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
Well-organized, very friendly crew. Felt safe and crew made an effort to talk to everyone. Breakfast and lunch were simple, but really good. Drinks were plentiful. We saw whales, dolphins, and sea turtles and were able to snorkel near some fish and a turtle for a while, but the dolphins didn’t come near. Water was smooth, and this was a good length of time for people who didn’t want to be on the water the whole day. 3 hours exactly, but felt like we did a lot. About 45 minutes in the water. Can purchase a basic snorkel on board for ~$24, or bring your own.
The captain and his wife were great. The glass bottom is really 4 rectangles and you really aren't going to see too much there. He gave us great history on the cruise. Got fish to the boat, showed us Sea Turtles as well. It was also a really unique perspective of Diamond Head since we had made the trek to the top the day before. Totally different vantage point. The write up boasted seeing a ship wreck which we did not and that was actually what made us choose this over others. My daughter was truly disappointed. Not sure why we didn't see it, though.
The tour was one of if not the best tours in Oahu. Enjoyed every minute of it. Kirk was super funny and enjoyable to be around. learned a ton of tips about photography and would 100/10 recommend to any on Oahu
The brochure listed a short video presentation before going out to the memorial but, there was no video presentation. Daniel and crew were super nice and very responsive.....also they were easily accessible.
Our tour guide kimokeo I think that's how you spell it, was awesome! Very informative and the tour bus was very nice. I would definitely recommend this tour!