Waikiki is great, but if you come to Hawaii and only see Waikiki, you have not seen Hawaii. So please, check out some of the fun in Waikiki but promise me you will take a drive or a tour around the island or even better, hop over to one of the neighbor islands. What Waikiki does offer is tons of shopping at all of the high end fancy stores, plenty of restaurants, including the world’s busiest Cheesecake Factory, and crowds of tourists from all over the world, all set against the beautiful backdrop of Waikiki beach.
If you want to stay in Waikiki, I recommend The New Otani Kaimana. This boutique hotel is located right on the beach and just slightly out of the busiest part of Waikiki, just a half mile beyond the Honolulu Zoo towards Diamond Head. It is a lovely hotel on a great little beach and home of one of my very favorite restaurants, the Hau Tree Lanai. Their breakfast is my favorite but dinner is fantastic as well, and it is a great place to see the sunset. Reservations are recommended.
If you’ve visited us on Oahu chances are we’ve had drinks at the Moana Surfrider. The Beach Bar at the Moana is my favorite. Walk past the cozy front porch and the lovely rocking chairs, through the magnificent lobby and out the door to the Beach Bar where you can pull up a chair at an empty table under the giant banyan tree – no reservations needed. The drinks are tasty, I love the Ahi Poke Nachos, there seems to always be live music to enjoy and the view is outstanding!
There are a thousand shops and restaurants for you to explore and Yelp will do a better job of directing you to something you will enjoy so I won’t spend more time here making recommendations. I will make a few suggestions of things to do and see but I can bet any of you who visit Waikiki could come up with a better list.
Waikiki Aquarium: Short and sweet, ok if you have an hour to kill but otherwise I wouldn’t highly recommend it.
The Honolulu Zoo: We loved it! Very pretty zoo, lots to see and the animals were all active and fun to watch.
The Beach: Waikiki is a bit of a mad house! There are people everywhere and you usually have to weave your way through beach blankets and bodies to find your sliver of sand to sit on. If you are looking for peace, quiet and serenity, this is not the spot for you. However, it is a great place to people watch and if you come prepared for the crowds it can actually be a lot of fun.
• Rent an umbrella – This has become my new favorite indulgence. I love having my designated spot to leave my stuff while I take a dip in the ocean. (*See warning below.) There are tons of rental businesses all up and down the beach and they will rent you an umbrella and or chairs by the hour. Prices range from about $10 an hour to $50 for the day and there are all sorts of deals, early bird specials, kama’aina rates, military discounts, smile and talk nice discounts, etc. Ask around and see what works for you.
• Surf and paddle board lessons and rentals – I have seen people of literally every age and size taking surf lessons. There are all sorts of businesses up and down the beach who offer such services. Check out Yelp for recommendations.
• The Waikiki Wall – It is always fun to walk out onto the wall and watch the local kids time the waves to jump – usually launching off of the No Jumping sign. You can also get a nice view of body surfers navigating the waves and impressively steering away inches before hitting the wall. Unless you are experienced this is a better spot to watch than practice.
Explore: There are so many things to see and do in Waikiki. Many of the hotels have activities going on that you can enjoy even if you aren’t staying there. Don’t be afraid to wander through lobbies and explore the shops and amenities tucked away.
Waikiki Freebies: Somethings in life are free. Here is a link to one set of Waikiki Freebies but I’ve seen better and if I find it again I will update my post and share it!
• Waikiki Hula Show – Most hotels, shopping malls and restaurants offer free shows for visitors to enjoy. Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 6:30pm there is a show right next to the Duke Statue, at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound. It is an hour long performance featuring local dancers and musicians. You might even be invited up to join the show!
• As you walk past hotels, shops and restaurants you are sure to hear wonderful music, some of it live. The stages at The Royal Hawaiian Center and Ala Moana Mall are just a couple of the places where you can see fantastic performances.
• Take a lesson! Many hotels and some shops offer free lessons in everything from lei making to playing the ukulele or dancing hula!
• Check out www.royalhawaiiancenter.com for a schedule of performances and lessons.
• Once a month or so family friendly movies are shown on the 30 foot screen on Queens Beach (near the zoo). The movies are free and there are plenty of food booths on hand so you can enjoy dinner and a movie. You can find the schedule here; www.sunsetonthebeach.net
• On Friday nights, just after 7pm, you can enjoy a spectacular fireworks show. The epicenter of the show is the Hilton Hawaiian Village and you can enjoy the fireworks from all over Waikiki and from Magic Island.
* Please be cautious with your belongings. There are a lot of people on and around Waikiki and a lot of opportunity to have your items disappear. Use common sense, don’t have valuables out where people can easily take them, tuck your bag under a chair or towel to make it less accessible and check on your items often.
Fortunately I don’t have any bad experiences of my own to share with you and I’m not trying to scare you, just want to remind you to be careful. This goes for your car too. Just don’t leave things out where someone can see them and you should be good.