When you think of Honolulu, you probably think of Koko Crater, Pearl Harbor, and Diamond Head – and maybe a few green sea turtles. Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and is set on one of the best Hawaiian islands. Despite its city status, Honolulu is an absolute launchpad for exploring Oahu and all the Hawaiian islands. If you are catching an international flight, chances are you’ll be at least catching a connection in Honolulu. And there are so many things to do in Honolulu that you should stay for at least a few days.
Top Things to Do in Honolulu, Oahu
In this guide, we’ll cover the very best things to do in Honolulu. You can head to Oahu’s north shore for Honolulu attractions like Waimea Valley. Or stay central in the city center with Hawaiian culture at places like the Honolulu Museum of Art and Hawaii Heritage Center. Honolulu has a range – whether you use it as a base for tours and day trips or explore the city center on foot.
Planning Your Trip To Honolulu Right Now?
Below are some of the top tours in Honolulu. Don’t forget to plan ahead when visiting Hawaii!
Top Activities and Tours in Honolulu:
Best Hotels in Oahu
1. Go Snorkeling and Dolphin Watching from Honolulu
When envisioning visiting Hawaii, you are probably wondering whether there are dolphins in Honolulu. The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, going snorkeling and dolphin watching is one of the best things to do in Honolulu. Honolulu has a spinner, bottle-nose and rough-toothed dolphins along its shores. So, your chances of spotting dolphins on a tour are over 99%. Sky high.
Many dolphin watching tours from Honolulu allow you to swim with the spectacular marine animals in their natural habitat. You grab snorkeling gear and an underwater camera and head out on a boat with an expert. Usually, you don’t have to go far. But going dolphin watching is a fabulous way to combine a once-in-a-lifetime activity with some general island sightseeing.
The North Shore is incredibly scenic when observed from the water.’The North Shore is incredibly scenic when observed from the water. More details are here.
2. Diamond Head State Monument
Diamond Head State Monument is easily the most recognizable natural landmark in Honolulu. Diamond Head is a vast 475-acre site home to the colossal structure of the Diamond Head Crater. The volcano has been dormant for approximately 150,000 years, and many geologists believe it to be monogenetic. Monogenetic volcanoes usually only erupt once and Diamond Head has remained dormant ever since. Read more at 17 Best Hikes in Oahu Hawaii
Book this guided tour for a taste of Hawaii that includes starting with a hike up the Diamond Head Crater followed by a drive to the North Shore. More details here
Visiting Diamond Head State Monument is one of the best, most classic things to do in Honolulu. The best way to see it is to hike the Diamond Head Trail, which takes between 1.5 hours to complete. The stairs are steep, but you get stunning crater rim views. Or, if you are feeling really luxurious, you could book a helicopter tour for an aerial view – some Oahu helicopter tours even offer doors on or off experiences.
3. Visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial
Visiting Honolulu, Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial is a rite of passage. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is one of the most tragic World War II sites. It pays respects to the soldiers that died in an attack on a US naval base. Orchestrated by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service, it is one of the most heinous attacks in all of world war history. The tragedy is considered one of the most impactful events of the world war. And visiting in person is a humbling, historical experience.
Both national memorials have museums that are free to enter. The National Park Service offers daily tours and programs should you want a more immersive insight into the tragedy. The informative aspect makes a huge difference in our opinion, providing an opportunity to visit a tragic site and learn.
Get your tickets in advance and guarantee your entry. Tickets include boat ride to the USS Arizona, a tour of the visitor’s center, and short film. This includes free cancelation up to 24 hours in advance
4. Spend an Evening at the Paradise Cove Luau
Culture is a must when visiting Honolulu. And to embrace authentic Hawaiian culture, you can spend an evening at the Paradise Cove Luau. A luau is a traditional, festive Hawaiian feast with music and dancing. Luaus are celebratory in Hawaiian culture and have been used for centuries to celebrate things like weddings, birthdays, and even victories in battle.
