Waikiki is best known for Waikiki Beach.
It’s around 2 miles long, extending from the Hilton Hawaiian Village on one end to the Waikiki Marine Conservation District on the other end.
Some of the best things to do in Waikiki are the Kuhio Beach hula show, going to a beachfront restaurant like the Moana Surfrider Beach Bar or the Mai Tai Bar, and catching a sunset from Waikiki Beach!
There are sooo many people!
But there’s a reason there’s so many people.
Waikiki is the tourist hot spot of Oahu.
It’s the tourist hot spot of all of Hawaii, really.
There are lots of things to do along Waikiki Beach that come with amazing views!
Waikiki is not for everyone.
Like, if you want to escape the crowds, then you might find yourself thinking that Waikiki is not worth it at all.
Do you need a car in Waikiki?
No, you don’t need a car in Waikiki.
Waikiki is very walkable.
It’s easy to get around Waikiki, whether that’s by bus, trolley, bike sharing, or foot!
As the tourist hub of Oahu, there are many conveniences in Waikiki, and you can just walk to get to a lot of places!
That could be the famous Hawaii convenience store brand (that’s on practically every corner of Waikiki!), Waikiki food spots, and of course, the BEACH!
Waikiki is probably not just the biggest tourist hub on Oahu, but the biggest tourist hub in Hawaii!
👆 Instead of walking 10 minutes, if you want to take the Oahu bus, you can do that! (Although, that will cost you $3!) You will want to get a HOLO card to make taking the bus around Waikiki easy! It’s not necessary, but it does make things convenient! You can get your HOLO card started at an ABC Store.
👆 The Waikiki Trolley is a totally touristy thing to do, but well, you’re a tourist, so why not?! You can take the hop-on hop-off Waikiki Trolley to get a scenic ride through Waikiki and a little bit beyond! $
How far is Waikiki from the beach?
If you are staying in Waikiki, you are never too far from the beach.
Waikiki Beach is around 2 miles long, and Waikiki doesn’t extend “back” inland that far.
This means that if you’re staying in Waikiki, it might be a 5 minute walk to the beach (or less!) for a lot of people!
This also means you are never too far from a Waikiki beach sunset in the evening!
While Waikiki is best known for the beach, you don’t need to go swimming or even step foot on the beach in order to take in the sounds of the ocean waves!
Amazing Oahu experience you need to consider:
- The best way to swim with turtles in Waikiki: Turtle Canyons snorkeling
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How do you spend the day at Waikiki Beach?
Of course, the most obvious way to spend your day at Waikiki Beach is to just go to your beach of choice along the 2-mile Waikiki shoreline and stay there!
But, there is also more to do in Waikiki than just lay at the beach!
If you want it to be an active day at Waikiki Beach, you can do that too!
You can spend your day going for a walk along Waikiki Beach and make many stops along the way!
Can you walk all of Waikiki Beach?
If you want to walk the entire length of Waikiki Beach, you can (mostly) do that. It will be a Waikiki Beach walk of around 2 miles one way, on sand (beach!) and paved (sidewalk).
You will be walking on both sidewalks and beach, depending on the section in Waikiki.
To keep things simple looking at a map, the walk is from the Hilton Hawaiian Village beach to the Queens Beach snorkeling spot, and beyond. (Of course you can go in the opposite direction too!)
There is a spot or 2 that you may come across that will not be walkable, but you can make a slight detour “inland” and then find your way back to the beach.
Consider it an adventure going inland and making your way back to the beach. 😉 (No really, it’s fine!)
The Halekulani boardwalk between the Outrigger Reef and Sheraton may be closed, and that’s the section that you won’t be able to walk all of Waikiki Beach.
If you will be ending on the Queens Beach side, your final “destination” can be the Barefoot Beach Cafe!
If you will be ending on the Hilton Hawaiian Village beach side, your final destination can be the Gilligans food truck! (And then you can eat on the beach.) Or, stop by the popular Steak Shack and you’ll find plenty of outdoor seating!
Otherwise, you can always stop by an ABC Store in Waikiki to buy quick grab-and-go food too!
Things to do in Waikiki for VIEWS near Waikiki Beach!
