Honolulu - Oahu Travel Guide

USA  #1 in Best Hawaiian Islands
Credit

Courtesy of Andrey Popov/Getty Images

Free Things To Do in Honolulu - Oahu

If you have extra time, Lanikai Beach is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Waikiki Beach
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    #1 in Honolulu - Oahu
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Nineteenth-century Hawaiian royalty used to come to the Honolulu neighborhood of Waikiki to relax and surf, just as scores of tourists do today. That's because this area's famous beach (which is a string of several beaches dotting the island's southwest coastline) is the go-to spot for its soft, honey-colored sand and the high waves that lap the shores during the winter months. But you don't have to be a surfer to appreciate Waikiki Beach; just lie back on a beach towel, relax and gaze up at the majestic Diamond Head State Monument in the distance.

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  • #2
    World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
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    #2 in Honolulu - Oahu
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located northwest of downtown Honolulu in the Central Oahu region of the island, the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is home to the USS Arizona Memorial, which is the final resting place of 1,177 sailors killed during the Pearl Harbor attack. The sunken battleship is still visible from the memorial floating above it.

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  • #3
    Lanikai Beach
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    #3 in Honolulu - Oahu
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Travel about 15 miles northeast of downtown Honolulu to the Windward Coast and you'll discover two of the island's most popular beaches – Kailua Beach Park and Lanikai Beach. Of the two, Lanikai is more tranquil, offering relatively calm waters and a mile of white sands. This family-friendly beach is also within view of the Mokulua Islands, a haven for kayaking and surfing.

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  • #5
    Diving & Snorkeling
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    #5 in Honolulu - Oahu
    Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Hawaiian Islands boast 1,200 miles of coral reef, so it's hardly surprising that two of Oahu's most popular activities are snorkeling and scuba diving. Dive into the island's surrounding turquoise water and you'll likely find an array of colorful fish (think: bright yellow tang, rainbow runners and reef triggerfish), plus bigger marine creatures like dolphins and sea turtles.

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  • #6
    Kailua Beach Park
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    #6 in Honolulu - Oahu
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you like to kite surf or windsurf (or watch others participate in the sports), head to Kailua on the Windward Coast and find a perch at Kailua Beach Park. This 3-mile stretch of white, shaded sand and warm, turquoise-hued water appeals to both families and adrenaline junkies thanks to its gentle waves and ample facilities, including picnic tables, restrooms and free parking.

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  • #8
    Koko Crater Trail
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    #8 in Honolulu - Oahu
    Hiking, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Stretched across nearly 2 miles of Koko Crater in the Windward Coast region of Oahu, this hiking trail features more than 1,000 steps made from abandoned railroad ties. At the trail's summit, visitors will find panoramic vistas of Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve and Diamond Head State Monument.

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  • #10
    National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
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    #10 in Honolulu - Oahu
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    In ancient Hawaiian times, the Punchbowl Crater was used for human sacrifices. Now, it's the final resting place for men and women who served in the U.S. military. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific stretches across much of the crater and contains several moving tributes, including the Honolulu Memorial, which is dedicated to armed forces who fought in the Pacific during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Notable veterans buried here include Ernie Pyle (the famous World War II correspondent) and Stanley Dunham (the maternal grandfather of former President Barack Obama).

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  • #11
    Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail
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    #11 in Honolulu - Oahu
    Hiking, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Less than 6 miles northeast of the Koko Crater Trail lies the 2-mile-long Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail. Easier to trek than the one at Koko Crater, this free trail overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is a prime spot for spotting seabirds and whale watching between November and May. The path also leads to the red-roofed Makapu'u Lighthouse, which was built in 1909.

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  • #14
    Manoa Falls
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    #14 in Honolulu - Oahu
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    This approximately 100-foot-tall waterfall, which sits 5 miles northeast of downtown Honolulu, is easily accessible. All you need is proper footwear, insect repellant, drinking water and the stamina to hike about 1½ miles on a well-worn path. The rainforest scenery is otherworldly, with enormous prehistoric ferns and the snaking roots of banyan trees. It's no wonder why Steven Spielberg filmed scenes from "Jurassic Park" here. You probably won't see any dinosaurs, but be prepared: The path to the falls can be quite slippery with mud, so wear sturdy hiking shoes that you don't mind getting dirty.

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  • #16
    Ala Moana Center
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    #16 in Honolulu - Oahu
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    There are many places in Honolulu to put down some cash and pick up some souvenirs, but none are as extensive as Ala Moana Center. Located northwest of Waikiki Beach and roughly 2 miles southeast of the city center, this behemoth open-air shopping center boasts a collection of high-end stores like Chanel and Versace, department store staples like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, and tourist-kitsch shops like 'Auana Quilts and Island Magnets. Its 350-plus shops and restaurants can take as little as an hour or as much as a whole day to explore.

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