The Paradise Cove Luau is approximately 3-hours long and includes food and drink. The event is held at Ko Olina Resort, and guests can marvel at performances from fire and hula dancers. The atmosphere of celebration is totally infectious. And if you want a cultural way to spend an evening, visiting the Paradise Cove Luau is one of the best things to do in Honolulu.
Secure your set at book in advance here – Enjoy a welcome Mai Tia and buffet dinner as you watch the sunset and entertainment. Luau includes hula dancers, fire twirlers, and Hawaiian musicians. Optional round trip transportation can be booked from your hotel.
5. Relax at World-Famous Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach, and indeed the Waikiki District as a whole, are immensely famous for surfing. The palm-lined shores backed by rows of glitzy high-rises might look inconspicuous. However, Waikiki Beach was home to the world-famous surfer Duke Kahanamoku. Surfers flock worldwide to try its surf for themselves.
Surfer or not, you can enjoy the Waikiki Beach scenes. Waikiki Beach has stunning views of Diamond Head. Plus, you can watch the surfers shredding and ripping the waves. The water is such a beautiful, pastel shade of light blue – a beautiful backdrop for a free surfing show.
6. Enjoy Snorkeling with Sea Turtles on the North Shore
‘Spot green sea turtles’ is on most people’s to-do lists. And Oahu is the perfect place to tick off your snorkeling with sea turtles dream. While technically, this isn’t one of the things to do in Honolulu, it is an easy day trip up to the North Shore and its sea turtle hot spots. Laniakea Beach (unsurprisingly named Turtle Beach) is the best spot for spotting sea turtles, who often laze along the beach. If you pack snorkeling gear, you can take to the waters too to see if you get lucky with any swimming nearby.
Laniakea Beach is mainly a hot spot for Hawaiian green sea turtles. This turtle is native to Hawaii and weighs over 300 pounds – they are the world’s largest hard-shelled sea turtles, often growing up to four feet in length. Definitely bring a waterproof camera (GoPro is our top choice) and snorkeling gear for this activity. Or book an organized tour and let somebody else do the planning.
7. Join a Circle Island Tour from Honolulu
Circle island tours are one of the most popular things to do in Honolulu. They are a great idea if you only visit Oahu for a few days. A circle island tour runs from the Polynesian Cultural Center (more on that later). It takes visitors around the highlights of Oahu in a jam-packed full-day tour. Starting at 6:45 am, you won’t return to your hotel until the late evening. But honestly, the amount of Oahu attractions you tick off makes it worthwhile.
Circle island tours include Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay Lookout, the Dole Plantation, Pali Lookout, North Shore beaches, and more. It gets its name simply because the tour completes a full circle of Oahu. Time-effective and exciting, a circle island tour from Honolulu is easily one of the best things to do if you are short on time.
This highly rated 10-hour tour takes you on a journey to see all the top Honolulu attractions including Amelia Earhart Point, Halona Blowhole, “From Here to Eternity” Beach, and Valley of the Temples. This tour includes lunch at Fumis Shrimp Stand and then more sightseeing in the afternoon to Waimea Valley, the Arboretum, and Dole Pineapple Plantation. More Details here.
8. Go Hiking at Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls is a stunning waterfall that drops a staggering 150 feet in a dramatic single drop. It is the sort of waterfall that influencers flock to pose in front of for pictures and is an absolute natural landmark to visit from Honolulu on a day trip. Manoa Falls Trail is the way to access the falls. The 1.6-mile Manoa Falls Trail takes approximately an hour to complete as a round-trip. It leads hikers through the aesthetic bamboo jungle and tropical scenery.
While you can technically swim in Manoa Falls, we wouldn’t recommend it. As a word of warning, it does carry a threat of Leptospirosis, which can cause you flu-like symptoms for up to two weeks – not what you need for your trip. Stick to photographing the falls instead, and you’ll have a better time.
9. Street Art in Downtown Honolulu
Downtown Honolulu is an absolute hot spot for street art. The little neighborhoods, like Kaka’ako, dotted around the outskirts of Downtown, are full of colorful street art. The best way to embrace it is to simply explore the Downtown areas on foot, discovering street art accidentally as you go. Or alternatively, book a street art tour and squeeze all the best sites into a few hours. This way, you get expert information on the artwork too.
