Honolulu Zoo

Honolulu Zoo - 42 Acres of Animal Fun
The Bottom Line:

Honolulu Zoo is home to over 1,200 animals in beautiful habitats carefully designed to reflect their natural environments. Black rhinos, elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, monkeys, lions, tigers, tortoises, and so much more are found in Oahu's largest zoo, situated within Queen Kapiolani Park between Waikiki and Diamond Head.

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

If you love animals and want to see some of the world’s most incredible creatures, put Honolulu Zoo on your Hawaii bucket list. It is located in picturesque Queen Kapiolani Park on the eastern edge of Waikiki. The zoo covers 42 spacious acres. Showing off the island’s natural beauty and a huge variety of big and small animals.

Here you’ll find over 1,230 animals housed in special habitats designed like their wild habitats. There are three distinct sections to the 42-acre zoo: the Pacific Islands, African Savannah, and Tropical Forest.

Honolulu Zoo is inspired by tropical island environments and the culture’s traditional values, such as hookipa (hospitality) and malama (caring). In the Pacific Islands section, you can catch a glimpse of the mighty Galapagos tortoise and a beautiful variety of birds. Such as the Red-billed Leiothrix and Hawaiian goose.

The zoo’s African Savannah is home to the black rhino, aardvark, wild dog, giraffe, zebra, crocodile, and hippo, just to name a few. Meanwhile, the Tropical Forest features Komodo dragons, elephants, monkeys, and orangutans.

There are Indigenous Hawaiian species all around the Honolulu Zoo. The educational sessions and special tours make your visit extra memorable. The Histories & Mysteries Tour takes place every Friday night. Guests aged eight and over are invited to take a sunset stroll around the zoo while listening to spooky stories. Just keep in mind space is limited and reservations are required.

Twilight Tours is another big hit. The Saturday night special offers a two-hour walking tour with zoo educators leading the way. They point out nocturnal species waking up and other animals getting ready to sleep. You can purchase tour tickets ahead of time online to secure your spot.

After spending the day exploring the zoo’s extensive variety of amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles, you’ll probably work up an appetite. There are two snack bars as well as the Plantation Café with tasty Hawaiian food.

If you need a break from walking around, the stage, triangle, and picnic lawn areas are perfect for relaxing and snapping pics. There’s also a playground in the middle of the Honolulu Zoo for little ones with extra energy.

Just a few things to remember before you go. Bring sunscreen and pack a cooler with snacks and drinks if you want to have a picnic. Also, the closest zoo parking lot has a small fee per hour. Though, you can park across the street for free. The zoo is within walking distance of many popular Waikiki hotels, too.

A few of our favorite animals to see at Honolulu Zoo:

Black rhino
This critically endangered species is one of the largest at Honolulu Zoo. Listen closely for the rhino’s range of noises, including surprisingly high-pitched squeals and loud puffs.

Why not say hello to a real-life Pumbaa? You may notice the zoo’s resident warthogs rolling around in the dirt. Burrowing in the ground, or dueling with one another.

Sumatran tiger
The stunning striped coat and light eyes of these big cats are truly captivating. Plus, tigers are one of the only cat species that enjoy playing in the water. So you may see one splashing around!

Japanese giant salamander
As the second-largest amphibian on the planet, this salamander reaches 1.5 meters or 4.9 feet in length. You’ll notice how this aquatic creature loves the water and rarely ventures onto dry land.

There are so many more animals to catch a glimpse of at the zoo. Keep your eyes peeled and pay attention to the signs for all the details on hundreds of different species.

Whether you go for a few hours or dedicate a whole day to animal sightseeing, you really can’t go wrong with a trip to Honolulu Zoo.

Insider Tips:
-If you’re driving to Honolulu Zoo, try and get there 15-30 minutes before it opens. The parking lot usually fills up, especially on weekends.
-Check at the entrance for daily feeding times and interactive activities to learn more about the zoo’s many residents.