best things to do in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

The crown jewel of Oahu’s economy and a globally-adored gateway to stunning coastlines, world-class hikes, historic ruins, and centuries-old cultural experiences, the beachside city of Honolulu is as remarkable as they come.

Sandwiched between warm Pacific waters (perfect for diving and snorkeling), the foreboding Diamond Head crater, and a long list of touching museums and memorials in Pearl Harbor, it’s fair to say that the list of things to do in Honolulu is vast enough to suit any kind of traveler.

Check into a hotel along idyllic Waikiki Beach, day trip around the island and take advantage of all the water sports that Honolulu has to offer. Alternatively, pick up a new one like learning how to surf.

Enough yapping — it’s time to start planning your island adventure to the capital city of Hawaii!

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1 – Visit the huge Bishop Museum

Bishop Museum, Oahu, Hawaii

The Bishop Museum is considered — in fact, officially rated — one of the island’s premier tourist attractions, and it’s not hard to see why!

Honolulu’s oldest museum first opened its doors in 1889, founded by Charles Reed Bishop who dedicated the extravagant gallery to his late wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, hence the museum’s name.

Originally, the building was created as a space to house royal heirlooms and special cultural Hawaiian items. Today the hallways are filled with treasures that highlight the history and culture of the North Pacific region.

Featuring thousands of artifacts spanning centuries, with dedicated exhibits covering Hawaiian art, gods, legends, and beliefs; plus a Native Hawaiian Garden, this is your chance to uncover more about Hawaii than you ever thought possible.

Rooms and spaces are divided and themed accordingly. Explore the Hawaiian Hall, Pacific Hall, Picture Gallery, Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kāhili Room and the Richard T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center.

One of the most special features is the planetarium where you can view the stars at night and get to know more about outer space.

It’s a wonderful way to learn about the rich cultures and traditions that many people in Hawaii cherish — and if that weren’t enough, the museum also features a live lava demonstration!

2 – Take your better half on a sunset (& show!) cruise

sunset cruises in Honolulu, Oahu

One for the traveling couples; no matter the time of year, with its glowing sunsets, warm air, and fresh ocean breeze, a sunset cruise into the evening in Honolulu will have all the sparks flying. But, if you’re traveling with a group of mates, it’s a fun and fab activity too.

Departing from harbor piers in Honolulu, head out to sea just before golden hour hits around 5.30 PM. In this part of Hawaii, the sun goes down just before 7 PM in summer and 6.30 PM in the wintertime, so cruise departure times are idyllic.

Photograph beautiful scenery, take in the coastal surroundings and witness some famed landmarks from the waters.

Vacationing on an island, expect a few varying options when it comes to the specifics of sunset cruises, and each one differs slightly.

For example, opt for a cocktail sunset cruise with drinks and snacks included, or book a BYOB (bring your own booze) option instead. Opt for a dreamy sunset cruise onboard a private yacht, cruise ship or glass-bottom catamaran.

Sunset dinner cruises are available and typically include a delectable three-course meal, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and onboard live entertainment!

If it lines up with your trip, a Friday night fireworks cruise is spectacular.

3 – Keep an eye out for raptors at Jurassic Park i.e. Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii

For the cinephiles among us, look no further than Kualoa Ranch! As the real-life set for blockbusters like Jurassic Park, Jumanji and Pearl Harbor, along with fan-favorite shows such as Magnum P.I, Lost and Hawaii Five-0, the cinematic nostalgia here is dialed up to 11.

Entering the private nature reserve, the bright green hillsides and wild mountain terrains on the edge of the ocean epitomize the sacred jungle feelings of the island.

Exploring the area, you can’t help but feel transported — the scattered “dinosaur” bones and life-size figurines really help out with this one.

Plus, the land around here is considered sacred grounds, and in ancient times, was home to royal kings and queens.

But that’s not all; driving 30 minutes from Honolulu, there’s so much to see and do at the ranch. It offers ATV excursions, horseback explorations, e-biking, tram rides and high-speed zip line adventures.

There are epic tours to embark on at Kualoa Ranch like the famous ‘Movie Sites & Ranch Tour’ (the reserve has hosted more than 200 filming sets), the iconic 2.5-hour ‘Jurassic Adventure Tour’, ‘Secret Island Beach Adventure’ and the’ Aloha Aina Farm Tour’.

Now is your chance to explore some of Hawaii’s most gorgeous forested mountainsides.

4 – Step back in time at the regal Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace, Honolulu

Right in the heart of Honolulu is the Iolani Palace, the last official home to the royal monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom before it was dismembered in 1893.

Constructed from 1879 to 1882, the palace became the official residence of King Kalakaua then followed by his sister, and next heir, Queen Liliuokalani (the last ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii).

Get a chance to see how royalty lived, dined and celebrated life as you walk the grand hallways, tour the rooms, and meander through the exterior palace grounds — including a lavish garden, naturally.

It truly feels like you’re in a different era as the rooms remain untouched in design, as well as set up. Interior spaces to navigate include the Grand Hall, Throne Room, Blue Room, State Dining Room, Music Room, Imprisonment Room, the Queen’s Bedroom and more!

Every inch of the interiors forms part of the palace collections from furniture to glassware to silver.

Specific tours are organized by Iolani Palace and are available to visitors. ‘Fashion Fit for Royalty’ specialty tour displays garments and fashion pieces worn by members of the monarchy, and the ‘Hawaii’s Royal Connection to Japan’ tour hones in on the relationship between Japan and Hawaii.

Delve deeper into history during a ‘Royal Legacy’ tour, led by the palace’s historian, or there are a bunch more exciting themed ones to pick from.

5 – Head underwater with a scuba diving excursion

shipwreck scuba diving in Oahu

Enough with the boat tours … it’s time to dive BENEATH the surface of the deep North Pacific Ocean. For travelers who envisioned a TLSea-induced vacation, a snorkeling excursion is sure to be added near the top of things to do in Honolulu.

Cruising out onto the ocean, swim among giant sea turtles, dolphins, octopus, schools of tropical fish and colorful coral reefs. Some scuba diving tours also offer underwater photographs and videos to document your time in our magical sea world.

New to scuba diving? Start with a five-hour introductory scuba adventure. Spend time learning and practicing the basics before you charter out.

While there are many options available to tourists for diving, as well as intro dive sessions for beginners, adventure-seeking travelers can also opt for a day of ‘wreck diving’.

Guided tours of shipwrecks take travelers underwater where they will find a variety of marine creatures and slowly eroding vessels. Popular wreck sites include the Sea Tiger Wreck, the YO-257 (a US Navy oiler tanker) and the San Pedro wreck.

Utterly surreal, choose a night-time scuba diving tour, wandering the shadows of the ocean under stars and moonlight.

If deep-sea diving is a little too intimidating, there is no shortage of snorkeling alternatives.

6 – Cool off at the Manoa Waterfalls

Manoa Falls trail, Oahu

Reaching Manoa Falls you’ll find a prime example of Mother Nature’s beauty (and it’s only 15 minutes outside of the city). After a short (ish) trek inside a lush jungle-y rainforest, be greeted by a soaring 46-meter-high waterfall.

Not only is the fall a beautiful sight to see, but the walk to get there is a popular hiking trail. From the start of the designated trail, hike mostly uphill to reach Manoa Falls, but it’s relatively straightforward except when it gets muddy after the rains.

Totally 2.7 kilometers in total, the trail takes between one to two hours to complete, depending on your pace and fitness levels. Once you reach the waterfall, take in the magnificent natural sight.

Superb views aside, this fall is a popular attraction thanks to its accessibility, as well as its huge variety of plant species and wildlife.

Take note, no swimming is allowed, and be careful of tumbling rocks.

7 – Race against the clock in an escape room

The Escape Game in Honolulu, Oahu

Searching for a unique activity that’s fun for the whole family? Put your sleuthing skills to the test by trying to beat the clock in an escape game!

At The Escape Game, you’ll need all the teamwork, problem-solving, and out-of-the-box thinking you can muster up in order to solve the case and make it out of your chosen escape room with a limited amount of time on the clock.

