Last Updated on November 16, 2023
Planning to visit Honolulu? Let me help you plan your trip: in my Honolulu travel guide, you’ll find the best things to do in Honolulu, where to stay in Honolulu, and where to eat when you visit Honolulu.
I am also sharing a few tips and tricks to staying on budget while still having the holiday of your dreams in Honolulu:
Honolulu Travel Guide: What to do, where to stay and where to eat
What to do in Honolulu
These are the five things you have to do when you visit Honolulu:
- Spend a day at iconic Waikiki Beach
- Learn about history at Pearl Harbor National Memorial and the USS Arizona
- Hike up to Diamond Head, the volcanic tuff cone southeast of Honolulu
- Visit the beaches near Makapu’u Point in Eastern Honolulu, incl Hanauma Bay, Sandy Beach and Makapu’u Beach
- Hike the Coco Krater Trail (it’s only two miles, but be warned, there are over 1,000 steps to get to the top)
For more ideas what to do on Oahu and if you want to go beyond Honolulu, check out the 7 best day trips from Honolulu.
Where to Stay in Honolulu
There are plenty of hotels and Airbnb’s in Honolulu, but doing some research pays off: some of the properties near Waikiki Beach are old and outdated. I highly recommend reading some recent reviews before booking a hotel or Airbnb. There are too many great hotels to list in my Honolulu travel guide, but here are some of the most popular hotels in Honolulu:
The best mid-range hotels in Honolulu:
- The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club – vintage bungalows with an outdoor pool
- The Modern Honolulu – affordable luxury hotel overlooking Waikiki Beach
- Queen Kapiolani Hotel – affordable hotel with panoramic views of Diamond Head, one block from Waikiki Beach
The best luxury hotels in Honolulu:
- Alohilani Waikiki Beach – Stylish boutique hotel with fabulous swimming pools
- Halekulani – Oceanfront luxury 5-star hotel, a Honolulu classic
- Moana Surfrider – A Westin Resort & Spa – iconic luxury hotel in Honolulu
Here are a few key factors to look for when looking for accommodation:
- Hotels: Yes, you can stay at a luxury hotel, or resort, for cheap! Depending upon whether you book with a coupon, the time of year you make your reservations, or even booking a package deal. There are lots of ways to stay in a first class hotel without having to pay a first class bill.
- Vacation rentals: Using websites and apps like AirBnB, you can find homes, rooms, or apartments to stay in while you’re in Honolulu. You can find amazing places with low price tags.
- Hostels: A great way to save money is to stay in a hostel. If shared rooms don’t bother you, you’ll save a lot of money if you opt to stay in a hostel, which are around $30 a night (in a shared dorm room).
How Should We Travel To Honolulu
There are options for cheap travel everywhere you look – look for cheap flights on your favorite flight search comparison websites, and make sure to consult more than just one. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, play around with dates, as well. Sometimes leaving a day or two earlier / later can make a difference of a few hundred dollars in ticket prices.
The same goes for car rentals – get a quote from your favorite rental company, but also check car rental companies for their best offers. I wrote in detail about how to save money on car rentals with Autoslash, a website that helps you find the best deals on rental cars. If you just want to visit Honolulu, renting a car isn’t necessary, but if you want to see more of Oahu, definitely rent a car.
Where To Eat In Honolulu
A Honolulu travel guide wouldn’t be complete without some restaurant recommendations. The restaurants listed below include some low-budget options and a couple of splurges, and everything from breakfast to dining.
Some of the best restaurants in Honolulu are:
- Merriman’s (1108 Auahi St #170) – great for seafood, oysters and cocktails
- Liliha Bakery (580 N Nimitz Hwy) – for their famous Hawaiian cream puffs and for diner-style breakfast
- Mitsu-Ken (2300 N King St) – for bento boxes
- The Pig And The Lady (83 N King St) – amazing Vietnamese food
- Halekulani Bakery & Restaurant (2233 Helumoa Road) – divine pastries and baked goods
- Alan Wong’s (1857 S King St, Honolulu) – for upscale seafood
- Koko Head Cafe (1145 12th Ave C) – popular brunch spot run by celebrity chef Lee Anne Wong, famous for breakfast udon, congee & other Pan-Asian eats
- Keiki and the Pineapple (909 Kapiolani Blvd, Suite B) – delicious breakfast & brunch
- Morimoto Asia (2490 Kalakaua Ave) – table-side Asian fusion, sushi & dim sum
- Helena’s Hawaiian Food (1240 N School St) – home-style Hawaiian cooking
Here are a few tips on saving money at restaurants when you visit Honolulu:
- Early Bird Specials
- Breakfast at the hotel or at your Airbnb
- Lunch from a supermarket (picnic lunch at the beach, for example)
- Food trucks
- Local spots, away from heavy tourist traffic
- Coupons and online deals (check groupon and meal deal apps)