All things Waikiki

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Hilton Hawaiian Village Fireworks

What to do in Waikiki

Hike Diamond Head Crater in Waikiki

Located on the East end of Waikiki is the Diamond Head Crater, the Diamond Head Crater is Oahu’s most famous natural landmark.

Originally called Leahi (brow of the yellowfin tuna) but later nicknamed Diamond Head when British sailors mistaken the calcite crystals along the slopes as real diamonds.

The hike up to the top is 0.8 miles and the terrain is reasonably maintained and there are partially paved sections and a lighted 225ft tunnel. The panoramic view at the top is well worth it!

The hike is open daily from 6am-4pm. It’s a very popular hike so there’s lots of people so I suggest you go early and beat the crowd. Allow 1.5-2 hours.

Visit the Waikiki Aquarium when in Waikiki

The Waikiki Aquarium is the second oldest aquarium in the United States. It first opened its doors in 1904.

The Waikiki Aquarium has a Living Reef Exhibit and an interactive 12 wall tank exhibit displaying different types of coral. Come on by to see the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa which is Hawaii’s State Fish (not pictured).

They are open daily from 9am-4:30pm and is located at 2777 Kalakaua Avenue across Kapiolani Park on the beach side.

Check out the Honolulu Zoo when in Waikiki

The Honolulu Zoo recently completed a $3.5 million dollar improvement project for its Hippo habitat. Go and visit Louise, the 27 year old hippo.

This is the only zoo that sits on land that was a king’s grant of land to the people.

Open daily from 10am-3pm at 151 Kapahulu Avenue.

Check out the International Market Place

The International Market Place is an open air world class shopping, food, and entertainment destination.

Check out the International Market Place events calendar by clicking HERE

Located 2333 Kalakaua Avenue across from the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel.

PC: Phillip B. Espinasse/Shutterstock

Places with LIVE music in Waikiki

Kani Ka Pila Grille at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Hotel

Kani Ka Pila Grille celebrates the local tradition of “kanikapila” (meaning, “let’s play music”). The roster of entertainers includes Hawaii’s most legendary musicians that include both local talent and artists of international renown.

The venue continues this tradition featuring award-winning contemporary musical performers with the comfort of ono (“delicious”) food.

Live music from 6pm-8pm pool side at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach hotel, 2169 Kalia Rd, Honolulu.

PC: Lourdes M/Yelp

Tiki’s Grill & Bar at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel

Located in the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, Tiki’s Grill & Bar enjoys the gorgeous views of the sunsets.

They bring in two different musicians on Monday-Thursdays starting at 5:30pm to 10pm and three on Friday-Sunday starting at 3pm to 10pm. Check out their music calendar HERE.

Three hours of FREE validated parking with hotel valet.

House without at Key at the Halekulani Hotel

Unwind at House without a Key at the Halekulani Hotel and enjoy the sunsets under the 130+ year old Kiawe Tree with views of the Pacific Ocean and Diamond Head.

House without a Key not only brings in local musicians but also kicks it up a notch by also bringing in former Miss Hawaii & Miss Hawaii-USA winners to showcase the Hula.

Entertainment nightly from 5:30pm-8:30pm


Moani’s at the International Market Place

Moani brings people together to experience heart-filled cooking and island music.

Located in the International Market Place, Moani showcases some of the best live music on the island by featuring Hawaii’s most talented artist. See Moani’s Entertainment Schedule HERE.

Entertainment times: Monday-Wednesday (6pm-8pm), Thursdays Concert Series (6pm-11pm), Friday-Sunday (6pm-11pm)

Entertainment nightly, 2330 Kalakaua Ave Suite 312 (3rd Floor).

Barefoot Beach Cafe

Every Wednesday to Sunday from 5:30pm to 10:30pm, Barefoot Beach Cafe at Queen’s Surf presents live outdoor music on the oceanfront lanai.

Go and enjoy Sonny Kapu and The Barefoot Boys.

Best of Waikiki

Best late night restaurant in Waikiki: MAC 24/7

Located in the Hilton Waikiki Beach hotel on 2500 Kuhio Ave, MAC 24/7 is open till 10pm and the portion sizes of every dish will not disappoint.

