The Best of Honolulu: Where to Eat, Stay, and Play in Hawaii’s Capital

Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is a vibrant and diverse city that offers a wide range of dining options, accommodations, and activities for visitors to enjoy. From its stunning beaches to its bustling nightlife, Honolulu has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an action-packed adventure, this tropical paradise has it all. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best places to eat, stay, and play in Honolulu, so you can make the most of your time in this beautiful destination.

Where to Eat

Honolulu is known for its fantastic food scene, with a mix of traditional Hawaiian cuisine and international flavors that will satisfy even the most discerning palate. From casual food trucks to upscale fine dining restaurants, there’s something for every taste in the city. Here are some of the best places to eat in Honolulu:

1. Duke’s Waikiki: Located right on the beach in Waikiki, Duke’s is a must-visit for any visitor to Honolulu. The restaurant offers a casual, laid-back atmosphere with stunning ocean views, and serves up delicious Hawaiian dishes like poke bowls, kalua pork, and fresh seafood. Don’t miss their famous Hula Pie for dessert!

2. Alan Wong’s: For a more upscale dining experience, head to Alan Wong’s, one of Honolulu’s most famous restaurants. Chef Alan Wong is known for his innovative take on traditional Hawaiian cuisine, using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients to create dishes that are as beautiful as they are delicious. Be sure to try the signature dish, the ginger-crusted onaga.

3. Helena’s Hawaiian Food: If you’re looking to try authentic Hawaiian cuisine, Helena’s is the place to go. This no-frills restaurant serves up traditional dishes like laulau (pork wrapped in taro leaves) and squid luau (squid cooked in coconut milk), all made with love and care. It may not look fancy, but the food is top-notch.

4. Marukame Udon: For a quick and affordable meal, head to Marukame Udon for some of the best udon noodles in town. This popular spot always has a line out the door, but the wait is worth it for a steaming bowl of freshly-made noodles in savory broth. Choose your toppings and slurp away!

5. Moku Kitchen: If you’re in the mood for comfort food with a twist, check out Moku Kitchen in the center of Honolulu. This casual eatery offers a menu of creative dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients, like the wood-fired pizzas and the kalua pig grilled cheese. Wash it down with a craft beer from their extensive selection.

Where to Stay

Honolulu offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. From luxurious beachfront resorts to charming bed and breakfasts, you’ll find the perfect place to stay in this tropical paradise. Here are some of the best places to stay in Honolulu:

1. The Royal Hawaiian: Known as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific,” The Royal Hawaiian is a historic luxury hotel located right on Waikiki Beach. With its iconic pink facade, lush gardens, and elegant rooms, this hotel is the epitome of Hawaiian hospitality. Relax by the pool, indulge in a spa treatment, or enjoy a cocktail at the Mai Tai Bar.

2. The Modern Honolulu: For a more modern and chic experience, check out The Modern Honolulu, a stylish boutique hotel located in the heart of Waikiki. This sleek property boasts a rooftop pool, trendy restaurants, and minimalist rooms with stunning ocean views. Don’t miss the Sunday pool parties at Addiction Nightclub!

3. Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel: If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, consider staying at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. This comfortable hotel is located just steps from the beach and offers spacious rooms, a pool with a sundeck, and an on-site restaurant serving up delicious Hawaiian cuisine. It’s a great value for the location.

4. The Laylow, Autograph Collection: For a hip and trendy stay, book a room at The Laylow, a boutique hotel in the heart of Waikiki. This retro-chic property features colorful mid-century modern decor, a rooftop pool with a lively bar, and a restaurant serving up creative Pacific Rim cuisine. It’s the perfect choice for the stylish traveler.

5. Turtle Bay Resort: If you’re willing to venture outside of Honolulu, consider staying at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu. This sprawling resort offers unparalleled views of the ocean, two championship golf courses, a spa, and a variety of outdoor activities like horseback riding and snorkeling. It’s the ultimate Hawaiian getaway.

Where to Play

When it comes to things to do in Honolulu, the options are endless. Whether you want to relax on the beach, explore the city’s cultural sites, or embark on an adventure, Honolulu has something for everyone. Here are some of the best activities to enjoy in the city:

1. Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay: One of the best places to snorkel in Honolulu is Hanauma Bay, a protected marine sanctuary known for its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life. Rent some gear at the beach and swim among colorful fish, sea turtles, and coral reefs for an unforgettable experience.

2. Diamond Head Crater Hike: For a scenic workout with stunning views, hike to the top of Diamond Head Crater, a dormant volcano located just outside of Honolulu. The trail is relatively short but steep, leading you to a lookout point where you can see panoramic views of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean. Don’t forget your camera!

3. Pearl Harbor Memorial: Pay your respects at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, a moving tribute to the sailors and Marines who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Take a ferry to the memorial, explore the exhibits at the visitor center, and learn about this important piece of American history.

4. Waikiki Beach: No trip to Honolulu is complete without a visit to Waikiki Beach, the most famous beach in Hawaii. Spend the day sunbathing on the golden sands, swimming in the warm waters, or trying your hand at surfing with a lesson from a local instructor. The beach is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars, so you’ll never be bored.

5. Polynesian Cultural Center: Immerse yourself in the rich traditions of the Pacific Islands at the Polynesian Cultural Center, located on the North Shore of Oahu. Explore authentic villages representing different island nations, attend traditional performances and demonstrations, and enjoy a luau feast with fire dancers. It’s a cultural experience you won’t forget.


Q: What is the best time of year to visit Honolulu?
A: The best time to visit Honolulu is during the spring (April to June) or fall (September to November) when the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller. Avoid the peak summer months of July and August, as well as the winter holiday season, when prices are higher, and attractions are more crowded.

Q: Do I need a rental car in Honolulu?
A: While having a rental car can be convenient for exploring the island, it’s not necessary if you’re staying in Honolulu. The city is walkable, and there are plenty of public transportation options like buses and trolleys to get around. If you plan on venturing outside of the city, then a rental car may be useful.

Q: What should I pack for a trip to Honolulu?
A: When visiting Honolulu, be sure to pack light and breezy clothing for the warm weather, as well as swimsuits, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing and outdoor activities. If you plan on hiking or snorkeling, bring appropriate gear like water shoes and a hat.

Q: Is it safe to swim in the ocean in Honolulu?
A: Yes, it is generally safe to swim in the ocean in Honolulu, but it’s important to exercise caution and be aware of any warning signs or advisories. Always swim at lifeguard-protected beaches, obey posted rules, and watch out for currents and jellyfish. If in doubt, ask a local for advice on safe swimming spots.

In conclusion, Honolulu is a fantastic destination for travelers seeking a mix of relaxation, adventure, and culture. With its stunning scenery, delicious cuisine, and abundant activities, this tropical paradise has something for everyone. Whether you’re lounging on the beach, exploring historical sites, or dining at world-class restaurants, Honolulu will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. So pack your bags, book your flight, and get ready to experience the best of Honolulu!

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