The Top 8 Tourist Attractions in Honolulu

The Top 8 Tourist Attractions in Honolulu

Whether you plan on visiting Honolulu for a day, a week or even a month, you should know that Hawaii’s capital offers a nearly endless number of fascinating, fun attractions. In fact, with so many activities to do and sights to see, it can be rather daunting. How does a traveler choose between them all?

To help make your decision a little bit easier, I’ve put together this summary of the eight most popular attractions in Honolulu.

1. Aloha Tower

Aloha Tower was known as Honolulu’s famous landmark for many years, greeting travelers who arrived in its port by ship. This is a great place to start your adventure in the city. It gives you an opportunity to get your bearings and see the best views of Honolulu and the surrounding area.

2. Pearl Harbor and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial

Anyone traveling to or through Honolulu should not miss visiting Pearl Harbor. This was the setting of one of the defining events of the 20th century and it’s a revered place not only for Hawaii, but the entire United States.

A Navy shuttle boat takes passengers to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, a platform that sits atop the grave of 1,177 soldiers who lost their lives aboard the ship. From this spot, the famed battleship can be seen lying six feet below the surface. Even today, oil continues to leak from the wreckage—this is referred to as “The Black Tears of the Arizona.”

The still-intact U.S.S. Missouri, the site of Japan’s official surrender, can also be visited, along with the Pacific Aviation Museum and the U.S.S. Bowfin submarine. It’s easy to spend an entire day here, taking in a very enlightening yet highly emotional experience.

3. Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is another not-to-be missed Honolulu attraction. This world-famous beach is the most visited of all of the Hawaiian Islands, and thanks to shallow and often calmer waters than other areas, it’s one of the best places for beginning surfers to learn.

In addition to surfing, tourists can revel in its spectacular beauty, lie in the ultra-soft sand, snorkel among brilliant tropical fish and take part in a variety of activities such as bodysurfing or renting outrigger canoes.

With so many visitors arriving from around the world, this is a fascinating place to just sit back, listen and watch the diverse people found in this one spot.

4. Diamond Head State Monument

Diamond Head is an icon of Oahu. Visiting its summit rewards hikers with breathtaking 360-degree views of the island and the dazzling surrounding waters.

To reach the top of this extinct volcano, take the historical trail that begins down inside the crater. It’s steep, but short—it’s only a 45-minute hike to the summit. Head up early to avoid the crowds and heat.

5. ‘Iolani Palace

‘Iolani Palace is not only an impressive structure to see; its walls hold much of Hawaii’s rich history. This was the official residence of the king and queen, the last royal rulers of Hawaii. It was originally built in 1883, just a decade before the monarchy was abolished.

The palace is an ideal place for tourists to immerse themselves in Hawaii’s royal heritage and learn more about the islands’ past.

6. Bishop Museum

Bishop Museum offers something for all types and ages of people, from the erupting volcano at the Science Adventure Center, to Hawaiian Hall, where the traditions and culture of the state can be explored, to the art gallery, which contains fascinating artifacts.

This museum is recognized as one of the best of the best. It’s the only one in the world in which you can actually watch hot lava pour live!

7. Haunama Bay

This spectacular bay is one of the island’s most famous attractions. It is home to over 300 species of fish, including a multitude of brightly colored tropical species, as well as sea turtles. It was declared a protected Marine Life Conservation Area and an underwater park in 1967.

With the amazing clarity of the water and the area protected from incoming waves, it’s ideal for snorkeling.

The crescent-shaped beach filled with soft, golden sand is encompassed by a number of hiking trails that lead to lookouts with magnificent views; on clear days, the islands of Lanai and Molokai can be seen, and the winter and early spring months bring the opportunity to view breaching humpback whales.

8. Chinatown

While it may seem to be a bit of a cliché, do you really want to visit Hawaii without getting a lei? A visit to Chinatown offers the opportunity to purchase beautiful leis made with the freshest flowers; they’ll last longer, yet are available for less, than those found elsewhere.

Honolulu’s Chinatown is a veritable cultural treasure and has a unique and colorful slice of history. It brings together a blend of several Asian and Pacific cultures, and merchants of Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Hawaiian, Korean, Laotian, Caucasian and other ancestries work together to sell their wares, which often represent longstanding cultural traditions.

This is your chance to buy exotic fresh tropical produce and many other Asian delicacies.

In recent years, Chinatown has become livelier than ever. The latest reinvention of the neighborhood helped it become an arts hub and a fantastic place to shop and eat.

For trusted Hawaiian tours, activities and adventures, check out Tom Barefoot’s Tours. Since 1975, they have been the trusted way to book fun activities in Hawaii. They even have a low-price guarantee, so you know you’ll save when you book with them.


Need more help planning your trip to Oahu? Read my article on Oahu’s best hotels next!