waikiki beach holidays planner

Waikiki is one of the most famous and popular destinations in the state of Hawaii. Located on the south shore of Honolulu, Oahu, the district of Waikiki was once the surfing retreat reserved for royalty. Waikiki is now the centre of commerce and tourism, and the location of one of the most photographed volcanic craters in the world—Diamond Head—which marks the easternmost end of the district. Waikiki is known for its warm climate, gentle breezes, long-breaking surf, and electrifying nightlife. The beach boys, locals who have been around since the days of Duke Kahanamoku, Olympic medalist swimmer and considered the father of modern surfing, are always ready to teach visitors how to shoot the curl.

Don't Miss
Diamond Head Lookout
Manoa Rainforest Walk
Learn to Surf
Sunset stroll along the beach
Shopping at Duke's Market
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Waikiki Beach Map


Top Regions to Stay
Kapiolani Beach (action)
Ala Wai (honeymooners)
Diamond Head (families)
Ala Wai Blvd (best value)

Waikiki Beach Holidays Overview

Waikiki is most famous for its beach, which is in fact a series of about six beaches strung together, each with its own character. At the southern end of Waikiki is Diamond Head, a quieter region backed by the iconic volcanic caldera and hemmed in by Kapiolani Park with the Aquarium and Zoo. The main stretch of Waikiki Beach has three distinct areas. The area to the south of the seawall is good for body surfing and popular with locals. The large enclosed seawall to the north provides sheltered swimming popular with young families and non-swimmers; whilst the area known as Queen Kapiolani Beach is the main activity centre buzzing with surf instruction, outrigger canoe rides and sailing tours. The wide sands of Fort de Russy Beach are a good place for sunbathing and playing ball on the beach whilst at the northern end of Waikiki, closest to Ala Moana and Honolulu, is the man-made lagoon of Ala Wai Yacht Harbour and preferred by honeymooners for its more peaceful ambience.

picture of waikiki beach

Waikiki Beach is not only famous for its sand, sea and surf, it's also famous for its shopping, dining, nightlife, and cultural destinations. Check with your hotel about the sunset dinner cruises, beachfront luaus, and clubs and shows all along the two main streets in Waikiki. During the day explore all the shopping malls and especially the International Market Place. At the Waikiki Shopping Plaza you can not only shop and eat, you can take hula, yoga, ukulele, and native craft lessons, as well as see lots of Polynesian shows. A real treat is Duke's Marketplace, where nothing is priced and bargaining is the only way you'll be able to buy; keep a smile on your face and don't lose your temper, and you'll come away with some incredible souvenirs.

One of the best ways to experience the varied ecology, environments, and vistas of Waikiki outside of the beach is by hiking it. Start with Diamond Head at the eastern end of the district. Extinct for 150,000 years, this crater is just one of many volcanoes in the Ko'olau range. A fascinating blend of WWII bunkers and tunnels, a 99-step staircase will take you to an amazing lookout point where, if your timing is right, you'll see entire pods of migrating whales. Just five kilometres from Waikiki is the lush, tropical rainforest containing the beautiful Manoa Falls. This hike takes about two hours, and takes you though the Manoa Valley, filled with native Hawaiian trees, plants, and flowers plus many smaller falls, a bamboo forest, and a variety of geckos, turtles, and an abundance of birds. Bring your camera, water and bug spray, and enjoy a fascinating hike.

picture of waikiki beach
picture of waikiki beach

Waikiki Beach Travel Information

Waikiki is just minutes from the Honolulu International Airport, which services flights from around the world. Getting around is easy, too – you can hire a car but remember the hotels will charge you a daily parking fee. It might be a better idea to take the public bus or trolley for transportation around the district, and hire a car only when you plan to explore the rest of the island of Oahu. Taxis are readily available but are quite expensive; limos are also available at about the same cost as a taxi, if you're with a large group. You can hire a Segway if you like, but really – walking is the best way to see this famous district.