Best Attractions In Honolulu, Oahu!
Honolulu attractions range from an informative day at Pearl Harbor where you can visit such iconic memorials as the USS Arizona and Oklahoma or stroll through one of the only remaining submarines from World War II. Nature lovers will enjoy Honolulu as well with many different hiking trails located at such special places such as Diamond Head State Monument and you can view the geologic wonders of Honolulu at the Halona Blowhole and the scenic views at Lanai. There is plenty of interesting architecture from the wood houses at the Mission Houses Museum to Queen Emma Summer Palace and if you just want to relax head over to the superb open space at Kapiolani Park where you will find the Honolulu Zoo. Whether you are visiting Honolulu to spend extended time in the city or just for the day after your cruise arrives, you will pleased by the interesting excursions and places you can see in Honolulu, Hawaii!
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- Honolulu Attractions
- Pearl Harbor
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- Shore Excursions
Waikiki is a spectacular wonderland of white sand, the blue Pacific Ocean and a plethora of hotels from affordable to ultra-luxury. Waikiki is one of the most iconic Honolulu attractions you can visits from its first-class restaurants to incredible surfing to just relaxing on one of the white sand beaches. Waikiki received its name from the Hawaiians because it is defined as spouting fresh water in the native Hawaiian tongue and the area separated Waikiki from the surrounding wetlands. In ancient Hawaiian times Waikiki was the ultimate playground for Hawaiian Royalty and today is the ultimate playground for travelers and locals alike. No other place on the planet will satisfy your urge to surf than the subtle waves of Waikiki and no other place on the planet can offer you a view of the famous Diamond Head State Monument. You can enjoy Waikiki in a variety of ways from an adrenaline filled parasailing flight to a Segway tour of the most historic and cultural places in Waikiki as well as an exhilarating helicopter fly over at sunset.
The Waikiki Aquarium is one of those Honolulu attractions that just leave you speechless. The Waikiki Aquarium is small but it is packed with superb specimens of the underwater inhabitants that surround even the most remote Northwest Hawaiian Islands. The Waikiki Aquarium has several exhibits that have recreated the surrounding reefs where many thousands of species reside such as the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, puffers, turtles, reef sharks and the state fish named humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua’a. You will be amazed at the interpretive exhibits that explain these tropical fish and swimming animals that roam the Pacific Ocean and watching the jelly fish glide by without fear is stupendous. One of the more interesting things to see is an after-dark program which allows you to view a plethora of laminating sea creatures as an expert marine life biologist explains each of the interesting aspects of the neighboring tide pools at night. So before or even after you take that first snorkeling trip, you should further your knowledge of the interesting marine life that you will encounter by visiting the Waikiki Aquarium on a Segway ride or an exclusive hop-on hop-off excursion or even a pedicab ride that includes many other exciting stops.
Photo by Franklin Samir Dattein
Diamond Head is probably the most recognizable natural landmark on the island of Oahu. This geologic wonder was created from vent and old lava flows as well as a series of cones when the volcano erupted some 150,000 years ago. Today this Honolulu attraction stands over Waikiki like a proud sentry guard while offering visitors a plethora of activities. Diamond Head State Monument is fantastic place to start your sightseeing of the island Oahu with its numerous vantage points for viewing the spectacular scenery of the island. Once you are at Diamond Head State Monument you can choose to climb to the highest peak through a series of steps and tunnels. Along the way you can learn about the volcano by reading numerous interpretive signs that explain this magnificent geologic formation. To access Diamond Head State Monument you can participate in a running, biking or hiking excursion as well as a series of half and full-day trips that include a stop at this iconic landmark.