One of the famous icons of Waikiki is the Duke Kahanamoku Statue.
This is the famous surfer statue of Waikiki!
You can go surfer statue hopping in Waikiki! (map)
You know, like beach hopping… except instead of going from beach to beach, you’re going from surfer statue to surfer statue. 😜
There are a few surfer statues in Waikiki:
- Duke Kahanamoku Statue
- Makua and Kila (Kuhio Beach near Waikiki Wall)
- Surfer on a Wave (Queens Beach near Waikiki Wall)
👆 You can go see a surfer statue in Waikiki at Kuhio Beach and the Waikiki Wall.
👆 You can go see a surfer statue in Waikiki at Queens Beach and the Waikiki Wall.
For another type of statue, there is also a Gandhi statue in Waikiki!
This is the Westin resort in Waikiki and it is a beachfront hotel.
👆 Waikiki beachfront hotel: This is the beach that’s directly in front of the Moana Surfrider, a Westin resort.
If you’re staying at the Moana Surfrider, you can join Hawaiian cultural activities like hula lessons and ribbon lei making.
If you’re not staying here, it’s worth walking past the Moana Surfrider on the street side (Kalakaua Avenue) so you can see its architecture!
There are a number of restaurants and bars that are along Waikiki Beach with outdoor dining, and the Moana Surfrider also has the outdoor Moana Surfrider Beach Bar to be one of them.
The outdoor seating is located right near the Moana banyan tree.
This is one of the many banyan trees in Waikiki.
👆 Waikiki banyan tree: When you see a banyan tree in Waikiki (there are many, including the Moana banyan tree!), look closely to see how the massive tree is all connected together! Here, you see many tree trunks. If you look up and around, you will see that they are all connected together!
Read the reviews: Moana Surfrider Beach Bar reviews
See the menu: Moana Surfrider Beach Bar dinner menu
3. Royal Hawaiian
The Royal Hawaiian hotel is the famous pink palace hotel of Waikiki that you can spot from a plane as you’re flying into Honolulu airport!
It’s worth walking this part of Waikiki Beach during the day too so you can better see the pink-ness of the hotel!
One of the best ways to see the pink palace hotel is from Waikiki Beach. To get to this section of Waikiki Beach, go down Waikiki surfboard alley from Kalakaua Avenue, and the Royal Hawaiian is basically right there once you reach the beach!
And then once you’re at the beach in front of the Royal Hawaiian, the Sheraton boardwalk is right there too.
👆 You can get to the Sheraton boardwalk from the beach in front of the Royal Hawaiian.
There is also the Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Bar located at the hotel, and this is one of the most famous restaurants in Waikiki.
This is also another Waikiki Beach spot with outdoor dining.
And yes, it is famous for the Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai!
You can also go to the mai tai bar during the day and order the pink palace pancake! (Yes, they are pink pancakes!) You can also find pink pancake mix sold around Waikiki too so you can make your own.
Read the reviews: Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Bar reviews
See the menu: Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Bar dinner menu
4. Duke’s Waikiki
Duke’s Waikiki is one of the most popular restaurants in Waikiki.
This is another restaurant along Waikiki Beach with open-air dining, and at night you’ll see a bunch of torches lit up!
You’ll also see outrigger canoes on the beach nearby!
Read the reviews: Duke’s Waikiki reviews
See the menu: Duke’s Waikiki dinner menu
5. Fort DeRussy Beach Park
There is a “boardwalk” (sidewalk) that goes along the Fort DeRussy Beach, so you can make it a morning walk/run or a sunset walk/run on the Fort DeRussy Boardwalk! (Or any time of day!)
It might take you around 8 minutes to walk the entire Fort DeRussy Boardwalk one way, which would make it around 16 minutes round trip.
You can further extend your walk by a couple of minutes on the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon Boardwalk that takes you past the public Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. (map)
Or, you can also use the Fort DeRussy Beach Park as a spot to take it easy, whether that’s swimming at the beach, sitting on the grass, or sitting at the tables!
See more about Waikiki Beach food near Fort DeRussy Beach:
And finally, maybe the most exciting part of Fort DeRussy Beach Park?!
