Famed for its tropical climate, fantastic surfing spots, paradise-like scenery, and golden beaches, Honolulu is also the jumping-off point for several action-packed day trips that won’t break the bank.
Visitors to the Hawaiian capital have the entire island of Oahu and beyond to explore. If you’re coming to Honolulu without the privilege of a huge budget to play with, but would still like to experience some of the great activities and attractions that can be found nearby, we’ve picked out 5 of the best affordable day tours from Honolulu currently available.
North Shore Adventure with Waimea Waterfall Hike
The North Shore is one of the jewels in the Hawaiian crown and this full-day group tour invites you to explore it on foot in the company of like-minded travellers and an expert guide. After pick-up from your Honolulu hotel, you’ll make the hour’s drive north to lush Waimea Valley. Here you’ll hike through the valley before reaching the stunning Waimea Waterfall, where you’ll get to marvel at your surroundings before cooling off with a refreshing dip in the freshwater spring. Later, you’ll get to sample locally grown coffee or chocolates before your return journey to Honolulu. From $167 per person.
Oahu Tradewind Sail
When it comes to traversing the ocean, tradewind sailing is hard to beat. This tour lets you experience the thrills of this type of sailing on the pristine waters that surround Oahu. After meeting at a designated point on the Waikiki Beach Walk in Honolulu mid-afternoon, you’ll board your sailing vessel before venturing out to sea. Over the next 1.5 hours you’ll get to see notable landmarks including the Diamond Head Lighthouse, Koko Head, Koko Crater, and if the conditions are right, even catch glimpse of Molokai, Maui, and Lanai some 40 miles away. Dolphin and whale-spotting are also commonplace so be sure to keep those eyes peeled. From $58 per person.
Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion
Share the tranquil Hawaiian waters with green sea turtles, tropical fish, and more on this 2-hour guided excursion. Meeting at Waikiki Marina in Honolulu, you’ll be shown to your vessel before heading out to sea, cruising along the coastline to Turtle Canyons snorkelling site, where the eye-catching turtles congregate above the reef. After being fitted with snorkeling equipment and receiving a brief safety lesson, you’ll plunge into the sea to discover the vibrant marine life below. As well as turtle-spotting, you may also catch sight of spinner dolphins, flying fish, and – in winter months – humpback whales. Complimentary refreshments on the boat are provided during the trip. From $86 per person.
Oahu Submarine Scooter Adventure
It may put off the purists, but there’s no denying the attraction of exploring the ocean using state-of-the-art aquatic equipment. This 2-hour tour lets you do just that courtesy of a self-propelled, electric underwater scooter. After meeting your group and guide on Honolulu’s Keahole Street, you’ll climb aboard a 50ft catamaran and cruise up the coast of Oahu past Maunalua Bay, Diamond Head and the Koolau mountain range. At the dive location, you’ll listen to a safety briefing before submerging on your scooter, following your guide through schools of tropical fish, past coral reefs and green sea turtles. After your turn on the scooter, you’ll have the chance to don fins, a mask and snorkel to explore the water in more traditional style, or simply relax onboard with drinks and snacks as your guide regales you with the history of the area before your return journey. From $148 per person.
Oahu Off the Beaten Path Sacred Sites Small-Group Tour
This half-day tour lets travellers escape the well-trodden tourist trail and discover some of Oahu’s most sacred sites with a local guide. You’ll be asked to assemble early morning in front of the entrance to Honolulu Zoo before heading off by coach on your whistle-stop tour of 5-6 historically significant locations around the island. During the small-group tour you’ll learn about the history, geology, and spiritual practices of Hawaii. Highlights include visits to Makapu’u Point, one of the most beautiful lookouts on Oahu; Byodo-In Temple, located at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park; and Ulupo Heiau State Monument, an ancient site associated in legend with the mythical Hawaiian race of dwarf people known as the Menehune. From $146 per person.
By Paul Joseph