Most Fascinating Places in Honolulu: Tropical climate, sandy beaches, and a rich culture, Hawaii boasts a variety of attractive offerings that make it a dream destination for many. One of the most popular places here is Hawaii’s capital Honolulu, the largest city in the state.
Besides stunning natural attractions, the capital also has a bustling shopping, dining, and nightlife scene.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or an adrenaline junkie, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.
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From hitting the beaches in Waikiki, shopping in downtown, or soaking in some history at Pearl Harbor, there are endless activities to enjoy here.
Wondering where to begin?
Let’s help you create the perfect itinerary with our list of the top most fascinating places in Honolulu, Hawaii: –
Waikiki Beach #1
Whether you’re looking to spend a beachside outing or wish to enjoy a vibrant dining and shopping scene, Waikiki Beach won’t disappoint.
Waikiki was once the home of Duke Kahanamoku who was called the father of modern surfing. There’s even a trail here lined with surfboards known as the Waikiki Historic Trail.
Hawaiian royalty used to visit the beach to relax. The azure waters and the Diamond Head State monument in the distance make for a stunning scene.
If you wish to enjoy a bit of luxury, there are numerous lavish resorts and excellent restaurants along the beach.
Looking to shop?
Check out Kuhio and Kalakaua Avenues which feature many impressive shops.
Other notable attractions for avid shoppers and foodies are the Royal Hawaiian Center and International Marketplace. You’ll find many live events here such as a free hula show.
Pearl Harbor National Memorial #2
This is one of the must-have places on your itinerary. Located a short distance from downtown Honolulu, the Pearl Harbor National Memorial offers a glimpse into the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941.
It features the USS Arizona Memorial which is the resting place of over 900 mariners and sailors who lost their lives in the attack.
You can see the sunken ship from the memorial flag that floats above. There’s a 45-minute program that allows visitors to soak in the history of the place.
You’ll be taken to the memorial via a boat shuttle where you can explore the memorial and then take the shuttle back to the visitor centre.
There are numerous exhibits at the centre that offer a glimpse into the history of the place. You’ll also find a gift shop, a bookshop, and a snack shop.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve #3
A short drive from Waikiki lies this stunning nature preserve.
Nestled within a volcanic cone, the protected preserve is one of the best places to enjoy snorkelling as it is home to a rich variety of marine life. You can also spot many sea turtles here.
The place has a family-friendly vibe and is also a state park. Owing to its popularity, it fills up quickly so make sure you reserve your spot in advance.
Diamond Head State Monument #4
Also, known as “Lē’ahi”, Diamond Head State Monument is a tuff cone crater that formed due to a volcanic eruption.
During the eruption, ash was thrown out in the air which settled over thousands of years, forming this impressive monument.
It is almost 300,000 years old. A short hike to the top of this crater will delight you with sublime views of the Pacific Ocean.
Though steep, the trail is only 0.8 miles. Make sure you carry your water bottles since you won’t find drinking water facilities on the way.
Not in the mood to hike?
Take a helicopter tour of the island. Many such available tours fly directly over the monument.
Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail #5
Go on a scenic hike on the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail. The path overlooks the Pacific Ocean, offering stunning views.
If you’re visiting between November and May, you can also spot whales and seabirds.
Totalling two miles to and from the top, it’s an easy trek and there are ample benches along where you can catch your breath.
The beautiful 1909 Makapu’u Lighthouse at the top adds to the experience. The picturesque spot and incredible views make it a photographer’s haven.
Polynesian Cultural Centre #6
Immerse yourself in the rich culture of Hawaii at this living museum. Explore six villages, each of which represents the cultural heritage of a different Polynesian Island.
Visitors can also enjoy music, food, art, and many kid-friendly activities for a fun experience.
Some of the most popular activities include fishing with Tahitian gear, and witnessing a traditional Maori warrior dance.
You can even canoe your way through a Tonga Village. After a day of exploration, treat yourself to a delectable authentic luau dinner and show.
‘Iolani Palace #7
Explore the grandiosity of the only official state royal residence in the country. Built-in 1882, this historic mansion and museum features 10 rooms.
The place offers a glimpse into the reign of King Kalakaua and his sister, Queen Lili’uokalani.
Some of the best attractions here include royal thrones, portraits of the kings and queens of Hawaii, and a Hawaiian koa wood staircase.
It’s also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The USS Missouri Battleship #8
How about getting on an actual battleship?
The USS Missouri Battleship is docked at Pearl Harbor.
Famous for being the site of the Japanese surrender, it offers a glimpse into its role in World War II. There are two tours available.
The first one is shorter where visitors get to explore the captain’s quarters and the upper decks while learning about its history.
Intrigued to explore more?
Take the longer second tour wherein you can see the engine room and enjoy immersive opportunities such as lighting one of the boilers and more while gaining an in-depth view of the ship’s history.
Visitors will also get an idea of how the crew members used to live here. The ship is nicknamed Mighty Mo and makes for a fascinating site.
Other notable mentions include Manoa Falls and Koko Crater Railway Trail.
So, pick the one that draws you the most and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in this tropical and cultural haven.
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Q. What is Honolulu famous for?
Honolulu is known for its tropical climate, lush natural beauty, cultural attractions, and vibrant shopping and dining scene. It is also the state capital.
Q. What is the nicest part of Honolulu?
Waikiki Beach is the nicest part of Honolulu. It offers plenty of outdoor recreational activities, scenic ocean views, and a thriving shopping and dining scene.
Q. Where is the prettiest part of Oahu?
The eastern coast of Oahu is surrounded by a stunning mountain range and is home to some of the most scenic beaches on the island.