Known for its seaside shacks, rolling surf, and distinct culture, there is never a lack of things to do in Honolulu. The swelling waves call out to surfers from around the globe to come out and try their skills and the cuisine calls out to food lovers to give their taste buds a treat. The American-Polynesian state capital has something for everybody, from beach bums to lovers of history and culture.
- Relax and Surf: Waikiki Beach
- Visit and Learn Interesting History at Pearl Harbour National Memorial
- Must Visit for Lovers of Culture: Honolulu Museum of Art
- Know about The Royal Family: Iolani Palace
- Plan A Trip to Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail
- Enjoy The Power of Nature: Manoa Falls
- Eat and Drink in Chinatown
- Taste The Local Oahu Beers: Honolulu Beer Works
- Have Fun With Your Family: Honolulu Zoo
- Go and Check Diamond Head State Monument
Here, we take a deeper look at some of the best things to do in Honolulu so that you can plan your trip with ease.
Relax and Surf: Waikiki Beach
One of the most popular and relaxing things to do in Honolulu is to relax on Waikiki Beach. In times long past, the royal families of Hawaii would visit this famous beach to do just that. They would also indulge in a bit of surfing, much like the people do today. With its honey-coloured sand and delightfully high waves that show up during winter, this beach is perfect for those wanting to lounge about in the soft sand and surf lovers alike.
You can also stop by Kalakaua Avenue, which is just adjacent to the beach. You will find lovely places to shop and eateries to make your mouth water. The waters at Waikiki beach is clean and the sand is pristine. It is every beach lover’s paradise.
If that is not enough for you, you can even try out snorkelling so that you can get a better appreciation for the sea life. Spot colourful fish and sea turtles that call the waters of Waikiki their home. Just be cautious of jellyfish. You don’t want to be stung by one. The beach always puts out a warning when they are around, so pay attention for those.
Visit and Learn Interesting History at Pearl Harbour National Memorial
There are very few people who don’t know about the attack on Pearl Harbour. Made more famous than it already was when the 2001 film came out, the events that took place at Pearl Harbour was a tragedy for the United States of America. It was the spark that ignited the flames of war that officially brought this great nation into World War II.
If you are looking for things to do in Honolulu that will teach you a significant part of history, visiting the Pearl Harbour National Memorial is what you need to add to your list. It is situated to the northwest of downtown Honolulu. Here you will find the USS Arizona Memorial, the resting place for the 1,177 American Sailors that were killed when e Japanese launched their surprise attack. You will be able to see the battleship from the memorial, which floats right above it.
Considering the important role that this attack played in defining American and world history, there are many people who make a stop here, so you can expect to find a crowd. However, it is well worth the visit. If you visit the Pearl Harbour National Memorial before 7am, you will be able to avoid the worst of the crowd and get a worthwhile experience here. You can either buy a Walk-Up ticket, which follows the first come, first serve method, or you can pre-book your ticket. There are tours of the memorial that you can opt for and get a well-informed guide to teach you about what actually happened and how it impacted the nation.
Those with an artistic soul looking for things to do in Honolulu will love visiting the Honolulu Museum of Art. If you want to experience art that spans across time, different styles and the seas, this is the place to be. The Honolulu Museum of Art joined hands with Spalding House and will give you an experience that will satiate your thirst for knowledge about culture.
You can view works by famous European painters such as Gauguin, Picasso, Van Gogh and many others. There are also sections dedicated to the best Asian Art collections in America. If you love everything about Hawaii, then you will delight in the Arts of Hawaii section, where you can observe works created by Georgia O’Keefe’s landscapes of Maui and feather capes of the indigenous people. You should also ensure to make some time to visit the David Hockney installation, a feature that is permanent to Spalding House.
The Honolulu Museum of Art is located at a distance of a mile from Iolani Palace close to the eastern end of the hip city centre. While the tickets cost $20 for adults, those aged 17 or younger are able to visit for free. There is a café if you want refreshments, an art library as well as a gift shop. For those with a love for culture, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Honolulu.
Know about The Royal Family: Iolani Palace
To truly appreciate some of the culture of Hawaii, a visit to the Iolani Palace is something that needs to be on your list of things to do in Honolulu. It is the home of the last monarchs of Hawaii, King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, his sister. Iolani Palace is a proud heritage of Hawaii, telling the tale of the time when the last of the Hawaiian royalty walked its halls.
Built by the king in 1882, the Palace was the centre of social and political life until the monarchy was overthrown, an event that took place in 1893. In 1962, the Palace was deemed a National Historic Landmark and has been restored to the glory that it once held in former days.
Visiting this palace will give you a glimpse of Hawaiian culture that cannot be found anywhere else. Keep in mind that due to its prestigious status and the fact that it is the only State Royal Residence in the U.S, it is under strict supervision. Taking pictures inside is forbidden, and all visitors are requested to wear cloth booties so that the koa wood floors of the palace remain protected.
The palace is located near the black and gold statue of King Kamehameha, situated in downtown Honolulu. There are guided tours available so that you will be able to learn all about lives of the last royal family of Hawaii. You will also be able to browse through the gift shop at the palace so that you will be able to pick up a souvenir to remember the memorable experience.
