Top Rated Honolulu Attractions

by Crissandra Ayroso
Honolulu attractions

Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head are must-sees, but what else tops the list? Honolulu has something for everyone from sunseekers to adventurers. Read on below to find out what not to miss in Honolulu!

Waikiki Beach

waikiki beach with diamond head in the background

Flanked between shopping on Kalakaua Avenue and hiking on Diamond Head, Waikiki’s welcoming blue shores are the perfect spot to get some relaxing beach time in between sightseeing. Surf novices will find the calm waters of Waikiki Beach particularly inviting, sunseekers will want to sink into the golden sand, and anyone ready to take a break from a beach break will find plenty to enjoy nearby. The Waikiki Beach Walk promenade is a hub of live entertainment, shopping, and dining experiences.

 

Kalakaua Avenue shopping

kalakaua avenue in waikiki

The original thoroughfare and main shopping area, Kalakaua Avenue stretches from downtown Honolulu to Kapiolani Park. Stroll down Luxury Row for Tiffany & Co., Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Tod’s, Hugo Boss, Gucci, and Coach. Or, head to DFS Galleria for Prada, Gucci, Vera Wang, and more. Pick up a ukulele from world-famous Kamaka Hawaii, who have been handcrafting ukuleles since 1918, or browse through specialty surf shops at the Moana Surfrider Hotel for some of the best surf gear on the island. From retail favourites and high-end boutiques to designer wear, Kalakaua Avenue has it all.

 

Ala Moana Beach Park

sunset at ala moana

Golden sand, calm blue shores, and a barrier of colourful coral reef, Ala Moana Beach is a peaceful retreat from the busier, slightly more crowded Waikiki Beach. The largest shopping mall in Hawaii, Ala Moana Center, is within walking distance. With more than 350 shops and restaurants, enjoy the open-air shopping, dining, and live entertainment.

 

Diamond Head State Monument

entrance sign for diamond head state monument

For one of the most breathtaking views of Waikiki and Honolulu, step right up to the summit of Diamond Head, a 300,000-year-old crater that hikers of all skill level can enjoy. As one of the most popular tourist destinations, expect a few crowds at busy times in the mornings and in the evenings. For those who are looking for a similar experience with an equally stunning summit, but away from the crowds, try Koko Head. During World War 2, the military created a railway to haul cargo and supplies to their bunkers at the top. Today the railway is used as hiking stairs. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Waikiki and more of a medium to advanced level hike with over 1,000 steps, but the view from the top is worth it.

 

Bishop Museum

exterior of the bishop museum

Established in 1889, the Bishop Museum houses the world’s largest collection of historic and cultural Hawaiian treasures. Over 24 million, to be exact. Photos, royal artifacts, paintings, and more tell the story of Hawaii past and present.

 

Bishop Museum Planetarium & Science Adventure Center

night sky full of stars

On the same grounds of the Bishop Museum, you can learn more about Hawaii at the planetarium, where you can see how voyagers navigated the Pacific using the stars. Discover the natural science of a Hawaiian volcano at the Science Adventure Center and experience interactive displays like a molten lava theatre so you can see what it’s like in motion up close.

 

Iolani Palace

front courtyard of iolani palace

Once the home of Hawaii’s last reigning monarchs, Iolani Palace was built in 1882 by King Kalakaua. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and stands with pride as one of the most stunning, recognizable buildings in Hawaii. Stroll through the grand halls, walk the palace grounds, and see the stunning architectural details of this royal home up close.

 

Honolulu Chinatown

details on a building in honolulu chinatown

Dumplings, lei stands, noodle houses, fresh pineapples, and a ‘thousand-year-old egg?’ Indulge your appetite and curiosities in Honolulu’s Chinatown, a vibrant 75-block neighbourhood buzzing with 100-year-old historic buildings, markets, temples, bars and restaurants.

 

Pearl Harbor

USS arizona at pearl harbor

The USS memorials at Pearl Harbor pay respect to those who lost their lives during one of the most defining moments in US and world history. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center commemorates the WWII attacks with exhibits and museums of the events that unfolded, including the story behind the surrounding sunken ships like the USS Arizona.

 

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

snorkellers in hanauma bay

One glimpse below the serene surface of Hanauma Bay will reveal a never-ending technicolour ribbon of more than 400 species of Hawaiian fish, sea turtles, and other marine life. The former volcanic crater and current marine life conservation area is a diver’s dream and snorkeller’s paradise. Dive into this crescent-shaped basin and see if you can spot Hawaii’s state fish whose name could swim circles around the small yet mighty humuhumunukunukuapua‘a.

 

Manoa Falls

lush green jungle scenery at manoa falls

Manoa Falls is a breathtaking 150 ft waterfall surrounded by lush greenery. Recognizable as the filming locations from Jurassic Park and Lost, the jungle scenery lends itself to a rich epicentre of banyan trees, tall bamboo, and hillside wildflowers. Hikes to the Manoa Falls Trail only takes about 1-2 hours to complete and is for hikers of all skill levels.

 

Shangri-La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design

middle east inspired patterned textile

This Islamic-style mansion houses an eclectic permanent collection of more than 4,000 objects from Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Iran, India, and parts of Central and Southeast Asia. Built in 1937, the Shangri-La was once the home of an American tobacco heiress by the name of Doris Duke. The collection is Duke’s personal own, with pieces inspired by her travels from around the world.

 

Kaka’ako District

woman holding a pineapple by a fruit stand

An up-and-coming neighbourhood, the dynamic streets of Kaka’ako are alive with murals, hip restaurants, breweries, and art spaces. Work up a thirst shopping, then relax with a local craft beer.

 

Paradise Cove

fire dancer at a luau

The utmost experience in Hawaiian hospitality, the traditional luau is a feast, an evening of entertainment, and a celebration of Pacific Island culture and traditions. Luaus take place all over the island, including The Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki and popular Paradise Cove in Ko Olina, which is just outside of Honolulu.

 

 

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