Honolulu is the state capital and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Hawaii.[a] It is the county seat of the City and County of Honolulu. Hawaii is a major tourist destination and Honolulu, situated on the island of Oahu, is the main gateway to Hawaii and a major gateway into the United States.
Honolulu is both the westernmost and the southernmost major American city. For statistical purposes, the U.S. Census Bureau recognizes the approximate area commonly referred to as "City of Honolulu" (not to be confused with the "City and County") as a census county division (CCD). Honolulu is a major financial center of the islands and of the Pacific Ocean.
In the Hawaiian, Honolulu means "sheltered bay" or "place of shelter"; alternatively, it means "calm port". The old name is said to be Kou, a district roughly encompassing the area from Nuuanu Avenue to Alakea Street and from Hotel Street to Queen Street which is the heart of the present downtown district.
Naturally, when most visitors think of beaches here, they think of the famous Waikiki Beach. As the tourist center of the Hawaiian Islands, this white sand beach, framed by hotels and Diamond Head as a backdrop, is easily the most crowded. Waikiki is popular with a wide crowd, as it's a excellent place for swimming, sunbathers, catamaran and outrigger canoes, as well as a great spot for beginner surfers and body boarders.
Pearl Harbor, located in Western Honolulu and accessible by Bus #42 or #20, is well-remembered for 'December 7, 1941 - "a date which will live in infamy" (President Franklin D. Roosevelt), when an attack by Japanese forces killed over 2,000 personnel and brought the U.S. military into World War II. Today the harbor, still functioning as a navy base, is the site of several memorials honoring the fallen of that day and the rest of the war.
The centerpiece is the USS Arizona Memorial, which was built over the sunken hull of the USS Arizona battleship; the resting place of many who died that day. The memorial itself is accessed after an introductory movie and a short ferry ride, and lists the names of those lost as well as a chance to view the wreck.