27 Best Things to Do in Honolulu

Discover the best things to do in Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital and biggest city, a significant center. Though most visitors to the state pass through Honolulu, it is nevertheless a popular tourist destination in and of itself, drawing thousands of visitors yearly.

Located on the southwest coast of Oahu, it is surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges, tropical flora, and massive volcanic cones. Beautiful beaches and shimmering waves around its coast as well. Many swim its swells, dive offshore, and stroll along its magnificent coast. One also often finds lounging on the well-known Waikiki Beach.

Although Honolulu’s capital is energetic, you might also relax and have a calm holiday there. It presents great choices for food, shopping, and nightlife. Honolulu boasts several excellent museums where one may learn about the rich history and culture of the islands in addition to other activities. The monuments and memorials in Pearl Harbour constitute one of the major main tourist attractions.

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The Best Things to Do in Honolulu |Activities and Attractions

This vibrant city provides a wide variety of activities, from its well-known beaches and historical sites to its exciting nightlife and cultural attractions. Here are some of the best things to do in Honolulu to help you make the most of your trip.

1. Visit Waikiki Shore 

Why is Waikiki Beach Famous? Here are 10 Answers to Your Question - The  Hawaii Vacation Guide

Unquestionably, one of the most well-known beaches worldwide and one of the best things to do in Honolulu, Waikiki Beach is the destination of many tourists to Hawaii. It is flanked by tall, swaying palm trees and vivid blue seas; its fluffy white beaches are quite a treat to relax on slowly.

Originally used as a haven for Hawaiian nobility in the 1800s, its amazing beaches are today filled with chic businesses, hip restaurants, and luxury hotels. One can see the huge Diamond Head in the distance surrounded by several large skyscrapers rising over the sandy coastline.

Apart from appreciating the stunning surroundings and capturing some profile pictures, beach visitors might participate in a lot of great outdoor sports. These cover swimming in addition to surfing and kayaking, catamaran sailing, boogie boarding, and swimming. Discover everything Oahu and Honolulu have to offer while experiencing the lively yet laid-back vibe of Waikiki Beach.

2.  Pearl Harbour National Memorial

Visiting Oahu is definitely one of the best things to do in Honolulu, especially for seeing the Pearl Harbor National Memorial for its spectacular portrayal of the horrible attack. Boat trips can also take you to the USS Arizona Memorial offshore, and its waterfront site in Western Honolulu honors the surprise attack that threw the US into World War II.

Along with the large harbour, there were several monuments and memorials with educational signage outlining the events preceding the fatal air raid. Along with the sinking of twelve ships, that day saw the terrible death of approximately 2,400 Americans.

The relics and displays in its museum chronicle the events preceding and following the attack; particularly disturbing are its archival survivor testimony and vintage images. Learning about the Pacific theatre, many guests of the USS Arizona pay their respects to the deceased.

3. Explore Diamond Head State Monument

One of the most recognizable features of the city is the peculiar Diamond Head Crater, which rises dramatically to the southeast of the city. For residents and visitors alike, hiking up the tall tuff cone is one of the best things to do in Honolulu because of the breathtaking views it offers of the Ko’olau Range, the shore, and the ocean.

Rising to a height of 762 feet and part of a large system of cones and vents, the long-extinct volcano is somewhat overrun with wavy grasses and sparse shrubs. You weave past a bunker built during World War Two, ascend steep steps and follow a twisting ridgeline on the hike up to its soaring pinnacle.

As soon as you arrive, you will be surrounded with amazing views of Waikiki Beach and the city skyline. Looking down into its enormous crater, you also can see the Diamond Head Lighthouse far below.

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4. Wander Through the Honolulu Museum of Art

The Makiki district of the city is home to the Honolulu Museum of Art, one of the best things to do in Honolulu, which is ideal for art enthusiasts. It features works by Monet, Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh among others, and it boasts one of the best collections of Asian and Pan-Pacific art in the country.

Since it first opened to the public in 1927, this greatest museum of its kind in the entire state boasts 50,000 pieces of art spanning more than 5,000 years of artistic history. Apart from sculptures and paintings, the galleries include hand-painted dolls, feather caps worn by native Hawaiians, and amazing views of Maui. Thanks to its large collection of artworks from numerous ages and locations and its recognised for great architecture, the museum is a treat to visit.

