Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Honolulu

Hawaii

By Kristy Tolley

Located on the island of Oahu, Honolulu is the dynamic capital of Hawaii and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With its stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and rich history, Honolulu offers an abundance of top-rated tourist attractions to explore.

One of the must-see attractions in Honolulu is the iconic Pearl Harbor. This historic site is home to several memorials and museums that commemorate the events of December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet, leading to the United States’ entry into World War II. Visitors can tour the USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial, and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park to learn about the history and pay tribute to those who lost their lives.

If you’re looking for natural beauty, a visit to Waikiki Beach is a must. This world-famous beach is known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, golden sandy shores, and breathtaking views of Diamond Head, a volcanic crater. Whether you’re into swimming, sunbathing, or surfing, Waikiki Beach offers something for everyone.

No trip to Honolulu would be complete without exploring the stunning Diamond Head State Monument. This iconic volcanic crater is a renowned symbol of Hawaii and offers panoramic views of the city and the Pacific Ocean from its summit. Hiking enthusiasts can embark on the challenging but rewarding hike to the top, while others can enjoy the scenic drive around the crater.

For those interested in history and culture, a visit to the Bishop Museum is a must. This museum showcases the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii and the Pacific, featuring fascinating exhibits on Hawaiian history, art, natural sciences, and more. The museum is also home to the Jhamandas Watumull Planetarium, where visitors can learn about the stars and participate in educational programs.

From historic sites to stunning beaches, Honolulu offers a wide variety of top-rated tourist attractions that cater to every interest. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or beach enthusiast, Honolulu has something to captivate and inspire you.

Diamond Head State Monument

The Diamond Head State Monument, also known as Le’ahi, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Honolulu and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the Pacific Ocean. It is a volcanic crater that was formed over 300,000 years ago and has been a popular tourist attraction since it opened to the public in 1978.

To explore the Diamond Head State Monument, visitors can take a moderate hike to the summit. The trail is about 0.8 miles long and takes approximately 1-2 hours to complete. Along the way, hikers will encounter steep inclines, tunnels, and stairs, but the reward at the top is well worth the effort.

Once at the summit, visitors can enjoy sweeping views of the entire Honolulu coastline, including Waikiki Beach, the skyline of downtown Honolulu, and the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean. The crater itself is an impressive sight, with its steep walls and lush green vegetation.

In addition to hiking, visitors can also explore the Diamond Head State Monument’s visitor center, which offers educational displays about the history, geology, and cultural significance of the area. There are also picnic areas where visitors can relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

When visiting Diamond Head State Monument, it is important to come prepared with sunscreen, water, and comfortable shoes suitable for hiking. The trail can be challenging at times, especially during the hotter months, so it is recommended to start early in the morning to avoid the midday heat.

Overall, a visit to the Diamond Head State Monument is a must-do when in Honolulu. With its stunning views, rich history, and unique geological features, it offers a truly unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a somber and significant attraction located in Honolulu. It serves as a tribute to the lives lost and the events that occurred during the infamous Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941.

Visitors to the memorial can explore the various sites and exhibits that tell the story of that fateful day. One of the most prominent attractions is the USS Arizona Memorial, which stands above the sunken remains of the USS Arizona battleship. This powerful and moving memorial is accessible by boat, offering visitors a chance to pay their respects and reflect on the history that unfolded here.

In addition to the USS Arizona Memorial, visitors can also explore the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. Here, they can tour the USS Bowfin submarine, which played a vital role in World War II. The museum features exhibits that detail the submarine’s history and its contributions to the war effort.

Another highlight of the memorial is the Pacific Aviation Museum. This museum showcases a wide range of aircraft from various time periods, including those used during the Pearl Harbor attack. Visitors can learn about the role of aviation in the war and explore interactive exhibits that provide a deeper understanding of the events that took place.

Overall, the Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those looking to pay their respects to the fallen. It provides a powerful and emotional experience that serves as a reminder of the sacrifice and bravery exhibited during one of the most significant events in American history.

