the distinct Hawaiian State Capitol Building and Doris Duke’s 14,000-square-foot Shangri La inspired by Islamic art, you’ll find architecture of all kinds in this vibrant city. You’ve even got King Kalakaua’s Iolani Palace, an architectural marvel that features elements seen nowhere else in the world.
11. According to the Gallup-Healthways Annual Well-Being Index, Honolulu is the second happiest city in America.
Urban Honolulu has shown consistently high overall well-being since the survey began in 2008, and I think I know why: Honolulu residents are healthy both physically and mentally, and they are surrounded by a sense of community and Aloha spirit. And really, how could you not be happy with Honolulu’s near-perfect weather and access to the best outdoor activities around?
13. And last, but certainly not least, Honolulu was featured in the number three spot on Forbes’ “The 15 Most Livable Cities In The U.S.”
With a firm grip on the importance of work-life balance, and a strong sense of community, it’s hard to deny the ease of life in Honolulu. While the cost of living is high, we care more about experiences and people than we do about material possessions.