5. Relax at Ala Moana Beach Park

Among the best things to do in Honolulu is relaxing on the smooth sand of Ala Moana Beach Park, Visitors can play games on the several courts, swim in the ocean. It’s another amazing place to visit that offers a lot of interesting outdoor activities back on stable ground.

Located between Waikiki and downtown, the long, narrow park boasts tranquil, clean waves sheltered by an offshore coral reef. Along with tanning and swimming, you may enjoy its tennis facilities, playing fields, and several bike paths.

Although the McCoy Pavilion hosts many concerts and cultural activities all year long, there are food stalls, public restrooms, and picnic areas scattered all around. At its easternmost point, the manmade Magic Island peninsula hosts lots of celebrations.

6. Visit the Iolani Palace

Visit the Royal Iolani Palace - an Important Place in Hawaiian History

Unquestionably among the most amazing buildings in the state and city, the great Iolani Palace was the royal residence of the Kingdom of Hawaii’s rulers. It is rather well-preserved and found in the city capitol district. From it, one may easily reach many other tourist attractions on foot.

Although various palaces and royal burial sites have been in the same spot since at least the early nineteenth century, the present Neoclassical version was constructed in 1879. It was turned into Hawaii’s capitol building and home of the state government just over ten years after the monarchy was overthrown.

Since 1978, the National Historic Landmark has been open to the public as a public museum providing fantastic tours displaying its elegant inside. Many relics, displays, and works of art adorn its grand rooms as one of the best things to do in Honolulu.

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7. Explore the Bishop Museum

If one wants to learn about Hawaii’s rich history, culture, and natural surroundings, exploring  the Bishop Museum is among the best things to do in Honolulu. It boasts around 24 million objects and specimens. Situated in the legendary Kalihi area, its large galleries showcase artwork ranging from prehistoric humans to ancient gods and all points in between.

Established in 1889, this is the largest museum in the state today and houses the most Polynesian cultural objects worldwide. Within the network of graceful Richardsonian Romanesque buildings, you may discover the wonderful vegetation and fauna as well as history of the archipelago.

On exhibit are royal flags, volcanic rocks, and recordings of traditional chants; its great Hawaiian Hall boasts a complete sperm whale skeleton hanging. The cherry on top is the museum’s planetarium, where heavenly bodies whirl above.

8. Visit the Honolulu Zoo

Families love the Honolulu Zoo since it presents an amazing array of birds, reptiles, and animals for visitors to view. Nestled on the slopes of Diamond Head, with views of the heart of Waikiki and the endless Pacific, are their large enclosures and many natural displays.

Comprising a substantial area of Queen Kapi’olani Park, its rich, verdant grounds house around 900 species of animals. While some of the population comes from Australia, Asia, and Africa, others are local to Hawaii. Visitors so could expect to see in addition to giraffes and hippos Komodo dragons, orangutans, tigers, and hippos.

Visiting the Zoo is among the best things to do in Honolulu, the place is populated with playgrounds, picnic areas, and food vendors; everywhere you look you can see the rich foliage and blooming flowers of the archipelago.

9. Discover Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

If that seems a little too demanding for a holiday, you can always stop at the base of the crater at the Hanauma Bay Preserve. Among the most popular and picturesque locations on the island for swimming, snorkelling, and viewing marine life is its protected waters.

Located on Oahu’s southernmost point, the breathtaking harbour encircling it and its dazzling blue waves rests inside the crater of an ancient volcano is considered one of the best things to do in Honolulu. Now open to the sea, the reserve protects a wealth of vivid coral reefs home to several green sea turtles and parrotfish seen swimming about.

Apart from sunning on its sandy beach and photographing the nearby chilly crater, you can appreciate its amazing underwater treasures.

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10. Visit the Hawaii State Capitol

One of the best things to do in Honolulu is visit to the Hawaii State Capitol, a must-visit landmark in Honolulu, known for its unique architectural design and historical significance. Built to symbolize the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Hawaii, the Capitol is an inspiring place to learn about the state’s government and history.

Opened in 1969, the Hawaii State Capitol replaced Iolani Palace as the seat of government. It stands as a testament to Hawaii’s rich history and its journey to becoming the 50th state of the United States. The Capitol’s design reflects Hawaii’s natural environment. The central courtyard is open to the sky, symbolizing the openness of the government to its people.

