Things to Do


There are many things to do and so little time to do it.  So to maximize your vacation time, here's a list of things to do.  Unless otherwise stated, the links below aren't to the blogposts, but to that site's own webpage.

KCC Farmers Market Saturdays only.  One of the best collections of local food, vegetables, plants, and coffee by on the Kapiolani Community College (KCC) campus at the base of Diamond Head.  A few of the highlights are Kona coffee, Ka'u coffee, Kona abalone, fried green tomatoes, and fresh pineapples.  See blogpost here.
Art on the Zoo Fence Literally, an open air art gallery on the zoo fence.  Located on the east end of Waikiki by the Zoo.  Open Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm with works from local artists.  See blogpost here.
Diamond Head Crater Park A bit of a climb, but great view overlooking Waikiki.  See blogpost here.
Shangri-La Located on the southeast side of Diamond Head.  Former mansion of the late philanthropist Doris Duke, now a museum for Islamic Arts.  Book tours through the Honolulu Academy of Arts.  See blogpost here.
Hanauma Bay (note:this link is for the tours, not the park) This beach is declared a marine life sanctuary and underwater park.  Lay out on the beach or snorkel with the fish.  Feeding the animals is prohibited.  Closed Tuesdays.  Located near the south east tip of O'ahu.  See blogpost here.
Halona Blow Hole One of O'ahu's natural wonders, but bring the sunscreen and water.  You might wait awhile to see it spout.  On the east side of the island past Hanauma Bay.  See blogpost here.
Koko Head Crater Botanical Gardens Small botanical garden near Halona Blowhole and Sandy Beach.  Bring water and use the bathroom before you get here.  Self guided tour follows a 2 mile trail that loops on itself featuring dryland plants and flowers.  
Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail Hike to one of O'ahu's historic sites on the east end of the island past Hanauma Bay, Halona Blowhole, and Sandy Beach.
Byodo-In Temple Memorial Park Scale copy of a buddhist temple in Uji, Japan built without nails.  Visit the park and the impressive non-denominational temple past the Pali Lookout.  Some episodes of Magnum PI and Hawaii 5-O shot here.  See blogpost here.
Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens Below the Pali Lookout and on the way to the Byodo-In Temple.
Pali Lookout Small lookout with a great view of Kailua Bay and site of a historic battle that united the Hawaiian Islands.  See blogpost here.
Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial Memorial to the battleship USS Arizona that sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  New Visitor's Center and exhibits opened on December 7, 2010.  Check blogpost here.  
Pearl Harbor, Battleship USS Missouri Exhibit and Museum Decommissioned battleship which the peace treaty between Japan and Allies signed on her deck ended World War II, now a museum.  See blogpost here.
Pearl Harbor, USS Bowfin Exhibit and Museum Submarine museum of the USS Bowfin.  See blogpost here.
Pearl Harbor, Pacific Aviation Museum Small museum with a growing collection of aircraft from World War II, Korean War, and today.  NOTE: If you plan on doing all the Pearl Harbor tours (USS Arizona, USS Missouri, USS Bowfin, and the Pacific Aviation Museum) plan on taking 5 hours.  See post here.
Punchbowl National Cemetery One of the more scenic national cemeteries with several famous "residents" like the war correspondent Ernie Pyle.  See blogpost here.
Aloha Tower As seen in Hawaii 5-O, see it for the Tower and if you want to get a drink at Gordon Biersch or wings at Hooters.  Very touristy here.  See blogpost here.
Honolulu Academy of Arts Small museum of Pacific art.  Know for their collection of Japanese wood paintings.  See blogpost here.
The Contemporary Museum Smaller museum of contemporary art in Hawaii.  See blogpost here.
Tantalus Lookout Lookout on Tantalus Mountain in Manoa Valley with a great view of Waikiki, downtown Honolulu, and Pearl Harbor.  In Pu'u Ualaka'a State Park, but locals just call it as Tantalus.  Located near Punchbowl.  See blogpost here.
Lyon Arboretum Managed by the University of Hawaii, this is the only university botanical garden located in a rain forest and is the only rain forest that is easily accessible in Hawaii.  This is 200 acres of trails, regional plants, and gardens.
Dole Plantation Located in the middle of Oahu, has the largest outdoor maze with train rides and a short history of pineapples and agriculture in Hawaii.
Kukaniloko Birthing Stones Place where royalty came to give birth in central O'ahu.  
Waimea Falls Park Historic park located on the North Shore of O'ahu.
Polynesian Cultural Center This screams tourist trap, but it's fun.  Sign up for the shows.
Rabbit island Small island off the east coast of O'ahu with the shape of a rabbit's head.  Located near Makapuu Lighthouse.
Paradise Cove It's like the Polynesia Cultural Center, but I heard the food is better.  Try the hukilau (pulling a fish net to shore) or the luau package.  Reservations recommended.  
Hawaii Food Tours Try their Hole-in-the-Wall food tour.  Takes you to some of the tasty restaurants on the island.  See blogpost here.

