Top 20 things to do in Lahaina Maui

Top 20 things to do in Lahaina Maui

Lahaina, Maui is a must visit on the island and there are some fantastic things that you can do absolutely free, DIY activity or even have a wonderful tour experience in West Maui. With so much to see and do in Lahaina and the surrounding areas, you can check out these top 20 things to do in Lahaina, Maui to plan your visit or stay in the area.

Check out these fun and cool things to do in Lahaina

Top things to do in Lahaina

1. Do a self-tour of Historic Lahaina

Once the first capital of the Kingdom Hawaii, Lahaina has 62 historic landmarks in this trail that you can visit on a self-tour of the important and historic sites around the city. You can check out the web tour here for more details on the places that you can follow directly on this trail and at your own pace.




2. Art Galleries of Lahaina

For Art lovers, it’s easy to visit all the art galleries centered in Lahaina for this pleasant art discovery tour. Covering a spectrum of art from glass, ceramics, jewelry, painted mediums to sculpture, you’ll enjoying seeing all the local artists promoted at all these fantastic galleries in town and maybe take home a lovely piece of art from Maui. Check out the top galleries to visit here for locations and what you’ll see in town.

3.Take a glass blowing class in Lahaina

If you want to do something artistic and unique in Lahaina, consider taking a fun glass blowing class with an instructor from Moana Glass and you even get to go home with a sample glass that you help to create. These private lessons on glass blowing will be one of the most fun and creative thing you can do visiting Maui and you even get to choose what type of art glass you can work on.




4. Visit the Banyan tree of Lahaina

Planted in 1873, this famous banyan tree is huge at over 60 feet tall and has 12 major trunks that make it look like several trees but is actually just one tree. Covering an area of over 200 feet, it provides shade for over 2/3 of an acre and has many benches set so you can sit in the shade.

Exploring Iao valley state park in Maui

5. Check out Iao Valley State park and botanical gardens

You can tour the beautiful botanical gardens, display ethnic villages and easy hikes through this scenic valley self-tour and all for free. It’s a nice place to enjoy lush tropical plantings and show gardens and natural settings in this gorgeous botanical garden. Check out their website here for more details to visiting the park.

6. Free Music performances and community Festivals

There are so many free festivals happening every week in Maui offered through the visitor’s bureau and other organizations. You can check the local papers, the tourist magazines or even the tourism website here for an updated list of free events and festivals happening in Maui when you visit.

deep sea fishing off Maui's coastline

7. Go Deep Sea Fishing off Lahaina

Want to catch some really big fish in Maui, then sign up for a fishing charter experience and do something really cool on the water. There are so many big fish you can try to get and these fishing outfitters provide all the equipment, lessons, and lunch and all you have to do is show up and enjoy your day out on the Maui coastal waters and sunshine and hopefully catch some really big fish. You have your choice of these fishing charters here and at different price points that can fit your individual needs and time frame.




Enjoying a maui sunset

8. Enjoy sunset on the beach

Can anything be better and simpler than enjoying sunset on the beach at Maui? Well maybe a nice cool drink and some pupu’s (appetizers) but it definitely is a nice was to end a spectacular day on the beach then to watch the sun go down with those striking warm and golden colors and just witnessing another beautiful day in Maui.

9. Free Hula Lessons, Hula shows and Ukulele classes

If you’re musically inclined, head out to the Lahaina Cannery Mall which offers free hula lessons every Thursdays at 5:00 pm to learn some basic moves and free hula shows are performed every Saturday and Sunday at 1pm to popular Hawaiian songs.

If you want to try an ukulele class for free, head out the to stage area on Tuesdays at 5:30. Even if you just want to brush up on some new chords, put this on your calendar.





10. Maui Fridays

Every Friday at a different location in Maui is part of Maui town Fridays with food truck vendors, art and crafts booths, food from local vendors and live entertainment programs sponsored by the County of Maui. You can check out this website here for more information and details to Maui Fridays

Check out the Friday events below

• 1st Friday of the Month, Wailuku (Central Maui) on Market Street
• 2nd Friday, Lahaina (West Maui) on Front Street

• 4th Friday, Kihei (South Maui) at Azeka Shopping Center Mauka

5th Friday, Lanai

11. Go on a Submarine or glass bottom tour around Lahaina’s coast

Want to do something really unique and fun under the sea without getting wet? How about a submarine cruise around different parts of Maui to explore the marine life, corals and tropical fish at some hidden destinations that your crew will take you to. Check out this submarine or glass bottom tours here for more details and information to booking a trip on an Atlantis submarine.

shave ice experience in Maui

12. Go for a local shave ice treat

For a cheap and delicious treat try some local shaved Ice and the local favorite shop to try some of the exotic flavors. There’s so many fantastic places to try shave ice on the island, but check out the local favorites here for more inspiration on where to go for the best of the best in Maui.




13. Go take a surfing class in Maui

What could be a more classic adventure than going surfing in Maui. If you’re a beginner or just want to brush up on some water skills, think about a surfing class with these outfitters that head off from the Lahaina area. You can choose a variety of surfing classes here with group lessons, private classes and even Sup touring classes for you to enjoy. Once your hooked, you’ll enjoy spending a lot more time in the water on a surf board riding the waves in Maui.

14. Go to a local farmers market in Maui

You can go to a variety of farmers markets around Maui to get fresh produce and finished goods, take-out meals, arts and crafts and locally made products that you can take home. It’s fun to see where the locals shop, hang out and support local vendors on the island and try some delicious made foods yourself. Check out the following farmers markets available to visitors in these farmers markets on the island for where to find the local markets, timeframe and hours. You might also want to check out the regular Maui swap meet that sells produce, finished foods, flea market finds and arts and crafts that happens every Saturday in Kahului starting at 7am.

Sunset sailing and things to do in Maui

15. Sunset sail off Lahaina

Want a perfect way to end the day in Maui? How about a nice sunset cruise, with cocktails and maybe a nice dinner with gorgeous coastal views of Maui and an amazing sunset to boot? You’ll enjoy your choice of these sunset sailing adventures here to explore and enjoy a trip on the water and seeing Maui in a different perspective on a sunset sail.




16.  Visit the Baldwin House Museum in Lahaina

Considered the oldest historic home in Maui, the Baldwin House was the home of Reverend Ephraim Spaulding who had this home built in 1834 to 1835 on Maui. After he became sick, Reverend Dwight Baldwin and his wife moved in and eventually raised 8 children in this home which he remodeled into a second story to fit the needs of this large family. The home was converted eventually into a living museum where you can see early settlement and the lifestyle of the missionaries on Maui.



Hula shows in Maui

17.  Enjoy a fabulous Luau in Maui

Want to enjoy a classic cultural experience with delicious food to eat. You can definitely can do both with any of the fantastic Luaus available in Maui to choose from with fabulous drinks, entertainment, food prep showcasing and of course all the delicious traditional and local style foods to sample at this luau. You can choose from any of these wonderful luau events here for more details and schedules that you can book directly from their site. (Make sure you book early, since shows are always full and a popular attraction to do in Maui.




18. Explore Lahaina’s front street

Lahaina’s front street is filled with fantastic shopping fun with tourist shops, boutique stores, art galleries, bars and a variety of food venues to enjoy. Front street is the major thoroughfare in Lahaina and fun to explore along with checking out the bayfront scene and all the historic sites of downtown Lahaina.




Whale watching season in Maui

19. Go on a whale watching tour

When its whale watching season in winter time, you definitely will see a lot of whales and the best way to do this up close is to take a cruising tour to some of the typical spots around the island that these outfitters typically know. You can sign up directly with any of these whale watching outfitters here to book this wonderful cruise experience today.