Self-guided tours are available, but guided tours offer deeper insights into the building’s history and symbolism. The Capitol is typically open to the public during regular business hours, but it’s advisable to check in advance for any special events or closures.

11. Shop and Dine at Ala Moana Center

Remember to check the large Ala Moana Centre if you’re seeking for a distinctive shopping experience. Surprisingly, it is the largest outdoor mall worldwide with more than 350 retailers and restaurants stacked across its four levels making the one of the best things to do in Honolulu.

Originally wetlands, the area beside the designated beach park was turned into a sizable mall in 1959. Many years of expansion have resulted in even more unique boutiques, restaurants, and luxury brand stores sprouting up. These span Nordstrom, Sears, Rolex to Macy’s and Target.

Additionally present are calm koi ponds and a performance stage with an amazing design and arrangement reflecting modern Hawaiian architecture. Always humming with activity, the Ala Moana Centre is a great spot to shop, eat, or hang out. Hula dances and concerts abound.

12. Hike Manoa Falls Trail

Hiking to 150 ft Cascading Manoa Falls

Hiking, the striking and spectacular Manoa Falls have to be among the best things to do in Honolulu and the most appealing natural features in the region. Just fifteen minutes from downtown, adventure enthusiasts can be ascending through thick tropical vegetation and marvelling at a waterfall.

Rising to 150 feet, its foamy white waves flow down a steep cliff surrounded by lush trees and ferns. Nestled in the vast valley of the same name, the falls, their pool, and their lush surroundings lie among the Ko’olau mountains.

Walking around the steamy Lyon Arboretum at the base of the spectacular falls can help you to capture some stunning images. Though it is quite tempting, it is suggested to avoid splashing around in its pool since water-borne bacteria can cause flu-like symptoms.

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13. Explore the Waikiki Aquarium

One of the best things to do in Honolulu is exploring the beautiful Waikiki Aqarium that lies back adjacent to Kapi’olani Park and Kalakaua Avenue. Considered one of Honolulu’s most visited tourist attractions, it boasts many amazing marine life, sparkling fish, and vivid coral.

Reopened in 1904, this amazing aquarium features views of the ocean and a really large living coral reef. Though it boasts tanks full of incredible sea life, its main concentration is on Pacific area tropical species and ecosystems.

From the informative displays and exhibits, you might learn everything there is to know about the more than 3,500 types of animals housed in their tanks. Visitors may so expect to witness anything from interested seals to clever octopi to giant clams and brain corals even a few small sharks.

14. Stroll Through the Foster Botanical Garden

Among the best things to do in Honolulu is a visit to Foster Botanical Garden, a nice place to visit and a short walk from the Aloha Tower surrounded by vivid orchids, cycads, and other tropical plants, it provides a quiet refuge among the adjacent busy blocks.

Originally opened about 1853, the state’s first botanic garden lines its lovely paths with a mix of local and exotic plants. Among the thick vegetation are amazing sculptures and water features, and often seen are beautiful birds dashing between the trees.

Apart from appreciating its amazing orchid collection, there are many other beautifully kept terraces and gardens including tall trees and aromatic flowers to explore. See the great gift shop and the amazing butterfly garden and conservatory.

15.  Duke Kahanamoku Statue

Right along the Waikiki coast sits the amazing Duke Kahanamoku Statue, one of the best things to do in Honolulu. One of Honolulu’s most photographed sites, it shows Duke, sometimes known as “The Big Kahuna,” a famed Hawaiian surfer from bygone days.

Often referred to as the “Father of Modern Surfing,” he was the one who popularised surfing in early 20th century Hawaii and set it as a surf destination. Apart from riding the nearby waves with such elegance and simplicity, Duke competed medallistically in the Olympics in 1912, 1920, and 1924.

A nine-foot sculpture honoring the Native Hawaiian currently stands beside the site where he liked to surf. With its arms raised and surfboard behind it, photos of the bronze figure would be amazing. Typically wearing floral leis.

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16. Explore the Koko Crater Trail  

Make sure you reach the top of the Koko Crater Trail for even more magnificent views, it is one of the best things to do in honolulu. Hardy hikers can enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean, city, crater, and far-off Ko’olau Range from the summit, which is 1,208 feet high.