Magic Island is a superb place for you to spend the day and experience a lush green space which is situated on 30-acres along-side the beach. Magic Island has a great central location which is situated between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu and its existence is due to a failed tourist development project. Magic Island is an ideal place for you to spend the day with family and enjoy the swimming from the manmade protected lagoon. Tourists and locals play Frisbee, football, take yoga lessons on the green space areas as well as soak in the sun from the beach. Another bonus to visiting Magic Island is the adjacent Ala Moana Beach Park which boasts excellent snorkeling opportunities. Magic Island can be experienced in many different fashions from jogging on the trails to flying over in a helicopter to riding a Segway along the walking paths.
Pearl Harbor is the most attended Honolulu attraction and draws people from around the world to learn about one of the more tragic episodes of American as well as world history. Pearl Harbor is listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Landmarks. Pearl Harbor is the site of the Japanese attack that took place on December 7, 1941 and propelled the United States into World War II. During the attack nine United States ships were sunk as well as another 21 were damaged and 2,350 American service personnel were killed. The overall monument at Pearl Harbor encompasses several aspects such as the USS Oklahoma and Arizona Memorials as well as the USS Bowfin Monument. Today, Pearl Harbor is still an actively naval base and is an active outpost for the United States. There are several ways you can visit Pearl Harbor and most people choose to spend at least one full-day visiting the various portions of this special place. If you are located on another island such as Maui or the Big Island there are excursions available that include transportation.
USS Arizona Memorial
The USS Arizona Memorial is the main portion of the Pearl Harbor National Register of Historic Landmarks and marks the final resting place of this grand ship. When the USS Arizona was sunk on December 7, 1941 over 1,700 sailors and naval personnel were trapped inside and eventually died after days of failed rescued attempts. To reach the USS Arizona Memorial you must board a small ferry which takes you to the site of the sunken ship in Pearl Harbor. After you disembark you will have the opportunity to stroll the memorial which has a plethora of interpretive signs and interactive exhibits for you to learn about every detail of the infamous day. There are numerous ways for you to experience this iconic Honolulu attraction like purchasing a day pass which allows access to all sites within Pearl Harbor or you can choose to include a short trip to this memorial with an excursion of the famous surfing beaches of the North Shore.
USS Missouri Memorial
The USS Missouri has an important role in the history of the United States and the conclusion of World War II. Also known as the Nighty Mo because of the heavy artillery that resides on this battleship, this Honolulu attraction is where the final treaty of surrender was signed between the United States and Japan. The USS Missouri was decommissioned by the United States Navy in 1999 and moved to Pearl Harbor where its mooring position protects the USS Arizona Memorial. When you visit the USS Missouri you can walk along the deck and take a splendid 35-minute audio tour which explains the events of December 7, 1941 as well as the active duty life of this magnificent machine of war. One of the best ways to view the USS Missouri is with a Pearl Harbor Day Pass which allows access to all of the monuments and museums. Other excursions include the USS Missouri with tours of other iconic places like Sunset Beach, Downtown Honolulu and if you are staying on another island there are excursion available for Maui, Lanai and the Big Island which offer transportation to Oahu.
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park
The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park is a fascinating Honolulu attraction that gives you a chance to learn about some of the more not so known events of December 7, 1941. The USS Bowfin Submarine was sent to war exactly one after the attack on Pearl Harbor and was known as the Avenger of Pearl Harbor. The USS Bowfin entered the war went on a tear of sinking over 44 enemy ships throughout her illustrious career while only losing one crewmember to death. The USS Bowfin is one of only 15 submarines that still exist today that were commissioned during World War II and the submarine found its final docking station at Pearl Harbor. Today, you can climb aboard and take a guided tour of the cramped quarters which leaves you with a special knowledge of how the brave submarine crews lived their lives while hunting enemy ships. You can access the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park on several day-long excursions that include the other significant portions of Pearl Harbor.
