Although it exudes an easy “hang loose” vibe, there’s much more to Honolulu than sunny beaches. From historic Chinatown to lush Manoa and edgy Kaka’ako, Honolulu’s diverse neighborhoods have plenty of appeal. Explore beyond the beach by diving into our picks of Honolulu’s most interesting districts.
Near synonymous with Honolulu, Waikiki is where you’ll find most of the hotels and resorts on Oahu, as well as shopping, restaurants, bars, and more to appeal to the many tourists who congregate here. Sure, it gets crowded, but Waikiki Beach is famous for a reason. Soak up the sun then get out into the water with a surfing lesson or sunset sail.
One of the oldest Chinatowns in the United States, this is the place to spend some time off the beach exploring temples, antique stores, art galleries, and lei makers. It’s also a great neighborhood for eating and drinking, which you can discover on a food walking tour.
West of Waikiki, Ala Moana Beach Park attracts swimmers, stand-up paddleboarders, and picnickers to its relatively calm setting in front of the Ala Moana Shopping Center, where you’ll find a broad range of shops and restaurants. While in the area you can also visit Aloha Tower Marketplace, Iolani Palace, and the Bishop Museum.
Honolulu’s postindustrial warehouse district, Kaka’ako is one of the trendiest spots in town. A big draw is the street art that covers many of the district’s surfaces, courtesy of the annual Pow! Wow! street-art festival. You’ll also find swanky nightclubs and drinking establishments here.
Some of the island’s best eateries are to be found in the residential neighborhood of Kapahulu, home to Leonard’s, the long-running bakery that sells malasadas (similar to doughnuts), as well as the much-loved Side Street Inn. Its proximity to Diamond Head makes Kapahulu a sure bet for a posthike snack.
This lush valley is best known as the home of the University of Hawaii, but visitors also come to Manoa to hike to Manoa Falls. The hike to the 150-foot-high (46-meter-high) cascade is one of the island’s easiest and most accessible.