20. A helicopter experience above Maui

If you’re looking for that once in a lifetime Maui experience, consider going on a helicopter ride through lush rainforests and waterfalls, gorgeous coastlines to explore or even fly all the way up to Haleakala and the stunning landscape from above. You have your choice of different helicopter outfitters and tours here to review and consider which one fits your needs and budget. But definitely book early since helicopter tours are a popular adventure experience to do in Maui.

Where to stay in Maui

Where to stay in Lahaina

Lahaina Shores Beach Resort – a very popular and great base to stay in Maui and well rated, this resorts located close to front street, has great views, fantastic service and walking distance to restaurants and shops.

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel – Oceanfront in Ka’anapali area with ample buffet breakfast, free entertainment shows and comfortable rooms with garden or ocean views.

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa – A gorgeous 40 acre oceanfront property with beautiful pools, gardens, cultural programs and luau, rooftop venues, friendly service and excellent restaurants.

Check out these highly rated hotels reviewed from Trip Advisor here for images and details.

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Free things to do in Maui

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Free things to do in Maui

Free things to do in Maui

Free things to do in Maui

There’s no getting away from it, Maui is a very expensive place to vacation. Although, there are some fantastic things that you can do absolutely free or on the cheap Maul if you plan for things in advance. Even though flights and hotels maybe be a bit pricey, you do activities, adventure experiences and DIY self-tours that fit your interests and are affordable or even free. With so much to see and do on the island, take the time to see what is available and note some of these fantastic free or cheap things to do on Maui is up to you to discover and experience.

29 Free or cheap things to do Maui Island

Wai’anapanapa State park black sand beach

1. Explore the black sand beach, tidepools and caves at Wai’anapanapa State park

Located off the Hana highway, this state park has so many unique sites and attractions located in the park with a black sand beach, freshwater caves, a heaui (temple) and a natural stone arch as well as tide pools that turn red from all the fresh water shrimp in the pools.

Swap meet in Maui

2. Maui Swap meet

A fantastic place to spend a few hours and find some great deals or a real treasure, the Maui swap meet at the University of Hawaii in Kahului from 9 to 1pm every Saturday. There are over 200 vendors selling fresh produced to finished goods and take away foods, hand-made crafts and crafts, tourist souvenirs and other locally made gift items. There is a 50 cent entrance fee for the swap meet charge per person which is a great deal!

Makawao-town

3. Visit the upcountry town of Makawao

Slower paced and friendly the small town of Makawao up country is cooler and low key than the lower coastal areas of Maui. In town you’ll find lots of cool art galleries, boutique stores, restaurants and upscale shops in this cowboy town turned trendy hangout spot with a nice artsy vibe with local stores to make it feel authentic and lived in.

3. Explore Paia town

The funky surfing beach town of Paia in North Maui has gotten edgier and cool with a lot of fun and hip coffee shops and bakeries, colorful art galleries and boutique stores and trendy cafes along with the standard surf shops around town. Paia maintains that small town vibe and acceptance to travelers dropping by and hanging out on the way to Hana or enjoying the surf culture at Ho’okipa beach park. It’s the perfect spot to check out all the surfers and wind surfers plying the big waves in the North Shore of Maui.

Enjoy free events at Maui Fridays

4. Maui Fridays

Every Friday at a different location in Maui is part of Maui town Fridays with food truck vendors, art and crafts booths, food from local vendors and live entertainment programs sponsored by the County of Maui. You can check out this website here for more information and details to Maui Fridays

Check out the Friday events below

• 1st Friday of the Month, Wailuku (Central Maui) on Market Street
• 2nd Friday, Lahaina (West Maui) on Front Street

• 4th Friday, Kihei (South Maui) at Azeka Shopping Center Mauka

5th Friday, Lanai

Free winery tour at Maui Winery

5. Free winery tours

On the slopes of Haleakala at Maui Wine -free winery tours are given at 10:30 and 1:30pm daily of the winery and tasting room. There is a nominal fee for the wine tasting segment of the tour.

For tastings in its Kings cottage with 5 tastings for $10 of various local blends and tropical inspired wines.

The banyan tree in Lahaina

6. The Banyan tree of Lahaina

Planted in 1873, this famous banyan tree is huge at over 60 feet tall and has 12 major trunks that make it look like several trees but is actually just one tree. Covering an area of over 200 feet, it provides shade for over 2/3 of an acre and has many benches set so you can sit in the shade.

7. Free concerts at the Shops of Wailea

Every third Wednesday at the Shops of Wailea at the fountain court from 5 to 7:00, free entertainment acts from Hawaii’s top local entertainers perform for free at these regular concert series. Parking is free the first hour and validated if you purchase over $25 at a shop. Check out the calendar here for event details. There are free hula shows every Tuesday and Thursdays from 5:30 pm also at the shops.

8. Walk around the Maui Plantation

Stared as a show plantation 30 years ago showcasing over 40 crops that are grown and harvest on site. The plantation has hundreds of local and tropical plants listed and also has a farm stand, restaurant, coffee café and retail store on site for visitors to explore for free.

Visit Iao Valley state park free

9. Check out Iao Valley State park and botanical gardens

You can tour the beautiful botanical gardens, display ethnic villages and easy hikes through this scenic valley self-tour and all for free. It’s a nice place to enjoy lush tropical plantings and show gardens and natural settings in this gorgeous botanical garden. Check out their website here for more details to visiting the park.

Enjoy some free hikes in Maui

10. Do some fun hikes in Maui

Most hikes are free in Maui with the exception of some park entry or parking access before you head out on those trail heads. Check out these 10 popular hikes here for inspiration and planning your next hike to some spectacular views, waterfalls and other lush landscapes in Maui.

Lahaina-historic-district

11. Do a self-tour of Historic Lahaina

Once the first capital of the Kingdom Hawaii, Lahaina has 62 historic landmarks in this trail that you can visit on a self-tour of the important and historic sites around the city. You can check out the web tour here for more details on the places that you can follow directly on this trail and at your own pace.

Whale watching in Maui

12. Free whale watching

From Mid-December to Mid-May in Maui is whale watching season and if you pick a spot on the beach or coastline, you’re bound to spot some whale action at a distance or maybe closer depending on how deep the water levels where you are hanging out in. Be patient and look out for those water spouts and your spot them, hopefully closer to the shoreline.

13. Art inspiration at Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center

If you love historical places combined with art, visit the Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center in upcountry Maui. Offering a variety of local art classes, art studio space and an art gift center, this wonderful non-profit organization uplifts the art community with visual art promotion in this historic and gorgeous building that you can do a tour or easy self-tour.

14. Free Hula and Polynesian dance shows in Maui

If you love dance and free performances, you can check out the free programs every night except for Mondays at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel at the Tiki Courtyard. Performances start at 6pm so get there early for the best photo spots and seats. The shops at Wailea offer a free hour dance program every Tuesday and Thursday starting at 5:30pm.

15. Free Music performances and community Festivals

There are so many free festivals happening every week in Maui offered through the visitor’s bureau and other organizations. You can check the local papers, the tourist magazines or even the tourism website here for an updated list of free events and festivals happening in Maui when you visit.

road tour to Hana

16. Road to Hana

If you’re game to visiting the famous road to Hana in Maui, then wake up early for this easy but sometimes slower pace and travel through some one lane bridges to Hana. It’s about the journey and some of the scenic spots and attractions you visit along the way and just outside of town. Check out the best Hana experiences here for more inspiration and details to visiting the east side of Maui and the must visit spots along the way.

