Last year, nearly 9 million visitors came to the Hawaiian islands, and most of them traveled through Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii. This large city is on the island of Oahu, and visitors love to spend their vacation time seeing the sights.

Diamond head
Diamond Head State Monument.

Before it gets too hot out, strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails at Diamond Head. Locals call the 300,000-year-old crater Le’ahi, and it’s one of the most iconic parts of the Oahu skyline. You’ll gain about 760 feet in elevation on the hike, so it’s not an easy traipse up the mountain, but it’s well worth the effort with unbelievable views of the ocean and Waikiki Beach from the top.

Starting early also helps you beat the crowds. It’s open daily from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m., and the cost to get in is $1 per person or $5 per car.

Late Morning: Breakfast at Sweet E’s Café

When you finish your hike, replenish with tasty breakfast options at Sweet E’s Café, one of the top-rated spots in Honolulu. Brunch is available until 2 p.m. — try the blueberry and cream cheese-stuffed French toast or made-to-order omelet. If you want to try some of the local flavors, order the Kalua pork bagel sandwich. It’s salty, soft, and delicious. (Pro tip: Parking is limited, so look for street spots nearby or take an Uber.)\

Waikiki
The Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.

Early Afternoon: Waikiki Beach

When the sun hangs low in the sky and the temperatures are warm, spend some time at Waikiki Beach. In the 19th century, Hawaiian royalty would relax on the shores of Waikiki Beach and hop on their surfboards to ride the waves. Today, the beach is open to everyone, boasting honey-colored sand and high waves for surfing. If you’re just learning to surf, check out Kuhio Beach. Swimmers and snorkelers love the quiet, peaceful atmosphere at San Souci Beach.

Grab lunch at a local eatery nearby, like Tommy Bahama Restaurant, with fresh seafood, soup, salad, burgers, and steak, along with local-inspired cocktails, or Teppan & Sushi for creative sushi and other Japanese dishes.

Iolani
Iolani Palace in Honolulu.

Evening: Iolani Palace

As the sun sets, pay a visit to Iolani Palace, a 10-room historic house and museum. You’ll learn more about the reign of King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, the final monarchs before Hawaii became part of the U.S. It’s one of your only chances to tour a royal residence on American soil, so visitors agree it’s worth the $20+ price tag for guided tours for adults. If you’re traveling with young kids, save this spot for another trip since children under age five can’t visit any floor but the basement.

Late Night: Drinks at RumFire

If you’re looking for an impressive spot for a nightcap, check out RumFire. It’s in the Sheraton Waikiki, combining the sizzle of the Pacific Rim with the cool, tropical touches of nearby Waikiki Beach. The club boasts impressive views of the Pacific and tasty cocktails, along with a food menu of expertly paired small plates, with items like flash stir-fried edamame, kimchee fried rice, curry banh mi sandwiches, and truffle burgers.

You’ll love stepping off the beaten path when you visit these local-approved spots in Honolulu.