Hawaii’s menu of visitor attractions is as versatile as it is extensive. There are worthwhile attractions on every major island, celebrating Hawaii’s history, culture, natural environment, wildlife, arts and more. Some are touristy, others are not. Some charge admissions, others are free. Each attraction, however, can significantly add to your overall experience in the islands.
The most popular free attraction on Oahu remains the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. The memorial looks back at the events of December 7, 1941, and pays tribute to the 1,117 sailors and marines who lost their lives on that day. The memorial is part of Pearl Harbor’s famed “Battleship Row” along with the USS Battleship Missouri Museum and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park.
Downtown Honolulu has a wealth of history-themed attractions, including Iolani Palace, the only royal palace standing on American soil. Other recommended stops in the area include the State Capitol Building, Mission Houses Museum, the Hawaii Maritime Center and Aloha Tower. Also, just minutes away by car are the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Queen Emma Summer Palace, the Pali Lookout, and Bishop Museum.
Waikiki has several attractions of its own, including the Waikiki Aquarium and Honolulu Zoo. Further east is Sea Life Park Hawaii, a marine park filled with Hawaii’s favorite ocean inhabitants. Other visitor attractions on Oahu include the Polynesian Cultural Center, Dole Plantation, Hawaii’s Plantation Village, U.S. Army Museum and Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center.
Attractions on the Big Island include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Onizuka Center for Astronomy and Mauna Kea Observatory, Hulihee Palace, Puuhonua O Honaunau, Parker Ranch, and the Pacific Tsunami Museum. On Kauai, visit the Kauai Museum, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Waioli Mission House Museum and Kilohana Plantation.
Any visit to Maui should include a stop at Haleakala National Park, home to hiking trails, the rare silversword plant and perhaps the world’s most awe-inspiring sunrise. Other recommended attractions on the Valley Isle include the Whalers Village Museum, Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum, Iao Valley State Park, the Garden of the Gods, an eerie rock formation reminiscent of a lunar landscape, Maui Ocean Center, and Kula Botanical Garden. And take the world-famous mule ride down to Kalaupapa on Molokai.