Ah, Honolulu. Considered by many to be the gateway to Hawaii, this city truly has something for everyone. There are stunning beaches, amazing shops and restaurants, and so many incredible things to do. Honolulu isn’t, however, what one would call a budget destination. Prices are higher as standard because products take more energy and effort to get from the mainland or other parts of the world to the islands themselves.

That’s why careful planning is a must when it comes to traveling to this stunning destination, and you can start your planning efforts right here with this guide.

Finding Your Home Base

Your home base is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during your vacation. If you’re on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, splurge for a beachfront hotel with stunning views overlooking the ocean or the island itself. If you’re on a budget, opt for a hotel further away from the beaches. Your Honolulu resort is going to be where you spend most of your time, even if you’re out all day.

Before you think your options are limited, consider traveling during the low season, seeing if there are room discounts for week-long stays (or longer), any deals, and so on. There are many reasons why the same room may be out of budget in one instance and within your budget with a few tweaks, so explore your options or even get in touch with a travel agent to do the legwork for you.

Getting Around

The best way to get around Honolulu is through the bus system. You can pay a small single-fare fee, but if you want to hop on and hop off, you’re better off with the day pass. There are a few reasons for this. One is that it is by far the cheapest way around the city and all its top hotspots. Two, it saves you from the hassle of trying to park and drive. Honolulu faces some fairly serious traffic jams, especially during rush hour, so avoiding those roads and taking the bus instead can help you save time, energy, and money.

What’s There to Do?

There are so many things to do in the city. You can go to Waikiki to see the world-famous beaches and learn how to surf. You can visit any of the several museums and monuments, including Pearl Harbor National Memorial, HoMA, and Bishop Museum. There’s even a Zoo, which is a huge hit with the kids!

If you’re into shopping, then you’ll want to head over to the Ala Moana Center. There is a flea market, but keep in mind most of the products you’ll find there are mass-market. If you want something special, then you’ll need to head to the boutiques.

Finally, there’s the Nature. At a minimum, you’ll want to hike up Diamond Head for that classic view over Honolulu. There’s also the Koko Crater Railway Trail and Monoa Falls. All of these are excellent day trip material.