Hawaii is not just a place for resting on the beach and touring the cultural aspects of the state. While those are worthwhile experiences, hiking is another one of the things to do in Honolulu that you should not miss out on. The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is about two miles long and is located around six miles to the northeast of Koko Centre.
The trail offers you the scenic Pacific Ocean, where you will get the chance to watch the graceful seabirds. Those who visit between November and May will also get a chance to see whales.
This path leads to Makapu’u Lighthouse, an old building that was built in 1909 and features a charming red roof. Hikers of all ages can enjoy this trail since it has paved paths, as well as benches all along the way for those that need to rest a bit.
Since the trail is so close to the ocean, it does experience a lot of the harsh elements such as the wind and sun, so be sure to always wear the appropriate clothing, carry water and don’t forget to apply sunscreen.
Enjoy The Power of Nature: Manoa Falls
Another great hiking experience that you can experience in Honolulu is taking a trip to Manoa Falls. The hiking trail is a mile and a half long and you will need to wear shoes with good grip since it is located near a waterfall. The scenery is amazing as you will get a glimpse of the rainforest. An interesting fact to note about this place is that it is where a few scenes from the movie Jurassic Park was filmed. If you are a fan of the movies, this may be one of the things to do in Honolulu that may excite you the most.
The path is great even if you have never gone on a hike before. It is sure to get your blood moving and reward you will breath taking views. You won’t need to fight through a crowd to be able to enjoy the beautiful water falls at this pretty spot. Hiking is allowed during the day, so you will have from sunrise to sunset to explore the area. In the parking area of the falls, you will find a gift shop, restrooms and a shop to get some snacks at.
One of the largest Oriental districts in America, Honolulu’s Chinatown is a place you must visit. It is an extremely authentic place and will be a delight for your taste buds if you love Chinese cuisine and oriental culture.
Filled with life, it should be high on the list of things to do in Honolulu for every foodie that visits the city. Make sure to drop by the Maunakea Marketplace to see the signature clock tower, painted red and decorated with Shan gables. The sights and smells will make your mouth water.
Sample the tropical fruits that you see and taste the delicious meats, marinated in soy sauce and sautéed to perfection. You can even visit some temples and shrines in the area such as Kuan Yin or Izumo Taishakyo’s Shino Shrine. For foodies, this will be the most rewarding of the things to do in Honolulu.
Taste The Local Oahu Beers: Honolulu Beer Works
There is nothing like a good, cold beer to make you feel good on a hot day, so head on out to the Honolulu Beer Works to sample some of their finest creations. It is known for being the premier brewery in the entire state.
Located in an industrial depot in Kaka’ako, the ambience combines the surfer shacks with an artistic vibe. There are many different types of beer to sample here, from the simple and pale Animal Farmhouse to the Pia Mahi’ai Farmer’s Beer, a spicy blend that packs a punch. You can also enjoy some fine meals here to complement your beer. This is surely one of the most satisfying things to do in Honolulu on a hot day or after some time in the sun.
Have Fun With Your Family: Honolulu Zoo
If you are wondering about things to do in Honolulu with the kids, take them to the Honolulu Zoo. It can be found in Queen Kapiolani Park and has a variety of animals and zoo gardens. You will be able to see all kinds of flora and fauna at this delightful zoo. It is not just popular with tourists, but even the local people enjoy visiting the zoo often.
Your kids will be delighted to see the animals and can even learn a thing or two about them. There are around 1,230 animals that live at the Zoo and each of them lives in a habitat that is specially designed for their kind. Honolulu Zoo also features many different sculptures of different types of animals that are located all around the zoo.
Go and Check Diamond Head State Monument
Called by many names by different types of people, the Diamond Head State Monument can be seen all the way from Waikiki beach and is easily recognizable. It is a part of the skyline of Oahu and also features one of the best trails for hiking.
Geologists call this a tuff cone, the Hawaiians refer to it as Le’ahi, but the name Diamond Head was given to it by British sailors from the 19th century. The Diamond Head was created by just one volcanic eruption that took place over 300,000 years ago and formed this one of a kind crater.
The hiking trail is quite challenging and may prove to be difficult for those who are not in the best shape. If you choose to make the effort though, you will be able to receive the reward of an outstanding view of the Pacific Ocean and Waikiki Beach.
If you want to avoid the crowds, make the hike early so that you can truly bask in the beauty of the scene before you without having to worry about crowds. Since it is such a unique site, it is one of the top things to do in Honolulu and many people make the effort to reach the summit.
These are just a few of the things to do in Honolulu. There is plenty more entertainment and adventures to be had when visiting a rich and diverse place such as this. When in Honolulu, you can also swim with the sharks if you are brave enough, visit the Waikiki Aquarium and so much more.
History buffs, culture lovers and foodies can get their fill in the wonderful city of Honolulu. With the bountiful number of things to do in Honolulu, it should come as no surprise that it is a very popular spot for tourists.