Honolulu is the biggest city in Hawai’i and the capital so if you’re headed to the islands then this is the place you want to go. Have no idea what to do while you’re in Honolulu besides surf? Not a problem. There are tons of things to do, and there are things that need to happen while you’re here, am I right? In order to have the best time in Honolulu these are the top 10 things that need to be done.
See a Hula Show
Don’t pay $100+ dollars a person to see luau in a resort that actually dances in the Tahitian style. Do what the locals do and watch a show for free. There are a few to choose from. One happens on Waikiki Beach (actually it’s Kuhio Beach Park but they’re right next to each other). On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 6:30-7:30 (6-7 November-January) you can enjoy a free hula show on the beach. If being near the ocean isn’t your style you can always see the 20 minute show at the Ala Moana Shopping Center everyday at 1pm.
Watch a Sunset on a Beach
Sure, you can be totally boring and predictable and go to Waikiki Beach if you really want. There are so many other beaches to choose from right in Honolulu. Fort Derussy Beach Park is right up the street and has a boardwalk you can enjoy. Ala Moana Beach Park is a much bigger beach if you want the space. Closer to downtown if you don’t like sand is Kaka’ako Waterfront Park with another great view. There are so many to choose from so hop in that rental car and go!
Try Spam Musubi
It’s salty and might take some getting used to if you’ve never had spam before. It’s spam, with a teriyaki sauce on top of rice, wrapped in seaweed. Good places to get these little guys is convenience stores like in gas stations. Some restaurants sell them too. They should be under $3 each, if they’re more than that move on to another convenience store. It isn’t worth it to pay more, especially since it’s the same thing!
Climb Diamond Head
First of all, once you’re inside of the mountain it’s an amazing view. For less than a 1 mile hike in one direction you can see all of Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, the ocean, and the mountains all in the distance. I’d say the best time to go is when it’s sunny so there isn’t any clouds blocking the distance view. If you don’t like hiking, this is definitely worth it.
Be Saddened by Pearl Harbor
The 76th anniversary of the attack of Pearl Harbor is coming up on December 7th. It’s been nearly 80 years since the United States was dragged into World War II and what better way to remember it than seeing it for yourself? On the edge of Honolulu, hop on bus 42 and head to the Arizona Memorial which is completely free to view. Tickets are first come first serve, but during the summer I suggest going online and paying a convenience fee in advance since the tickets can get sold out days in advance in that season.
Marvel at Iolani Palace
The only palace in the US that actually housed royalty is right in Honolulu just steps away from the capital building. Walking around the outside is free and even though this is a huge place to visit, it’s never crowded. The number of times I’ve stopped and looked at this beautiful building there are only a few other souls doing the same thing. Seeing the Kamehameha Statue across the street on the other hand though, that’s a different story.
View Honolulu from Aloha Tower
Another free site that gets overlooked. If you come to Honolulu by cruise it stops right at the bottom of the Aloha Tower. Before the 1950s this was where everything was at. Parties, cruises, and tourists from all over the world went to the top of the Aloha Tower to see Honolulu harbor from above. Today, the Aloha Tower Marketplace is almost completely desolate. The perfect place to be off the beaten track.
Enter a Japanese Shrine
Just on the edge of Chinatown is the Chinese Cultural Plaza, and right across the river from there is the Izumo Shrine. Even if you’re not religious, if you’re interested about learning another culture this is the place to do it. Outside of the shrine is a gift from Japan to Honolulu 50 years after World War II. Once you walk through the gates wash your hands and then take off your shoes before you enter the shrine. It’s really a beautiful experience.
Look at Honolulu’s Skyline from Kaka’ako Waterfront Park
One of the best places to see the skyline! See Ala Moana Beach Park, Waikiki, and Diamond Head in the distance. Be careful if you go down the stairs toward the water though, algae covered steps are slippery…not that I would know from experience. If the waves are high enough you can also watch surfers wipeout. Or, just take some awesome skyline photos of Honolulu, either one works.
Eat Authentic Chinese Food
While there are Panda Expresses on the island, I suggest avoiding those. Hawai’i is full of people actually from China and Honolulu is no exception. Eat some real Chinese food while in Chinatown, try out some dim sum! The best time to go to Chinatown is during the day, around lunchtime. Most places are open from 10-3, so kind of late for breakfast (brunch?) and too early for dinner.