Is your idea of a vacation going somewhere that royalty would choose? If so, there is one place on the island of Oahu to focus on: Waikiki. Located on the south shore of Honolulu, Waikiki Beach was once the hottest destination for Hawaiian royalty. Now, visitors from around the globe bask in the same golden sunshine, and enjoy turquoise waters. The only missing puzzle piece is the perfect oceanfront rental — but with the help of you can find a villa that is fit for a king.

What to Do in Waikiki

waikiki beach activities

Traditional Beach Activities

Almost every Waikiki travel guide will begin with the simple pleasures of the beach. Sun worshippers have been hitting the shores of Waikiki since 1901 when the first hotel was built here. The waters here are known for being especially calm, so if you can tear yourself away from sunbathing Waikiki is ideal for taking your first surf lesson.

Other than surfing, popular activities at Waikiki Beach include canoeing, swimming, building sand castles, and throwing around a football or Frisbee. Don’t forget to experience a Waikiki sunset or two during your trip as well. A late afternoon picnic or jog along the beach is the perfect way to watch the sun sink into the ocean. There are also volleyball nets on the beach.

Beyond the Beach

While an entire trip can easily be spent sunbathing and swimming, there are also many activities in Waikiki beyond the beach. Give your family a treat by boarding an Atlantis submarine to see the incredible diversity of marine life in Hawaii. There are also many lookout points along the coast here, including the Diamond Head lookouts. For different and awe-inspiring perspective of the island, be sure to explore some of these attractions along the coast.

If you’re looking for entertainment, Waikiki has plenty to offer. Go for a stroll along the Waikiki Beach Walk where you will find live music performances, shopping, dining options, and places to sit and enjoy a frozen cocktail. If you’re family loves to picnic, one ideal place is Queens Surf Beach.

The Cultural Side of Waikiki

While Waikiki restaurants, beaches, and shopping can easily keep you happily occupied for your trip, there is also a cultural side of this destination to explore. The Waikiki historic trail leads you on an itinerary covering 23 historic sites, 19 of which are marked by bronze surfboards.

Beyond the history, there is also plenty to see and do for adults. While Maui is better known as a destination for honeymoons and romantic vacations, Waikiki also has a lot to offer couples. Head out on a boat for a sunset sail, start your day with a romantic spa treatment, or enjoy an intimate meal at one of the area’s top-notch restaurants.

Back to top

What to See in Waikiki

waikiki travel guide

Wet Wild in Waikiki

One highlight of a visit to Waikiki is sure to be interactions with the local wildlife. These excursions can vary depending on how adventurous you are. Many visitors enjoy an Atlantic submarine ride, but if you want to get even closer, there are opportunities here to go swimming with dolphins, charter a fishing boat, or visit the Waikiki Aquarium. Here you will see fascinating creatures from sharks to rays to a variety of tropical fish in every color of the rainbow.

It is also possible to see wildlife without leaving Waikiki Beach. Bring your snorkel mask and a pair of flippers and head out to see small fish that live near the shore. If you’ve always wanted to earn your scuba certification, there are businesses in Hawaii that can make this a dream come true.

Landmarks in Waikiki

Many travelers could spend an entire vacation enjoying the beaches and Waikiki restaurants, but there are also landmarks to visit that will provide an authentic angle of Hawaii. Kuhio Beach is home to Kapahulu Pier, which extends out into the Pacific providing great views of the coastline. For a rainy day, the U.S. Army Museum is an entertaining and informative option.

The Waikiki Historic Trail begins at the Royal Hawaiian Center, where visitors will see the Royal Grove that was once home to 10,000 palm trees. Along the historic trail visitors will learn details about the history of surfing in Oahu, the royalty that once lived on this part of the island, as well as fascinating statues and artifacts.

