Kuhio Beach Hula Show, Waikiki, Oahu

Oahu Travel Guide

By Patricia Doherty
March 01, 2021

Oahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian islands, located southeast of Kauai. The most populous of the islands, Oahu is home to the state capital of Honolulu and its cosmopolitan surroundings. Historic sites like Iolani Palace and Bishop Museum contrast with modern luxury hotels and highrise apartments. The glittering skyline, along with the Diamond Head crater, form a stunning backdrop for Waikiki's popular beaches. 

Not far from the shops, restaurants, and hotels of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, the scenery changes to quiet beaches, green valleys, and mountain views. On the windward or east coast of the island, beaches like Kailua, Makapu'u, and Lanikai offer white sand, shade trees, and waves for surfing, snorkeling, and bodyboarding. On the North Shore, visitors find more than seven miles of the famous beaches that attract surfers from around the world, especially during the winter months when the waves are big and challenging. The Leeward, or west coast, is sunny and dry with luxury resorts and its own surfing beach, Makaha. 

Oahu's central valley has been home to plantations since the late 19th century, and pineapples are still grown there. To the south, historic Pearl Harbor is an active naval base and the location of historic monuments commemorating its place in World War II history.

Time Zone

Hawaii follows Hawaii Standard Time (GMT-10 hours), which is five hours behind Eastern Standard Time and two hours behind Pacific Standard Time. Hawaii does not observe Daylight Saving Time, so add one extra hour to the time difference during this period (March through November).

Best Time to Go

It's nearly always a good time to go to Oahu. The summer season, mainly April through October, sees higher temperatures and less precipitation. June, July, and August are popular with vacationers when schools are generally out, and the weather is warm and dry. Mid-December through March is a peak time, especially for visitors from colder climates.

Winter, from December through March, is slightly cooler, but still warm and sunny although there's a bit more rain. The climate varies across different areas of the island. The weather is drier on the west side, and the east coast receives more rain. The southern areas of Honolulu and Waikiki are pleasant year-round.

Things to Know

Oahu is the second oldest of the Hawaiian Islands.

Oahu's two mountain ranges, the Waianae on the west and the Koolau on the east, were once volcanoes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the volcanoes last erupted more than 70,000 years ago.

Oahu's volcanoes are extinct, and the most famous of the remaining cones are Diamond Head (Leahi), Punchbowl, and Koko Head craters. 

The nickname of Oahu is "The Gathering Place," probably based on its central location and its history as a place where people went for marriages, births, and funerals.

The majority of Hawaii's population of 1,411,150 live on the island of Oahu, with a population of 953,207.

Waikiki, home of famous beaches and hotels, is located in Honolulu. The area was created with the construction of the Ala Wai Canal in 1928, changing the swamplands into one of the best-known beaches in the world.

The only royal palace in the United States is located on Oahu. It is Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu.

Hawaii is the only state with two official languages: English and 'Ōlelo Hawai'i, an endangered language, now part of a revival effort.

It is customary to remove one's shoes when entering someone's home.

The "shaka" or "hang loose" gesture (waving the extended thumb and little finger with the three middle fingers curved) is said to have originated among surfers on Oahu's North Shore. Its meanings include "hello," "goodbye," "chill out," "thank you," and the popular greeting, "Howzit?"

The most popular tourist attraction on Oahu is the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.

How to Get Around

The Bus - On Oahu, The Bus offers frequent bus schedules and numerous routes providing wide island coverage. Bus stops are shown on maps of specific transit centers

Taxi - Look for taxi stands at most major shopping centers and in the business district or call for a pickup at a hotel or designated place.

From Daniel K. Inouye Airport (HNL):

The Bus - Routes 19, 20, and 31 leave from terminals approximately every 30 minutes, departing from the second-level roadway along the center median.

Roberts Hawaii Express Shuttle - Provides on-demand, island-wide transfer service from various pickup locations around the airport.

Auto Rental - Five rental car companies — Avis, Budget, Hertz, National, and SIXT — are located on the ground level of the Terminal 2 parking garage. Enterprise is located on Aolele Street. Car rental shuttles stop in designated areas along the center median on the ground level outside baggage claim areas.

Taxi - Drivers from all taxi companies may pick up passengers at the airport on the center median fronting the baggage claim areas. See taxi dispatchers for service.Transportation Network Companies - Uber and Lyft have designated pickup areas on the second level.

