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10 Best Things to See & Do Near the Honolulu Cruise Port



Since the Honolulu Harbor - the island's cruise port - is centrally located in the city, it's easy to reach Honolulu's best things to see and do without having to go far. Although one attraction, Aloha Tower, is right at the port, the rest you'll need to take a taxi or a shuttle to. None of these things to do and see are more than a ten minute ride from the port, so you should be able to squeeze in quite a few fun things to do while on land.

For immediate satisfaction when hitting land, dine and shop at the Aloha Tower Marketplace. Located right at Honolulu Harbor, the market place is home to an array of restaurants and shops offering great food and drinks, and unique goods. Just down the street is the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center, where children can be in their own creative and imaginative world for hours.

Also nearby are places to journey through history, including the Bishop Museum offering an abundance of exhibits sharing the culture and history of Hawaii. Queen Emma's Summer Palace is a beautiful place for history buffs to visit, where they'll get a guided tour of the queen's vacation home. Inside are many original pieces of art and furniture.

Check with your cruise ship about free shuttles around town, or book a quick taxi ride. Enjoy these attractions that are just minutes from the dock.


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Originally intended as a royal residence, this historic building was reconfigured to house government offices when Iolani Palace was constructed. Today, it is still the home of Hawaii's supreme court. The elegant interiors, complete with graceful curves and ornate trim, are available for touring, and the Judiciary History Center (located on the ground floor) tracks Hawaiian history back two centuries. In front of the building, which faces Iolani Palace, is a statue of King Kamehameha I, in regal costume, arm outstretched. The King Kamehameha statue is the main attraction here, and pays respect to the island's beloved king and warrior.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: King Kamehameha is one of Hawaii's most respected and beloved kinds and warriors.

Jade's expert tip: Take a walk around the grounds to see the beautiful architecture.

Read more about Ali'iolani Hale and King Kamehameha I Statue →




Located in Honolulu, the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center provides an interactive, participatory learning environment designed to inspire the young and "young-at-heart." They offer unique methods of of learning and discovery in an environment that encourages children to use their senses of touch, sight, hearing and smell to gain a better understanding of the world around them. Along with various exhibits and rotating classes and group fun, there's programs like Art in the Park, a drop-in art program every Wednesday from 11a.m. to noon. In this program children explore a variety of art media through three open-ended art activities that encourage them to nurture their creative spirit. The love of reading is also introduced here during the center's fun and educational story times. Every Thursday from 10:30 to 11 a.m. in Lynne's Library children are able to enter another world through books.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Just down the street from the port, the center is all about families and children.

Jade's expert tip: Look for parking on the street behind the center.

Read more about Hawaii Children's Discovery Center →




Built in the early 1880s, this graceful Italian Renaissance structure is America's only royal palace and was home to Hawaii's last two rulers. When American businessmen overthrew the monarchy, they used the palace as the capitol until 1969; after it was vacated by the state government, restoration was begun. These days, three of the building's four floors are open to tours, and visitors can glimpse the ornate throne room, koa-wood staircase, and a wealth of plasterwork and elaborate furnishings. Amazing jewels and artifacts are available for viewing in the Galleries. Guided tours are not open to children under 5 (they are allowed in the Gallery tour).

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Iolani Palace is the ideal place for history buffs, and is close to the port.

Jade's expert tip: Visit at the start of your trip, it can enhance the remainder with the cultural background you'll gain.

Read more about 'Iolani Palace →


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Commemorating one of Waikiki's most famous native sons, this bronze statue provides the four-time Olympic athlete an eternal presence on his beloved beach. A champion swimmer, Duke also helped spread the popularity of surfing in America and was both a sheriff of Honolulu and a film actor. In fact, his fame accounted for his being named the "Hawaiian Ambassador of Aloha." Although the statue faces inland rather than out to sea, it's often adorned with flower leis by those who remember and appreciate Duke's magnanimous character. Pick up a lei at an ABC Shop nearby and join in respecting the figure.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Duke Kahanamoku is Hawaii's most famous and revered historical figure.

Jade's expert tip: In honor of Duke, take a surf lesson right here at Waikiki Beach.