With multiple rooms and themes to choose from – a gold mine, a submarine, a prison, a fourth grade classroom, a marketplace, or in the middle of an art heist – you’re sure to find an adventure (or two) that piques your interest.

These games are designed to be epic for everyone – from the experienced gamer to the newbie who’s never played. Each experience is thrilling, family-friendly, and a guaranteed good time!

The only question is, can you crack the clues before time runs out?

8 – Explore the historic ins and outs of Downtown Honolulu

Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii

Considered Honolulu’s CBD and home to some of the most famed sites on the island that hold an important place in local history, easily spend a few hours (or the day) in Downtown Honolulu.

Hunt down some of the capital’s famous landmarks and attractions, from Iolani Palace to the Aloha Tower. Spot the King Kamehameha Statue and visit the antiquated Kawaiahao Church dating to 1842.

Relax at the Foster Botanical Garden, explore Washington Place (once home to the last queen of Hawaii before her arrest), and marvel at artworks at the Hawaii State Art Museum.

If here with the little ones do stock up on artisanal, fresh handcrafted chocolate from Madre Chocolate.

On the food front, there’s a fantastic selection of restaurants to choose from on this side of town.

9 – Soar over the island in a helicopter

helicopter tour in Oahu

What better way to see one of Hawaii’s most picturesque islands than from above, right? Boasting some of the most unique views in Honolulu, a helicopter tour is exciting, as well as breathtaking.

If you’re a professional photographer here on location, you might want to consider this option too for hard-to-reach scenes.

As you ride shotgun in a helicopter, expect sweeping views of the entire region, from the high-rise buildings of Downtown Honolulu to Diamond Head Crater and beyond.

With a range of flight lengths available, there’s an option for both the penny pinchers and the big spenders. Some tours last 20 minutes, or you have the option to charter a one-hour flight around the island.

Not just differing in length, there are various types of heli tours to take your pick from. Feel  more like a bird flying with the helicopter doors open, or take flight around sunset hour.

10 – Join a glass-bottom boat tour

glass-bottom boat tour in Honolulu, Oahu

Craving the delight of seeing spinner dolphins and massive turtles up close but can’t be bothered getting wet? Enter: the glass-bottom boat tour!

Board the Haleiwa Queen boat, designed with a transparent-through glass-bottom floor so you can see beneath you as you sail around the North Pacific Ocean.

Cruise around Waikiki Beach’s coastline, towards Diamond Head, gliding over the waters filled with shipwrecks, beautiful live reefs and marine life. Look out for green sea turtles, reef sharks, eels and octopuses.

Sightseeing is thirsty work, right? Well, depending on which tour you choose, you can BYOB (bring your own booze) and refreshments to make the day all the more relaxing — it is vacation, after all!

Glass-bottom boat tours depart at different times of the day, for example, opt for a (romantic) sunset expedition.

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Experience a live concert by candlelight in Honolulu

Catch live performances on piano, violin and cello of classical music and tributes to your favorite modern bands and musicians, from Hans Zimmer to Taylor Swift. Candlelight concerts take place in scenic venues across the city that don’t typically host concerts and events for an unforgettable backdrop to live renditions of your favorite tunes.

11 – Follow in the footsteps of Duke Kahanamoku; go surfing!

surf lessons in Honolulu, Oahu

Surfing is a quintessential Hawaiian pastime, and with so many beaches to choose from, it would be near impossible not to find your perfect wave.

While the state has an intimidating reputation for all-star swells, there’s really no need for prior experience; instructors are available all over the island, offering lessons to beginners, or surf smack to the pros.

One of the most famed breaks in Honolulu is Ala Moana Bowls and it’s where you want to be when the south swell rolls in. Best suited for intermediate surfers and professionals, waves reach past the meter mark.

After some serious bangers? It’s in this part of Hawaii that the iconic Banzai Pipeline is found, or just simply called Pipeline. Soaring between two and six meters (reachable from Ehukai Beach on the North Shore), this wave is known as one of the “deadliest in the world.”

Kewalos Break is one of the most popular, and waves range from an average of 0.6 to 1.5 meters in summer. While you may think twice if you’ve only just learned to surf, intermediate surfers will feel super comfortable on the waves.

Here is one for the beginners though; Canoes is best for surfers just starting out and groms, but it can become a bit overcrowded. Queens Beach in the Waikiki area is also another great spot for all-level surfers.

12 – Take a moment of silence at Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Oahu, Hawaii

As one of the most historically important locations not just statewide, but nationwide, Pearl Harbor carries stories and significance unmatched by many other American monuments.

The area surrounding the attack is officially the Pearl Harbor National Memorial site and here, there are various places to visit and pay your respects.

With plenty of eye-opening activities in the area, including a VR experience, the USS Bowfin, the USS Oklahoma and USS Utah Memorials (on Ford Island), and the tear-jerking museum, a guided tour that covers the whole area is your best bet.

One of the most visited memorials is the Battleship Missouri Memorial. Dubbed the “Mighty Mo”, this 900-foot-long behemoth of a battleship acts as a floating dedication to the soldiers, stories, and history of WWII, with a focus on the tragic bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.

While visitors are more than welcome to explore at their leisure, expert-led daily tours provide next-level insights into the events of the past.

Built floating on the water, over the top of the remains of the sunken USS Arizona battleship, the somber USS Arizona Memorial signifies the resting place of nearly 1200 soldiers that lost their lives in the nation-shaping tragedy.

For history buffs, the Pearl Harbor site is undoubtedly one of the quintessential things to do in Honolulu.

13 – Take the controls at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, Honolulu

Displaying hundreds of unique artifacts and collections, and a selection of original hangars that were used back in World War II, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum provides fascinating insights not only into the development of aircraft over the decades but also into the role they played in modern wars.

Far more than just a selection of displays, the museum also houses interactive exhibits and the crowd-favorite flight simulator, built inside an authentic war hangar from WWII, called Hangar 37.

Get up close and personal with real war crafts inside the Hangar 79 section, which also highlights the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars.

Marvel over all sorts of aircraft and some features of the collection include the Boeing F/A-18C Hornet (Blue Angel #4), Bell UH-1 Iroquois (Utility), General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon and the Boeing-Vertol CH-46E Sea Knight.

Technically, the museum forms a part of the Pearl Harbor site, but it’s situated on Ford Island. You will need to take a short boat ride from the Pearl Harbor National Memorial to Ford Island to reach the museum.

14 – Stop to smell the flowers among the Honolulu Botanical Gardens

Honolulu Botanical Gardens, Oahu

Flowers are symbolic in Hawaii, used in fresh floral garlands or bushes of bright Hibiscus dot landscapes around the island.

It makes total sense that there’s more than just one official botanical garden and there are five official gardens that comprise the Honolulu Botanical Gardens system.

Named after the late queen, the Liliʻuokalani Botanical Garden is right in Honolulu and pays homage to native Hawaiian plants, with a waterfall included inside.

Foster Botanical Garden in downtown Honolulu is where towering tropical trees take center stage in the 5-hectare space.

Heading further out of Honolulu are the three remaining gardens: Koko Crater Botanical Garden (a 22-minute ride), Wahiawā Botanical Garden (a 25-minute drive) and Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden (also 25 minutes from Honolulu).

Among them find lush rainforests, wild and rugged terrains that remind one of a scene from Jurassic Park, and unearth gardens of interesting tropical plants and some wildlife species too.

15 – Check out the highly-photographed Mokulua Islands

Mokulua Islands, Hawaii

Nestled in front of Lanikai Beach (located in Kailua, a 25-minute drive from Honolulu), the cluster of two small islets forming Mokulua Islands is a favorite among locals (and tourists) thanks to its abundant marine life and calm waters.

Nā Mokulua (also nicknamed the Mokes) is the official name, and one of the most popular ways to reach the twin islands is kayaking from the beach shores at Lanikai or Kailua Beach Park.

If canoeing is not really your thing or you prefer a more leisurely route, you can also catch a local boat ride across, or join a day tour for convenience. Kayaking to the islands can take between 45 minutes to two hours, depending on your fitness level and the sea conditions.

