The capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is full of interesting attractions and visitors just love to explore its sandy beaches, hiking trails, historic buildings, and museums. You can shop at the Ala Moana Center, chill at the Kailua Beach Park, hike around Manoa Falls, or just enjoy the tropical climate. Here is a list of top 10 things to do in Honolulu.
- Visit the USS Arizona Memorial / Pearl Harbor
Located north from downtown Honolulu, USS Arizona Memorial is one of the most visited World War II memorials in North America. This complex is a resting place for over 100 sailors who were killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor and features the offshore monument, as well as a visitor’s center. Guided tours are available daily from 8 PM and start with a 30-minute movie that explains what happened at Pearl Harbor. After the film, visitors board a small ferry to reach the USS Arizona Memorial. It is a big white platform where guests spend 15 minutes. If you wish to see a WWII submarine, make sure to check out the USS Bowfin which is also located on the Pearl Harbor compound.
- Battleship Missouri Memorial
Also known as the Mighty Mo and located on Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island, the Battleship Missouri Memorial is a historical landmark in Honolulu that pays respect to all the servicemen of the country who died during the Second World War. Visitors can pay the general admission and just walk around the decks, or take a guided tour to hear about the history of this amazing ship. Tours are available in several languages.
- Explore the Diamond Head State Monument
If you are into hiking and want to do some exercise while in Honolulu, go to the Diamond Head State Monument that is a former volcano located at the eastern side of the city. Most of the visitors come here for the panoramic views of the surrounding area and to take photographs. The hike is only a mile in length and lasts for around 30 minutes. When you reach the summit, you will see the beautiful shoreline Oahu.
- See the Iolani Palace
Built in 1871 and restored for King Kalakaua in 1882, Iolani Palace is the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy. Today, this bustling palace is a museum that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and focuses on the lives of Hawaiian rulers and Victorian architecture. Visitors will have a chance to see the room where the king used to play cards, as well as the private chambers of the royal family. Don’t leave before visiting the Imprisonment Room where the Queen was held for over 5 months.
- Go to Hanauma Bay
Located near Hawaii Kai on the east side of Honolulu, Hanauma Bay is the best place on the island for snorkeling. It is home to over 500 fish species, as well as eels, crabs, and octopus. Upon arrival, visitors will watch a short video about the preservation of marine life and you can also go on a short hike to the bottom of the crater. If you get hungry, there is a food stall at the park and you can rent equipment for snorkeling onsite.
- Head out to the Bishop Museum
Founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop, the Bishop Museum contains a large collection of Polynesian artifacts, documents, and photos. Check out some of the highlights of this amazing museum including Hawaiian feathered helmets and capes, artifacts from the South Pacific, and natural history exhibits. This is the largest museum in the country that attracts thousands of tourists each day. You can also check out the J Watumull Planetarium that is located onsite.
- Visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Easily reachable from the Pali Highway, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific features the Honolulu Memorial that is dedicated to people from the armed forces who were fighting in the Pacific during the Vietnam War, Korean War, and WW2. There are several notable veterans buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific including Stanley Dunham and Ernie Pyle.
- Tan in the Sun at Waikiki Beach
If you want to lie in the sun, learn how to surf, and swim in the ocean, make sure to visit the famous Waikiki Beach. It’s a perfect destination for tourists who want to relax and stay at high-end oceanfront hotels. You can also visit the nearby Ala Moana Center which is great for shopping, or go to Ala Moana Beach Park where you can go jogging in the mornings.
- See the Manoa Falls
If you want to go on a hike through a lush green jungle, Manoa Falls is the perfect place to go. Pack your hiking shoes and take a short walk in the peaceful forest with beautiful trees and plants. Visitors will also pass an amazing waterfall on this journey where you can also go for a swim in the crystal clear waters. The entrance is free, but keep in mind that there is a parking fee. An interesting fact is that some of the scenes from the Steven Spielberg’s famous movie “Jurassic Park” were shot here.
- Visit the Honolulu Museum of Art
With a permanent collection of 50,000 pieces of American, Asian and European paintings, the Honolulu Museum of Art was founded in 1927 by Charles Montague Cooke and Rice Cooke who came from missionary families. Make sure to check out the Arts of Hawaii collection and the Spalding House where you can see paintings from Andy Warhol and sculptures by Deborah Butterfield.