What To Do In Waikiki Beach, Updated 2021
There's a lot to do at Waikiki, but if you aren't sure where to look all the wonderful food, beach, and activity options can be a bit overwhelming. But don't worry, we'll point you in the right direction.
While it’s one of the most well-known destinations on Oahu, the reality is, Waikiki is only about two miles long and a few blocks wide.
So, if you’re looking for things to do in Waikiki, the good news is you likely won’t have to go too far! But, with so much to choose from, there’s no wonder so many travelers get lost in all the options. To help you get the most bang for your buck and optimize your time here on the islands, we’ve hand selected some of our favorite things to do in Waikiki Beach.
We think you’re gonna enjoy them too! On that note, let’s take a look at some of Waikiki’s best offerings.
Waikiki Hula Show At Kuhio Beach
Dates & Times: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 6:30pm to 7:30pm; or 6:00pm to 7:00pm from November-January
Location: Kūhiō Beach
Family Friendly: Yes
Located across from the Hyatt Regency Waikiki on the Kūhiō Beach Hula mound, the Waikiki Improvement Association hosts an amazing hula performance that’s open to the public.
And it’s completely free!
Bring a beach towel or beach chair and find yourself a nice spot on the grass lawn to watch the performance. Opening ceremonies, which include a torch lighting and blowing of a conch shell, start promptly at 6:30pm (or 6pm during winter months).
There’s a family friendly atmosphere at this casual event, so bring the kids along to enjoy the live musical performance and hula show.
Shaka Guide Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour
Cost: Free for a limited time
Dates & Times: Anytime
Location: Starts at the Royal Hawaiian Center and ends at The Duke Kahanamoku Statue
Family Friendly: Yes
Remember how I was saying we get asked a lot about what to do in Waikiki? Well, we created the perfect answer.
The Shaka Guide Waikiki Walking Tour Is Here!
Checkout our location-activated walking tour of Waikiki Beach. On the tour, you’ll visit some of Waikiki’s main attractions including the beach, the International Marketplace, the Moana Surfrider, and much more.
To take the tour, you’ll need the Shaka Guide app and a pair of headphones. At each point on the tour route, your GPS location will trigger a story that details the fascinating history of this little slice of paradise.
Just a few the cool things you’ll visit on the Shaka Guide Heart Of Waikiki Walking Tour
And just like our driving tours, you can pause the tour at any time if you want to do a little extra exploring.
Hands-On Lessons in Traditional Hawaiian Practices
Learn to make a lei and play the ukulele at the free cultural activities in Waikiki Beach. Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
Dates & Times: Varies, check calendar of events
Location: The Royal Hawaiian Center
Family Friendly: Yes
The Royal Hawaiian Center is one of my favorite stops on our walking tour of Waikiki.
And once you visit this place, you’ll see why!
The beautiful historic architecture and lush landscaping sets the mood for a relaxing Waikiki beach vacation.
And no visit to Waikiki would be complete without learning about the traditions and culture of native Hawaii and Polynesia.
The Royal Hawaiian center is a great place to get a hands-on education about this exciting culture. They offer daily classes that range from kid-friendly hula and ukulele lessons, to lei making, and even traditional Hawaiian massage.
How’s that for a peaceful getaway?
Experience A Luau In Waikiki Beach (And A Visit To The Waikiki Aquarium!)
Diamond Head Farm To Table Luau
Dates & Times: Sunday, Monday, Thursday, & Friday from 5pm-7:45pm
Cost: ADULT (18+): $159; YOUTH (13-17): $139; CHILD (4-12 yrs.): $89; LAP CHILD: (0-3 yrs.) FREE; VIP seating is an additional $30
Location: Waikiki Aquarium
Family Friendly: Yes
There’s a lot to love about this particular luau. For starters, all the food you’ll be served buffet style is locally grown and absolutely delicious. Adults will be treated to a mai tai welcoming cocktail as well as two drink tickets.
The cost of the luau also includes a fresh flower lei to help you look the part while you’re enjoying the traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian performances.
Here’s another really cool thing about this luau:
It includes admission to the Waikiki Aquarium during luau hours.
This is a great option for those researching what to do in Waikiki beach and who want to maximize their budget.