Explore Maui's beaches for free

17.  Maui’s amazing beaches are free

Maui is beach heaven and there are so may wonderful beaches to enjoy on the island. Golden sandy beaches, black sand beaches and even a red sand beach are located all around the islands and free for the public to enjoy. You can check out the best of the beach scenes in Maui here for more information and locations of what locals favorite beaches are on the island.

18. Watch the big surf action at Ho’okipa

Just north of Paia town is Ho’okipa beach park where all the big waves and wind surfers hang out. Free parking at the beach park offers some wild action on the surf with surfers and wind surfers trying to find the biggest wave action on the beach.

Sunset black rock diving experience

19. Black Rock diving show

Fronting the Sheraton Maui at Kaanapali, every night before sunset on the Black rock, you’ll see the diving at its best and done several decades in this nightly ritual. Starting with lighting of the tiki torches and then a blast from a conch shell starts the diving fun with a string of warrior divers.

Experience a maui sunset

20. Enjoy sunset on the beach

Can anything be better and simpler than enjoying sunset on the beach at Maui? Well maybe a nice cool drink and some pupu’s (appetizers) but it definitely is a nice was to end a spectacular day on the beach then to watch the sun go down with those striking warm and golden colors and just witnessing another beautiful day in Maui.

21. Free Hula Lessons, Hula shows and Ukulele classes

If you’re musically inclined, head out to the Lahaina Cannery Mall which offers free hula lessons every Thursdays at 5:00 pm to learn some basic moves and free hula shows are performed every Saturday and Sunday at 1pm to popular Hawaiian songs.

If you want to try an ukulele class for free, head out the to stage area on Tuesdays at 5:30. Even if you just want to brush up on some new chords, put this on your calendar.

snorkeling fun in Maui

22. Enjoy snorkeling at its best in Maui

With some of the best beach parks and snorkeling venues around the island, you’ll have some fantastic snorkeling to do and free. Maui’s best snorkeling spots are easy to get to and you can check out the best snorkeling spots here from beaches, bays and nature reserves for more information on where to go on the island.

Kealia-pond

23. Visit the Kealia pond National Wildlife Refuge

This 691-acre refuge located on the south-central coast hosts many endangered birds. There is a visitor’s center that you can learn about the native birds and then explore the 2,200-foot boardwalk with interpretive guides and exhibits.

art gallery tours in Lahaina

24. Art Galleries of Lahaina

For Art lovers, it’s easy to visit all the art galleries centered in Lahaina for this pleasant art discovery tour. Covering a spectrum of art from glass, ceramics, jewelry, painted mediums to sculpture, you’ll enjoying seeing all the local artists promoted at all these fantastic galleries in town and maybe take home a lovely piece of art from Maui. Check out the top galleries to visit here for locations and what you’ll see in town.

25. Ka’anapali historical walk

You can enjoy a lovely beach walk in Ka’anapali and visit many historic sites along the way. You’ll find some great markers with historical references that show interesting facts that are well presented in the easy coastal walk. Check out the main attractions here for more information.

Here’s what to do in Maui cheap

Maui shave ice experience

26. Go for a local shave ice treat

For a cheap and delicious treat try some local shaved Ice and the local favorite shop to try some of the exotic flavors. There’s so many fantastic places to try shave ice on the island, but check out the local favorites here for more inspiration on where to go for the best of the best in Maui.

27. Go to a local farmers market in Maui

You can go to a variety of farmers markets around Maui to get fresh produce and finished goods, take-out meals, arts and crafts and locally made products that you can take home. It’s fun to see where the locals shop, hang out and support local vendors on the island and try some delicious made foods yourself. Check out the following farmers markets available to visitors in these farmers markets on the island for where to find the local markets, timeframe and hours.

strawberry picking in Maui

28. Enjoy strawberry picking and eating

You can pick your own strawberries at $4 per pound and have a picnic on site at the Kula Country Farms on the slopes of Haleakala.  While you’re picking some really sweet strawberries don’t forget to enjoy some of those gorgeous views of the Maui landscape far below and take some nice photographs of the area.

Lavender farms in Maui

29. Lavender and views

Check out the lavender farm at Kula – for only $4 entry, you can enjoy some fresh air and beautiful scents of lavender fields and gorgeous views at the 4000 elevation of the Ali’I Kula Lavender farm. The beautiful views of lavender fields and panoramic scenery of Maui landscape is hard to beat when you head upland in Maui.

Where to find the best hotel deals in Maui

Days Inn by Wyndham – affordable and oceanfront, simple and clean rooms and parking included in this budget friendly motel in Kihei area

Hale Pau Hana Kihei – also a budget friendly inn in Kihei fronting Kamaole Beach II. These apartment style units are small but clean with plenty of eateries close by.

Ka’anapali Ocean Inn – oceanfront in Ka’anapali district with comfortable with ocean views, simple and clean in a great area and budget friendly.

Check out these budget friendly accommodations on where to stay in Maui for cheap below to save on your vacation budget

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Things to do in Kona

Things to do in Kona

Things to do in Kona

Locals call Kailua Kona affectionately as Kona town, a combination of old historic sites mixed in with tourist shops and restaurants along with the natural beauty of its harbor and the small string of inlets and beach areas that make it so unique. The waterfront district contains many of the charms mixed in with the usual tourist garb and souvenir shop and once you get out of this what else is there to see? If you’re visiting, here’s some of the favorite things to do in Kona, beyond the tourist attractions.

Here’s what to do and see in Kona

Here's what to do and see in Kona

An amazing snorkel experience at Kahalu’u

Snorkeling at Kahaluu-beach-park

The marine sanctuary at Kahalu’u is fantastic and this family friendly beach is the perfect spot to do have an amazing snorkel experience just outside of town. The beach park has a life guard, full public bathrooms, food trucks and even volunteers that share their aloha about water safety and protecting the fish and corals in this protected bay. Check out more details to visiting Kahalu’u beach park here for information, parking and best times to visit.

Experience the manta rays

Manta-Ray-dive in Kona

There are a few spots around Kona area that manta rays go feeding and the best way to see them is with a tour outfitter that schedules mostly nightly snorkel and diving experiences that really deliver an amazing experience. One of the most thrilling experiences to do in town and experience this amazing marine life in their aquatic ballet – you’ll remember this as a highlight to your trip to West Hawaii Island.

Check out this local outfitter here for more details about having this once in a lifetime experience with manta rays

Enjoy a tiki bar experience and music

Tiki bar experience in Kona

It doesn’t get more kitschy with a tiki experience and the best one is at Don’s Mai Tai Bar on Ali’i drive at the Royal Kona Resort, just south of Kona’s bay front area. Best time to go is at happy hour with live local entertainment from top Hawaiian performers in the area performing for free.

Exploring the historic district of Kona

Explore historic Kona town

Historic Kona town lies along the bay front area with the harbor and there are a few cultural and historic sites that are worth visiting if you love Hawaiian history and tradition. Next to the Kamehameha hotel is a reconstructed heiau (Hawaiian temple) sitting right on the harbor and represents Ahuena Heiau which is a temple on the register of National Historic Landmarks. Kamehameha 1st spent the later part of his life at Kamakahonu Bay fronting the heiau.  Next to the beach part of the harbor is the Hulihe’e Palace, which was passed on through different generations of Hawaiian royalty. They offer a wonderful guided tour of the inside with fascinating stories of the time and collections in the mansion. Across from the palace is the Mokuaikaua stone church built during the time of the Baptist settlers on the island – it is a classic stone and coral structure with an eastern colonial influence. A little further down the road is the historic Kona Inn with its shopping arcade and covered outdoor dining area. You can check out more of the historic attractions of Kona here for more background and information to old Kona town.

