Things to Do In Waikiki
Waikiki Beach, Hawaii's tourist hub, has endless activities. You can find anything and everything you need in Waikiki - even if you're taking a day trip across Oahu! Rather than worry about what to do on Waikiki, you’ll have to worry about what not to do because you won’t have time to try everything.
Image by Sung Shin from Unsplash
Waikiki is one of the most well-known destinations on Oahu. This famous tourist spot is only about 2 miles long and a few blocks wide. Everything is close and convenient and can easily be reached by foot. Crowds can be an issue especially during the busy season. But as long as you’re planning excursions out of Waikiki, you’ll have a great time using Waikiki and its beautiful beaches as your basecamp.
Things To Do On Waikiki
This guide of things to do on Waikiki Beach has been separated into 9 different sections for easy navigation. Click on the topics below to get started.
- Waikiki Walking Tour: Heart of Waikiki guided walking tour.
- Beach Activities: Things to do on Waikiki Beach
- Cultural Activities: Learn about the Hawaiian culture and its traditions
- Attractions And Entertainment: Have some fun on Waikiki Beach.
- Eat And Drink: The best things to eat in the area.
- Things To Do On Waikiki Beach At Night: Activities when the sun goes down.
- Waikiki Beach Transportation: How to get travel in, to, and from Waikiki Beach.
- FAQs About Things To Do On Waikiki Beach: Common questions and answers.
- Travel Responsibly In Waikiki: How to preserve Waikiki for future generations.
Waikiki Walking Tour
One of the best things to do on Waikiki Beach as you explore the area is to try out Shaka Guide’s Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour.
The tour is done via the Shaka Guide app and is a fun narration of history, legends and local tips that automatically play based on your location. The tour begins at the Royal Hawaiian Center and finishes up at the famous Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Statue.
Download the Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour and start exploring Waikiki Beach today!
Beach Activities in Waikiki
This list of things to do on Waikiki Beach wouldn’t be complete without talking about the main attraction: the beaches!
Most people think that Waikiki Beach is just one sandy beach that runs along the hotels and resorts in the area.
But, there are actually 8 different beaches (sometimes 9 depending on who you speak to) and together they create what’s commonly referred to as Waikiki Beach.
Each beach is slightly different and some have various rules, thus it's crucial to know which one is which:
From east to west:
- Kahanamoku Beach: Access to Hilton Hawaiian Village’s lagoon.
- Fort DeRussy Beach: Great umbrella and lounge chair rentals.
- Gray’s Beach: The beachwalk is a great spot for a nice view.
- Royal Hawaiian Beach: Right in front of Hawaii’s famous pink hotel.
- Kuhio Beach: Also called Kuhio Ponds because of the manmade seawalls.
- Queens Beach: Decent spot for snorkeling in Waikiki.
- San Souci Beach: Another good snorkeling spot, but usually requires a longer walk.
- Kaimana Beach: Often less crowded with gorgeous views of Waikiki.
Waikiki isn’t really known for snorkeling, but there are decent spots where the fish like to hang out. Head to Queens Beach or San Souci Beach (near the Waikiki Aquarium) to swim with the sea life. The rest of the Waikiki Beaches are mostly sandy beaches so there’s no coral to attract the local fish population.
RELATED: Your Guide To Snorkeling Oahu’s North Shore
Surfing, SUP, Outrigger Canoe Lessons
One of the best things to do while on Waikiki Beach is to take a surfing, SUP, or outrigger canoe lesson. Your instructor will guide you to the beaches that are best suited for surfing (usually 1-4 feet high). And if you’re interested in SUP, they’ll take you where the waves are relatively flat.
Check out Aloha Beach Services if you’re interested in a lesson. They’ve been around since 1959 and as the oldest beach service business in Waikiki, they know what they’re doing!
Waikiki Beach Activities is also a great rental service in the area. They have a large selection of rentals such as aqua cycles, pedal boats and tours.
RELATED: Best Oahu Beaches For Beginner Surfers
The Waikiki Atlantis Submarine Adventure runs several times throughout the day. Where you can get a unique look into the world that lives in the waters of Waikiki Beach. Once aboard the 48-passenger submarine, you’ll descend 100 feet below the water and explore shipwrecks, sunken planes, and reefs.
