Everything You Must Do in Honolulu & Oahu This Summer

Updated On 07/06/2018 at 01:21PM EST Updated On 07/06/2018 at 01:21PM EST
ARTafterDark | Honolulu Museum of Art
Monday - Saturday
Jul 9-Sep 8
Oahu (Various locations)
In Japan, Obon (or "Bon") is typically a three-day Buddhist festival honoring and remembering the deceased, held at different times according to region. In Hawaii, “Bon Season” spans the summer, and different dance festivals can be found all throughout Hawaii. Traditional yukata (summer robes, like a light kimono) are available for rental, if you wish to participate. Otherwise, you can enjoy the food, vendors, and sights as an observer.
Cost: Free; vendors vary.
Monday - Friday
Jul 9-Aug 3
Surf die-hards will want to add this to their calendar. The best films and shorts of barrels and wipe-outs from around the world will be screened and judged in Honolulu this summer. You’ll have the chance to witness legendary global surfing adventures in one of the world’s surfing capitals. Be sure to get tickets to the receptions (July 7 and July 29) for Hawaiian bites, brews, and special events.
Cost: $10/$12 (member/non-member) for films; $25/$30 (opening/closing) for the receptions
Jul 14
You’ll find delicious (ono) stuff all over Oahu. What if on one magical day every year, it was all gathered together in one place? Courtesy of Honolulu magazine and American Savings Bank, this festival exists to serve that need. Oahu’s most beloved local eateries turn up. Come down, get your fix of shave ice, mochi, fusion gyoza, and Kona coffee. Relax and enjoy the local entertainment.
Cost: Varies by vendor; free admission
Jul 15
If you’re in town with kids, you can’t miss this. The Coalition for Quality Children’s Media has curated a selection of US and international films to bring the international film festival experience to children. In the own words, they seek to present films “free of gratuitous violence; race, gender, or religious bias; and condescension towards children.” Check out the film schedule here.
Cost: Free parking on campus, free admission (first come)
Jul 15
The blue ocean, the white sand, the palm trees, the mai tai -- all these things come to mind when you ask most people about Hawaii. But there’s one thing missing from that list: the ukulele. The Ukulele Festival celebrates this Hawaii cultural icon with all deserved pomp. Visit Kapiolani Park and enjoy the music, shopping, and even take a free ukulele lesson.
Cost: Free admission
Jul 22
Cool down one of the hottest events of the summer season at Splash 2018, aka "LGBTQ Day" at Wet ‘n’ Wild. This event is part of Honolulu Pride 2018, and a portion of the ticket sales help to fund Honolulu. There will also be libations and a DJ, so bring your towel and get your pride on.
Cost: $29.99 with promo code: PRIDE
Friday - Friday
Jul 27-Aug 31
Someone thought that it was a great idea to combine fine art, a revolving selection of local food vendors, cocktails, and a DJ. That someone was a genius. Held on the last Friday of every month, come down to the Honolulu Museum of Art to start your night with drinks, eats, and a visit to the galleries before getting your groove on in the central courtyard. A must-do to kick off your Friday night in Honolulu.
Cost: Free admission for museum members ($30/year); $25 for non-members; food and beverage prices vary
Jul 27
On the last Friday of the month, food trucks congregate in the trendy, revitalized Kaka’ako neighborhood offering local, Asian, and global street food for a given theme (changes each month). Grab a beer and some loco moco before exploring the area’s boutiques, brewery, park, and street art.
Cost: Varies by vendor.  
Jul 28
Given the deep roots of the Chinese-Hawaiian community, it’s no surprise to find that the city hosts a Dragon Boat festival. Numerous teams compete in the race, while spectators can enjoy the sights, the history, and the day at the beach. Don’t miss the volleyball tournament, either.
Cost: Free for spectators. $200-425 per team competing.
comic con honolulu
Comic Con HNL
Friday - Sunday
Aug 3-5
Start your August with getting your geek on. Comic Con Honolulu is a celebration of all things gaming, Sci-Fi, fantasy, and (of course) comics. Prominent figures in gaming, film, and comics will be in attendance. Put on your best costume and be ready to mingle with fans, creators, and performers.
