Things to do in Honolulu

The Best Hawaii Tours

Whether you dream of flying through forests at extreme speeds, meeting a shark, or peering into a volcano, there’s a Hawaiian tour for you.

Explore Hawaii’s tropical paradise, where many adventures await. From museums shining light on its history to opportunities to kayak in remote locations, island tours take you on a voyage you’ll never forget.

As you explore the best things to do in Honolulu and the surrounding areas, you’ll be greeted with striking jungles, rugged terrain, and active volcanoes. We’re particularly fond of this chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean, and for good reason.

The people's passion shines through with every guided tour you take. From extolling their culture through local lore to taking a deep dive into regional topics, their enthusiasm makes the whole trip so much more enjoyable.

Cultural and Historical Tours

Hawaii is far more than its typical tourist attractions, such as live music in Honolulu. While the fun, touristy stuff is certainly worth visiting, so are these cultural and historical tours of the Hawaiian islands.

1. Iolani Palace

Only one royal palace exists in the United States: Iolani Palace, located on Oahu. Built in 1879, it exudes luxury in every room and housed King Kamehameha III and his wife, Kalama Kapakuhaili.

However, in 1893, when the Hawaiian monarchy was removed from power, the palace became the central hub for the Provisional Government of Hawaii. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1962. Today, it’s open to the public.

While self-led audio tours are available, the real splendor of the palace and its past shine when you’re led by tour guides well-versed in its history. Specialty tours, such as the Fashion Fit for Royalty Tour, elaborate on specific topics. During this particular tour, you’ll come face to face with reproductions of royal dresses, gowns, and uniforms.

Source: Iolani Palace

2. Bishop Museum

The vibrant culture and history of Hawaii come to life at Bishop Museum. Immerse yourself in exhibits, such as the science of erupting volcanoes or the ancient art of Polynesian wayfinding. In the Science Adventure Center, you’ll watch hot lava pour from the museum’s furnace.

Between exploring the numerous exhibits on your own, you can join some of the themed tours in Hawaiian Hall, the museum’s main complex. Tours cover cultural topics, such as the feather standards of Hawaiian chiefs and how the monarchy that once ruled these islands influenced what the state is today.

3. Pearl Harbor

Learn about the history of World War II with tours of Pearl Harbor. Guided by a knowledgeable docent, you’ll discover the stories surrounding the historic bombing and how it affected the city and the world. Depending on the tour, you’ll also gain access to some of Hawaii’s museums.

The Pearl Harbor and Historic Honolulu City Tour offers a holistic approach to the topics. Venture through downtown Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. Some of Oahu’s important cultural landmarks reside here, such as Iolani Palace, Kawaiaha'o Church, and the King Kamehameha Statue.

The Complete Pearl Harbor Experience Tour takes you to all those locations, including the USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, and Bowfin Submarine Museum.

Photographer: Ryan Parker

4. Oahu Circle Island Tour

The Polynesian Cultural Center's Oahu Circle Island Tours take you to some of the most breathtaking locations.

Passionate guides explain the significance of each location, including Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, and the Dole Plantation. It's a long tour, but it's worth it. Over several hours, you’ll take in the best sights and sounds of Oahu.

5. Heavenly Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm Tours

Whether you like your coffee black or filled with flavors and cream, the Heavenly Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farm Tour offers firsthand glimpses into what it takes to make your cup of joe in the morning. You’ll go over every step of the process, from planting the seeds to brewing a fresh pot after the beans have dried.

Hawaii's volcanic soil is exceptionally fertile and promotes the growth of lush coffee groves. Every step, from picking only the best coffee berries to roasting them, requires planning and attention to detail. The tour takes about an hour, and you'll leave with coffee and candy samples.

Wildlife and Nature Tours

It’s no surprise Hawaii is ripe with wildlife. These Hawaiian island tours bring you closer to nature in all the best ways.

6. Whale Watching in Hawaii

The warm seas surrounding Hawaii attract far more than people. A significant portion of the world’s North Pacific humpback whale population visits its oceans from December until May each year. The comfortable climate makes it an ideal place to breed and raise their calves.

If you want to get up close to these majestic beasts, your best bet is to book a boat tour. These whales are particularly impressive acrobats, throwing nearly half their bodies above the sea’s surface as they breach. It’s an impressive feat, considering they weigh upwards of 80,000 lb.

You can still watch from the shores if you’re not interested in seafaring adventures. Makapu'u Point Lighthouse in Oahu offers a gorgeous view of the island’s southern shores. You might even be lucky enough to see the whales' aquatic antics with a pair of binoculars.

7. Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

The raw beauty of Hawaii’s volcanoes is unparalleled. In Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, you’ll have the unique opportunity to peer into Hilo’s live volcanoes that still actively erupt. During eruptions, these parks draw attention from people hoping to view lava flows with their own eyes.

You can explore the park in many ways, including driving, hiking, and sightseeing tours. While you’re welcome to wander around alone, a tour guide can point out things you might otherwise miss and explain a location’s cultural significance.

Photographer: pogo_mm

8. Maui Ocean Center

Grab your (reef-safe) sunscreen and join one of Maui Ocean Center's snorkeling tours. Dive to Maui’s oldest reef just south of Lahaina, where you’ll learn about the fragile ecosystem under the watchful eye of a trained marine biologist.