Comprising the Honolulu Volcanics, the long-extinct tuff cone is thought to have started around 7,000 years ago. During World War II, the US military built bunkers atop the jagged cone and a very steep railway up to its peak. The two-mile track meanders around its abandoned sleepers, which today account for a sizable amount of its path.

Rising the very steep steps lets visitors stop for a much-needed break and enjoy the amazing views and surrounds. The amazing views you get at the top more than offset the difficult climb.

17. Visit Lanikai Beach

Another really beautiful beachfront site on the windward side of Kailua is picture-perfect Lanikai Beach. Apart from peaceful, clean oceans and beautiful white dunes, it presents amazing views of Oahu’s coast and other neighbouring islands.

Considered as one of the best things to do in Honolulu, its gorgeous shoreline spans little over a mile. While weekends might get hectic, you could kayak out to the nearby Na Mokulua, swim and tan in private during the week.

These two islets are the reason many people visit the shore for photo-taking. Many also show up to view the moonrise. The smaller is off-limits since it is a bird habitat under protection; the larger of the two is available for your visiting.

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18.  USS Bowfin Submarine Museum

File:USS Bowfin Submarine Museum at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.JPG -  Wikimedia Commons

Visit the incredible USS Bowfin Submarine Museum is among the best things to in Honolulu,  offering a fascinating glimpse into life underwater. Perched permanently adjacent to the Pearl Harbour National Memorial, the elegant, grey submarine boasts a museum loaded with historical pictures and relics, paintings, and displays.

Serving from 1942 to 1971, the USS Bowfin often known as the “Pearl Harbour Avenger was a stunning wartime scuttler of 44 Japanese ships. Visitors can currently tour its hallways, mess halls, and residential quarters to see how US sailors used to live and work in bygone days.

Apart from seeing the National Historic Landmark, you could pay homage by visiting its moving monument. This honours the 3,500 submarine crew members lost during the Second World War.

19. Explore Makapu’u Lighthouse

Just down the coast from the pristine reserve, the beautiful Makapu’u Lighthouse is another breathtaking site worth visiting. Located at Oahu’s farthest eastern point, its windswept, wild areas can be accessed by a seductive road running along the edge of towering sea cliffs.

Built in 1909, Makapu’u Lighthouse was originally designed to guide ships along the treacherous Ka’iwi Channel. Its powerful beam can be seen from up to 28 miles away. During World War II, the lighthouse played a crucial role in the defense of Oahu. Comprising 1.2 miles overall, the paved path culminates at the historic antique lighthouse perched above a rocky ledge.

Apart from capturing images of the lone lighthouse staring out to sea, you may enjoy breath-taking views of the windward coast and its islets, where whales sometimes travel to spy.


20. KCC Farmer Market

Comprising around one hundred kiosks and stalls for both residents and visitors to peruse, the KCC Farmer’s Market is a colourful and busy event. Held every Tuesday night and Saturday morning, the Kapi’olani Community College campus boasts a varied range of cuisine, locally grown fresh veggies, and artisan vendors. It is considered one of the best things to do in Honolulu.

From a tiny collection of merchants in 1948, it has expanded to become among Aloha State’s busiest and largest marketplaces. These days, a lot of nearby farms provide fresh food, flowers, and handcrafted items such jams and jellies. There are handicrafts, crafts, and clothes in addition to great baked goods and some fantastic fish. Food vendors offering great Vietnamese, Mexican, and Japanese cuisine as well as pop-up coffee shops add to the wonderfully laid-back vibe.

21. Aloha Tall

One of the most important landmarks that stands out among the best things to do in Honolulu Harbour is the large Aloha Tower, thanks to its wide perspective. Considered to be the Hawaiian rendition of the Statue of Liberty, it is surely one of the most famous icons and sights in the capital.

Originally constructed in 1926 and subsequently painted in camouflage to guard it during World War II, the stunning Hawaiian Gothic-style lighthouse, standing 184 feet tall, has seen hundreds of immigrants and tourists to the Big Pineapple to view this amazing monument.

Its tall observation deck allows visitors to walk inside and enjoy amazing views of the shoreline and port from its elegant construction. Right at its feet is a fantastic daily market; the monument appears especially beautiful at night when it is all ablaze against the black sky.

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22. Visit the USS Missouri Memorial

History buffs should not miss the USS Missouri one of the  best things to do in Honolulu, the venue of the official Japanese surrender marking the end of the Second World War. Now kept as a memorial and museum, the massive battleship spends all of its time berthed at Pearl Harbour.