Whether you explore street art independently or by tour, it is a fantastic way to embrace the artistic side of Honolulu. Grab a coffee and take your time. Admiring, photographing, and interpreting street art is one of the best things to do in Honolulu.
10. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a beautiful park famous for its coral reefs and marine life. If you want a snorkeling spot with colorful and varied underwater scenery, Hanauma Bay is your best bet. You can see so many different types of tropical fish and plant life. And besides, the curved sands and bright green shape of the Hanauma Bay Ridge jutting up makes it one of the most aesthetic snorkeling spots you could ever choose.
Book this highly rated tour to avoid parking and driving hassles. This professional tour includes snorkeling gear, and round-trip transportation from Waikiki hotels. More details here.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a beautiful place to visit from Honolulu. The best thing is that it is just a 20-minute drive from Honolulu city center, located on the city’s far east outskirts. The journey is an hour and 20 minutes by public transport but only involves a single bus – nice and convenient.
11. Shop at the Ala Moana Center
A benefit of a city break is the retail opportunities. Who doesn’t love a bit of shopping as a holiday treat? This four-level shopping center is packed with stores and food courts. The vibe is upscale, and you’ll find stores like Gucci along its shiny corridors. So there is a chance for luxury designer shopping if that’s what you are into. However, it does balance out a little. There are more affordable shops and independent gift shops for picking up Honolulu souvenirs as well.
12. Visit the Iolani Palace
The Iolani Palace is one of the most essential historical things to do in Honolulu. The 19th-century palace is the home of Hawaii’s last monarchs and is a time capsule of vital Hawaiian history. Queen Liliuokalani was the final monarch on the Hawaiian throne and was overthrown by a military coup in 1893. The trend towards pro-American sentiment meant that the Queen’s rejection of the constitution placing limits on her powers quickly turned her enemies sour. The dramatic exit of the monarch from Ionali Palace is an essential part of Hawaiian history and important for visitors to fully understand and acknowledge.
Iolani Palace now runs tours and exhibits throughout the grounds. The palace has undergone meticulous restoration and is like a time capsule to its early days.
13. Polynesian Cultural Center
Visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center is one of the best things to do in Honolulu to embrace Hawaiian culture in a single experience. The center is a colossal venue dedicated to preserving the country’s culture and heritage practices. You can book to experience luaus and other exciting live shows. Or alternatively, book tours that leave from the Polynesian Cultural Center and whisk you around Oahu on a mission to sightsee and connect with the island.
The Polynesian Cultural Center does a precious job in terms of cultural preservation. It is also fascinating for tourists as it always has something to experience, learn, and appreciate. Located right in the center of Honolulu, it is easy to access on foot or public transport, depending on your location.
14. Taste Malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery
Malasadas are a traditional Portuguese doughnut and an absolute must-try for any visitors to Honolulu with a sweet tooth. Why are malasadas considered authentic Hawaiian cuisine, you might rightfully wonder? Well, malasadas were brought over by Portuguese laborers who came to work on the Hawaiian plantations around the late 1870s. The small, deep-fried doughnuts are famous for their fluffy center. Sometimes they come with fillings, and occasionally plain – just coated in a sugar dusting. Honestly, they are delicious either way.
Leonard’s Bakery is situated on Kapahulu Avenue, right in the middle of the city center, so it is easy to access. The bakery has been baking sweet treats since 1952 and is considered a historic venue in the city.
15. Relax at Kuhio Beach Park
Relaxing at Kuhio Beach Park is one of the most laid-back things to do in Honolulu. If you choose the right section of beach, protected by a large pier, the water is so calm that it is perfect for swimming. You can take a serene dip and sunbathe on the shores with a book. Or alternatively, you can walk further along the beach to watch the surfers in the rougher section. Whether you want to relax swimming or relax surfer watching, Kuhio Beach Park is a chilled place to head with a friendly atmosphere.
The beach park is also backed by the scenic Sheraton Boardwalk. If you want more active relaxation, grab a coffee and take a sunny stroll along the boardwalk with ocean views.
