Your Guide to the Absolute BEST Things to Do in Honolulu

Source: Yelp

Honolulu is a dream destination for many people. Hawaii calls to mind images of sandy beaches, crystal-clear water, and lush forests. So far removed from life in the continental US, a trip to Honolulu is a chance to go on a true adventure. No pressure or anything.

If you’re looking to make the most out of your trip to Honolulu, you might find yourself struggling to come up with ideas. And that’s probably how you landed on this article – hi, welcome. You probably searched for something like “best things to do in Honolulu” or “must-see attractions in Honolulu.” Maybe you dialed your search in to fit your group – romantic things to do, things to do outdoors, or things to do with the kids.

Well no matter what your idea of adventure looks like or who you’re bringing along on your trip, we’ve put together a handy list of some of the best and most fun things to do in and around Honolulu. This list features everything from beginner-friendly hiking trails to Buddhist temples to fireworks to farmer’s markets. Honolulu has much to enjoy.

Best of all, we’ve done the legwork to get reviews from real visitors, plus we’ve pulled together the address and website of each of the destinations on this list so that if something piques your interest, you can jump right into planning your visit. We’ve even indicated which of the things to do on this list accept GiftYa digital gift cards.

Here’s a quick refresher on how GiftYa works

You don’t need to worry when you’re in Honolulu looking for restaurants, stores, and attractions. You can check out GiftYa and search for gift cards by Honolulu and find gift cards to a variety of businesses, all in one place. Whether you’re looking to send a gift to someone heading out on a trip or just don’t like carrying cash with you when you travel (same), GiftYa has you covered.

Once you select an option from the list of thousands of local and national vendors that partner with GiftYa, you can quickly and easily customize your gift with a message or even a photo. You can send your GiftYa right away, or schedule it to be sent at a later date. 

Either way, once your recipient gets your GiftYa, they can link it to a credit or debit card they carry with them every day and the next time the shop somewhere that accepts their GiftYa, their purchase will come off of their GiftYa balance instead of out of their own account. That means no more environmentally unfriendly plastic gift cards. No more forgetting your gift card at home. Just easy, personalized gift card giving at the touch of a button.

Now that we’re all caught up, let’s get right into our list of the best things to do in Honolulu!

Kualoa Ranch

Equal Parts Nature Reserve, Cattle Ranch, and Filming Location

49-560 Kamehameha Hwy | Kaneohe | www.kualoa.com

Calling all movie buffs! Now is your chance to step into the world of some of your favorite films. Kualoa Ranch is one of the most popular things to do in Honolulu, and with good reason. This quiet ranch steeped in the rich beauty of Hawaii has seen some serious action. Countless iconic films – including The Karate Kid II (1986), Jurassic Park (1993), George of the Jungle (2000), Godzilla (2000), Kong: Skull Island (2017) and more – used the 4000 acre private nature reserve and cattle farm as a backdrop. And those are just the big screen projects – plenty of television shows have been filmed here, too. During your visit, you can explore classic movie sites by safari tour truck, ATV, horse, or even zipline. 

Looking for something a little less Hollywood? Kualoa Ranch also offers eco-adventures and authentic cultural experiences. Tour the crystal blue waters of Kaneohe Bay, check out Kualoa’s 800 year old koi pond, explore by mountain bike, or head to the secret island for a day of fun in the sun on the beach.

“I mean this place is just beautiful and fun. Always love coming back, friendly staff, great sites,great times, what else can you ask for. It's always a blast just coming with so many activities. You can do horseback riding with zip lining or UTV. Normally I always go with the UTV 2 hour tour which I believe is one of their top tours. Always make sure to book in advance. They do get sold out.” - Yelp Review 

Right now you aren’t able to get a GiftYa digital gift card to Kualoa Ranch but check back because there’s more things to do and stores in Honolulu added all the time.

Diamond Head State Monument

Check Out Hawaii’s Most Iconic Monument

Diamond Head Rd | Diamond Head | dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp

Diamond Head State Monument is a must-see destination for nature lovers and military history buffs alike. A short 2 mile round-trip hike to the summit of this volcano tuff cone rewards visitors with panoramic views of the coast. The monument is 475 acres and encompasses a large saucer-shaped crater, which was formed by a volcanic eruption 300,000 years ago.

Diamond Head is also home to a former military fort, active in the early 1900s. After braving the trek to the summit, visitors can see the Fire Control Station, bunkers, and an impressive navigational lighthouse that was built in 1917.

“$5 for hikers. Extra if you park.This is about a 2 mile hike round trip. Not difficult but not easy, depending on whether you want to go the extra mile. Uber and taxi drop off and pick up at the main entrance.The earlier you start, the less the crowd. No pets allowed. There's a pineapple truck at the base if you feel the need to replenish!” - Yelp Review

Diamond Head State Monument isn’t accepting GiftYa digital gift cards just yet, but check here for all the other GiftYa available for best things to do in Honolulu

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Outdoor Adventures + Wildlife Experiences the Whole Family Can Enjoy

100 Hanauma Bay Rd | Hawaii Kai | hanaumabaystatepark.com

Located in East Honolulu and formed, like many other Hawaiian attractions, by the island’s volcanic activity, Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island of Oahu. It’s easy to understand why visitors flock to the nature preserve – with a variety of activities to choose from, there’s no shortage of ways to immerse yourself in Hawaii’s natural beauty.

