Honolulu, Oahu

Honolulu, on Oahu’s south shore, is home to the State Capitol and is the vibrant epicenter of Hawaii. Here you’ll find everything from historic Hawaiian landmarks and treasured monuments to active nightlife, world-class shopping and a flourishing arts and culture scene. 

Oahu is a cultural melting pot, from the bustling city to secluded serenity and home to the majority of Oahu’s population, the sprawling city of Honolulu spreads throughout the southeastern shores of Oahu, from Pearl Harbor to Makapuu Point, encompassing world famous Waikiki.

Tour Map of Oahu Island

Explore Oahu by region: Windward CoastNorth ShoreLeeward CoastCentral Oahu.

Download Tour Map of Oahu Island

Island Highlights

- Waikiki: Once a playground for Hawaiian royalty, this historic hot spot is now a gathering place for the world.
- Pearl Harbor: This National Historical Landmark features five historic sites memorializing the December 7, 1941 attack.
- North Shore: During the winter months, this legendary surf mecca attracts the best surfers in the world.
- Iolani Palace: The only official state residence of royalty in the United States and home to the Hawaiian Kingdom’s last two monarchs.
- Hawaii Regional Cuisine on Oahu: Get a taste of some of Hawaii’s most famous Hawaii Regional Cuisine chefs on Oahu.


Waikiki

Waikiki Beach Oahu

Waikiki known in Hawaiian as "spouting waters, is most famous for its beaches, located on the south shore of Honolulu. The world-famous neighborhood of Waikiki was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. Honolulu has it all, this is the home of some of Hawaii’s most historic places. But there’s more to Waikiki than just the beach, best of all, Waikiki is within a half hour of a variety of Oahu sights and attractions.

Location: On the South shore of Honolulu.

Leahi (Diamond Head)

Diamond Head Oahu

Known as Leahi (brow of the tuna) in Hawaiian, this 760-foot tuff crater is one of Hawaii's most famous landmarks formed over 100,000 years ago. The crater was named Diamond Head by 19th century British sailors who thought they discovered diamonds on the crater's slopes. These "diamonds" were actually shiny calcite crystals that had no value. Diamond Head has become a popular hiking destination with amazing panoramic views of Waikiki and Oahu's south shore.

Location: Five minutes east of Waikiki.

Aloha Tower

Aloha Tower

Aloha Tower is an iconic symbol of Hawaii, built in September of 1926, this was the tallest building in the islands for four decades and its clock was one of the largest in the United States. The tower stood as a welcoming beacon for visitors since travel to Oahu was done entirely by sea. Be sure to visit and go up to the Observation Deck, located on the 10th floor of Aloha Tower to find the perfect spot for beautiful views of the harbor on one side and the cityscape of Honolulu on the other.

Location: On the Honolulu Harbor in Downtown Honolulu, 15 minutes east of Waikiki near Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown.

Bishop Museum

Bishop Museum Oahu

Honolulu’s Bishop Museum founded in 1889 is Hawaii’s largest museum dedicated to studying and preserving the history and culture of Hawaii and the Pacific. Originally designed to house the extensive collection of Hawaiian artifacts and royal family heirlooms of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a descendent of King Kamehameha I, the museum is now the premier natural and cultural history institution in the Pacific. The museum holds millions of artifacts, documents and photos about Hawaii and other Polynesian cultures.

Location: 1525 Bernice St., West of Waikiki at the base of the Likelike Highway.

Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown

Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown Oahu

Downtown Honolulu is home to some of Oahu’s most historic places, here you’ll find important landmarks like the Iolani Palace, the King Kamehameha I statue, the Kawaiahao Church and the Aloha Tower. This area is also the seat of Hawaii’s government, home to the Hawaii State Capitol, Washington Place (the governor’s mansion) and Honolulu Hale (Honolulu’s City Hall).

Chinatown’s historic buildings are home to a variety of shops, herbalists, lei makers, antique dealers, temples, bars and restaurants. By day, explore Chinatown’s bustling markets like the Maunakea Marketplace or the Oahu Market. Visit incredible temples like the Izumo Taishakyo Mission Shrine and the Kuan Yin Temple transport you to historic Japan and China.

Location: Roughly 15 minutes west of Waikiki.

Duke Kahanamoku Statue

Duke Kahanamoku Statue Oahu

Duke Kahanamoku, "The father of modern surfing," was Hawaii's first ambassador of goodwill. He was instrumental in helping to spread the sport of surfing and the spirit of aloha around the world.

On Kuhio Beach, a bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku welcomes you to Waikiki with open arms. Duke was a true Hawaiian hero and one of the world's greatest watermen, a master of swimming, surfing and outrigger canoe paddling.

