ALOHA! In this post, I'll write a little about my recent experience in Hawaii- the exotic, gorgeous islands that we lucky Americans get to call ours. I was there in November, and have FINALLY had the chance to go through all of my photos from the trip, which has inspired me to give some tips on fun things to do in Honolulu when you're crunched for time. I was there for 6 days with my boyfriend, and when you fly for 13 hours to get somewhere, you want to get the most out of your destination. I have to say, we did a pretty decent job. Our trip had a little bit of everything in it- action, adventure, relaxation, sea-sickness, culture, and patriotism. What's not to love? So without further ado, here are five fun things to do in Honolulu: (Hope you like my photos!)
1.) Explore Waikiki
Waikiki Beach is a wonderful place to unwind. This was the "relaxation" portion of my trip that I mentioned earlier. It's the perfect place to clear your head while still being active, for those of you (like me) who want to be able to enjoy your vacation diet guilt free. The water is calm, blue, salty, and warm- perfect for doing some laps. Grab a paddle board and float along in the sea or in the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon (see photo below). If you'd rather go for a walk or run, there are paths along the beach for you to stretch your legs and take in the sights. As an added bonus, every Friday at 7:45pm there is a great fireworks show put on by the Hilton Hawaiian Village- visible from practically anywhere on the beach. It lasts about 10-15 minutes and it's a definitely a nice way to get your weekend started! Click here for more info. on the fireworks (and the luau!).
2.) Shark Diving
It was the last day of our trip. Our flight was leaving at 1:30pm, and there was one thing on our wishlist we still hadn't done. Diving with sharks. The practice of shark diving is a pretty controversial issue, but I made sure to find a company that doesn't chum the water and treats animals with respect. The dive was set to begin at 7am, which gave us plenty of time to do it, shower, pack, and get to the airport. This particular dive was a cage dive, meaning you ride out a few miles on a boat into a popular fishing area (sharks are attracted to the boats themselves since people have fished those waters for 75 years), and you climb down into a large cage that is then lowered into the water so you can view the sharks. You are supplied with snorkel gear and you get 25 minutes to take in the views! The tour takes place off Haleiwa on the North Shore. The most common species in the area are Galapagos sharks. They were beautiful creatures and it was really cool to see them up close and personal like that. These days, we all take things we see through glass for granted. Whether it's a T.V. screen, a computer/smartphone screen, a pane at an aquarium, or even the lens on your camera. Every now and then it's good to put those things down- to go to an art museum and see the strokes on the canvas instead of looking at a digital rendering- to just simply look at what's right in front of you.
The dive was an unforgettable experience and I'm so glad we did it. Unfortunately we didn't make it out totally unscathed...don't worry, nobody lost any body parts, but several of us did lose our lunch- or breakfast, in this case. I say this to warn you: the waters off the North Shore are rough, which makes for a very bumpy boat ride to the dive site. Bring some Dramamine and don't be embarrassed if it doesn't work. You weren't the first and you certainly won't be the last.
For more info. on this shark dive check out North Shore Shark Adventures. The clip below is from the GoPro video they provide!
3.) Hawaii Symphony Orchestra
When you've had enough adventure for one day and you'd like to enjoy some music to soothe the soul, take in a concert at the Hawaii Symphony. It’s definitely a fun way to spend an evening while taking in some culture and appreciating the talented musicians onstage. The program I saw included pieces by Wagner, Liszt, and Sibelius and was executed perfectly. They even have kid friendly programs for traveling families! Learn more about the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra and see what they've got coming up next season here.
4.) Helicopter Tour
One of the other highlights of my trip was taking a helicopter tour of Oahu. I had never been in a helicopter before and it was so exciting! The scenery is beyond beautiful and it was fascinating to have an experienced (and funny!) pilot as our guide. You get to fly over the entire island, which lasts about 45 minutes, and see first hand the natural marvels and architectural wonders Oahu has to offer. The mountains, waterfalls, Chinaman's Hat, the Dole Plantation, Pearl Harbor, and Diamond Head are just a few of the coolest features on the tour, and the best part is that they record your tour in entirety with HD cameras both inside and outside of the helicopter, so you can relive your flight whenever you want. See Blue Hawaiian Helicopters for more info. on guided group tours and private charters.
Check out some of my photos I got from the air!
5.) Pearl Harbor Tour
Finally, my favorite part of our trip was the tour of Pearl Harbor. Ours included a tour of the city of Honolulu before we drove over to the harbor. Our guide was "Cousin" John and he was a lot of fun. We got to see many features of the city, including the Aloha Tower, City Hall, and Iolani Palace- the only royal palace in the United States. When we made it over to Pearl Harbor, it was so beautiful- very tranquil, really. The water was calm, the air was quiet, and there was a gentle breeze cooling us off. It was hard to imagine that it was once the sight of such horror after the attack that prompted the U.S. to enter WWII. What made this experience particularly significant for us that day was that we happened to visit on Veteran's Day the year of the 75th anniversary of the 1941 attack. It was a beautiful way to witness where such incredible history took place and pay our respects to our fallen heroes. The Arizona Memorial was something truly special. Standing over the sunken remains of the ship that entombed the lost members of the crew and seeing the "tears" of oil secreting from the ocean floor was enough to bring a tear to the eye of even the sternest tourist. More features of the tour include Hickam Field Air Base, the USS Bowfin submarine, Punchbowl Cemetery, and the USS Battleship Missouri- home of the Surrender Deck, where General Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan's surrender on behalf of the United States. Pearl Harbor was where WWII began and ended for the Americans, and it is definitely a can't miss if you visit Oahu.
To book this tour of Pearl Harbor, please visit Pearl Harbor Memorials
See some of my photos from our day at Pearl Harbor:
Well, there you have it- five things to do in Honolulu. Whether you're visiting for a few days or even a few weeks, there is so much to take in in this amazing place. Rich with history, culture (both American and Polynesian), natural wonders, art, restaurants, wildlife, and a myriad of interesting people to meet, Honolulu is a must see destination for travelers. I for one can't wait to go back and hopefully experience even more of what the Hawaiian islands have to offer. I hope you enjoyed the post!
Do you want to visit Honolulu, or have you been before? If so, what was your favorite part of your trip? Comment below :)