Pacific Aviation Museum
If you are an aviation enthusiast or a World War II history buff this Honolulu attraction is perfect for you. The Pacific Aviation Museum is a huge area which encompasses two hangars and over 120,000 square feet of aircraft that were used during World War II, the Korea and the Vietnam wars. This fascinating place concentrates on aircraft that were flown by all sides of these conflicts and given that the Pacific Aviation Museum is housed on Ford Island within Pearl Harbor there is an emphasis on December 7, 1941. As you walk through Hangar 37 you will view Japanese Zero planes as well as a P-40 fighter plane that was flown on that infamous day to combat the Japanese. You will be thrilled at Hangar 79 which still boasts bullets holes on the door from the attack. Inside this hangar you will see Soviet built MiG planes which were flown by the enemy during the Korea War, a pristine F4F Wildcat and you will marvel at the Stearman N2S-3 that is a similar plane piloted by former President George H.W. Bush. The Pacific Aviation Museum is included in most excursions going through Pearl Harbor and if you want to hear first accounts from the pilots then you should add-on the Aviator’s Tour.
Photo by Bernard Spragg. NZ
USS Oklahoma Memorial
The USS Oklahoma Memorial is one of the newest memorials to commemorate the devastating attacks that place at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. This Honolulu attraction was designated only 10 years ago and is the only land based memorial within Pearl Harbor. Located on the still active military base of Ford Island, the USS Oklahoma Memorial is a perfect setting to remember the 400 sailors who lost their lives during the attack. The USS Oklahoma Memorial has 400 white marble columns which include the name of each sailor that sit upon a rectangular platform of black granite. The black granite base has fascinating first-hand accounts of the attack and is quite spiritually moving. The land-based aspect is important for the USS Oklahoma Memorial because many of the survivors were able to swim back on to Ford Island and escape death. The USS Oklahoma Memorial is included in almost all of the excursions that you can take to view Pearl Harbor and if you are located on another island such Maui or Kauai there are tours available for you that include transportation to Oahu.
The Bishop Museum is the ideal Honolulu attraction that allows you to learn about the Polynesian culture is a fun and relaxed way. The Bishop Museum has everything for you to see from sculptures to woven artifacts to planetarium shows which highlight the Polynesian’s navigating skills. The Bishop Museum has plenty of interpretive as well as interactive exhibits for adults including live events like Hulu dancing and Polynesian circus acts. Children will love the different activity stations which teach them about this fascinating culture in a fun setting and the lava melting demonstration will leave children speechless. You can attend the Bishop Museum in several ways by taking one of the many historical excursions which include several interesting buildings as well as on your own pace when you purchase a Go Oahu Card.
Oahu Cruise Port
The Oahu Cruise Port is an area where you can arrange to participate in a variety of Honolulu attractions when you arrive by cruise ship. The Oahu Cruise Port will provide you with many different options for the day or evening that range from a tour of Pearl Harbor to a submarine ride to a wonderful trip around the island allowing you to view such iconic beaches as Sunset. If you like history and culture then you won’t be disappointed with a tour of the Dole Plantation or Bishop Museum. You can prearrange excursions or wait until you dock at Oahu Cruise Port, either way be prepared to have a fun time.
The Honolulu Zoo is certainly a family pleaser when you are looking for a relaxing Honolulu attraction for everyone to enjoy. The Honolulu Zoo is situated on 42-acre next to a large green area named Kapiolani Park. The Honolulu Zoo houses over 900 tropical animals that include such stellar species as the white-handed gibbons, Sumatran tigers, meerkat, elephants, giraffes and black rhinos. The lush tropical atmosphere of this open-air venue also contains a variety of plant life that is found on the islands. After you stroll through the Honolulu Zoo you might decide to spend a little time having a picnic at Kapiolani Park. The Honolulu Zoo is accessible by taking a Historical Honolulu Tour, on a vintage electric bike or in a fun double decker bus which features hop-on and hop-off stops at various attractions.