And, speaking of saving money, if you book at least 10 days in advance, you can save an additional 10%. Just use promo code ADVANCE10 when you’re booking.
Art and Photography Galleries
If you're an art lover, Waikiki might be one of the most culturally rich experiences you'll have on the island! There are TONS of galleries to choose from including a photo-art gallery from National Geographic. The Honolulu Zoo also hosts an open-air art gallery on its outer fence every Saturday and Sunday. But there are so many more wonderful photorgray to choose from.
Here are a few of our favorites:
And the list doesn't stop there, either. There are literally dozens of galleries in and around Waikiki!
Dining Near Waikiki Beach
Waikiki is also home to some of the best dining options in all of Hawaii! And, Waikiki is a diverse melting pot of cultures and cuisines, so 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 deliciously priced street food to fine beachfront dining.
Here are some of our favorite places to eat, but don't let us hold you back, branch out and try anything that looks good--honestly, it probably is!
Eggs n Things
Hours: 7AM - 2PM
A breakfast staple here in Hawaii, you can try the beachfront location in Waikiki for an outstanding breakfast, brunch, or lunch. All the food is wonderful, but you might plan around a wait--especially on weekends.
Hours: 10AM - 9Pm
Looking to scratch that fast food itch, Hawaii style? Head to Teddy's. Once a small-time spot, Teddy's has grown into Hawaii's largest burger franchise. Teddy's big juicy burgers are much loved for their hardy spin on fast food. I highly recommend adding pineapple!
Tucker and Bevvy's
Hours: 6AM - 5PM
Rather have a picnic? Well, stop by Tucker & Bevvy's across from the Honolulu Zoo for smoothies, sandwiches, and fruit then head to park. Specializing in picnic foods, Tucker and Bevvy's is perfect for those days when you'd rather eat outside. And, located right along Waikiki beach and Kapiolani park, you won't have a hard time finding a great spot to catch some rays.
Hours: 7AM - 9PM
Ready for another Hawaiian island staple? Rainbow Drive-In offers delicious plate lunch specials like the famed loco moco. You can't go wrong with any of the food at Rainbow Drive-In, and the plates are perfect for a picnic in the sun.
Prices: $ - $$$
Are you ready for dessert? There are tons of great ice cream places to try along Waikiki, so grab a cone to enjoy in the sun anytime. Hagandaz is the most upscale option, but Lapperts is the Hawaiian staple. Looking for something a little more local? Check out Henry’s Place. Don't let the long line or soda cup containers turn you away--this is some of the best icecream in Hawaii!
Hours: 11AM - 4PM
If you ask anyone on the street where you should eat, they'll probably point you to Musubi Cafe. Musubi are, in essence, rice balls--but, they are so much more. Stuffed with any number of delicious meats, vegetables, or herbs, this traditional Japanese-Hawaiian dish will likely surprise you with its deceptively complex flavors!
Hours: 4:30PM - 9:30PM
If you're looking for something upscale, Roy's is the go-to here in Hawaii. With several locations on Oahu, including Waikiki, as well as other islands, you can always find a Roy's for a nice meal. Prices are high here, even for the islands, but the food is so, so worth it.
What list of things to do in Waikiki would be complete without talking about the main attraction–the beaches!
We make a stop to this world famous beach on our walking tour I mentioned earlier. It’s one of my favorite stretches of beach here in Waikiki because of its crystal clear turquoise water and stunning view of Diamond Head. On the walking tour, we talk about beach boy culture and how ingrained it is in this area. It was pretty much invented here!
And when you visit Waikiki Beach you can be a part of it too! When you’re here, I recommend taking a surfing or paddleboard lesson. You can even try your hand at traditional outrigger canoeing with Aloha Beach Services, which was actually founded by one of the original Waikiki Beach Boys.
Of course, there’s plenty of great places for swimming and snorkeling. As well as lounging on the beach and doing some people watching.
Waikiki Beach is beautiful at both sunrise and sunset, so if you’re here during those hours, be sure to have your camera ready!
Duke Kahanamoku Beach Lagoon
Located right behind the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort, this family friendly beach is easy to get to. Plus, it’s within walking distance of most of the hotels and resorts in Waikiki Beach.
