10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Waikiki

Attractions in Waikiki

10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Waikiki

Waikiki is known as the world’s most famous ideal beach resort, blessed with the magic of the South Seas. This small, flat area of ​​Honolulu is where most visitors to Hawaii vacation. Waikiki is the heart of Honolulu, if not the entire Hawaiian Islands. Located in this small area is the state’s largest choice of hotels. They can be found on the beach, on Kalakaua Avenue, which runs parallel to the beach, or on the side streets.

What is today called Waikiki was originally swampland, but was reclaimed in the early 1920s with the completion of the Ala Wai Canal. However, the beach was certainly a favorite beach resort for Hawaiians long before Hawaii was declared a kingdom in the early 19th century. The kings who succeeded Kamehameha had built bathhouses on Waikiki Beach, where he received foreign guests.

The oldest hotel, the Moana Hotel, was built in 1901. But the big turning point came in the 1960s when, thanks to the era of the jet plane, Hawaii became accessible from the mainland in just a few hours, and numerous hotels were built in quick succession.

Read also: Honolulu Tourist Attractions

1 Waikiki Beaches

Waikiki Beaches

Waikiki’s main attraction, by far, is the stretch of sand along the coast. Waikiki has a series of beaches, almost all of which are ideal for swimming and other forms of water sports. The beaches begin in the west with Kahanamoku Beach, named after the famous Olympic swimmer, directly in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and extend to Sans Souci Beach at Diamond Head in the east. They overlap so smoothly that tourists find them indistinguishable. Kahanamoku Beach is separated from Gray’s Beach by a narrow channel. This is followed by the Royal Hawaiian Beach, arguably the most famous and busiest part of Waikiki. Next comes Kuhio Beach Park, with the Kapahulu stone wall covering part of it. This is the only part of the beach that is not suitable for swimming. Beyond this is Kapiolani Beach Park and Sans Souci Beach.

Further beaches, located outside of Waikiki, include the small Kaluahole Beach, Diamond Head Beach Park, Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park, somewhat dangerous due to the high waves, Kaalawai, Kahala Beach, where the Kahala Hilton Hotel is located, and Wailupe Beach Park on the western side of the artificial peninsula of the same name.

2 Kapiolani Park and Queen Kapiolani Garden

Kapiolani Park and Queen Kapiolani Garden
Kapiolani Park and Queen Kapiolani Garden

This beautiful park, which King Kalakaua gave to the city and now bears his wife’s name, divides Waikiki from the small residential area on the southwest side of Diamond Head. Kapiolani Park is Honolulu’s oldest public park and also the most beloved. It contains a range of attractions, including the Waikiki Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium, but perhaps the main highlight is the Queen Kapiolani Garden, with a beautiful collection of flowering plants. The garden features plants from Hawaii and other parts of the world, including some rare Hawaiian species.

The park is a pleasant recreational area with a large number of recreational activities, including tennis courts, picnic areas and jogging trails.

The Queen Kapiolani Bandstand is the finishing point of the Honolulu Marathon held each December.

3 Waikiki Aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium
Waikiki Aquarium

The Waikiki Aquarium highlights the rich colors of Hawaii’s marine life. Displays introduce visitors to coral reefs, shorelines, and a wide variety of other aquatic creatures. Of particular note is the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Exhibit. The aquarium was established in 1904 and is the third oldest public aquarium in the United States.

Address: 2777 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815-4027, United States

4 Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head Crater
Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head Crater, known in Hawaiian as Le’ahi, is the extinct volcano on the east side of Waikiki and is often a symbol of the city. What you see from the beach is just a profile. The best place to view the crater is at the Diamond Head State Monument, where the crater itself can be visited. A historic hiking trail leads from the bottom of the crater to the top, following a rather steep trail that eventually turns into a flight of stairs and leads to a lookout point overlooking Waikiki. The road to Diamond Head Crater travels up the eastern side of the rock and then passes through a tunnel cut to connect the inside and outside of the rim.

This pit of land or head was named Diamond Head when 19th century sailors thought some of the crystals found here were diamonds.