Visiting the art village at Holualoa

Visit the art community at Holualoa

Just above Kona town about three miles mauka or uphill is the small art community of Holualoa with its small village appeal, cool art galleries, cafes and even coffee farms to attract you to visit the cooler climate up country. It’s a fun art community worth exploring and meet some of the local artists and gallery owners living in the area. You’ll find some of the most talented Hawaii artists here featuring wood, ceramics, fine art, furniture and sculpture. clothing and jewelry design. Check out all the unique art, coffee farms and other unique must visit places around Holuoloa here for seeing all the cool things happening in town.

Visiting the famous coffee farms in Kona

Check out the famous Kona coffee farms

Kona coffee is grown in different parts of Kona, specifically the Holualoa area above Kona and further in south Kona all the way to Captain cook. There are many small family run farms that also do tours and tastings for visitors to explore and see and entire operation and processing. You can easily do a self-drive and visit to these places, check out the list and review of public coffee farms with tours and or tastings here for a list of Kona farms for you to plan a visit.

Shopping at the farmers market in Kona

Enjoy a local farmers market experience

There are seven farmers markets in Kona town and surrounding areas – they are relatively small in size and there are three regular markets that happen right in Kona. On a daily basis the Kona Village farmers market just off Ali’i and Hualalai road close to the Kona public library combination of tourist shops, produce and some finished goods/foods to sell. There is also a nice farmers market in Keauhou at the shopping center that happens weekly Saturdays from 8 to 12 noon. A nicer craft and art market, the Ho’oulu Community Farmers Market also sells local produce and finished goods. The market is every Wednesday at the Sheraton Keauhou on Wednesdays from 9 to 2pm. You’ll find artisanal foods, hand made art and craft souvenirs for sale and a nice way to really meet locals from the area.

Hang out at a craft brewery in Kona

Taste some local brews and ciders in Kona

Local craft beers are a fun way to experience the local brews and pau hana (after hours) lifestyle in Kona. There are two breweries relatively close to each other and located in the industrial part of town, Kona Brewing Company and new comer Ola brewing company. Both of these breweries have nice tasting rooms and also offer food. Kona brewery has a nice indoor and outdoor venue and Ola has a very nice indoor dining room area and serves mostly appetizers with their beers. Either place is great to enjoy or both. If you love ciders, Ola has some nice tropical infused ciders that are really spectacular along with their delicious beers.

snorkel tours on the Big Island coast

Go on a cruise and snorkel coastal experience

One of the best adventure experiences to do in Kona is to be on the water and take a cruise to some of the fantastic snorkel spots around the coastline. There are a few good outfitters that take you to some of the wonderful snorkel areas along with any whale or dolphin touring through the coastal areas. Part of the fun of doing a cruise is seeing the fantastic coastline around Kona, checking out the marine life like dolphins and whales and then getting to snorkeling areas that aren’t as easy or accessible getting to on your own to these special snorkel areas.

You can check out all the outfitters snorkeling tours here to find out which fit your needs and timeframe while visiting the west side of the Big Island.

Explore the Place of Refuge in the Big Island

Check out the Place of Refuge – a national historic monument

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the South Kona area is the Place of Refuge or Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park. A place of refuge for commoners, defeated warriors or rule breakers in ancient times where citizens can go and be safe from any harm. The park contains ancient heiau (Hawaiian temples), reconstructed village and cultural sites, fish ponds and other important monuments you can explore within the park. Just off to the right of the park is an area called Two Step which is a very popular snorkeling spot to check out marine life, corals and amazing tropical fish in the protected bay.

Kayaking at the Captain Cook monument at Kealakekua bay

Go on a popular kayaking experience

There are plenty of experiences to be on the water and tour some spectacular coastline around the west side of the Big Island. You can do a canoe and manta ray snorkel experience, visit the famous Captain Cook Monument and snorkel, flume the ditch on inflatable kayaks in water flumes built in the early 1900s. These unique and fun experiences offer some of the best landscapes combined with easy adventure fun for you to enjoy. Check out these choices of outfitter tours and experiences here for more details and tours available around the island.

Thrift shopping around Kailua Kona

Go antique and thrift shopping

Thrifting and antiquing are a fun pastime for locals and visitors to the island with a few places that you can explore in Kona town, but the majority of antique and thrift shops are located in the various communities of South Kona at Kanaliu and Kealakekua towns. Some of the thrift places are located in those towns, but you’ll find the various shops sprinkled along the main highway doing down Kona and all the way to Kealakekua area and Captain Cook. Check out this top ten antique stores in South Kona area here for planning your next treasure hunt in the area.

Take a helicopter ride around the Big Island

If you’re looking for a special one of a kind experiences to see the island from above, there are plenty of helicopter outfitters and tours that will fit your needs and type of tour around the island. You have your choice of waterfalls and cliff tours, Volcano and East side experience or West side and the Hamakua coast and cliff areas. Check out all these different helicopter tours here for booking your special trip above the Big Island and get ready for a special treat!

Enjoying sunset in west Hawaii Big Island

Enjoy sunset at Kona town

The evening time in Kona is magical strolling the waterfront areas, checking out shops or just enjoying a nice tropical drink and views of the harbor and coastline. A highlight to visiting Kona is to enjoy Sunset on the water anywhere in town and its always these simple moments that have a lasting impact on your visit to the west side of the island. It doesn’t matter if your right on the water, a balcony enjoying the views or right on the harbor – take the time to watch a spectacular sunset in Kona and then you can enjoy a great meal or even some drinks right in town.

Deep sea fishing in kona

Go on a fantastic fishing charter from Kona

With so many amazing big fish just off the Kona coast, there are many different outfitters that offer a fantastic fishing tour to do some amazing sport fishing on a shared boat or private charter customized to fit your needs and time line. Check out all these fantastic local charters below with details to each charter and itinerary and sample schedule. Some of the charters do offer special tours and prices for booking directly on the site.

Kona-Atlantis submarine cruise

Explore the underwater world in a submarine or glass bottom boat

Exploring the deep blue Pacific Ocean just off of Kona’s coastline and seeing the beautiful corals, tropical fish and marine life in the area is a cool way to enjoy the water without getting wet. There are a few options submarine or glass bottom excursions here and some with a luau that is a great complement to this adventure and combined entertainment experience. You have your pick of easy and fun tours here to choose from.

Hawaii-horseback-riding-on the Big Island

Horseback riding on the Big Island

With so many different options to explore the gorgeous landscape of the Big Island, you can travers rolling hills, lush forests, stark cinder cones or wonderful coastal views on horseback. You can check out all these fantastic horseback outfitters here on the Big Island to see the hidden paradise you’ll encounter on horseback for this nature inspired experience.

Live music in Kona town
Live music in Kona town

Live music and entertainment in Kona

If you’re looking for live music and entertainment visiting Kona there are a few fun places to enjoy in town when you visit. Many restaurant venues do offer local performers during the dinner hour but following are the most popular places to find entertainment in the Kona area.

Huggo’s on the Rocks offers live entertainment with happy hours and peak hour happening from 7 to 10 with a regular appetizer and dinner menu.

Don’s Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Kona Resort has a cool tiki bar, live music and fun happy hour crowd while enjoying the coastline views around Kona

Gertrudes Jazz Bar – each night is a different theme with Salsa, Jazz, West Coast Swing and other fun nightly events at this lively bar with tapas and specialty drinks

Dinner cruise in the Big Island

Enjoy a gorgeous sunset dinner cruise

A dinner cruise around Kona and the scenic coastline is fun especially when you get to enjoy a beautiful sunset on this tour. There are two different tour outfitters offering sunset cruises with a coastal cruise down to Kealakekua Bay and the Captain Cook monument.  Both cruises include a complimentary cocktail, buffet dinner and live entertainment on the cruise. Check out the details to either tours here for more details, prices and docking location.

visiting the Captain Cook Monument in South Kona

Visit the Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay.