There’s lots to do here besides just swimming–though swimming is one of the main attractions!
There’s a protected lagoon where you can take a stand-up paddleboard out for a spin. Or rent a surfboard and head out into the ocean breaks.
If you’re looking for a more low-key beach outing, you can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas and just take in the scenery. Or enjoy an afternoon nap listening to the sounds of the waves.
If you’re in the area near sunset, be sure to stop by this beach. The sky is gorgeous and the beach is usually pretty empty around this time.
Also, if it’s a Friday night, Duke Kahanamoku beach is a great place to catch a display of fireworks.
Just East of Waikiki Beach is Kuhio Beach. You probably won't notice when you cross from Waikiki to Kuhio, but there are a couple of differences. First of all, Kuhio has public beach volleyball nets available. If you'd like to play, you can purchase a volleyball down the road at the ABC Store. Kuhio also has more public showers and bathrooms available, so head that way if you're looking to rinse off after the beach!
Kapiolani Beach Park
Kapiolani is all the way at the end of Waikiki, past Kuhio Beach. There's a large grass field behind Kapiolani Beach with tables and pavilions, which make this beach perfect for picnics or lawn games like frisbee. There are tennis courts in the beach park, as well. The aquarium and beach volleyball courts are also extremely close by.
Magic Island Lagoon
This is a man-made Lagoon just outside of Waikiki. If you've got toddlers or youngsters who aren't super comfortable in the ocean, this can be a great spot to dip their feet in. Protected by a shore break, you won't have to worry about waves or deep waters. Keep an eye on those little ones anyway tho, eh?!
If you've got a walk or bus ride in you, Diamondhead Beach can be one of the least crowded spots near Waikiki! Diamond Head beach makes up a long stretch to beach, so there's plenty of real estates to find a nice, secluded spot. This is also a popular kitesurfing destination, so you might get a chance to witness this niche board sport!
Shopping In Waikiki Beach
There’s so much shopping to be found here, this section deserves an article of its own. Perhaps another day! For now, I want to just give you an overview of what to expect to help you get oriented with the shoppers paradise that is Waikiki.
DFS Galleria is another option for all your duty free shopping! | Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Blake Bronstad
First, there are two major shopping centers.
- The Royal Hawaiian Center
- International Marketplace
We visit both these on the Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour, which is a good way to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land. Between these two mega complexes, you shouldn’t have to go without anything. You can find everything from basic souvenir shops to high-end luxury goods here.
There’s also a duty free shopping center where you can find some sweet deals on everything from local candies to expensive luxury items. It’s called DFS Galleria.
You can see their maps here:
Royal Hawaiian Center
Open 7 days a week; 10am-10pm
Open 7 days a week; 10am-10pm
DFS Galleria (Duty-Free Shopping)
Open 7 days a week; 9:30am-11:00pm
The Royal Hawaiian Center and International Marketplace both have food courts if you work up an appetite. All the locations above have restrooms and nice, quiet areas where you can sit and take a break.
ABC Store Waikiki
Technically speaking, the ABC Stores are a convenience store, but they’re really a lot more than that. While it may not top your list of things to do in Waikiki, it’s still worth stopping in if you happen to pass one and have a few minutes to spare.
Inside you’ll find all the essential sundries, snacks, and some grocery items you might need, say if you’re planning a trip to the beach. So there’s certainly a convenience factor. But there’s also a vast selection of souvenirs and Hawaiian goods that are fun to explore. In fact, it’s a pretty great store to get all your souvenir shopping done in one go, leaving more time to explore other things to do in Waikiki.
Family-Friendly Attractions In Waikiki
Dates & Times: Daily from 9am to 4:30pm; closed Christmas Day
Cost: Adults & Children 13 years and up – $19.00; Children 3-12 – $11.00; Children 2 and under – Free
Location: Queen Kapi‘olani Park at 151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96815
Family Friendly: Yes
This 42-acre zoo is located in the heart of Waikiki and has lots of family-friendly activities including a children’s zoo and botanical garden. If you follow our blog, you probably remember seeing the zoo appear on our list of the best places to go in Oahu. That’s how much we like this place.