16. Get Caffeinated at the Best Honolulu Coffee Shops
Hawaiian coffee is a big deal, and visiting coffee shops is one of Honolulu’s best things to do if you are a caffeine fan. Hawaiian coffee comes from many different beans. A popular type is Kona coffee, grown on two volcanoes on the nearby Big Island. Kona coffee is often described as caramel or chocolate flavored. And the coffee is so sought-after that it is one of the most expensive coffees in the world.
A prime spot to sample this national delicacy is at Honolulu Coffee Experience Center. Visitors can observe the roasting process and try out some of the best brews with a coffee-tasting experience. Of course, a gift shop and cafe are onsite if you want to try a brew properly or purchase anything as a souvenir.
17. Marvel at the Halona Blowhole
Halona Blowhole is really cool. Located on the far outskirts of Honolulu, it takes around 20 minutes to drive or approximately 2 hours by public transport. The blowhole is worth the journey, though, as it shoots water up to 30 feet into the air. The seawater is pushed through a lava tube at force, which channels it into a scenic cove at pressure – exploding impressively into the air. As far as natural attractions go, this one is enjoyable.
You’ll find the Halona Blowhole Lookout next door to the blowhole site. We suggest heading here for the best views. Try to visit at high tide for the best, most impressive water explosions. And make sure to bring a camera and plenty of patience. Watching the blowhole is a lot like watching a geyser erupt. It isn’t always predictable when it will explode.
18. Honolulu Museum of Art
Honolulu Museum of Art is situated in the middle of Honolulu city center, right next to Thomas Square. It is a really substantial gallery, with over 50,000 pieces of artwork for you to admire. Again, keep the Honolulu Museum of Art in mind for a rainy day or even an oppressively hot midday. Entirely indoors and in the shade, it is a perfect indoor activity in Honolulu.
The Honolulu Museum of Art isn’t one of those haughty museums suited only to art enthusiasts. The museum is well-suited to anyone with an eye for aesthetics or an interest in Hawaiian art and history. The museum has a mix of paintings, sculptures, and general artifacts. There are some big names, too, with artwork from Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso. The combination of local artists and huge names is a unique balance. Don’t forget to leave time for a coffee at the end – the best way to process all the artwork you’ve admired.
19. Kualoa Ranch
Kualoa Ranch is a 4000-acre nature retreat. And as if that wasn’t impressive enough, it is also where certain scenes from Jurassic Park were filmed. Most of Jurassic Park was filmed on the nearby island of Kauai, but Kualoa Ranch was used for specific scenes like the stampede. If Kualoa Ranch’s scenery is good enough for Hollywood, it is definitely good enough for visitors to Honolulu. Better yet, it is just a single, one-hour bus journey from Honolulu city center or a 30-minute drive if you rent a car.
At Kualoa Ranch, you can sightsee the beautiful landscape and movie scenes. You can also ride on its zipline or take an ATV tour around the retreat. It is an exciting place to visit with stunning views, and you can’t be disappointed by its classic, bright green mountains.
20. Nu’uanu Pali Lookout
Nu’uanu Pali Lookout is one of the most stunning lookouts in all of Oahu, if not Hawaii. You get views of the coastline, surrounding green mountains, and dizzying cliffs below from the fenced vantage point. It is also of important historical significance, marking the site of a legendary 1795 battle.
A warrior named Kamehameha began an ambitious mission to take over all the Hawaiian islands in 1783. When the king of Oahu died in 1794, his two sons started a civil war for the crown. Kamehameha heard of the conflict and arrived in Oahu ready to take advantage of the monarchy’s weak position. A battle arose, and eventually, the Oahu warriors ended up in a compromised position – trapped between Kamehameha and his army and the cliffs by the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. The skulls later found at the bottom of the cliffs show that over 800 warriors perished, falling to their deaths.
The Pali Lookout is an important activity when visiting Honolulu. The importance of Hawaiian history and the Oahu scenery’s vantage point makes it one of the most popular things to do in Honolulu.
