Whether you’re a first-time visitor, a seasoned traveller or a local, there’s always something to see and do in Hawaii. Whether you’re looking for fast-paced activities or quieter, more relaxing experiences, Honolulu has it all.
Attractions To Places In Honolulu
Dole Pineapple Express Train Tour
One of the most fun things to do in Honolulu is to visit the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Ride the train for a 20-minute tour that takes you through two miles of gorgeous North Shore scenery and a pineapple garden maze.
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Pearl Harbor Memorial Tour
For history lovers, the Pearl Harbor Memorial is a must. It commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii during World War II, and offers a glimpse into life during that period.
Iolani Palace Museum
If you’re looking for an authentic experience that reflects the island’s rich culture and heritage, then you can’t go wrong with a tour of Iolani Palace. Located in Downtown Honolulu, this 19th-century palace is now an iconic symbol of Hawaii and serves as a museum.
Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden
If it’s your first time in Honolulu or you’re looking to discover new places, then a trip to the botanical gardens is a must. Featuring tropical gardens, outdoor art displays and a cafe, it’s an ideal place to spend the day exploring the beauty of Hawaii.
Royal Hawaiian Center Classes
If you’re keen to learn about the island’s vibrant culture and traditions, then take a class at the Royal Hawaiian Center. You can choose from a range of courses, including lei making, lauhala weaving, hula and ukulele playing. There are so many beautiful places to see and do on Oahu. Here are a few of my favorite things to do!
You can take a helicopter tour around Oahu to see all the best sights from above. You’ll get to see waterfalls, rocky cliffs and craters.
Waikiki Beach #1
A two-mile stretch of white sand beach, Waikiki is a popular destination for vacationers looking to sunbathe and swim. It’s also home to several high-rise hotels and resorts. You’ll find a number of ocean sports shops along the shore offering everything from snorkel sets to boogie boards. You can also hire a catamaran or outrigger canoe cruise.
If you’re a little more adventurous, consider a sailing tour that departs from the beach daily. This eco-conscious cruise offers an excellent opportunity to soak up the beautiful scenery and witness the majestic skyline of Diamond Head Crater.
Alternatively, spend an afternoon in the Honolulu Museum of Art where you can learn about Japanese design history or the spiritual resonance of flowers in art. This modern art museum is also a great place to relax and unwind, with its numerous galleries, coffee bar, and Doris Duke Theater.
Finally, the historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel is a must see on any Waikiki itinerary. The tropical grounds are a haven of calm and peace, with swaying banyan trees and fish ponds. It’s also one of the best places to watch a sunset.
Pearl Harbor #2
Pearl Harbor is one of the most popular places to visit in Honolulu and a must-see for anyone who wants to learn more about America’s World War II history. Its collection of museums, historical sites and memorials is filled with powerful and emotional moments.
A day trip to Pearl Harbor is a great way to spend a morning in Honolulu. It allows you to see all the major sights, including the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri and Punchbowl Cemetery.
The Pearl Harbor Visitors Center is the largest visitor attraction in Hawai’i and it has a wealth of exhibits and galleries. You can also book a navy shuttle boat ticket for a tour of the harbor.
At the museum you can see a variety of military artifacts and memorabilia from both the American and Japanese sides of the war. This includes a salvaged fragment of the USS Arizona and a model of the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi.
The USS Arizona Memorial is a must-see for visitors to Pearl Harbor and one of the most well-known landmarks in Hawaii. Its floating memorial pays tribute to the 1,777 crew members who lost their lives that December morning in 1941.
Diamond Head State Monument #3
Located just minutes from Waikiki, Diamond Head State Monument invites visitors to hike and experience one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders. Start at the visitor center kiosk to learn more about this stunning landmark, then walk up a steep and strenuous.8-mile hiking trail to the summit for breathtaking views of the crater floor, lighthouse, Koko Head coastline and migrating whales.
During your visit, you can also enjoy a self-guided audio tour that highlights the history, culture, legends, geography and plants and animals of Diamond Head. The tours are offered 365 days a year at the Diamond Head visitor center, just before the hiking trail entrance.
While there are a number of activities and attractions at Diamond Head State Monument, one of the most popular is to hike to the summit of the volcanic crater. On a good day, thousands of people make their way to the top of this 760-foot-high mountain for spectacular views of Honolulu.
Battleship Missouri #4
When you’re looking for a way to immerse yourself in the history of Hawaii, Battleship Missouri is a great place to start. Not only does this ship feature a number of different activities and attractions, but it’s also home to an impressive collection of memorabilia and educational exhibits.
