Best Things To Do In Waikiki

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Looking for things to do in Waikiki? 

Well then, welcome to our comprehensive guide to the best things to do in Waikiki. 

This vibrant beachfront neighborhood, nestled in the heart of Hawaii’s Oahu Island, promises an unforgettable adventure that’s sure to fulfill your wanderlust cravings.

Let’s jump in

Unveiling Waikiki: Hawaii’s Vibrant Gem

Waikiki, oh how we love thee. Nestled on the southern shore of Honolulu, this neighborhood is a slice of heaven that brilliantly combines city life with a beach vibe. 

Can’t decide between soaking in the sun or hitting the boutiques? No worries, friend, because in Waikiki, you can do both!

This radiant gem in Hawaii’s treasure chest is more than just its world-renowned beach. 

Yes, the soft sands and sparkling turquoise waters are irresistible, and you bet they’re on our list of “best things in life”. 

But Waikiki, my dear friend, is also about the culinary journey, the fun shopping spree, and the pulsating nightlife.

Imagine savoring a heavenly poke bowl with the salty sea breeze gently tousling your hair. Picture yourself browsing through countless stores, your eyes feasting on a diverse array of products, from high-end designer brands to quaint local crafts. 

And when the sun sinks into the horizon, painting the sky with vibrant hues, the city comes alive with energetic beats, laughter, and the clink of glasses. 

It’s a symphony of joy and enjoyment that’s hard to resist.

But hold on, there’s more. Waikiki’s charm isn’t just confined to its bustling beachfront area. 

Venture a bit farther, and you’ll find yourself amidst serene and awe-inspiring mountains, offering an alluring contrast to the lively cityscape. 

The tranquil hiking trails are a world away from the crowded streets, giving you the chance to reconnect with nature and soak up some breathtaking views. Ah, what bliss!

things to do in waikiki

Immerse in the Surf Culture: Waikiki Surf Lessons

Now, what’s a trip to Waikiki without dipping your toes into its vibrant surf culture, right? Don’t worry if you’ve never ridden a wave before, because in this ocean-loving neighborhood, everyone’s welcome to try. Heck, they’ll even show you how!

Imagine this: The sun’s up, the sea breeze is sweet, and you’re about to ride your first wave. 

Sounds like a dream? Well, pinch yourself, because this is one of the top things you can do in Waikiki! There are a bunch of friendly surf schools dotted along the beach, like Kahu surf school, ready to introduce you to the thrilling world of surfing.

Here’s the deal. Their experienced, friendly instructors won’t just teach you the basics, they’ll make you feel like you’re part of this amazing surf family. 

They’ll guide you step-by-step, from understanding the surfboard (you’ve got to respect your ride, buddy!) to showing you how to stand up and maintain your balance (hint: it’s all in the knees!).

What’s super cool is that these schools are equipped to cater to all ages and skill levels. 

So, whether you’re a total newbie, a kiddo eager to catch your first wave, or an old hand looking to perfect your techniques, they’ve got you covered. 

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And who knows? Today, you’re taking your first lesson; tomorrow, you might be carving up waves like a pro!

Remember, countless surf legends once started just where you are, in these very waters. That’s something, isn’t it? 

So, get ready to wax your board, put on your rashguard, and join the ranks of those who have embraced the spirit of surfing

Exploring the Underwater World: Waikiki Snorkeling

If you thought Waikiki was all about surfing and sunbathing, then prepare to be pleasantly surprised. 

Underneath the turquoise waters lies a tranquil underwater world, inviting you to leave the surface behind and dive into an extraordinary snorkeling experience.

The crystal-clear waters of Waikiki serve as the perfect window into a thriving ecosystem of vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life. 

Snorkeling here isn’t just a popular pastime—it’s a gateway to understanding the delicate balance and beauty of our oceans.

Imagine floating gently over a colorful tapestry of coral formations, with sunlight filtering through the clear water and painting an iridescent tableau below. 

You’ll be surrounded by tropical fish in hues as varied and vibrant as a Hawaiian sunset. From the playful yellow tang to the ornately decorated butterflyfish, each creature adds a unique touch to this underwater spectacle.

And there’s more. Waikiki’s waters are home to the peaceful honu, or Hawaiian green sea turtle. 

Observing these graceful creatures in their natural habitat is indeed a humbling and memorable experience.

