How to Spend 48 Hours in Honolulu

Hawaii Visitor Info

The Hawaiian capital. Big, beautiful, and worth every moment even when you don’t have many to spare.

If your time in Honolulu is short, fear not!

While 48 hours is not a long time, there’s plenty to pack in so you won’t feel like you’ve not seen or experienced this city. From walking tours to locals offering traditional food and good company you’ll be glad you stepped out.

Take the time to learn about the myths and legends of this magnificent island and the city the world has come to recognize.

Whether for a stopover on your way home, or a planned 2-day staycation, it is all waiting for you in Honolulu.

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Updated 2023 Hawaii Visitor Guide

If you're visiting Hawaii soon, be sure to download a copy of our updated 2023 Hawaii Visitor Guide. We've updated the packet with a lot of new great information for potential visitors (and for those who've been a time or two as well).

Statue of King Kamehameha to represent learning the history of Honolulu Hawaii as activities to do in 48 hours

Open The History Books

Want to know more about the history of Honolulu? Don’t worry; there won’t be a quiz afterward.

There are a few places where you can get a feel for the past people and places in Honolulu. For the history buffs, there will be some exciting spots you may want to visit during your short stay.

Take a trip to the Pearl Harbor area and see the USS Arizona Memorial.

This thought-provoking tribute and information guide to one of the world’s biggest war-time tragedies is probably the most popular of historical sites. Here we celebrate and remember the bravery shown on that fateful day.

Visit the U.S. Post Office, Custom House & Court House and get a bonus if you’re an architecture connoisseur. This spectacular building is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Find out what all the fuss is about while taking in the Spanish-influenced building.

Fancy a lesson in Hawaiian royalty? Look no further than Punchbowl Street. Here you will find the King Kamehameha Statue and Ali ‘Iolani Hale. Commissioned as the royal palace equivalent for Hawaiian royalty, its significance is not lost on all who visit. The architecture alone is majestic, and is now the home to the Supreme Court of Hawaii.

Experience the history of the island of Honolulu and its home, the beautiful island of Oahu.

USS Arizona memorial to represent tourist activities to see in 48 hours in Honolulu Hawaii

Go On, Be a Tourist

Tours in Honolulu can take a full day or a few hours. Choose the one right for you during your 48 hours in Honolulu.

If nothing else, take a cruise on the water. It beckons people from afar, and for a good reason. The seas here, filled with life and legend, hold secrets that will forever remain in the traditions and tales of Hawaii’s native people. A sunset cruise will have you relaxing and enjoying the company of other like-minded cruisers. A cruise is a great way to end your stay.

Now, visit Waikiki Aquarium if you want to get up close to the sea life. Between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm every day, you can stay for a few hours or make a day of it. If you have kids with you, this is a great option, and it’s perfect for us big kids too.

Have you considered a walking tour? This activity is an excellent way to be guided through streets to places with historical significance or just areas of interest you may never have known about.

There are plenty of options in Honolulu for those enjoying a brief stay. Day trips, either guided or self-powered, dining tours, and shopping expeditions will all have you planning a trip back as soon as possible.

A local dog with a lei necklace to represent seeing locals as an activity to do in 48 hours in Honolulu Hawaii

Meet the Locals

If wandering the streets is more your thing, don’t forget to find out when the local markets are happening. Visiting the markets is a great way to see craftspeople and producers showing their stuff.

Local sales help support communities and people who are and will always be residents. 

Make friends with a local. Say Aloha! and you will be guaranteed to get a smile in return. Hawaiians are proud of their towns and cities and have a lot to offer visitors willing to spend time talking and getting acquainted.

If you get the chance, go outside the resorts to experience another aspect of Hawaiian life.

Rent a car and go for a drive. Small towns give visitors, even time-poor ones, the chance to see and smell the sites from a different perspective. Watch out for the chicken. They like to think they own the roads.

Public transport is another way to get familiar with the streets and where people live in this city.

A pineapple to represent getting food as an activity to do in 48 hours in Honolulu Hawaii

Feeling Hungry?

Taste the traditional Hawaiian foods on your short stay in Honolulu. From Poke bowls with fresh seafood and vegetables to Hawaii’s favorite garlic shrimp. Why eat at a hotel when you can experience the local fare?

Ask about the best restaurants in town, and don’t forget the mandatory Hawaiian fruit punch drinks.

You can even take a food-tasting tour. Now we’re talking.

Shaved Ice, here we come.

A person using their phone to take a photo to represent taking lots of photos of activities and sights as a good idea when you're in Honolulu Hawaii for 48 hours

Keep the Memories

Take lots of photos, even if it is just with your phone. Re-living the moments can be the best thing you bring home with you after a brief stay. Buy souvenirs, of course, but doing something personal that speaks to you and reminds you of your visit is a winner.

Ask the ones who can help, whether a hotel concierge, travel agents, or the locals, where the best spots are for epic photos you’ll treasure.

Whether a solo adventurer, or a family affair, there’s lots to do in 48 hours, but planning your stay is essential when you only have a short time. Break it up into day and evening, then rinse and repeat for day two. It’s all up to you.

Walk, swim, talk, eat, drink and most importantly, be merry.

Think again if you felt your stopover or a two-day visit would be filled with hotel room movies and room service.

Get out there! Resistance is futile. You’ll feel better about the experience this fantastic city and its people will bring to you.

Ready to go to Honolulu? We can help you with the best places to stay and the most enjoyable activities, no matter how long your visit is. Contact us for the best advice before you plan, book, pack, and go!

Updated 2023 Hawaii Visitor Guides

If you're visiting Hawaii soon, be sure to download a copy of one of our updated 2023 Hawaii Visitor Guides. We've updated the packets with a lot of new great information for potential visitors (and for those who've been a time or two as well).

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