The twin islands are named North Mokulua Island (also called Moku Nui) and South Mokulua Island (or Moku Iki).

Important to note; venturing around the two islands whilst out at sea is fine, but only Moku Nui is open to the public during the daytime.

There are plenty of snorkeling and exploration opportunities, and the islands officially form one of Hawaii’s protected Seabird Sanctuaries.

With stretches of golden sands, it’s easy to see why some folk prefer Nā Mokulua to remain a “hidden gem.”

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16 – Go shark diving on the North Shore

shark diving in Honolulu, Oahu

A few miles off the coast of Oahu’s North Shore, divers can find themselves in a unique and exciting environment — one that is full of wild and intimidating (albeit usually friendly) sharks!

The waters are warm and clear (meaning good visibility), and the cage diving sessions are safe and led by qualified instructors. You can choose between a variety of shark diving experiences in Honolulu.

Opt for a traditional shark cage dive where you will travel just under the water’s surface in a secure cage. Witness Galapagos, hammerhead, whitetip reef and sandbar sharks swimming all around you.

Or, if you are an avid ocean baby and want to be as one with the great blue as possible, book a cage-less, open shark dive. Here, no cage is included and under the guidance of professionals, put on your snorkel gear and get to it.

Before all shark dive experiences, a vital instruction and safety lesson is provided.

Note: North Shore is a 40-minute drive from Honolulu and ideal for a day trip too. Once done with your two-hour shark diving adventure, explore the rest of North Shore and this side of the island … It’s a renowned surf spot.

17 – Climb to the top of Diamond Head

Diamond Head, Oahu, Hawaii

What better way to get your heart pumping than planting your flag (figuratively) atop the summit of Diamond Head?

This landmark, also known as Lē‘ahi, is all about that killer view: sweeping ocean scapes, a 360-degree panorama of Honolulu, and glimpses of the Koʻolau Range mountains in the distance.

Over 300,000 years old, Diamond Head is, in fact, a dormant volcano sitting 232 meters above sea level and was once home to an overload of military activities. Today, it’s one of the most popular summits to make in the area.

A range of tours includes a hike (or drive past) of Diamond Head, so set your budget and take your pick! Most expeditions start bright and early, but the trail takes around two hours (there and back) to complete, so you can hike it later on if that suits you.

Back in the day, the military used the area around Diamond Head and helped lay the first tracks.

Visit sites and historical features constructed and utilized by the troops. Explore wartime bunkers, army tunnels, the Fire Control Station and a lighthouse.

The best time for hiking in Oahu is late winter and spring when the weather is cooler. If here in the fall, it’s not as warm but rains a lot, so be careful of the muddy terrain — not always the best for trekking.

18 – Grab the binoculars and go whale-watching

whale watching in Honolulu, Oahu

Calling all animal lovers! While it’s possible to see humpback whales from most points on the island, depending on the time of year, there are a few locations that offer far better odds of spotting these majestic creatures — and the local tour guides know exactly where those spots are.

Migrating to Hawaii’s oceans from around December to April, the best way to witness the whales up close is during a whale-watching cruise.

Let the experts do all the work; simply jump onto the boat, enjoy the drinks and snacks, and wait for the gentle giants to appear whilst the experienced pros point you in the right direction.

Depending on the type of whale-watching expedition you’ve chosen, different cruise liners depart from waterways around the island like Kewalo Basin Harbor, Waianae Small Boat Harbor or Hilton Hawaiian Village Pier.

You can choose a larger group tour, or for something more intimate, book a private whale-watching cruise.

There are also special breakfast whale-watching missions or go with a romantic sunset hour boat tour instead.

19 – Go on a high-speed adventure through the jungle

zip lining in Honolulu, Oahu

One of the most exhilarating things to do in Honolulu lies outside of the city limits — any guesses? How about zip-lining at high speeds through the lush, green, seemingly endless jungle?

Bearing in mind your surroundings, there are a multitude of different zip-lining adventures located around the island, so you can pick the one that best suits you, from timing to location.

Swing across 274-meter-long lines in the Jurassic Valley or spend two hours zooting across six lines and a jungle tree obstacle course at the Coral Crater Adventure Park. For spectacular ocean views, soar over plantations at the North Shore.

As the sun begins to set, why not choose a nighttime adventure instead? Zip across the treetops with the stars twinkling above, followed by s’mores around the campfire …

Ziplining crusades range between one to two hours, depending on the number of lines you choose to cross.

20 – Unleash Your Inner Musician: Try a Fun Ukulele Lesson

Ukulele Lesson, Honolulu, Oahu
credit to The Ukulele Store

Have you always wanted to learn how to play the guitar? You may want to consider a ukulele lesson while you’re in Honolulu — smaller than a guitar and with fewer strings, it’s easier to play for first-timers.

The ukulele is a huge part of Hawaiian culture. Interestingly, whilst Hawaii popularized the ukulele, the miniature-sized guitar has its origins in Portugal.

Close to Diamond Head, The Ukulele Store not only sells the musical instrument but also offers free daily lessons!

Descendant from a traditional musical Honolulu family, selling ukuleles since 2000 (and with three ukulele instruction books written), the owner and teacher, Tyler Gilman has toured and led workshops around the world.

This is a fabulous traditional place to learn to play the Ukulele, and who knows, maybe take one home with you?

21 – Ride a horse through the wilderness

horse riding Honolulu, Oahu

Saddling up a trusty steed on any vacation is an adventure; horse riding on Hawaii’s beautiful beaches (Paniolo style), well that’s another level of excitement altogether!

With scenic landscapes as your backdrop and gentle horses with seasoned riders to show you the ropes, these excursions guarantee fond memories.

Depending on which outdoor adventure you choose, it might include a hearty dinner, a tree planting experience, or a ride through the famed setting of Jurassic Park: Kualoa Ranch.

Two hours or 1.5 hours, horse-riding activities are available throughout the day. Gallop across the lands at the start of the day, or wait until the sun dips and the evening signals cooler temperatures and take a sunset ride.

Horse trails are suitable for all ages, for example, horseback rides at North Shore Stables offer rides for children that are short routes.

22 – Cycle around Waikiki!

bike tours Honolulu, Oahu

Put the pedal to the metal and enjoy a cycle sightseeing excursion around Waikiki — one of the top-rated districts in Honolulu and home to many attractions and incredible oceanic-infused escapades.

Escorted around town by friendly local residents, riders can see all that this laid-back neighborhood has to offer: world-class shopping on Kalakaua Avenue … an aerial view from Diamond Head Crater … and plenty of time at breathtaking beaches to snap a selfie or two.

Not only limited to Waikiki but there are also several types of bike tours in Honolulu ranging from food-themed to history-focused.

Spend half a day (four to five hours) sightseeing Iolani Palace, King Kamehameha Statue, Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives, Ala Wai Canal, Hawaii State Capitol, Kawaiahao Church and many other important tourist attractions.

Keen on a bike tour but not so amped on the cycling part? Opt for an E-bike (electric bicycle) adventure outside of the city instead. Go mountain biking at Kualoa Ranch or whizz through luscious jungles inside the Pu’u ‘Ohia rainforest.

23 – Go parasailing over Maunalua Bay

parasailing in Oahu

Take to the skies and let the salty ocean breeze carry you away during an exciting parasailing flight over Maunalua Bay!

Not to be confused with paragliding, during a Honolulu parasailing adventure, you’ll soar over the calm, crystal waters, taking in sweeping views of Honolulu and its signature landmarks before landing on the beach for a well-deserved refreshment.

The parasail is attached to the back of a boat, and so the ride begins from out at sea, and you’re not free-flying.

Lasting around 10 minutes, you also have the option to select how long you would like the boat rope to extend, determining your height into the sky, for example, choose an 800 or 600-meter long rope.

24 – Get balanced on a paddleboard

stand up paddle Honolulu, Oahu

A wonderful way to soak in the serenity of the picturesque Oahu landscapes (once you’ve got your balance, that is), stand-up paddleboarding is a constant delight for locals and tourists alike.

Hunt down a SUPing lesson, specifically designed to show you the basics, or get straight into the water, there’s an overload of SUPing opportunities.