The famous monument showing the place where English seafaring Captain Cook was slain by local tribesmen in the southern district of Kona marks a small monument where he died. The rocky coastline is probably one of the best snorkeling spots worth visiting on the Big Island with colorful tropical fish, vivid corals and abundant marine life in the bay. There are three ways to get to this monument, by kayak across from the cement piers three miles on the coastline (Kayaks can be rented by various outfitters on the highway or even right at the Kealakekua Bay cement pier area off Captain Cook. You can hike down a trail that takes a few hours with a strenuous hike back uphill or you can go with a snorkel cruise outfitter that does a coastal tour and extended visit to the Captain Cook area with lunch and other fun water activities.

If you are opting to go with a snorkel outfitter, check out these local tours here for details and prices that can fit your schedule and budget.

Jogging on Ali'i drive in Kona

Morning walk or jog with the locals

You’ll find locals waking early to do their morning walks or jobs along the coastal beaches on Ali’I drive for their morning ritual. Why not join them for your morning exercise and explore the sweet coastal areas, expensive homes and secret inlets all the way into town. This popular morning ritual is both loved by locals and tourists visiting Kona town and wanting to do a local run or walk in the coastal areas outside Kona.

Diving around the kona coastline

Go scuba diving in the Big Island

You have your pick of scuba diving experiences on the Big Island from beginner experiences to diving with gorgeous manta rays or some at spectacular night time dives to see the big fish and other marine life. Check out all these Big Island outfitter tours here offering a variety of different tours and diving experiences on the west side and other parts of the island.

visit a sea horse farm in Kona

Check out an actual Sea Horse Farm in Kona

You can visit one of the most unique attraction in the Kona area and check out an actual Sea Horse Farm close to the airport area. You’ll see sea horses grown in special tanks and also get to play with sea horses in the hour long tour of the farm.

Doing a golf excursion in Kona area

Do a fantastic golfing experience in Kona

Many people visit the Big Island just to enjoy some of the challenging and stunning golf courses on the Kona side of the island. You have so many amazing courses to choose from around Kona and the Kohala coast region. Check out all these fantastic golf courses and current prices here for more information to booking a gold experience in the Big Island.

zipline experience on the Big Island

Go on a zipline tour on the Big Island

If you are an adventure seeker, then you’ll have your pick of excellent zip line experiences all around the Big Island from the Kohala coast and through the Hamakua area, zipping through canyons, waterfalls and lush landscapes below you. Check out these fantastic zip line tours here for a comprehensive look at all the zip line locations around the island with different thrills in store.

Where to stay in Kona area

Where to stay in Kona

There are so many different price points of places to stay around Kona town from 5 star to air Bnb’s and hostels. Here are some of the best reviewed hotels with high rankings in the Kailua Kona area and images.

Holiday Inn Express Kona – Great location, free breakfast, wifi, pool and gym and no resort fee, make this an affordable option in Kona.

Kona Coast Resort – sitting on 21 acres with swimming pools, jacuzzis, tennis courts and outdoor recreation areas, the villas at the resort are spacious, comfortable with lanais and full kitchens.

Sheraton Kona Resort – located just south of Kona town with lush gardens, swimming pool lagoons and slides, the rooms are updated, soothing and comfortable. great coastal views, manta ray viewing and other close by attractions in the area.

Check out these other topped ranked Trip Advisors hotels here for more images and reviews of places to stay in Kailua Kona

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Top things to do in Honolulu

Top things to do in Honolulu

Top things to do in Honolulu

Honolulu is the main tourist hub in Oahu and a fun place to explore the many attractions on the island. With outdoor activities and adventure experiences available almost year round, there is something for everyone to enjoy in around Honolulu area. If you are visiting Oahu, check out all the top things to do in Honolulu for planning your visit. Hopefully, these fantastic suggestions and tips will fill up your must do list when you are visiting Hawaii.

Here’s 34 fantastic things to do in Honolulu

Visiting Pearl Harbor in Honolulu

Visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona

The most popular attraction to visit in the area, a visit to Pearl Harbor is a must to really absorb and experience the infamous Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. The park is a national park monument that is filled with interesting artifacts, historic film background, museums and a water tour to the monument and the USS Arizona which is all fascinating to witness. You can also visit the Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Bowfin submarine park for a nominal fee. Entrance to the park is free but there is a small fee to book a reservation which is advised.

You can also book a nice tour of the Pearl Harbor and visit here for a guided tour of the park and visit to other attractions along the North Shore area.

Exploring Kakaako in Honolulu

Explore cool and hip Kakaako, Honolulu

The hip and fun district of Kakaako in Honolulu is where to hang out for all the fun bars, galleries, cool new restaurants and colorful street art. The once run-down warehouses in the neighborhood is now filled with vivid graffiti and street art and the area is a hot new entertainment zone filled with cutting edge art, shopping, dining and entertainment.

HIking up Diamond Head in Honolulu

Hike up to Diamond Head

One of the fun things to do is to hike up Diamond Head and experience the expansive panorama of Waikiki and Honolulu below. Popular time frames would be early in the morning for cooler temperatures or later in the afternoon for that golden light and sunset views (park closes at 6pm). Park is open from 6am to 6pm with the trail head closed off at 4:30 pm and parking fee is $5 per car. Check out the visitor information site here for more details.

For a guided tour of Diamond head, transfers and visit, check out this affordable tour here for more details.

Exploring Kalakaua Blvd at night time

Stroll down Kalakaua Boulevard

The main thoroughfare In Waikiki is Kalakaua Boulevard which contains all the popular tourist attractions filled with shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment venues on the street. It’s fun to check out all the chic shops and galleries during the day time but Kalakaua Boulevard really comes alive at night when everyone seems to be out and enjoying the lively night scenes, people watching and dining al fresco in all the outdoor bars and restaurants around the street and beach areas at Waikiki.

Exploring Kapiolani park in Honolulu

Enjoy Kapiolani park in Waikiki

The large green park area on the edge of Waikiki is a nice and quiet respite to enjoy in busy Honolulu. But you can also check out the main attractions in Kapiolani park including the Honolulu Zoo, Diamond Head Crater, Queens beach, Waikiki Aquarium and also the bandstand at Waikiki Shell that has weekly free or paid events and concerts for visitors and locals.

Kuhio beach hula show

Free Hula show at Kuhio Beach

Regular hula shows are offered at Kuhio and visit Waikiki hosts a free hula show at Kuhio Beach which Is a fantastic way to enjoy a hula experience for free at the beach. You’ll enjoy different types of hula styles being performed along with live music accompaniment and the visitors are allowed to hang out on the grass or beach area around the stage. Check the calendar here for any updates on the regular show schedule at Kuhio.

Hilton Hawaiian firework show

Enjoy free fireworks at night

Every Friday night between 7:45 to 8pm on the beach at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, a free firework display is staged for all to enjoy right on Waikiki beach. Make sure that you get there early since the prime spots fill up quickly closer to the stage and the beach area for the best picture taking spots. For easier and good views of the fireworks at the distance, check out Ala Moana park with nice views to the fireworks display at Waikiki.

Honolulu photo tour and attractions

Photo tour of Honolulu and region

A guided tour showing you the best spots around town and in the area with a guide and without the headache of driving, parking is a great way to spend the day and capture some of the best images and scenes around Oahu.  I would recommend doing this with someone who knows the best locations and times to be at certain spots around the main attractions of Honolulu without all the hassles.