The Honolulu Zoo is easily accessible from Waikiki Beach and makes for a great family outing.
Photo from Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
Honolulu Aquarium (Currently Closed)
The Honolulu aquarium is right along the beach, making it a perfect add-on to a day in the sun. Featuring a wide variety of specimens and exhibits from tropical climates like Hawaii's, the aquarium is home to sea horses, sea otters, seals, and so much more.
The Aquarium is currently closed due to COVID-19, but staff are using this downtime to perform improvements and renovations. The Waikiki Aquarium will be back and better than ever very soon--check back with us! In the meantime, you can explore exhibits virtually in realtime, here.
Hours: 9AM - 5PM
Sports: Beach Volleyball, Golf, Tennis
If you brought golf clubs or tennis rackets, there are tennis courts in Kapiolani Beach Park, and Ala Wai Golf Course is just inland from the Zoo. Nearby, at Kuhio Beach, you can find public beach volleyball nets, as well. If you need a ball, head to the ABC Store down the road.
Rent a Water Trike
Hours: 8AM - 5PM
Cost: $60 an Hour
Have you ever seen a children's big wheel tricycle and thought, 'that should be bigger--and FLOAT?' Well, either way, you can ride exactly that along the Hawaiian shore at Waikiki Beach. To try out this quirky experience, you can rent an Aqua Cycle here.
Rent a Kayak
Hours: 8AM - 5PM
Cost: $45 an Hour
Kayaking the Waikiki Shore is a truly surreal experience. You'll take in views of the city skyline, sandy shores, and diamond head--it's an incredible site to see! If you paddle out past Diamondhead, you'll also be able to see a distant view of Kokohead Crater. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more colorful kayaking trip!
Surfboard Rentals and Lessons
If you've never surfed before in your life, Waikiki is the perfect beach to learn! The calm, reliable waves here are just what you need to get a feel for Hawaii's greatest pastime. You can also rent board or book lessons right on the beach. If you're more of a planner than that, check out this site for booking information.
Friday Night Fireworks
Time: About 7:45
Looking for something to do with the family on a Friday night? Head as far west as you can along the beach and get ready for fireworks! The Hilton Hawaiian Village has put on a free firework show every Friday since 1988! The show lasts about 10 minutes, and then consider heading to ice cream for a treat!
Waikiki Atlantis Undersea Submarine Adventure (And Dinner Cruises, too!)
Dates & Times: Tours go out 7 times daily starting at 9am; the last tour goes out at 3pm
Cost: Adults $119; Children $49.50; or buy one Adult ticket and get a Children’s ticket free
Location: Check-in at the Hilton Pier – Hilton Hawaiian Village Ali’i Tower
Family Friendly: Yes, but there is a 36” minimum height requirement
Get a unique look into the world that lives underneath the water at Waikiki Beach. Once aboard the 48-passenger submarine, you’ll descend 100-feet below the water and explore shipwrecks, sunken planes, and reefs. My favorite part is seeing all the marine life swim by! You can see a variety of tropical fish and sea turtle sightings happen on the regular.
Something to note, however, is that if you want to take the submarine ride, each guest will need to be able to enter and exit the watercraft via a vertical 7-step ladder on their own, which may limit some passengers.
If staying above water is more your thing, they offer sunset dinner cruises, as well as a special fireworks cruise on Friday nights. Both cruise options are also kid friendly.
Nightlife In Waikiki Beach
As bustling as Waikiki Beach is during the day, it still knows how to muster up the energy to be just as vibrant once the sun has set.
Of all the things to do in Waikiki, sliding into your dancing shoes in tropical paradise will surely have you forgetting all that work you stress you left behind on your Hawaii vacation. Luckily, Waikiki beach has a bunch of venues and clubs where you can shake your groove thing all night long.
Blue Note Hawaii
Location: Inside the Outrigger Hotel & Resort complex in Waikiki
Family Friendly: Shows are all ages, but minors are not allowed in the bar area
This happening jazz club has a full lineup of nightly musical performances by both local and international entertainment. You can check out their calendar of events here and see if there are any performers that strike your interest during your travel dates to Waikiki.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, there’s also a full bar and kitchen that serves up meals prepared by their chef.