Traveling family troupes can book stand-up paddleboarding family lessons, or spend half the day paddling the Kailua coastline.

While Honolulu has no shortage of rentals and group endeavors (including SUP yoga and night paddling), since Oahu is so small, even places like the Anahulu stream in Haleiwa, on the other side of the island, are accessible in less than 45 minutes.

If you’ve never tried any water sports before, and are still hesitant about surfing, SUPing is a great first alternative. Once you’ve comfortably got into your groove when riding the waves on a paddleboard, learn to surf next.

25 – Explore the Wild: Thrilling ATV Tours Await You!

ATV tours in Oahu

No matter where you find yourself around the island, uncover a variety of exciting ATV tours — perfect for anyone.

Whether you’re seeking a leisurely ride through the countryside or an adrenaline-fueled adventure, there’s plenty to choose from.

Set aside one hour to venture the road less traveled around the coastline from North Shore Stables, whizz through the jungle and mountainous terrains inside Kualoa Ranch or hit wheel spins at Coral Crater Adventure Park.

You can choose to ride the ATV yourself, or if there are two of you checking into the activity, you can ride together while one of you drives and the other is the passenger.

If neither feels comfortable driving, an ATV guide will take the wheel for you while you just enjoy the fun.

26 – Explore the bottom of the ocean (without diving) with Atlantis Submarine Tours

submarine tours in Oahu
credit to Atlantis Adventures

Hawaii’s ocean makes up half her charm! For visitors who are desperate to explore below her depths but aren’t PADI-certified for a scuba dive, you can still experience the thrills of swimming with exotic marine creatures (but from a dry positioning) with Atlantis Submarine Tours!

Operating the waters around Hawaii since 1988, you’ll board a 64-seater environmentally-friendly (battery-powered) submarine, plunging 30 meters below the surface!

Planting artificial reefs over the years at select barren underwater sites, these now teem with aquatic life! The Atlantis Submarine takes its guests directly to this location in Waikiki, and the dive site is right near Diamond Head.

Today, you’ll spot vibrant, thriving coral, green turtles, eels, yellow tangs and … sharks! Just take a peek out from one of the submarine’s portholes! As you surge deeper into the depths of the Great Blue, pass by shipwrecks and the remains of sunken planes.

The tour is 1.5 hours, but the submarine journey is 45 to 50 minutes.

27 – Visit the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame

Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame concert at Waikiki City Beach
Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame concert at Waikiki City Beach

Founded in 1994, the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame is all about highlighting, celebrating and taking a deep look into the local music of Hawaii, including some of its most renowned composers and musicians.

The museum features an interactive and free exhibition, The Royal Room. This self-guided exhibition (which is run by volunteers) looks back at Hawaiian music’s Golden Age. Often you will find circles of local artists strumming guitars and singing local songs.

Part of the exhibit is dedicated to the Na Lani ‘Ehā (also known as ‘The Royal Four’).

David Kalakaua, William Leleiohoku, Lili`uokalani, and Miriam Likelike are four Hawaiians that played pivotal roles in the development of the music, performing arts and culture scene in Hawaii throughout the 1800s.

The Royal Room also offers classes to learn the Hawaiian art of feather work, such as making a flower out of feathers and more.

28 – Set sail on a boat tour around the island

sunset sailing tour in Oahu

When the capital of Hawaii feels a bit too busy for you (especially in peak season), consider escaping the crowds out at sea … there’s always something so tranquil about being close to the ocean …

Spoilt for choice when it comes to boat tours in Honolulu, some cruises set sail at different times of day, whether morning, afternoon or at golden hour.

Hop onto a 15-meter yacht and spend two hours boating around the coastline, including snorkel stops along the way.

Or, board a high-speed inflatable zodiac-style boat and enjoy a dedicated 1.5-hour expedition of sightseeing aquatic life including dolphins, sharks, turtles and in-season, whales.

Is Nā Mokulua (Mokulua Islands) on your Honolulu travel list? Head over to the islands on a boat tour, or another special excursion is a glass-bottom boat tour.

Mister Romantic; take note! Nothing quite screams a perfect evening like popping a bottle of champagne on a luxury catamaran en route to Diamond Head or digging into some wine and cheese with views of the stunning Waikiki lights in the distance at sunset.

If you’re traveling with a group of mates, consider an epic Honolulu boat party, or a BYOB (bring your own booze) cruise.

Whether you plan on sipping cocktails with friends or impressing your better half with a romantic evening, there’s never a poor reason to book a boat cruise.

29 – Snap pics of bamboo forests, street art, ancient volcanoes and more during  photo tours

photo tours in Oahu

Blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, Hawaii is a photographer’s playground! If you’re an aspiring one, it’s your favorite pastime or you’re simply searching for a social media sprucing, photo tours in and around Honolulu are unsurpassable!

Doubling as a sightseeing adventure; determine how long you’d like to spend shooting, what you’d prefer to focus on, and any area/part of the island in particular.

Spend an entire day (about ten hours) on an insta-worthy expedition, designed specifically to show you the trendiest and prettiest backgrounds around the island, from street art to a bamboo forest to lookout points.

Or, explore Honolulu’s iconic Waikiki neighborhood on a half-day excursion, visiting her most famous landmarks from town to the east coast, for example, Makapu’u Beach lookout and the Halona Blowhole.

For travelers who take their photography seriously, there are photo tours led by a pro, including tips and tricks on how to use a camera, and work shutter speed, angles, etc.

Here on honeymoon? There are even options that include a private photoshoot!

30 – Tantalize the taste buds on a Honolulu food tour

food tours in Oahu

Foodies, listen up: Hopping around gastronomic-centric ‘hoods like Chinatown, Ala Moana, and famous Waikiki during a food tour, local guides will introduce you to authentic meals as well as hotspots, cafes, and bars off the beaten track.

Can’t wait to see what’s in store? Expect to sample island staples like spam musubi and kalua pork, traditional dishes like poke, and the decades-old treat of shaved ice, a mega-popular Japanese dessert.

Along food tours, learn about various cultural influences in Hawaiian cuisine, for example, countries such as Japan. Certain food tours in Honolulu focus on the local hidden gems like fresh markets, street stalls and beloved restaurants.

Prefer to taste more local bites not limited to Honolulu? Travel slightly outside the city perimeters and around the island. Get to sightsee iconic sites whilst tasting ingredients used in staple Hawaiian foods, visiting a Macadamia nut farm or coffee plantation.

Foodie tip: Most food tours in Honolulu include a stop at the famed Leonard’s Bakery, but if you don’t cross paths during a tour, make sure to visit the bakery for the best malasadas in town.

31 – Catch some Waikiki waves in a traditional outrigger canoe

canoeing tours in Oahu

Looking for fun things to do in Waikiki? Grab a couple of friends and opt for something thrilling, surfing some waves at Waikiki Beach in an outrigger canoe!

If you’ve never heard of this type of canoe before, they’re not as common as the original kayak-style boats, but originating in Hawaii, they’ve been utilized for decades in the country.

In fact, back in the day outrigger canoe surfing was considered a sport among the royals and was also a popular mode of transport between the islands.

With an outrigger attached to the canoe, it’s much more stable than the regular boat and small groups sit inside, using a paddle to steer you over the waves.

While surfing the sea, enjoy views of downtown Honolulu and Diamond Head.

The water adventure lasts around 30 minutes and is suitable for all aged groups of between four to six riders.

32 – Check out the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park

USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, Oahu, Hawaii

Another Pearl Harbor-related attraction that dives into the history and significance of the area and its stories, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park offers educational videos about the fateful events, plus narrated displays and guided tours.

What this museum does particularly well is showcasing the history of American submarines — with that said, for navy and boat enthusiasts, it’s a non-negotiable.

Step on board a US Navy Balao-class submarine called the USS Bowfin (SS-287), an attack-type submarine utilized during World War II in the Pacific.

Once an underwater craft, the fleet ship has been converted into its own museum and is open to the public for tours.

Apart from the submarine, there are other exhibits to explore located both indoors and outside around the park.

