Many people who couldn’t recognize any other Hawaiian building could identify Aloha Tower, the distinctive landmark that was the highest building in these islands for many years. Today, it’s lost its title to the modern skyscrapers that have sprung up in Honolulu, but it remains one of the most historically important and architecturally interesting sights in the town. While here, be sure to explore the shops, restaurants and residences at its base.
Aloha Tower was built in 1926 as a mark of Honolulu’s status as a major port. Its architecture is an unusual mix of styles, combining ornate Gothic elements with the clear, straight lines of the art deco style most commonly associated with the period. Travelers aboard approaching ships would see this imposing building before they could clearly see anything else on the land.
Visit the tower to get a new perspective on Honolulu’s past and present. Admire the historic craftsmanship of the building’s exterior, then make your way up to the observation deck to take in some incredible panoramic views of the area. Pick out Honolulu’s most famous landmarks in the city spread below you on one side or turn and gaze out across the ocean, all the way to the horizon.
Down below, explore the Aloha Tower Marketplace, a multipurpose area that combines shops, event spaces and restaurants. This is a great spot for people-watching, as it also houses the residences associated with Hawai’i Pacific University and there are usually students milling around. Sip on a cold drink at a café with an ocean view, browse the shops or check what events are on. In the evenings, try to see a live performance here if you can. It’s a memorable way to experience Honolulu’s very particular ambiance.
Find Aloha Tower easily from anywhere in Downtown Honolulu. Just walk towards the oceanfront and look for a striking building rising high above most others. If you’re staying in Waikiki, reach it in around 15 minutes by car. A visit to this emblem of Hawaiian history and culture will change your view of these islands, in more ways than one.