Heading to Hawaii? This Honolulu trip planner includes everything you need to know such as: where to stay, what to eat & things to do.
As the capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is a popular place for US and international visitors. With spectacular beaches, delicious food, fantastic resorts, and many things to do in Oahu beyond Honolulu itself, you can see why so many people vacation here. That is why we are sharing this Honolulu trip planner; so that you can plan the perfect Hawaiian vacation.
Honolulu offers the perfect mixture of warm weather, wonderful beaches, local culture, and interesting attractions, to keep you busy for a week or more. If you are looking to save money on your trip to Hawaii, make sure to read our post on ways to save money whilst traveling the United States of America.
When to visit Honolulu
Although it is always warm in Honolulu, the best time to visit is between November and April, avoiding the rainy and hurricane season.
The ideal months would be April, November, and December, as these are shoulder seasons; so you can expect fewer crowds and cheaper room rates but also still enjoy plenty of festivals. Winter weather is pleasant in Hawaii whilst June through to October has considerably higher temperatures.
Obviously, at the time of writing (2020), there are a few more things to know before you go to Hawaii as the world adapts. So expect fewer crowds over the next year or so as flights continue to get back to normal.
Typical costs in Honolulu
Budget: Hostels are available for $35 for a dorm bed (even by the sea!), whilst budget rooms for two start at $70. You can also rent an Airbnb for around $100; perfect for groups of travelers.
Midrange: Midrange hotels cost $150 – $250 a night, costing on the higher end the closer you are to the beach.
Luxury: 5-star hotels on the beach will cost upwards of $340.
Transport: The best way together around Hawaii is by renting a car; these cost anywhere from $20 – $80 a day. Book in advance and compare prices to get the best deal.
The average cost of food:
Hawaii has some amazing food and you can eat cheaply too. You can find $2 tacos from a food truck and there are plenty of grocery stores to stock up using. If eating out, expect to pay at least $6 for breakfast, $10 for lunch and $30 for dinner, and double that if you are eating in or around resorts.
Save money in Honolulu
Honolulu is a fantastic place to explore but it can be expensive. However, there are many ways you can save money here too.
- Avoid the beach – If you are traveling on a budget, avoid booking accommodation on the beach. This is always a lot more expensive than other destinations.
- Fly via the West Coast – If you are flying from the US, Try to plan a trip via the West Coast. Flights can be found at decent prices in California but expect much higher prices from anywhere else.
- Hotel deals – If you sign up for hotel emails and compare prices across multiple websites, you can save money, especially not the less expensive hotel chains like Aqua properties and the lower-end Outrigger properties.
- Limit your car rental – Renting a car is a popular choice for most that visit Hawaii but it can be expensive, as can parking. If you want to see the sights of Hawaii, rent a car for just a few days to see sights then use TheBus (a public bus in Oahu. You can get a 4-day bus pass from any ABC store, ideal if you plan on doing lots of travel.
- Get a refrigerator – Aim to get a hotel room or rent a place with a refrigerator. This means you can stock up on basics from the ABC stores and avoid eating breakfast out each day.
- Meal Deals – There are many restaurants in the heart of Waikiki that offer special deals throughout the day. Head to iHop and Cheeseburger in Paradise for breakfast specials or the Wolfgang Steakhouse for decent and affordable lunches.
- Free activities – There are plenty of free activities to take advantage of, such as many of the beaches, the Friday Night Fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, the free live entertainment and classes at The Royal Hawaiian Center and the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
Where to stay in Honolulu
There are many hotels in Honolulu that fit every budget and can be found in every neighborhood. If it is your first time in Honolulu, you will want to stay in the Downtown area to enjoy the lively and bustling neighborhood whilst visiting the major attractions.
If you are on a budget, head to Waikiki, perfect for those looking for sandy beaches without luxury price tags. Waikiki is also the best place to stay if you are looking for vibrant nightlife options, with lots of bars and clubs around the neighborhood.
Looking to unwind away from the hustle and bustle? Head to Manoa for a quieter, relaxing experience.
Recommended Honolulu hotels:
- Ala Moana Hotel – Next door to the world’s largest open-air shopping mall and is a short walk from the Hawaii Convention Center.
- Pagoda Hotel – Great for families with outdoor swimming pool and sun terrace and within a short walk from Ala Moana Beach Park. Plus there are many restaurants and shops in the area.
- Lotus Honolulu Hotel – A luxurious hotel with amazing views of Diamond Head and a close walk to Queen Kapiolani Park, Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium.
- Polynesian Residences Waikiki Beach – A 1-minute walk from the beach, this is an affordable option for those looking for studio style rooms, complete with kitchenette.
What to eat in Honolulu
Honolulu offers great food options, with an array of fantastic restaurants to choose from. Make sure you pick up a Poke bowl, try some of the Lomi- Lomi Salmon and enjoy the Kalua Pig.
Other must-tries include shaved ice, sashimi, Poi and Spam Musubi.
Coffee lovers must try the Hawaii-grown Kona beans in Kai Coffee or one of the other best Kona Coffee shops in the state.
Things to do in Honolulu
Besides sunbathing and surfing, make sure you spend some time visiting Diamond Head during your Oahu itinerary. This is a volcanic cone on the edge of the island and is one of the most scenic and popular places to visit in Oahu whilst there are some incredible hikes on Oahu too.
Enjoy the beauty of Hanauma Bay and learn at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Beach hop around the island, and take in the sun, sea and sand whilst you enjoy the full beauty Honolulu has to offer.