15 Best Things to Do in Honolulu, Hawaii

Sharing is caring!

Uncover the best things to do in Honolulu for the ultimate getaway in the capital of Hawaii.

Honolulu is a tropical metropolis and the perfect mix of city and nature. Located on the island of Oahu here you will find stunning beaches, historic landmarks, and cultural attractions.

I recently spent 1 week in Oahu and spent quite a bit of time in Honolulu and LOVED it. Honolulu is not what I expected – it has a much bigger city vibe but paired with beaches it’s super unique!

Below are the top things to do in Honolulu.

(Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and you may even receive a small discount. See disclosure for more information.)

15 Best Things to Do in Honolulu, Hawaii

Short on time? Here’s everything you need to know!
The THREE best hotels in Honolulu are:
➡️ The Royal Hawaiian
➡️ The Ritz-Carlton Residences
➡️ Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani

🚁 CLICK HERE to book the BEST RATED Helicopter Tour in Oahu!

Visit Waikiki Beach

Visiting Waikiki Beach is one of the top things to do in Honolulu. This is one of Honolulu’s top attractions made famous for its soft sand, turquoise waters, and iconic Diamond Head mountain backdrop.

💡 This is Honolulu’s most popular beach that is always pretty busy. With this in mind, the best time to visit is in the morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds and enjoy the stunning sunrise or sunset.

Explore Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is a top attraction in Honolulu known for its historical significance as the site of the infamous 1941 attack. Visiting allows you to pay respects at the USS Arizona Memorial and gain insights into World War II history.

Opting for a guided tour enhances the experience by providing informative commentary, access to restricted areas, and context to understand the events surrounding the attack. Additionally, guided tours often include transportation, which offers convenience and allows you to maximize your time while exploring this important landmark.

➡️ Click HERE to book the top-rated Pearl Harbour TOUR!

Hike Diamond Head

Hiking Diamond Head is a MUST-DO in Honolulu due to its breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the Pacific Ocean from the summit. The hike is an easy-moderate hike, making it accessible to most visitors.

It’s best to visit early in the morning to avoid crowds and to enjoy cooler temperatures.

💡 INSIDER TIP: You MUST book your time slot for this hike in advance or you CANNOT go on the hike. Book your time here (cost is $5).

The hike typically takes around 1 to 2 hours round trip, including stops for photos and breaks. However, I did the hike with stops and everything in 1 hour.

Relax at Hanauma Bay

Relaxing at Hanauma Bay is one of the top things to do in Honolulu due to its stunning natural beauty, diverse marine life, and waters ideal for snorkeling and swimming. As a protected marine conservation area, here you can see stunning colorful fish and coral formations.

To get to Hanauma Bay, you can take a rental car, taxi, or ride-sharing service from Honolulu, as well as various guided tours. Additionally, public buses are available from Waikiki with convenient drop-off points near the entrance.

Once there, you can access the bay via a short walk from the parking lot and pay the entrance fee.

💡 The entrance fee for this beach is $25.00 for each guest

Eat Endless Acai Bowls

Acai bowls, made with acai berries blended with fruits and topped with granola, nuts, and honey, are the PERFECT treat for a hot day in Hawaii. You can find acai bowls at numerous cafes throughout Honolulu, each offering its own unique twist on this amazing treat.

💡 My favourite place to get an acai bowl in Honolulu is Island Vintage!

Enjoying endless acai bowls allows you to experience the flavors and culture of Honolulu while also nourishing your body with wholesome ingredients.

Take a Sunset Cruise

Taking a sunset cruise is one of the top things to do in Honolulu to enjoy the breathtaking colors of the Hawaiian sunset reflecting off the Pacific Ocean. It offers a romantic and memorable experience for couples, friends and families alike.

Many tours include amenities such as appetizers, drinks, and onboard entertainment, adding to the enjoyment of the excursion.

➡️ Click HERE to book the BEST Sunset Cruise in Oahu!

Venture to North Shore

Venturing to the North Shore is a top activity in Honolulu for its legendary surfing spots, laid-back atmosphere, and stunning coastal scenery. Known for its gigantic winter waves and world-class surf competitions, North Shore attracts surf enthusiasts from around the globe.

Beyond surfing, you can explore charming coastal towns, indulge in delicious shrimp trucks, and admire breathtaking sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

The best time to visit the North Shore is during the winter months (November to February) to witness the epic waves and surfing competitions. To get there, you can drive or take a scenic bus ride along the Kamehameha Highway from Honolulu, which takes about an hour depending on traffic.

Alternatively, guided tours and shuttle services are available for those without transportation.

Explore Chinatown

Visiting Chinatown is one of the top things to do in Honolulu due to its rich cultural heritage, vibrant atmosphere, and diverse array of shops, eateries, and attractions.

As one of the oldest Chinatowns in the United States, Honolulu’s Chinatown offers a fascinating blend of Chinese, Hawaiian, and immigrant influences, providing you with an immersive cultural experience.

Explore markets filled with fresh produce, seafood, and exotic spices, sample delicious Asian cuisine at authentic restaurants, and browse unique boutiques selling traditional crafts and souvenirs.

Visit Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden

Exploring Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden is one of the BEST things to do in Honolulu to admire Oahu’s breathtaking natural beauty, diverse plant collections, and the most beautiful landscapes!