  • Explore the USS Arizona Memorial and pay tribute to the fallen
  • Tour the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park to learn about its history
  • Visit the Pacific Aviation Museum to see a collection of historic aircraft
  • Reflect on the events of Pearl Harbor and gain a deeper understanding of its significance

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a stunning natural attraction located on the eastern coast of the island of Oahu, just 10 miles from downtown Honolulu. It is known for its beautiful beach lined with golden sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant marine life.

The bay was formed within a volcanic cone and has since become a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park. Hanauma Bay offers visitors the opportunity to snorkel and dive amidst colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and other fascinating marine creatures.

Activities

  • Snorkeling: Hanauma Bay is one of the best snorkeling spots in Oahu. Visitors can rent snorkeling gear on-site and explore the diverse marine ecosystem just a few steps from the beach.
  • Educational Programs: The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve offers educational programs to promote awareness and conservation of the marine life. Visitors can learn about the local ecosystem, conservation efforts, and participate in interactive exhibits.
  • Beach Relaxation: Hanauma Bay is not just for snorkelers and divers. The beautiful beach provides a picturesque setting for sunbathing, picnicking, and simply enjoying the natural surroundings.

Visitor Information

  • Admission Fee: There is an admission fee to enter the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, which includes a mandatory orientation video to educate visitors on the importance of conserving the bay’s fragile ecosystem.
  • Hours: Hanauma Bay is open daily from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, except for Tuesdays when it is closed for maintenance.
  • Parking: Limited parking is available at the preserve. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early or take advantage of the shuttle service from designated pick-up points in Waikiki.

Visiting Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve offers a unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Hawaii’s underwater world. Whether you choose to snorkel, learn, or simply relax on the beach, this preserve is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and beach lovers alike.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world and a must-visit attraction for any visitor to Honolulu. Located on the south shore of Oahu, Waikiki Beach offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Diamond Head, a volcanic crater that serves as a popular hiking destination.

The beach itself spans two miles and is known for its soft, golden sand and gentle waves, making it ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and playing water sports. Visitors can rent surfboards, paddleboards, and other water equipment from the numerous rental shops available along the beach.

Waikiki Beach is also lined with an array of hotels, resorts, and restaurants, offering visitors a wide range of accommodation options and dining choices. Many of the hotels offer beachfront access, allowing guests to enjoy the beach and ocean views right from their rooms.

In addition to its natural beauty, Waikiki Beach is also known for its vibrant atmosphere and lively entertainment scene. The beach is a popular spot for beach volleyball, hula dancers, and live music performances. Visitors can also stroll along Kalakaua Avenue, the main street that runs parallel to the beach, which is lined with shops, boutiques, and luxury stores.

Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, catch some waves, or explore the nearby attractions, Waikiki Beach offers a little something for everyone. It’s no wonder that it remains one of the top tourist attractions in Honolulu.

USS Missouri Memorial

The USS Missouri Memorial is a must-visit tourist attraction in Honolulu for history enthusiasts and maritime lovers. This iconic battleship, also known as the “Mighty Mo,” played a significant role in World War II, as well as the Korean War and the Gulf War.

Visitors to the USS Missouri Memorial can explore the ship’s decks, learn about its fascinating history, and experience what life was like for the crew members on board. The self-guided tour takes you through various areas of the battleship, including the wardroom, captain’s cabin, and the infamous Surrender Deck where the Japanese surrendered to end World War II.

As you wander through the ship, you’ll have the opportunity to view historical artifacts, interactive exhibits, and informative displays. One of the highlights of the tour is the chance to stand on the ship’s immense main deck and imagine the power it held during its active service.

A visit to the USS Missouri Memorial wouldn’t be complete without exploring the ship’s impressive armament. The battleship is equipped with nine 16-inch guns, which were capable of firing projectiles up to 23 miles. You’ll also have the chance to see the massive anti-aircraft guns and torpedo tubes that once defended the ship.

For a truly unique experience, consider booking one of the guided tours available, such as the “Heart of the Missouri” tour, which takes you to areas of the ship not accessible on the regular self-guided tour. Additionally, the “Surrender Deck Experience” tour provides in-depth information about the Japanese surrender and includes a guided tour of the Surrender Deck.

