What to do in Honolulu/Oahu for Memorial Day

For 2019 events, go to Honolulu/Oahu Memorial Day Events & Activities 2019.

The following list is for 2009 for reference purposes only.  For 2015 events, go to Honolulu/Oahu Memorial Day Events & Activities 2015.
With Oahu’s rich military history, your bound to find some very meaningful activities to do for the Memorial Day Weekend holiday. If you are staying in Waikiki Beach, the good news is that all these events and places are relatively close to Waikiki Beach. They are all in Honolulu.

  • Visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as Punchbowl. This peaceful and somber site is a must visit in my opinion. In addition to the wonderful memorial, you’ll also find an tremendous view of Honolulu. We recently took my parents on a day trip to Oahu and seeing Punchbowl was one of the highlights that they enjoyed most. If you can time your visit for 8:30 a.m. Monday, May 25, you can catch the 60th annual Mayor’s Memorial Day Ceremony. Parking will be limited during the ceremony, so follow this link for information on transportation and parking. (See our photo set from various visits to Punchbowl.)
  • See the annual Lantern Floating Ceremony at Ala Moana Beach Park. “The ceremony remembers those who gave their lives in conflict, allows for reflection on the memories of loved ones and dedicates prayers for a peaceful and harmonious future. Just as the waters of the Pacific merge with each ocean, the wish for peace and happiness extends from Hawaii across the globe.” This event will be held Monday, May 25, 2009 at 6.30 p.m. on Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park. For more information see this link.
  • See the Arizona Memorial – Though there aren’t any specific events, visiting this memorial is certainly a worthy way to honor Memorial Day. Read more about planning your visit. I highly recommend that you get there early in the morning. (See out photos from various visits to the USS Arizona Memorial.)
  • Tour the USS Missouri- This retired battleship is also known as the Mighty Mo and also makes a great place to visit to honor the day. See my article with advice for touring the Mighty Mo.
  • See the Pacific Aviation Museum in Pearl Harbor – This museum showcases historic aircraft that have been important to the military. If you happen to be active duty, reserve, or retired military personnel, you and your dependents can visit for free on Memorial Day.
  1. Thank you for this list! Based on photos, it seems the Lantern Floating Ceremony gets pretty crowded. Do we need to arrive early to catch a glimpse, or is this something you can see even if you arrive at 6:30? Also, will most restaurants be open on Memorial Day? Where I’m from, only the Asian restaurants are open on holidays, but in Oahu, half the restaurants are Asian!

  2. Hi Sheila, we are going to the Big Island in July. In years past there was a Horseback riding company that offered a BBQ then some Star gazing afterwards. I am unable to find them. any help is appreciated.


  3. The lantern floating looks amazing. Unfortunately, we’re going a week too late.

  4. @ ALS – The lantern ceremony does look beautiful, doesn’t it. Too bad we’ll both miss it. I’ll look forward to hearing how your vacation goes when you get back. Have fun!

    @ Jeanne – I just read that the Lantern floating event is expected to draw 30,000 participants! I have some contacts for you: Tom Nishiyama or Roy Kurata of Shinnyo-En Hawaii at 808-955-5290; email: tomnishi AT lava dot net or kurata AT lava dot net

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