Halekulani
Credit: Courtesy of Halekulani

Best Hotels

Honolulu

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Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Address: 2250 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 923-7311
Website

Known as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific,” the Royal Hawaiian opened in 1927 and has continued to offer its classic style of luxury. The 528-room resort features a Historic Wing, private beachfront cabanas, award-winning dining, and Waikiki’s only oceanfront luau.

Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani
Credit: Courtesy of Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani

Halepuna

Address: 2233 Helumoa Road, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 921-7272
Website

This new hotel offers stunning guestrooms and suites, as well as amenities that include guaranteed early check-in and late check-out, complimentary breakfast at Halekulani Bakery and Restaurant, vitality infinity pool, hot tub, and access to Halekulani Spa.

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort

Address: 2424 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Phone: (808) 923-1234
Website

This centrally located hotel just steps from Waikiki Beach boasts 1,230 rooms, each with a private lanai. Amenities include a pool overlooking the Pacific, open-air dining with ocean views, fitness center, and convenient onsite Hertz car rental.

Prince Waikiki

Address: 100 Holomoana Street, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (855) 622-7558
Website

Surrounded by panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, the hotel offers contemporary accommodations, poolside cabanas, exclusive Club Lounge, and access to the Hawaii Prince Golf Club. Their signature dining spot, 100 Sails Restaurant & Bar, features island cuisine and stunning sunset views.

Sheraton Waikiki

Address: 2255 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 922-4422
Website

Set in the center of Waikiki steps from the beach, the Sheraton offers two outdoor pools, fitness center, spa, and several dining options. Accommodations include 1,636 guestrooms, many with ocean views, and 136 ocean view suites.

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach

Address: 383 Kalaimoku Street, Waikiki Beach, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 922-8111
Website

This luxe property features ocean-view rooms and one, two, three, and four-bedroom suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, furnished balconies, and modern decor. The eighth-floor infinity pool is the highest in Waikiki, with dining and private cabanas available. Ritz-Carlton Spa and a 24-hour fitness center are available.

Espacio

Address: 2452 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 377-2246
Website

World-class amenities, butler service, rooftop infinity pool and sun deck, an oceanfront Jacuzzi on every balcony, and expansive ocean view suites have earned Espacio the title of “Jewel of Waikiki.” Nine luxury suites each occupy an entire floor, and personalized service begins with luxury airport transportation. Dine at Mugen, their Japanese-French dining concept.

Halekulani
Credit: Courtesy of Halekulani

Halekulani

Address: 2199 Kalia Road, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 923-2311
Website

This elegant beachfront hotel offers unobstructed views of Diamond and Pacific views from all suites and from most guestrooms. Three open-air restaurants boast ocean views and distinct menus created with fresh local ingredients.

Kaimana Beach Hotel

Address: 2863 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 768-3003
Website

Set where Diamond Head meets the Pacific, Kaimana Beach Hotel was originally built in 1963, Waikiki’s only boutique property located directly on the sand of Kaimana Beach. After unveiling a new look, the hotel maintains its casual style and modern-boho aesthetic.

Hilton Hawaiian Village

Address: 2005 Kalia Road, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 949-4321
Website

Set on 22 oceanfront acres on Waikiki Beach, the resort offers a variety of accommodations including guestrooms and suites. A variety of pools includes a children’s pool, water slides, and an expansive beachfront pool. Dining options range from casual to fine dining.

The Laylow

Address: 2299 Kuhio Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 922-6600
Website

Combining mid-century modern and contemporary style, The Laylow creates a cool, hip vibe and comfortable atmosphere. The 16-floor hotel offers 186 rooms, 65 suites, a secluded saltwater pool, cabanas, live entertainment, and casual dining spot.

Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach, Oahu

Address: 400 Royal Hawaiian Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 954-4000
Website

This family-friendly hotel is conveniently located near local attractions like the Honolulu Zoo. The property features two outdoor pools, a nine-hole putting golf course, spa, fitness center, Italian restaurant, and outdoor balconies.

Ewa Hotel Waikiki

Address: 2555 Cartwright Road, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 954-7414
Website

This affordable hotel is located just two blocks from Waikiki Beach, across from Kapiolani Park and the Honolulu Zoo. Comfortable rooms, an expansive rooftop deck, and optional studios or kitchenette suites make this hotel an attractive vacation spot.

