An Insider’s Guide to Honolulu: The Best Things to See and Do
Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital city, is known as the gateway to one of the world’s most beautiful destinations – Waikiki Beach. The city is a popular spot for tourists from all corners of the world, thanks to its sunny, tropical climate, stunning landscapes, and welcoming locals. Honolulu is also a vibrant city with plenty of things to explore, offering a balance between relaxation and adventure. In this travel guide, we explore the top things to see and do in Honolulu, including some hidden gems that only locals know.
1. Diamond Head State Monument
Diamond Head State Monument is an iconic volcanic cone located at the eastern edge of Waikiki. It’s one of the most popular landmarks of Hawaii, and hiking to the top is an incredible experience. The hike is moderate, taking you through a series of steep but paved switchbacks. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, Honolulu, and the surrounding mountains.
2. Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world. The beach stretches two miles long and is bordered by luxury hotels, shops, and restaurants. It’s a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. There are plenty of activities to do on Waikiki Beach, including outrigger canoe rides, stand-up paddleboarding, and catamaran cruises.
3. Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor is a must-visit destination in Honolulu. The harbor is famous for the surprise attack by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, which led to the United States’ entry into World War II. Today, Pearl Harbor is home to several attractions, including the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. Visitors can take a guided tour of the various sites and learn about the history of Pearl Harbor.
4. Iolani Palace
Iolani Palace is a beautiful building that is the only royal palace on American soil. The palace was constructed in 1882 and served as the residence for Hawaii’s last two monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. Visitors can take a guided tour of the palace and learn about the rich history of Hawaiian royalty.
Chinatown is a cultural hub in Honolulu that offers a glimpse into the island’s multicultural background. The streets are lined with shops, markets, and restaurants selling exotic fruits, vegetables, and seafood. The area is also home to several art galleries and vintage shops that are worth exploring.
6. Bishop Museum
The Bishop Museum is the largest museum in Hawaii that offers a glimpse into the state’s rich cultural history. The museum has a vast collection of artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that showcase Hawaii’s past, including Hawaiian culture, history, and natural sciences.
7. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a picturesque spot located on the southeastern coast of Oahu. It’s a popular spot for snorkeling, and the bay is home to several species of tropical fish and colorful coral reefs. Visitors are required to watch an educational video before entering the park to learn about coral conservation.
8. Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls is a stunning waterfall located in the Manoa Valley, just five miles from downtown Honolulu. The hike to the falls is easy, taking you through a beautiful, lush tropical rainforest. The waterfall is approximately 100-feet tall and is a popular spot for hiking and photography.
9. Ala Moana Center
Ala Moana Center is the largest outdoor mall in Hawaii, offering premier shopping, dining, and entertainment. The center features over 300 stores, including luxury brands like Chanel, Gucci, and Prada, as well as popular local brands.
10. Koko Head Crater Trail
The Koko Head Crater Trail is a challenging but rewarding hike located in the east of Honolulu. The trail is a former railway track that leads to the summit of the Koko Head Crater, offering spectacular panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
1. What is the best time to visit Honolulu?
The best time to visit Honolulu is between September and November or April and June. These months offer dry and pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices.
2. What is the currency in Honolulu?
The currency in Honolulu is the US dollar.
3. How do I get around Honolulu?
The best way to get around Honolulu is by renting a car or using public transportation, including the bus, Waikiki Trolley, or Uber.
4. What should I wear in Honolulu?
Dress code in Honolulu is casual, and lightweight clothes are suitable for all year round. However, bring a light jacket or sweater for the evening breeze, and comfortable shoes for exploring the outdoors.
5. Can I visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor?
Yes, visitors can visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, but tickets are limited and should be purchased in advance.
Honolulu is a city that should be on everyone’s bucket list, offering endless adventures and breathtaking landscapes. From exploring the city’s rich cultural history to hiking to the top of volcanoes and relaxing on beautiful beaches, there’s something for everyone in Honolulu. Make sure to visit these top spots and hidden gems to experience the best of this tropical paradise.