Tourist Attractions and Best Things to do in Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and it is the main entry point for most visitors to the state as it is easily accessible by direct flights from North America, Asia, and various destination around the South Pacific. The city is a major tourist destination with tourists coming from all over the globe to enjoy the beaches and the tropical climate of the city. There are many things to do in Honolulu which will make your trip to this city memorable.

Best Things to do in Honolulu by Kekai Ahsam via Unsplash
Best Things to do in Honolulu Photo by Kekai AhSam on Unsplash

Top 10 things to do in Honolulu


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Explore Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor in Hawaii
Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

This is the largest natural harbor in Hawaii and it is called Pearl Harbor because of the numerous pearls that were once harvested from its depths. It is an active naval base and it is home to several attractions which are part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific Monument. You can also go to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center where you will learn about the tragic 1941 attack and some other aspects of the harbor’s natural and military history.

Have fun at Waikiki

Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort near Honolulu
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort near Honolulu

This is located on the southern shore of Honolulu and it is popular for its high-end resorts, shopping, entertainment, and dining, the neighborhood also has a stunning beach to relax. Visiting Waikiki is one of the top things to do in Honolulu. You should also visit the Royal Hawaiian Center and International Marketplace which are tourist hotspots and there are many restaurants and boutiques which you can go along Kuhio and Kalakaua Avenues. The area also has a vibrant nightlife as there are cafes and nightly entertainment on the boardwalk.

Take up your surfboards and hit the waves

Surfing in Hawaii
Surfing in Hawaii

One of the top things to do in Honolulu and your trip will not be complete in this fun-loving, surf-mad capital without you trying out the most popular pastimes of locals. There are many surf spots at Honolulu which are popular across the globe which you can visit. You can take the crashing Bowls of Ala Moana and the adjoining park where the reefs and the sandbars provide the perfect barrels. If you are a beginner, you can try out surfing at Waikiki.

Hike up the Diamond Head State Monument

Aerial view of the Diamond Head by Eric Tessmer via Wikipedia CC
Aerial view of the Diamond Head By Eric Tessmer, CC BY 3.0

This is the most recognizable natural landmarks in Hawaii and it has a diamond head which is how it came by its name. The landmark is located on the eastern portion of Waikiki’s coastline and it was once a crucial part of the island’s coastal defense. You can hike up the steep trail of this monument and you will see a huge lighthouse that was built in 1917 and bunkers and the Fire control station which control artillery at the Fort Ruger and Waikiki. You will get a panoramic view of the shoreline below from this monument.

Go sightseeing in Chinatown

Honolulu Chinatown Hawaii by Joel Bradshaw via Wikipedia CC
Honolulu Chinatown Hawaii By Joel Bradshaw – Own work, Public Domain

Chinatown is sandwiched between the downtown and the residential area of the Kalihi-Palama and it is among the largest and most original Oriental districts in the United States. You will visit the Maunakea Marketplace and the smells and sights of numerous stacks of tropical fruits and meats around Oahu Market will welcome you. You can also visit awesome temples like Japanese Shinto shrine and you can feed your taste buds with Chinese foods at the various restaurants.

Have fun at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

The bay was formed within the crater of an ancient volcano and it was a popular snorkeling destination before it got polluted and damaged by overuse. The restoration efforts which started in 1990 brought the bay back to its former glory and you will be able to enjoy the reef and the diverse aqua faunas which are found there. The number of visitors here is limited and you will be required to watch education video so that while you are there you will not harm the reef and ecosystem.

Visit Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design

Exterior view of Shangri La by Daderot via Wikipedia CC
Exterior view of Shangri La By Daderot. – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0

This is one of the top things to do in Honolulu, you will get to see a complete collection of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art which is the museum feature. The highlight of the museum is the ceramic art, tile-work which includes medieval Persian examples. You will also get to see textiles, glass, wood, and decorative objects from Spain, India, The Middle East, and Asia. The museum collection is up to 2,500 pieces.

Go sightseeing at Lolani Palace

Iolani Palace photo by Jason Raia via Wikipedia CC
Iolani Palace photo by Jason Raia via Wikipedia CC

This is an ancestral home of the Kalakaua Dynasty and it is located in the midst of the Honolulu downtown. You will love the unique architecture and build of this Neoclassical building which contrasts with the modern buildings around. The palace was built by David Kalakaua who traveled around Asia, Europe, and Africa for the search of inspiration of this palace. The exhibitions in the museum are around the personal collections of the Queen Liliuokalani and King Kalakaua with military artifacts and regular performance by the royal bands.