Queen Emma Summer Palace***************************
The Queen Emma Summer Palace is another spectacular architectural achievement that is an interesting Honolulu attraction. Queen Emma was not of full Hawaiian blood and would become the bride of King Kamehameha IV. Many native Hawaiians did not approve of Queen Emma because of her half Caucasian bloodline but over the years Queen Emma would be embraced by the Hawaiian people for her philanthropy work which included the Queen’s Medical Center. During the hot summer months in Honolulu Queen Emma would escape the heat and travel to the Queen Emma Summer Palace where she would continue her work for the people. The Queen Emma Summer Palace has a beautiful front façade of Greek columns which soar into the air. The surrounding lush green grounds are finely manicured making for a serene setting of tropical opulence. You can view the Queen Emma Summer Palace on several tours including in a convertible luxury car and several half-day tours of Oahu. The Queen Emma Summer Palace is also available by purchasing the Go Oahu Card which is one of the best values for tourists.
Photo by Wally Gobetz
Lanai Lookout is a must see Honolulu attraction for travelers wanting to have big vistas of the surrounding landscape including views of Lania, Molo’kai and Maui islands. Situated just north of Kaha’uloa Cove this beautiful overlook boasts interesting rock formations and smooth shelf-like geologic features which have been created by the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. Lanai Lookout will please any and all photography buffs with unprecedented views of the southern portion of Koko Crater as well as sweeping views of Oahu’s windward coast. If you like sunrises then Lanai Lookout is the ideal spot for you to embrace the morning sun. Another added bonus is in the winter you can see the majestic humpback whales as they migrate to more suitable waters. Lanai Lookout is included in many of the wonderful nature excursions on the island that will take you to the prettiest beaches in the world. If you like traveling in small groups then you should try the luxury convertible tour which allows you to move at your own pace.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is another Honolulu attraction that is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. Also known as the Punchbowl Cemetery, this historic place is final resting home to over 53,000 service personnel and their families who perished in World War I and II as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Dedicated in 1949, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific has a tranquil setting and is situated on what is called by the locals the Hill of Sacrifice where human sacrifices where conducted to please the pagan gods. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is a must see for many families and current service members and is visited by more than a million people on a yearly basis. The surrounding landscape is kept manicured and features many tropical plants to enhance the final resting place for these brave members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard who fought valiantly for their country during a time of conflict and war. A tour of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is included in most excursions that feature Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona and even a tour of Hawaii Five O filming areas.
King Kamehameha Statue
The King Kamehameha Statue is one of the more popular Honolulu attractions for you to visit because of its grandeur and location at the Ali’iolani Hale which is the state’s Supreme Court building. Situated directly in front of the building the King Kamehameha Statue is a magnificent 18-tall bronze piece of work with a detailed golden color. The King Kamehameha Statue was first revealed to the public in 1883 in order to celebrate the first Hawaiian Monarchy that was able to unify all of the Hawaiian Islands. On June 11th of every year the locals hold a ceremony and place large flower lei’s over his head that drape on his massive shoulders. The King Kamehameha Statue is included in most full and half-day tours that either start or end at Pearl Harbor and if you want more privacy then you should try the Private Tour: Pearl Harbor VIP Combo tour.
Mission Houses Museum
The Mission House Museum is a fantastic historic Honolulu attraction for you to visit and learn about the earliest western settlers on the island of Oahu. Located not far from Honolulu’s financial district in downtown, the Mission Houses Museum is composed of the oldest wooden houses in Hawaii and is the original site of the Sandwich Islands Mission. There are three buildings within the Mission Houses Museum which are the Frame House, the Printing Office and the Chamberlain House as well as a research library which contains over 12,000 printed items. These houses were constructed as the earliest western settlement on Hawaii between 1821 and 1841. The houses were later completely restored and feature 19th century furnishings. The Mission Houses Museum has several interpretive and interactive exhibits that explain much of the history of early western settlement on the Hawaiian Islands. One of the best ways to visit the Mission Houses Museum is by riding a bike during the Historical Honolulu tour or one of the many day excursions that include stops at Pearl Harbor.