Ilikai Hotel & Luxury Suites

Address: 1777 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 949-3811
Website

You may have seen this striking hotel on the opening credits of Hawaii Five-O, and it’s a Waikiki landmark with contemporary accommodations, and luxury amenities. Every suite features full kitchens, spacious baths, premium bedding, and the comforts of home steps from the beach.

Club Wyndham Royal Garden at Waikiki

Address: 440 Olohana Street, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 943-0202
Website

Located along the Ala Wai canal minutes from Waikiki Beach, Ala Wai Golf Course, and more, this European-style resort features studios and one-bedroom suites with kitchenettes. Some suites offer private lanais and accessible features. There’s an outdoor pool, garden, media lounge, bbq area, and fitness center.

Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

Address: 412 Lewers Street, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 923-8882
Website

This casual mid-century style hotel offers 112 vintage-inspired rooms featuring handcrafted furnishings and curated art. Accommodations include one, two, and three-bedroom suites as well as a one-bedroom penthouse suite and a one room bungalow penthouse.

Kahala Hotel & Resort (east Honolulu)

Address: 5000 Kahala Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
Phone: (808) 369-9480
Website

This luxury beachfront resort is set in the exclusive area of Kahala, ten minutes from Waikiki. Accommodations include beachfront and ocean view guestrooms as well as suites and exclusive spacious signature suites. A variety of dining venues, spa, and pool are available.

North Shore

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Turtle Bay Resort

Address: 57-091 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku, HI 96731
Phone: (808) 293-6000
Website

This 800-acre property is set on an outcropping overlooking the shoreline with accommodations that include guestrooms, suites, villas, and beachside bungalows. The resort features two championship golf courses, a spa and salon, casual all-day dining, pool bar, and upscale dining at Roy’s Beach House.

Leeward (west) Side

Ko Olina Resort area is set on 642 acres with ocean and mountain views along a mile and a half of seaside pathways between the Lanikuhonua nature preserve and beach coves to the south. Home to Ko Olina Golf Club and Ko Olina Marina, the compound includes these four hotel properties.

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Four Seasons Oahu
Credit: Courtesy of Four Seasons Oahu at Ko Olina

Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

Address: 92-1001 Olani Street, Kapolei, HI 96707
Phone: (808) 679-0079
Website

Set on Oahu’s rugged western coast, the resort features guestrooms and suites with ocean or mountain views, as well as expansive specialty suites. A variety of dining options includes casual poolside Waterman Bar & Grill, Noe Italian eatery, and Mina’s Fish House for beachfront seafood from James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Mina.

Aulani Disney Resort & Spa

Address: 92-1185 Ali’inui Drive, Kapolei, HI 96707
Phone: (866) 443-4763
Website

Designed for families and inspired by the traditions of Hawaii, Aulani is located in a beachfront cove. Featuring guestrooms, suites, and spacious villas, the resort offers a spa, fitness center, activities for kids and teens, pools, waterslides, a lazy river, splash zone, and Rainbow Reef snorkeling lagoon.

Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club

Address: 92-161 Waipahe Place, Kapolei, HI 96707
Phone: (808) 679-4700
Website

The property offers 550 one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas to accommodate six to eight guests. Private balconies and patios, washer/dryer, and oversized soaking tubs provide luxury and convenience. There’s a children’s pool, activity center, spa, restaurants, shopping, and three outdoor heated pools with whirlpool spas.

Beach Villas at Ko Olina

Address: 92-104 Waialii Place, Kapolei, HI 96707
Phone: (808) 445-9140
Website

Accommodations include luxury two- or three-bedroom villas featuring partial or panoramic ocean views, spacious lanais, state-of-the-art kitchens, and access to fitness center, kiddie lagoon, BBQ area, and lap pools.

Chicken and Lasagna at Goen Dining + Bar by Roy Yamaguchi.
Credit: Courtesy of Goen Dining + Bar by Roy Yamaguchi

Best Restaurants

Honolulu

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Merriman’s

Address: 1108 Auahi Street, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 215-0022
Website

Dine indoors or outdoors at this neighborhood bistro-style restaurant to enjoy the Hawaii regional cuisine of Peter Merriman. Open all day, the restaurant serves specialities like chermoula-marinated fresh catch, kalua pig quesadilla, and organic taro hummus. (Reservations suggested)

Scratch Kitchen & Meatery

Address: 1170 Auahi Street, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 569-1669
Website

