9 Things To Do In Honolulu: Discovering the Best of Honolulu

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I have been lucky enough to visit Honolulu three times with my family, and I can confidently say that it’s an incredible place to explore.

I continue to find something new and exciting to discover with each visit.

Whether it’s a hidden beach or an outdoor adventure, I’ve been lucky enough to experience it all.

Based on my own experiences, allow me to share some of the best things to do in Honolulu with you.

1. Visit the Bishop Museum

One of the most iconic things to do in Honolulu would be to visit the Bishop Museum.

It is officially classified as one of Honolulu’s best tourist attractions, and it’s easy to see why!

Spaces and rooms are segmented and themed accordingly. Our first stop was the Pacific Hall which is devoted to the cultures of the Pacific Islands.

Bishop Museum in Honolulu
Bishop Museum

It was fascinating to learn about the history and culture of the islands, and the exhibits of prehistoric Hawaiian artifacts and weaponry wowed us.

Following that, we went to the Hawaiian Hall, which is dedicated to Hawaii’s history and culture. We learned about the old Hawaiian gods, art, mythology, and beliefs.

The stories and statues of the gods and goddesses on exhibit enthralled my children. They were especially interested in learning about Pele, the fire goddess.

We ended our tour with a visit to the Planetarium. It was worth the effort as we had a glimpse of the stars and constellations of the night sky, and the view was unforgettable.

We finished off the day with a trip to the museum’s gift shop and picked souvenirs to take home.

2. Explore the Honolulu Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo is located in Waikiki.

It is home to a variety of exotic animals. The first thing we did when we got there was head straight to the primates and the African Savannah exhibit.

Honolulu Zoo in Hawaii
Kioea in Honolulu Zoo

We got to see so many different kinds of monkeys, chimpanzees, and gorillas. We even got to feed some of them!

We then moved on to the birds` section, and that was a real highlight for my kids. We saw so many kinds of birds and enjoyed watching them fly around and sing.

We even got to see the rare Kioea, which was a real treat! We got to learn about different types of birds and their habitats.

After that, we spent some time in the reptile house where we learned about several kinds and had a close-up look at some of them.

We then went to see the huge animals including elephants, rhinoceroses, and giraffes.

3. Go to the Waikiki Aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium is full of incredible natural wonders; it is no surprise that it’s always chock full of tourists for most of the year.

If you’re looking for the best things to do in Honolulu with kids, this should be high on the list.

Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu
Waikiki Aquarium

We had a wonderful time exploring the exhibits and learning about the different kinds of sea creatures.

Some of my favorite Exhibit Highlights:

  • The Amazing Adaptations Gallery– Displays a diverse collection of the unusual fish family, including seahorses, pipefishes, and sea dragons.
  • Giant Clams– Displays a variety of clam species with an array of iridescent colors found throughout the Indian Ocean, South Pacific, and Red Sea.
  • The Marine Protected Areas and Conservation gallery– Showcase only freshwater animals.
  • Coral Farm-Displays more than five thousand corals shipped around the world.
  • The Edge of the Reef Exhibit– This outdoor exhibit boasts a 7,500-gallon tank that faithfully recreates the habitats found on a rocky shoreline in Hawaii.
  • The Ocean Drifters Gallery- offers a dynamic display of jellyfish or sea jellies from local and international locations.

4. Enjoy a Luau at Paradise Cove

If you have ever wanted to experience a traditional Hawaiian luau, you should plan a trip to this beachside spot.

It is one of the most important things to do in Hawaii with your family (or even alone)!

Luau at Paradise Cove in Honolulu
Luau at Paradise Cove

As soon as we got there, our host handed us leis to wear and gave us a rundown of what to expect.

We moved toward the beach, where the luau was about to start. We had a typical Hawaiian meal at the luau while listening to live Hawaiian music.

We were served kalua pig, laulau, lomi salmon, poi, and other delicious Hawaiian fares.

After our dinner, we were treated to a show featuring Polynesian dancing, drumming, and we even got to try husking coconuts.

We were also amazed by the fire eater. He easily twirled and juggled the fire sticks before eating the fire itself.

The kids were so excited they couldn’t contain their joy and cheered loudly when the show ended.

5. Snorkel the Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay is a protected marine life conservation area, home to many different types of fish and coral.

We arrived just before sunrise; the kind guide ensured that we all had proper snorkeling equipment.

He gave us a brief orientation on safety before we entered the water. There was also a nine-minute safety video.

The guide was really well-informed. We learned more from him about the many kinds of fish and coral and the value of protecting the aquatic environment.

He was also great at spotting the fish and pointing them to us.

