Everyone wants to visit Hawaii at some point in their life and if you're graduating (congratulations), it just may be the perfect time to go for it! In between ventures and looking for an adventure, graduating students are prime candidates for Honolulu senior trips. Read below and see why Hawaii's capital city would be a spectacular choice for celebratory groups!
Reason #1 - Hawaii's Natural Beauty
Perhaps not everyone in your group is an avid surfer or enjoys rock climbing, but surely they can appreciate the stunning beauty of Hawaii's natural setting. Diamond Head, the sort-of tuna fin-shaped crater playing backdrop to the capital city, is a highly popular tourist destination for hiking and other outdoor recreation. The climb is moderate and the views from the top reward your whole group for their efforts.
Don't think that's the only natural wonder in Honolulu! Manoa Falls, minutes outside of Honolulu, is a phenomenal 150-foot waterfall framed by the jungle foliage, accessible by just a 1.5-mile hike through the scenic wilderness. If you enjoy watersports and swimming, explore Na Mokulua, two little islets off the coast of Oahu with incredible rocky cliffs and crystal clear water that begs cannonball jumps. Nu'uanu Pali is another perfectly popular destination for hiking and sightseeing though you might be awestruck by the majesty of Ko'olau mountain, its panoramic vistas, and the waterfalls along the hike.
Finally, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. This lovely cove area had been decimated by commercial development in years past but because of conservation efforts and strict rules, it has returned to its natural glory. Hanauma Bay now allows conscientious visitors to enjoy the park through beach lounging, snorkeling to see the many schools of fish and marine animals, and much more.
Ecotourism is popular in Hawaii because of its rich natural environment which should not be spoiled. Remember, take only pictures, leave only footprints. And if you're not so much into hiking and biking, beach lounging and swimming is always a popular choice in Hawaii.
Reason #2 - Cultural Opportunities
While the natural setting of Hawaii certainly dominates many a traveler's itinerary, the cultural opportunities of the state are not to be overlooked. The Hawaiian islands, as we will discuss later on, used to be a series of kingdoms, finally united under King Kamehameha I in 1810. The Hawaiian culture, from before Hawaii became an American state, continues in a myriad of places. The Polynesian Cultural Center is perhaps the best first stop for a cultural tour of Honolulu, as here you will uncover your own ability to hula, and immerse yourselves in recreated cultural villages with traditional pork luaus, ukulele lessons, and canoe rides. The Honolulu Museum of Art is another prime destination with over 4,500 works of art pertinent to Hawaiian culture.
Like much of America, too, Hawaii is a melting pot and has welcomed cultures of all kinds into its loving island embrace. Shangri La is located in Honolulu and contains the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art housed in an Islamic-style mansion. Honolulu is also home to a thriving Japanese-American community and contains not only a Japanese Cultural Center with fascinating exhibits but several stunningly beautiful Japanese temples and historic sites. The Byodo-In Temple in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park was built in commemoration of the centennial of the first Japanese immigrants to land in Hawaii. Its incredible authentic appearance, replicated from the original in Uji, Japan, at the base of Ko'olau Mountains, is enough to leave you awestruck and breathless.
Reason #3 - Rich History
As you may have guessed, or know from school, Hawaii is a very historic state. The islands' history goes further back than the Hawaiian kingdoms to the first Polynesian immigrants from the Marquesas Islands some 1,500 years ago. Evidence of their religious practices, their homes, and other buildings are spread throughout the islands in several protected parks. As their culture evolved, their kingdoms were united under King Kamehameha I and remained so until Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state in 1959. All this history and more is on display in the incomparable Bishop Museum, an incredible mansion filled with the world's largest collection of Polynesian cultural artifacts. The Bishop Museum is highly recommended to anyone visiting Honolulu for its phenomenal examination of history.
Nearby is another incredible look at history, at the only royal palace in existence in the United States, Iolani Palace. The mansion was built for King Kamehameha III and ended with Queen Liliʻuokalani in 1893 when the kingdoms were overthrown, and then used as a capitol building. Today, the palace is perfectly preserved to welcome curious visitors and explore the period furniture, the decor used by the Hawaiian royals, and their personal histories. There are a number of tours available to information-seeking groups.
Finally, you won't want to come to Honolulu and not visit Pearl Harbor. The site of the devastating 1941 attack, Pearl Harbor now remembers the men and women lost through poignant and historically significant memorials including the sunken battleship USS Arizona. Here is the most well known of the battleship memorials, as the memorial is built floating over the sunken ship. Other sites in the park include the submarine USS Bowfin, USS Missouri on which the Japanese surrender was given, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.
Reason #4 - Shopping & Dining
As a capital city and the largest city on the collected islands, Honolulu has plenty of exciting shopping and dining options. The largest shopping center is Ala Moana Center with over 230 shops in a wonderfully luxurious outdoor shopping setting while another popular option is the Haleiwa Farmers Market, bringing in over 3,000 visitors every weekend. Pearlridge is another popular traditional shopping center as is Waikele Premium Outlets though you're likely to find exciting outdoor pop-up markets with prime people-viewing opportunities.
Dining, as with shopping, is various and widespread. The culinary creativeness of Honolulu is astonishing and you'll want to explore the exotic smells that come wafting into the streets as you tour your afternoon away. Aloha Cones is one of the more famous affordable seafood restaurants also serving delicious shaved ice cones. Other popular affordable options include Marukame Udon, Ono Seafood, and Island Style BBQ.