Halona Blowhole Lookout
The Halona Blowhole is a fascinating natural phenomenon which was created some 1,000 years ago by nature. This Honolulu attraction is amazing when the surf pounds the shoreline and water is shot up into the air from this geyser like geologic wonder. Halona in Hawaiian means lookout and once you see the force of the ocean water some 30-feet in the air, you will know why this natural phenomenon is so popular. The Halona Blowhole is very active in the summer months when the surf tends to be stronger on this portion of Oahu and there is no disappointment in the winter as people flock to this spot to view the majestic humpback whales as they migrate as well as with views of the Moloka’i Islands. You can access the Halona Blowhole on several different tours which include stops around the eastern shoreline. There are excursions that last a half-day which visit many of the beautiful beaches on the eastside and full-day tours include stops at Diamond Head as well as other attractions like Waimea Waterfall.
Honolulu Museum of Art
When you are looking for a learning experience and love viewing art, then the Honolulu Museum of Art is an ideal Honolulu attraction for you. Formerly known as the Honolulu Academy of Art, the Honolulu Museum of Art is situated on over 3-acres and contains a collection of over 50,000 pieces of artwork that is centered on Asia and the Pan-Pacific. Nearly all of the cultural aspects of life and art for 5,000 years are exhibited in a fresh and interesting way. The Honolulu Museum of Art was the brainchild of former missionary Anna Rice Cooke in 1927 and is of an international caliber. In addition to the many pieces of artwork that represent the Hawaiian culture there are also pieces of work by Monet, Picasso, Warhol and Van Gogh housed within the several buildings that include the Doris Duke theater, the Art School, the Robert Allerton Art Library and the Spalding House. The Honolulu Museum of Art is included in many excursions which also feature stops at famous restaurants and is there is a great biking excursion or go at own pace with the Go Oahu Card that allows entrance to this attraction.
Photo by www.bluewaikiki.com
The Iolani Palace is a masterpiece of late 19th century architecture and is one of the most seen Honolulu attractions. Constructed in 1882, Iolani Palace is the only building in the United States which was a former royal palace. The Iolani Palace was home to such monarchs as King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani who ruled Hawaii for decades. The construction and architectural style of the Iolani Palace is magnificent with ornate furnishings from around the world gracing the inside hallways. When constructed this building had more modern amenities than even the White House I Washington D.C. such as indoor plumbing, telephones and electricity. Most sightseeing tours that are conducted by motor coach will stop at the Iolani Palace as well as several historic walking excursions can give you an up close view of this incredible building.
Hawaii State Capitol
The Hawaii State Capitol is one of those Honolulu attractions that is included in many motor coach, walking or perhaps a Segway tour of the city that features the culture and history of the Hawaii. For most people the building itself will look like nothing special but we must remind ourselves that Hawaii did not become a state until 1959. The Hawaii State Capitol is just that kind of a building. Constructed in the 1960s when postmodern architectural style was the norm for many government and private buildings. Once you enter the Hawaii State Capitol you will realize that the courtyard is similar to a volcano that opens up to the sky and the interior of the legislative rooms have a similar gradient to them. Overall, the Hawaii State Capitol has other features such as eight pillars that represent palm trees and the eight islands of that comprise the state. Another interesting feature is the building is surrounded by a moat which is reminiscent of reflecting pools and the Pacific Ocean.
Honolulu Hale - City Hall
The Honolulu Hale is a spectacular 1928 building which has a Spanish colonial architectural style. Also known as the Honolulu Municipal Building this gorgeous piece of architecture is home to the Honolulu City Council and the Mayor’s Office. As you look from a far or when you enter this building you will marvel at the construction and intricate details of work. The Honolulu Hale has many other functions as well and hosts the spectacular Honolulu City Lights during the Christmas season where you can view the giant Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele. Also during this event local school children grace the hallways with original artwork for you to see as you stroll through the festive corridors. The Honolulu Hale can be viewed on many different exciting tours that include a ride on a Segway, a motor coach or even a walking excursion. Another added bonus about the Honolulu Hale is that is more than likely something you will see before or after you spend the day learning about the events of Pearl Harbor.
Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu
The Hard Rock Café Honolulu is a popular Honolulu attraction for many reasons including the fabulous music memorabilia. First constructed in 1987 as the first Hard Rock Café in Hawaii the restaurant has since moved to its present location which is in the middle of Waikiki. The Hard Rock Café Honolulu is easily accessed because of its prime location and many people decide to visit while taking an excursion on the Hop-on Hop-off bus which gives you the opportunity to stop at several fascinating historic sites and restaurants. The Hard Rock Café Honolulu is also a favorite with people attending conventions and with its casual menu as well as lively atmosphere; the Hard Rock Café Honolulu is a great place for a fun time.
The Kawaiahao Church is a fabulous stone church that was constructed in 1843 as a place of worship for the Christian missionaries that came to the Hawaii islands. When the missionaries arrived on the islands many members of the Hawaiian Royalty were swept into the euphoria of Christianity and would come to worship their new found religion. The building is a spectacular monument to using local material to complete this structure and is often referred to as the Westminster Abbey of the Pacific. Native workers used over 14,000 blocks of coral reef material which were taken from offshore reefs in the construction of this building. Another interesting fact about the Kawaiahao Church is that King Kamehameha II is actually buried onsite. The Kawaiahao Church is often included in motor coach, cultural and Segway tours as well as most that spend time at the USS Arizona Memorial.
The Ali’iolani Hale is another fantastic architectural piece that is a feature Honolulu attraction on many complete and half-day excursions. Originally constructed in 1872, the Ali’iolani Hale is the first western-style building to be constructed in Hawaii. The Ali’iolani Hale was to be the Royal Palace when first constructed by the Hawaiian Monarchy but would later become home the Supreme Court. The historic events associated with the Ali’iolani Hale are fascinating and include the 1889 revolt as well as in 1893 when the Committee of Public Safety approved a proclamation which effectively overthrew the Hawaiian Monarchy. In the 1930s the Ali’iolani Hale was to be destroyed but after negotiations with many local people the building was to undergo massive renovations instead. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the events that followed the Ali’iolani Hale was a place for military personnel during World War II.
Aloha Tower Marketplace
You will thoroughly be pleased by visiting the Aloha Tower Marketplace which is an iconic Honolulu attraction for many reasons including the clock which when built was one of the largest in the United States. The Aloha Tower Marketplace was constructed in 1926 and is a 10-story structure which also houses a lighthouse and was former home to the Hawaii Maritime Center. Now the Aloha Tower Marketplace is home to several restaurants and cruise ships still dock next to this incredible building. An added bonus when you visit the Aloha Tower Marketplace is that the elevator to the top floor is free and boasts grand views of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean. The Aloha Tower Marketplace is included in many cultural and historic excursions by foot, bike or Segway as well as a stunning helicopter flyover.
Historians do not know exactly when Honolulu’s Chinatown was created but they do agree that is one of the oldest ethnic neighborhoods within the United States. This Honolulu attraction mixes a cultural experience with a fantastic historical story of the Chinese and other Asian groups in Hawaii. Honolulu’s Chinatown is packed with restaurants serving culinary delights like dim sum as well as delicacies from around the world like France and Italy. There are beautiful antique shops, temples and you can make your own herb mixture to bring you lasting health. The nightlife Honolulu’s Chinatown features everything from traditional music to jazz clubs to nightclubs. Honolulu’s Chinatown has a wide variety of ways for you to experience this exciting neighborhood from a ride on a pedicab to a drive thru on a duck shaped open-air bus to a walking tour that includes stops at several of the finest restaurants in the area which has proved to be a foodies dream come true excursion.