Serving brunch and dinner, this restaurant’s varied menu includes creative dishes inspired by Southern cuisine with a dash of Mexican, French, and island favorites like Loco Moco. From fresh seafood to Lilikoi BBQ short ribs, the appealing dinner menu has something for every taste. (Reservations suggested)

Sushi Sasabune Hawaii

Address: 1417 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 947-3800
Website

This premium restaurant offers Omakase-style sushi featuring the freshest fish in 13-15 courses. The sushi bar is omakase only, and a la carte orders are available at tables. The expert chefs provide each course with its unique sauce and topping to be eaten as is. (Reservations required)

Bernini Honolulu

Address: 1218 Waimanu Street, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 591-8400
Website

This upscale restaurant serves Italian cuisine with a French twist under the guidance of chef Toshihiro who uses local ingredients to create his signature dishes. Fresh vegetables, seafood, Roman-style pizzas, al dente pastas, and luscious desserts are on the lunch and dinner menus.

(Reservations suggested)

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse - Downtown Honolulu

Address: 500 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 599-3860
Website

Feast on USDA Prime beef cooked to perfection and served sizzling on a 500-degree plate, perfectly broiled and seasoned. Add appetizers like seared ahi, side dishes like creamed spinach, salads, desserts, wines, and handcrafted cocktails for a perfect dinner. (Reservations suggested)

Chef Chai

Address: 1009 Kapiolani Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 585-0011
Website

Chef Chai is known for his Hawaiian regional cuisine that infuses the best of Hawaii’s resources with the cultural diversity of the islands. Dishes like chilled foie gras chawanmushi, kataifi and macadamia nut crusted black tiger prawns, and ahi katsu reflect his style. (Reservations suggested)

Livestock Tavern

Address: 49 North Hotel Street, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 537-2577
Website

Set in the Chinatown District, this cozy restaurant features a comfortable setting and food to match, with herb-roasted chicken, fish and chips, Maine lobster rolls, New England clam chowder, and buttermilk fried chicken on the menu. They offer an extensive wine and whiskey selection. (Reservations suggested)

Blind Ox

Address: 829 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
Phone: (808) 254-6369
Website

This speakeasy-style spot offers a wide selection of premium whisky and spirits, wine, unique cocktails, and delicious tapas. Sip and taste their charcuterie board, king crab tempura, A-5 wagyu tartare, and caviar, among others. Finish with bourbon creme brulee, key lime pie, or affogato. (Reservations suggested)

Ichifuji

Address: 2334 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96826
Phone: (808) 367-0012
Website

This authentic Japanese hot pot restaurant features their specialty nabe dashi made from oxtail simmered for 24 hours. Choose from six, nine, or 10 courses and combine your choice of meats, vegetables, fish, noodles, and rolls, dipping into the rich broth. (Reservations suggested)

MW Restaurant

Address: 888 Kapiolani Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 955-6505
Website

This local favorite is owned by husband and wife chef team Michelle and Wade, specializing in traditional and island-style favorites like mochi-crusted opakapaka, soy-braised pork belly, Kauai shrimp with seafood ravioli, and desserts that include lilikoi sorbet.

12th Avenue Grille and Deli

Address: 1120 12th Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
Phone: (808) 732-9469
Website

Described as an American brasserie, the restaurant’s menu includes oysters, salads, caponata, scallops crudo, lobster mac and cheese, Maui Cattle Company burger, and a selection of desserts like chocolate haupia pie, sacher torte, and tiramisu.

Feast

Address: 2970 E. Manoa Road, Honolulu, HI 
Phone: (808) 840-0488
Website

Chef Jon Matsubara brings an impressive career to his restaurant, including training at French Culinary Institute in New York and experience at top dining spots. Soups, salads, burgers, and Teishoku of the day, a Japanese-style set menu, are offered.

Kailua

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Chicken and Lasagna at Goen Dining + Bar by Roy Yamaguchi.
Credit: Courtesy of Goen Dining + Bar by Roy Yamaguchi

Goen Dining + Bar by Roy Yamaguchi

Address: 573 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI 96734
Phone: (808) 263-4636
Website

This restaurant from the famed chef features Pan-Asian and American dishes based on Hawaii’s flavors and ingredients. Fresh fish and local meats, salads, and sushi are served in an upscale atmosphere. Creative desserts include yuzu lemon bar cheesecake.

