15 Things To Do In Honolulu [2024]: Explore The Best Of Oahu

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Looking for the ultimate Oahu adventure, then discover 15 amazing things to do in Honolulu, from thrilling tours to serene hikes. 

Explore Honolulu like a local and make your dream vacation a reality!

If you’re seeking thrilling experiences, serene escapes, and cultural treasures, you’re in the right place. 

In this guide, we’ll reveal 15 incredible things to do in Honolulu that cater to all tastes and budgets. 

Whether you’re an outgoing adventurer or a nature lover, you’ll find something to make your dream vacation a reality.

Things to do in Honolulu: Experience the Ocean

things to do in honolulu

1. Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay

Dive into the world beneath the waves when exploring things to do in Honolulu by embarking on a snorkeling escapade at Hanauma Bay

This natural wonderland, nestled within a marine conservation area, is a snorkeler’s paradise. 

With crystal-clear waters that shimmer like liquid sapphire, Hanauma Bay beckons you to explore its depths.

Submerge yourself in a realm of unparalleled beauty as you encounter vibrant coral reefs that teem with an astonishing array of marine life. 

Rainbow-hued fish dart and weave among the coral formations, creating a kaleidoscope of colors.

As you glide through the water, you’ll feel like you’ve entered an underwater Eden, surrounded by the wonders of the Pacific Ocean.

Whether you’re an experienced snorkeler or a first-timer, Hanauma Bay offers an inclusive experience for all skill levels. 

Lifeguards are on duty to ensure your safety, and equipment rentals are readily available, making it easy to immerse yourself in this aquatic wonderland. 

2. Surfing at Waikiki Beach

When it comes to exhilarating things to do in Honolulu, catching a wave at the world-renowned Waikiki Beach is an adventure that beckons surfers of all backgrounds.

 Whether you’re a seasoned wave rider or a novice eager to learn the art of surfing, Waikiki Beach is the ultimate destination to experience the thrill of riding the Pacific swells.

The inviting turquoise waters of Waikiki provide the perfect canvas for your surfing journey. 

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Novices can take advantage of the numerous surf schools that dot the shoreline, staffed by experienced instructors ready to guide you through the fundamentals of riding the waves. 

With their expert guidance, you’ll soon be catching waves like a pro, feeling the exhilaration of gliding over the water’s surface.

For the experienced surfer, Waikiki offers a playground of diverse breaks, catering to various skill levels. 

Paddle out to test your mettle on the legendary waves that have attracted surfers from around the world for generations.

Whether you’re seeking thrills or tranquility, Waikiki Beach has it all, making it an adventure you simply can’t miss when exploring things to do in Honolulu.

3. Things to do in Honolulu: Sunset Cruise

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When the sun begins its descent over the Hawaiian horizon, there’s no better way to embrace the romance of the islands than by embarking on a captivating sunset cruise

This is undoubtedly one of the most captivating things to do in Honolulu, offering you the chance to witness the mesmerizing beauty of a Hawaiian sunset from the serene vantage point of the open sea.

Step aboard a luxurious cruise vessel, where you’ll be welcomed by warm ocean breezes and a sense of anticipation.

As you set sail, the panoramic views of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean will leave you in awe. 

The sky transforms into a masterpiece of vivid oranges, pinks, and purples, casting a soft, golden glow on the water below.

While you soak in the breathtaking scenery, indulge in tropical cocktails served by friendly and attentive staff. 

The gentle swaying of the boat adds to the ambiance, creating an atmosphere of pure relaxation. 

Whether you’re sharing this experience with a loved one or simply seeking a moment of solitude, a sunset cruise in Honolulu promises to be an unforgettable memory.

So, raise your glass, toast to the beauty of Hawaii, and revel in the tranquility of a Hawaiian sunset and check out our 9 Best Sunset Cruises.