Spanning over 400 acres, the garden showcases a wide variety of tropical and subtropical plants, including rare and endangered species, offering visitors a serene escape into nature.

This is my FAVOURITE place to visit in Oahu which is even more amazing in real life. Be sure to arrive at 9 AM when it opens to enjoy it with fewer people!

The best way to visit is by renting a car and driving through the gardens. The entrance drive-in is one of the most popular photo spots in Oahu – but you can’t stop and take photos so be ready to snap some while you drive in.

Visit the Honolulu Museum of Art

Visiting the Honolulu Museum of Art is one of the top things to do in Honolulu for its extensive collection of artworks spanning diverse cultures and time periods. Home to over 50,000 pieces, including Asian, European, American, and Pacific art, the museum offers a rich and immersive cultural experience.

You can admire masterpieces by renowned artists, explore galleries showcasing contemporary and traditional art forms, and participate in educational programs and special exhibitions.

Take a Surf Lesson

Taking a surf lesson in Honolulu is one of the top things to do for its iconic status as the birthplace of modern surfing and its world-renowned waves. Honolulu’s warm waters and rolling waves provide the perfect conditions for beginners to learn from experienced instructors.

Beyond the thrill of riding waves, surfing connects visitors to Hawaii’s rich cultural heritage and deep-rooted relationship with the ocean. It provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local surf culture and lifestyle while enjoying the stunning coastal scenery.

Visit the Bishop Museum

Visiting the Bishop Museum is one of the top things to do in Honolulu for its rich cultural and historical significance, offering visitors a comprehensive insight into Hawaii’s past, present, and future.

As the state’s largest museum, the Bishop Museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts, artworks, and exhibits that showcase the diverse cultures and natural history of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

Take a Helicopter Tour

Taking a helicopter tour in Honolulu offers unparalleled views of the island’s stunning landscapes, iconic landmarks, and natural wonders. From viewing lush rainforests and cascading waterfalls to hovering over volcanic craters and pristine beaches, a helicopter tour offers an exhilarating perspective of Oahu.

➡️ CLICK HERE to book the BEST RATED Helicopter Tour in Oahu!

Attend a Luau

Attending a luau is one of the best things to do in Honolulu for its immersive cultural experience, entertainment, and Hawaiian cuisine. Luau’s are deeply rooted in Hawaiian tradition and offer a glimpse into the island’s rich heritage and Polynesian customs.

At a Luau you can enjoy traditional music, hula dancing, and fire performances while feasting on a buffet of local delicacies, including kalua pig, poi, and fresh seafood.

Rent a Car and Explore Oahu

Renting a car and driving around Honolulu and Oahu is my favorite way to explore Hawaii. With a rental car, you can venture beyond the city limits and embark on scenic drives along Oahu’s stunning coastline, through lush rainforests, and into charming towns and villages.

I rented my car with Turo – it’s like Airbnb but for cars. I LOVED this option and opted for a Jeep because its the ultimate Hawaii car.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days in Honolulu is enough?

Spending around 5 to 7 days in Honolulu is ideal for exploring the city’s top attractions, enjoying leisurely beach days, and embarking on day trips to nearby sights.

This time provides ample opportunity to experience popular activities such as visiting Pearl Harbor, hiking Diamond Head, taking a scenic drive along the coast, attending a luau, and relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Waikiki.

Is 7 days enough for Honolulu?

Yes, 7 days is enough time to explore Honolulu and its surrounding areas. Within this timeframe, you can fully immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural heritage, enjoy leisurely beach days, and explore top attractions.

Additionally, with a week-long stay, you have the flexibility to venture beyond Honolulu and discover other parts of Oahu, including the North Shore, Kailua, and the Windward Coast.

Do I need a car in Honolulu?

Having a car provides flexibility and convenience for exploring the island but it is not necessary within the city limits of Honolulu. The city has a relatively good public transportation system, including buses and trolleys, which can take you to many popular attractions, shopping areas, and beaches.

Additionally, rideshare services and taxis are readily available for shorter trips or when public transportation is not. However, if you plan to explore more remote areas of Oahu or take day trips to other parts of the island, renting a car is a must.

Is there a lot to do in Honolulu?

Yes, there is a lot to do in Honolulu! As the capital city of Hawaii, Honolulu has a ton of different activities and attractions. From exploring historic sites, to enjoying outdoor adventures there is no shortage of things to see and do.

Where to Stay in Honolulu

In Honolulu, Waikiki is one of the most popular areas to stay. This vibrant neighborhood boasts beautiful beaches, excellent dining options, and convenient access to shopping and attractions.

Two other great options are:

  • Downtown Honolulu for a more urban atmosphere with historic sites and cultural attractions nearby
  • Ala Moana offers upscale hotels and easy access to Ala Moana Center, one of the largest shopping malls in the United States.

The THREE best hotels in Honolulu are:

Travel Insurance

Getting travel insurance before you travel is a MUST. It’s the number one thing you should always pack before travelling that can save you a lot of money, time, and stress.

With how crazy travel has gotten recently you need that peace of mind that no matter what happens there is something protecting you from losing out. I always travel with travel insurance and think everyone should.

I always travel with travel insurance and think everyone should. Below is my favorite travel insurer Safety Wings, enter your details to get a free quote!

Like this post? Pin “14 Best Things to do in Honolulu, Hawaii” for later!