Hawaii is often a location that is on everyone’s travel bucket list. The picturesque natural elements and tropical backdrop are unparalleled in the United States, which is why hordes of tourists flock to the Pacific islands. Honolulu, located on the Island of Oahu is one of the hottest Hawaiian destinations. With countless things to do in Honolulu, you’ll be primed for the dream Hawaiian vacation.
Best Honolulu Beaches to Visit
The first thing that comes to your mind when considering what to do in Honolulu, is locating the best Honolulu beach. Truthfully, if there is only one beach that you are going to visit while in Honolulu—we know it’s not likely that you’ll only visit one beach but just bear with us—it has to be Waikiki Beach. Truthfully, Waikiki Beach is not just a beach, it’s a destination. This laid-back Hawaiian beach combines lively dive bars with upscale Honolulu restaurants and looming luxury hotels. This sun-kissed beach actually sits in the shadow of Diamond Head so the views are amazing and the sand is a perfect powdery yellow.
Another great place to visit is Hanauma Bay. This sunken crater with teems of gorgeous golden sand is located on the Eastern side of Honolulu. It’s both a marine sanctuary and nature reserve and as such it makes for some of the absolute best snorkeling in Honolulu. You’ll have to watch a short video about preserving marine life before heading into the cool water, but it’s only $1 to park and $7.50 for park entrance. If you’re thinking of snorkeling more than once while in Hawaii, you might want to keep an eye out for a cheap snorkel and mask to buy because it will cost you $12.50 to rent them at Hanauma Bay.
If you’re looking for some thrilling adventure to break up the relaxation of sunbathing all day, you can also hit the water to try out some shark diving! From Godspeed Adventures, for $150 per person, you can experience the thrill of viewing sharks from the safety of a cage. This includes pickup and transportation to the North Shore Haleiwa Harbor and back, a 2-hour boat ride and 20 minutes in the shark cage. They’ll also take photos and video, as well as providing beverages, snacks, and lunch. For those members of your party that just want to hang around the boat, it will only cost $95.
Local Honolulu Activities for Some Culture
We get it. You don’t want to spend your entire vacation sunbathing on the beach. Honestly, you can do that anywhere, so why not explore Honolulu while you’re there? If you’re looking for some real culture, check out the Honolulu Chinatown. This is an energetic, bustling market located in the city of Honolulu where you can find fresh fruits and meats to cook your own perfect Hawaiian luau. While venturing through, be sure to check out the takeout restaurant Char Hung Sut, which sells legendary Hawaiian style Cantonese dumplings and baozi.
If you’re looking for more Hawaiian culture, the Iolani Palace is another great Honolulu attraction. Located in downtown Honolulu, this historic palace was built back in 1879 by King Kalakaua in an effort to make Hawaii gain more national recognition. The site is open from 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Saturday and you can either take either a self-guided tour for $14.75 or guided tour for $21.75.
Another memorable Honolulu tourist attraction is the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. This memorial is designated for the lives that were lost during the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. This is a very popular Honolulu destination, so be sure to arrive early. The park opens at 7 am and remains open until 4:30 pm. It’s free to enter unless you’d like to tour the USS Bowfin, which is a WWII submarine. This will cost $12 a person. The nice thing about visiting Pearl Harbor is that you can reserve a ticket online to cut down on some wait time. That way you’ll just have to show up an hour early. Grab lunch at Alicia’s Market while you wait!
If you’re thinking of sampling some local Honolulu brews, you’ll need to check out Honolulu Beer Works. This is a great Honolulu microbrewery that features a variety of brews. It’s also a nice Honolulu restaurant where you can sample everything from Pacific-style dinners and fresh fish to Italian hoagies.
Best Natural Honolulu Tourist Attractions for a Serene Day
Diamond Head is hands down one of the top destinations for hiking in Honolulu. Located on the eastern side of Waikiki, Diamond Head is a former volcano that provides some stunning panoramic views of Honolulu. This crater was once used as a military base but is now open to the public for a hike that is slightly under a mile long and takes about 30 minutes to summit. It’s open from 6 am to 6 pm and charges just $5 per carload, or $1 per person if you walk in. After your hike, refuel at the delicious Diamond Head Market that offers snacks, scones or full plated lunches.
Another one of the best things to do in Honolulu is to visit Manoa Falls. This easy hike will take you through the lush green jungle for about 30 minutes, ending at a beautiful waterfall. It costs just $5 for parking and you can even take a quick dip in the refreshing pool to cool off after a hot hike through the tropical jungle.
Now that you’ve got plenty of Honolulu vacation ideas, it’s time to finally book those flights! With these Honolulu vacation ideas, you won’t regret a trip to the amazing islands of Hawaii—we promise