Whether you’re just in Honolulu for a short visit or you’re relocating here permanently, there are a few activities that say “Hawaii” like nothing else. To really get the true Honolulu experience, you’ve got to try these things.
9 Essential Things to Do in Honolulu
1. Do all the really touristy stuff.
Yes, you do have to hit all the big tourist attractions to get the full experience. That means paying your respects at Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, as well as the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. It means taking a hike up Diamond Head National Monument to be blown away by the views.
And of course, it means taking a trip to Waikiki—where you can shop, dine, enjoy the nightlife, catch some live music, bask on the beach, visit the Honolulu Zoo/Waikiki Aquarium, or explore the Ala Moana Center.
2. Head to the beach.
You’ve got so many options you don’t ever have to go to the same beach twice. Try out the in-town beaches, like Ala Moana Beach Park, Diamond Head, or Sandy Beach Park. Enjoy the calm waters of the Ko’Olina Lagoons in nearby Kapoli. Take a dive off the Waimea Bay rock on the North Shore. Or enjoy the beautiful white-sand beaches of the Kailua Beach Park.
3. Try a new water sport.
Whether you’re a surfing pro or you’re new to the whole water-sport experience, you’ll want to try them all in Honolulu—from stand up paddleboarding to wind surfing to jet-skiing. And of course, all surfers are welcome.
4. Explore by foot.
Hawaii is famous for its beaches, of course, but the hiking here is pretty amazing, too. And you don’t have to go far to find yourself on top of a mountain enjoying the views or deep within a lush jungle wondering at the native flora. Catch your breath at the top of the Koko Head stairs. Enjoy the views from the Pu‘u ‘Ualaka‘a State Wayside trail. Or delve into the jungles to find breathtaking falls at the Manoa Falls trail or the Maunawili Falls Trail.
5. Go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.
This sunken crater features a beautiful white-sand beach—but it’s also a nature preserve and marine sanctuary just waiting to be explored. So strap on your mask and fins and dive beneath the surface to uncovered a truly unique world of wonders.
6. Discover Downtown Honolulu.
Once you get some outdoor adventuring out of the way, head into the heart of the city to find endless shopping, dining, entertainment, culture, and history. Enjoy the vibrant marketplace setting of Chinatown and find fresh produce, fish, meat, and more. Visit the iconic Iolani Palace or the Hawaii State Capitol. Explore the Honolulu Museum of Art, or stick around after dark to enjoy some nightlife.
7. Attend an Event
While you’re in the area, you have to experience some of Honolulu’s best events. Stroll the streets on First Friday in Chinatown, enjoy some ARTafterDARK. Shop the Honolulu Night Market or the Art and Flea market. And don’t miss the endless food trucks of Eat the Street. And if you really want the full Hawaiian experience, catch a Paradise Cove Luau in nearby Paradise Cove of Kapolei.
8. Taste the local flavors.
No trip anywhere is complete without a sampling of the local cuisine, and in Hawaii, you’re in for a real treat. For some of the best local flavors, check out Helena’s Hawaiian Food, Yama’s Fish Market, Ono Seafood, Sweet Home Cafe, or even Zippy’s, Hawaii’s local fast food chain. Try out entirely new foods like lau lau, kalua pig, poi, poke, plate lunches, loco moco, and SPAM musubi.
In the mood for even more diverse flavors? Find everything from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to Filipino or Thai.
9. Take a driving tour of the island.
O’ahu isn’t that big—get the full experience with your own personal self-guided driving tour. Explore the thriving “second city” of Kapolei, enjoy the breathtaking experience of the secluded North Shore, discover the charming Kailua Town, or even witness sea turtles at Turtle Bay.
Relocating to Honolulu or O’ahu?
Planning a move to O’ahu? Then it’s time to contact RE/MAX Honolulu. As your local guides to all things real estate and lifestyle on O’ahu, we’re here to help you explore the area, discover your perfect city, search homes for sale, and buy a home in Honolulu.