There is a large variety of cruises that run from Waikiki. From...
- small sailboats to luxury ships
- booze cruises to romantic sunset dinners
- whale watching to snorkeling tours
The list is endless and it all depends on your budget and what kind of experience you’re looking for.
A few suggestions for Waikiki cruises are:
- Port Waikiki Cruises
- Kepoikai II Catamaran
- Pink Sails Waikiki
- Na Hoku II Catamaran
- Holokai Catamaran
All of the beaches on Waikiki are great for getting your strokes in. You can stay in one section or paddle the entire Waikiki coastline if you’re up to the challenge. The waves don’t get too high on the southern shores of Oahu. So for most of the year you’ll be able to swim safely. Plus, the lifeguards supervise beach activity and can inform you of possible dangers (jellyfish are the most common).
Lounge And Work On Your Tan
There are several stations where you can rent a lounge chair and an umbrella. But a popular favorite is at Fort DeRussy Beach for their great prices. Lie in the sun to work on your tan, but don’t forget to wear reef-safe sunscreen.
Effective January 1, 2021, it is illegal to sell sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate in Hawaii (both chemicals cause harm to Hawaii’s coral reefs).
Check your sunscreen to help enforce this movement and protect Hawaii’s reef for future generations to enjoy.
Head to Kuhio Beach to use the public beach volleyball courts (on the sand). As long as there are no volleyball competitions going on, you can purchase a volleyball from the ABC stores across the street and get started on your game. There are also more showers available here. So you can easily rinse off the sand and head back when you’re done.
If you’re traveling with kids, take them to swim at the lagoon at Kahanamoku Beach or go to Kuhio Beach (Kuhio Ponds). Where the man-made sea walls block the waves from reaching the shore. You can watch them splash and play without worrying about a stray wave knocking them over.
RELATED: Family-Friendly Activities On Oahu, Things To Do On Oahu With Kids
Golf And Tennis
While not located on the beach, you might be interested to know that you can also play golf and tennis if you’re in the Waikiki area. There are tennis courts at Kapiolani Regional Park (no reservations required). Lastly, the Ala Wai Golf Course is just inland from the Honolulu Zoo.
One of the most unique things to do on Waikiki Beach is to catch a hula show. There are a number of free hula performances in Waikiki. But the most popular performance is the Kuhio Beach Hula Show.
Head to the Kuhio Beach hula mound across the Hyatt Regency Waikiki. The Waikiki Improvement Association hosts the event and it’s open to the public!
Check the Kuhio Beach Hula Show details and showtimes on their official website.
RELATED: Hula Dancing: How The Traditional Art Nearly Died
If you’re looking for something with a little more flair, sign up for a luau where you’ll learn about:
- Hawaiian legends and traditions
- eat Hawaiian food
- watch Hawaiian and Polynesian dancers in action
Here are a few popular luaus in Waikiki:
- Ahaʻaina Luau: Pricier, but all around great luau hosted by The Royal Hawaiian.
- Queens Waikiki Luau: Convenient and right in the middle of Waikiki.
- Waikiki Sunset Luau: A smaller, intimate luau thatʻs great for romance.
- Hale Koa Luau: Conveniently held at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki.
RELATED: Oahu Luau Guide: Which Luau On Oahu Is The Best?
Hawaiian Arts And Crafts
If you want to try some hands-on arts and crafts, the Royal Hawaiian Center holds several fun and free lessons that you can sign up for. Try their hula dancing and ukulele lessons. Also, learn how to make a lei or even give a traditional Hawaiian massage.
See the Royal Hawaiian Center events page to learn more about these different activities.
Don’t forget to check out the Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour where you can learn all about the history, culture, and traditions of this area. Or, try out our other walking and driving Oahu tours all around the island.