Some galleries inside to see are the World War Two Gallery and the Modern Gallery (highlighting the Cold War).

Heading outdoors, investigate the Waterfront Memorial, the Regulus I (a Navy cruise missile used in the Cold War), USS Parche (SS-384) Conning Tower and the Kaiten (a Japanese torpedo).

33 – Shop till you drop at the Ala Moana Center

Ala Moana Center, Honolulu, Oahu

This gorgeous, vast, four-story mall is considered to be a staple of Honolulu’s economy, offering something for everyone across the 350 stores that comprise Ala Moana Center.

From high-end boutique shops (think Chanel and Dior) to sprawling retail chains like Abercrombie & Fitch, ABC Stores and The Body Shop, this is a one-stop shop for anyone with shopping on their agenda!

One of the reasons travelers enjoy this hotspot is because it offers both international and local brands, as well as dining options that cross countries and continents too.

Enjoy Italian from Assaggio, Nepali, Indian and Tibetan cuisine at Himalayan Kitchen, divine Japanese food at Goma Tei Ramen, or Chinese bites from Sxy Szechuan.

On-the-go? Refuel at Barnes & Noble Cafe or Jamba Juice, and grab sweet delights from Cinnabon or Gelato Bar.

34 – Relax and unwind at a spa

spas in Oahu
credit to Moana Lani Spa

Sure, Hawaii is chock-full of one-of-a-kind adventure activities, but don’t forget why you’re there in the first place: you’re on vacation!

And vacation means relaxation, so take your pick from one of the dozens of spas across Honolulu (and wider Oahu) offering hot stone massage, facials, couples massages, aromatherapy, Swedish massages, reflexology, or the local tradition of Lomi Lomi massage.

With cityscape views and on the 25th floor, Lava Massage & Day Spa is small and intimate, set in a trendy space. Setting them apart is the affordable prices and quality techniques.

If an oceanic setting is more your vibe, Moana Lani Spa‘s beachfront location overlooking the sea is a winner, Plus, it’s located inside the iconic Moana Surfrider Resort Waikiki-side.

Abhasa Spa is truly tranquil with therapy cabanas dotted among a tropical garden.

Covering all needs, Heaven on Earth has it all from massages to facials to manicures and offers monthly specials. Malie Massage & Day Spa is another affordable choice too in the heart of Honolulu city.

Lastly, a special one for the ladies, if you’ve never tried it before, consider looking into and booking a session at Yoni Steam Honolulu.

35 – Appreciate the architecture of the Aloha Tower

Aloha Tower, Honolulu

Considered a national monument in Honolulu, travelers who love to marvel at historical buildings and features will enjoy the scenes at Aloha Tower.

The former island lighthouse is located on the edge of the waters down at Honolulu Harbor, overlooking the North Pacific Ocean.

Nearly 100 years old, Aloha Tower was built in 1926 and remained one of Honolulu’s tallest building structures for close to 50 years. Head up to the 10th floor of the lighthouse where the observation deck is. Open daily and completely free, climb the stairs to the view station.

Appreciate the oceanic scenes in front, and apart from this, there are some activities to enjoy. In recent times, the space surrounding the sea tower has been utilized, now called the Aloha Tower Marketplace.

Here, local eateries and shops occupy the area and often community events are held here.

36 – Head underwater on a submarine scooter adventure

submarine scooter adventure, Oahu

Have you ever wondered what it must be like to live under the sea instead of on land? Now you can experience what it’s like to drive underwater during a submarine scooter expedition!

Snorkel and dive with marine life in the crystal clear Oahu waters aboard a submarine scooter — a modern activity perfect for those who want to get up close and personal with some of Hawaii’s most beautiful creatures without getting wet!

If you’ve never heard of or seen the submarine scooter before, you’re geared into the electric underwater scooter, with a helmet placed on top of you which you’re able to breathe in … no diving tanks or snorkels required!

Not only will you see fish, turtles, coral reefs and other tropical sea life, but depending on the chosen dive spot, you might also get the chance to explore a sunken shipwreck.

To top it off, en route to the dive point, you’ll have plenty of time to kick back on the catamaran and enjoy the views of the Diamond Head and the Ko’olau Range mountains from afar.

37 – Practice your swing on a golf course

golf courses, Honolulu
credit to Hawaii Prince Golf Club

Hawaii is home to some of the best golf courses out there, no questions asked. Just wait until you get a load of the scenic landscapes that surround you as you tee off.

While you’re based in Honolulu, spend the day on the course at any one of these excellent options.

Ala Wai Golf Course is a flat and fast 18-hole course and is probably one of the most convenient golf ranges.

Also located near the Waikiki district is Hawaii Kai Golf Course which features a Champions Course, Executive Par 3 Course as well as a Golf Academy run by PGA pros.

An interesting choice is the Navy Marine Golf Course, located right near the Pearl Harbor site and makes for a unique golfing setting.

If you don’t mind a short drive to reach championship options, make your way to Ewa Beach Golf Club for the day. Sporting Robin Nelson design, it’s been open for play since 1992. Also in the same area is the Hawaii Prince Golf Club.

Headed to the North Shore, play the picturesque Arnold Palmer Golf Course or Fazio Course (both 18-hole) at Turtle Bay.

38 – Conquer the Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven hike, Oahu, Hawaii

Seriously, how about that view? One of the island’s most rewarding (yet intimidating) attractions, the Stairway to Heaven scrapes the clouds at 800-meters high.

First built in 1942 by the U.S navy, the grueling stairway, as expected, is quite the hike: 3,922 steps, to be exact — a trail that soldiers frequented to access the radio antenna at the top of the summit.

Forming part of the Haiku Valley, the Stairway to Heaven’s official name is the Haiku Stairs and is right by the Koʻolau Range mountains. To reach the top, set aside a good few hours.

Its legality is questionable and technically it is considered an illegal hiking trail purely based on safety reasons. But, that doesn’t mean bravehearts don’t attempt and conquer the trail for an Instagram moment like none other.

However, there is a legal route along the Moanalua Middle Ridge but you don’t walk the stairs, only to the viewpoint on the top.

To avoid disappointment, book a guided hiking tour (which will probably take the alternative Kulana’ahane trail).

39 – Munch the best dim sum at Chinatown

Chinatown, Honolulu

Chinatown is an exciting, historic district to explore that makes up part of Downtown Honolulu, and is home to a large Chinese-American community.

The result? An explosion of foods, shopping and culture different from the rest of Honolulu where you will stumble across food vendors, hole-in-the-wall style bars and eateries, and stores selling traditional medicine, herbs and spices, teas and fresh produce.

Discover shrines and temples dotted around the area typical of Chinese and Japanese design and religious practices, and it’s especially festive during Chinese New Year.

Expect to see dragon dance processions, red lanterns dotting every street and an overload of crowds.

Unfortunately, since the pandemic, Chinatown is not as bustling as it once was, but a trip is still worth it to decide for yourself.

40 – Take a ‘Hawaii Five-0’ TV tour

Hawaii Five-0’ TV tour, Honolulu, Oahu

One for the TV binge-watchers, dedicated Hawaii Five-0 tours take tourists around the island to a range of locations that are featured on the sun-drenched crime show.

Spanning 10 seasons over 10 years and filmed on-location, there are tons of iconic spots and landscapes where the Five-O task force shot the series’ scenes.

Led by a local guide (and fellow diehard fan), you’ll be treated to stops at the Diamond Head lookout, the Hawaii Film and Sound stage, and McGarrett’s House estate (the Oahu Bayer Estate).

You even have the chance to meet cousin Flippa, played by local Hawaiian musician and actor, Shawn Mokuahi Garnett.

Lunch, pick-up and drop-off are included, so why not give it a shot?

41 – Kayak on the waters of Kailua Beach Park during a day trip

kayak tours in Oahu

Situated on the island’s east shore, the postcard-worthy Kailua Beach Park dazzles with its vibrant blue waters and soft white sands.

While a day spent working on the tan is never a bad option, the premier way to appreciate this area’s true beauty — plus see the famous Hawaiian green sea turtles and nearby bird-nesting sanctuary — is with a kayak tour!