Ready to embark on this subaquatic journey? If you need to rent some snorkeling gear then check out this article we wrote Best Snorkel Rentals in Oahu 

things to do in waikiki

Waikiki Beach: A Slice of Tropical Heaven

In the heart of Hawaii, Waikiki Beach stands as a radiant testament to tropical beauty. This world-renowned coastline is no less than a dream. 

With its warm, golden sands reaching out to the cool, inviting Pacific waters, it offers an enchanting setting that has drawn travelers for generations.

An undeniable magnetism lies in the simplicity of the beach experience. 

Take time to bask under the Hawaiian sun, feel the fine sand beneath your toes, or plunge into the refreshing waters for a swim. 

But beyond its physical allure, Waikiki Beach also has a vibrant energy that makes it a perfect spot for people-watching. 

Watch surfers dance with the waves, families sharing laughter, or couples taking serene beach strolls. It’s not just a beach; it’s a stage where countless human stories unfold.

Diamond Head: Uncover Waikiki’s Natural Grandeur

For those yearning for a physical challenge and exceptional views, the Diamond Head State Monument delivers. 

This ancient volcanic cone, standing majestic and proud, calls out to adventurous spirits. 

The trail, though a bit demanding, is a small price to pay for the reward that awaits at the summit.

As you ascend, each step reveals gradually widening views, eventually culminating in a panoramic vista that seems to encompass all of Waikiki and the vast Pacific Ocean. 

It’s the kind of view that stays with you long after you’ve descended, a snapshot of the world from above that’s well worth the climb.

Kuhio Beach Hula Show: A Dance with Hawaiian Culture

Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture with a visit to the Kuhio Beach Hula Show

This isn’t just a performance; it’s a lively showcase of Hawaiian tradition and a testament to the islands’ enduring spirit.

Live music sets the tone as hula dancers sway rhythmically, their graceful movements telling tales of Hawaii’s past. 

The evening comes alive with the lighting of the torches, casting a warm glow that complements the captivating performance. 

This show is more than entertainment—it’s a cultural experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for Hawaii’s rich heritage.

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Iolani Palace: A Royal Journey Through Time

In the heart of downtown Honolulu, the Iolani Palace stands as a fascinating monument to the Kingdom of Hawaii’s rich heritage. 

As you step through the palace gates, it’s like you’re transported back to the 19th century, a time when Hawaii was ruled by monarchs.

The palace, a unique blend of Italian Renaissance and native Hawaiian architectural styles, is much more than a beautiful building. 

It embodies the resilience and pride of the Hawaiian people. 

As the residence of King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, the last two monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom, it holds a special place in the hearts of Hawaiians.

Inside, the palace offers a captivating glimpse into royal life. You’ll see rooms adorned with opulent furniture, the monarchs’ personal items, and intricate decor—all meticulously restored. 

The throne room, the grand hall, the private suites—each has a story to tell, evoking a sense of poignancy and reverence for Hawaii’s past.

So, come, explore the Iolani Palace and gain a deeper understanding of Hawaii’s royal history. 

It’s not just a palace; it’s a chronicle of a kingdom’s rise, fall, and enduring legacy.

Manoa Falls Trail: An Unforgettable Expedition into Nature’s Heart

The Manoa Falls Trail, just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, promises an adventure of a lifetime. 

This 1.6-mile trail is a passport to Hawaii’s lush terrain, where nature paints a landscape so vivid, so enchanting, that it seems plucked right from a dream.

Your journey begins through a verdant rainforest, where you’ll encounter towering trees, a rainbow of tropical flowers, and the soothing soundtrack of birdsong. 

As you weave your way along the path, prepare for stunning views that seem to change around every bend.

The star of the trail, of course, is Manoa Falls. As you approach, you’ll hear the roar of the water plunging 150 feet down a sheer rock face into a small pool below. 

Standing there, beholding the cascading waters amidst the serene surroundings, you’ll feel a deep connection to nature’s raw beauty. 

Remember, though, while the pool might seem inviting, swimming is not permitted due to the risk of falling rocks.

Trading the beach for the Manoa Falls Trail isn’t just a change of scenery—it’s an opportunity to delve into Hawaii’s vibrant natural world. Trust me, it’s a journey well worth making.

Explore the Honolulu Zoo

Nested within a stone’s throw from the turquoise waters of Waikiki Beach, the Honolulu Zoo presents an inviting escape into a world teeming with wildlife. 