Official Site: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/oahu/?park_id=15

5 Honolulu Zoo

Honolulu Zoo
Honolulu Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo is a 42-acre zoo with hundreds of animals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The grounds also include a huge variety of tropical plants, creating a botanical garden. Hawaiian animals on display include the Hawaiian Goose, Nene, and the Hawaiian Hawk, ‘Io. Native Hawaiian plants are also on display. In addition, there are many favorites such as tigers, elephants, monkeys and Komodo dragons. The Honolulu Zoo is the only zoo to sit on a royal land grant. Today, the zoo represents three tropical zones: the African savannah, tropical rainforests, and island ecosystems. There is also a petting zoo and playground.

Address: 151 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815, United States

Official Site: https://honoluluzoo.org/

6 Kalakaua Ave

Kalakaua Avenue pasa47 / photo modified
Kalakaua Avenue pasa47 / photo modified

Waikiki’s main street, named after King David Kalakaua, stretches for 1 mile from Beretania Avenue to the end of Kapiolani Park.

Along Kalakaua Avenue, the heart of Waikiki, which runs parallel to the beach, are countless hotels, restaurants and shops. If visitors are looking for a change from the beach, they will never be bored on this always lively street. Close to Waikiki Mall, on the corner of Seaside Avenue, the International Market, between Seaside Street and Kanekapolei Street, and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, which extends from Lewers Street to Seaside Avenue. Many shops can also be found in the hotels.

7 Atlantis submarines

Atlantis submarines
Atlantis submarines

Atlantis Submarines are passenger submarines that offer visitors the chance to see the world under the sea. They dive to about 100 feet past ship and plane wrecks. Guides point out the different sea creatures. The submarines can be a good option for families who are not interested in diving but would still like an underwater experience. On rare occasions, whales have probed the submarines smaller than these mammals.

The reefs surrounding Oahu are deep and have suffered damage from human activities and tropical storms. There have been some attempts to sink ships and planes to give the reef and the colorful fish some protective places to grow.

Official Site: https://www.atlantisadventures.com/waikiki/

8 International market

International Market Loren Javier / photo modified
International Market Loren Javier / photo modified

The International Market is a long-established collection of open-air shops in Waikiki hiding under huge banyan trees strung with twinkling lights at night. A wide variety of clothing, souvenirs and entertainment make the area worth exploring.

Address: 2330 Kalakaua Ave

Official Site: https://www.internationalmarketplacewaikiki.com/

9 Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center

Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center coconut wireless / photo modified
Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center coconut wireless / photo modified

Located in the center of Waikiki, the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is a modern shopping center with everything from international chains to Hawaii-specific names. It is located on the south (seaward) side of Kalakaua Avenue and contains clothing stores, boutiques, gift shops, jewelry stores and restaurants.

Address: 2201 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815, United States

Official Site: https://www.royalhawaiiancenter.com/

10 U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii

US Army Museum of Hawaii Loren Javier / photo modified
US Army Museum of Hawaii Loren Javier / photo modified

Among the exhibits in this small military museum are weapons from the Hawaiian Wars of the 18th century to World War II and the Vietnam War. Also on display are US soldier uniforms from the last 200 years as well as enemy uniforms. The most interest has undoubtedly been aroused by the ancient Hawaiian weapons studded with shark teeth. These were used in battles between former Hawaiian tribes. The museum also features temporary exhibitions.

The collection is housed in a 1909 building originally built to defend Honolulu and Pearl Harbor.

Official site: https://www.hiarmymuseumsoc.org/index.html

Where to Stay in Waikiki for Sightseeing

We recommend these wonderful hotels near great shopping and dining and the famous Waikiki Beach:

  • Halekulani Hotel: Old Hawaii luxury, beachfront, understated elegance, orchid-themed oceanfront pool, friendly staff, live Hawaiian music and hula dancing.
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki Beach Walk: mid-range rates, central location, helpful staff, spacious suites with mini-kitchens, free cooked-to-order breakfast.
  • Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head: affordable boutique hotel, quiet location, comfy beds, free yoga, free bike use.
  • Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach: budget hotel, across from the International Market, two blocks from Waikiki beach, rooftop pool, gym.

Read also:

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