Kalapawai Cafe & Deli

Address: 750 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI 96734
Phone: (808) 262-3354
Website

This family business has several locations on the island serving a variety of coffees, beer, wine, salads, sandwiches, tacos, pizza, burgers, dinner entrees, and desserts.

Hibachi

Address: 515 Kailua Road, Kailua, HI 96734
Phone: (808) 263-7980
Website

This casual spot is known for serving fresh local fish and many varieties of poke, including ahi, scallop, crab, oyster, and more. Their offerings include BBQ chicken, grilled salmon, squid, octopus, and a selection of side dishes, salads, and kimchi.

Kapolei

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Mahi’ai Table

Address: 91-5431 Kapolei Parkway, Ste 1704 Ka Makana, Kapolei, HI 96707
Phone: (808) 670-2778
Website

This casual eatery set in a Foodland Farms store features a menu that includes cocktails, beer, wine and a selection of dishes based on local ingredients. The menu offers braised short rib loco moco, salads, sandwiches, pizza, fried chicken, fresh fish, and malasadas for dessert.

Longhi’s Ko Olina

Address: 92-161 Waipahe Place, Kapolei, HI 96707
Phone: (808) 671-8887
Website

Located in the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club, Longhi’s serves prime steaks, fresh island fish, pastas, lobster, and more in an open air setting with ocean views. Their menu includes appetizers, salads, and entrees like macadamia nut-crusted island fish and shrimp Lombardi.

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

Address: 4450 Kapolei Parkway, Kapolei, HI 96707
Phone: (808) 492-1392
Website

With many locations in Hawaii and the mainland, Gyu-Kaku serves authentic Japanese grilled barbecue where guests share a variety of meats and seafood cooked over a charcoal grill. Side dishes, appetizers, and small plates are available as well as beer, sake, and wine.

North Shore

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Haleiwa Beach House

Address: 62-540 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Phone: (808) 637-3435
Website

Serving lunch and dinner in a historic spot across from Ali’i beach, this restaurant features poke, salads, soups, and entrees that include grilled mahi mahi, Paniolo ribeye, Thai fried chicken, and sandwiches and burgers at lunch. They offer beer, wine, and their signature cocktails.

Banzai Sushi Bar

Address: 66-246 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Phone: (808) 639-4404
Website

This popular spot, located in the North Shore Marketplace, features the finest fresh fish in an outdoor Japanese-style setting. Local fishermen and farmers provide the ingredients, and chef Hide Takahashi’s skill creates some of the best sushi on the island, according to his many fans.

Uncle Bo’s Haleiwa

Address: 66-111 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Phone: (808) 797-9649
Website

Located in the historic Haleiwa Town Center, Uncle Bo’s offers a varied menu along with a family-friendly style. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, the restaurant’s menu includes pupus, soups, salads, pizza, pasta, and fresh seafood and meat dishes.

Group horseback ride through Kualoa Ranch, Oahu
Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono

Things to Do

Oahu beaches will be on the itinerary of most visitors. From famous Waikiki to the North Shore's waves to calm lagoons, you'll find the perfect beach whether you want to surf, swim, snorkel, or just sunbathe on the sand.

Away from the beach, a favorite activity on Oahu is hiking. Every part of the island offers opportunities for hikers of various skill levels. Minutes from Waikiki, Leahi (Diamond Head) is a moderately challenging trail that includes two sets of stairs rewarding hikers with panoramic views at the top.

Take a drive around the island, either heading east out of Honolulu towards Makapu'u Point and then north along the Windward Coast between the ocean and the mountains. Stop at lookout points for photos or just to enjoy the view. Or head west and then north along the Leeward Coast for a look at the waves of Makaha.

Be sure to try island specialties like shave ice (not shaved!) finely shaved and topped with flavored syrup and malasadas — fried donut-like dough covered in sugar. Don't miss a local favorite, Spam musubi which is similar to sushi with rice and seaweed wrap, but meat instead of fish. Loco moco is another favorite, with variations based on white rice topped with a hamburger, fried egg, and gravy. Poke has become popular outside of the islands, but visitors should try the dish where it originated.

