What began as the exotic bird collection of the island’s king is now a park with over 1,200 animals, including several rare and endangered species.
The colorful flamingos welcome you as soon as you enter the grounds of the Honolulu Zoo. Nearby, over 160 other species of tropical birds also show off their bright plumage. Continue on for close encounters with impressive giant reptiles such as Komodo dragons, crocodiles and iguanas, before visiting the giraffes, meerkats, cheetahs and aardvarks.
The 42-acre (16-hectare) grounds of the Honolulu Zoo are divided into three main areas: the Tropical Forests, the Pacific Islands and the African Savannah. Within these areas you will see over 250 different mammal, reptile and bird species in areas designed to closely replicate their natural habitats. Keep an eye out for the nene, an endangered local goose, and the ancient-looking Galapagos tortoises. You won’t miss the Asian elephants in their large enclosure. Visit the Zoo Gardens to see some of the local flora and fauna of Hawaii.
If you are visiting with children, head to the central area of the zoo. This is where the popular “Keiki” (Children’s) Zoo is located. Kids can interact with a number of animals, including pot-bellied pigs, tortoises and llamas. Close by, you’ll find a playground and the ever-popular tiger enclosure.
The zoo allows you to bring in your own food and alcohol-free drinks, and you can also buy lunch at the Kapahulu Market, where a range of outlets serve options to suit every palette. If you buy a drink from here, you are entitled to free refills for the duration of your visit.
If you visit between June and August, the zoo can make for an attractive evening destination as well, as it hosts a popular concert series featuring local and international musicians. Check the website for a schedule of what’s on.
The Hololulu Zoo is located within Kapiolani Park, between Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. It’s open daily, except Christmas. Admission is inexpensive, and its parking lot only charges a small amount per hour. There’s free parking at the Waikiki Shell stadium.