The World-Famous M.A.C. Daddy Pancakes, as featured on Man vs. Food & Trip Advisor’s “Top 10 Dishes You Must See To Believe” is insanely large weighing in at a whopping 5 pounds.

There is a pancake eating challenge that challenges individuals to eat the entire 5 pound pancake (3-14inch pancakes) with a time limit of 1hour, 30minutes.

Winners of the pancake eating challenge are not charged for the pancakes, receive a free official winner t-shirt, and is posted on the Wall-of-Fame and Mac 24/7 website.

Best Burger in Waikiki: Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

After studying the simple menus of the original 1950’s burger joints, owners Ted & Rich decided to ‘reinvent the burger joint’ with a 50’s theme and a simple menu of burgers, fries & shakes.

One hundred percent ground chunk burgers are drizzled with tasty sweet and tangy sauces in sizes up to colossal.

The Waikiki location is the first location opening in April 1998 on the street level of the Castle Waikiki Grand Hotel on 134 Kapahulu Avenue.

Best Magic Show in Waikiki: Magic of Polynesia at the Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel

Magic of Polynesia features John Hirokawa, aka the “Oscar of Magic” – a master illusionist.

Watch him perform mystifying escapes, vanishing acts, incredible levitations and stunning illusions with a Polynesian flair that will leave you mesmerized.

You have the option to just watch the show or you can purchase the show and dinner package.

Best Ocean Front Bar in Waikiki: Duke’s Waikiki located in the Outrigger Waikiki Beach

Duke’s Waikiki is very popular and gets very crowded. Named after the legendary Duke Kahanamoku and located where Duke grew up swimming, surfing, canoeing and bodysurfing.

You can’t get any closer to the beach than Duke’s Waikiki.

While you’re there, try out the Hula Pie!

PC: Kinga H/Yelp

Best Ocean Adventure in Waikiki: Atlantis Submarines

The Atlantis Submarines will take you 100 feet below the ocean surface where you will have a chance to see some of Hawaii’s marine life.

You’ll likely see sea turtles, sharks, yellow tangs, and eels as well as sunken ships and other objects that litter the ocean floor.

Atlantis Submarines is located at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel.

PC: Viator

Best Restaurant for Japanese Food in Waikiki: Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar

Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar is super popular with Hawaii locals.

The food is always fresh and tasty.  They have a concept of serving contemporary sushi and innovative fusion seafood in a fun and lively setting.

The Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar is located on the 3rd floor of the Waikiki Beach Marriott, 2552 Kalakaua Avenue. They are closed on Wednesdays.

PC: Yelp

Best Fine Dining in Waikiki: Michel’s

If you want to celebrate a special occasion and want to go somewhere in Waikiki, go to Michel’s at the Colony Surf Hotel.

The restaurant is next to the beach so request to sit next to the window, especially if you are there during the sunset.

Michel’s has been the definition of fine dining in Hawaii since 1962.

PC: Chanelle D/Yelp

Best Pizza In Waikiki: Round Table Pizza in the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel

Round Table Pizza was brought to Waikiki in 1995. They don’t skimp out on the quality and the quantity of toppings.

The cheese is a real blend of mozzarella, cheddar, and smoked provolone.

There are two Round Table Pizza restaurants locations in Waikiki: Hilton Hawaiian Village and Ohana East Hotel.

The Ohana East location is a bigger location and it offers a full bar, live sports, and delivery service within Waikiki.

Best Place for Shopping in Waikiki: Waikiki Beach Walk

There are plenty of shops in Waikiki and the range goes from small souvenir shops to Saks Fifth in the International Market Place.

Waikiki Beach Walk is a good place to find a good range of items priced for different budgets.

I would encourage you to shop and support the locally owned boutiques to support the local economy.

Best Way To Get Around Waikiki: Biki Bikes

Finding parking around Waikiki is not easy and parking in hotel parking can get pricey.

There is the Honolulu Zoo parking lot and parking along Kapiolani park but you’ll have to walk over half a mile just to get to the International Market Place which is only the middle of Kalakaua Avenue.