Things to do in Honolulu: Explore the Culture

4. Visit Pearl Harbor

When considering things to do in Honolulu, a visit to the iconic Pearl Harbor is an absolute must for history enthusiasts and anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Hawaii’s place in American history. 

This hallowed site is a poignant reminder of the events that unfolded on December 7, 1941.

Begin your journey by paying your respects at the USS Arizona Memorial, a solemn tribute to the lives lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

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As you stand on the memorial, you’ll be moved by the sheer gravity of the moment and the sense of history that envelops you.

Continue your exploration at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, where you’ll delve into the details of that fateful day through engaging exhibits and informative displays. 

Gain insights into the events that shaped not only Hawaii but the entire nation. It’s a somber yet essential experience that provides context and reverence for the sacrifices made.

Visiting Pearl Harbor is not just an opportunity to learn about history; it’s a chance to honor the brave individuals who served their country during a time of crisis. It’s a testament to the resilience and unity of America.

5. Iolani Palace Tour

For a captivating journey into Hawaiian royalty, immerse yourself in the opulence and history of the Hawaiian monarchy with a tour of the Iolani Palace

Located in the heart of Honolulu, this palace holds the distinction of being the only royal palace on American soil.

Step back in time as you explore the meticulously restored rooms of the palace, each one a testament to the grandeur of Hawaii’s monarchs.

 Marvel at the exquisite architecture, ornate furnishings, and regal decor that transport you to an era of lavish elegance.

During your tour, you’ll gain insight into the fascinating history of Hawaii’s monarchy, from its ancient origins to the tumultuous events that led to its eventual overthrow. 

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Learn about the unique culture and customs of the Hawaiian people, and appreciate the enduring legacy of the monarchy in shaping modern Hawaii.

As you walk through the palace’s halls, you’ll feel a profound connection to Hawaii’s royal heritage. 

It’s a cultural journey that not only educates but also inspires, making a tour of the Iolani Palace one of the most enriching things to do in Honolulu.

6. Things to do in Honolulu: Shangri La Museum of Art

Calling all art enthusiasts! 

When seeking cultural treasures and unique things to do in Honolulu, the Shangri La Museum of Art should be at the top of your list. 

This hidden gem offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore an exquisite collection of Islamic art set against the stunning backdrop of an oceanfront estate.

The Shangri La estate, once the home of tobacco heiress Doris Duke, is a masterpiece of architectural design. 

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As you wander through its opulent rooms and lush gardens, you’ll be captivated by the fusion of Islamic art, Hawaiian aesthetics, and natural beauty.

The museum’s collection features a diverse array of Islamic art, including intricate textiles, vibrant ceramics, stunning jewelry, and captivating calligraphy. 

Each piece tells a story of the rich and varied cultures that span the Islamic world, from Morocco to India.

While exploring the Shangri La Museum of Art, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of cultures and the beauty that arises from their convergence. 

And if you love exploring art museums we’ve listed the Top 4 in Honolulu.

Things to do in Honolulu: Nature Adventures

7. Diamond Head Hike

When it comes to adventurous things to do in Honolulu, the Diamond Head Hike is an absolute gem. 

This moderately challenging hike takes you on a journey to the summit of an extinct volcano, promising not only a satisfying physical challenge but also some of the most breathtaking vistas of the city and the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

As you ascend the well-maintained trail, you’ll traverse through unique terrain, including tunnels and staircases that add to the excitement of the hike. 

The reward at the top is truly spectacular.

 From the summit, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Honolulu, with its bustling cityscape set against the backdrop of the azure ocean. 

The sight of surfers catching waves at nearby beaches and the gentle sway of palm trees only enhance the scene.

The Diamond Head Hike is not only an excellent workout but also a memorable outdoor adventure that should be on every traveler’s list of things to do in Honolulu.

8. Things to do in Honolulu: Manoa Falls Trail

Amidst the urban buzz of Honolulu, the Manoa Falls Trail offers a serene escape into a lush, tropical paradise. 

