Honolulu is on the island of O’ahu and the capital of Hawaii. Of the 7.6 million annual visitors to HI, over 60% of them will travel through Honolulu International Airport.
Honolulu experiences highs in the 80s and 90s and lows in the 60s and 70s all year. Due to the landscape of Hawaii, you can experience microclimates due to elevation changes. It’s best to research the expected weather for the area and the activities you want to do before packing for your tropical getaway. There tends to be lower tourist traffic mid-April to early June and late August to early December.
Many of the visitors to Honolulu will be coming for one of the races or festivals. Two of the more popular races are the Hawai’i Pacific Health Great Aloha run on Presidents’ Day and the Honolulu Marathon on the second Sunday in December.
If you’re into cultural festivals, there are two must-see festivals for you. The Honolulu Festival is in March and celebrates the traditional dancing and art of Hawaii. The Aloha Festival is a month-long festival that occurs in September and is typically associated with Honolulu, but festivities can be found across the islands. This festival celebrates the spirit of Aloha—kindness, unity, agreeability, humility, and patience.
If you want to experience native produce and food without a state festival crowd, you may want to checkout POM, People’s Open Market program. Around Honolulu POM operates on Mondays and Wednesdays at a few different locations. The selection of produce reflects the local farmers and the neighborhood around the market. Bring cash.
The Bishop Museum is a history and science museum that houses the Richard T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center, an interactive science center that’s perfect for children.
After you’ve experienced the joys of science, perhaps you’d like to see the wonders of art. The Honolulu Museum of Art features collections from internationally renowned artists and ancient unknown artists.
Science? Check. Art? Check? Music? Oh, yes. Honolulu has several music venues that range from the Honolulu Symphony to the iconic Waikiki Shell.
Being on the island of O’ahu, Honolulu provides access to all the water activities anyone could want. Relax on the beach or swim with sharks. You can get as daring as you want, but remember that Honolulu is more than just sand and surf.
Sometimes we just want to get lost in the native flora of a new land. The Liliuokalani Botanical Garden focuses on native plants, and there’s a natural stream and waterfall in the park. The Foster Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden in Hawaii. It contains a Sacred Fig that’s a genetic clone of the tree Buddah sat under.
The Waimea Falls (or Waiki Falls) is an accessible 3.5-mile hike on a mostly flat and paved path to the falls. There’s an optional shuttle primarily for the very young and elderly. If you’re so inclined, you can swim under the falls. Manoa Falls trail is shorter but a bit more challenging. It’s a 1.5-mile “there and back” hike over a gravel and natural path. It can get quite muddy, and visitors are encouraged to wear hiking boots on this trail. The breath-taking views are worth temporarily ditching the flip-flops.
Pu’u ‘Ualaka’a State Wayside has a lookout that offers an expansive view of southern O’ahu. There’s an optional 1-mile loop trail that’s separate from the lookout, should you want to stretch your legs.
Honolulu is also home to Pearl Harbor. The attack on Pearl Harbor started the long, difficult road to the peace we now enjoy with Japan. There are no words that can properly convey the somber, sobering experience of visiting the USS Arizona Memorial. It’s a powerful memorial that quietly shows the bravery of American heroes and the unity of American citizens. No trip to Hawaii is complete without it and no life is the same after it.
Civilians are asked to dress with respect; beach attire (flip-flops, bathing suits, etc.) is not allowed. Military personnel may visit in civilian clothing or uniform. Service members who want to pay their respects in uniform should know that the Pacific Commander asks that you dress in Class B or better. The memorial is within the bounds of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickman and military regulations relating to dress are enforced by Navy personnel.
The site is free to visit, but you need a ticket. You can request a ticket up to two months in advance or get a walk-in ticket. There are only 1,300 walk-in tickets a day and they’re available after 7am.
Whether you’re looking for a soul-searching experience at a memorial or if you want to dip your toes in perfectly blue water, Honolulu has an experience for everyone. Check out our Vacation Planning Resource Center for information to guide you on your next trip
- Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial
- Honolulu Marathon (December)
- Honolulu Festival (March)
- Aloha Festival (September)
- Liliuokalani Botanical Garden
- Honolulu Symphony