20 things to see and do in Honolulu

Do you think that the capital of Hawaii only has beaches and hotels? In this post we will show you that it has much more! Read on to find out about all the things to see in Honolulu during your trip!

Despite being the most touristy city we passed through on our trip to Hawaii, we believe it is a must-see when it comes to the capital. It is also a good place to stay in Oahu because of its good connections with the rest of the island.

At the end of the post you have a map with the exact location of all the places to see in Honolulu, plus some recommendations of places to eat, our accommodation and other tips.

There we go with our list of things to see and do in Honolulu!

Other articles about Hawaii:

free travel guide to hawaii


tips for your first trip to hawaii

What to see in Honolulu, must-see places

What to see in Honolulu, must-see places

#1. Aloha Tower, the only 56-meter tower, was for 40 years the tallest building in Hawaii.

It welcomed the thousands of immigrants who came to the island to work in the sugar fields.

What to see in Honolulu, Aloha Tower

#2. Royal Palace of ‘Iolani, was the residence of the last two Hawaiian monarchs before they were overthrown in 1893, now houses royal robes, the king’s crowns and swords of the age.

The visit costs 20$ with audioguide in Spanish, more info on the palace’s website.

Royal Palace of ‘Iolani

#3. The statue of King Kamehameha in front of the Iolani Palace is one of the most photographed monuments in Hawaii, there are two more statues of the king on Big Island and one more in Washington DC.

King Kamehameha I unified all the islands of Hawaii and is very dear to the Hawaiians, on the Friday closest to June 11, they covered the statue with lis of flowers.

Statue of King Kamehameha in Honolulu

#4. Nalu Storage, a street with direct access to the beach where surfers leave their boards, is a very curious place to see in Honolulu for those of us who do not live near surfing areas!

Nalu Storage, Honolulu

#5. Waikiki Beach is not the best beach in Hawaii, but your hotel is close to it. It is a very quiet beach where there are hardly any waves.

Ideal if you are going with children, and the water temperature is also good.

#6. The statue of Duke Kahanamoku. He is well loved here; and in the surfing world in general, he is known as the father of surfing; he won 6 Olympic medals as a swimmer, introduced surfing to America, Europe and Australia.

He is also considered a hero because he saved the lives of 8 people with his surfboard! It’s located on the Waikiki beach promenade.

No doubt this is one of the must-see photos to take in Honolulu.

What; see in Honolulu, the statue of Duke Kahanamoku

#7. Watch the sunset from Honolulu beaches, the sunset from any of Honolulu’s beaches is a spectacle.

It is one of the most beautiful memories we have of our first trip to Hawaii a few years ago and although on this last visit in February we saw a few sunsets with clear skies, enjoying a sunset here is one of the must-see things to see in Honolulu.

Sunset on Honolulu’s beaches

#8. Go see the fireworks on the beach in front of the Hilton Waikiki Hotel. Every Friday night (between 7:45pm and 8pm) the Hilton Hotel offers a fireworks display free of charge for anyone who wants to come to Waikiki Beach. The display lasts only 10 minutes and is free of charge.

We were in agreement; just the day we arrived and came to see him.

By the way, if you want to see what’s going on right now in Honolulu you can go to the hotel’s website and take control of the webcam to see the beach, the surfers or the Diamond Head breeding live.

Fireworks on Waikiki Beach

#9. Watch a free hula show on the beach at Kūhiō Beach, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 6:00pm to 7:00pm, it’s free and crowded! To be comfortable, bring a towel and arrive early.

#10. Buy some souvenirs at Duke&rsquo Marketplace, a great place to find inexpensive souvenirs!

Another option is the ABC supermarkets that you will find all over Honolulu (although most of the souvenirs in this store are made in China).

#11. Go shopping at Ala Moana, the world’s largest outdoor shopping mall.

We had it very close to our Hotel Ala Moana, so close that we accessed the mall by a footbridge.

There are plenty of restaurants, the food court area is great for cheap food, cafes and lots of shops. You will also find souvenirs made in Hawaii 😉

This is one of the best things to do in Honolulu if you get a day of rain like we did.

Remember to take a commission-free travel card with you like we do so you don’t pay unnecessary fees for currency exchange!

#12. The murals in the Kaka’ako neighborhood, this trendy Honolulu neighborhood is filled with cool coffee shops, flirty stores, and lots of murals adorning the streets, reminding us of Miami’s Wynwood.

Having breakfast at Arvo’s cafe in Kaka’ako neighborhood

#13. At the Royal Hawaiian Center they hold free cultural events almost every day, you can learn how to play the ukulele, create a lei of flowers or even learn the movements of the hula.