Attractions And Entertainment
The Honolulu Zoo is easily accessible from Waikiki Beach and makes for a great family outing Photo from Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/ Tor Johnson
After a long hiatus, the weekly fireworks show on Friday is back! The fireworks start at 8 PM from June through September, and 7:45 PM for the rest of the year. The event is a tradition held by the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the fireworks set off from Kahanamoku Beach (right in front of the hotel). But, you can see the fireworks display from almost anywhere on the Waikiki Beaches, plus, it's free!
Walk up and down Waikiki and you’ll see plenty of:
- boutique shops
- luxury brands
- souvenir stores
- even trinket stands along the sidewalk
Check out the International Market Place for some pretty architecture as you shop, or explore Ala Moana Center - the world’s largest outdoor mall. The Royal Hawaiian Center has some fun shops. And T Galleria is great if you like duty-free shopping.
While shopping, there are several great art and photography galleries that you should check out. The most popular is the Art on the Zoo Fence event where you can meet local artists and purchase their art (literally) hanging on the zoo fence.
A few more popular galleries for you to check out:
Also back after a lengthy hiatus, the Rock-A-Hula dinner show is less a luau and more a musical time jump as you travel back to the 1920s. You will also experience Hawaii through its popular music over the years.
If you love oldies music, this evening show is great! As you rediscover singers like Elvis, Michael Jackson, Elton John and even Katy Perry through the lens of Hawaii. There’s also Polynesian and Hawaiian hula dancing, too!
The Honolulu Zoo And Waikiki Aquarium
Near the Kapiolani Regional Park on the east side of Waikiki is the 42-acre Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. These are great options for things to do in Waikiki. Since they’re close by and offer something a little different from the
Eat And Drink
Image by Kaizen Nguyen from Unsplash
You won’t ever run out of things to eat and drink in Waikiki because there are so many restaurants, bars and food stands in the area! Waikiki is a diverse melting pot of cultures and cuisines.
So no matter what type of food you’re looking for, you can probably find it here! You’ll also find options at pretty much any price point, from sensibly-priced street food to beachfront fine dining.
RELATED: Waikiki Food Guide, Best Places To Eat In Waikiki For Any Budget
A few popular places to eat and drink in Waikiki are:
- Eggs ‘n Things: A breakfast staple with outstanding breakfast, brunch or lunch menus.
- Teddy’s Bigger Burgers: Hawaii’s largest burger franchise.
- Tucker and Bevvy: Specializing in picnic food, grab a sandwich or salad to go.
- Rainbow Drive-In: Located outside of Waikiki, but famous for its plate lunches.
- Musubi Cafe Iyasume: Traditional local Japanese rice balls taken to the next level.
- Roy’s Waikiki: Upscale restaurant by Chef Roy Yamaguchi.
- Lappert’s: Homemade ice cream and baked goods shop.
RELATED: Best Cheap Food In Waikiki
Things To Do On Waikiki Beach At Night
Image by little plant from Unsplash
If you’re looking for a night life in Hawaii, Waikiki is your best bet. The bars, nightclubs and lounges start in Waikiki and spread out towards Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown (where much of the nightlife happens).
Some popular nightlife locations are:
- Blue Note Hawaii: Jazz club with musical performances every night.
- The District: Nightclub with a large dance floor and live DJ performances.
- Lewer’s Lounge: Located in The Halekulani Hotel with an intimate setting.
- Rival’s Sports Lounge: This sports bar turns into an ultra lounge at night.
- In Between: Small, no-frills karaoke bar.
- Next Door: Cinema lounge and concert hall for live music.
RELATED: Honolulu Travel Guide
Interested in exploring Downtown Honolulu? Try the Historic Downtown Honolulu walking tour for a fantastic stroll through history.
Waikiki Beach Transportation
Image by Justin Shen from Unsplash
Traveling within Oahu without a rental car is entirely possible. If you’re traveling within Waikiki, chances are you won’t need your own private transportation. Because the local bus, bikes, and rideshare services will take you everywhere you need to go. However, you might have to get a little creative once you start exploring outside of Waikiki without a car.
When To Rent A Car?
It’s highly recommended that you consider renting a car once you start exploring outside of Waikiki (and there’s a lot to explore)!