You might get to see turtles in Waikiki!
Emphasis on CHANCE! Turtles are wild and do what they want so there’s never any guarantee to see them!
That said… turtles are known to frequent this area of Fort DeRussy Beach!
There is a pier that juts out in front of the Outrigger Reef and Steak Shack.
Walk out onto the pier to see if there are turtles swimming around!
Waikiki photo tip: Instead of point your camera down to take a picture of the turtle, squat down to get more level with the water so you can get a picture of the turtle popping its head up with the iconic Diamond Head in the background! And since the turtle may just pop its head up for a quick moment, you might also try taking a video of the turtle to be able to capture the snapshot of it instead!
👆 Turtle in Waikiki!
👆 Turtle in Waikiki with the iconic Diamond Head crater in the background!
I have seen turtles on the Diamond Head side of the pier, and I have also see a turtle swimming off to the Hilton Hawaiian Village side of the pier.
So if you’re looking for a Waikiki Beach snorkeling spot, you might want to try Fort DeRussy Beach by the rocks too! (In general, if you’re looking for little fishies, it can be good to try the rocky areas!)
6. Kuhio Beach Park
Kuhio Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Waikiki.
It is best known for acting as an outdoor pool because of the sea wall barrier that can keep out some of the rougher waves.
Kuhio Beach is not known for snorkeling, but if you want to try to look for little fishies, then go swimming along the rocky areas!
Otherwise, if you want to stay out of the water, then there are a bunch of benches along Kuhio Beach that can be perfect for a rest to take in the views!
Waikiki Beach food spots near Kuhio Beach:
7. Waikiki Wall
The Waikiki Wall is a walkway that juts out into the ocean.
There is Kuhio Beach on one side of the Waikiki Wall.
And Queens Beach is on the other side.
This is a spot you can go for a casual walk for more ocean views!
The Waikiki Wall can also make for a perfect sunset spot. (Really basically all of Waikiki Beach can make for a good sunset spot!)
8. Queens Walkway (Kapiolani Beach Park)
The Queens Walkway is another walkway that juts out into the ocean, which makes it another spot you can go to for a casual walk with ocean views!
There’s a coastal path to get to this walkway, which is on the quieter side of Waikiki.
And you can also have a rest at the beach side of Kapiolani Park which you will also see on your way to the walkway. (Kapiolani Park extends further inland as well. On google maps, you can look for Queens Beach to locate the beach park area.)
The grassy area of Kapiolani Park near the beach makes for a good spot to do yoga, stretch, or just rest under the trees that provide shade!
Once you walk out onto the Queens Walkway, this spot also gives you a good view of the Waikiki skyline.
And if you go out far enough, you can even get a view of Diamond Head!
And, if you look down, there’s a good chance you’ll see some crabs crawling around!
And then, if you look closely, you also might see some little fishies swimming around!
This area is actually the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District… next!
If you want some food with views while you are over here, then the oceanfront Barefoot Beach Cafe is where to go!
If you are looking for the best snorkeling in Waikiki, the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District is it!
There’s a good chance you’ll see a bunch of little fishies if you go snorkeling from Queens Beach.
For easy landmarks, you can look lifeguard station F which is where you will find the Queens Walkway.
If you go swimming along the Queens Walkway, there’s a good chance you will see fish.
And then from there, you can go swimming around, looking for rocky areas that fish might be feeding on, or little holes that fish might be swimming in and out of.
Another landmark can be lifeguard station E if you prefer a sandy area to set up your beach camp. And then from there, you can go swimming towards the walkway, looking for fish along the way!
There is a free hula show in Waikiki at night, and it’s the Kuhio Beach hula show!
It’s an outdoor hula show that starts around sunset right near Waikiki Beach, and you’ll get a bit of Hawaiian culture and entertainment in the form of dancing and music.
It starts off with a traditional blowing of the conch.
Then begins the live Hawaiian music and dancing!
You can catch the sunset before the hula show starts, and you can see the sky changing colors if you look back at the ocean throughout the show too!
What time is the free hula show in Waikiki?
The time of the free Kuhio Beach hula show in Waikiki is at 6pm or 6:30pm 2 to 3 times a week.
