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Things to do in Honolulu

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Diamond Head
Hikers rejoice! Diamond Head State Monument offers breathtaking views overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu. In fact the view is so good, it was used by the US military as a post for preventing attacks against Honolulu. The trail takes you to the edge of a 300,000 year old crater. While the hike isn’t that long in terms of distance, it can be somewhat challenging due to its ascent. Parts of the trail are over uneven rock, and the 99 steps near the end of the hike are steep. Also, the only water fountains are at the beginning of the trail, so you’ll want to bring a water bottle or bottled water to stay hydrated.
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Ala Moana Center
The refreshing Hawaiian wind blows through Ala Moana Center, the world's largest open-air shopping center. There are more than 350 shops and restaurants to explore, including four department stores, first-class boutiques and more than 100 dining options. The center's retailers specialize in everything from casual wear to unique Hawaii surf gear, Aloha shirts, swimsuits and much more. Join us for a shopping excursion in paradise, and don't forget to enjoy the hula and ukulele performances.
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Iolani Palace
A national historic landmark and the only official state residence of royalty in the United States, from 1882 to 1893 Downtown Honolulu’s Iolani Palace was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s last two monarchs: King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani. The palace was a symbol of promise for the Hawaiian Kingdom built by King David Kalakaua, “The Merrie Monarch.” Influenced by European architectural styles, this royal residence included Hawaii’s first electric light system, flush toilets and intra-house telephones. The rich interior features a beautiful koa staircase, dramatic portraits of Hawaiian royalty, ornate furniture and royal gifts and ornaments from around the world. Tour through this American Florentine-style palace’s throne room, reception and dining room and envision the magnificent state dinners and balls held here. View the private living quarters of the royal family and listen to the tragic story of Liliuokalani’s imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom following the overthrow. On the basement level view the ancient regalia of Hawaiian royalty from swords and precious jewelry to the two golden crowns of the King and Queen. On the spacious grounds of the palace, see the Iolani Coronation Pavilion, where in 1883 Kalakaua was crowned king.
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USS Arizona Memorial
At World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, home of the USS Arizona Memorial, learn about one of the most pivotal moments in US history: the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the subsequent entry of the United States into World War II. The monument preserves and interprets the stories of the Pacific War, from the internment of Japanese Americans to the battles in the Aleutians.
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Hanauma Bay
Every year, more than a million people get to swim with the fishes in a marine ecosystem located on the southeast coast of Oahu, 10 miles east of Waikiki. Hanauma (or curved bay) Bay is a former volcanic crater that became a protected marine life conservation area in 1967. Since then, it’s become an underwater park for snorkel enthusiasts, swimmers and anyone desiring to see more than 400 species of Hawaiian fishes including Hawaii’s state fish the humuhumunukunukuapua‘a, turtles and other marine life. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is open year-round, except for Tuesdays, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Plan to arrive as early as you can or wait until the crowd trickles out in the mid-afternoon. During summer, the state park opens at 6 am and closes at 7 pm. It closes at 6 pm in winter.
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Aloha Tower
Located on the Honolulu Harbor in Downtown Honolulu, about 15 minutes west of Waikiki, Aloha Tower is an iconic symbol of Hawaii. Built in September of 1926, this was the tallest building in the islands for four decades and its clock was one of the largest in the United States. The tower stood as a welcoming beacon for visitors since travel to Oahu was done entirely by sea. Duke Kahanamoku set his first swimming world record here at Pier 7 and the wharf was also known for Boat Days, a lively celebration to welcome the arrival of visiting ships. Today, Aloha Tower is still a docking port for Oahu’s cruise ships, including The Star of Honolulu. But this historic place has also transformed into the revitalized Aloha Tower Marketplace: a mixed-use space now part of Hawaii Pacific University, featuring student residences, meeting spaces, community event areas and a variety of restaurants. Enjoy an ocean-view lunch, listen to live music at night and explore unique shops or walk just a couple of blocks to Chinatown’s art district. You can also visit the Observation Deck, located on the 10th floor of Aloha Tower and dine at Gordon Biersch or Hooters, or dance at the night away at Nashville Waikiki—all with beautiful views of the harbor on one side and the cityscape of Honolulu on the other.
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Bishop Museum Oahu
Honolulu’s Bishop Museum is Hawaii’s largest museum dedicated to studying and preserving the history of Hawaii and the Pacific. Originally designed to house the extensive collection of Hawaiian artifacts and royal family heirlooms of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a descendant of King Kamehameha I, the museum is now the premier natural and cultural history institution in the Pacific. One of Oahu’s most historic places, the museum holds millions of artifacts, documents and photos about Hawaii and other Polynesian cultures. Visit the newly renovated Hawaiian Hall, which immerses you in Native Hawaiian culture and history by showcasing a variety of important artifacts. In the planetarium, kids can learn how voyagers navigated the Pacific using the stars. In the Science Adventure Center, children can see Hawaii’s unique natural environment like never before through a variety of interactive exhibits.
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Honolulu Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo is 42 lush tropical acres of mammals, reptiles, birds and more! A children's zoo, African Savannah exhibit, playground and snack bar complete the visit. The Zoo is 42 acres and home to almost 1000 different animals from the tropics. Komodo Dragons, orangutans, elephants, primates, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and a variety of African animals can be seen daily. Be sure to see the wildest place in Waikiki!
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Honolulu Museum of Art
The Honolulu Museum of Art has been sharing the arts with Hawaii since 1927. With a permanent collection of over 38,000 pieces, this is Hawaii's largest general fine-arts museum. Stroll from gallery to gallery past open-air courtyards and ponds. Explore one of the finest collections of Asian art in the world as well as impressive collections of Western, European and Polynesian art. If you feel like seeing a film, visit Doris Duke Theatre, which plays an impressive slate of foreign and independent films. After browsing the galleries, take a break to have lunch in the open-air HoMA Cafē or recharge with an energizing drink at the Coffee Bar.
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Duke Kahanamoku
On Kuhio Beach, a bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku welcomes you to Waikiki with open arms. Duke was a true Hawaiian hero and one of the world's greatest watermen, a master of swimming, surfing and outrigger canoe paddling.
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Kawaiahao Church
Known as the "Westminster Abbey of the Pacific," Kawaiahao Church was the first Christian Church built on Oahu. Dedicated on July 21, 1842, “The Great Stone Church” is made of 14,000 coral slabs from ocean reefs that were hauled from the sea by native laborers and missionaries. The church and the grounds were named a National Historic Landmark in 1962.
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Waimea Falls
Waimea Falls, also known as Waihi Falls, is one of the more accessible falls on Oahu. It is located within Waimea Valley, which is a unique Hawaiian botanical garden within a significant cultural and archaeological site. There is a small fee to enter the park. This is a worthwhile contribution, as the place is dedicated to the preservation of the incredible botanical and cultural features of the area.
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