Waikiki is Honolulu's famous resort neighborhood. Arguably Hawaii's most well known neighborhood, there are still plenty of hidden gems to go along with the neighborhood's more famous locations. Here are the top 5 things to do in Waikiki:
A Golden Hour Drink At The Mai Tai Bar At The Royal Hawaiian Hotel
The Pink Palace is a beautiful building, constructed on the sand in 1927, when a voyage to Hawaii on The Lurline and a week or two holiday in the sun was one of the most exotic, romantic vacations available on earth.
Step off Kalakaua Avenue, leave the 21st Century behind, walk under the banyan tree and through the hotel to the Mai Tai Bar, which has a prime angle on Waikiki and Diamond Head. Order a Mai Tai as the sun sets and Golden Hour lights up the waves and the people and you will understand why Waikiki is still one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It’s just a little bit magic.
Waikiki is like a box of chocolates: A lot of variety, and it’s all pretty sweet.
Whether you are a first-time beginning surfer or an experienced pro, Waikiki has something to satisfy you. The spots directly in front of Waikiki are Canoes and Queens, which are great beginner spots, but also fun for longboarders and shortboarders. Rent a board from any of the beach services vendors and get away from the shady turf and into the sunny surf. Standup paddlers like Pops and Paradise and Threes, shortboarders pull into tight little barrels at Kaisers, and Ala Moana Bowls is a heavy, challenging wave when the swell is pumping.
Surf Waikiki and you are surrounded by beauty, and history.
Climb Diamond Head
The Diamond Head trail is a bit of a hike, but it’s worth it.
You can take the bus to Diamond Head State Park. The bus is $2.50 each way and $1 to walk in, while it costs $5 to drive in.
The trail was built in 1908 as part of Oahu’s coastal defense system. It takes .8 of a mile to ascend 560 feet. The first part is a concrete walkway which ascends the first two-tenths of a mile, and then you’re on a natural “tuff” surface along switchbacks, then steep stairs and a pass through a lighted, 225-foot tunnel which spits out you into the Fire Control Station - which was built in 1911. At the summit there are military bunkers, a navigational lighthouse and a spectacular, 360-degree view of all of Waikiki off to the west side, and then around the east side to Koko Head and beyond. Planes, ships and in the winter, humpback whales.
HANG OUT AT ALA MOANA BEACH PARK
Just to the west of Waikiki, Ala Moana Beach Park is a short walk over the Ala Wai Canal and to the left you will find a groomed, 3000-foot strip of sand. Ala Moana Beach Park has it all: Swim, snorkel, standup-paddle, do SUP yoga, fish and surf in the ocean.
Or run, ride bikes, walk your dog, fall asleep under a tree or hang out and talk story with all the locals who frequent this park, and fill it up every weekend with tents and music and barbecues.
Every Friday night, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has a free fireworks show at around 7:45. Watch it from Magic Island.
VISIT SHANGRI LA
In 1936 did Doris Duke a stately pleasure dome decree. Duke inherited a fortune from her father at 13 years old, in 1925. In 1935 she went on a prolonged honeymoon and visited the Middle East, India and Pakistan, then wound up in Hawaii - and found she loved the Hawaiian Islands, and the ocean and surfing, and became friends with the Kahanamoku brothers.
Doris Duke liked Hawaii so much, she bought land in Kahala beach for $100,000 and built a house for $1.4 million - that would be times 17 in modern money.
She began construction of her pleasure palace in 1936, and filled it with a priceless collection of Islamic art and architecture from Morocco, India, Pakistan, Iran and other places she visited on her travels.
It’s fun to think of Duke Kahanamoku and his brothers and friends surfing Waikiki all day, then hanging out at Shangri La - playing ukulele and having a good old time. Shangri La is something else. Sign up at the Honolulu Museum of Art, take the bus ride there, and be astounded by a masterpiece.