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Being the capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is full of life and energy. Thanks to a great number of direct flights from North America, Asia, and the South Pacific region, it has turned into an important touristic destination. During your first trip to Honolulu, your major concern should be learning local history, touristic attractions, traditional cuisine, and traditions. With so many well-known sites to visit, deciding on the best things to do here can be quite challenging.
Honolulu is the place you want to visit again and again. Each time you come here, you can keep exploring the different sides of it. If you’re wondering about things to do in and around Honolulu, check out this list of the best local activities and attractions.
- Most interesting thing to do 1: Waikiki Beach
- Most interesting thing to do 2: Hanauma Bay Preserve
- Most interesting thing to do 3: Water Activities
- Most interesting thing to do 4: Iolani Palace
- Most interesting thing to do 5: Bishop Museum
- Most interesting thing to do 6: Pearl Harbor
- Most interesting thing to do 7: Chinatown
- Most interesting thing to do 8: Diamond Head State Monument
- Most interesting thing to do 9: One-Day Tour
- Most interesting thing to do 10: Koko Crater
During your vacation, make sure you find time for visiting one of the local beaches. The crystal clear water and breath-taking landscape will be inspiring you from the moment your plane lands here.
By the way, Waikiki Beach can be extremely busy so that you’d better go there early in the morning to have a nice place. Alternatively, you can find a more secluded beach that is most likely located in Oahu. If you want to have an excursion-like beach experience, it is highly recommended to see the beaches on the North Coast. Whatever beach you visit, the main point is always to have the sun cream in your bag. Seriously, a sunburn in Honolulu can grow into a serious issue.
Waikiki Beach is probably the most famous beach in this area that has many fun things to do for the whole family. Believe it or not, this place once caught attention of the monarchs. The two-mile sand determined its easy-to-reach location and colorful scenery. Thus, it has become a perfect place to swim, surf, or just sunbathe on the sand. If you want to enjoy the colorful sea world, you may know more about snorkeling gear while exploring chaotic waves.
Interesting: If it’s all about the beach for you, make sure to see the famous surf lines of Sunset Park and the other coves of the north. This is where looking for valuable things can become the best routine during summer months. Another great option is to join a Sunset Journey.
Hanauma Bay is a basin formed thousands of years ago in a volcanic crater. Today, it is a well-known life conservation area inhabited by the rarest animal species. The bay is located in the background of the Koʻolau Mountain Range in the southern part of Oahu Island. It is usually reached from the central streets of Honolulu.
Before snorkeling, you can watch a video explaining how to preserve the bay and safely snorkel. After getting familiar with a video on preservation efforts and reef safety, you will feel excited about snorkeling. Once you are there, you can rent snorkel equipment. But if your visit is a part of a tour, your snorkel gear will most likely be included in your tour expenses.
If you love nature, snorkeling here will become your most favorite thing to do here. A breath-taking ocean landscape and the tropical scenery will make you want to stay there for a while. The popularity of this place can be observed in the constantly growing number of visitors that reaches 3,000 people daily in the high season. In fact, there are more and more people that are interested in donning the snorkels and exotic swimming in the shallows. We cannot blame them for that! The shores famed for their marine variety of plants and animal life have lots of beautiful things to offer, from cuttlefish to squid!
Interesting: Remember that the park cannot be accessed on Tuesdays as the marine ecosystem requires a day of rest.
Apart from sunbathing, a trip to Honolulu cannot be complete without trying at least one water activity. While you are considering the range of activities to experience in Honolulu, try to be adventurous by trying one of the following things:
- Kayak surfing
- Scuba diving
- Jet skiing
- Spinnaker flying
The southern coast of Oahu Island has become home to endless surf areas, many of which are well-known across the world. If you take the crashing Bowls of Ala Moana and the related beach area, you will be able to enjoy relaxing vacation vibes.
Waikiki Beach is a good place both for the beginner wave riders and experienced sportsmen. Alternatively, the fast-going swells of Sunset Beach and the never-ending tubes of the Banzai Pipeline can also be tried for various water activities. By the way, Honolulu offers a wide spectrum of cruises for travelers to enjoy. Whether you are interested in a snorkeling adventure or a traditional dinner cruise, you can hop in the water and enjoy Oahu!
Sailing out on the open ocean can be a great idea. It can be even better if it is accompanied by an island-style dinner and a free drink. It’s a relaxing routine that brings real vacation vibes. Pay attention to sea life while being on the sail! Daytime sailing can be enjoyable too if you are striving for a bit of a tan. That cruise may involve the dolphin and octopus sightings.
Interesting: The list of water activities in Honolulu is led by Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran, while Swimming with Dolphins and Turtles in the Wild is the second popular choice. The prices for the most popular tours vary from 150$ to 200$ per person.
Do you know that Hawaii is considered to be the only US state having its own royal family? Iolani Palace happens to be the place reminding about the monarchic background of this region. It was established by king David Kalakaua, who travelled across the world to find inspiration for this great project.
The place of nestling of the Kalakaua Dynasty is located in the heart of Honolulu. This 19th-century building is marked with a Francophone and Italianate charm to be observed on each of its terraces. Today, this architectural masterpiece is well-known for its ornate design and classic furnishings, which turn your visit to Iolani Palace into a trip to another century. This building functions as a museum that aims to tell us more about the past of Hawaiian monarchs. The special focus is made on the art and architecture of the 19th century. The so-called museum represents the private libraries of Queen Liliuokalani and King Kalakaua, as well as multiple artifacts and constant performances of the Royal Hawaiian Band.
