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Waikiki Beach

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Waikiki Beach. Photo ©  Teresa Plowright.

Waikiki Beach -- see MORE PHOTOS.

Where is it?

Waikiki Beach is a legendary tourist zone on the south shore of Oahu in Hawaii: a 2-mile sweep of surf and shore that extends toward the iconic Diamond Head.

What makes it so special it:

It is is the most-developed tourist area in Hawaii, with:

  • Rich history
  • Beautiful sea, and views of Diamond Head
  • Perfect surf for beginners, and good surf year-round
  • A loveliness that persists even with concrete and high-rises

History:
Waikiki Beach has been inhabited since Polynesians arrived in these islands, and has seen much of the tumult of Hawaii's history: warrior kings, whaling ships, terrible epidemics, displaced Hawaiians, a deposed Queen, and of course tourist development starting over a century ago. Two venerable hotels still sit on the beach: the Moana Surfrider and the pink Royal Hawaiian. Around them tower high-rises, and Kalakaua Avenue is busy with shops and restaurants.

Yet it is still a lovely place. Dozens of surfers play off-shore all day. Kalakaua Avenue's winding wide sidewalk is dotted by pools, fountains, statues, and snippets of history on surfboard signs. Beachside Kapiolani Park has walkways and picnic tables.

for more history, see the unusual Historic Waikiki.

What makes it so good for families:

  • many family-friendly hotels including suites and affordable choices (see below)
  • sheltered beach with breakwater (Kuhio Beach area)
  • great sand for castles
  • beginner surf lessons for kids
  • convenience of familiar fast food brands
  • close to Waikiki Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium
  • look for the four "Wizard Stones". ( Read about their legend.)

Three Fun Activities:

-Walk the wide sidewalk along Kalakaua Avenue, pose your kids for a photo by the statue of "the father of modern surfing" Duke Kahanamoku (who revived this ancient sport of Hawaiian royalty), digest a little history from surfboad signs along with your favorite ice cream from Kalakaua's shops. You can walk to the Honolulu Zoo or Kapiolani Park.

-Splurge on High Tea at the Moana Surfrider: a classy hotel with a period-style verandah that faces the sea and a spectacular century-old banyan tree. Yes, tea: no mere drink but a ritual done in full British colonial style but with a kids' menu too. (And kids can go play and still be in view.)

-Take in local events that give concrete Waikiki a human face:

  • "Sunset on the Beach" at the Kapahulu Pier: the beach becomes an outdoor movie theatre, with food booths, free movies on a giant screen, other entertainment
  • "Brunch on the Beach": once a month, traffic stops on busy Kalakoa Avenue by Kuhio Beach, and the street becomes an outdoor cafe with delicious food by island chefs, at bargain prices; entertainment, too.
Related Video
Tour Historic Downtown Honolulu and Waikiki Beach
Plan a Romantic Beach Escape

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