This Iowa-class battleship fought in many of the wars and conflicts that have made a mark on history, including Iwo Jima and Okinawa, as well as the Korean and Gulf Wars. She was decommissioned and mothballed in 1955, then modernized and recommissioned, before seeing her final action during the Gulf War.
Now the mighty Missouri stands as a memorial to those who lost their lives during World War II and is open to visitors. You can tour the ship as part of a Pearl Harbor tour, or you can upgrade your ticket to include a Heart of the Missouri guided tour into the inner workings of the ship.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve #5
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a gorgeous wineglass-shaped bay surrounded by lush green mountains that feels like a world away from the bustle of Honolulu. It is a quintessential marine destination, with an incredibly thriving ecosystem and beautiful blue waters.
It’s one of the most popular natural attractions in Hawaii and is a must-see for anyone who wants to get in touch with nature. It is also a popular snorkeling spot where visitors can swim with colorful fish.
You can visit Hanauma Bay on your own, or take a tour that includes transportation from your hotel and a 2.5-hour snorkeling session. The tour typically starts at 7:30 a.m. Parking is limited and spaces fill up quickly, so it’s best to arrive early. There is also a tram that can transport you from the parking lot to the beach.
Hanauma Bay is a natural sanctuary where you can see tropical fish and sea turtles up close. It’s a great place to explore and learn about conservation efforts. Before entering the park, you’ll be shown a video that will explain the history and importance of the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific #6
If you want to pay your respects to the men and women who fought for our country, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is an excellent place to go. Located at Punchbowl Crater, it’s a beautiful and quiet cemetery with tiled artwork, memorials, and a lookout that offers a great view of Honolulu.
This is an important location in Honolulu and one of the nation’s two resting places for veterans in the Pacific. The cemetery is home to thousands of graves, many of them marked with flat granite headstones.
The site also houses a small chapel, which contains a memorial that pays tribute to the battles that took place in the Pacific region. It includes a statue of Lady Columbia, which is meant to symbolize the grief felt for those who lost their lives in war.
If you’re interested in paying your respects to these brave Americans, consider bringing flowers to the cemetery. However, be aware that the tropical climate inside the crater causes flowers to wilt quickly.
Koko Crater Trail #7
Koko Crater Trail is a unique hike that takes you up to the top of an extinct volcano crater. This is one of the most popular hikes in Hawaii and offers incredible panoramic views from the summit. This is a challenging but rewarding hike that’s not for everyone.
The stairs are a bit steep, the trail is dusty and slick from all the metal ties, and there’s a short bridge-like section that may be dangerous if you’re not used to hiking in the rain. Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll be rewarded with unobstructed 360-degree views of Oahu’s southern coast and city skyline.
You can see Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, and part of Waikiki Beach as well as the islands of Molokai and Lanai. The hike is very popular and is best enjoyed at sunrise or sunset. It’s a lot less crowded at the beginning or end of the day, and it also tends to be much easier to find parking.
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum #8
Located in the Pearl Harbor area, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum is a must-see for anyone visiting Oahu. It features a moored WWII submarine, an interactive museum, and educational programs for both children and adults.
The museum traces the development of submarines from their origins to the nuclear age and details their use during World War II. It also has waterside exhibits detailing every US submarine lost during the war.
Learn More About the History of Submarines: A self-guided tour on the USS Bowfin submarine gives you an up close look at these massive machines, allowing you to see their hydraulics and electronics up close. You’ll learn about the many different weapons they used, what life was like on board a WWII submarine, and how they helped defeat the Japanese during World War II.
The USS Bowfin submarine was launched one year after the Pearl Harbor attack and completed nine successful war patrols, earning her the Presidential Unit Citation and Navy Unit Commendation. She was named a National Historic Landmark in 1986 and is now moored in the USS Bowfin Submarine Park next to the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum.
FAQs about Honolulu
What do I need to know before going to Honolulu?
Before going to Honolulu, you should know that it is a tropical climate with occasional rain and high humidity. It is important to pack appropriate clothing and sunscreen. Be respectful of Hawaiian culture and customs. Plan ahead for accommodations and transportation. Lastly, be mindful of Covid-19 restrictions and requirements, including proof of vaccination or negative test results.
What food is Honolulu known for?
Honolulu is known for its unique blend of traditional Hawaiian cuisine and international flavors. Some popular dishes include poke (raw fish salad), plate lunches (meat, rice, and macaroni salad), loco moco (rice, hamburger patty, fried egg, and gravy), and shave ice (a dessert made with shaved ice and flavored syrups). Additionally, Honolulu has a thriving food truck scene, offering a variety of tasty and creative dishes.