21. Bishop Museum
The ‘Bernice Pauahi’ Bishop Museum is a specialty museum in the center of Honolulu. The museum was founded by Charles Reed Bishop in honor of his wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who was the royal family’s last descendant. The Bishop Museum is packed with heirlooms from the Hawaiian Royal Family. It is one of the most important slices of history in the archipelago. The story behind the Bishop Museum makes it even more endearing – created out of love, adoration, and recognition of not only a wife but a rightful monarch.
It is not only royal history but also a natural history and cultural museum. You’ll find natural history specimens and cultural artifacts, not just nods to the Hawaiian monarchy.
22. Corsair Wreck Dive Site
Scuba diving down to the Corsair Wreck site is one of the most unusual things to do in Honolulu. The WWII aircraft was a tragedy, now turned artificial reef and place of environmental protection. While the pilot survived, the aircraft could not be brought to the surface and remained sunk, non-buoyant, at the bottom of the sea despite remaining perfectly intact. However, what was a frustrating loss of equipment is now a beautiful dive site.
The Corsair Wreck is home to eels, tropical fish, and coral. Sometimes, divers can also catch glimpses of larger marine life, like passing dolphins or sea turtles. The wreck is eerie. Basically, you are in for a real treat if you’ve never seen an aircraft wreck before. The wreck is definitely atmospheric. You’ll have to be an advanced diver, too, since you’ll be tackling strong currents and dropping to a depth of around 100ft.
23. Trek Along the Koko Crater Trail
The Koko Crater Trail is frequently named as one of the top things to do in Honolulu. Don’t be fooled; this trail is not for the faint-hearted. The route takes you up an abandoned railway track and takes around 30 minutes if you are fully fit. This crater trail is notoriously challenging but scenic and impressively uses thousands of railway ties to provide a ladder-like contraption to assist hikers to the top.
It is not only the challenge and novelty of the hike that makes it worthwhile, though. The Koko Crater Summit is stunning, and you get beautiful views over Honolulu Harbor below.
24. Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design
Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design is entirely created from the heiress Doris Duke’s private collection of Islamic art. Called the Museum of Islamic Art for short; this museum is set in a beautiful estate – giving it a residential, intimate feel. You can take guided tours around the collection from Wednesdays to Saturdays between 9 am and 1:30 pm. There are exhibitions dotted around the estate if you want to experience things more independently.
The Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art is definitely one for art enthusiasts. You must appreciate the story behind the collection and the pieces’ rarity to get the most out of this attraction.
25. Aloha Tower
Aloha Tower is iconic. The 10-story lighthouse is one of Honolulu’s most recognizable structures. It dates back to 1926, so it is revered as historical architecture. You can, of course, admire the Aloha Tower from outside at street level. However, to really experience the building, we suggest heading up to the 10th-floor observation deck. You get a taste of the Aloha Tower interior and fantastic views over Honolulu from here. The observation deck wraps 360 degrees around the top of the tower, leaving you with pretty unlimited views.
26. Waiola Shave Ice
Trying shave ice, otherwise known as Hawaiian shave ice, is one of the tastiest things to do in Honolulu. The recipe is a delicious concoction of shaved ice mixed with syrup and sugar. The ice comes in different flavors and colors, served in a little cone with a spoon. Rather than being watery like a slushie, shaved ice is more crisper and delicate. The result is something much like ice cream but more refreshing and intense in flavor. Unsurprisingly, it is a massive hit amongst both tourists and locals.
Waiola Shave Ice is a tiny grocery store renowned for its shave ice. It is situated in the McCully-Moiliili neighborhood of central Honolulu. It is easily spotted by its giant shaved ice statues outside.
27. Have a Picnic at Sans Souci Beach Park
A picnic at San Souci Beach Park is one of the highlights of an ideal Honolulu itinerary. San Souci Beach is a beautiful inner-city spot for sunbathing and paddling. But the stretch of wooded, bright green parkland behind it is much better suited for picnicking and finding shade. Find a shady spot under the trees and throw down a blanket to enjoy your snacks with views of the promenade and ocean in the distance.