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Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
Credit: Lucinda Walter/500px/Getty Images

Hanauma Bay

Address: 7455 Kalanianaole Highway, Honolulu, HI 96825
Phone: (808) 768-6861
Website

This cove is one of Oahu’s finest places to enjoy marine life with tropical fish, octopus, eels, turtles and undersea coral. Visitors are limited each day to preserve the sea creatures and the area, so plan ahead, arrive early, and bring your snorkeling equipment.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial Monument

Address: 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Aeia, HI 96701
Phone: (808) 422-3399
Website

The USS Arizona Memorial is the resting place of more than a thousand sailors and Marines killed on the ship during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The program begins at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater and then guests are taken via shuttle boat to the USS Arizona Memorial. Tickets are free; reservations are recommended.

Honolulu Zoo

Address: 151 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Phone: (808) 971-7171
Website

Between Honolulu and Diamond Head, the zoo is home to an assortment of amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Saturday morning private tours provide adventures, fun, and education with guided visits before opening hours. Twilight tours on Friday and Saturdays are available.

Dole Plantation

Address: 64-1550 Kamehameha Highway, Wahiawa, Hawaii 96786
Phone: (808) 621-8408
Website

A variety of activities acquaints visitors with one of the island’s favorite fruits. The Pineapple Express Train Tour is a narrated 20-minute tour, and the Plantation Garden Tour is a self-guided stroll through eight gardens. The Pineapple Garden Maze is a three-acre attraction, with 14,000 colorful Hawaiian plants.

The Waikiki Aquarium

Address: 2777 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 923-9741
Website

Exhibits include a living coral reef, tanks of colorful tropical fish, plants, seaweeds, and a Hawaiian monk seal habitat.

Bishop Museum

Address: 1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu, HI 96817
Phone: (808) 847-3511
Website

The museum offers an extensive collection of cultural artifacts, documents, and historical photographs in addition to the world’s finest collection of 19th century Hawaiian art, historic oil paintings, watercolors, rare books, and collectibles.

Queen Emma Summer Palace

Address: 2913 Pali Highway, Honolulu, HI 96817
Phone: (808) 595-3167
Website

This mountain home was the summer retreat of Queen Emma of Hawai‘i from 1857 to 1885 and her husband King Kamehameha IV. Now listed on the National Historic Registry, the home is open for tours of the collection of Queen Emma’s antiques, furnishings, and royal regalia.

Honolulu Museum of Art

Address: 900 South Beretania Street, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 532-8700
Website

The museum’s permanent collection includes more than 50,000 objects representing visual arts of all the major cultures of Hawaii spanning 5,000 years from ancient times to today. It began with a gift of 4,500 works of art from Mrs. Charles M. Cook in 1927.

Iolani Palace of Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii
Credit: Getty Images

Iolani Palace

Address: 364 S. King Street, Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 522-0822
Website

The official residence during the late 1890s when Hawaii was a monarchy, Iolani Palace is open for both docent-led and self-guided tours. The furnishings, glassware, tableware, military accessories, clothing, photographs, and more are on display giving a vivid picture of life in the palace.

Group horseback ride through Kualoa Ranch, Oahu
Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono

Kualoa Ranch

Address: 49-560 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Phone: (808) 237-7321
Website

Explore the 4,000-acre nature preserve on horseback, boat, ATV, or mountain bike. Take a tour of movie sites where movies like Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and others were filmed. Thrill to the Treetop Canopy Jurassic Zipline tour or relax on the Secret Beach. Learn about caring for the land on the eco-adventure.

Polynesian Cultural Center

Address: 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, Laie, HI 96762
Phone: (808) 367-7060
Website

The center covers the cultures of Polynesia including Hawaii, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga, with six different villages to explore and learn about through shows and activities. See an entertaining presentation depicting a symbolic story through music, dance, and fire.

Ukulele PUAPUA
Credit: collectionsofwaikiki.com/Courtesy of Ukulele PUAPUA

Best Shopping

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Ala Moana Center

Address: 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 955-9517
Website

With more than 300 shops and 160 dining options from casual to fine dining, Ala Moana is the largest open-air shopping mall in the world. Stores include Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom as well as specialty shops of all kinds.

Royal Hawaiian Center

Address: 2201 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 922-2299
Website

Located in the heart of Waikiki near the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the indoor-outdoor center features restaurants and more than 100 retailers in fashion, jewelry, gifts, and more. In addition, cultural events and classes like lei making, lauhala weaving, hula, and ukulele playing are presented.

Wakiki Beach Walk Shops
Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Waikiki Beach Walk

Address: 227 Lewers Street, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 931-3591
Website

Shops, dining, entertainment, bars, and live music make this open-air promenade a popular place for gathering and strolling.

