Nestled on Honolulu's south shore, Waikiki is the most famous sandy stretch in this region and an iconic Hawaiian tourist destination. The name 'Waikiki' brings thoughts of gorgeous sandy beaches, rolling waves, surfers, and an amazing culture demonstrated in various activities and dances. Its magnificent turquoise water is gentle on surfing learners at any time of the year. The place was once a playground for the royals in the 1800s. Now, America's top beaching destination is brimming with lavish resorts, high-rise hotels, beautiful boutiques, and magnificent gardens. Planning a trip to Waikiki? Here is a guide to exploring this Honolulu jewel.
Waikiki Beach Highlights
With numerous accommodation options ranging from world-class resorts to budget-friendly hotels, Waikiki is undoubtedly the best place to stay when visiting Honolulu.
Retail options are endless, and travelers will be spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping. From chic boutiques to designer stores, this place is a premier shopping destination. There are over 150 stores at the Royal Hawaiian Center. If that doesn’t work out, head to the Waikiki Beach Walk and explore the incredible open-air arcades.
Travelers will see several restaurants, cafes, and bars lining the shores. While the best deals are not guaranteed at Waikiki Beach, vacationers can get lost in the breathtaking views they will get from beachfront dining. Sunsets are spectacular and would make one dine at one of the beachfront restaurants over and over. Hula Grill Waikiki is one of the best food eateries to check out. Looking to sip some good cocktail? Head to Beach Bar and choose from the varieties available.
What To Know Before You Go To Waikiki
Public Transportation And Renting A Car Are The Best Ways To Get Around
While this place is very walkable, travelers are going to need to either use a public transportation means or rent a car to get to attractions located a bit far from the stretch. The problem with public transportation is one won’t be able to pull over and explore an attraction on the way. With a rented car, vacationers get a lot of freedom to make stops whenever they want to and experience the best Waikiki has to offer. Taxis are expensive unless one is shuttling to a nearby hotel, beach, or restaurant.
Do A Proper Budget For Activities
It is important to know that activities, such as parasailing and snorkeling excursions are not that budget-friendly. Travelers should therefore be prepared and know the fees before visiting an attraction. One can always check attraction websites to know the admission fees, available discounts, activities, and the best deals. Take advantage of the free cultural shows held at different hotels and shopping centers to get an affordable taste of the local culture.
The Best Time To Visit
While Honolulu enjoys warm temperatures year-round, mid-April & June and September through November are the best times to explore the city. Travelers will not only enjoy splendid weather, it is a shoulder season, so crowds are fewer. It is also the best time to get the best airfare and accommodation deals.
The Eight Sections That Make Up Waikiki Beach
This spectacular stretch of sand should be called Waikiki Beaches because of the different sections that make it so incredible. Together the eight beach sections are what people call Waikiki Beach. Receiving more than four million visitors a year, Waikiki is one of the busiest American beaching destinations, and a plethora of fantastic activities awaits vacationers.
Whether into paddleboarding, surfing, canoeing, snorkeling, boogie boarding, swimming, or sand combing, this cosmopolitan spot guarantees an experience of a lifetime.
Duke Kahanamoku Beach
Located near the Ala Wai Canal and Harbor, Duke Kahanamoku Beach is Waikiki's first beach section and is the widest. Named after Duke Kahanamoku, a native and incredible swimmer who was behind the popularization of watersports across the globe, the section features a public lagoon, offering a safe swimming spot for an entire family.
Fort DeRussy Beach Park
At one point, this was a fantastic military base. Fort DeRussy Beach Park is one of the least crowded and has a lot in store for vacationers. There is a green space at the back of this section that is used as a grassy park and is an excellent picnicking spot for families. Covering 71 acres of space, this is the largest beach in Waikiki and has several watersports opportunities, including numerous rental options, surfboard racks, and beach volleyball nets.
It is possible that Gray's Beach is one of Waikiki's oldest sections and got its name from the Gray’s-by-the-Sea Lodge that once stood there. While the sandy part of the beach is a bit eroded, it remains an incredibly quiet and calm spot to enjoy surfing, swimming, paddle boarding, and observing other people on the beach.
Waikiki Beach Center
Waikiki Beach Center is also referred to as the Royal Moana Beach and is a perfect destination for adventure lovers. Travelers will experience several excursions from this spectacular section.
Prince Kuhio Beach
Home to Duke Kahanamoku statue, one of the most photographed places in the town, Prince Kuhio, although busy, is the perfect swimming spot. Its enclosed swimming area creates an incredible pool featuring a sandy sea floor.
Kapiolani Park Beach
Located adjacent to the Honolulu Zoo, Kapiolani Beach is known for hosting the filming of the popular ‘Sunset on the Beach movie series. This is the most chill section of Waikiki Beach, receiving the least number of tourists. It is easily accessible and is a perfect paddleboarding spot, even for kids. Kapiolani Park Beach is great for relaxing and taking in the fascinating views back down Waikiki Beach.
Kaimana Beach Park
Also referred to as San Souci Beach is found right next to the Aquarium in Waikiki and the New Otani Kaimana hotel. This section is less crowded, a bit smaller, but offers a relaxing experience on its sandy shores. At the back of the beach, visitors will find a grassy lawn packed with palm trees, where they can go picnicking or just lie down as they take in the relaxing atmosphere.
Outrigger Canoe Club Beach
Outrigger Canoe Club Beach is Waikiki's last section and is recognized for being a very private beaching spot. Diamond Head Hotel's parking lot is the gateway to accessing the beach. Travelers can also access the beach from San Souci Beach's east side. This is an excellent spot for experiencing Hawaiian sunsets.
Exploring The Hawaiian History & Culture In Waikiki
Waikiki is a popular tourist destination for history lovers and those into culture & arts. This area is one of the most culturally diverse places in Hawaii and the whole of the USA, and exploring some of its magnificent museums will help travelers connect with some of the influences and learn the history of how they came to being. Some of the museums to check out are the Bishop Museum, Hawaii State Art Museum, and the US Army Museum of Hawaii.
Luau, a traditional social gathering featuring lots of feasting, music, and dancing, is one event that no one would want to miss. It is one of the most popular shows and gives travelers a chance to experience cultural presentations, have a welcome drink, and have a buffet dinner. Surfing has been a culture in Waikiki since the 1700s. For a modern surfing culture, travelers can visit the Duke Kahanamoku statue, majestically standing on Kuhio Beach. Here, visitors will connect with how the ancient water sports were popularized by Duke.
Waikiki is not just Hawaii’s most famous beach - it is also the most filmed. While some of its beach sections can be crowded, visiting this America’s top beaching destination is well worth it.