Suppose you only know Waikiki as the place where you go to see and be seen. In that case, it's time you acquaint yourself with this historic Honolulu neighborhood a little better. Sure, it's still well-known for its fine hotels and upscale restaurants. But it also happens to be home to one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Hawaii, not to mention home to some amazing things to do. The most well-known beach destination in the world, Waikiki is said to be blessed with South Sea charm. With that in mind, here are some insider tips on making the most of your next trip to Waikiki – whether you have just one day or several remaining before your flight back home.
There's no better way to start your day in Waikiki than by hiking to the top of Diamond Head. This iconic landmark is considered the most recognized natural feature in all of Hawaii, and for a good reason. But it's not just a pretty sight to look at. Diamond Head is also a historical site of significance, as it played a pivotal role during the Hawaiian Islands' Spanish and Japanese occupations. As such, it's no surprise that Diamond Head is home to several things to do, such as hiking and exploring the Diamond Head Crater, taking in the panoramic views from the Diamond Head Lighthouse, and visiting the nearby Hawaiian National Wildlife Refuge. The Diamond Head hiking trail is also a must for anyone visiting Waikiki. At just 2.5 miles long, this moderately challenging trail is a great way to burn off some of that post-flight adrenaline while enjoying some of the most spectacular views of the ocean, the coast, and nearby Honolulu. Waikiki is separated from the small residential community on the southwest side of Diamond Head by a lovely park named Kapiolani Park, the oldest park in Waikiki. You can enjoy your day with your families by visiting the zoo and aquarium in the park for a fun outing.
If you're short on time, the best way to see the sights of Honolulu is by a helicopter ride over the city. Sure, you'll miss out on the views of Diamond Head and the nearby beach, but it's a great way to get a bird's eye view of the many famous landmarks in Honolulu. Of course, the most iconic landmarks are the world-famous Ala Wai Canal, closely followed by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Honolulu Zoo, the State Capitol Building, the USS Arizona Memorial, and the Honolulu Convention Center. And, of course, no trip to Honolulu would be complete without a trip to see the USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial, built to honor the 1,177 crew members and passengers who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor, is widely considered one of the most powerful war memorials in the world.
No, you won't be able to see the sunset from the Diamond Head hiking trail. Still, you can make up for it by seeing the sunset at Makanalani Beach, just a short walk from Diamond Head. Considering that Makanalani Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Hawaii, it's best to make your way there right after sunset. At that time, you'll also get to experience the lunar ceremony, an Ancient Hawaiian tradition held on Makanalani Beach just once a month. Makanalani is also home to several nearby shacks serving some of Honolulu's best seafood. So if you're looking for a romantic dinner spot or a casual place to grab a bite to eat on a budget, then Makanalani Beach is the place for you.
If you're only going to do one thing during your stay in Waikiki, then walking the beach shoreline should be it. After all, there's no better way to experience the true beauty of the Hawaiian Islands than by strolling along a sandy beach shoreline while enjoying the cool breeze blowing off the ocean and basking in the warm tropical sunlight. Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world, entirely thanks to its status as the main tourist beach in Honolulu. As such, it's not a place you want to go if you're looking to escape the crowds. But that doesn't mean walking the beach at Waikiki isn't a worthwhile experience. On the contrary, walking the beach at Waikiki is one of the best ways to experience Hawaiian culture and history. You'll pass by many historic landmarks, including the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Moana Surfrider Hotel, the Waikiki Beach Walk, and the International Market Place.
One of the best places to go snorkeling on the island of Oahu is directly on Waikiki Beach. The southernmost point of this long expanse of sand, in the Waikiki Marine Conservation District, opposite the Waikiki Aquarium, is the ideal location. Turtles are perhaps the most iconic of all marine creatures, so swimming with turtles is something that everyone visiting the Hawaiian Islands should do at least once in their lives. The best place to go snorkeling with turtles in Waikiki is the Turtle Bay Reef. This historic reef, located just a short distance from the coast of Waikiki Beach, is home to a whopping 1,500 Hawaiian green sea turtles and a wide variety of tropical fish, coral, and other marine life. This is one of the best things to do in Waikiki for families with children and first-time visitors to Hawaii, as it's an experience that anyone can enjoy, regardless of their swimming level. Now, you may be wondering whether or not it's ethical to go snorkeling with turtles. After all, humans are one of the main reasons that turtles are endangered in the first place. The good news is that Turtle Bay has special guidelines to ensure that turtles aren't harmed in any way.
Food truck festivals are a great way to sample various culinary delights at one time. And if you visit Waikiki just after the Food Truck and Sake Festival, then you'll get to experience just that. The Food Truck and Sake Festival is an annual event held in Waikiki every February. It features a variety of food trucks from all over the Hawaiian Islands, as well as some of the best sake (aka Japanese rice wine) from nearby breweries. While a food truck festival is a great way to sample a wide variety of different culinary delights, it's also a great way to sample a wide variety of different cultures, as many of the food trucks at the Food Truck and Sake Festival are run by people of Japanese descent.
There's no better place to visit in Hawaii than Waikiki, and there's no better way to experience Waikiki than by taking in some of these amazing things to do. From hiking Diamond Head to seeing the sunset at Makanalani Beach, and everything in between, there's something for everybody. Hawaii is known for its tropical paradise and cultural significance, making it an excellent spot to unwind during vacations. Follow leisure.com for more travel guides and tips.