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honolulu dinner ship Star of Honolulu offers memorable excursions off the coast of Waikiki. From December through April, humpback whales are an additional attraction.

Colorful, spice-scented Chinatown is roughly bordered by King, Smith, Beretania and River streets. It's one of Honolulu's most fun neighborhoods to wander, with its open-air markets, historic buildings and mishmash of Asian cultures.

More than 4,000 species of tropical flora thrive in the 14-acre urban oasis known as Foster Botanical Garden, which often is used as a site for weddings and other special events. Some of our favorite spots include the Lyon Orchid Garden and the Butterfly Garden. Guided tours are available.

Select works from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts' eclectic collection are displayed in changing themed exhibits at the Hawaii State Art Museum, located on the second floor of the No. 1 Capitol District Building. Admission is free.

Dubbed the "Carnegie Hall of the Pacific," Hawaii Theatre opened on September 6, 1922 as the most lavish venue in Honolulu. Tours, usually offered Tuesday at 11 a.m. for $10, include a mini organ concert.

Reflecting the opulence of the royal courts of Europe, Iolani Palace was the residence of Hawaii's last reigning monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. Construction was completed in 1882; 11 years later, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown. On display in the basement are the Hawaiian crown jewels as well as a collection of ancient Hawaiian regalia. On the upper floors are state apartments and private quarters.

flags pearl harbor uss arizona memorial honolulu oahu hawaii World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument -- better known as the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor -- is one of Hawaii's most visited (and most moving) sites. Informative exhibits and a video presentation set the stage for a boat ride out to the wreckage of the USS Arizona, where you can still catch a glimpse of the doomed battleship. A white memorial marks the site.

Visit the Mission Houses Museum to learn how Hawaii's first missionaries lived. This complex of original 19th-century dwellings includes a white frame house that was precut in Boston, shipped around Cape Horn and assembled in 1821.

Dating back to 1842, Kawaiahao Church was built with more than 14,000 coral blocks quarried from reefs off Honolulu. This stately house of worship has been the site of numerous notable events, including the marriage of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. Services are held in English and Hawaiian.

The former home of Queen Liliuokalani, Washington Place has served as the official residence of the governor of Hawaii since 1921. Call at least 48 hours in advance for a tour of the historic mansion; among the treasures visitors can view is the queen's koa piano (she was a gifted musician and composer).

Celebrate First Friday. On the first Friday of each month, more than a dozen galleries in downtown Honolulu stay open until 9 p.m. to celebrate local art in all mediums. Be on hand to check out new exhibit openings, meet the artists, watch hands-on demonstrations, and enjoy refreshments, talks and live music. Free maps are dispensed at participating venues.

tiger shark hawaii North Shore Shark Adventures whisks you three miles from Haleiwa Harbor on Oahu's North Shore to meet Galapagos, sandbar, gray reef, hammerhead and tiger sharks ranging in size from four to 12 feet. You'll descend into the sea for a close look at these fearsome creatures, all the while perfectly safe within the confines of a seven-foot-tall barred cage.

Built in the late 1930's on five gorgeous acres overlooking the ocean and Diamond Head, elegant Shangri La was the home of the reclusive heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke. Striking architectural features and more than 3,500 treasures from throughout the Islamic world (including marble screens, tile panels, ceramics, textiles, carpets and paintings) are the highlights of the collection. Advance reservations for tours are highly recommended.

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