Overall, we all had a fantastic time! Now, I just need to figure out how to get my kids to stop talking about that giant eel!

We then ended our day with a nice picnic lunch on the beach.

Hanauma Bay Prices

  • Entry fee – $25.00 (Tram ride included)
  • Kids 12 years and below – free
  • Active Military – free
  • Parking – $3.00

6. Spend a Day at Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is one of the most well-known beaches in the world. The beach is mind-blowing, with miles of white, soft sand beaches, crystal-clear blue waters, and great views of Diamond Head.

The beach was already humming with activity when we got there. The only drawback is that the beach can be quite crowded anytime, even early in the morning!

Waikiki beach Hawaii
Waikiki beach

Finding a place was challenging for us. But we finally found a spot and lounged in the sand. The children couldn’t help but jump right into the water.

They kept themselves busy while my partner and I tried body surfing for the first time. We also took turns riding a boogie board and playing with a beach ball.

After a few hours, we decided to take a break and grab lunch at Bali Oceanfront restaurant for some delicious seafood.

Other popular activities include:

  • Catamaran rides 
  • Outrigger canoe trips
  • Snorkeling
  • Stand-Up Paddling
  • Jet skiing
  • Beach Volleyball

7. Explore the Honolulu Museum of Art

The Honolulu Museum of Art (formerly known as the Honolulu Academy of Arts) is the largest of its kind in the state.

Since its opening in 1927, the museum has grown to more than 60,000 permanent collections featuring Asian and Pan-Pacific art.  

We had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the museum and learn about the history of the pieces we saw. We looked at paintings, sculptures, and photos.

We spent a lot of time in the Asian galleries, admiring the unique artwork pieces from the Far East. We also spent time browsing the contemporary art galleries, checking the modern pieces that were on display.


We also got the opportunity to explore the museum’s educational area. The interactive displays delighted us all.

This helped us gain knowledge about the various art materials and how they may be applied to create unique works of art.

The place also gives you an opportunity to make original pieces of art. After browsing the galleries, we took a breather and had lunch in the outdoor HoMA Cafe.

8. Spend a Day at Kualoa Ranch

If you want to enjoy the splendor of Hawaii, you must go to Kualoa Ranch on the island of Oahu. Locally known as Jurassic Valley, this Kaneohe ranch spans 4,000 acres.

Kualoa Ranch in Honolulu
Kualoa Ranch

The property provides unmatched scenery and vistas. It is simple to understand why it is such a favored vacation spot and a filming site for blockbuster films.

Our day began by taking the ATV tour under the guidance of a guide. We had the chance to travel across the lowlands, hills, and forest.

That was an excellent way to view the property from various angles.

The views and fauna that the ranch has to offer were breathtaking. We also had the opportunity to learn about the ranch’s past and the local way of life.

The day was made extra special by touring the spots where various movie sets had been filmed, including 50 First Dates, Godzilla, Jurassic Park, and more.

The best part was watching the children’s faces as they spotted the famous Jurassic Park Gate. Even better, we got to go on a horseback riding tour of the ranch.

Other popular spots to visit on the ranch:

  • Botanical Garden
  • Oahu Nature Tours (explore the diverse flora and fauna of the area)
  • The ancient Hawaiian fishponds
  • Umauma Falls
  • Secret Island Beach
  • Zipline tours
  • Mountain bike

9. Take a tour of the Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center is Hawaii’s number one visitor attraction.

It is set on 42 acres along Oahu’s North Shore and features six villages recreating the island cultures of Hawaii and other archipelagos on the Pacific.

Polynesian Cultural Center in Honolulu
Polynesian Cultural Center

We went to the villages and mingled with the Pacific islanders. We had the chance to observe traditional dances and music, hear some of the island stories, and enjoyed the craft demonstrations.

We had the chance to learn how to hula dance, play traditional Polynesian instruments, and sing traditional songs. 

We then moved on to the canoe ride, which was a great way to explore the lagoon.

We saw some amazing wildlife, such as turtles, fish, and birds. In the afternoon, we went to the luau and got to try some traditional foods!

Finally, we went to the art gallery and got to Visit the Hukilau Marketplace to shop for various Hawaiian and island-themed centered handiworks, jewelry, clothing, and treats.

Our visit ended with “Ha: Breath of Life,”—an action-packed evening show starred by over 100 Polynesian performers.

Final Thoughts

Of all the places I have visited my top pick would have to be the Honolulu Zoo. This well-known zoo is an excellent place to learn about animals and their habitats. 

The Zoo is my #1 recommendation for things to do in Honolulu because of these factors. That said, the other attractions listed above are equally amazing.

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