Have you ever thought about visiting Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital? Honolulu is a cosmopolitan city, located on the island of Oahu. It stretches along the southeastern shores of the island, from Pearl Harbor to Makapu’u Point. Want to have the greatest vacation of your life? Continue reading this article to find out the best things to do in the #1 tourist spot in Hawaii.
7 Places to Visit in Honolulu
- Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach is the number one tourist attraction in Honolulu, Oahu. Back when Hawaii was a monarchy, this beach was used by only Hawaiian royalty to surf and relax. You can lie back on the gold-colored sand and watch the beautiful blue water. Don’t want to sit back? That’s fine as most parts of the beach allow tourists to swim and surf in the waters. At some parts of the beach, different vendors offer kayaking and canoeing. If you want to get up close with aquatic life, we recommend snorkeling (when the beach allows it). *(Note: The beach is split into eight parts, so each part is different. Different parts has different things to do.
- Diamond Head State Monument
Visible from Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head (also known as Le’ahi by the locals) is a crater created by a volcanic eruption years ago. Today, Diamond Head is one of the most beautiful things to grace Oahu’s shoreline. Le’ahi has a trail leading up the crater. After following the trail and reaching the summit, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Waikiki Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Make sure you bring your camera, as this is a perfect place for pictures.
*(Note: Beat the crowds by coming early and bring plenty of water as there is none on the trail.)
- Pearl Harbor/ WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument
The WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument was erected in honor of brave fighters in the Pacific. This is also the home of the USS Arizona Memorial, which is the final resting place for 1,177 sailors who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. At this memorial, you can pay your respects to those who died fighting for our America. When taking a tour of the USS Arizona, you get to watch a documentary of the ship, spend 15 minutes at the site, and boat ride to and from the site. Visiting the site on this tour is free of cost. *(Note: Expect wait times as many tourists visit this memorial. If you are purchasing your ticket at the tour site, come before 9 am as the tickets are a first-come, first-serve basis.
- Honolulu Museum of Art
The Honolulu Museum of Art is the largest museum of its kind in the whole state of Hawaii. It has two campuses; the main campus is located in the city center while the sister campus (the Spalding House) is located about 2 miles away. Pay the entrance fee for one, and you can visit both in the same day. The Honolulu Museum of Art holds some pieces of European painters such as Picasso and van Gogh, but it is more known for its Asianartwork. It is said that this museum holds one of America’s best Asian art collections. Visitors also recommend taking a look at the Arts of Hawaii exhibit. Both campuses are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 4:30 PM (Spalding House is open only until 4 PM). It costs $20 for adults, and it is free for those 17 and under.
- Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Hanauma Bay is a beautiful marine sanctuary that is located in a crater. When you arrive at Hanauma Bay, you are required to watch a short video that teaches you about the marine life and the preservation of it. After that, you can go down into the crater to get in the water. Hanauma Bay was voted the #1 beach in the world in 2016, and for good reason too. You can lie down on the beautiful sand or dip into the cool, clear water. Also, it is an amazing place for snorkeling. The hours are from Wednesday to Monday from 6 AM to 6 PM. The preserve is closed every Tuesday. There is a $1 parking fee and a $7.50 entrance fee. For more information on pricing, visit the nature preserve’s website.
- ‘Iolani Palace
The ‘Iolani Palace was the royal home of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii back when Hawaii used to be a monarchy. Now, the place has been restored and decorated with elegant interior designs. This palace is a real glimpse of the previous royal Hawaii. The palace is open to the public for both self-guided and guided tours, which last about an hour. Guided tours for adults cost $21.75 and $6 for a child between 5 and 12. Children younger than 5 must be strapped into a child carrier or stroller at all times. Tours take place every fifteen minutes between 9 and 10 AM on Tuesdays to Thursdays and between 9 and 11:15 AM on Fridays and Saturday. You can also choose an audio tour, which lasts 45 minutes and are available from noon to 4 PM on Monday through Saturday. For more information, visit the palace’s website.
- Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls is a gorgeous 100 ft. waterfall that sits 5 miles northeast of downtown Honolulu. It is the most accessible waterfall in Oahu. The waterfall can be seen after taking a dense, rainforest trail for about .8 miles (1.5 miles round trip). It was on this trail that filmmaker Steven Spielberg filmed scenes of Jurassic Park. After following the gravel trail, you will be able to see the water crashing down its rock face. At the bottom of the waterfall, there is a line that prevents tourists from getting too close to the waterfall. Still, some can be seen jumping into the cool, shallow pool. Entrance to visiting the falls is free, but it does cost $5 for parking at the trailhead. For more information, visit the Manoa Falls section on Hawaii’s Forestry & Wildlife Website.
7 Things to Do in Honolulu
- Swimming – Honolulu has many beautiful places to swim that you shouldn’t miss out on.
- Surfing – Catch a wave at Honolulu, one of the best places in the world to surf. Don’t know how to surf? That’s okay! Many places offer surfing lessons.
- Snorkeling – Be closer to the aquatic life when you go snorkeling at Honolulu, an amazing place for snorkeling.
- Canoeing/Kayak – Grab a canoe or kayak with your friends or family and go exploring!
- Stand up Paddleboard – Try Stand-up paddleboard in Honolulu. It is an amazing water sport!
- Eating – What better way to learn about the Hawaiian culture? Make sure you try the authentic Hawaiian food at your days in Honolulu.
- Explore– There are so many hidden things to do in Honolulu that many don’t know about. Go explore the city and enjoy!
*(Note: Many of the listed activities can be done at the places to visit listed above)
7 Best Places to Shop and/or Eat
- Ala Moana Center – this is the largest shopping center in Honolulu featuring 270 stores, including one of the world’s largest collection of luxury retailers in the world. There are also over 70 dining options available.
- Royal Hawaiian Center – this is a premiere shopping destination along with dining options located on the famous Kalakaua Avenue. It also features many luxury and designer brands.
- International Market Place – this shopping destination is filled with Hawaiian culture and history, such as its water features and the banyan tree that is over a century old. You can also grab a bite to eat at popular restaurants here.
- Waikiki Shopping Plaza–this plaza offers you five floors of shopping with several popular retailers. There is also an underground food hall.
- Honolulu Chinatown– just like any other Chinatown, you can smell the fruits, vegetables, and fresh meat as you walk through this market. Grab an Asian bite to eat at popular restaurants in Chinatown.
- Helena’s Hawaiian Food – this is one of the most popular Hawaiian food restaurants in Honolulu for both locals and tourists. It is a fan favorite because of its traditional food.
- Duke’s Marketplace – this has to be the best place in Honolulu for cheap souvenirs. Stop by to grab some Hawaiian woodwork or other island crafts.
7 Things to Bring to Honolulu
- Sunscreen – don’t fry in the sun!
- Comfortable footwear – you might be doing a great deal of walking, so make sure your feet are comfortable. Also, hiking shoes are recommended.
- Clothing/Swimwear – bring comfortable clothing to wear while exploring and proper swimwear for getting in the water
- Water Containers– it is best to bring these from home as water is not provided at many attractions
- Camera – keep the memories forever with pictures
- Proper ID’s – you will need these for certain activities, like renting something
- Extra batteries/chargers – keep the juice in your devices
If you wish to visit these places in Honolulu, like most other peoples, You can rent a charter bus. Because charter buses are the most convenient, comfortable and affordable mode of transportation especially for tour purposes.
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Enjoy your Vacation!