Location: On Kuhio Beach in Waikiki.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Hanauma Bay is home to an important nature preserve and the island's most popular snorkeling destination. This is the first Marine Life Conservation District in Hawaii.

A beautiful cove that was once a volcanic crater and were preservation is emphasized at Hanauma Bay after it went through a major restoration to re-establish its delicate eco-system, so it's important for visitors to preserve the fragile marine eco-system of the bay by not littering and by not touching the sea animals or coral.

Location: 30 min east of Waikiki, at Oahu’s southeastern tip.

Honolulu Museum of Art and Shangri La

Honolulu Museum of Art Oahu

The Honolulu Museum of Art has been sharing the arts with Hawaii since 1927. With a permanent collection of over 38,000 pieces, this is Hawaii's largest general fine-arts museum.

Beginning with the Honolulu Museum of Art you can also take a guided tour of Shangri-La, one of Hawaii's most architecturally significant homes. Shangri-La holds 3,500 objects of Islamic Art collected by worldly heiress Doris Duke.

Location: Near downtown Honolulu.

Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace Oahu

A national historic landmark and the only official state residence of royalty in the United States, Downtown Honolulu’s Iolani Palace was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s last two monarchs from 1882 to 1893: King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani.

The palace was a symbol of promise for the Hawaiian Kingdom built by King David Kalakaua, “The Merrie Monarch.”

Location: Downtown Honolulu.

Kapahulu

Kapahulu Town Oahu

Discover local, take a short trip down to Kapahulu Avenue and discover unique shops that sell everything from vintage aloha shirts to ocean sports rentals. The real find in this busy neighborhood is some of Honolulu’s best, ono (delicious) local food.

It may take just five minutes to drive down Kapahulu Avenue but in that time you’ll pass restaurants for every appetite.

Location: Five minutes away from the eastern end of Waikiki.

Kawaiahao Church

Kawaiahao Church Oahu

Known as the "Westminster Abbey of the Pacific," Kawaiahao Church was the first Christian Church built on Oahu. Dedicated on July 21, 1842, “The Great Stone Church” is made of 14,000 coral slabs from ocean reefs that were hauled from the sea by native laborers and missionaries. The church and the grounds were named a National Historic Landmark in 1962. You may hear the sound of bells from the "Kauikeaouli clock tower," donated by King Kamehameha III in 1850, which still tolls the hours to this day. 

Location: In Downtown Honolulu near the Iolani Palace.

King Kamehameha Statue

King Kamehameha Statue Oahu

A great warrior, diplomat, and leader, King Kamehameha I united the Hawaiian Islands into one royal kingdom in 1810 after years of conflict. Kamehameha’s unification of Hawaii was significant not only because it was an incredible feat, but also because under separate rule, the islands may have been torn apart by competing Western interests.

The most recognized Kamehameha statue stands in front of Aliiolani Hale (home to the Hawaii State Supreme Court) across from Iolani Palace and a short walk from historic Kawaiahao Church and the State Capitol.

Location: Downtown Honolulu.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific Oahu

Punchbowl Crater, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is the resting-place for almost 53,000 veterans (and eligible family members).

The memorial, placed on the National Register of Historic Places, stands in honor of the sacrifices and achievements of the American Armed Forces and commemorates the soldiers of 20th century wars, including those who were lost during the attack at Pearl Harbor.

Location: North of Downtown Honolulu.

Queen Emma Summer Palace

Queen Emma Summer Palace Oahu

Drive along the lush Nuuanu Valley to discover the Queen Emma Summer Palace. Known in Hawaiian as Hanaiakamalama, this was the secluded summer retreat of Queen Emma, King Kamehameha IV and their son, Prince Albert.

This special museum is on the National Historic Registry and houses a collection of Queen Emma’s belongings as well as royal antiques, furnishings and memorabilia.

Location: On the Pali Highway.

Washington Place

Washington Place Oahu

The Hawaii Capital Historic District in Downtown Honolulu consists of a collection of historic buildings that were at the center of Hawaiian life and society from the 1840s to the mid 1900s. At the heart of the district lies elegant Washington Place, most commonly known as the home of Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning Hawaiian monarch.

Over the years, Washington Place has played many roles in the history of the Islands.

Location: Downtown Honolulu.


Popular Oahu Activities

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Dinner Cruises Fishing Charters Golf Horseback Riding Kayaking Scuba & Snuba Surfing Zipline

Oahu Adventure Tours

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ATV Tours Dolphin Tours Eco Tours Helicopter Tours Land Tours Pearl Harbor Tours Sightseeing Whale Watching

Memberships and Certification

 Hawaii Tourism Authority

Certified Hawaii Tourism Authority 'Destination Expert'.

A member of Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau and the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

 Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau

Acknowledgements & Credits


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Island Guides: Tips & Fun Things To Do