There’s more than one reason why Honolulu is the most populous and remote city in the world. The surrounding landscape and beaches are among the most beautiful, and life is a cheer in the city that bears the name "calm port." From Holnolulu, there are plenty of unique places to discover. Jump in a car and watch the stunning landscape outside the city unfold in front of your eyes.
The Haiku Stairs
11.6 milesOne of the most beautiful trails on Hawaii is the Haiku Stairs. Locals call it the "Stairway to Heaven" for its immense climb and equally breathtaking views. The steps lead to an abandoned radio tower used by the US military in World War II. The construction in 1941 was a highly classified project, and the tower was able to send messages across the Pacific, deep into Tokyo harbour.
Although it’s nowadays forbidden to enter the Haiku Stairs, many still make the hike. We wouldn’t recommend you to do anything illegal, so in order to get permission to access, you can offer the Friends of Haiku Stairs group a helping hand to restore and maintain the trail.
Koko Crater Botanical Garden
16.1 milesDry and shielded from wind, this crater is the sweet spot for an impressive cactus collection. Rare and endangered dry land plants spread out over 60 acres of the 200-acre crater. Stroll around the over 3-km route and find yourself in a fata morgana.
The garden is divided according to the vegetation of the four different regions it represents: the Americas, Africa, Madagascar, and of course, Hawaii. While you’re here, don’t forget to have look around at the nearby Koko Crater Horse Stables.
14.3 milesPopular among the rich and famous, the beach of "Heavenly Waters" should be at your standard. It has the perfect white sand, and its two small islands just off the coast give your holiday pictures the backdrop of a postcard. Watching the full moon rise from this beach may well become one of your most romantic memories.
On another note, please be sure to leave the car at a paid parking lot; the residential area is known for its continuous parking control. If you would like to swim or sail to one of the two islands, set foot on the larger one as the smaller one is a protected bird’s paradise.
12.6 milesAlthough it’s hard to get tired of Oahu’s beaches, we also recommend a deep dive into history. Plantation Village is an outdoor museum that tells stories about life on sugar plantations between 1850 and 1950. Different cultures living on Hawaii — Chinese, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Japanese, Korean and Filipino — mixed together on the plantations.
The museum shows the restored houses various ethnic groups, community buildings, an infirmary, a community bathhouse and a manager’s office. They are decorated with hundreds of artifacts, including clothing, furniture, and art placed in original settings.
9.3 milesAny account of World War II mentions Pearl Harbor as a turning point in history. The bombardment of the harbour left thousands of young soldiers dead and prompted the US to declare war against Japan and its allies. Today, it is an area of commemoration and education.
Start at the visitors center where you get a good overview of the history and the different spots of interest in the area. Many Honolulu tour operators can lead you around, but you are also able to visit a number of sites yourself.