Kahala Mall

Address: 4211 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816
Phone: (808) 732-7736
Website

In the beachfront neighborhood of Kahala, the mall features more than 100 local shops, restaurants, and premier retailers like Macys, Apple Store, and Whole Foods Market. Dining spots include Panda Express, Aloha Salads, and Starbucks as well as snacks and candy shops.

Waikele Premium Outlets

Address: 94-790 Lumiaina Street, Waipahu, HI 96797
Phone: (808) 676-5656
Website

Shoppers looking for brand names at reduced prices can find some of their favorite stores at this central Oahu outlet mall, about 30 minutes from Honolulu. Stores include Armani, Tommy Bahama, Tory Burch, Tumi, and Marc Jacobs plus a food court for resting with a snack.

Windward Mall

Address: 46-056 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Phone: (808) 235-1143
Website

More than 100 stores including national brands and local retailers, as well as restaurants, movie theater, salons, and entertainment make this popular with shoppers. Wednesday and Sunday Farmers Markets are held at the mall.

Ukulele PUAPUA
Credit: collectionsofwaikiki.com/Courtesy of Ukulele PUAPUA

Ukulele Puapua

Address: 2255 Kalakaua Avenue, Sheraton Waikiki, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 923-0550
Website

Want to take home one of these four-stringed instruments or learn more about them? This is the place to find one that fits your budget and style.

Reyn Spooner

Address: 4211 Waialae Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96816 (Kahala Mall)
Phone: (808) 737-8313
Website

Known for colorful prints, island scenes, and collectible shirts, this shop carries clothing for men, women, and children. Hats, water bottles, masks are available too, and Snoopy designs for kids make adorable gifts.

Neighborhoods to Know

Honolulu Area

In the southeast section of Oahu, Honolulu is the main populated area, with several distinctive neighborhoods including:

Waikiki: On the south shore, Waikiki is located on Mamala Bay between the Ala Wai Canal and Diamond Head. Almost entirely man-made, the area is home to hotels, beaches, and Kapiolani Park.

Hawaii Kai: On the southeasternmost tip of Oahu, this is an exclusive mainly residential area.

Downtown: Oahu's business and shopping district is also home to high-rise apartment and condominium buildings. 

Windward Coast

On the eastern side of Oahu, the rain provides lush green mountains, forests, and foliage.

Kailua: Beautiful beaches at Lanikai and Kailua, with the cliffs of the Koolau Mountains overlooking Kailua Bay, make this a prime area with restaurants, boutiques, hiking trails, and historic sites.

Kaneohe: The area is home to the Windward mall, Kaneohe Bay, and a Marine Corps Base and a large residential area.

North Shore

This part of the island attracts surfers, especially in winter when the waves are high and challenging. Exclusive vacation homes and farming communities growing pineapples and coffee primarily are located in the North Shore area.

Leeward Coast

The sunny, dry coast is less developed, with quiet beaches, towns, and rural landscape. The resort development of Ko'olina is on the southern part of the coast, and home to luxury hotels, restaurants, shopping, beaches, and Ko'olina Marina.

Central Oahu

The central valley is mainly an agricultural area, and it's home to the Dole pineapple plantation and Keaiwa State Recreation Area, a historic place with camping and hiking trails. In the south section of Central Oahu, Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial are located. 

Weather

Oahu's year-round climate is mild, with average temperatures in the 80's and humidity of around 64%. The hottest months are July, August, and September. The coolest months are January and February. Summer is the dry season, and winter is the rainy season, although showers occur year round.

The Leeward side (sheltered from the wind) is dryer, and the Windward side (receives the wind) is rainier.

Honolulu Temperature Average Lows and Highs

January 66 - 80
February 66 - 80
March 68 - 81
April 69 - 83
May 71 - 85
June 73 - 87
July 74 - 88
August 75 - 89
September 74 - 89
October 73 - 87
November 71 - 84
December 68 - 81

Average Annual Precipitation: 17.1 inches, with heaviest rainfall in November, December, and January.

Apps to Download

Honolulu Travel Guide: This guide provides details on museums, parks, attractions, and restaurants.
iOs | Android

Shaka Guide: Oahu Walking and Driving Tours, $11.99 per tour.
iOs | Android

Hawaii Travel Guide by Triposo: City guides, offline maps, and more.
iOs | Android