Whether you’re a history buff, military enthusiast, or simply interested in iconic landmarks, a visit to the USS Missouri Memorial is sure to be a memorable experience. The rich history, impressive architecture, and remarkable artifacts make it an important destination for anyone visiting Honolulu.

Hours of Operation: The USS Missouri Memorial is open daily from 8:00am to 4:00pm.

Admission: General admission for adults is $29, with discounts available for seniors, military personnel, and children.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is recommended to check the official website for any updates or changes to the operating hours and admission policies before planning your visit.

Manoa Falls

Located just a short drive away from downtown Honolulu, Manoa Falls is a popular tourist attraction known for its stunning natural beauty. The trail to the falls stretches for 1.6 miles and takes visitors through a lush rainforest, providing an immersive experience in Hawaii’s tropical environment.

The highlight of the hike is the 150-foot-tall Manoa Falls, which cascades down into a picturesque pool below. The falls are surrounded by towering trees and vibrant greenery, creating a postcard-worthy scene that is sure to impress visitors.

While the hike is relatively easy, it is important to come prepared with proper footwear and mosquito repellent. The trail can be muddy and slippery, especially after rainfall, so it is advisable to wear comfortable shoes with good traction.

Visitors should be aware that swimming in the pool beneath the falls is strictly prohibited due to hazardous conditions. The rocks can be slippery and the water depth can vary, posing a danger to swimmers. However, there are designated viewing areas where visitors can safely enjoy the beauty of the falls.

For those looking for a longer hike, the Manoa Falls trail connects to other trails in the area, such as the Aihualama Trail and the Pauoa Flats Trail. These trails offer additional opportunities to explore the stunning natural scenery of Honolulu’s rainforests.

Location Manoa Falls Trail, Honolulu, HI
Hours Daily, 7:00am – 6:00pm
Admission Free (donations welcome)
Parking Parking is available at the trailhead for a fee

Ala Moana Center

The Ala Moana Center is one of the largest open-air shopping centers in the world. Located in Honolulu, it offers a wide array of retail, dining, and entertainment options for visitors to enjoy.

With over 350 stores, including luxury brands and local boutiques, the Ala Moana Center is a shopper’s paradise. From high-end fashion to unique Hawaiian souvenirs, there’s something for everyone. Fashion enthusiasts will love exploring the designer stores like Chanel, Gucci, and Prada, while those looking for locally made products can find them at shops like Fighting Eel and Reyn Spooner.

When hunger strikes, visitors can take a break and indulge in delicious cuisine at one of the many restaurants in the center. From casual eateries to fine dining establishments, there’s a wide variety of options to satisfy any craving. Popular choices include The Cheesecake Factory, Genki Sushi, and Mariposa.

In addition to shopping and dining, the Ala Moana Center also offers a range of entertainment options. Visitors can catch a movie at the center’s 16-screen theater, relax at the center’s beautiful outdoor park, or attend one of the many special events and performances that take place throughout the year.

With its convenient location near Waikiki, the Ala Moana Center is easily accessible for both tourists and locals alike. Whether you’re in the mood for shopping, dining, or entertainment, this top-rated tourist attraction has it all.

Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace is a historic landmark in Honolulu and serves as a reminder of Hawaii’s monarchical past. Built in 1882, it was the official residence of the Hawaiian monarchs until the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893.

The palace is a beautiful example of American Florentine architecture and is known for its grandeur and opulence. It features stunning rooms, including the Throne Room, State Dining Room, and the private quarters of King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani.

Visitors to Iolani Palace can take a guided tour to learn more about the history and significance of the site. The tour includes a visit to the basement, where the royal crown jewels were once stored, as well as the second-floor galleries showcasing the palace’s extensive collection of art and artifacts.

One of the highlights of the tour is the opportunity to see the famous Blue Room, which was the reception room for foreign dignitaries and the location of Queen Liliuokalani’s imprisonment after the overthrow of the monarchy.

