The Very Best Can’t-Miss Honolulu Sites and Activities
Enjoy an action-packed weekend in Honolulu, and see all of the very best attractions. First check into your beachfront condominium or hotel, and then embark upon a journey you will never forget.
1. Climb Diamond Head
Rising up above the eastern end of Waikiki is the unmistakable profile of Diamond Head, and the hike to the top is well worth it because the view is spectacular.
The panoramic lookout provides views toward the leeward coast as well as the southeast coast, Kapiolani Park and Waikiki.
The Diamond Head Trail is about 1½ miles long and goes through some tunnels and up flights of stairs. This volcanic mountain got its name in 1825 when British sailors thought calcite crystals they found were diamonds.
2. Tour the Bishop Museum
Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum has an enormous collection of rare Hawaiian artifacts as well as many displays about history, science, sports, plants, and interactive exhibits great for kids.
The two main buildings of the Bishop Museum are Polynesian Hall and the three story newly remodeled Hawaiian Hall with a huge sperm whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling.
The Bishop Museum Planetarium offers multi-media shows including information on the current sky as the stars that Hawaiians used to navigate across the sea in ancient times.
3. Visit Pearl Harbor
USS Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri, and USS Bowfin Submarine
The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is a moving reminder of the sacrifices made by the US armed forces.
The USS Arizona Memorial honors those who died in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, including 2,335 US soldiers. Twenty-one US ships were damaged in the attack which damage or sunk eight American battleships as well as three destroyers, many smaller ships, and 347 planes.
The open structure of the USS Arizona Memorial is located above the USS Arizona, which took the lives of 1,177 men when it sank at its moorings on Battleship Row – 900 remain entombed within the vessel. The USS Arizona Memorial Museum provides information about the pivotal event in history that entered the U.S. into World War II.
While you are in the area visit the USS Missouri – the deck of this ship is where the forces of Japan officially surrendered on September 2, 1945. The ship served for 50 years in numerous wars.
Rounding out this part of the tour a visit to the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. The Bowfin served in World War II and sunk 44 ships. A Memorial honors the thousands of submariners lost in service to the United States. Looking through the Bowfin’s periscopes really gives you a feel of the sub.
4. Lunch in Waikiki – Rent a Surfboard and Catch Some Waves
There is an endless array of choices for eating, and several places where you can rent a surfboard and take to the waves. These are generally friendly waves offshore here, allowing beginners the chance to ride waves. You can also book a lesson from an instructor. Always check with lifeguards before going in the water.
5. Visit the Damien Museum
On the corner of Ohua Avenue and Kalākaua Avenue in Waikiki is a little gem of a museum honoring Father Damien. The Damien Museum is located behind the steep-roofed St. Augustine’s Church which itself is notable for its beautiful stained glass windows.
Father Damien – who will soon be made a saint in a ceremony in Rome – was a tireless volunteer at Moloka‘i’s Kalaupapa Peninsula where he helped the victims of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy). Father Damien helped the patients there until he died of the disease 16 years later in 1889. You can also see a statue of the “Martyr of Molokai” in front of the State Capitol Building in Honolulu.
6. Go To the Waikiki Aquarium
On the east end of Kapiolani Park is the wonderful Waikiki Aquarium displaying hundreds of species of fish, plants, animals, jellyfish, coral reef species, moray eels, and other marine life. The interactive exhibits are also fun for kids.
7. Drive Up To Waimanalo
A relaxing drive from Kapiolani Park around the southeast corner of Oahu and up to Waimanalo provides a wonderful adventure. Waimanalo Bay is 5½ miles long and includes three wonderful beach parks including Bellows Field, Waimanalo Bay, and Waimanalo Beach Park. This whole area is protected by an offshore coral reef providing gentle water for swimming.
Perhaps what is most spectacular in this region is the stunning Koolau Mountain Range with its deep furrowed valleys that rise up steeply into monumental peaks. Perhaps you will also recall the beautiful Waimanalo Bay in the Magnum PI series, where Tom Selleck went swimming each morning.
8. Nuuanu Pali – Feel the Wind In Your Hair
A spectacular and unforgettable view of Oahu awaits you at Nuuanu Pali, which is just a short drive from downtown Honolulu. Expect the wind to be blowing at this impressive overlook at the top of Nuuanu Pali which also provides an amazing vantage point to see the island.
This famous pali (cliff) was the site of a major battle of King Kamehameha I in 1795, and it ended badly for many warriors whose bones now rest at the base of the cliff below. Informational plaques at the overlook describe the important history of the region. The stunning view and important history make this a must-see stop on your weekend of Honolulu adventures.
9. Visit Iolani Palace and the Historic District
‘Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu is one of Hawaii’s historic treasures. Located at King and Richard Streets, the beautifully restored ‘Iolani Palace served as the royal palace for King Kalakaua and then for Queen Liliuokalani. The Palace’s history took a major turn after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893.
The church-like Grand Hall features royal portraits, and the stately Blue Room features matching portraits of Queen Lili‘uokalani and King Kalākaua.
The State Dining Room adjoins the Blue Room and is adorned with portraits of world leaders from France, England, Russia, and Germany..
real chicken-skin moment on the ‘Iolani Palace tour is seeing Queen Lili‘uokalani’s Prison Chamber, where the deposed queen was imprisoned after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. The queen’s hand-stitched quilt is on display – she stitched into it the names of people who were loyal to her.
10. Visit Aloha Tower Marketplace
Aloha Tower is Hawaii’s tallest building at the time it was built. Standing 184 feet and 2 inches high, it is topped with a 40-foot flagstaff. Designed by architect Arthur Reynolds,
Also atop the tower is 7-ton clock and balconied openings. Each side of Aloha Tower has a large clock face along with the word “Aloha.”
In 1994 the Aloha Tower Marketplace opened on Piers 8 to 11 offering many restaurants and stores. The Marketplace often features live entertainment and is one of the nicest places in Honolulu to grab some food, shop, and see local bands play – bring your dancing shoes.
11. Shop At the Ala Moana Shopping Center
The Ala Moana Shopping Center opened in 1959 with 87 stores. A second phase in 1966 brought that up to 155 stores, and a fourth level was also added. Another major expansion took place in 1990, and then in 1996, 30 more restaurants and stores were added, including Neiman Marcus.
Today the Ala Moana Shopping Center has more than 230 stores and is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.
12. Relax at Your Beachfront Condominium
It is time to just sit back and reflect on all of these adventures. There is no place on Earth like Hawaii and no place in Hawaii like Honolulu. Honolulu rentals of extremely high quality and perfectly located condominiums and hotels of this area are going now for record low prices, so you can relax with out any worries.