If your visit is limited or planning is a pain, check out this local tour photography experience that you can do without all the hassles and time to enjoy the photo process and focus your energies to creating beautiful impressions of your visit. Or you can enjoy a full day tour covering Waikiki, East Hawaii and also the North Shore in a full day photo tour experience.

Leonards-bakery in Honolulu

Enjoy amazing malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery

For a delicious foodie experience, go to Leonard’s and try some of the famous malasadas (Portuguese inspired doughnuts and now a local favorite dessert). These fried goodies are best hot and just served fresh and you can have them filled with different custards or tropical inspired flavors.

surfing lesson in Waikiki

Learn to surf on Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is the perfect surfing beach in Oahu with shallow water that expands far out at a distance from the beach area and with a sandy soil bottom to land on when you fall. Learning to surf on Waikiki is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a new adventure experience or even brush up on some of your surfing background.

Check out this fantastic surfing lesson experience on Waikiki Beach here for more information and planning for your surfing fun on the beach.

Honolulu-Museum-of-Art

Honolulu Museum of Art

If you’re into visiting museums, this museum is definitely worth visiting containing an eclectic mix of Polynesian inspired artifacts, artwork, sculpture and spanning from ancient tribal to contemporary styles of art and expression. The Honolulu Museum of Art hosts and impressive collection along with some fascinating rotating shows highlighting the unique history and culture of Pacific Island lifestyle and interests. Check out their website here for more information and details to the current shows on their calendar.

Visit to Shangri La in Honolulu

Tour Shangri la

The famous American heiress Doris Duke created her own Shangri La Mansion that shines like a Persian jewel box in the middle of the Pacific coastline in Honolulu. Created entirely to look and feel like a Muslim palace, the home has been customized with spectacular marbles, hand-maid inlay tiles and intricate Islamic artwork showcasing the best art she purchased from various sources. This amazing Shangri La fronting the Pacific Ocean is truly one of a kind filled with art, sculpture, artifacts and other treasures. Tours to this special place have to be arranged in advanced but you can easily book a reservation on their website here for visiting this amazing and historic home.

Atlantic submarine tours in Honolulu

Atlantis Submarine Tours

If you are looking to see the bottom ocean floor in Hawaii without getting your feet wet, then sign up for this Atlantic Submarine Tour which will take you under 100 feet of Oahu’s coastline. You can experience the real marine life, tropical fish and corals that exists around the coastlines of Oahu especially the hidden marine areas around Diamond Head’s coast which is not easily accessible on your own.

Check out the Atlantic submarine experience here for more details to enjoying a different tour of the area.

hiking Manoa Falls in Honolulu

Visit Manoa Falls in Honolulu

Located in Honolulu area towards the university, Manoa falls is an easy hike through a lush jungle area called Rainbow valley with all the rain and rainbows occurring daily in the area. You’ll know when your close when you reach the rock cliff areas where Manoa falls cascades about 150 feet from the top to the basin area to a shallow lagoon. When you are in the area already, check out the Lyon Arboretum which is close by. You can check more details about visiting Manoa Falls here for planning a hike to the falls and surrounding area.

Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay

Snorkel/Dive experience

What’s not to like with a snorkel or dive experience to round out the Waikiki fun. This snorkel tour here will take you on a sailing experience to some fun spots around Oahu to check out all the cool sea life, tropical fish, green sea turtles and coral reef to explore and snorkel through. Providing, transportation services, equipment and a nice meal you’ll enjoy this guided tour and not have to deal with driving and parking issues around the island. For a more extensive diving experience around Waikiki including two diving wrecks, this tour is unique and fun to do in Oahu.

Lyon Arboretum in Honolulu

Explore a mature and lush Lyon arboretum in Honolulu

If you love natural gardens then visit the Lyon Arboretum very close to Manoa Falls. Entrance is free but a requested donation of $5 helps to maintain the expansive gardens in the park.  Large with lush garden areas and an inspiration point that really inspires, it is hard to believe that this is just in the city limits with all this tropical splendor and beautiful landscape to enjoy. Check out visiting the Lyon Arboretum here for more details and inspiration to seeing this lush and mature garden in Oahu.

Shave ice experience in honolul

Waiola Shaved Ice

If you are looking for a really good shaved Ice experience in Honolulu then check out the different locations that you can find Waiola Shaved Ice. The longest running shave ice store on all the island, the Moilili location is the original location to go for that authentic experience. Check out the Waiola Shaved Ice website to find the closest location and hours.

Honolulu Zoo experience

Visit the Honolulu Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo located at Kapiolani park is the perfect family friendly attraction that is colorful and filled with a fantastic assortment of animals regionally and from around the world. The gorgeous tropical settings and environments make this zoo fun to explore specially to capture in photographs with friends and family. Check out the Honolulu Zoo’s website here for more details and information to what’s currently happening or any other special events currently going on.

Duke surfer statue in Waikiki

Duke Statue at Waikiki

The world-famous Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku has a bronze statue located on Waikiki beach right at the end of hotels. A well-loved water sports leader and spirit of Aloha, you will always find fresh leis adorning this sculpture with outstretched hands.  It’s a perfect spot to take pictures of the surfer typically adorned with fresh and old leis. With fantastic views of Waikiki beach and ocean in the background, this is the perfect moment to capture with your friends and family along with the Duke of Waikiki.

Ala Moana Shopping center

Dining and shopping at Ala Moana Center

This is the largest open-air shopping mall in the Pacific and filled with high end designer shops, local galleries and art, souvenir and gift specialty vendors and the biggest food court you’ll find around Oahu along with a cool Japanese food walking court.  There’s plenty of things to see and do at Ala Moana Center and the outdoor venues and even outdoor food venues really complement the Hawaii lifestyle and shopping at its best.

snorkeling Hanauma bay in Honolulu

Hanauma Bay

One of the best snorkeling areas on Oahu and a marine preserve sanctuary, Hanauma Bay is quite spectacular and well maintained. You have to go through a video entry to the park first and then have access to the park and beach areas. What you’ll find at Hanauma Bay is a magnificent crescent shaped beach protected by small cliffs with beautiful coral beds, colorful tropical fish and some cool marine life that may unexpectedly show up. Definitely worth visiting and enjoying the beach and snorkel experience, check out the Haunama Bay website here for more details on entrance, conservation and other updated news to your snorkel experience in Waikiki area.

Honolulu hula show

A delicious Luau show and buffet

A fantastic one of a kind luau experience with a large buffet spread in Waikiki, this luau show and dinner here also includes entrance to the Waikiki Aquarium.  Dinner includes a different farm to table experience with locally sourced local foods and other specialties.

KCC Farmers market in Honolulu

Visit a local Farmers market in Honolulu

Check out local life, snacks and goodies, and fresh local produce at these local farmers markets. Held every Wednesday on the Lawn at the Blaisdell Center, the farmers market is held from 4 to 7pm. At the KCC farmers market facing the Diamond Head entrance, the market is on Saturday from 7:30- 11am and on Tuesdays evenings from 4 to 7pm. For a comprehensive list of farmers market here in Honolulu and the entire Oahu island.

Shirokiya Japan walk village

Japanese food experience at Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk

For a unique food experience check out the Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk at the Ala Moana Center. Modeled after a Japanese village, this walk has over 30 kiosks serving typical and favorite Japanese foods and local beers. There is a cool set up buddhas in the back that serve as guardian spirit for the area. A cool and unique Japanese foodie experience in Honolulu, check out their official website here for details and other new updates on the Village Walk.

Sunset cruise in Waikiki and Honolulu

Sunset cruise on Waikiki at night

A sunset cruise is a great time to experience to enjoy sunset on the water and fantastic views of Waikiki and the golden hour. Many cruises do offer cruises with dining or drinking options to compliment the cruising experience.  Most of the experiences launch right on Waikiki beach with catamarans that offer a typical 1 ½ to 2-hour tour cruising the coastline and passing through popular attractions in the area.