Cost: $40-65. Children 10 and under free with adult.
Friday - Friday
Aug 3-Sep 7
First Friday in Honolulu is the can’t-miss kick-off of the night. Held from 5-9pm on the first Friday of each month, you’ll wander the streets of downtown Honolulu to check out the exhibits and receptions of local galleries and artists. Once everything winds down at the galleries and workshops, the crowds disperse to the bars and clubs for the afterparty.
Cost: Varies by venue. Expect cover charges.
Thursday - Sunday
Aug 9-19
Honolulu hosts a diverse array of film festivals, and the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art hosts a fabulous LGBTQ fest in August, now in its 29th year. Their 2018 partner ClexaCon has brought a significant contingent of films to promote the voices of LGBTQ women and their allies. The APQFFA, the Asia Pacific Queer Film Festival Alliance, has sponsored a number of shorts pertinent to queer life in the Asia-Pacific. This promises to be the top queer cultural event of the season.
Cost: Passes range from $25-150.
Friday - Saturday
Aug 10-25
This year’s Shakespeare Under the Stars and Swaying Palms piece is Much Ado About Nothing. The Bard’s fans will enjoy one of his most famous works performed in the warm summer evening on the peaceful, historic grounds of the Mission Houses.
Cost: $25 general admission; $20 for students and seniors 65+
Aug 18
Beer! Need we say more? But seriously, the Hilton Hawaiian Village is hosting a beer festival where you can taste over 100 seasonal, local, and craft beers by their lagoon. Food options and live music will accompany your evening. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Ohana. All tickets come with 10x 4 ounce tastings.
Cost: $75-100 general admission; $60-85 for military with ID. Parking, extra tastings, and food additional.
Saturday - Sunday
Aug 18-26
Waikiki (various locations)
Possibly the most quintessentially Hawaii event of the season, Duke’s OceanFest celebrates the sporting legacy of legendary Hawaii athlete Duke Kahanamoku. Events include surfing and swimming competitions as well as beach volleyball, to name a few. This is a must-do as either a spectator or a competitor. Don’t miss out on the celebratory luau, either.
Cost: Free for spectators. Registration for athletes varies. Luau ticketed separately.
Saturday - Sunday
Aug 25-26
Life is too short to go without Baklava (and hummus and gyros), so you’ll need to hit up Honolulu’s annual celebration of all things Greek, held in Ala Moana Park. Don’t miss the Greek music & dancing, food & beverage, and imported crafts on offer.
Cost: $3 general admission ($1 with a toga); free for children 11 & under and active duty military
Saturday - Sunday
Aug 25-26
If you’re an athletically-inclined masochist, you’ll love the event line-up for the Spartan Race. Each event combines marathon and obstacle course features, varied by distance and obstacle quantity. You can buy into one race or an all-event pass. Whether as an individual or a team, your limits will be tested.
Cost: $25 for spectators; $10 parking; $100-300 participation
duke's oceanfest
Duke's OceanFest
Sep 1
Waikiki (Various locations)
Open-water swimmers will need to clear Saturday on Labor Day Weekend. The 2305m swim from San Souci beach to the Hilton Hawaiian Village will be a holiday weekend highlight for local and visiting swimmers. Swim clinics are held leading up to the event.
Cost: $75-100 entry
Saturday - Sunday
Sep 1-2
Summer in Honolulu means that it’s Obon season -- when Hawaii’s Japanese community follows the custom of remember the deceased. The Okinawan community celebrates over the Labor Day weekend.  Those with a connection to Japan or interest in Japanese culture won’t want to miss this exposition of one of Japan’s most unique region. You’ll get a glimpse into Okinawan music, dance, traditional costume, and food.  
Cost: Varies by vendor; $3 shuttle from (free) parking area
Saturday - Sunday
Sep 15-23
Aficionados of comedic theatre will want to mark their calendars for September. The UH student-run production group is presenting Christopher Durang’s The Actor’s Nightmare, David Ives’ Sure Thing, and a surprise third piece. Enjoy a laugh and witness the next generation of acting talent on-stage.
Cost: $5-10