Top attractions in Honolulu
Top 10 things to do in Honolulu
The Hawaiian capital is a small city within a big landscape. Whether you're visiting Honolulu for its volcanic beaches, vibrant wildlife, or hedonistic cuisine, you'll find no shortage of enticing things to see and do. Here are 10 of the best!
1. Diamond Head
Honolulu is a hiker's paradise and one of its best trails for scenic sightseeing is the one ascending Diamond Head, Waikiki's emblematic dormant volcano!
2. Nuuanu Pali State Wayside
The Koolau is a very unusual mountain range! The remaining half of this former volcano provides spectacular views, best seen from the Nuuanu Pali State Wayside lookout.
3. Pearl Harbor
The bombing of Pearl Harbor was a major turning point in the course of World War II. The naval base is still active and gives free tours if you arrive early enough to bag a ticket!
4. USS Arizona Memorial
1,177 were killed when the USS Arizona was sunk by Japanese bombs in 1941. This USS Arizona Memorial straddles the submerged battleship, allowing visitors to peer down into the wreckage.
5. Polynesian Cultural Center
This top attraction has been offering tourists an enthralling Polynesian cultural experience for half a century, from replica villages to arts, crafts, and Luaus!
6. Iolani Palace
Built by the last king of Hawaii in an effort to make the island nation appear more prestigious, tours of the Iolani-Palast provide a fascinating insight into the short-lived kingdom.
7. Bernice Pauahai Bishop Museum
Established to preserve the heirlooms inherited from the founder's Hawaiian wife, the museum boasts the world's largest collection of Polynesian artifacts and natural specimens.
8. Hanauma Bay
This scenic nature reserve is one of Hawaii's premier snorkeling spots. Its reefs, which are swarming with sealife, are so popular that they have to limit visitors - arrive early!
9. Honolulu Zoo
Built across part of Kapiolani Park – the largest and oldest park in Hawaii – the zoo is home to over 900 mostly tropical species. Don't miss the fierce Komodo Dragons!
10. Waikiki Aquarium
If you can't make it to Hanauma Bay then check out Waikiki's aquarium instead. It's a small one but nonetheless a great place to discover Hawaii's local sea creatures!
Planning Your Visit
When to visit?
There isn't really a bad time to visit Honolulu, but December to March brings mercifully cooler temperatures than the summer, even if the trade off means a higher chance of it raining. If you can, go during the school months. The off-season dip in tourism will see even the best beaches more secluded and the limited-space attractions, like the USS Arizona Memorial, easier to access.
How many days?
Don't stress yourself trying to hurry through a packed itinerary. Hawaii is definitely not the place for that! Book your stay in Honolulu for at least a week, especially if you plan on seeing more of Oahu island.
Good to know
- USD ($)
- Time Zone
- UTC (-10:00)
- Country Code
- Best time to visit
- All year round
Other Sightseeing Options in Honolulu
Want to discover all there is to do in Honolulu? Click here for a full list.
What people are saying about Honolulu
Disclaimer: Maybe not for those who experience motion sickness easily. At no fault of the cruise company, I ended up getting sea sick due to bobbing around on the big waves as we waited for the sun to set. They provide some beers and other canned drinks. They gave us little bento boxes for food. We were easily able to spread out on the boat to socially distance during the pandemic. The music was fun, and you were able to request a song. And the sunset itself over the water was just gorgeous! Very glad we got to experience it! But again, it was a bit rough for me for a while due to me getting motion sickness about half way through. It’s just the nature of the deep waves off the coast of Waikiki.
Brand new to the scuba diving world this was an awesome choice for a first experience! Don’t let the price scare you. It’s worth every penny. My instructor was awesome and very knowledgeable! The boat captain was very personable and they all really made us feel at home. I was worried before we went about how much time we’d actually get in the water being discovery divers, but we got a lot! The gear was very nice as well. Can’t wait to go back to work on my certification!
Audio tour comes with a paper guide but you also need to pay attention to the sites to find all the points of interest. We did not get that direction, we figured it out on our own and missed some of the points we passed before we figured it out.
Wow! We saw sharks as soon as we got into the water!! This was such an amazing experience and I’m so happy that we went with this crew!! Crew made us feel safe & boat ride was amazing as we saw some dolphins and a whale! 11/10!!
Our guide was awesome and the views were beautiful. We were glad that we decided to go with the doors off and glad we brought our jackets. It was a great way to see parts of the island closed off to the public!