Spread across an impressive 42 acres, this sanctuary for over 900 different species is a remarkable testament to nature’s diversity and resilience.

The moment you step into the zoo, you’re plunged into an adventure that transcends geographical boundaries. 

It’s a journey that introduces you to creatures big and small, from all corners of the globe. 

You’ll meet the imposing Komodo dragons, the largest living species of lizard, which call the zoo’s herbarium home. 

Then there are the graceful orangutans, whose human-like behaviors and playful antics never fail to mesmerize.

But that’s not all. Wander through the African Savanna section and find yourself in the midst of a compelling tableau where zebras, giraffes, and African elephants thrive. 

The immersive habitats are meticulously designed to mimic the animals’ natural environments, making your wildlife-viewing experience even more extraordinary.

And if you’re traveling with little ones, the Keiki Zoo, specially designed for children, is a must-visit. 

They can engage with a variety of farm animals, learn about different species, and even enjoy a hands-on petting zoo experience.

What sets the Honolulu Zoo apart, though, is its commitment to education and conservation. 

Numerous interactive exhibits and programs aim to raise awareness about wildlife conservation and inspire visitors to take action. 

As you explore the zoo, you’re not just witnessing the wonder of nature—you’re also learning about the critical importance of preserving these amazing creatures and their habitats.

Visit the Waikiki Aquarium

Perched along the shore of Waikiki Beach, the Waikiki Aquarium serves as a gateway to the captivating world beneath the ocean’s surface. 

It offers an enchanting voyage into the depths of Hawaii’s vibrant marine ecosystems, all without the need for a wetsuit or a snorkeling mask.

From the moment you enter, the aquarium unravels the underwater world’s spellbinding tapestry, brimming with myriad species, each with its unique tale. 

The expansive exhibits, designed to replicate natural habitats, house everything from delicate, swaying corals to some of the ocean’s most fascinating dwellers.

A visit to the edge of the reef exhibit takes you on a visual exploration of Hawaii’s coral reefs, home to a plethora of colorful tropical fish. 

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Watch in awe as they dart around the corals, their vibrant hues a feast for the eyes. Each movement, each splash of color, creates a living artwork that leaves visitors captivated.

In another corner, you’ll encounter one of the ocean’s most endearing inhabitants—the Hawaiian monk seals. Listed as endangered, these seals are a part of the aquarium’s conservation efforts. 

Observe their playful antics and feel a sense of connection to these charming creatures, inspiring an appreciation for conservation.

Daring visitors can even get a spine-tingling up-close look at the sharks. The aquarium houses a variety of shark species, each commanding respect and invoking curiosity. 

Their powerful grace and silent poise serve as a humbling reminder of the ocean’s untamed might.

Beyond offering a glimpse into the aquatic life, the Waikiki Aquarium is committed to educating its visitors. 

Through interactive displays, hands-on learning opportunities, and knowledgeable staff, it seeks to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of marine ecosystems and the vital role they play in our world.

Shopping at Luxury Row

In the heart of Waikiki, nestled among its iconic palm trees and golden beaches, lies a shopper’s paradise known as Luxury Row. 

A stroll down this elegantly designed district is like taking a global tour of some of the world’s most prestigious designer brands, all conveniently located in one beautifully maintained strip.

But Luxury Row is more than just a shopping destination; it’s an experience in and of itself. 

The avenue showcases the pinnacle of luxury retail, presenting a lineup of internationally acclaimed boutiques. 

From iconic fashion houses such as Chanel, Gucci, and Saint Laurent to premier watch and jewelry establishments like Tiffany & Co. and Harry Winston, each store stands as a beacon of style and refinement.

Upon stepping into these boutiques, you’re greeted with an array of coveted items. Beautifully crafted jewelry pieces, thoughtfully designed fashion collections, and finely made accessories await the discerning shopper. 

Each object on display, with its exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail, stands as a testament to the luxury and quality that these brands represent.

Beyond high-end fashion and jewelry, Luxury Row also celebrates the uniqueness of Hawaii. 

Among the chic designer boutiques, you’ll find shops offering locally made products, highlighting Hawaii’s vibrant arts and crafts scene. 

These local establishments provide an opportunity to take home a piece of the Aloha spirit, with items that showcase traditional Hawaiian motifs and craftsmanship.

