If we talk about the kitchen being the heart of the home, then Waikiki is Oahu’s equivalent.
Long before tourists dreamed of white sand and eye-watering cocktails locals and native inhabitants held Waikiki in very high stead.
As a place to receive Royal guests, the flat stretch of beauty has long been a favorite.
Waikiki’s history is immense and worth the time to learn, a history that unashamedly has a hand in modern times that will be felt for generations.
Waikiki continues to offer both the business traveler, solo, and family vacationer a promise of fulfilling days and peaceful nights, with a little bit of Hawaiian history, culture, and welcoming smiles thrown in.
If you are new to the Island of Oahu, welcome to Waikiki.
We’ve been waiting for you.
This is no longer just a stop-over destination. Here’s why.
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Updated 2023 Hawaii Visitor Guides
If you're visiting Hawaii soon, be sure to download a copy of one of our updated 2023 Hawaii Visitor Guides. We've updated the packets with a lot of new great information for potential visitors (and for those who've been a time or two as well).
Oceanfront is king when in Waikiki.
Arguably the foremost reason visitors come to the Hawaiian Islands is to be near this iconic stretch of beach. Two miles of beauty and peace, the individually named beaches join to form a place like no other.
What’s to do along Waikiki beach?
That will depend on how you want to spend your day, but don’t worry, you’ll be back the next day to tick off another activity on your stay here.
If surfing is your thing, the beaches here are some of the best places in Oahu to take on those waves. Kayakers, bodyboarders, snorkelers and those just looking to renew themselves in the ocean won’t be disappointed with the water activities abound.
Sure, there are plenty of people around, but that is just a part of the experience.
Spend the evening watching the sun hand over the reins to the night keepers or take a sunset walk to cap off a memorable and conversation-ready stay in Waikiki.
Where: Waikiki Beach is located just to the west of Diamond Head, Oahu Hi
Want somewhere to go where you can wander around and feel totally at peace? Waikiki Aquarium offers exactly that, but that is not all this attraction has to offer.
Guides talk visitors through the extensive array of sea life found in Hawaiian waters. Their passion for the preservation and historic significance of every one of them shows through.
It is not often you come away from an aquarium setting with more of an understanding of how the sea life is taken for granted, how it still benefits all of us today, and what we should be doing to help sustain its future.
Interactive and thought-provoking, this is a must-do. If you think you’ve seen it all in terms of aquariums, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Where: 2777 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii
When you’ve conquered the beaches and surf, (or maybe they’ve conquered you) thoughts turn to that ever-familiar growing stomach.
So, what’s to eat?
Head to Kalakaua Avenue for world-class dining, resorts, and entertainment to rival any mainland US city.
So, what’s on offer for hungry visitors? You name it. From Tiki bars to shaved ice, sushi, steak, and everything in between, this is a hungry walker’s paradise.
Take a tour of the area if a guide is your preferred way to see the everyday action of this vibrant part of Oahu.
There’s nothing more comforting than a full belly after an amazing day in Waikiki.
Your stomach will thank you.
Where: Located on the main drag in Waikiki. Follow the hungry people.
If letting others take the wheel is more your style, then you will not want to miss out on the very Hawaiian activity that is a sunset cruise.
Popular for a reason, this is a chance to head out from the sands and crowds to the water you have only seen from the shore.
You may have gazed wistfully out into the blue-green of its beauty many times, but once out there riding atop, the experience will be seen as more complete.
Choose yours from a variety of offers. Cocktails, food, and beverage, or a simple private tour arranged prior.
We all know the ocean holds a certain draw. It beckons you for a reason. Join it.
Where: Contact any tour provider for the perfect cruise for you.
Is anyone else hungry?
An extremely popular way to while away the night hours, the traditional Hawaiian Luau is a must-do for any visitor.
Whether you’ve been here before, or many times over this is a joyous moment in time to be savored. A luau is such a combination of things it is hard to put into words for those trying to explain one. There’s a cultural element, mixed with the dance and feasting, but then an overwhelming sense that you are witnessing something of ancient origin and special.
These things combined with the openness and welcoming nature of the presenters make this a real memory to be treasured.
Have a light lunch so you can enjoy the feast that is about to unfold.
Where: Everywhere. Buy tickets from your accommodation or pre-plan through a variety of outlets all readily available to take bookings.
Shop til You Drop in Waikiki
When thoughts turn to shopping (as they should on any vacation) Waikiki doesn’t disappoint. Upmarket luxury goods, local fare, handmade keepsakes – the list goes on.
There are so many places to choose from, so let’s focus on two of the most popular ones.
This is a modern shopping center located in central Waikiki where visitors will find an extensive range of stores happy to help with your retail therapy. Women’s and men’s apparel, jewelry, electronics, luggage, health and beauty opportunities all await.
There are plenty of food places to refuel, and parking is plentiful if you are driving during your stay in Waikiki. Public transport, of course, is a given, as this is such a central shopping area.
It has been compared to the larger malls on the mainland and does not take a step back. If you’re missing the range and larger centers of home, this is the place for you.
Where: 2330 Kalakaua Avenue Honolulu, HI
Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center
A hop skip and a jump from the afore-mentioned shopping mecca, the Royal Hawaiian Shopping center holds its own for both locals and visitors alike.
Souvenir shops about (do we ever really get tired of them?) for those on the hunt for something. Jewelry both handmade and more modern can be found, along with the usual suspects for purchasing or simple some relaxing window shopping.
This center has an advantage for visitors in that it offers many free things to do. Perfect for families looking to entertain little ones who may not share a love of retail.
People watch for the day or spend up big. Everyone is welcome.
Stay until later for live entertainment and shows, both modern and traditional.
Where: 2201 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii
Plenty to eat, see and do.
Why not take them both on?
Waikiki is a part of the world that remains special for every visitor.
The atmosphere, the accommodations available, the people, the simpler lifestyle, and the fact that Waikiki caters to everyone from high-end luxury travelers to kid-friendly family stays.
There is so much to do here this is just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll want more time here, so seriously consider adding a few more days to your itinerary.
See you soon!
For the best Hawaiian advice, speak with the travel experts. We can make your stay one of adventure or more of a chilled-out family-friendly experience.
Plan, book, pack and go with all the help you will ever need.