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”
Pauahi Street was named after Hawaiian princess Bernice Pauahi
Meaning: “White Road”. This roadway originally passed over a stretch of coral rocks that were colored, what else, white!
“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.
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”.
Diamond Head Crater, or "Leahi" from Waikiki Beach
Honolulu Fort was located at the end of this street during the reign of King Kamehameha the Great.
The original Royal Hawaiian Hotel was located on this street near the Iolani Palace
This street was named in honor of King David Kalakaua (1874-1891).
This street was named after Kalakaua’s wife, Queen Kapiolani. The queen was a direct descendant of the last independent king to rule Hawaii.
Named after Princess Miriam Likelike, whose older brother was Kalakaua.
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.
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.
Named in honor of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz of World War II.
Nuuanu is a mountainous valley district on Oahu. “Nu’u” means hilly, and “anu” means cold.
“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.
Bernice Pauahi, married to Charles Bishop, was a Hawaiian princess who turned down the opportunity to be queen.
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.”
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)