This enchanting hike takes you through a bamboo forest and verdant rainforest, leading to the captivating Manoa Falls, one of the island’s most picturesque waterfalls.

Begin your journey by immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of the bamboo forest. 

The towering bamboo stalks create a mystical atmosphere as sunlight filters through the canopy, casting dappled shadows along the trail.

As you venture deeper into the rainforest, the tranquil sound of flowing water will guide you to the base of Manoa Falls. 

things to do in honolulu

Standing before the cascading water, you’ll be mesmerized by its beauty and the sense of tranquility that surrounds it. 

It’s a perfect spot for a refreshing dip or simply to savor the moment in this serene natural haven.

The Manoa Falls Trail offers a gentle hike suitable for all ages and fitness levels, making it a fantastic family adventure or a solo exploration.

9. Lanikai Beach Day

When it comes to relaxation and sun-soaked pleasures in Honolulu, few places rival the pristine shores of Lanikai Beach. 

Known for its powdery white sands and crystal-clear blue waters, Lanikai Beach is a tropical paradise that beckons sunbathers, swimmers, and beach enthusiasts alike.

Lanikai Beach provides the ideal setting for a leisurely day by the sea, where you can unwind, swim, or take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline.

The clear, calm waters of Lanikai are perfect for swimming, paddleboarding, and kayaking, and the nearby Mokulua Islands offer opportunities for adventurous exploration. 

Whether you’re seeking active water sports or simply a peaceful retreat, Lanikai Beach offers it all.

Things to do in Honolulu: Culinary Delights

10. Foodie Tour in Chinatown

For a culinary adventure that tantalizes your taste buds and offers a glimpse into the vibrant food culture of Honolulu, embark on a foodie tour in Chinatown

This experience is not just about dining; it’s about immersing yourself in a world of diverse flavors and culinary traditions.

Chinatown in Honolulu is a bustling hub of gastronomic delights, where you can sample delectable dishes from local eateries and food stalls. 

As you explore the bustling streets, your senses will be treated to an array of aromas, from savory dim sum to sizzling stir-fries.

Your foodie tour guide, well-versed in the local culinary scene, will lead you through a culinary journey that showcases the rich fusion of flavors that define Honolulu’s food culture. 

Taste traditional Chinese dishes, tropical fruits, and even some fusion creations that highlight the island’s multicultural influences.

With every bite, you’ll uncover a new layer of the city’s culinary identity, making this foodie tour in Chinatown one of the most delectable and culturally immersive things to do in Honolulu.

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11. Hawaiian Luau Experience

To truly immerse yourself in the heart of Hawaiian culture and cuisine, don’t miss the opportunity to partake in a traditional luau experience

This iconic Hawaiian feast is a celebration of island delicacies, vibrant entertainment, and a sense of camaraderie under the starry Hawaiian sky.

As you enter the luau, you’ll be greeted with the tantalizing aroma of roasted pig, tropical fruits, and a buffet of mouthwatering island dishes. 

From kalua pork to lomi lomi salmon, the feast is a sensory delight that showcases the flavors of Hawaii.

A Hawaiian luau experience is a journey through the traditions and flavors that define Hawaii, and it’s an opportunity to savor the essence of the islands. 

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply seeking a taste of Hawaiian culture, this feast under the stars is one of the most unforgettable things to do in Honolulu.

12. Poke Bowl Feast

Indulge in a mouthwatering poke bowl feast, an essential culinary experience when exploring things to do in Honolulu. 

Poke, a Hawaiian delicacy, consists of fresh, cubed seafood—typically ahi tuna or salmon—seasoned with an array of delicious sauces and served over a bed of rice or greens.

What makes a poke bowl feast truly special is the ability to customize your bowl to your exact preferences. 

Choose your seafood, select from an assortment of veggies, and drizzle on your favorite sauces, whether you crave the spicy kick of sriracha mayo or the tangy zing of ponzu.

Each bite is a burst of flavor and freshness, highlighting the island’s commitment to using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. 