Unless you plan on renting your own kayak, all pre-arranged tours provide the kayaking equipment and a guide, promising an enjoyable hassle-free experience.

It takes about 30 minutes by car to reach Kailua Beach (or the train also runs to this part of the island but the journey is 45 minutes long), so it makes sense to turn it into a day trip filled with all things beachy.

BBQ pits, shaded areas, picnic tables, restrooms, and even a beach volleyball court are some of the facilities that the park is equipped with. Easily spend hours playing, swimming, kayaking and snorkeling around the bay and beach.

42 – Get sippin’ at the Koʻolau Distillery

Koʻolau Distillery, Honolulu, Oahu
credit to Koʻolau Distillery

The Koʻolau Distillery Tour is a splendid option for those looking to take the edge off and get a little wild!

Located on the outskirts of Kailua, on the island’s east coast, this distillery offers tours with fascinating insights into how it makes its signature product — Old Pali Road whiskey.

The distillery uses sacred rainwater which flows from the Ko’olau mountains and is then further purified through volcanic rocks as it gushes down in waterfalls. Local legend believes that the Hawaiian gods live in the misty clouds above this mountain range.

Visitors will be taken on a journey through the entire manufacturing process, from assembling ingredients to bottling and labeling — and, of course, every tour concludes with some samples.

43 – Get Closer to Nature and Visit a Nearby Farm Today

farm tour in Oahu

With lands as lush and green as Honolulu, it’s impossible not to imagine it filled with a bountiful of different types of farms around.

Tropical Farms specializes in Macadamia nuts and has ever since 1987 when it first began. The family-operated business also sells coffee, chocolate, spices and other snacks.

With a deep-rooted family history in cultivation, take a farm tour around Kahuku Farms finishing off with a visit to its farm cafe.

Dole Plantation is an iconic pineapple farm and should be added to all lists of things to do in Honolulu. Located in the North Shore, tour the plantation and learn more about the fruits, with sampling included.

If you’ve never heard of voluntourism, here’s the gist: volunteering + tourism! Simple, right?

At charming places like the Menehune Enterprises Farm or Tsue’s Farm, visitors have a chance to give back to the community by learning about local agriculture and getting down and dirty for a couple of hours.

While rewarding, it’s not the only part of the adventure: farm “voluntours” also often include a visit to the North Shore for some well-earned relaxation on the beach.

44 – For an adrenaline rush on water, whizz around on a Jet Ski

jet ski tours in Oahu

Thrill seekers and watersport lovers, it’s time to make some serious waves when you go jet skiing around the waters of Honolulu!

This is a fun activity for all: take control of the handlebars yourself, or if you’d feel more secure, let one of the professional drivers lead the way — just hold on tight!

Using a Yamaha WaveRunner (this type of watercraft is considered safer than a usual jet ski and has features like speed control).

Maunalua Bay is typically favored for jet ski adventures because the waves remain relatively flat. To reach the ideal location for the ride, you will first be transported via water taxi to the launch point.

Then, it’s 30 minutes of air-catching, zipping over waves and showing off your jet ski tricks if you have any.

Keen to drive the jet ski yourself? Solo riders need to be older than 16 years, and rentals are also available if you’re not set on a guided trip.

45 – Visit the Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii’s first visual arts museum

Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii

Started by a couple with a dying love of art, the building that the Honolulu Museum of Art is housed in is super pretty.

It all began when Anna Rice Cooke and Charles Cooke began their curation of art back in the early 1900s, eventually turning their family home into the first public visual arts museum in the country. They further went on to establish the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

In the earliest days, the collections had a heavy focus on Chinese textiles and ceramics, but grew across all art categories, totaling a sum of 875 works.

Renamed the Contemporary Art Center in 1977, in 2012 the center and the Honolulu Academy of Arts combined into one, changing its name to the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA).

Since its opening, the museum’s exhibition displays have grown, and the gallery now houses more than 50,000 artworks and items from Asia, America and across Europe.

To witness these works, check out the museum’s expos which regularly rotate to feature the different collections.

At the Central Courtyard is the indoor Doris Duke Theater. Independent and international films, documentaries and experimental short movies are screened here. After all the art exploring, refuel at the HoMA Café and Coffee Bar.

But that’s not all, set your inner creative free and try an art class. There are both adult and youth art classes available like drawing, painting, ceramics, metal work and fiber art.

46 – Dive into Deep-Sea Fishing Adventures

fishing charters in Oahu

The warm Hawaiian waters are a playground for all the fishing enthusiasts out there, teeming with creatures big and small. For avid fishermen, families or those looking for something fun to do, consider a deep sea fishing excursion.

Spend an hour, a few more, or the whole day out at sea throwing in your reel and waiting for a bite. See what you can catch (game fish are very common) and then release it back into the ocean.

For a social outing (and budget-friendly option), join an expert-led group tour. You’ll be given everything you need: bait, tackle, an ice chest (for your catch), lunch, snacks, and drinks.

On the flip side, if you’re after a touch of luxury and that VIP feeling, charter a private boat for just your group.

Either way, make sure the camera’s charged; you might catch a glimpse of exotic birds, turtles, dolphins or other wildlife along the way!

47 – Snap a photo of the Koko Crater Arch

Koko Crater Arch, Oahu

As one of the most recognizable natural formations on Oahu island, Koko Crater is a sizable hole inside a volcanic cone formed by lava flowing out thousands of years ago, creating an opening.

Within the area, there are a few things to do and explore including the Koko Crater Arch — a natural rock formation lying on its side, representing a diagonal arch on the side of the mountain trail.

Overseeing the ocean right in front of you, the scenery is unreal.

If you’re looking for some exercise and adventure near Waimea, it’s a very accessible hike (just a 1.4-kilometer loop trail).

The reward at the end? That stunning 360-degree view of the sun setting over the horizon sure to light up the ‘gram. In season (from late December to April), it’s an ideal location to go whale-watching.

Passing Waikiki, it’s 20-minutes from the center of Honolulu.

48 – Sample Hawaiian beer during fun pub crawls

pub crawls in Oahu

It’s time to meet new friends and get a taste of what the local drinking scene is like in Honolulu with a pub crawl!

Doubling as a bar-hopping excursion and a history lesson in one, this is an interesting way to get to know the island better, and because there’s alcohol involved, it’s naturally a festive operation!

Spanning roughly two hours, the pub crawl takes place at the bars in Waikiki, visiting at least four local drinking holes.

Each location includes one beer from the bar (feel free to buy more if you wish), with time to stop and chat with the owners, bar staff and regular patrons. It’s the perfect chance to mingle with the locals, learning first-hand about the land and its past.

Pub crawls run twice a day: at 4 PM or 7 PM, and there are also two package options (the cheaper option doesn’t include four drinks).

49 – Enjoy the Waikīkī Beach Friday night fireworks

Waikīkī Beach Friday night fireworks

For a slice of magic in the air, Waikiki is the picture-perfect place to roll out a picnic blanket on the sand and catch some mesmerizing Friday night fireworks.

Located on the beach in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, the show takes place every Friday night at around 8 PM.

But it’s not just from here that you can marvel at the colorful displays and the bright lights can be seen from Ala Moana Center side to Diamond Head.

Visitors have two enjoyable options for viewing: sit on the beach or book a seat on a multi-course dinner cruise.

Speaking of the latter, there are a variety of firework-viewing cruises to choose between. Join a fun BYOB (bring your own booze) excursion, board a boat with cocktails included or find an open bar on deck.

Whichever way you decide to spectate, you’re guaranteed a memorable night!

50 – Explore Every Corner: Take the Circle Island Adventure

Circle Island, Oahu

Hawaii’s capital city is found within the country’s third largest island, Oahu, however, the island is not overly massive. It is possible to travel around most of the island (if you do it smartly) in one day.

Not to be confused with an actual island, the Circle Island tour essentially circles the main haunts of Oahu, typically starting at the sandy beaches of Waikiki, skirting past Diamond Head Crater, and along miles and miles of pristine coastline.

As you full circle the isle, stop by Halona Blowhole, Tropical Farms, Hanauma Bay, Waimea Valley and Nu’uanu Pali viewpoint, passing through areas like Windward Oahu, North Shore and Kaneohe.