The exact time and how many times a week can depend on the season.
It also needs to be good weather!
11. International Market Place banyan tree
The International Market Place is a big shopping mall in Waikiki with tons of stores and restaurants.
But for a great free thing to do in Waikiki, there is a big banyan tree at the International Market Place!
It is not big enough to be the largest banyan tree in Hawaii, but it is still pretty impressive!
If you were to first walk past it, you probably wouldn’t realize that it is actually all connected together!
So, go and have a walk around the International Market Place banyan tree on the first floor, then take the escalator to go to the upper level so you can see the massive nature of this Waikiki banyan tree from above!
There are many places you can enter, but if seeing the banyan tree is your goal, the best entrance is at Kalakaua Avenue. For google maps, you can look for the Don Ho Statue.
This entrance is across the street from the Waikiki Surfboard Alley.
Walk around the International Market Place banyan tree before you take a walk down Waikiki Surfboard Alley to go see the Royal Hawaii pink hotel! (map)
You can also walk through the International Market Place to take a picture with the ALOHA sign (first floor) and WAIKIKI sign (second floor near Mitsuwa)!
You can go banyan tree hopping in Waikiki!
You know, like beach hopping… except instead of going from beach to beach, you’re going from banyan tree to banyan tree. 😜
There are many free spots that you can see banyan trees in Waikiki:
- International Market Place
- Moana Surfrider
- Kuhio Beach
- Queens Beach
- Honolulu Zoo (the banyan trees are outside the zoo, so no zoo entry fee required to see the banyan trees)
So you can even make it your goal to see different banyan trees in Waikiki, and this will naturally also take you to see different parts of Waikiki!
One of the best things to do in Waikiki at night is to watch the Waikiki fireworks!
This happens once a week, so if you are on Oahu for more than a week, then you can (almost!) definitely see the fireworks! (Almost, because… weather!)
There are different spots that you can watch the fireworks from depending on if you want to be closer to the fireworks, or you don’t mind watching from a bit further away.
Waikiki Beach does curve a bit, and there are tall buildings along the beach, so there are some spots that you won’t be able to see the fireworks as well.
If you want to be right where the fireworks take off, you want to be near the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Getting a bit further away, but still close, one perfect spot to see the Waikiki fireworks is from Fort DeRussy Beach in front of the Outrigger Reef hotel and Steak Shack!
And then further away, another spot that you might think is perfect to see the fireworks is from near the Barefoot Beach Cafe and Queens Beach.
See more about this Waikiki activity:
13. Waikiki Beach sunset!
Sunsets in Waikiki are FREE!
👆 Sunset in Waikiki: Kuhio Beach sunset
And those are some things to do in Waikiki for VIEWS!
Are Waikiki and Honolulu the same?
Waikiki and Honolulu are not the same thing.
If you are learning about Waikiki for the first time, then you should also know that Waikiki doesn’t represent all of Honolulu or all of the island of Oahu.
Generally Honolulu refers to the city of Honolulu, but it can also refer to the County of Honolulu. While the city of Honolulu is a small portion of Oahu, the county of Honolulu is the entire island of Oahu.
Basically, Waikiki is a small section of the island of Oahu.
The reason people will tell you to avoid Waikiki (or minimize spending your time in Waikiki) is because there is a lot to be seen around the island of Oahu outside of Waikiki!
Waikiki is not the “real” Hawaii.
In fact, it’s even said that the beach in Waikiki is not natural!
👆 The best time to visit Waikiki is when there aren’t jellyfish on the shores of Waikiki Beach! Really! It can be generally predicted when jellyfish will come to Waikiki. So if you haven’t yet scheduled your flight to Honolulu, you might want to avoid Waikiki during jellyfish time! There is even a Waikiki jellyfish calendar!
👆 Say ALOHA to the friendly Honolulu Police Department officers in Waikiki! 🤙
What is the best view in Hawaii?
One of the most famous views in Hawaii is the view of Waikiki from the top of Diamond Head!
And for more of the best views in Hawaii, you will want to see more things to do on Oahu too!
HAPPY TRIP TO WAIKIKI!
👇 Explore the Waikiki map on google maps!
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