Check out this sunset sailing cruise tour with appetizers, drinks and a two hour cruise and launching right on Waikiki beach.  Or check out this elaborate dinner buffet cruise with fireworks experience is a really way to do it up for the once in a lifetime experience cruising Waikiki.

Visiting Iolani palace in Honolulu

Tour Honolulu’s Iolani Palace

The royal Iolani palace built in 1882 by King Kalakaua is where the last queen, Liliuokalani was living prior to the US coup that overthrew her government and installed an interim colonial government. This once royal palace was at its time, the most innovative and outstanding royal palace and the only one in the USA in its time frame. Filled with magnificent furniture, artifacts, memorabilia and even fashion of the royals during that time frame, you’ll get to see all of these wonderful collection within the palace rooms. You can visit the palace with a docent tour by registering for a set tour on the Iolani Palace website here for more details and instructions to the tour.

exploring the Bishop museum in Honolulu

Experience Hawaiian history at the Bishop Museum

The rich and cultural heritage and tradition of the ancient Hawaiians are well presented at the renovated Bishop Museum in Kahili. This expansive museum houses Polynesian artifacts, historical treasures even royal adornments and fascinating exhibits to explore. The museum shares the history of the early voyagers and Polynesian settlers, Hawaiian and cultural beliefs or exhibits and folklore along with features on Volcanoes, different cultures, even early sporting events on the Hawaiian Islands. Check out the calendar and new shows at the Bishop Museum here for updated information, entry and other events.

Helicopter rider over Diamond Head in Honolulu

Helicopter tour over Honolulu

A night tour above Waikiki and Honolulu along with an amazing firework display is one of the most spectacular helicopter experiences you can have in Hawaii. This helicopter tour offers a real one of kind experience cruising the south shore, Pearl Harbor and all over Waikiki.

A day helicopter tour over the Pali mountains, east side of Oahu and Waikiki is another fun option to see the spectacular attractions from above.

Walking through Honolulu's Chinatown

Visit Honolulu’s Chinatown district

On the outskirts of Honolulu and Waikiki is the large Chinatown district which has gone through a big change and now is a popular and hip area for cool art galleries, cafes and a monthly First Friday series event. You can also opt for the more traditional Chinese restaurants or dim sum scene, checking out the lei stands, traditional shops and produce markets that locals visit for cheap and fresh produce. Check out the Chinatown First Friday website here for updated information, pictures and calendar of fun things happening in this district.

Aloha swap meet in Honolulu

Check out the Honolulu Aloha Swap meet

Just outside Honolulu at the Aloha Stadium is the popular swap meet that happens every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. You’ll find lots of thrift and antiques, collectibles and even lots of cheap Hawaiian souvenirs to take home as gifts. Entry to the swap meet is only $1 per person. Check out the swap meet website here for more details, hours and updates.

Exploring the Waikiki aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium

Located in Waikiki off Kapiolani park, this family friendly venue has a lot of fantastic local animals and typical animals from around the world in tropical inspired environments. Admission for the aquarium is $12 per adult and $5 per child. Visit the museum’s website here for more details, admission and current shows.

The Punchbowl memorial at Honolulu

Honolulu’s Punchbowl cemetery

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific locally known as the punchbowl was built in 1948 as a cemetery for the US armed forces that died during World War II. The Punchbowl is in a dormant volcano called Pouwaina and means the hill of Sacrifice. A beautiful area with gorgeous views, cemetery and monuments, it is very peaceful and a quiet respite from busy Honolulu. Check out more details to visiting the Punchbowl here for information and directions.

Sunset on the beach in Honolulu

Enjoy sunset on the beach

A simple but inspiring way to end the day in Waikiki is a walk on the beach or just relax and watch the sunset come down with all the brilliant colors on the bay and beach area. Afterwards the twinkling lights of Waikiki’s shopping streets and restaurants beckon you to stop by and check out all the fun and delicious food venues waiting for hungry appetites.

Hiking Koko Head in Oahu

Hike Koko Head Stairs

This is a fantastic workout climbing an ancient tuff cone with an old abandoned railway that serviced bunkers that were built on top of the cone. You climb over these railroad ties (that’s over 1000 steps ) all the way to the ridgeline and the trail truly a cardio workout if you don’t take any breaks on the way to the top. Once there, will be rewarded with fantastic views of the east side of the island and the Hawaii Kai area of Portlock.

Check out these amazing views from the top of Koko crater trail.

Views above Koko Head stairs

Looking to save more money while on vacation

Check out the Go Oahu Card which will save you with admission to the most popular attractions on the island with a 1, 2, 3, 5 to 7-day pass. This includes entrance to many must visit places like the Polynesian Cultural Center, Hanauma Bay, Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, Dole plantation and a variety of snorkeling excursions and more. With a few of these bigger experiences you can easily save some money on this vacation. You can purchase the Go Card here.

where to stay in Honolulu

Where to stay in Honolulu

With most of the hotels located in Waikiki, you can find the full gamut of hotel accommodations that can fit your needs and budget. Check out these highly rated Trip Advisor reviews of the best hotels in Waikiki below.

The Outrigger Beach Resort in Waikiki – is right on the beach and in a great location with excellent service, many rooms with ocean views/city views and excellent value for the money. Check the TA site here for the reviews and images of this highly rated hotel.

Prince Waikiki – on the edge of Waikiki and a close walk to the Ala Moana Center. This quiet hotel is away from all the bustle of Waikiki, excellent ratings, service and comfortable rooms. Check the TA site here for the reviews and images of this highly rated hotel.

Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach – features 1 to 2 bedroom suites and kitchenette. Also free breakfast, poolside reception and just steps to famous Waikiki Beach and shops. Check the TA site here for the reviews and images of this highly rated hotel.

Ilikai Lite – 5 star ratings to this quality 3 star hotel with excellent service, free wiki, good walking distance to beach and shopping, and really good value for Waikiki. Check the TA site here for the reviews and images of this highly rated hotel.

Check out more of the best rated hotels with Trip Advisor here for images, details and un biased reviews from visitors.

Check out these additional Oahu posts

Exploring the North Shore of Oahu

Horseback riding in Hawaii

Free of Cheap things to do on Oahu

Best kid friendly beaches in Oahu

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Popular Hawaii dishes you need to try

Popular Hawaii dishes you need to try

Popular Hawaii dishes you need to try

Hawaii is a melting pot of so many different foods, flavors, ingredients and nationalities that blend to create unique Hawaiian style food for today. Hawaii cuisine is unique and also comforting at the same time – covering delicious street food and pupus (appetizers or snacks), a mixture of Asian, American and European influence and local favorite dishes that have been passed through the generations. Along with authentic Hawaiian foods, plantation workers from around the world came to Hawaii and shared their favorite comfort foods and helped to create an eclectic melting pot of dishes. Eventually, this became a mixed plate style of local delicious Hawaiian dishes and popular pupus, entrees and desserts . Check out some of these popular Hawaii dishes you need to try when you visit and see which ones end up being some of your favorite Hawaiian food.

Try some of these local Hawaiian dishes

Hawaii pupu appetizer plate

Hawaiian pupus or appetizers

Hawaiian pupus are a typically served Pau Hana or end of day. Enjoying some delicious small bites and a nice beverage with good friends and just relaxing is how we celebrate Pau Hana . Pupus (appetizers) are very popular dishes at happy hour venues or just a take out dish brought to the beach to eat and enjoy outdoors. Here are some of the local favorites you’ll always find in a café, take out counter or a grocery prepared food section.

poke-take-out pupu dish

Poke – raw sushi prepared in a myriad of ways originated in Hawaii and has become well known worldwide. Typically using local fish like Ahi, Ono and mahi mahi, poke is usually prepared with the freshest raw fish cuts and ingredients in a variety of styles and taste. There are many poke shops, grocery deli areas and even restaurants that do their own take of this tasty Poke appetizer dish.