Photo by Prayitno
One of the most historic Honolulu attractions on the island just might be the Honolulu Harbor. The historic Honolulu Harbor has been a center of cultural with its association to commerce and immigration on Hawaii. The Honolulu Harbor starts in the east at the downtown business district while continuing westward to Ke’ehi Lagoon and surrounds the small one square mile Sand Island. Although there has been environmental degradation in the past the Honolulu Harbor is believed to be one of the cleanest in the world. Honolulu Harbor still has many cruise ships that dock within its waters as well an open-air aquarium which has houses tropical fish along a series of coral reefs and you can even spot an occasional reef shark swimming in the waters. The Honolulu Harbor is perhaps best seen from above by taking a seaplane flight or soaring high above in an open door helicopter and you can include a romantic sunset dinner to make the evening perfect.
Kapiolani Park is not your normal park in Hawaii with a pristine beach for relaxing under the sun. This Honolulu attraction is more similar to 130-acres of vast open greenery which has tennis courts, soccer fields and numerous walking as well as running paths. Created near Waikiki by the last ruling King of Hawaii, King David Kalakaua, Kapiolani Park is named after his darling wife Queen Kapiolani. The open green space is perfect for a relaxing day away from the beach and has plenty of space for picnics as well as family oriented games. Another bonus to visiting Kapiolani Park is that there are numerous events such as art shows, the Honolulu Marathon and the Honolulu Zoo is easily accessed. The Kapiolani Park features the fantastic Waikiki Shell which is an outdoor amphitheater that hosts many live concerts and is very close Waikiki Beach which makes walking access breeze. When you visit Kapiolani Park there are several ways to enjoy the entire green area by riding an electric bike, a Segway or within a small walking group with an expert guide who shares fascinating stories of Honolulu.
The Kewalo Basin is located in downtown Honolulu just a few steps away from one of the largest shopping malls in Hawaii and is the best place for you to start the many water adventures that exist in Hawaii. This Honolulu attraction is home to a small boat harbor where you can find a variety of tour operators that will take you out on the Pacific Ocean to enjoy the splendor of all there is to offer on the water. At Kewalo Basin you can arrange or meet your guide who can take you deep sea fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving or sailing on a pirate ship at sunset. The Kewalo Basin does not offer a beach area but if you are lucky there is a good chance you can watch the local kids hone their surfing skills by riding the gentle breaks that enter the basin. The Kewalo Basin is the ideal place to book your water adventure and escape the numerous people on the beaches of Waikiki.
Koko Crater Botanical Garden
The Koko Crater is one of those Honolulu attractions which is great for a work-out and boasts tremendous views of the surrounding area. The Koko Crater is quite challenging for most as you walk or run up the 1,048 railroad tie steps that were put in place during World War II. You will encounter a moderate incline at the beginning but the last push up to the 1.100 feet summit will have your muscles feeling the exercise. Once on top though the Koko Crater sports spectacular views of Honolulu, Diamond Head, Moloka’i and on some days the 360-degree even offers a view of Lana’I on the eastern horizon. There are a number of excursions that include this fascinating place such as a private half-day coach, running challenges as well as an exciting seaplane tour which will fly you over Koko Crater and you can relish the scenery without breaking a sweat.
One of the more pleasant Honolulu attractions for you to enjoy the wonderful lush tropical landscape of Oahu is to stroll through the Lyon Arboretum. This collection of 5,000 plants located on 193-acres within the Manoa Valley is managed by the University of Hawaii which makes the Lyon Arboretum one of the best places to learn about the foliage of the islands. This tropical botanic garden is an easy excursion and you can also take a hike to Inspiration Point which only takes an hour. While you are strolling and hiking the Lyon Arboretum you will delight in the sounds of the numerous birds, the sweet smell of the plants and the gorgeous views of the surrounding Manoa Valley. One of the easiest ways to sightsee at the Lyon Arboretum is to purchase a Go Oahu Card which allows access to several attractions on the island that are similar to the Lyon Arboretum.