Read more about Duke Kahanamoku Statue →


Honolulu Zoo


For a glimpse of some of the world's more exotic wildlife, head to this delightful zoo on Waikiki's eastern end. There, you'll find 42 acres of animal habitats, filled with rhinos, wart hogs, crocodiles, giraffes, monkeys, tigers, and elephants. Native Pacific birds, including the endangered nene (Hawaii's state bird and a relative of the Canada goose), can be spotted, and special environments make longtime residents of the African savanna and the tropical forest feel right at home. You'll also encounter reptiles and amphibians. There's food and playgrounds on site, and an abundance of space for picnics and just to sit down and relax.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Housing wildlife in the heart of Waikiki, Honolulu Zoo offers views of exotic animals and other fun things for families.

Jade's expert tip: Grab a zoo map to navigate your way around or to pick out a few must see animals.

Read more about Honolulu Zoo →


Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island


Ala Moana Beach Park sprawls across 100 acres in the midst of Honolulu, while Magic Island comprises about 30 acres of the park. Both areas are immensely popular, and folks frequently take advantage of the beaches, picnic areas, and jogging and biking paths. Facilities include showers, restrooms, and concession kiosks. The park also offers great views of the area and is often crowded with families, locals, and tourists as a result. On weekends, it may be difficult to find parking. Watch the surfers at Ala Moana, right at the end of the pier, or look farther out to several more surf breaks and watch locals tear it up.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Composed of several beaches and a grassy park, Ala Moana Beach Park is just minutes from the cruise port.

Jade's expert tip: Pick up a take out lunch to enjoy on the beach or the park here.

Read more about Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island →


Queen Emma's Summer Palace
Photo courtesy of daughters of hawaii


Set in the Nuuanu Valley, this simple frame house, distinguished by a colonnade, was inherited by Queen Emma (wife of Kamehameha IV) from her uncle, John Young II. A respite from the city to the south, the home was a Victorian showplace that has since been restored to its 19th-century beauty. Surrounded by lovely gardens, the palace now boasts many of its original furnishings and accessories, including a collection of royal artifacts. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places. Guided tours must be booked in advance. During a tour a member of the group that maintains it will guide you through the palace while sharing its history.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Just a few minutes away from the cruise port, the palace is loaded with beauty and history.

Jade's expert tip: Call in advance to book a guided tour.

Read more about Queen Emma's Summer Palace →




This landmark tower, sitting at the edge of Honolulu Harbor, once provided the initial greeting to visitors disembarking from cruise ships. Inscribed with the word "Aloha" and boasting clock faces, the tower also offers an observation deck, from which folks can take in views of Honolulu. These days, the tower (which was built in 1926) serves as the centerpiece of Aloha Tower Marketplace, a complex of shops and restaurants. Visitors can sit along side the dock on the calm waters and enjoy the peaceful ocean. Walk directly across the street to Chinatown or the financial district, or catch a taxi or shuttle down the road into Waikiki.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Loaded with shops and restaurants, the Aloha Tower is right where the cruise ships dock.

Jade's expert tip: For a short time docked Aloha Tower can be sufficient, otherwise make sure to venture into town.

Read more about Aloha Tower →


Waikiki Aquarium
Photo courtesy of Douglas Peebles


This esteemed facility, affiliated with the University of Hawaii, has been in existence since 1904. Set along the Waikiki coastline, it seeks not only to entertain visitors but to educate them and to preserve delicate marine species. Tropical Pacific creatures are its main focus, and coral propagation is a prominent goal. Exhibits on reef life and Hawaiian monk seals are among the foremost displays, and you'll also encounter eels, turtles, sharks, a variety of fish, and the elusive chambered nautilus, a relative of squids and octopi. There's many exhibits that are open ponds and children can stand above and look right into it.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Offering an exotic selection of tropical sea life, the Waikiki Aquarium intrigues visitors, and is close to the port.

Jade's expert tip: Check out the brand new Northwestern Hawaiian Islands exhibit.

Read more about Waikiki Aquarium →




Since its founding in 1889 as a repository for Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop's family artifacts, this museum has ascended to become the state's premiere institution for documenting the area's cultural and natural histories. Today, its holdings include fantastic collections of archaeological and anthropological items, which preserve the Pacific region's wide-ranging cultures. Millions of items chart the history of these islands in a variety of exhibits and multimedia displays. The grounds are lovely, and the displays are varied and cover just about everything about Hawaii you could wish to learn. Have lunch on site, and browse the gift shop which offers many locally made items. The facility also includes a planetarium.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: As Hawaii largest and most respected museum, the Bishop Museum is the place to for Hawaiian history, and it's close to the port.

Jade's expert tip: Look online before going and decide which hall to visit, or expect to spend the whole day exploring.

Read more about Bishop Museum →


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Meet Jade Eckardt

Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and...  More About Jade

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