How To Get Around In Waikiki Beach
All right, you’ve done your research and you found what to do in Waikiki Beach on your trip here.
Good work, that’s no easy task!! 👏🏼
Now, you’ve just gotta figure out how to get there. And once again, you’re going to have some options.
Walking, of course, is a cost-free option that’s pretty much always ready to go when you are. It’s probably one of the most popular modes of transportation in Waikiki Beach.
Plus, you can even burn off a few extra calories!
But, walking isn’t always an option, so, here are a few other ways to get around Waikiki Beach.
BikiBike Around Waikiki Beach
Cost: $3.50 per 30 minutes; $15 per month for unlimited rides; additional rates available
Location: Docking stations are found all throughout Waikiki & Honolulu; see a map here
Family Friendly: There are no child carriers on the bikes, but they are adjustable to fit a range of heights
Once you get to Waikiki, you’ll start seeing bike sharing docks scattered around the city streets. In fact, they’re all over the Honolulu area and are super convenient for tourists and locals alike.
Renting a BikiBike is a great way to get around Waikiki and, truth be told, is actually one of my personal favorite things to do in Waikiki. Not only can you move from point A to point B quickly and cheaply, it’s also a great way to explore the back roads and take in all the sights.
Riding The Bus In Waikiki Beach
Location: Stops are located all around Waikiki and the entire island of Oahu
Family Friendly: Yes
The Bus is the staple of Oahu’s public transportation system and offers visitors to Waikiki more flexibility and less costly ways to get around than most of the trolley systems you’ll see here. You can an adult day pass which gives you unlimited rides for less than $6 a day. Hard to beat that!
Buses are generally better than trolleys if your main goal is transportation.
- The Bus is usually less crowded
- Runs more frequently
- It’s less expensive
They even made this handy dandy “The Bus Guide To Waikiki” that shows you all the info you’ll need to ride The Bus, including a map of their stop locations.
What’s the average weather like in Waikiki?
Daytime temperatures are typically in the 80’s, with nighttime temperatures dipping into the mid-60’s to low 70’s.
Where can I find public internet access in Waikiki?
Both the International Marketplace 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 another option.
Do I need a car if I want to travel outside Waikiki?
Most likely, yes. The Bus does go all around the Island, but can get a bit inconvenient if you want to visit multiple destinations around the island.
A great way to see things outside of Waikiki Beach is to grab a rental car, even just for a day, and do either our Circle Island Tour or one of our other Oahu tours. On those tours, you can visit many of the major spots listed above, plus a whole lot more. You can even do it all in one day if you want. That really helps maximize your time and budget if you only want to rent a car for a day.
And here’s a tip to help you save some money: Besides conventional car rental agencies, we also have Turo and Hui, which are both car sharing services. Think Airbnb for rental cars!
How far is Waikiki Beach from downtown Honolulu?
Shaka Guide headquarters are located in the heart of downtown Honolulu and it’s about a 15 minute drive to Waikiki Beach from here. On a bike it’s about 20-25 minutes to travel 3.7 miles from Downtown Honolulu to Waikiki Beach.
Here’s a chart of approximate drive times to other parts of Oahu:
Keep in mind that traffic congestion in Honolulu can be tough during rush hours.
RELATED POST: What to do in Only 1 Day on Oahu
Have You Decided What To Do In Waikiki Beach?
Of course, no list of things to do in Waikiki Beach could possibly cover it all, but this list should be a pretty good starting point for you as you plan your trip. Now, I might be a little biased, but I’d say start with the Shaka Guide Walking Tour of Waikiki, our virtual tour guide will show you around the city and tell you it’s history along the way.
This brand new Shaka Guide tour is coming in May, so be sure to sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page for exclusive updates!
Plus, our virtual tour guide will show you around the city and tell you it’s history along the way.
Once you’re done with the walking tour, which will take about an hour or two, you’ll be much more familiar with the area and have a few ideas on more things to do in Waikiki.
When you're in Hawaii, remember that the beaches and marine life are fragile. Please show your aloha by wearing reef safe sunscreen, respecting the animals - don't get too close or touch them EVER - and by leaving the beach better than you found it. For more on how to be a safe and responsible traveler when you visit Hawaii, click here.
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