Makapu'u Point Lighthouse
The Makapu’u Lighthouse is perched on a hillside and was used to protect the passing ships from crashing into shoreline since its construction in 1909. This Honolulu attraction is ideal for anyone who wants a little exercise while learning about the history of Hawaii. Strategically placed the Makapu’u Lighthouse is a historic landmark now that features big views of Moloka’I and Oahu from under its bright red roof. You will be able to see the big surf pound the shoreline and in the winter months the Makapu’u Lighthouse is perfect for watching the migrating humpback whales. To reach the Makapu’u Lighthouse there is a nice 2-mile paved trail that leads you up the steep cliffs until you enter the historic lighthouse. Along the way there are great vantage points for photographs as well as benches for you to rest. The Makapu’u Lighthouse is including in many excursions which combine other activities like strolling through Pearl Harbor, snorkeling in the coral reefs and even biking. You can also access the Makapu’u Lighthouse by a half or full-day tour which includes famous beaches along the way or a hop-on hop-off excursion which allows you to take your time and enjoy this wonderful piece of island history.
The Manoa Valley is much more than just a residential neighborhood which is within Honolulu and close proximity to the city makes this one of the easier accessed natural Honolulu attractions. Situated just three miles from downtown, the Manoa Valley is situated within the Ko’olau Range and is the site of some of the first sugar as well as coffee plantations created on the islands. This lush tropical landscape can be a hiker’s paradise with many excursions offering guided tours through this dense green jungle atmosphere. The Manoa Valley is a true rainforest that experiences rainfall on almost a daily basis and one of the main attractions while on a hiking excursion is the magnificent Manoa Falls which cascades some 150-foot into a crystal clear pool of water. Another added bonus about Manoa Valley is that you can combine other activities like snorkeling, biking as well as sailing to make for an exciting day of exercise and exploration.
Shangri La is a Honolulu attraction like no other and you would not expect to find one of the world’s finest Islamic art collections right here on the island of Oahu. Starting in 1935 Doris Duke, the heiress to an enormous wealth of money, built a beautiful mansion of Islamic architecture on the slopes of Diamond Head which combined the beauty of the surrounding sand, sun and tropical landscape. Over the years Duke traveled extensively through the Middle East visiting places which led to her comprising an exquisite collection of Middle Eastern influenced art pieces. Once you enter Shangri La you will witness a collection of over 2,500 which are unique and perhaps one of the largest privately held collections of Islamic art work. The Shangri La will give informative insight on the culture and history of the Islamic world through a lavish collection of superb art pieces that range from statues to paintings to pottery. There are a few excursions that include the Shangri La and one of the more interesting is to bike the Diamond Head crater before or after visiting this spectacular display of Islamic art work.
Photo by Thomas Tunsch
Statue of Duke Kahanamoku
When you are learning about the modern history of Hawaii it is safe to say that one of the first people of the 21st century you will hear about is Duke Paoa Kahanamoku. This fascinating Hawaiian was a descendent from alii also known as the royal class and was a prominent figure in promoting surfing and swimming as well as other ideas on the Hawaii islands. Today, there is a nine-foot tall bronze statue that commemorates Duke Paoa Kahanamoku life and achievements. This Honolulu attraction is included in almost every organized excursion that takes place in Honolulu and on Oahu. The Statue of Duke Paoa Kahanmoku is wonderful reminder of this person’s influence on tourism in Hawaii. Duke was a Hollywood movie star, a 13-time sheriff of Honolulu, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming and was one of the first people in Waikiki to offer surfing and canoeing lessons. For all these reasons the Statue of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku is the perfect reminder of what this individual means to the people of Hawaii and is a must see stop for almost every tour that exists on the island of Oahu.
Map Of Top Honolulu Attractions