During your visit to the palace, you can enjoy the beauty of indoor and outdoor areas. Thus, make sure you explore every corner before you leave. The visual attractiveness of Iolani Palace makes it suitable for the organization of free events. If you have an important event that is about to come, you may consider this building for hosting. Just consult the local event calendar before you arrange your visit.
Interesting: Iolani Palace implemented the electricity system years before the White House did.
The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum is among the most attractive natural history areas in Hawaii. It is focused on history and science in the historic Kalihi region of Honolulu. The museum offers a more scientific overview of Hawaii’s history, from its Polynesian culture to an “active” volcano exhibit. With the world’s largest selection of Polynesian cultural artifacts and natural history samples, it has become the biggest and the most influential museum. Apart from the interesting and engaging exhibits of Hawaiiana, the museum’s general library of natural history samples is over 24 million, of which the entomological selection alone involves around 14 million samples.
This amazing museum has its collections represented across five main buildings, including everything from ocean samples to an “active” volcano in the Science Adventure Center.
Interesting: Pay special attention to the oldest planetarium in Polynesia. The educational and research facility is oriented on the astronomical sciences by offering several programs that can be useful both for adults and children.
December 7, 1941 is a memorable day for the island of Oahu and the USA. The USS Arizona Memorial reminds the locals and tourists about the sacrifice that was made for the whole country. If you are interested in visiting this place, there are 1,300 free tickets offered for joining a one-hour program daily. As long as tickets to the memorial are there, all visitors are asked to be at the ticket desk to receive their tickets in advance.
Considering the schedule of your tour, you will have pretty much time to discover the whole area of Pearl Harbor. While exploring the Visitor Center is offered for free, tours on the other vessels are eligible for an additional charge. In fact, these tours are worth the price.
Here you will have an opportunity to see submarines that went through World War II. Also, there is a special place for the “Pearl Harbor Avenger,” the ship sank over 40 enemy vessels! By taking a self-guided audio tour, you will have a better understanding of that place.
Interesting: The territory is split into several separate parts. The Assembly Room provides visitors with an overview of the submerged deck. The Shrine Room involves a thoughtful memorial to dead and alive soldiers.
Being located between the Downtown and the surrounding areas of Kalihi-Palama, Honolulu’s Chinatown is one of the biggest and most authentic Oriental areas in the USA. It is full of life, especially in such spots such as the Maunakea Marketplace, Izumo Taishakyo, and dragon-topped Kuan Yin. Chinatown was developed by the first Chinese immigrants first reached the shores of Hawaii at the end of the 17th century. In a matter of time, the small street grew into the big district with 15 blocks. It functions as a significant hub for Asian people.
Visiting Chinatown without seeing its marketplaces doesn’t make any sense. Oahu Market is a great place for enjoying the variety of tropical fruits. Then, you can see the Yat Tung Chow Noodle Factory, where you may get surprised with pasta of different sizes and forms. If you are a fan of Asian cuisines, you will surely love the selection of tropical fruits at the local market.
Interesting: The Hawaii Heritage Center supports a walking tour of Chinatown that goes through several buildings with rich historical backgrounds. The guided tour involves multimedia exhibits with interviews, encouraging facts and images revealing the past events.
This monument is considered to be one of the most famous landscapes of the Aloha State’s capital. It is marked with energetic volcanic ridges and colorful coastal strips of central Honolulu. The landmark was formed when this simplest type of volcano on the edge of the Koʻolau Mountain Range blown violently into the air thousands of years ago. Many tourists get excited from the idea of walking and passing through tunnels and naturally built staircases. This way, they receive a great opportunity to enjoy breath-taking views of the Pacific Ocean and the whole city.
If you want to see the sunrise over Waikiki, you will have a great opportunity to do so by hiking up the iconic Diamond Head. The quiet but powerful volcano played host to a military base with the 1.6-mile trail hitting the top. Now, this happens to be a great adventure for locals and tourists. The two-hour hike is quite easy to handle with several switchbacks and a rocky staircase going through a tunnel. In the end, you’ll be amazed by great views of Waikiki and the other sites of Oahu. The lighthouse and the bunkers located close to the crater deserve special attention.
Interesting: Hiking in this place is free of charge, although you will need to pay for a parking place. The area is available for tourists from 6am to 6pm daily. If you want to have a bite before starting your trip, stop by Bogart’s Cafe that has a nice choice for breakfast and lunch.
Discovering the most hidden corners of this amazing island becomes easier with a 120-mile tour. The program is arranged by the local municipality on a daily basis. You’ll see everything from the amazing rocks of Makapu’u to the inspiring Waimea Bay. Make sure you keep your phone or camera charged to benefit from the wonderful photo opportunities you’ll get on this.
Interesting: This tour is real fun for all day that makes you feel the whole Oahu experience. Remember that the entire tour will last about 8 hours.
Koko Crater is a part of the District Park offers plenty of things to do, from adventurous hikes to picnic spots. This area starts on the southern borders of the city, taking it up the volcanic foothills of the Koʻolau Mountains and the waters of charming Hanauma Bay. Going through the cozy streets of Portlock, this nature reserve offers you a glimpse at the rocky frontier of the State. The path itself goes along the old train tracks that reach the mountain range here. This little nuance contributes to the uniqueness of this area. Active visitors will find it enjoyable to follow the trail, while nature lovers will be surprised by the beauty of the related Botanical Garden.
Interesting: To enter this touristic area, you are not eligible for an admission fee, although there might be some additional expenses afterward.