You can shadow staff members for an hour if you prefer to stay dry on your oceanic odyssey. During this behind-the-scenes tour, you'll learn what it takes to care for the aquatic species housed in the center's aquarium, how coral is propagated, and the importance of protecting the delicate ocean biomes.

9. Waipi'o on Horseback

The verdant jungles of Hawaii are beautiful on their own, but discovering them by horseback elevates the experience. At Waipi’o on Horseback, you’ll ride out into stunning expanses filled with lush canopies, massive waterfalls, and sheer cliff faces. The horses take you through the black sand of Waipi’o to the island’s tallest twin waterfall, Hiilawe.

From your newfound vantage point, you’ll observe how tropical fruits, such as bananas, guavas, and coconuts, grow alongside tilapia ponds and sugarcane fields. Depending on the time of year, you might see farmland pastures with baby animals frolicking or ponds blooming with vibrant lotuses.

If you’re traveling with kids, these tours delight and inspire children seven and older. Morning and afternoon departure times are available daily, offering plenty of flexibility.

10. Napali Kayak Tours

Live on the wilder side and kayak into Hawaii’s untamed lands. Napali Kayak Tours offers a Northwest Side Na Pali Sea Kayaking Tour, traversing 17 miles on the northwest coast of Kauai.

As you paddle, you’ll reach destinations only accessible by boat or plane. Along the way, you'll see jagged cliffs and dramatic valleys punctuated by waterfalls. If you’d prefer a bit less kayaking, the Polihale Day Trip takes you approximately 12 miles into calmer currents. Depending on conditions, opportunities may be available for snorkeling.

You’ll join a kayak caravan to Milolii, a remote beach where a break for food offers a brief reprieve before the long return journey. When the weather and sea conditions are right, you may weave through sea caves. No matter where you choose as your final destination, these kayak tours provide amazing views of Hawaii’s wilderness.

Adventure and Outdoor Tours

Get outdoors and experience the wild side of Hawaii’s beauty.

11. Kualoa Ranch UTV Tours

Step away from the tourist traps and enter Kualoa Ranch, a private nature reserve with over 4,000 ac. of wilderness waiting to be explored. You'll ride in open-air UTV Raptor vehicles as a tour guide drives you deep into Hawaii's jungles.

Depending on the weather, you might splash through seasonal streams at high speeds or kick up dust in your tracks. Along the trek, you’ll see areas used to film Jurassic Park. Kualoa Ranch also offers other tours that might be more up your alley.

The Jurassic Adventure Tour takes you through iconic settings from the movie franchise in the back of a safari truck. On the Ocean Voyage adventure, you travel by catamaran to Secret Island.

If you're a film fan, take the Hollywood Movie Sites Tour for a visit to Ka’a’awa Valley, where over 200 movies and TV shows have been filmed since the '50s.

12. Kauai Helicopter Tours

The ethereal elegance of Hawaii becomes more apparent with a bird's-eye view. Helicopter tours guided by knowledgeable pilots offer awe-inspiring panoramic views of Kauai's most remarkable features. Much of this remote island is completely inaccessible by land, so the only way to see it is by air.

Companies such as Blue Hawaiian offer helicopter tours over canyons, massive sea cliffs, and pristine jungles. Depending on the weather, you may be taken over Mount Waialeale, a dormant shield volcano that sees a massive 450 inches of rainfall yearly.

Photographer: Spencer Watson

13. Haleiwa Shark Tours

Experience the visceral thrill of swimming with the sharks off Oahu’s North Shore. On Haleiwa Shark Tours, you'll sink beneath the ocean’s surface in a safe cage to come face-to-face with these deadly predators in their natural habitat.

Sharks are considered sacred in Hawaii, and over 40 species reside in the state’s waters. During the 3-mile journey to the diving spot, you’ll learn about sharks’ importance in Hawaiian culture, the legends behind them, and the shark god Kamohoali'i.

14. Hawaii Zipline Tours

Keep the adrenaline pumping at Hawaii Zipline Tours, where you’ll take to the skies like our most seasoned acrobats. As you zip through the air, you'll go over part of a Hawaiian agricultural farm, where aerial views of apple bananas, taro, and sugarcane abound.

The Big Island Zipline Tour is the most popular. It progressively takes you to higher and longer courses. Zooming over a 450-ft. ravine, you'll have breathtaking views of Kolekole Falls.

15. Waikiki Trolley Tour

Waikiki Trolley has been operating tours since 1984. It's a beloved tourist attraction that takes visitors to Diamond Head, historic areas in Honolulu, and Oahu’s beaches. You guide the pace on this tour. You can check out something that catches your eye and hop back on when the trolley passes again.

In Waikiki, the trolley has four routes, reaching areas such as the Ala Moana Center, Iolani Palace, and Halona Blowhole. Depending on the route, trolleys pass by every 15-60 minutes. It’s a convenient yet touristy way to explore the city.

Photographer: Justin Shen

Exploring Paradise: A Conclusion on Hawaii's Diverse Tours

The natural beauty of Hawaii is unmistakable, from Waikiki Beach to the most remote reaches of Kauai. After the tour ends, come to one of our shows for a different kind of adventure. We'll immerse you in otherworldly settings and take you on an emotional journey. Our performers will dazzle you with out-of-this-world acrobatics that seem to defy gravity.

We encompass these volcanic islands' unapologetically bold and brilliant nature, and you can see it all at our shows in Honolulu. Join us and find out what happens when we dare to dream.

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