(Each Circle Tour has its own itinerary, so be sure to check prior to your final booking and go with a day trip that best suits your travel desires.)

For the best bang for your buck, opt for a tour that also includes access to a few of Honolulu’s most iconic attractions in one exciting day (like the Byodo-In Temple, the Dole Plantation, or a snorkeling segment).

Circle Islands tours from Honolulu last nine to 10 hours, transport is included starting and ending at your accommodation and most cover lunch.

51 – Enjoy bucket loads of fun in the sun at Magic Island

Magic Island, Honolulu

Let the hours slip by at Magic Island as you go swimming, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving or bodyboarding around the man-made bay.

If water sports aren’t your vibe, work on your tan, build sandcastles, or catch up on some reading on the soft sands, or up on the green park that surrounds the lagoon.

Built-in 1964, Magic Island forms part of the Ala Moana Beach Park and the lagoon is great for families as it usually shows off calm, flat waters only.

Although not a natural formation, it had many years to develop its marine habitat and ecosystems.

A grassy area behind the beach provides guests with picnic tables and benches and ample shade if you need a break from the beating sun.

Ala Moana Shopping Center is very close by and if you are in this part of Honolulu on a Friday, stay in time for the Friday night fireworks which can be easily seen from Magic Island.

52 – Immerse Yourself in Nature: Snorkeling Bliss at Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

As one of Hawaii’s most popular attractions, Hanauma Bay is famous for its calm waves and shallow entry point, and, as you can see, its vibrant aquamarine waters.

One of the greatest snorkeling spots in Oahu, with many colorful coral formations, not to mention an opportunity to spy sea turtles in their natural habitat.

Situated just 20 minutes from Honolulu town, the picturesque bay is an ideal location for a beach day, or even just the morning or afternoon.

Sparkling see-through waters greet beach-hunters and snorkeling is easily accessible right in the bay, which you can swim into straight from the shore.

This is one of the reasons why the insta-worthy area is a hit amongst families, not to mention photographers too.

53 – Deep dive into the beauty, culinary hotspots or cultural landmarks with Bus Tours

bus tours in Honolulu

If you’re based in Waikiki during your vacation and are set on a day for some extensive sightseeing or are staying in another area in Honolulu, for example, Kahala, and would like to explore the streets around the south shore, consider purchasing a ticket onboard the Waikiki Trolley hop on hop off bus!

With a hop-on hop-off bus tour, you have the freedom to jump on and off the city sightseeing bus as often as you like at any of the dedicated stops on your specific line. With four routes to choose from, opt for the one that tickles your fancy the most.

These are the Blue Line: Coastal and Local Grinds Tour, the Red Line: Heroes and Legends Tour, the Pink Line: Ala Moana Shopping Tour and the Green Line: Diamond Head Tour.

Each highlights a different aspect: culinary hotspots, natural beauty, local myths and history, iconic shopping, dining options and the famous crater.

54 – Swim with Hawaiian green sea turtles at Turtle Canyon

Turtle Canyon tours in Honolulu, Oahu

While you might get lucky and spot some friendly wildlife when out and about in Honolulu, the only way to guarantee Hawaiian green sea turtles sightings is by booking a snorkeling tour in the warm waters of Turtle Canyon.

With both private and small-group adventures available, there’s something for every budget.

Leave in the morning, midday or mid-afternoon and enjoy two to three hours out at sea. Spot other aquatic animals along the ride from spinner dolphins to whales (if you’re here at the right time of year).

Hop off of the boat at Turtle Canyon and snorkel up to the sea turtles for an intimate moment. The water around this area is quite shallow and is suitable for all levels, from novice to pro.

Travelers who have arrived in Honolulu for an ocean-induced holiday, there are plenty of other  snorkeling tours in Oahu to explore too.

55 – Race around town with a scavenger game

scavenger game in Honolulu

An alternative way to see Honolulu (or specifically Waikiki), these Amazing Race-style scavenger hunts are perfect for ticking off the must-see attractions in an interactive, problem-solving way!

The fun takes visitors to various quintessential landmarks as well as hidden gems, with themed adventures like ‘murals and legends’ also available.

All you need is a group and a smartphone. Teams are given a quest, and as you solve each clue, you will be given your next point of interest to tick off the list until you reach the final stop.

Fun for all ages, consider this one for the family instead of an ordinary sightseeing tour. If you’re not staying in Waikiki and are yet to explore the resort-y neighborhood, a scavenger game is a fabulous option.

56 – Grab a snack at the Kaka’ako Farmers Market

Kaka’ako Farmers Market, Oahu
credit to Kakaako Farmers Market

It’s not hard to find a place for fresh produce in Honolulu — still, the Kaka’ako Farmers Market is one of the city’s most popular.

Every Saturday morning till noon at the Ward Village, locals gather with their basketfuls of groceries — almost all of which are grown or curated on Hawaiian soil.

Foodies will particularly delight in this market with stalls made up of small local farmers, artisans and bespoke food manufacturers.

The market presents a true taste of the islands, with everything from freshly-picked coffee beans to sweet pineapples and, of course, no shortage of free samples!

Are you an avid market-goer? Some other farmer’s markets to visit near Honolulu are the Pearlridge Farmers Market and the KailuaTown Farmers Market.

Directions in Google Maps

57 – Zip around town on a segway

segway tours in Oahu

Walking tour? Forget about it! Segways are the way to go in Honolulu.

These two-wheeled marvels deliver a unique means of seeing the city’s most famous landmarks, with tours available for groups and solo travelers alike.

Maneuvering and riding a standing hoverboard, segways allow you to cover more ground than walking. Most excursions are two to three hours.

Adventure through Waikiki’s spread of eight beaches and through to Diamond Head, or decide on a segway tour that focuses more on attractions and things to do in Honolulu.

For example, visit Magic Island, Ala Moana Beach Park, Kewalo Basin Harbor, Fort DeRussy Beach Park and more must-see places in town.

Choose a hoverboard experience at sunset hour across the beaches, or opt for a tour that specifically highlights historical sites.

A variety of routes means there’s something for everyone: from exploring backstreets in Waikiki to cruising down the coast, these eco-friendly two-wheelers are sure to please.

58 – Check out the Kaniakapupu Ruins

Kaniakapupu Ruins, Oahu, Hawaii

Also known as the summer residence of King Kamehameha III, the Kaniakapupu Ruins are a treasure of Hawaiian history. As a site that has been on the National Register of Historic Places for decades, it’s also one of the island’s most appreciated local sites.

You’ll need to take a small hike (more of a flat path) to get to the ruins, but with a natural bamboo tunnel and cute stream along the way, there’s no reason to complain! Plus, once you reach the abandoned palace, revel in the Luakaha Falls waterfall.

King Kamehameha III summer home (as it’s commonly referred to) was built in 1845 by the king as his dwelling to relax in the summertime. It was constructed from stone, and some of the ancient walls remain.

Note: Entry to the area is now by permit only, so be sure to plan the trip in advance and double-check its viability to avoid disappointment.

59 – Find your zen at the Byodo-In Temple

Byodo-In Temple, Oahu

Feel transported to Japan at the Buddhist Byodo-In Temple, nestled at the foothills of the Ko’olau mountains (within the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park).

The stunning temple was first built in 1968 to celebrate 100 years of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii — today, its architecture remains as it welcomes people from any faith to meditate, rejuvenate and pray.

Taking inspiration from the temple styles of Japan, Byodo was designed in a similar style to the sacred Byodoin Temple in Uji, Japan, constructed over 950 years ago.

Surrounding the temple in Honolulu are beautiful gardens and the grounds have a koi pond, small waterfalls and meditation corners. In fact, the setting is so gorgeous that often couples get married here too.

Inside the main hall, spot the carved golden sitting Amid Buddha, reaching nearly three meters tall. Head over to the Bell House and find the revered brass Bon-sho (Sacred Bell).

Enjoy a moment to yourself at the meditation pavilion, completely shrouded by luscious green scenery.

