Since 1778 – when Captain James Cook first stepped foot on the Hawaiian Islands – Honolulu has served as an important stopping off point for ships on their way between Asia and America. Although Maui briefly enjoyed a bit more notoriety during the early part of Hawaii’s history, Honolulu was eventually made capital of the island chain by King Kamehameha III around the year 1843. Ever since, it has been the undisputed center of tourism, commerce, politics, culture and even dining. As a port of call, Honolulu is exceptionally well suited to keeping passengers on their toes and blown away by its many charms. If you’re lucky enough to visit Honolulu, definitely hit the beach – but also venture around and see a few other key sights.

Sightseeing & Things To Do

From somber memorials that are dedicated fallen heroes to a sanctuary where you can listen to the charming cacophony of brightly colored tropical birds, Honolulu is a port of call that is bursting at its seams with surprises and incredible attractions. If your cruise ship docks here, you must make a point of getting off and seeing a little bit of this wondrous corner of the planet. Even if you only have a few hours, you’ll find that the unique character and flair of Honolulu will remain with you for many years to come.

Honolulu is a great place to sight-see because such a broad range of things are available to see and enjoy. Whether you’re look for a solemn historical site or breathtakingly beautiful scenery, Honolulu can more than accommodate your wishes. Consider one of these top attractions:

USS Arizona Memorial

Visit the site of one of the most important historical events in United States history by stopping in at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. Take a look at the place where the battleship sank and where 1,177 people lost their lives during this hugely significant event. As solemn as the memorial is, it is also a great way to learn more about the events of that day, and to hopefully gain a bit more respect for everything that happened later.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Venture out a few miles outside of Honolulu proper to pay a visit to this lushly scenic nature preserve. The key attraction at Hanauma Bay is that the bay is actually the crater of a long-extinct volcano. These days, an impressive assortment of fish make their homes here in and around the vast network of coral reefs around the bay. Snorkeling and scuba diving are out of this world at this site.

Fisher Botanical Garden

Discover an oasis amid the modernity of downtown Honolulu by ducking in to the Fisher Botanical garden. Fourteen lush acres are brimming with more than 4,000 species of tropical plants and flowers, giving you an alluring introduction to the flora of the region.


Between all of the outdoor attractions and solemn memorials, sometimes it’s nice to see a different side of Honolulu. Chinatown is the perfect place to do so, and you can shop – and eat – until you drop in this pleasant and amiable neighborhood.


Visit the Ala Moana Center – the largest open air shopping mall in the world – if you want to do some truly hardcore shopping when in Honolulu. Unlike traditional malls, this one gives a nod to the wonderful climate and weather of Honolulu by allowing shoppers to breathe fresh, clean air while finding great deals on all sorts of things. Major department stores and small specialty shops alike can be found at this topnotch place.

Best Souvenir To Bring Back To the Cruise Ship

Bring home something useful and decorative by picking up a bag or a basket woven out of coconut fronds or from the leaves of the local hala tree. Every time you use it at home, your visit to Honolulu will spring to mind. Best of all, they go well with virtually any type of interior décor.

Eating – Sample the Local Cuisine

Hawaii boasts a unique cuisine that is a fusion of several different ones, including Polynesian, Japanese and America. Look for some lau lau – steamed pork and fish wrapped in taro leaves – to sample something truly authentic. If you’re looking for dessert while in Honolulu, try a malasada – a large Portuguese donut that is coated in powdered sugar and simply out of this world amazing.

When, Where, and How

When To Go

Mid-April to early June is generally considered to be the most pleasant time to come to Honolulu. However, the weather is delightful in Hawaii all year round. The key thing about coming between April and June is that this is when the least rain falls, so you are less likely to have your plans interrupted during the day.

Where You’re Docked

Luckily, cruise ships dock at a convenient location in Honolulu, making it easy for passengers to get off their ships and roam around at their leisure. Indeed, the cruise ship dock is at piers 10-11, which are just across from the Aloha Tower Marketplace.

Which Cruise Ships Go Here?

A vast array of the major cruise lines have itineraries that include stops at Honolulu. A few of the most popular cruise lines that stop in Honolulu are Cunard, Princess Cruises, Holland America and the Yachts of Seabourn. However, there are many other options available in terms of ships, dates, days at sea and in port when it comes to Honolulu.