Outside the palace, visitors can explore the historic grounds, which include beautiful gardens and statues. The palace is also located near other popular attractions, such as the Hawaii State Capitol and the Honolulu Museum of Art.

Whether you are a history enthusiast or simply interested in learning more about Hawaiian culture, a visit to Iolani Palace is a must when in Honolulu.

Honolulu Museum of Art

The Honolulu Museum of Art, formerly known as The Honolulu Academy of Arts, is one of the premier art institutions in Hawaii. Founded in 1922, the museum houses an extensive collection of Asian, American, European, and Hawaiian art spanning over 5,000 years. With its stunning architecture and breathtaking art, it is a must-visit destination for art lovers and cultural enthusiasts.

The museum boasts a diverse collection of more than 50,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, prints, photography, and textiles. The Asian art collection is particularly impressive, featuring pieces from China, Japan, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia. Visitors can admire exquisite Chinese ceramics, Japanese woodblock prints, and stunning Korean porcelain.

The museum also has a strong focus on Hawaiian and Pacific Island art, with a dedicated gallery that showcases indigenous artworks. From traditional Hawaiian featherwork to contemporary Pacific Island paintings, the museum celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the region. It is a unique opportunity to learn about the history and traditions of the Hawaiian people and their connection to the land and sea.

In addition to its permanent collection, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions that showcase the works of renowned artists and explore various themes and artistic movements. With a dynamic and ever-changing lineup, there is always something new and exciting to see at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

Address 900 S Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone (808) 532-8700
Website www.honolulumuseum.org

Whether you are an art enthusiast or simply looking for a unique experience in Honolulu, the Honolulu Museum of Art is not to be missed. Immerse yourself in the beauty and creativity of the artworks on display, and gain a deeper understanding of the diverse cultures that have shaped Hawaii’s artistic landscape.

Chinatown

Located in downtown Honolulu, Chinatown is a vibrant and bustling neighborhood that offers visitors a taste of authentic culture and history.

One of the largest Chinatowns in the United States, Honolulu’s Chinatown is a melting pot of Asian cultures, with influences from China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. The area is known for its lively markets, exotic shops, and delicious street food.

Visitors can stroll through the narrow streets lined with colorful storefronts and discover hidden temples, traditional herb shops, and unique art galleries. The architecture in Chinatown is also worth exploring, with beautiful historic buildings that reflect the neighborhood’s rich heritage.

A visit to Chinatown would not be complete without sampling some of the delicious cuisine that is on offer. From dim sum and baozi to fresh sushi and spicy Thai dishes, there is something to satisfy every palate. There are also numerous bakeries serving up tasty treats like egg tarts and pineapple buns.

In addition to its cultural attractions, Chinatown is also home to a thriving art and entertainment scene. The neighborhood is known for its art galleries, theaters, and live music venues, where visitors can experience the local talent and creativity.

Whether you are looking to soak up the vibrant atmosphere, try new and exciting foods, or explore the arts and culture of Honolulu, a visit to Chinatown is a must-do during your stay in the city.

FAQs

What are some of the top tourist attractions in Honolulu?

Some top tourist attractions in Honolulu include Diamond Head State Monument, Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, and Iolani Palace.

Can you give me more information about Diamond Head State Monument?

Diamond Head State Monument is a famous volcanic crater located on the eastern edge of Waikiki. It offers breathtaking views of the coastline and is a popular spot for hiking and exploring.

What is special about Waikiki Beach?

Waikiki Beach is known for its beautiful stretch of golden sand, turquoise waters, and vibrant atmosphere. It is a popular destination for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and leisurely walks along the shore.

What can I expect to see at Pearl Harbor National Memorial?

Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a historic site that commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. Visitors can tour the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, and USS Missouri Battleship, among other exhibits and attractions.

Tell me more about Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a stunning marine sanctuary and a popular spot for snorkeling and swimming. It boasts a diverse range of marine life and vibrant coral reefs, making it a paradise for underwater enthusiasts.

What are some top-rated tourist attractions in Honolulu?

Some top-rated tourist attractions in Honolulu include Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head State Monument, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, and Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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