What to See / Do Around Honolulu, Hawaii

It’s natural when you live in Hawaii to have people visit you. After all, who doesn’t want a family member or friend to live in Hawaii so you can go visit them, right? So yes, I speak from experience when I say you do get lots of visitors :) Recently, three of my visitors asked me why I never wrote about their favorite things we did when I showed them around. Good question!

Here are some of the sites and activities that were most memorable for them.

My aunt and uncle came to visit for my aunt’s 70th birthday. My uncle had served in the military, so for him, a highlight was our time at Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona Memorial is free, though reservations are required. We also saw the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. We also went to Punchbowl, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. It’s free to visit, and I’ve always liked Punchbowl not just for the view it offers, but for the maps and history about the World War ll battles in the Pacific.

Pearl Harbor Memorial. Image source: http://www.pearlharborhistoricsites.org/pearl-harbor/arizona-memorial

Bike sharing services seem to be super popular everywhere. When people came to visit me in Hawaii and wanted to ride bikes, I would say, “Let’s go for a hike instead.” I did have a bike, and it’s true you can bike ride around Waikiki, but to the uninitiated in ways of Honolulu traffic, drivers, and all the potholes, I was never comfortable taking guests out on bikes. Bike riders do have a new and good option now from Biki. It started in 2017 and they say they have 100 stops between downtown and Waikiki where you can rent one of their bikes. This is good news for my friends who ended up being dragged on hikes when they wanted to ride a bike around town!

Biki. Image source: https://gobiki.org/about-us/

One of my friends reminded me of the art scene around Honolulu. The Honolulu Museum of Art and a visit to Doris Duke’s Shangri La is a great outing. Most would say if you only have time for one museum, make it the Bishop Museum. It will give you the best overview of Hawaiian culture.

Honolulu Museum of Art. Image source: https://honolulumuseum.org/

Visiting the Saturday morning (and Tuesday night) Kapi’olani Community Farmer’s Market near Diamond Head is always fun for visitors. If you’re staying in Waikiki, it’s a great uphill walk to the campus! Speaking of staying in Waikiki, If I’m paying cash for a hotel stay, I always use Pruvo to monitor for price drops!

Kapi’olani Community Farmer’s Market. Image source: https://www.kapiolani.hawaii.edu/project/farmers-market/

These ideas for outings reminded me that while my visitors were varied in age, gender, and levels of fitness, there really was something for everyone that was fun and memorable. Want to add anything to this list? Let me know!

P.S. If you are interested in Kauai, check out this post.

9 thoughts on “What to See / Do Around Honolulu, Hawaii

  1. Kyle

    Wait, you’re Hawaii-based too? Nice!

    For Honolulu specifically, I’d add Makapuu Lighthouse Trail since its a scenic, easy hike (walk); for rail fans, take a ride with the Hawaiian Railway Society; eat real Hawaiian food at Waiahole Poi Factory; hike the Lanikai Pillbox (Kaiwi Ridge) trail; see endemic fish and Hawaiian Monk Seals at the Waikiki Aquarium; visit a beach other than Waikiki Beach; for a less crowded farmers market, Wednesday night farmers market at Blaisdell Center; Friday night fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village

    1. Shelli Post author

      Aloha Kyle, Great suggestions. I’d call the Lighthouse a walk, too. There is plenty of hiking on Oahu:) The HRS is a great one. So many people from town never get to the Second City. I have a friend who’s a docent at the aquarium, and he loves showing people around. It’s a great spot for kids. How does Hilton keep up with their fireworks? They’ve been happening for years and you can actually spot them from all over Waikiki. But if you do go down to the Hilton, Lapperts ice cream is a must! Thanks for taking the time to add to the conversation!

      1. Kyle

        Admittedly, I rarely venture out to Kapolei either, though that’s beginning to change. There’s an outpost of SFO’s Limon Rotiserrie out there, and I love it, so we make it a point to make the trek every once in a while. Hilton, they’re still doing pretty good showing every Friday night. I believe it’s at 7:45, but I gotta double-check. Lappert’s is good, but if you ever come back for a visit, I highly recommend a place called Black Sheep. It’s similar in concept to Salt n Straw in the PNW and CA, and is located in a strip mall next to Costco Waipio of all places. I’m also a big fan of La Gelateria in Kahala Mall, Haleiwa, Duke’s Lane at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki, etc. I can go on and on about food, though, so I better stop there ;)

        1. Shelli Post author

          Hi Kyle, I lived on the west side so I saw it all grow up. No Salt and Straw for me (I’ve got a review of them coming up so stay tuned). Been enjoying Lapperts since the 1980’s and Kauai Pie knocks it out of the park. I know what you mean about going on and on about food!! Much aloha and thanks for taking time to add to the conversation!

  2. Brittany K

    Thank you for sharing these great tips! We are heading back to Oahu in a few months but it’s been 14 years since we were last there. We tried twice to visit Pearl Harbor but it was so crowded, I hope this time we can see it!

    1. Shelli Post author

      HI Brittany, Oahu has changed a lot over the years, but despite the changes, I still have a really really great time there. Fingers crossed that this time Pearl Harbor works out. Always good to make a reservation if you can. Aloha, and thanks so much for reading!

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