Embracing the slow pace of life in Hawaii is really important – even if you stay in the metropolis of Honolulu. Take some time for a relaxing activity like watching the sunset or going for a picnic and Sans Souci Beach Park, and you’ll make the most of your trip.
28. Honolulu’s Chinatown
Despite being a neighborhood rather than an attraction, we just had to include Honolulu’s Chinatown on our list of things to do in Honolulu. The area is best experienced on foot, with rows and rows of Chinese markets, eateries, and architectural features to admire. Chinatown in Honolulu is as much an atmosphere as a standard attraction.
We suggest picking one of the traditional Chinese restaurants for dinner to get the most out of Chinatown. You could then catch a performance at the Hawaii Theatre Center or stop by one of the area’s leading art galleries.
29. Shop and Eat at the Royal Hawaiian Center
The Royal Hawaiian Center is another top-tier shopping center for you to consider when visiting Honolulu. Slightly different from the Ala Moana Center, the Royal Hawaiian Center only caters to a luxury crowd retail-wise – unless you want to window shop. It sells countless pieces of beautiful jewelry and luxury items. So if you want to pick up a sentimental piece of jewelry, the Royal Hawaiian Center is a fantastic place to visit.
Aside from jewelry and other retail areas, the Royal Hawaiian Center has many food stores and eateries. One of the most popular is the Cheesecake Factory. But honestly, take your time to wander around them all and pick a few different places to try some foods.
30. KCC Farmers’ Market
Will you be in Honolulu on a Saturday while visiting? If so, the KCC Farmer’s Market is an excellent activity in the morning. The market sells local produce and flowers from 7:30 am until 11 am. You can’t go wrong for that romantic farmer’s market experience. If you are in self-catered accommodation, you can pick up fresh produce for tasty meals. You can even pick up some flowers to brighten up your hotel room and press them as a souvenir to take home.
The best thing about KCC Farmer’s Market is that you can easily tick it off first thing in the morning and then spend the rest of your Saturday at a different attraction. As an early morning activity, it is one of the best things to do in Honolulu. You can even pick up fresh breakfast there.
31. Koko Crater Botanical Garden
Koko Crater Botanical Garden is within 200 acres of the Koko Crater and covers 60 acres of plants, including cacti. The garden is sometimes nicknamed Honolulu botanical gardens, one of the most popular Honolulu attractions amongst nature lovers. You can enjoy the botanical garden by hiking a 2-mile loop trail, which whisks you past all the prettiest plant life.
While visiting the Koko Crater Botanical Garden, you can hike up the Koko Crater Stairs to the summit for spectacular views. The two attractions fit perfectly together in terms of practicality. You might want to tackle this first. The pretty plant life and photogenic cacti will be welcome as peaceful, relaxing things to spot after you’ve successfully mastered the Koko Crater Stairs.
32. Ala Moana Regional Park
Ala Moana Regional Park is a 100-acre park that spills onto the shores of Ala Moana Beach, a man-made beach with highly calm waters that people flock to for swimming. The atmosphere is laidback and family-friendly. The park has plenty of well-maintained hiking paths and even a tennis court. If you want somewhere to visit central Honolulu during the day, there’s plenty to do in Ala Moana Regional Park. In short, it’s ideal for a stroll in the sun or a relaxed day out with a book if you prefer sunbathing.
Another massive bonus is that Ala Moana Regional Park is right off Ala Moana Boulevard. So if you wish, you can combine this significant urban attraction with a more laidback retreat into nature. As another top tip, Ala Moana Regional Park has beautiful cityscape views at night. Keep that in mind for a late-night view.
33. Catch Sunset at Magic Island
Magic Island is a beautiful man-made peninsula. The island juts out from the coastline of Honolulu. It is easily reached from the city center on foot or by public transport. Magic Island is home to Ala Moana Beach Park but is also one of the best sunset spots in Honolulu.
You can walk the network of scenic trails around Magic Island, which are beautiful at sunset and dusk. Or, we suggest packing a picnic and setting up camp on one of the grassy areas around the island. You can watch the sunset over the ocean, Ala Moana Beach, and the Honolulu cityscape. Bring a camera and a warm jacket or blanket – that way, you’ll enjoy the views for as long as the sunset lasts.