Shopping at Luxury Row is also made more enjoyable by its commitment to customer service. 

Each boutique offers personalized service, ensuring a shopping experience that is as seamless and enjoyable as possible. 

From personal shopping assistants to private fitting rooms, every detail is designed to make your visit memorable.

things to do in waikiki

Sailing into the Sunset: Sunset Cruise

If you’re looking to make memories in Waikiki that you’ll cherish forever, a sunset cruise off its coast is an absolute must. 

As the day turns to dusk, the Pacific Ocean takes on a spectacular display of colors that can truly be appreciated when viewed from a boat on its waters.

Upon stepping onto the deck of the cruise ship, you’ll immediately feel the cool ocean breeze and the warm sun on your skin. 

As the boat sets sail, the coastline begins to recede, offering a stunning panoramic view of Waikiki and the iconic Diamond Head Crater.

As the sun begins to set, the sky transforms into a vibrant canvas of colors – from soft pinks to fiery oranges and deep purples. 

The spectacle is amplified by the ocean below, its waves gently reflecting the myriad of hues above. 

It’s a moment of serenity, a celebration of nature’s beauty that captivates all your senses.

Many of these cruises also offer dinner services, allowing you to enjoy a meal against the backdrop of the setting sun. 

Whether it’s a lavish buffet spread or a private, candle-lit dinner, the experience is made all the more enjoyable by the captivating views and the rhythmic sound of the ocean.

By the time the cruise returns to the dock, the stars will have begun their nightly vigil, the perfect end to a magical journey. 

A sunset cruise is more than just a ride; it’s an experience that brings together the best of nature and luxury, making it an unforgettable part of your visit to Waikiki.

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A Glimpse into the Past: Army Museum of Hawaii

The U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, nestled in the historic Battery Randolph, stands as a remarkable testament to Hawaii’s military past. 

The museum, much like a time capsule, has meticulously preserved a wide range of military artifacts, weapons, and vehicles, each narrating a unique chapter of Hawaii’s history.

Upon entering the museum, you’re met with a well-organized collection that spans several eras of conflict, from ancient Hawaiian warfare to the modern military engagements of the 20th century. 

One of the highlights of the museum is its display dedicated to the attack on Pearl Harbor, providing a deeper understanding of the event that propelled the United States into World War II.

The museum also offers exhibits showcasing different types of weaponry and military equipment. 

For history buffs and military enthusiasts, the sight of vintage guns, tanks, and aircraft is a fascinating experience. 

Interactive displays and detailed descriptions provide valuable insights, making each visit both entertaining and educational.

The museum is also located in a historic structure itself, Battery Randolph, a part of Fort DeRussy. 

This gives visitors a glimpse into the architectural style of military fortifications from the early 20th century.

The Army Museum of Hawaii is more than a repository of artifacts. It’s a journey through time, a chance to understand the rich and complex military history of the Hawaiian Islands. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious, the museum is a place where learning comes alive, making it a must-visit destination in Waikiki.

things to do in waikiki

A Walk to Remember: Kalakaua Avenue

The heart of Waikiki pulsates along Kalakaua Avenue, a bustling street that captures the city’s lively spirit. 

Lined with a blend of luxury boutiques, local shops, fine-dining restaurants, and street-side eateries, the avenue is a paradise for foodies, shoppers, and cultural enthusiasts.

As you walk down this iconic avenue, the sound of live music from street performers fills the air, adding a rhythm to your stroll. 

Artists, musicians, and performers bring the sidewalks to life, showcasing the local culture and talent.

But Kalakaua Avenue is not just about shopping and dining. The street is rich with history and cultural landmarks, such as the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing. 

Stop by for a photo with the legendary surfer, and you’ve got a perfect souvenir of your Waikiki visit.

The avenue is also a gateway to other attractions. A short walk will lead you to Waikiki Beach, with its inviting turquoise waters, or to Kapiolani Park, a tranquil green space perfect for a leisurely stroll or picnic.

By night, Kalakaua Avenue transforms. The street lights up, and the nightlife comes alive with lively bars and clubs offering everything from quiet cocktails to dance floors that keep you moving until dawn. 

It’s an avenue that never sleeps, mirroring the endless energy of Waikiki.

In essence, a walk down Kalakaua Avenue is a sensory experience that blends sights, sounds, and tastes. 

