Millions visit Hawaii every year for the beaches and volcanoes, however there is much more to the islands than that! Even in the capital city there is fun to be had. There are tons unique, offbeat Honolulu sights and activities scattered around town or just a short distance away — if you know where to look. So the next time you find yourself on a crowded Waikiki Beach and want to break free of the masses and do something uniquely Hawaiian, here’s where to start:
Hike To A Deserted Waterfall
Places like Manoa Falls and the Maunawili Trail are beautiful, however they are also overcrowded. To find somewhere less touristy but still beautiful, head on out to Likeke Falls just a few miles northeast of Honolulu. Although the falls are not as big as Manoa Falls, the view along the hike more than makes up for it! Just bring shoes because it is always muddy.
Get Lost In The A-Maze-ing Dole Plantation
Located about thirty minutes outside of Honolulu on their original fields, the Dole Pineapple Plantation includes a museum housed in a replica of the old Dole plantation home, as well as The Pineapple Express, a train tour through the fields. Dole’s claim to fame is the world’s largest maze, built entirely out of Hawaiian pineapple plants and certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Although popular with tourists and not even remotely off the beaten path, Dole’s sprawling maze is definitely the most quirky and offbeat Honolulu activity.
Hidden within the 137,000-square-foot maze are six stations with uniquely shaped hole punches. Each maze-goer is given a card with which to collect these punch marks. However, if one should get frustrated or give up, the card can be torn open to reveal a map of the maze. Those who complete the maze with all the punch marks on an unopened card win a prize if their time is one of the daily or weekly tops.
The plantation is located on the Kamehameha Highway and reachable by bus if traveling on a budget.
Explore Hawaii Plantation Village
Lesser-known than the Dole Plantation is the re-creation of a 1900s sugar plantation, Hawaii Plantation Village. Think of it like an outdoor museum. This sprawling plantation is a detailed look at the history and development of Hawaiian plantations, crops, immigrant workers, and the modern economy. Several different tours are offered, all under $10.00 per person, with the longest lasting over two hours. The museum is nonprofit and sorely in need of extra funding, so make sure to buy your bottled water there, instead of bringing it with you.
Visit Jurassic Park
Since the 1960s, more than 50 Hollywood blockbusters have been filmed on the Kualoa Ranch, including “Godzilla” and “Jurassic Park,” as well as TV shows like “Lost.” Production gear and props still exist, providing ample selfie opportunities as you get a guided tour through the exciting and beautiful history of this corner of The Big Island. And because Hollywood’s “Hawaii Backlot” is still used every year, there is always a chance of encountering a shoot in progress.
Get Your Shrimp On
The food truck trend has caught on in Hawaii, and scattered throughout the city are a variety of shrimp trucks, all of which serve succulent, mouth-watering shrimp. However it’s the shrimp trucks on the North Shore that are the most famous — particularly Giovanni’s — which brings me to my next suggestion…
Escape To The North Shore
To truly break free of the Waikiki crowds, head up to the North Shore for a night or two. There are still plenty of hotels, resorts and beaches, but fewer people. However, keep in mind that the North Shore is a surfers’ paradise famous for its waves, which can be several feet even on a calm day. Not ideal for young children or a relaxing float, but definitely my favorite part on the entire island. Love me some good wave action!