On its website you can see the full calendar of activities.

#14. Chinatown is a must on this list of places to see in Honolulu.

Not only are the names of the premises in Chinese in this neighborhood, but also the names of the streets and any signs.

Here, you will also find the historic Hawaii Theatre, which used to show silent films and now hosts shows and concerts.

The entire area surrounding the theater is known as the “Honolulu Arts District” for the number of art galleries it houses.

Hawaii Theatre in Honolulu’s Chinatown

#15. Bishop Museum, Hawaii’s premier natural and cultural history museum, is there to learn more about the islands’ rich culture and heritage.

It opens every day from 9:00 to 17:00 and the ticket costs $25.

#16. One of the most incredible things to do in Honolulu is to fly over the city on a helicopter tour and enjoy the views of the blue waters and green volcanoes, an unforgettable excursion at the very least!

#17. Contemplate Honolulu from the heights from the Tantalus viewpoint from where you can also see the Diamond Head crater. You can get there by car without any problem.

One of the few places to visit in Honolulu to see the city from the heights.

What to see in Honolulu, Tantalus viewpoint with Diamond Head in the background

#18. Go to Diamond Head, the closest breeding to Honolulu. You can do a trekking of about 30 minutes until you reach the top from where we know that there are some great views.

The entrance fee is $1 per person and $5 for parking the car at the beginning of the trek.

This is one of the things to see in Honolulu that we have written down for the next one because we didn’t have time!

#19. Get a surfing lesson! Would you like to learn Hawaii’s most famous sport? Laughter is guaranteed! You can book the surf lesson at the time you prefer.

#20. You can also book a trip like this to see dolphins in the wild, it was one of our big highlights among all the things to do in Honolulu, & what could be more beautiful than seeing them in the wild? At least we were lucky enough to see many humpback whales on Maui!

Lunch in Honolulu

Marukame Udon: Here; we tried the best udon of our lives, even if there is a little bit of tail, ¡it is very worthwhile! It’s also very cheap.
Ala Moana Shopping Center Food Court: Being so close to our Ala Moana Hotel, we dined here for more than one night, reminding us of Asia’s great food court’s, where you can find food from all over the world.
Arvo Cafe: A very cool cafe where we went for breakfast (see picture above), !all good!
WholeFood and Foodland: If you want to save a little bit on food, these two supermarkets have prepared meals that you pay by weight, great for saving a little bit at this point.

You can read more tips for traveling to Hawaii in this post!

Other recommended places to eat in Honolulu: Hawaiian Aroma Caffe, Morey’s Cafe and Leonard’s Bakery.

What is Honolulu’s food bill? Marukame Udon

Where to stay in Honolulu

Staying in Honolulu is a good option to tour the island of Oahu, it is practically in the middle of the island and has very good road connections to all the interesting points.

We stayed at the Ala Moana Hotel, very close to Waikiki beach, it’s a great hotel with a swimming pool and a Starbucks at the reception that made us feel great to grab a coffee; quick and start the day.

We were able to park every night for free at the door (on the same street) and thus save on paying for hotel parking.

We chose this hotel because of a Booking offer, but our first choice and the hotel we had been looking at for months was the Hotel LaCroix Waikiki, much newer and modern and also in a good area.

Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu

How to get around Honolulu

We use the rental car to get to all the places to see in Honolulu, but the city has plenty of bus lines to get around.

You can find all the information about the lines, map and official rates on the official website of public transport.

You can also take a look at these tips to rent a car in the USA and have everything going smoothly. On this trip we booked the car on the Auto Europe website.

Travel Insurance for Hawaii

Don’t forget to take out an insurance policy for your trip to Hawaii, so that you are covered for any health problems that may occur during the trip, among other things.

We always recommend Iati Seguros, because it has one of the highest coverage in the market, because you do not have to advance a single day if something happens and because we had to use it three times and everything went perfectly.

We give you a 5% discount on your Hawaii travel insurance.

Map of places to see in Honolulu

And here is our list of must-see places in Honolulu!

Maybe you miss some things like Pearl Harbour or the Maona Falls, but they are not really in Honolulu.

You’ll see them in a future post about places to see in Oahu, join us through the social networks Facebook and Instagram to keep up with new publications.

If you have any questions you can leave us a comment below and we will get back to you shortly! We hope that this mini-guide with all the things to see in Honolulu will help you plan your trip to Hawaii.

Other articles from our trip to Hawaii:

free travel guide to hawaii

tips for your first trip to hawaii


Other links of interest for your trip to Hawaii


The entry 20 things to see and do in Honolulu appears in Living on the Road.