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Honolulu, O'ahu

What should I see in 8 hours during layover?

My wife and I have a 10 hour layover in Honolulu before our flight home. We plan on renting a car during this time. 

Does anyone have some suggestions on what we should see and if it's worth driving around the island?

9 Answers

top answer by
Tony from Seattle

Oahu is under-rated-- most people visit Hawaii to see lush/beautiful scenery and Honolulu doesn't exactly feed that need...  But the island is gorgeous and there is plenty to see outside the city.

You could go see Hanauma Bay, which is stunning:

It offers the best snorkeling on the island, but it's a known spot near the city (plenty of other people).  It's managed heavily-- you buy a ticket, have to watch a movie about keeping the coral safe, and walk down a steep paved walkway to the bay (they have little motorized carts if it's too steep).  You can rent snorkel gear and they have showers, or you can just gawk at the scenery.

Pearl Harbor is flat out amazing if you like history and is handy.  Be sure to see the USS Arizona Memorial.

Waikiki is nice for an urban beach and a place to grab an overpriced tropical drink.

Diamond Head is a great hike with a great 1-2 hour hike with stunning views:

It's a bit farther away, but the North Shore feels more like Hawaii.  Sunset Beach Park is a great base to walk around.  The biggest surf is on the north side of the island, so it's pretty dramatic.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hanauma Bay (attraction)
  2. Pearl Harbor (metro area)
  3. USS Arizona Memorial (attraction)
  4. Waikiki (attraction)
  5. Diamond Head (attraction)
  6. Sunset Beach Park (attraction)
7 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Rick from Denver

Hi Jack. Yes, it's worth driving around the island, at least part way. Take H1 from the airport toward town and bypass Honolulu and Waikiki. Where H1 ends, Hwy 72 begins. This is a beautiful drive with numerous scenic stops along the way: Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay, some scenic overlooks (including a Blow Hole and Eternity Beach), Sandy Beach, Makapu‘u Lighthouse, Makapu‘u Beach, Makai Pier, Waimānalo Town, and the beach at Bellows AFB (open to the public only on weekends). You can follow Hwy 72 all the way around the SE corner of the island until it meets Hwy 61. If you have time, take a right into Kailua Town and check out Lanikai Beach. Otherwise, take a left and drive over the Pali Hwy back toward the airport.  

You can venture into Honolulu and Waikiki if you have the time and patience. Beware, traffic and roads can be maddening. Include a visit to Diamond Head if you go into town.

Another option is to spend a few hours at the Pearl Harbor historic sights. (Follow the signs to the USS Arizona Memorial, rather than to Pearl Harbor.)

Have fun. Aloha!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Honolulu (city)
  2. Waikiki (attraction)
  3. Hawaii Kai (neighborhood)
  4. Hanauma Bay (attraction)
  5. Blow Hole (attraction)
  6. Eternity Beach (attraction)
  7. Sandy Beach (attraction)
  8. Makapu‘u Lighthouse (attraction)
  9. Makapu‘u Beach (attraction)
  10. Makai Pier (attraction)
  11. Waimānalo (region)
  12. Bellows AFB (attraction)
  13. Kailua (city)
  14. Lanikai Beach (attraction)
  15. Pearl Harbor (metro area)
  16. USS Arizona Memorial (attraction)
5 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Mark from Boston

If you can get get there early in the morning before it is crowded go on Pearl Harbor. If you have a car drive to the Nuʻuanu Pali State Wayside where you can see the entire windward part of the island. Continue on to Kailua Beach and stick your feet in the the water. Way better than Waikiki.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pearl Harbor (metro area)
  2. Kailua Beach (attraction)
  3. Nuʻuanu Pali State Wayside (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Nathalia from Brooklyn

Pearl Harbor is near the airport you can visit the memorial which has a nice 30 minute film with footage from December 7. Waikiki Strip is only 40 minutes from the airport, great for shopping, grabbing some lunch and even catching a light wave or catamaran sail.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pearl Harbor (metro area)
  2. Waikiki Strip (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Christian from Danville (California)

Jack..10 hour layover is a good chunk of time.  I suggest 3 things...1) visit Pearl Harbor and take the water taxi to USS Arizona Memorial.  2) Drive the 20miles from Pearl Harbor along HWY 99 or 803 to the North Shore and have lunch at Kua‘āina Sandwich (Kua-Aina Sandwich) and 3) Head back to Waikiki for a Mai Tai at Duke's Waikiki or Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Coconut Grove.  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pearl Harbor (metro area)
  2. USS Arizona Memorial (attraction)
  3. North Shore (region)
  4. Kua‘āina Sandwich (restaurant)
  5. Duke's Waikiki (restaurant)
  6. Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Coconut Grove (attraction)
3 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Paula from Tampa

Driving the island is a great idea.  We enjoy the area near the Dole Plantation.  Nice drive with beautiful scenery!  

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Dole Plantation (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by

Rent a car and drive around  the island. Head south thru Waikiki then east and the follow the coastline to north shore. Stop in Haleiwa town get some food. Best Thai I've had in forever at Opal Thai.  Honestly best thing you can do because you will see so many places and so many diff aspects. I love O'ahu - I spent 2 years there and it's a very special place in the world - enjoy 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Waikiki (attraction)
  2. Haleiwa (city)
  3. Opal Thai (restaurant)
  4. O'ahu (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Roger from San Marcos (Texas)

If the 10 hours are daytime, you could try Pearl Harbor Bishop Museum , Chinatown (Downtown Honolulu)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bishop Museum (attraction)
  2. Chinatown (attraction)
  3. Downtown Honolulu (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Sue from Daytona Beach

Be careful of traffic if that is the time of day you have your layover. Honolulu is almost as bad as LA traffic! If you like history, Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is great but make sure to buy your tickets online ahead of time to maximize your time. 

I love Ko'Olina Harbor so you can go swim with the dolphins out in the ocean.

Diamond Head is only advisable if you will start early in the morning as it gets very hot through the day. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pearl Harbor Visitor Center (attraction)

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