A good alternative is renting a Biki Bike.

There are stations to rent and return in several areas around Waikiki.

Prices start at $3.50 for a single 30-minute ride. It’s $15 per month for an unlimited number of 30-minute trips, $25 per month for unlimited number of 60-minute trips, and $20 for 300 minutes to use any time.

PC:my_ photos/shutterstock

Best Place To Go For A Run: Kapiolani Park

Queen Kapiolani Park is the largest public park in Honolulu and is located on the East end of Waikiki.

The park is approximately 300 acres and is home to the Waikiki Shell.

The park includes basketball and tennis courts, soccer, rugby, lacrosse, and rugby fields and an archery range.

Kapiolani Park is also very popular for joggers that utilize its 2-mile circumference.

Best Place To Watch The Locals in Waikiki: Walls

Waikiki Walls known as “Walls” is a popular boogie boarding spot for the local kids.

Ignoring the posted signs, the local kids love jumping off the end of the wall.

The wall is located on the East end of Waikiki. If the surf is high and you are standing near the end of the wall, you will likely get splashed when the inbound rolling waves crash on the cement.

PC: Theodore Trimmer/Shutterstock

Best Place to Watch Street Performers at Night in Waikiki: Kalakaua Avenue

When the sun goes down and it starts getting dark, the street performers will come out and setup somewhere along the popular Kalakaua Avenue.

There’s all kinds of people who just want to make a few bucks from passer byers or the crowd by providing some sort of entertainment to them.

Some of them are self promoting themselves by sharing their talents. It is no uncommon to see solo musicians, painters, dancers, magicians, or even people painting themselves in gold or silver and standing motionless like a statue.

PC: Brian Lam/Shutterstock

Worth Mentions

Royal Hawaiian Hotel

February 1927,the Royal Hawaiian Hotel was the first hotel built in Waikiki and is referred to as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific”

The original six-story, 400-room structure was fashioned in a Spanish-Moorish style, popular during the period and influenced by screen star Rudolph Valentino. 

During WWII, the hotel was leased exclusively to the US Navy as a rest and relaxation center for Navy personnel.

The hotel was brought back to its pre-war elegance and opened back up to the public in 1947.

Famous Duke Kahanamoku Statue

Duke Kahanamoku was a competitive swimmer who made the sport of surfing popular.

Duke was the first Hawaiian to win a metal in the Olympic Games.

He was the first person to be inducted into both the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1965 and Surfing Halls of Fame in 1966.

The nine foot bronze statue located in front of Waikiki beach was unveiled in August 24, 1990, which is 100 years after Duke’s birth.

PC: Christian Muelle/Shutterstock

War Memorial Natatorium

The war memorial was dedicated in 1927 to honor the citizens of Hawaii who served in WWI.

The salt water swimming pool once served as a living memorial for people to enjoy and take part in.

The natatorium served as the epicenter of swimming and watersports heritage in Hawai’i for about 50 years before slowly deteriorating after the end of WWII.

Olympic Gold Medalist and “father of modern surfing” Duke Kahanamoku dove into the pool to take the first ceremonial swim on August 24, 1927.

Today the natatorium is closed to the public and deemed unsafe for use.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Resort: Friday Night Fireworks

Started in 1988, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has been putting on a 10 minute FREE firework show every (except for the mandatory COVID shutdown) Friday night.

The fireworks can be seen from the hotels nearby or if you are on Waikiki Beach.

Pro tip: A good place to watch the fireworks is from the Ala Moana Beach parking lot or Magic Island.

There’s plenty of parking and it is not crowded.

PC: Phillip B. Espinasse / Shutterstock

Ala Wai Boat Harbor

The Ala Wai Boat Harbor is the largest small boat and yacht harbor in the State of Hawaii and is at the mouth of the Ala Wai Canal.

The Ala Wai Canal is the border separating Waikiki from Ala Moana. Waikiki is on the East side of the Ala Wai Canal.

Hawaii Prince Hotel is the first hotel of the West end of Waikiki and overlooks the Boat Harbor.

PC: Daniel De Petro/Shutterstock