It’s been two years since I fell head-over-heels in love with O’ahu (known as “the gathering place” of the Hawaiian islands) and the beautiful city, Honolulu. This magical place is where my husband and I were privileged to spend our honeymoon and no matter where we’ve travelled since, Honolulu remains our favourite travel destination to date.
If you’re planning a trip to Honolulu, here are 10 things to do during your visit.
1. Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach is one of the busiest and most cosmopolitan spots in O’ahu where activities geared towards tourists happen all day and night. The views of the beach and surrounding areas will take your breath away and the fabulous boutiques/stores along Kalakaua Avenue will excite every shopping enthusiast.
2. The Royal Hawaiian
Our stay at The Royal Hawaiian was the highlight of our trip. Not only is “The Pink Palace of the Pacific” stunning in its structure, decor, amenities and overall customer service, it’s the history of the Royal Hawaiian that left the biggest impression on us. I highly recommend taking part in the weekly historic tour as it will make your stay at The Royal that more meaningful. Also, the breakfast menu is fantastic. I cannot recommend their fluffy pink pancakes enough.
3. Manoa Falls
We had no plans of hiking during our honeymoon, but I’m so glad we made it out to Manoa Falls and trekked 3km+ through a whole lot of nature to get there. A few suggestions if you’re planning on hiking the Manoa Falls Trail:
- Wear hiking footwear that you don’t mind getting a little muddy
- Bring a backpack with water, sunscreen, bug repellant and pack a towel as you’ll likely want to dip your feet in the water at the falls
- Before you head out to the trails, check for updates to make sure they’re open
4. USS Arizona Memorial
The USS Arizona Memorial, at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu sits above the sunken battleship with nearly 1,200 sailors and Marines entombed inside. Before you board the ferry that takes you to the memorial, visitors gather in a theatre to watch a 20-minute film on the events of December 7, 1941. Our visit to the Arizona was the most somber moment of our Honolulu trip, but for us was one of the most important.
5. Bishop Museum
Founded in 1889, Bishop Museum was established in honour of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop (the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family) to house the extensive collection of Hawaiian artifacts and royal family heirlooms of the Princess. Since then the museum has expanded to include millions of artifacts, documents and photographs about Hawai’i and other Pacific island cultures. Our tour guide, William (pictured below) made our tour informative and fun with stories of the island’s history and traditions.
6. ‘Iolani Palace
Located in downtown Honolulu, ‘Iolani Palace is the only royal palace on U.S. soil and is an enduring symbol of Hawaiian independence. The Palace showcases beautiful memories of grand, extravagant parties along with painful memories of Liliuokalani’s imprisonment and eventual overthrow. For our tour of the ‘Iolani Palace, we did the self-led audio tour, which allowed us to take our time visiting each one of the beautiful rooms.
7. Diamond Head Luau
A fun evening filled with dancing, fire throwing, music, story telling, dinner and sweet keepsakes (see below). Diamond Head Luau attendees also receive access to the Waikiki Aquarium, which is located right next door.
8. Ono Seafood
If you’re looking for a savoury poke bowl under $10, make your way over to Ono Seafood. There will be a line, but the food is absolutely delicious and worth the wait.
9. Sunset Cruise
After dinner on our first night in Honolulu, we lounged on a catamaran at sunset and took in the views of Diamond Head with six other couples. It’s one thing to look out at the water from the beach and admire its beauty, but it’s a completely different experience to view the island and its luscious landscape from the water during sunset. I think this cruise made us truly appreciate where we were and set the tone for our entire trip – we are in paradise and we’re going to enjoy every single minute of our time here.
10. The North Shore
“You can’t visit O’ahu without checking out the North Shore.” We heard this on a daily basis from locals. About a one-hour drive from Waikiki Beach, the North Shore is known for having the best surf in the world, amazing hiking trails, as well as its laidback vibe which is far quieter than busy Waikiki. Prepare to eat (a lot) as there are many, many food trucks to choose from.
Have you visited the Hawaiian islands? What was your favourite memory? Share in the comments!