Things to Do in Honolulu: FAQs
Feeling up to scratch on your knowledge of the most amazing things to do in Honolulu? This is the most exciting part of your holiday: researching and planning attractions you’ll remember forever. Honolulu has varied attractions – with urban areas like Chinatown and natural regions too, including some of Oahu’s best hikes on its doorstep.
But chances are you still have questions about visiting Honolulu from a practical perspective. These are the answers to the questions on the tip of your tongue.
How to Get to Honolulu
To get to Honolulu, you’ll have to fly (unless you play it really unorthodox, but we’ll get to that later). The easiest way to get to Honolulu is to fly into Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. And if you are flying from the US or Pacific region, you’ll likely find a direct flight.
Some people may arrive in Honolulu as part of a cruise. If you just want a taster of the city, you can plan to book a cruise that incorporates a stop at Honolulu in its itinerary. Alternatively, you could arrange to terminate your cruise at Honolulu, disembarking and enjoying a holiday at the other end. For the really adventurous, using a cruise to reach Honolulu makes your journey more of an experience and incorporates different destinations along the way. A win, win, really.
Getting Around Honolulu
Generally, getting around Honolulu is a breeze using public transport. TheBus is a bus system that runs throughout the city. As of 2023, prices start at less than $3 for a one-way journey – making it exceptionally budget-friendly. To capitalize on these low costs even more, you might purchase a HOLO pass, which cuts costs even further by introducing a cap of around $5 per day. Using TheBus is perfect. You can travel all around Honolulu and even to some of the major areas on the rest of the island, including the iconic Oahu’s north shore.
The only time public transport isn’t ideal is when you are reaching more remote areas. For instance, when trying to get to trailheads or lesser-visited attractions. In these cases, you are best hiring a car. Fortunately, this is easily done. If you plan a rough itinerary in advance, you can always hire a car for a day to cut costs and be more environmentally friendly. A car gives you tons more freedom and is generally quicker than local buses. So it might also be better for those only visiting for short periods.
If you are staying in one specific area of Honolulu (like Downtown Honolulu or Honolulu’s Chinatown), you find it easy to explore on foot. You can easily get around on foot by choosing the accommodation location wisely. And then just use a car or public transport to ‘connect the dots’ when traveling further afield. Compare car rental prices here.
Best Time to Visit Honolulu
April is the optimal month to visit Honolulu. Not only is it outside of the November to March rainy season, but it is also a shoulder season, meaning fewer tourists. April is hot, with temperatures of around 84 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also outside the June to November hurricane season, which is good to avoid if you don’t want to risk abandoning your holiday halfway through.
If you can’t visit Honolulu in April, we’d recommend September. While you take a slight risk by visiting during hurricane season, it has good weather and fewer crowds – also an ideal shoulder season. So if you can’t make April work, September is the second best time to visit Honolulu.
Can you do Honolulu in 4 days?
Yes, you can do Honolulu in 4 days. With 4 days, you can visit a handful of museums and take at least one day trip to nearby attractions in other areas of Oahu.
What is Honolulu best known for?
Honolulu is best known for being the hub of the Hawaiian islands. Most people arrive or transit there and have a citified, culture-heavy atmosphere.
How many days is good for Honolulu?
4 days is a good minimum for visiting Honolulu. However, you could easily spend a week in Honolulu if you plan day trips and tours.
Is 3 days in Hawaii enough?
3 days in Hawaii is not enough. Sure, visiting briefly is better than not visiting at all. But staying for 3 days will drastically limit your experience and not let you see all the best Hawaiian attractions.
There are so many things to do in Honolulu. And even if you manage to tick all of the fantastic things to do in the Hawaiian capital off, there’s plenty to do on the island of Oahu.
We love the variety of activities and attractions that Honolulu offers. Despite being such a vital, functional city for the Hawaiian archipelago, it has plenty of nature and authentic culture. Honolulu is far from an industrialized stopover point. Just seeing pictures of Diamond Head and the tropical fish in Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve tells you that.