everything to do in honolulu this summer
©Hawaii Tourism Authority/Tor Johnson
©Hawaii Tourism Authority/Tor Johnson

Everything You Must Do in Honolulu This Summer

Although Oahu’s weather makes it feel like summer all year long, there’s still something about the turning of the solstices that make June through August feel just a bit more relaxed. Maybe it’s the extra warm spark in the air, or maybe it’s just that school’s out and the tourists are here to party. No matter the reason, Honolulu and the rest of the island have a surplus of events you need to go and check out, so fill your social calendar with our top picks for fun times and make this a season to remember.

50th State Fair
50th State Fair | EK Fernandez Shows

Eat a Bunch and Ride the Rides at the 50th State Fair

This month-long event returns with food, entertainment, games, and rides, so you can fill up on cotton candy, funnel cakes, and hot dogs, then try to keep everything down while you tackle the Zipper, Super Sizzler, and the Pharaoh’s Fury swinging ship.

Pack a Picnic for the Pier

Bring your own food, beach chair, or blanket for a sunset picnic on the pier of the USS Missouri, where you can enjoy live music and tours of the docked battleship. Gordon Biersch beer will be flowing but just remember to bring cash.

Watch the Dancers at the King Kamehameha Hula Competition

The international competition returns for its 44th year, presenting both traditional and contemporary hula styles with participants from Japan, Mexico, mainland United States, and Hawaii.

Welcome the Hokulea Home

After a three-year sail around the world, the Polynesian Voyaging Society crew of this traditional canoe returns home. The team arrives at Magic Island and is celebrated with live music, speakers from the community, and food from local restaurants.

Celebrate the Hokulea Again at the Honolulu Night Market

Honolulu Night Market returns with its largest block party to date, with three music stages, food, and over 40 retail vendors. Catch a special screening of Hokulea’s highlights from their voyage, Disney’s Moana, a swimwear fashion show, and a special tribute to POW! WOW! Hawaii co-founder Kamea Hadar for his commitment to perpetuating Hawaiian culture.

Learn to Make a Flower Crown

Experts from Kakaako’s popular botanical shop will teach you the skills to design and weave your own flower crown using locally grown flora. Plus, there will be plenty of rose flowing.

Become an Acrobat at the Aina and Glow Flow

Spend the day learning standing acrobatics with Liz and Max Acro, then join the glow-in-the-dark yoga party, where you can paint your body with fluorescent colors while a live DJ and experienced instructors turn you into moving art. After that, head to the happy hour at Ravish for some adult beverages.

Party With Fish and Music at Ke Kani O Ke Kai

The second summer concert series at the Waikiki Aquarium showcases musical acts Streetlight Cadence, Hoku Zuttermeister, and Kalani Pea, plus food from restaurant partner Cactus.
Fireworks over Ala Moana | Flickr/Kyle Nishioka

Honor Japanese Ancestors at Moiliili Summerfest

At this festival, the Japanese community is celebrated with the country’s traditional music, dance, and food. Expect live bands, ramen, crafts, local beer, and more throughout the night.

Celebrate the Islands at the Kailua Independence Day Parade

Start the holiday by cheering on bands, military and veterans groups, and students as they march down Kainalu Drive, from Palapu Street to Kailua Intermediate School. Be sure to find your seats early -- this neighborhood parade has been a tradition for over 70 years and lawn space fills up fast.

Watch the Fourth of July Fireworks at Ala Moana

This popular show lights up the sky with a spectacular fireworks celebration so beloved that families and friends camp out the night before for prime views. Pitch a tent or come early in the evening before the park fills up.

Eat a Bunch of Food Truck Delights on the Fourth

If you’re looking to escape large crowds on Independence Day, this North Shore resort hosts a food, music, and fireworks celebration starting at 2pm. Bring your appetite as Eat the Street, the island’s popular food truck rally, returns with over 30 trucks.

See The Little Mermaid Live

Explore a whole new world as mermaid Ariel and her undersea friends take the stage to perform hit songs from the Disney film.

Down Some Chili Peppers at the Hawaii State Farm Fair

For one weekend a year, this 4,000-acre working cattle ranch is home to the island’s annual agricultural showcase, with live music, comedy, plenty of food, and contests involving corn husking and chili pepper eating.

Hear Some Island Tunes at the MayJah RayJah Music Festival

Island music and reggae artists unite for this annual two-day concert, with Soja and Katchafire on Friday and Rebel SouJahz and Shaggy on Saturday.
The Statue of Duke Kahanamoku, draped with leis
The Statue of Duke Kahanamoku, draped with leis | Flickr/Luke H. Gordon

Sip a Ton of Sake

Celebrate the island’s love of the Japanese adult beverage with tastings of some of the finest sake in the world, along with food from over 20 local restaurants.

Join Jack Johnson and Friends for a Good Cause

The local surfer/singer-songwriter takes the stage for two nights, and all proceeds benefit his Kokua Hawaii Foundation, which supports environmental education for schools and communities. Get your tickets ASAP.

Stock Up on Gifts and Crafts at the Made in Hawaii Festival

Over 400 local vendors showcase food products, books, apparel, jewelry, and crafts, which means there’s a good chance you’ll find that perfect something for that hard-to-get person on your holiday shopping list a few months in advance.

Get Wet at Duke’s OceanFest

This week-long festival honors legendary waterman Duke Kahanamoku with a schedule jam-packed with the Olympian’s favorite sports, including longboard surfing, paddleboard racing, swimming, tandem surfing, surf polo, beach volleyball, and stand-up paddling.

See Captain Kirk at Amazing Hawaii Comic Con

The Convention Center transforms into a comic lover’s dream, with cosplay, an artist’s alley, panel discussions, and guest speakers like William Shatner, Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, and X-Men writer Chris Claremont. Don your best costume and join in on the fun.

Enjoy the Delicacies of the Greek Festival

Opa! Get your belly ready for the best of Greek eating in the islands with specialities like spanakopita, souvlaki, and gyros, then wash it all down with Grecian beer and wine. If you’re not too full, you can bust a move as several bands play on the main stage.

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Summer Nakaishi is a freelance writer for Thrillist, who’s most likely heard every single “summer” joke that’s ever existed in the history of all mankind.