Formerly used by Hawaiian Royals for fishing and recreation, visitors from all over can now enjoy catamaran sail and snorkel tours, go dolphin and whale watching, visit sea turtle colonies, snorkel around beautiful coral reefs, and more.

“This is one of the most beautiful places I've been.The water does not go higher than 5 feet, it's so nice to just float among the coral and fish. There are so many fishes! It's easy to rent snorkels and equipment.” - Yelp Review 

You can’t get a digital GiftYa gift card to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve at the moment but be sure to check back soon as new best things to do and locations in Honolulu are added all the time! 

Mānoa Falls Trail

What Would a Trip to Honolulu Be Without Visiting a Waterfall?

3860 Manoa Rd | Honolulu | hawaiitrails.hawaii.gov/trails/#/trail/manoa-falls-trail

When you think of Hawaii’s natural beauty, you probably see lush tropical forests, sparkling coastlines, volcanoes reaching into the sky, and of course, waterfalls. Hikes in Honolulu vary in difficulty from family-friendly experiences to expert-only adventures, and Manoa Falls Trail is definitely more of the former. Perfect for beginners and casual hikers, the Manoa Falls Trail immerses visitors in nature for a 1.7 mile out and back hike that only takes about an hour to complete.

“A family friendly trail (harder for smaller kids) that has a rewarding waterfall at the very end… This trail is right next to a Lyon Arboretum that you'll also want to visit just around the corner to the entrance of Manoa Falls. The trail is easy and a must-see if you appreciate nature and beautiful views. It's absolutely gorgeous and lush this time of year with exotic blooms along the trail.” - Yelp Review 

Mānoa Falls Trail isn’t one of the things to do in Honolulu participating with GiftYa just yet, but check back soon cause they might be any day now.

Nocturnal Adventures Hawaii

In Honolulu the Fun Doesn’t Stop Just Because the Sun Goes Down

Honolulu  | Waikiki | www.nocturnaladventureshawaii.com

Not ready to turn in for the night? Don’t worry – Nocturnal Adventures Hawaii has you covered. With a variety of evening and night time events and activities, Nocturnal Adventures lets you see Honolulu like never before. 

Watch the sunset from a paddle board, walk the shallow waters of Oahu’s coastal reefs to see what kind of wildlife comes out after dark, or sit back and enjoy Nocturnal Adventures’s Fireworks Friday.

“Definitely worth the experience to paddleboard at sunset in Hawaii, at North Shore, at sunset. Did I mention swimming with sea turtles? I am writing this review based on the two separate times I have joined Chad for sunset paddleboarding, and both times have been nothing but amazing.” - Yelp Review 

There aren’t GiftYa digital gift cards available for Nocturnal Adventures Hawaii as of the date of this writing, but there might be now! Be sure to check GiftYa itself for all the gift cards available for the best things to do  in Honolulu.

Byodo-In Temple

Non-Denominational Buddhist Temple in Oahu's Valley of the Temples Memorial Park

47-200 Kahekili Hwy | Kaneohe | byodo-in.com

It’s hard to step into the tranquil quiet of the lush green forests surrounding Honolulu and not feel a connection with something bigger. Connect with your spirituality at Byodo-In Temple, nestled at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains. Established in 1968 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, the non-practicing temple is open to the public, and everyone is invited to visit and engage in their personal prayer, meditation, or worship practice.

“Very beautiful and quiet and refreshing to do.  Very quick thing to do and worth the views and beauty.  Feed koi fish and just set back and take in the tranquility. Please have respect. It's in a cemetery and there are sections with no shoes.” - Yelp Review 

As always we’re busy adding attractions and best things to do in Honolulu to GiftYa all the time but you can’t get one for Byodo-In Temple just yet. Check back soon.

KCC Farmers Market

What Could Be Better Than Getting an Authentic Taste of Honolulu at the Weekend Farmer’s Market?

4303 Diamond Head Rd | University of Hawaii Community College | hfbf.org/farmers-markets/kcc

Countless cities in the US and around the world hold Saturday farmer’s markets, but if you’re visiting Honolulu for the first time visiting the KCC Saturday market is a great way to immerse yourself in everything Hawaii has to offer. Shop for fresh produce and enjoy an array of tropical fruits, sample local cuisine, shop for flowers, and get to know the people who call Honolulu home.

“Lots of different stalls that have a variety of things - fresh produce, plants, and food. It's bigger than the Waikiki farmer's market. A good amount of the stalls seemed to be cash only, but there's an ATM at the entrance if you need to get some (~$5 fee though).” - Yelp Review 

KCC Farmers Market doesn’t offer GiftYa digital gift cards just yet, but check back soon because we are always adding things to do and attractions in Honolulu!

Check out everything GiftYa has to offer in Honolulu by following this link!

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