Best Waikiki Attractions

Oahu Sights

The island of Oahu is home to Hawaii’s state capital and its most populous city- Honolulu. And if you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in this tropical paradise, you absolutely must visit Waikiki, the city’s most iconic neighborhood.

Waikiki encompasses a mere 1.5 square miles on the island’s south shore but packs a walloping punch in terms of sheer entertainment. And its reputation as a cherished tropical playground dates back to the era of Hawaiian royalty when it was mainly a retreat for dignitaries and their families.

Today, Waikiki is widely considered to be the heart of the Hawaiian Islands; it’s an oasis for people from all walks of life. And just how might one neighborhood attract so many visitors and be at the top of countless bucket lists, you ask? The answer is simple: because Waikiki beckons to be experienced. It epitomizes paradise, emits the Aloha spirit, and offers up a world-class selection of lodging, dining, and shopping. This makes the odds extremely high that you will have an amazing time during your stay; but to make sure that you don’t miss any of the crème de la crème attractions, here is our list of the Top 5 Things to Do in Waikiki:

Waikiki Beach

This world-renowned beach is actually a series of beaches that, together, are widely considered to be one of the most iconic in the world. Relax, catch some rays (with sunscreen, of course!), people watch, swim, surf, enjoy an outrigger canoe ride- whatever tickles your fancy. Oh, and make sure to check out the Duke Kahanamoku Statue, erected in honor of one of the most influential people in surfing history.

Diamond Head Crater near Waikiki Oahu

Diamond Head Crater near Waikiki Oahu

Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head crater is an extinct volcano that lies at the eastern edge of Waikiki’s coastline. If you view the crater from the beach, you are merely seeing the crater’s profile. In order to fully experience this impressive formation, we suggest you make the trek up its historic hiking trail, which was built in 1908 as part of the island’s coastal defense system. Once you arrive at the summit, you’ll enjoy jaw-dropping views that simply cannot be appreciated from the beach. Plus, if you’re there in winter, you just might see some humpback whales in the waters below. 

Kapiolani Park and Gardens

Kapiolani Park is a serene slice of paradise that was originally donated by King Kalakaua in 1876 so that a park could be built in honor of his beloved wife, Queen Kapiolani. Today, the park houses the Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu Zoo, tennis courts, an archery range, soccer field, and jogging track. If you’re lucky, you’ll also catch an art show, ancient Hawaiian music concert, or other fun events. Or just have a quiet picnic or leisurely stroll among the greenery. You might even share a path with a peacock! Of course, you’ll want to check out the amazing collection of lovely hibiscus, as well as the wonderfully-fragranced Lokelani rose, one of the state’s most elusive plant species. The park is the perfect place to experience Honolulu’s beauty. 

Atlantis Submarine Tours

Want to tour the peaceful undersea world in comfort and safety? Then this eco-friendly Atlantis Submarine Tour is for you. Glide through Hawaii’s deep blue waters and observe all walks of sea life- Hawaiian green sea turtles, reef sharks, and schools of colorful tropical fish. Adults and kids alike will marvel in wonder. Plus, you’ll be accompanied by an expert guide who will explain the wonderful sights and ecosystems along the journey. We've included a link at the bottom of this article for this exact adventure.

Kalakaua Avenue

This street is named in honor of King David Kalakaua and is considered the ‘Heart of Waikiki’, playing host to a myriad of restaurants, hotels, and shops. Here you can pick up some fabulous souvenirs such as macadamia nuts, Kona coffee, Hawaiian jewelry and apparel, art, books, and more. Then, if you’re up for more of a splurge, visit some of the luxury retailers such as Prada, Vera Wang, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., or Chanel, to name a few. Make sure to stop by the Royal Hawaiian Center as you continue your retail therapy- you’ll find the Apple Store, Kate Spade, Bulgari, Bebe, Cartier, Fendi, and other great shops. Whew! After all that you deserve to grab a bite. (Hmm… Thai or Italian?)

You may be interested in staying in Waikiki's newest boutique hotel with a sophisticated casual vibe, which is close to Kalakaua Avenue-Vive Hotel Waikiki

 
Honorable Mention

U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii- This small military museum is housed in a building dating to 1909 which was originally built to defend Honolulu. The museum hosts several exhibits featuring weapons, uniforms, and other artifacts used during wartime in Hawaii- from the 18th century through the Vietnam War. Admission is free and the entire family will love it. Make sure to check out the traditional Hawaiian club studded with shark teeth- ouch!

Picking the Top 5 Things to Do in Waikiki is tough; no matter how you choose to spend your time in this amazing destination, we know you’ll love it!

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Article Edited/Contributed by: John C. Derrick & Michele Lopez
Published/Updated:

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