After a few busy days touring Waikiki or sipping piña coladas, it’s the ultimate place to get some much-needed R&R.

60 – Relax and find your flow with sunset yoga on the beach!

yoga lessons in Oahu

A calming environment makes all the difference during a yoga class, whether talking location or the general ambiance of a classroom setting. For yogis missing out on their practice back home or for novice enthusiasts, there are yoga classes available!

How incredible does sunset yoga on the beach sound? As the waves slowly crash and the sky changes all shades of pink, unwind into a 75-minute session on Waikiki Beach or Magic Island.

Balancing on your board on water, how long can you hold a savasana pose? Extend beyond your usual classes and test your skills with something new, such as SUP (stand-up paddle) yoga at Ala Moana Beach Park. Make it extra magical with an evening SUP yoga lesson under the stars instead!

Amazing studios for standard, alternative, aerial and hot yoga include the Still and Moving Center, Sun Yoga Hawaii, Hot Yoga Waikiki, Iyengar Yoga Silent Dance Center and Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi.

61 – Enjoy some live music at Blue Note Hawaii

Blue Note Hawaii, Honolulu, Oahu
credit to Blue Nii, Honolulu

A toe-tapping franchise mirroring those in New York, Milan, Beijing and Tokyo, Blue Note Hawaii delivers endless nights of seductive melodies, great food, and flowing drinks to tie it all together.

The performance space hosts both local and international artists across a genre of performing arts, from live music concerts to comedy show evenings.

Dining options during the show are served from their on-site restaurant, inspired by the flavors of the Pacific Rim, accompanied by handcrafted cocktails.

Since opening on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, Honolulu, the venue has attracted a steady stream of regulars who are drawn to its authentic live jazz and intimate vibes.

Check the website to see who’s taking center stage during your trip!

62 – Sit back and enjoy a Luau show

Luau shows in Oahu

It might be stereotypical, but attending a traditional luau show — with its eccentric dancing, flaring fire, and upbeat drumming — is absolutely one of the non-negotiable things to do in Honolulu.

Traditionally, the word ‘lūʻau’ in Hawaiian refers to a feast celebration always accompanied by song, dance, fire processions and celebratory foods. Today, luau shows have been adapted as a way to share the local performing art with travelers to Hawaii.

While the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu’s North Shore is renowned as the front-runner for watching laua shows, a performance at Paradise Cove or in the Waimea Valley promises to be just as memorable.

Note: it takes one hour from Honolulu to reach the Polynesian Cultural Center.

63 – Pretend to be an actor or mechanic at the Children’s Discovery Center

Children's Discovery Center, Honolulu
Credit to Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center

Parents, you know what it can be like traveling with young kids anywhere, and so the Children’s Discovery Center is a great option for those in Honolulu after a suitable, fun and educational activity.

The interactive museum is set up to provide insight into local Hawaiian life and the communities in an easy and relatable way.

Whether you’re young or old, the Children’s Discovery Center has excellent resources that shine a light on ethnocentric culture. It’s guaranteed, both kids, teens AND even adults will have a blast here and walk away having learned something new.

Different exhibits feature real-life objects, educational tools and toys and are themed
accordingly.

Learn all about the environments of the tropical forests inside ‘Rainforest Adventures’, pretend to be a fireman or banker for the day at ‘Your Town’, or explore the human body inside the ‘Fantastic You’ room. Plus, loads more.

64 – From fine dining to fusion, feast at the best restaurants

best restaurants in Honolulu
credit to Fête Hawaii

If you’re anything like us, one of our favorite parts about traveling is wining and dining out! Here are the best restaurants in Honolulu!

Couples or fine dining appreciators, for creative, gorgeous plates of food, look no further than Senia, offering a tasting menu and a la carte options.

Another stunning fine-dining pick is the new kid on the block, MW Restaurant, delivering inventive flavors and dishes.

Winner of the acclaimed James Beard award and serving patrons since 1946, for some of the best, most authentic traditional Hawaiian cuisine, head straight to Helena’s Hawaiian Food!

Inspired by the trendy eateries you’d find in Brooklyn, NYC, Fête Hawaii is a seasonal fusion-style New American neighborhood restaurant. Or, Merriman’s has a similar bistro-style vibe.

A classic globally-renowned brand that you can count on, there’s also a Hard Rock Cafe here!  In the mood for Vietnamese? Book a table at The Pig and the lady!

65 – See what contemporary artists are up to at the Hawaii State Art Museum

Hawaii State Art Museum, Honolulu

Focusing on local contemporary art and artists, get lost inside a world of color at the Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM).

It’s one of the free things to do in Honolulu and the gallery itself is housed inside a gorgeous colonial-style building transporting you to bygone eras.

Inside, the museum hosts exhibitions which regularly change and feature artworks by modern-day artists across mixed mediums.

To locate HiSAM, make your way to the second floor of the No. 1 Capitol District Building. On the ground floor of the building is a sculpture garden also worth popping into.

How to get to Honolulu?

Need a ride from the airport? Waiting in line to find the cheapest price on a taxi is NOT something that you want to do after traveling all day in a cramped economy seat.

We’ve got a solution: If you book an airport transfer, your driver will be waiting for you at the airport with your name written on a placard (fancy, hey!). Relax in the backseat, don’t worry about parking or traffic, and you’ll be on Waikiki Beach in no time.

Where to stay in Honolulu?

Hunting down a place to stay? There are a lot of options if you’re looking for accommodation in Honolulu, and most fall under the Waikiki Beach area. Here are some of the best in town for an unforgettable experience.

Overlooking the ocean and just a few moments away from it, check into the classy Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani, complete with marble bathroom tops, sea-facing balconies and bright, floor-to-ceiling windows.

Luxurious and trendy, you may never want to leave ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach. Wake up with the ocean on your doorstep, spend the day at the pool and there are multiple delicious on-site restaurants.

Located down at the harbor, wake up to scenic settings and nautical paradise at Prince Waikiki.

Travelers that prefer to book apartment-type accommodation over hotels and resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach doesn’t disappoint. The modern suites have their own separate living room and kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms.

Accommodating guests since 1901, book your stay in advance at the famous Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa.

Away from the hustle and bustle and great for couples on an island-paradise vacay, check into the lovely The Khala Hotel and Resort renowned for its impeccable service.

If you’re looking for a more local, budget-friendly experience, there are plenty of hostels that will save you a pretty penny.

Where to go next?

If you haven’t put two and two together yet, Hawaii’s capital city forms part of a larger island, and there are plenty of other breathtaking things to do in Oahu!

Once you’ve extensively explored Hawaii’s third-largest island, then check out the best things to do in Hawaii and decide which isle you’re off to next from here.

Kick things off on the fourth-biggest island and uncover all of the magical things to do in Kauai. Nicknamed the “Garden Isle” for good reason; its lush natural beauty is awe-inspiring — think mermaid caves and river sails!

Beach babes and surfers, we suggest you check out the things to do in Maui! Similarly to Oahu, expect large tourist crowds, loads of activities and landmarks, and some of Hawaii’s most stunning beaches! Oahu may be the most popular, but the island of Hawaii is officially the largest! Hiking up the world’s tallest mountain volcano, swimming with manta rays at night and visits to local coffee plantations are just a touch of the amazing things to do on the Big Island.

Final thoughts

How incredible does all of that sound? If you’re anything like us, we’re already checking our calendars for available dates for our next trip!

If you’ve visited the island before, what were some of your favorite things to do in Honolulu or travel memories ingrained in your heart forever? Share with us in the comments below; we love hearing from our readers!

As always, happy travels!

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“I live to travel, and travel to live.” With gypsy blood running through her veins, Shannon is a freelance travel writer who has lived on five continents and counting, and is endlessly inspired by new cultures, countries and landscapes. Inscribing words onto paper, since she could talk, she lives and breathes delicious words and stories. Hailing from sunny South Africa, she has an affinity for Southeast Asia and all things spiritual, and is also a qualified Reiki practitioner. When not with her head buried in storytelling (or books) or watching sunrises in new lands, you’ll find her in the kitchen or with a paintbrush in hand. Shannon has written for major travel publications such as TripCanvas.