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One of the best views of Honolulu includes history and horizon — and it’s free! Aloha Tower is a vertical slice of land, water, sky and the many ways people inhabit them.
Aloha Tower was the tallest structure in Hawaii when it was built in 1926. The tenth floor observation deck has signs on all four sides that point out the visible landmarks, including Diamond Head, Honolulu Harbor, the Ko’olau Mountains and the various neighborhoods of Honolulu. The deck is reached through a vintage elevator; it is open to the public from 9:30 – 5:00 daily, admission is free.
According to its website, the tower “continues to function as the Harbor Master’s traffic control center for Honolulu Harbor and serves as a welcoming landmark for both cruise ships and container vessels.” From the tower or at ground level, you can watch cargo ships filled with containers (the size of the back of a semi-trailer truck) that are the life-blood of Hawaii commerce. They are maneuvered in and out of the harbor by tug boats in a precise aquatic ballet. The harbor traffic also includes cruise ships and Coast Guard vessels of various sizes.
Several restaurants have outdoor seating that overlooks the harbor. We often visit them for happy hour specials to enjoy sunset on the water. Most have live musical entertainment in the evenings. In addition to the restaurants, there are stores in the mall area and trinket/souvenir shops outside. It is a good place to shop for gifts from ukulele to clothing to key chains and everything in between — including decorated coconuts. I recommend it often due to the range of gifts available. Frequently, there are special events such as car shows or expos to add to the fun.
The tower stands as a pivot point between Honolulu harbor and the city. It is accessible by car, trolley, or bus. Its web site says the tower is the only place in the nation that combines a visitor attraction, a marketplace and a working commercial harbor facility. It is certainly unique and well worth a stop. Where could you possibly get more for less?