Visit Bishop Museum and Planetarium

The Hawaiian Hall at the Bishop Museum by Mark Miller via Wikipedia CC
The Hawaiian Hall at the Bishop Museum by Mark Miller via Wikipedia CC

This is a state museum which homes one of the best collection of Polynesian arts and artifacts in the state. The permanent exhibits in the museum are kahills, as well as Hawaiian feathered capes and helmets. At the first floor of the museum is dedicated to Kai Akea which is a world of Hawaiian legend. At the other area of the museum focus on the region’s natural history and collections of artifacts from the South Pacific and object that was brought by the Japanese, Korean, German, Filipino, Chinese, Portuguese and other early settles.

Explore the Mission Houses Museum

Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives by Travis Thuston via Wikipedia CC
Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives by Travis Thuston via Wikipedia CC

You will get see three historical properties from the early 19th century at this museum. The homes were listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it documents the lives and living condition of the early missionaries. The properties were the oldest Western-style building that is still standing and they are the Mission House, Chamberlain House, the printing works which were built by Levi Chamberlain.

Go swimming with the sharks in the Pacific

Swimming with Sharks Hawaii
Swimming with Sharks Hawaii

If you want an adrenaline-pumping adventure, swimming with the sharks is the right activity for you. You will go on a trip to the roaring swells off of the northern coast where sharks sighting are common. You will be inside a secure steel cage which will be lowered into the water and you will get to watch different species of sharks like grey reef sharks, hammerheads sharks, sandbar sharks, and Galapagos sharks. You will get to see rare green sea turtles, colossal humpback whales if you are lucky.

Visit the USS Bowfin

Inside USS Bowfin
Inside USS Bowfin

This is a museum which offers a glimpse of the life of US seamen during the years of conflict between 1942 and 1945 and the days of Korean War. This is not a place to miss as you will walk through the mess rooms and corridors, visit the onboard living quarters, and control rooms all with the aid of a recorded audio guide. You will also see the memorial to all American submariners who lost their lives during the Second World War.

Go on walking at the Koko Crater Trail

Hanauma Bay, Koko Crater and Hawaii Kai by Mbz1 via wikipedia CC
Hanauma Bay, Koko Crater and Hawaii Kai by Mbz1 via wikipedia CC

You can go on walking trail at the southern fringes of the city as you go up the volcanic foothills of the Ko’olau Mountains and above the waters of the stunning Hanauma Bay. You will get a glimpse of the rugged backcountry of the Aloha State as you walk the streets of Portlock. You will get a 360-degree view of the south-eastern Oahu coast if you follow the disused train tracks and climb the ridges and weave back the scrublands and rocks.

Visit the USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial
USS Arizona Memorial

This is the most visited tourist attraction in Hawaii and it is among the Pearl Harbor’s locations which are part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. You will get a free tour of the memorial which will begin at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center where you will watch a film about the attack and its historical context before you will then board the U. S Navy boat and then taken to the memorial. You will then get to see the names of all who lost their lives when the ship was bombed.

Tour the Honolulu Beerworks

Honolulu Beerworks via FB Page
Honolulu Beerworks via FB Page

You should visit the Honolulu Beer works which bring the island’s numerous communities together with hops and barley creations. The brewery is located in the industrial depot between the streets of the stylish and edgy neighborhood of Kaka’ako. The highlight of the tour is the tasting room which fuses the salt-washed character of Hawaii’s surfer shack with a vibrant artsy vibe. You can try out the various beers and there are diners with Italian style hoagies and Pacific salmon-packed taro buns.

Activities in Honolulu by Michael Olsen via Unsplash
Activities in Honolulu Photo by Michael Olsen on Unsplash

Honolulu Travel and Tour PackagesHonolulu Travel and Tour Packages

iVenture Honolulu Flexi Attractions Pass

iVenture Honolulu Flexi Attractions Pass
iVenture Honolulu Flexi Attractions Pass
  • Enter your choice of 3 or 5 top Honolulu attractions including Kualoa Ranch, a volcano tour and a catamaran cruise.
  • Have extended choices from water activities, guided tours, and museums.
  • A free color handy guide with helpful information on participating attractions comes with the card.

iVenture Honolulu Flexi Attractions PassBOOK NOW

Honolulu is filled with tourist attractions and activities that you can try out and you will love the weather which will keep you here for a long time.

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