It encapsulates the essence of Waikiki, making it a must-do for any visitor to the island.

things to do in waikiki

A Night of Cultural Immersion: Luau

Immerse yourself in a feast of Hawaiian culture with a traditional luau, an experience that is as vibrant and lively as the islands themselves. 

A luau is a Hawaiian feast marked by a variety of activities that give you an authentic taste of Hawaiian culture.

Your luau experience begins with a warm welcome, often with a traditional lei greeting. The air fills with the scent of the flower leis and the sounds of traditional Hawaiian music. 

As you settle in, you’re treated to a show of Hawaiian arts and crafts, from lei-making to tattoo demonstrations.

Then comes the highlight of the evening – the feast. Traditional Hawaiian dishes like kalua pig, cooked in an earth oven, lomi salmon, poke, and haupia, a coconut milk-based dessert, fill the buffet table. 

Each dish is a celebration of the islands’ flavors, a culinary journey that complements the cultural immersion.

As the sun sets, the stage lights up with hula dancers swaying to the rhythm of the Hawaiian chants and songs. 

The dancers, adorned in traditional costumes, tell stories through their movements, each dance a chapter of Hawaiian history and mythology.

Some luaus also include a fire knife dance, a thrilling spectacle that illuminates the night. 

As the dancers expertly twirl and toss flaming knives, the audience is left in awe of the performance.

A luau is not just a meal or a show. It’s a sensory feast that immerses you in the culture, history, and spirit of Hawaii. 

It’s an essential part of the Hawaiian experience and a highlight of any visit to Waikiki.

Discover the Royal Side: Royal Hawaiian Center

The Royal Hawaiian Center is more than just one of Hawaii’s largest shopping malls – it’s a hub of Hawaiian culture, history, and entertainment. 

Spread over 310,000 square feet, the center offers an array of retail stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues, all while keeping Hawaiian culture at its core.

As you explore the center’s three blocks of luxury retail stores, you’ll find a wide variety of items to choose from. 

Whether it’s high-end designer clothing, unique Hawaiian crafts, or gourmet foodproducts, the Royal Hawaiian Center is a treasure trove for shoppers. 

The center is home to both international brands and local businesses, offering a unique mix that caters to every shopper’s taste and budget.

But shopping is just one aspect of what the Royal Hawaiian Center offers. The center is also committed to promoting Hawaiian culture and provides free cultural classes. 

Here, you can learn to play the ukulele, sway to the rhythm of the hula, or try your hand at lei-making. 

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These classes, led by local experts, offer a hands-on experience that brings you closer to the rich traditions of Hawaii.

Food lovers will also find their paradise in the center’s wide range of dining options. 

From elegant fine-dining restaurants offering Hawaiian fusion cuisine to casual eateries serving classic comfort food, there’s something to satisfy every palate. 

Many restaurants also offer outdoor seating, perfect for enjoying the balmy Hawaiian weather.

Moreover, the center’s central location in the heart of Waikiki makes it a perfect starting point for exploring the area. 

It’s just a short stroll away from the famous Waikiki Beach, and its landscaped grounds, complete with beautiful native plants and trees, offer a peaceful retreat from the bustle of the city.

The Royal Hawaiian Center isn’t just a place to shop, eat, and learn – it’s a place where you can experience the spirit of Aloha. 

With its blend of retail therapy, culinary delights, and cultural enrichment, it’s a destination that offers a taste of all the things that make Hawaii unique.


What’s the best time to visit Waikiki? 

The best time to visit Waikiki is during the shoulder seasons of April to June and September to November. These periods offer pleasant weather and less tourist crowds.

How can I save money while in Waikiki? 

Consider using public transportation, eating at local food trucks, and visiting free attractions such as the Kuhio Beach Hula Show.

Is Waikiki safe for tourists? 

Yes, Waikiki is generally safe for tourists. However, as in any popular tourist destination, it’s important to stay vigilant and take standard precautions.

Can I learn to surf in Waikiki?

Absolutely! Waikiki is the perfect place for beginners to learn surfing, with many schools offering lessons.

What are some must-try local foods in Waikiki? 

Don’t miss trying Poke bowls, Kalua pork, Loco moco, and Shave ice during your visit to Waikiki.

What did we miss about things to do in Waikiki? Please feel free to share with us in the comments!

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