Back to top

Where to Shop and Eat in Waikiki

waikiki shopping

Super Shopping in Waikiki

No Waikiki travel guide would be complete without mentioning the great shopping available here. Whether you need some time away from the sun or simply forgot something at home, the shops of Waikiki are both entertaining and functional. From surf shops to crafts made in Hawaii to designer stores, you will find a variety of tempting shopping choices in Waikiki.

The two main shopping centers are DFS Galleria and Royal Hawaiian Center. Here you can find rare gifts for friends and family back home. For a little sunset shopping, the Waikiki Beach Walk is ideal for a stroll and browsing — although odds are you will be tempted by what you see in the windows of Waikiki!

Dining Hawaiian Style in Waikiki

Most visitors are pleasantly surprised by the variety of Waikiki restaurants. In this part of Oahu you will find everything from traditional Hawaiian cuisine to restaurants owned by some of the most famous chefs in the U.S. One thing links together all cuisine on the island: fresh ingredients. Locally grown ingredients make all the difference when it comes to the bold flavors of Hawaiian food.

The Hawaiian Regional Food Movement changed the way visitors experience dining in Oahu and beyond. Famous chefs such as Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi attract foodies from around the globe to sample their regional cuisine. Popular restaurants to try include Roy’s Waikiki and Mavro Restaurant. If you want to sample some of Oahu’s smaller restaurants, head to small neighborhoods such as Kapahulu or Haleiwa.

Back to top

When to Visit Waikiki

Not every Waikiki travel guide will tell potential visitors that there are two seasons in Hawaii. While temperatures don’t vary substantially throughout the year, the islands still do experience seasons. May through October is the summer season, and November through April is the winter season. During the summer, the average temperature is 85. During the winter season, the average is 79.

Some visitors are concerned about rain. The wettest months are November through April, but the islands rarely experience entire days of rain. Showers come through and can pass within an hour. One other aspect to plan your trip around is crowds. The period around the holidays in December, and also any other scheduled school break, can see crowds in Hawaii. If you want to lounge on Waikiki Beach with fewer crowds, avoid these weeks.

Back to top

What to Bring to Waikiki

For a Waikiki vacation, your packing list will be simple. Beach basics including bathing suits, flip flops, sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen will be all you need during the day. If you plan on enjoying Waikiki restaurants, a few jazzier outfits will be appropriate for evening including cocktail dresses for women and a light jacket for men (ties won’t be required).

Back to top

Local Services in Waikiki

The first hotel was built on Waikiki beach in 1901 and the services have gotten better ever since. One reason travelers love Waikiki beach is that everything you need is within close proximity. Whether you’re looking for food to stock your kitchen, extra sunscreen, Hawaiian crafts, or a post office to mail home your postcards, services will be widely available in Waikiki.

Back to top

What to Know About Waikiki

Located in the south shore of Honolulu, Waikiki is a gateway to exploring the rest of the island of Oahu. If you’re interested in history, one site not to be missed is Pearl Harbor. There’s also a great arts district in Chinatown. Waikiki is also known for its great nightlife and live music if you’re looking for some entertainment in the evenings. Whether you want a romantic night on the town or are looking to dance the night away, Waikiki Beach will deliver.

Back to top

Getting to Waikiki

Traveling to Waikiki Beach is easy. The island of Oahu is home to a major international airport in Honolulu. This airport is connected to all the major cities in the continental U.S. for direct flights. If you’re the type of traveler that wants one flight with direct access to your destination, choose Waikiki. From the airport you can choose a shuttle, taxi, or your own rental car for transportation.

Back to top

Why Waikiki Vacation Rentals?

Savvy travelers don’t come all the way to Hawaii to stay in a cramped hotel room. The best way to experience Waikiki is to have your own space, your own kitchen, and your own outdoor deck. When your family has the extra space to spread out, everyone will be happier and more relaxed. While a hotel isn’t conducive to quality family time, an oceanfront rental is perfect for getting your family together for game night. To bring your Hawaii vacation to new heights, choose Waikiki vacation rentals.

Back to top