Egg roll appetizer at a cafe

Eggrolls or lumpia – a take off from Chinese style egg rolls or Filipino lumpia, egg rolls in Hawaii are a pupu favorite eaten with or without a delicious sauce. This pupu can be sold traditionally in take out counters or served in fine dining establishments with their on take on an elevated eggroll presentation and taste

Spam musubi in Hawaii

Spam musubi – a popular take away snack found everywhere, this easy to eat and simple rice, spam and seaweed wrap is a quick filler in between the main meals and popular with locals. Spam musubi is an easy snack you can find at local mom and pop counter food places, farmers markets and even a local grocery or gas station that sells snacks.

Manapua fusion dish in Hawaii

Steamed manapua – a different take on Chinese pork buns, the Hawaiian manapua is typically larger with BBQ style meat or charsui and a yummy sweet/sour style sauce that is easy to devour by yourself. Best eaten when right out of the steamer, it is also delicious eaten at room temperature.

Garlic edamame

Edamame – Originating from Japan, this simple snack of edamame is simply prepared with garlic, sesame oil and some chili flakes on the boiled beans that absorbs all the delicious flavors from the mixed ingredients. A perfect snack to go along with any popular Hawaiian beer, cider or cocktail drink

eating Boiled-peanuts in Hawaii

Boiled peanuts – An easy to make and eat popular snack, boiled peanuts are just that boiled in water and salt and drained. Whenever locals crave a bit of salt and something nutty, this is definitely the choice of pupu they will look for.

Portugues sausage with mixed meats

Portuguese Sausage – grilled, baked or fried, Portuguese sausage is delicious as a pupu or a meat side dish that is often served with a mixed plate dish. It is always a local favorite sausage you will find in any local café or takeout counter.

Hawaiian style entrees

Plate lunch specials in Hawaii

Plate lunch – many take places, small store delis or even cafes sell to go plate lunches with local favorite entrees over two scoops of rice and two scoops of macaroni. Try this with favorite fried mochi chicken, deep fried fish or seafood or specials of the day

eating a Bento-Box in Hawaii

Bento Box – originally from Japan, bentos are offered at many Japanese places and other take-out spots or cafes that serve up smaller mixes of local Japanese flavored dishes like fried fish, mochiko chicken, chicken or pork katsu and sushi or rolls.

Trying a Moco Loco dish

Moco loco – you can get many different versions of moco loco dishes or stick to the local favorite which typically has two scoops of rice, a hamburger steak type patty and a generous topping of gravy with a fried egg on top. This local favorite comfort food is always on the menu at local cafes or restaurants.

Local Hawaiian kalua pig dish

Kalua Pig – a very popular entrée meat dish that is always at every pot luck or luau you might go to, Kalua pig is moist, juicy and a great dish to mix with rice or poi as a starch. Typically done traditionally in an imu (steamed underground pit), kalua pig is now baked in a stove or crock pot. Kalua pig is so easy to do in a slow cooker, check out how make Kalua pig here for instructions.

Popular Hawaiian lau lau dish

Lau lau – a favorite dish in any Hawaiian menu, lau lau is made with taro leaves wrapped around pork and or fish and steamed to create a delicious, moist, comfort style food especially when combined with poi or rice as a starch dish. If you want to try and make it yourself, check out this simple lau lau recipe here for directions.

Hawaiian lomi salmon

Lomi salmon – a typical side dish in a Hawaiian style mixed plate made with diced tomatoes, onions and dried fish or salmon to make this a savory, salty side complemented with some poi or rice. Check out this simple lomi salmon recipe here on how to make some delicious lomi salmon.

huli-huli-chicken from Hawaii

Huli Huli chicken – You’ll have to stop if you see huli huli rotisseries at a roadside stand with those amazing smells. It is melt in your mouth perfect chicken that’s moist, flavorful and so delicious with some rice, macaroni salad or lomi salmon on the side.

Hawaiian chicken luau stew

Luau stew – Just like grandma would make comfort food style, luau stew is just that made with taro leaves, coconut milk and some protein like chicken, pork or beef depending on what’s in the fridge. Everyone has their own favorite style and added flavors, but these basic ingredients make it a favorite Hawaiian comfort food.

Hawaiian Short-ribs

Hawaiian Short Ribs – another popular dish that everyone love, short ribs Hawaiian style is typically dried and then grilled or baked to gooey perfection. There are many different preparation styles, sauces and ingredients used, but typical tropical and Asian flavors in preparing and marinating the meat are the local way to enjoy these ribs.

saimen noodles in Hawaii

Saimin Noodles

A more Hawaiian take on ramen soup than Asian counterparts, Saimin is a local favorite soup broth made with fish, pork and chicken stock. Add some Portuguese sausage, fish or pork with this soup and you have a hearty and flavorful local dish everyone loves to eat.

Poi from Hawaii

Poi – the traditional Hawaiian poi is made with taro that is pounded and water added to create a sticky consistency. Letting the poi sit and ferment for a few days adds a sour touch that is perfect for the various meats and other side dishes that complement this starch.

trying local pipi-kaula

Pipi Kalua – Hawaiian jerky style beef that is dried outdoors and then fried or char broiled in an oven to tender goodness. When you add some rice or poi with other sides, this is the most delicious Hawaiian meal you have and will crave for days.

eating some Hawaiian chicken-long-rice

 Chicken long rice – When the Hawaiians brought their chickens, they saw that Chinese laborers would combine their noodles into a fantastic soup and chicken which created this fantastic dish and flavored with lots of garlic and ginger to make a favorite local dish.

Hawaiian purple sweet potato

Purple sweet potato – a staple starch brought as a canoe plant by the Polynesians, purple sweet potato is always part of a Hawaiian mixed plate or pot luck style dish that is a perfect complement to all the savory and salty dishes present in any food event or something you’ll find at a café or take out counter.

Hawaiian style desserts

Delicious desserts cover the gamut of tropical flavors, fried goodies or something cold and perfect for those hot Hawaiian days where you want something easy and refreshing. Check out some of these popular desserts below that you might want to try soon.

Hawaii shaved-ice

Hawaiian shaved Ice – You definitely have to try a local shaved ice at any of the popular local venues and on a hot day. Super fine shaved ice is pack into paper cones and you then have a choice of different flavors to top like coconut, mango, lilikoi or a bevy of other popular toppings to choose from to create your own yummy dessert

Haupia-dessert from Hawaii

Haupia – a popular Hawaiian favorite, Haupia is basically a coconut cream dessert that can be served creamy style, more solid and cut or even combined with other sweet ingredients like sweet potato or even sweetened taro to make a more complex dessert.

malasadas from Hawaii

Malasadas – taken from Portuguese settlers that deep fried this gooey dough and slathered sugar all over the fried goodness. Malasadas are served best hot and also with a bevy of piped

delicious Hawaii mochi dessert

Sweet mochi

A local favorite dessert you can find at many farmers markets, take out places and even grocery stores. Mochi cakes originate from Japan but with many different variations in Hawaii to include tropical flavors like likikoi, pineapple and coconut. Try some delicious mochi and you will be sold.

Check out these other stories on Hawaii food

Traditional Hawaiian food favorite dishes

Hawaii chocolate making and tour

How to eat cheap in Hawaii

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