The best of Honolulu on a budget: top 5 things to do

If you’re on the hunt for a relaxing tropical getaway, it doesn’t get much better than Honolulu. Here are our suggestions for the top 5 things to do in Honolulu.

A school of striped fish swimming in Oahu
  • Jetstar
  • January 2018

Sun-soaked selfies, leisurely beach walks and cocktails overlooking the surf: these are a few of our favourite things about island holidays. If you’re on the hunt for a relaxing tropical getaway, it doesn’t get much better than Honolulu. Best of all, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the best of this iconic tropical paradise without breaking the bank. Here are our suggestions for the best things to do in Honolulu.

Snap stunning views at Pu’u ‘Ualaka’a State Wayside Park

When it comes to spectacular selfie backdrops, the panoramic views over Honolulu from your vantage point at Pu’u ‘Ualaka’a State Wayside Park can’t be beat. The scenic drive through the windy mountain roads make for ideal happy snaps, and once you arrive, you can capture the envy-inducing moment against views of Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and the Waianae Mountain Range. Pack a picnic lunch and a blanket and lay out your setting to take in the spectacular vistas at leisure.

Location: 2760 Round Top Drive

Our favourite link: Pu’u ‘Ualaka’a State Wayside Park opens in new window

Hike to lush Manoa Falls

If you’ve packed your activewear and a good pair of sneakers, put them to use with an invigorating hike to gorgeous Manoa Falls. The trail is short enough for a quick and easy trek (around 1km each way) making it the perfect opportunity for some brief exercise, maybe enough to work off that last serving of garlic shrimp. The journey will have you shadowing a rocky stream, and concludes at the spectacular falls—the perfect spot for selfies and slipping your toes in the refreshing water.

Location: End of Manoa Road

Our favourite link: Manoa Falls opens in new window

Snorkel the pristine waters of Hanauma Bay

This bay is mind-blowingly beautiful: set in the crater of an ancient volcano, its perfect crescent-shaped beach, glowing white sand and aquamarine water is the stuff of beach-lazing fantasies. But the true reason for its popularity is the incredible wealth of its marine life. The shallow, protected bay provides the best possible conditions for snorkelling, and there are over 400 species of fish here, and loads of them—Hanauma is known for having the tamest fish in Hawaii. It’s also maybe your best chance to swim with green sea turtles, which are abundant. There’s a small entry fee to the nature preserve, and it’s closed Tuesdays to give the fishy residents a rest day.

Location: 7455 Kalanianaole Highway

Our favourite link: Hanauma Bay State Park opens in new window

Recreate the most romantic film scene in history

If you’re here with someone you really, really like, now’s your chance to recreate a classic movie moment. The infamous beach scene in From Here To Eternity, where stars Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr roll, embracing, in the surf—scandalous at the time—was filmed here in 1953. The beach, Halona Beach Cove, is located around 15 minutes from Waikiki. This amazing rock formation was naturally sculpted by volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago, and still has molten lava running beneath it. It’s also home to endangered Hawaiian green sea turtles or honu, which you may encounter waddling onto the beach.

Location: 72 Kalanianaole Highway

Our favourite link: Halona Blowhole and Beach Cove opens in new window

Explore the Aloha Tower and Marketplace

If a holiday takes place without being documented on social media, did it really happen at all? Sensational photo opportunities are half the allure of travelling to an exotic location like Hawaii—and at the Aloha Tower and Marketplace, a one-minute elevator ride is your ticket to one of the best vantage points for fun photos in all of Honolulu. The 10th floor of the tower is where you’ll find the observation deck, an open-air emporium where you can stage an impromptu photoshoot against gorgeous harbour views on one side, and the Honolulu skyline on the other.

Location: 1 Aloha Tower Drive

Our favourite link: The Aloha Tower Observation Deck: four unique views of Honolulu opens in new window