She served in the Korean War after first fighting at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The only Iowa-class ship the US owned to be put into use was her After serving seventeen years as an active duty member and receiving eleven battle stars, “Mighty Mo,” retired in 1992 after being sent to offer fire support during the Gulf War.

Visitors can currently tour her cabins, bridge, and upper decks as well as the large engine rooms and heavy weaponry. As you stroll about the massive battleship, your guide will enlighten you on its history as well as the daily activities of the sailors living within.

23.  Kalua Beach

You’ll want to relax at one of Oahu’s stunning beaches following all the outdoor sports, shopping, and sight-seeing. Only twenty-minute drive from Honolulu’s downtown, Kailua Beach, on the Windward Coast, is far more peaceful than Waikiki.

Its crescent-shaped silky sands gracefully curl around the bay of the same name. About 2.5 miles long is the stretch. While many visitors come simply to enjoy the sun, swim, and splash around in the turquoise seas, some choose more energetic pursuits. Apart from body surfing and surfing on small swells, kayak and paddleboard allows you to visit the nearby seabird sanctuaries.

Thanks to its steady trade winds, Kailua Beach is a top kitesurfing and windsurfing spot with wide views over the Pacific, making it one of the best things to do in Honolulu.

24. Visit Shangri-La

Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design | Experience |  Halekulani Hotel

As its name implies, Shangri La offers a small bit of tropical paradise. Originally owned by American heiress and art collector Doris Duke, the beautiful home is today a museum honouring Islamic arts and cultures.

Just past Diamond Head, the opulent beachside mansion with its immaculately groomed grounds dates back to 1936 and 1939. Its array of small, shimmering ponds, remarkably white buildings, and lush grounds all framed by the Pacific Ocean makes for quite the sight.

Though its façade already shows some quite amazing Islamic architecture, its large rooms are filled with outstanding furnishings, artwork, and Middle Eastern ceramics. Combining art, history, culture, and environment, the property is surely among the best things to do in honolulu.

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25. United States Army Museum of Hawaii

Battery Randolph, in Fort Derussy Beach Park, is home to the amazing US Army Museum of Hawaii. Along with a treasure of amazing relics and displays, it boasts tanks, helicopters, and gun turrets to view. Exploring the museum is among the best things to do in Honolulu.

Originally owned by a Chinese millionaire, the significant coastal location was later acquired and converted into a fort and battery in 1911. Now free for exploration are all of its bunkers and bastions, which feature military relics, firearms, and impeccably kept uniforms. These chronicles important events related to the defence of the islands and the background of the archipelago’s fighting forces.

Certain portions focus on the US Army and the Pacific theatre during World War II, while others discuss pre-Imperial warfare in Hawaii.

26. Royal Hawaiian Centre

Among Waikiki’s best places for dining, shopping, and nightlife is the vast Royal Hawaiian Centre. Comprising three blocks along Kalakaua Avenue, the massive outdoor mall boasts many stores with an emphasis on luxury goods, unusual accessories, and brilliant jewels.

The well-known neighborhood’s centrepiece shopping complex first opened in 1979. Along with more than ninety luxury retailers, it presents thirty top restaurants. Examining the elegant interior, unique design, and brilliant stores of the trendy mall is a wonderful experience.

One of the best things to do in Honolulu is dining at restaurants, shopping, and enjoying a classic Hawaiian music or dance performance, which will let you savor great meals. Its large outside spaces and groups of flowing palms only help to improve the ambiance and visual appeal.

27. Explore the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout

If you want some of Oahu’s best views, be sure to stop at the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, one of the best things to do in Honolulu. Just ten minutes’ drive north of the city core, the historical location offers breathtaking views of seashore cliffs and mountain peaks. Rising more than a thousand feet above the city and the shoreline far below, the stone terrace marks the site of a pivotal clash.

Kamehameha I and his forces finally triumphed here in 1795, putting Oahu under his rule. Many impoverished men died when they were hurled from the precipitous cliffs and fell to die far below. Apart from knowing about its background from the educational plaques, you may enjoy amazing views of the surroundings.

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Honolulu is a city that offers something for everyone, from stunning natural beauty and rich history to vibrant culture and exciting nightlife. These  activities showcase the best things to do in Honolulu, ensuring that your visit will be memorable and enriching.


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