In general, if you’re driving to the North Shore where Haleiwa Town, the Kahuku Shrimp Trucks and the Polynesian Cultural Center are, you’ll want to rent a car or at least hire a tour guide to take you down there.
The Bus can get you there, but it will take close to 3 hours and rideshare services will kill your wallet.
Try our Legendary North Shore Loop driving tour for an excellent guided tour of the famous North Shore beaches!
Other Car Rental Options
Besides conventional car rental agencies, try Turo and Drive Hui - car sharing services that will probably save you a few bucks if all you need is something that drives and doesn’t have to look pretty.
RELATED: Budgeting In Paradise: Money-Saving Tips For Traveling In Oahu
Traveling Within Waikiki
Transportation within Waikiki is simple and straightforward. Choose between The Bus, Biki Bikes, or your own two feet to get from Point A to Point B. Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft are also very common in Waikiki, as well as taxis, too.
By far the easiest way to get anywhere in Waikiki is to walk! Waikiki is only about 2 miles long. So, it doesn’t take much time at all to get from one end to the other. The sidewalks are wide and well maintained. And the crosswalks are everywhere so you don’t need to worry about how you’re going to get across the street.
Oahu’s public transportation with The Bus is a great way to travel not just Waikiki, but also the rest of the island. The day pass is only $5.50 a day for unlimited rides. Which can take you to almost anywhere on the island.
While it’s not recommended that you rely on The Bus as your main method of transportation while on a short vacation on Oahu, it might be worth it to you if you’re here for an extended stay. As long as you don’t mind that it takes about 3 hours to get from Waikiki to the North Shore - go for it!
A neat way to get around Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu is to use the Biki Bike service. The Biki Bikes are a ridesharing service. You can rent a bicycle from one of their Biki Stations and take it to another location to park. The Biki system is super easy to use and it's budget-friendly (monthly plans cost $15 - $25 dollars). And all you need is to download their app to get started.
Traveling Outside Of Waikiki
Just like traveling within Waikiki, you can use:
- The Bus to reach most areas of Oahu
- Biki Bikes for Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu
- Uber and Lyft to get to areas that tend to have a lot of people
and even your feet if you’re going to the outskirts of Waikiki.
Another option to reach attractions that are outside of Waikiki is to use the trolley. This is a paid service, but what’s great about The Waikiki Trolley is that it has set routes to a number of popular tourist locations that are outside Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu. Destinations that would require you to rent a car or call for an Uber/Lyft can be reached with a trolley pass. It’s a great way to see the sights, too, since the trolley is an open-air bus ride.
RELATED: The Ultimate Oahu Travel Guide
The best way to explore Oahu is with a Shaka Guide Oahu tour!
FAQs About Things To Do On Waikiki Beach
Here are a few common questions we get about Waikiki and things to do on Waikiki Beach.
What’s the average temperature in Waikiki?
Daytime temperatures are typically in the 80s, with nighttime temperatures dipping intot he mid-60s to low 70s.
Where can I find public internet access in Waikiki?
Both the International Market Place and Royal Hawaiian Center have free public WiFi. You can also visit any Starbucks or McDonald’s location if you need WiFi. The Waikiki Public Library is also another option.
How far is Waikiki Beach from downtown Honolulu?
From the heart of Waikiki, it’s about a 15-minute drive to Downtown Honolulu. Traffic within Downtown Honolulu can get a little heavy though so factor that into your transportation plans as you go about your day. On bike, it takes about 20 - 25 minutes to ride the 3.7 miles from Waikiki to Downtown Honolulu.
Here’s a helpful chart with approximate drive times within Oahu:
Travel Responsibly In Waikiki
There are so many things to do in Waikiki that it can get overwhelming. Hopefully this guide has made things a little easier for you!
During your stay in Waikiki, we ask that you act respectfully towards the locals, land and wildlife. Please pick up your trash, never touch any marine life, plants or other animals, and avoid spots that are unsafe. Hawaii’s natural resources are precious and it’s up to all of us to help preserve them for future generations.
Like this article? Share it on Pinterest!
Find out more about Oahu on one of Shaka Guide’s Oahu tours.