Discover Honolulu: Street Names

This post is part of an on-going series, Discover Honolulu, where we highlight the historic and cultural attractions of Hawaii’s largest city.  Ever wonder where Oahu’s biggest city got its street names from? It might seem daunting to delve into the depths of history behind street names like Kalakaua, Likelike, and Punchbowl. What exactly does it all mean? Trust Discover Hawaii Tours to clear things up for you with this simple, informative Honolulu Street Names guide!

Streets and their Meaning

Ala Moana Blvd “ala” = the, “moana” = Ocean or sea. “Ala Moana” loosely means “Ocean Way”
Alakea Street Meaning: “White Road”. This roadway originally passed over a stretch of coral rocks that were colored, what else, white! Beretania Street “Beretania” is the Hawaiian word for “Britain” or “British”. The Hawaii British Consulate was originally located on this road when Hawaii was an independent nation. Bishop Street A well-known and respected resident of Honolulu, Mr. Charles Bishop and his wife, Bernice Pauahi, lived on this street. Diamond Head Ave Diamond Head, Waikiki’s distinctive landmark mountain crater, got its English name when sailors discovered diamond-like crystals on its slopes. It’s true Hawaiian name is “Leahi”.
Fort Street Honolulu Fort was located at the end of this street during the reign of King Kamehameha the Great. Hotel Street The original Royal Hawaiian Hotel was located on this street near the Iolani Palace. Kalakaua Ave This street was named in honor of King David Kalakaua (1874-1891). Kapiolani Ave This street was named after Kalakaua’s wife, Queen Kapiolani. The queen was a direct descendant of the last independent king to rule Hawaii. Likelike Ave Named after Princess Miriam Likelike, whose older brother was Kalakaua. Kukui Street The oil of the Hawaiian Kukui tree, otherwise known as the Candlenut tree, was used by ancient Hawaiians to light lamps, dye materials, treat ailments, and craft leis. Merchant Street The first vendors of Chinatown set up shop here. The shopkeepers success flourished due to the proximity between the Honolulu harbor (where visitors and sailors arrived) and the residents and farmers living north of Honolulu, toward the mountains. Nimitz Highway Named in honor of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz of World War II. Nuuanu Ave Nuuanu is a mountainous valley district on Oahu. “Nu’u” means hilly, and “anu” means cold. Pali Highway “Pali” means cliff. The original “Old Pali Road” was a treacherous pathway located along the cliffs of Nu’uanu. The new Pali Highway was built in the 1950s and 1960s. Pauahi Street Bernice Pauahi, married to Charles Bishop, was a Hawaiian princess who turned down the opportunity to be queen. Punchbowl Street Sailors who visited Hawaii gave the mountain crater its name because it resembled a punch bowl. So be it. Punchbowl’s Hawaiian name is ”Puowaina,” or the “Hill of Sacrifice.”  Queen Street Hawaii was ruled by royal kings and queens before it was illegally annexed into the United States. And besides, there’s a King Street, so queens need a street, too!

Read more from the Discover Honolulu series

Chinatown Photo Tour Forgotten Honolulu: Hawaii’s Maritime Museum What is the Hawaii Royal Tomb? (Discover Hawaii News)

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