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Got 3 Days in Honolulu? What to See and Do


If you’ve only got three days in Honolulu, you’ll be pressed for time but no worries – we’ll show you the highlights to hit, particularly if this is your first time here. Honolulu is the largest city and state capital of Hawaii, sitting on the island of Oahu. Located in Honolulu County, this great city has so much to offer visitors. Literally meaning “sheltered harbor,” Honolulu puts you in touch with anything from modern amenities to history and culture. Check out some things to see and do when you only have limited time:

Waikiki Beach

A must-see, this beach acts as the city’s heart and hub. Highlighted by a teal blue bay with a mile and a half of white sandy beach, you can walk along the shore in either direction for the ultimate in people watching. Flanked by high rise hotels, resorts, clubs, restaurants and shops, you’ll never be at a loss for what to do. With gentle breezes and surf, there are plenty of swimming and paddleboard opportunities for the whole family. Come here for some of the best sunrises and sunsets in all of Hawaii.

Go for a Hike

For stunning panoramic views of Waikiki below, head to Pu’u Ualakaa State Wayside, a public park that stretches the length of the beach with an elevation that gives you a bird’s eye view of the scenery below. At the main entrance to the Wayside, set off on an easy one-mile hike from Ualaaka to the Makiki Valley. The large banyan trees alone will have you in awe.

Another great hike is to the summit of Diamond Head, which takes two hours round trip via well-traveled switchback trails, a small tunnel, and spiral stairs. Don’t miss the climb to the top of this 760-foot-high volcanic crater, but go on a weekday if you can to avoid the crowds. Also, arrive at the park opening, at 6 a.m., so you can have the trail to yourself.

Visit the North Shore

Whether you’re into surfing or you just want to visit this iconic spot, head to the North Shore – famous for its huge waves and surfers. Highlighted by teal blue water and wind-blown trees, it’s best to come here in the summer when the surf is gentler. Sunset Beach and the Banzai Pipeline are the places to be for relatively low crowds. However, if you visit at the height of surfing season in late fall and winter, be prepared to compete with the surfing crowd for space.

Pearl Harbor

No visit to Oahu would be complete without a tour of Pearl Harbor, a National Historic Landmark commemorating the attacks that occurred back on Dec. 7, 1941. This most famous of naval bases played a crucial role in World War II and beyond, and you can experience it all in a half-day or full-day tour from Hoku Hawaii Tours. The Pearl Harbor attractions include:

• USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour
• USS Bowfin Submarine and Park
• Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor
• USS Battleship Missouri Memorial

It’s possible to customize your experience while here to maximize your time. Some of the package tours you can choose from Hoku include:

• Battleship Missouri, Pacific Aviation Museum
• Battleship Missouri and USS Bowfin Submarine
• Pacific Aviation Museum and USS Bowfin Submarine
• Battleship Missouri, Pacific Aviation Museum and USS Bowfin Submarine

Other Must-Sees

Depending on how busy you want to be during these three days, you should also try and see Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Honolulu Zoo, Makapuu Lighthouse Trail, dolphin and whale watching, Iolani Palace, King Kamehameha Statue and the Hawaii State Capitol building.

Maximize your time in Honolulu by seeing all you can!