Waikiki Beach#1 in Best Things To Do in Honolulu - Oahu
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.
When you need a break from the beach itself, there are scores of shops and restaurants lining the adjacent Kalakaua Avenue. The street is home to some of the world's most exclusive (read: expensive) designer boutiques, including Cartier, Coach, Hermès and Louis Vuitton. Many of the best Oahu hotels also overlook Waikiki Beach.
Past visitors loved how easy this free beach is to access and its beautiful, clean water and sand. Many suggested catching one of the complimentary hula shows, which take place by the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. And before the sun sets, several recommended snorkeling. You're bound to spot sea turtles and colorful fish, but keep an eye out for jellyfish. The beach regularly posts warnings when these creatures are present.
Waikiki Beach is located less than 4 miles southeast of the city center and is accessible via multiple bus lines and the Waikiki Trolley. Parking is limited in the area, but free spots are generally available on Monsarrat Avenue by Kapiolani Regional Park and the Honolulu Zoo. The beach is open 24 hours a day. To learn more about Waikiki Beach and the surrounding area, visit the Hawaii Tourism Authority's Waikiki page.
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#2 Pearl Harbor National Memorial
Located northwest of downtown Honolulu in the Central Oahu region of the island, the Pearl Harbor National Memorial 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.
You can expect a long wait time and plenty of people at this attraction, but visitors almost unanimously agree that the experience is more than worth it. For fewer headaches when visiting, travelers recommend arriving before 7 a.m. if you plan on getting a walk-up ticket (only 1,300 are distributed per day on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 7 a.m.). You can also reserve one up to 60 days in advance on the monument's ticket portal. Note: Both kinds of timed passes are free, but a $1 service fee applies for tickets acquired online.
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