Originally settled by Polynesian immigrants roughly a thousand years ago, Honolulu has always been a central city in the Hawaiian archipelago—it was court to King Kamehameha and eventually home to some of the first Western settlements in the islands. Since then it’s become a major financial center, the State Capital, and a citywide celebration of the culture, diversity and natural beauty that make Oahu so wonderful and unique.
Along with all the Luau celebrations and grass skirts of the stereotypical Hawaiian adventure, Honolulu is also home to a thriving financial sector, headquarters to numerous banks & airlines … even military defense and international trading play a substantial role in the local economy.
Residents enjoy events like the Honolulu International Film Festival and impressive attractions like the Bishop Museum and the Honolulu Zoo—proving that Hawaii has much more to offer than just the traditional tourist experience.
That’s the real local secret, something the natives have known for over a thousand years now: the unique and lasting appeal of Honolulu.
A Sheltered Harbor for Happy Settlers
Centuries before the first Europeans ever arrived, Polynesian explorers made the seemingly impossibly journey across hundreds of miles of open ocean in small kayaks before arriving in the appealing harbor near Honolulu … a name that itself means “sheltered harbor.”
As Western expansion finally crept into the Hawaiian archipelago, the King decided to move his court to Honolulu—transforming the sheltered harbor into a fully modernized, American-style capital city. What followed was a century of violent and rapid growth, one which included the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and a massive influx of new immigrants.
Through it all, the city was gradually becoming the trade and financial capital of the State. Agriculture thrived on nearby islands and Oahu became the transportation hub for ferrying commerce and tourists back & forth.
Home to Hawaii’s main airport and booking some $10 Billion each year in revenues from tourism, the Honolulu of today offers one of the world’s highest standards of living. Downtown Honolulu is the political, financial and commercial center of the archipelago.
With a largely Asian (54%) population of roughly 390,000, Honolulu has cultivated a unique local culture with a vibrant nightlife and music scene. But with more than half of the state’s 7.2 Million tourists entering Hawaii through Honolulu Airport—and populating the city’s thousands of hotel rooms—the local culture has become even more elusive and ever-evolving …
The Great Pacific Melting Pot
One of the greatest things about the Hawaiian islands—besides the best-in-the-world weather—is the eclectic local culture … the patchwork of ancient tribal history mixed with the imported traditions of so many million immigrants.
That’s why you might eat the best fish tacos in your life from a beachside stand … then enjoy the latest in trendy Asian entertainment at the local theater. Paradise has a way of bringing out the best in the people around you, and Honolulu allows you to enjoy that like no place else.
Endowed with the largest single collection of Asian and Western Art in all of Hawaii, the Honolulu Museum of Art also offers a surprising variety of contemporary and even Islamic Art that could take days to work your way through.
There are incredible events, great local festivals and world-class resorts. Participate in the Aloha Run or the well-known Honolulu Triathlon.
You can visit the iconic Aloha tower or the Kawaiahao Church … take a ride on the charming Waikiki Trolley or just enjoy the overwhelming presence of nature at the Honolulu Zoo. From bike paths to hiking trails … from blissful surf and sun to endless snorkeling adventures, greater Oahu also offers every bit of tropical paradise we’ve come to expect from Hawaii.
It’s the kind of place where if you’re not overbooking your time off, you’re probably doing it wrong.
The Heart of the Hawaiian Economy
As mentioned above, Honolulu is the very heart of Hawaii’s tourist industry, its financial system and even the state’s political infrastructure. So far secluded from the rest of the United States, this puts the city (or the “town” as it’s jokingly referred to locally) in a position of immense power among Hawaii’s larger urban centers.
So it’s no surprise that a number of the State’s largest banks—including Bank of Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank, First Hawaiian Bank and more—have all chosen to set up their headquarters in Honolulu’s busy downtown.
And the city seems to be in good hands, too …
State officials are taking advantage of the thriving local economy to initiate a number of key projects that will improve Hawaii’s prospects well into the future.
Consider for example the new mandate to cut off the state’s addiction to foreign oil and transition to 100% renewable energy by 2045; cutting out some $5 Billion in excess energy costs each year.
And with major infrastructure projects already underway; from new residential construction to a massive $16.5 Million project on the city’s Airport, it seems clear that the local officials are doubling down on the most important parts of the city’s economy—and at a perfect time, too …
The Hottest of Tropical Markets
Back in 2009, the rush to rub elbows with Hawaii’s rich & famous reached a fever pitch; with rents in downtown Honolulu reaching the highest levels of any American metropolitan area. Prices have since cooled down, but the area remains characteristically expensive.
Condo developers are currently scrambling to keep up with the city’s booming condo demand—announcing new multi-million dollar projects on a regular basis—but prices are still high enough to price out most of the locals.
With attractive new low-rises offering spectacular beachfront views, it can be easy to see why so many buyers are purchasing vacation condos in Hawaii … and transitioning from being “Tourists” to being “Visitors” …