For the kids:
Honolulu Zoo Small zoo at the edge of Waikiki by Kapiolani Park.
Waikiki Aquarium Small aquarium on the edge of Waikiki.  See blog post here.
Sea Life Park Similar to Sea World, but smaller.  Located near Makapu'u Lighthouse.
Oceanarium Restaurant in the Pacific Beach Hotel with a giant indoor aquarium.  See blogpost here.
Bishop Museum The largest museum in the state with an impressive cultural collection of Hawaii.  

For the big kids:
Hawaiian Fire Surf School Surf school taught be off-duty fire fighters in small groups.  What could be safer?  And this is for both the little kids and the big kids.  See blog post here.
Golfing Tourists and locals must love golf because there are too many to list.  The link takes you to the Golfing post that gives you a short list of public golf courses on Oahu.  
Kualoa Ranch Horse and ATV tours Take a horse back or ATV tour on the north east side of O'ahu, Jurassic Park, Hawaii 5-O, and Lost shot on location here.
Maggie Joe Sport Fishing Based out of Kewalo Basin next to Waikiki.  You can reserve a private charter or shared trip for a full, 3/4, or half day of fishing.  
Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours Helicopter tours around Oahu.  
Scuba Diving (note: DO NOT scuba within 24 hrs of getting on a plane! Bends will result) I don't recommend any one particular Dive Shop.  There are several good ones I've used over the years, but this is a start point.  
Shark Cage Tours (note: this is something better done after the wedding)  You don't need to be scuba qualified to try this.  Only mask and snorkel required.  They'll provide mask and snorkel or you can bring your own, just keep your hands and feet inside the cage.  
Sky Diving (note: same as above) Located on the very Northwestern part of O'ahu.  You can do tandem jumping or Accelerated Free-Fall (AFF).  Tandem is one jumpmaster is attached to you, AFF is you jump free and two jumpmasters jump with you.  AFF is more expensive.
Star of Honolulu Cruises If you want to do a sunset or evening cruise, whale or dolphin watching, or New Year's Cruise (if you're here).  If you get seasick bring dramamine, bonine, or those accupressure wristbands.  See blogpost here.
Atlantis Submarine Tours If you want to do a submarine tour or another Waikiki cruise.
The Joy of Sake Over 300 sakes for tasting and food from Honolulu's top restaurant.  This annual show moved from the Convention Center to the Honolulu Academy of Arts.  Usually done in summer, hopefully during wedding week.  This can be pricey, but comes well recommended.
Genius Lounge and Sake Bar If you can't make it to the Joy of Sake, this place is the next best thing.  Over 50 different types of sake and located in Waikiki.
Maui Invitational If you're stopping in O'ahu before or after the Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament in November.
Honolulu Marathon Only if you come in December and are willing to run 26.4 miles.  Just throwing it out there.
Hawaii Bowl If you're here in December around Christmas.
Pro Bowl If you're here in late January or early February.

For the shop-a-holics:
Royal Hawaiian Center Shopping center in Waikiki.
Ala Moana Shopping Center Main shopping center on O'ahu and the largest open air mall in the States.  Everything from small trinkets to high class Coach bags and Gucci sunglasses.
Ward Center / Ward Warehouse Second biggest shopping center on O'ahu, just past Ala Moana Center.
Waikele Outlets Outlet malls out west past Ala Moana Center.
Kahala Mall Smaller mall on the east end of the island.
Kawamoto Orchids Nursery If you like orchids this place is for you.  They grow and breed their own orchids, won several awards, and are USDA approved to ship to the continental US.