Whether you’re a seafood lover or just looking to savor a unique Hawaiian culinary delight, a poke bowl feast is a must-try experience. 

Sample the diverse flavors and textures that make up this beloved Hawaiian dish, and you’ll understand why it’s one of the most sought-after things to do in Honolulu for food enthusiasts.

Things to do in Honolulu: Hidden Gems

13. Byodo-In Temple

Nestled in the Valley of the Temples is the Byodo-In Temple, this temple is a faithful replica of a Japanese Buddhist temple and offers a serene respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

As you enter the temple grounds, you’ll be greeted by the striking sight of a majestic red pagoda and a tranquil reflecting pond. 

The temple’s architecture is a testament to meticulous craftsmanship, with intricate details and stunning beauty that transport you to a world of serenity.

Stroll along peaceful pathways shaded by lush greenery, and you’ll encounter koi ponds, graceful swans, and lush gardens. 

The air is filled with the soothing sounds of wind chimes and rustling leaves, creating an atmosphere of peace and contemplation.

The Byodo-In Temple offers an experience that is culturally rich and rewarding. 

14. Things to do in Honolulu: Koko Crater Botanical Garden

Situated within the rugged terrain of Koko Crater, this desert garden offers a striking contrast to the island’s lush landscapes.

As you explore this distinctive garden, you’ll discover a diverse collection of cacti and succulents from around the world. 

The arid climate creates a stark and beautiful landscape where these hardy plants thrive.

Wander along meandering paths, and you’ll encounter a stunning array of shapes and textures, from towering saguaros to intricate agave plants. 

The garden’s unique location within the crater creates a sense of isolation and serenity that allows you to immerse yourself fully in the world of desert plants.

Photographers and plant enthusiasts will find endless opportunities to capture the striking beauty of these desert flora. 

It’s a hidden oasis of plant diversity that showcases nature’s ability to thrive in the harshest of environments, making it a truly unique and enriching experience among things to do in Honolulu.

15. Camper Van Rental Experience

For those who seek adventure and have a desire to explore Honolulu on their terms, consider a camper van rental experience as a unique way to discover the island’s hidden treasures. 

While this may not be a traditional tourist attraction, it’s an adventurous and unconventional way to make the most of your time in Honolulu.

Renting a camper van allows you the freedom to chart your own course, whether you want to chase the best surf breaks, discover secluded beaches, or camp under the stars in picturesque locations. 

With a fully equipped camper van, you’ll have all the comforts of home, including a cozy bed, a kitchenette, and even a mini living space. 

It’s the ideal way to combine the thrill of outdoor exploration with the convenience of modern amenities.

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This unique camper van rental experience provides an authentic way to connect with the natural beauty of Oahu while creating memories that are entirely your own. 

Whether you’re an adventurous couple seeking a romantic escape or a group of friends ready for an epic road trip, this unconventional adventure is undoubtedly one of the most exciting things to do in Honolulu.

Honolulu is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be uncovered. 

Whether you’re into thrilling water activities, cultural exploration, or serene hikes, this vibrant city has it all. 

Make your dream vacation a reality by exploring these 15 amazing things to do in Honolulu. 

Pack your sense of adventure, and get ready for an unforgettable journey in paradise!

Things to do in Honolulu: FAQs

Is snorkeling in Hanauma Bay suitable for beginners?

Absolutely! Hanauma Bay offers a safe and welcoming environment for novice snorkelers.

Can anyone attempt the Diamond Peak Hike?

While there are no strict restrictions, the hike can be physically demanding. It’s best suited for those with moderate fitness levels.

What’s the best time to visit Pearl Harbor to avoid crowds?

To avoid large crowds, plan your visit to Pearl Harbor early in the morning or on weekdays.

Are there guided tours available for the Excursions mentioned?

Yes, guided tours are available and it’s a great way to gain deeper insights into the history and cultural context giving you a more enriched experience.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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