Just got back from a week in Hawaii (Waikiki). It was raining about half the time we were there, so I spent several days checking out Honolulu instead of trying to swim or sunbathe. It isn’t the most exciting city in the world, but it’s different from any other city I’ve ever seen. It works fine as a Plan B if you go to Waikiki and it’s raining.
I don’t think Honolulu gets many tourists, so you’re seeing the city as it really is and not just a theme park that was set up for tourists. Most tourists just stay in Waikiki or go to other parts of Oahu or to the other islands. Most of Honolulu’s population is Japanese. (For that matter, Waikiki must be about 90% Japanese. This wasn’t true four years ago when we were last there.)
So you have an ultra-modern tropical city, pan-Asian, pan-Pacific. Japanese are the largest ethnic group by far, but there are lots of Chinese, Koreans, Southeast Asians, Filipinos, Hawaiians and other Polynesians. But the city didn’t remind me at all of Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines or Samoa (places I went in the Navy a long time ago).
The usual fast food franchises are everywhere, but outside of them most of the restaurants are Japanese/Korean/Chinese/Vietnamese.
With so many different ethnic groups, English seems to be everybody’s second language. I couldn’t believe how many conversations I heard in broken English, with everyone speaking their own version of Pidgin English.
So if you go to Waikiki and get rained out, don’t just sit and fume in your hotel room, or hang around the bars in Waikiki guzzling $10 Mai Tais. Take a half hour bus ride to downtown Honolulu. It’s different.