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Traveler Editor at Large Andrew McCarthy kept a home on Maui for nearly a decade in the late 1980s and early ’90s. “I always passed through Hawaii’s state capital as quickly as I could—a blemish on the face of paradise, was my uninformed opinion” he writes. Here he returns to Honolulu and goes beyond the mai tais and tiki torches to find a true-blue—and truly global—American city.

Chinatown in Honolulu

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An enclave of 19th- and 20th-century facades near downtown Honolulu, Chinatown turned gritty in the 1960s. But the markets, herbalists, and lei shops never lost their bustle, and a new wave of hot spots is bringing in a fashionable crowd.