Hawaii's capital and the island chain's biggest city is home to some of America's best-looking beaches and infamous for adjacent Pearl Harbor. Green mountains, the Koloau, flank Honolulu to the east, while the white sands of Waikiki and luminescent blue water running along two-miles to the southeast have long lured visitors to the area. With a skyline that properly distinguishes the downtown as a bustling metropolis, there are plenty of cultural offerings to be found in Honolulu between forays into the jungle and hard days on the beach.
Walk the city center to get a feel for the place—wander through Chinatown, stop for a look at 'Iolani Palace (the only royal palace in America), pass an afternoon perusing the Hawaii Art Museum and Honolulu Academy of Arts before collapsing into Waikiki's warm surf for a swim. An obvious not-to-miss is a trip to Pearl Harbor and the memorials commemorating those who died when the Japanese attacked on 7 December, 1941. Visit the Arizona Memorial just off-shore before paying respects at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park nearby commemorating the submariners who lost their lives during the war that followed. Round off your trip through history with a guided tour of 'Mighty Mo', the Missouri, the site of Japanese surrender in 1945.
Book a trip out to sea with one of the 'big game' fishing charters leaving from Honolulu Harbor. Reel in an assortment of the fish these waters are famous for if you're lucky and go home full of marlin and mahimahi.
Take a short hike up Diamond Head Trail for views out over the island; for more exercise and less crowded routes, traverse one of the paths that meander through the Koloau Mountains above Honolulu. Guided hikes are also available around the island, with several in the Honolulu vicinity if you are not overly keen on wandering around alone in the jungle with Hawaiian honeycreepers.
Honolulu is located on the southwest tip of Oahu, a five-hour flight from San Francisco.