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What To Do In Waikiki Beach

Updated: Jun 20, 2019

What to do in Waikiki beach...We get asked this question a lot here at Shaka Guide.


While it's one of the most well known destinations on Oahu, the reality is, Waikiki is only about two miles long.


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 in 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.

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Cultural Activities


Waikiki Hula Show At Kuhio Beach

Cost: Free!

Dates & Times: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 6:30pm to 7:30pm; or 6:00pm to 7:00pm during the months of 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?

I wasn’t kidding!


In fact, we've just released a location activated walking tour to show visitors around the heart of Waikiki Beach. On the tour, you’ll visit some of Waikiki’s main attractions including the Royal Hawaiian, the International Marketplace, the Moana Surfrider, and even the beach!


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.


Zoom in on the map below!


The green line and markers indicate the Shaka Guide Walking Tour and a few tour highlights. The Yellow markers are the locations for the various things to do in Waikiki Beach we talk about throughout this blog post.



Hands-On Lessons in Traditional Hawaiian Practices

Cost: Free

Dates & Times: Varies, check calendar of events

Location: The Royal Hawaiian Center

Family Friendly: Yes

Learn to make a lei and play the ukulele at the free cultural activities in Waikiki Beach. | Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Dana Edmunds

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?


Dining Near Waikiki Beach


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.


Beaches

What list of things to do in Waikiki would be complete without talking about the main attraction--the beaches!



Waikiki Beach

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 paddle board 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!


RELATED POST: The Best Beaches On Oahu For Beginner Surfers


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 paddle board 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.


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) / Tor Johnson

First, there are two major shopping centers.

  • The Royal Hawaiian Center

  • and 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


International Marketplace

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

Honolulu Zoo

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. | Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

RELATED POST: 5 Botanical Gardens On Oahu You’ll Never Wanna Leaf


There are over 1200 animals from different parts of the world. But since you’re in Hawaii, be sure to stop by the native Hawaiian bird exhibits too! You can get an up close look at Hawaii’s state bird, the endangered Nene goose.


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

Cost: $$-$$$

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

Cost: $

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!


I prefer The Bus over the trolleys. I have three big reasons for that:

  • 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.


RELATED POST: How To Plan For Your Oahu Vacation: Oahu Trip Planning Handbook


FAQ

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 our South Shore Tour. 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!


RELATED POST: Budgeting In Paradise: 5 Top Money Saving Tips For Traveling In Oahu


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.

Download The Shaka Guide App

Be the first to get a free download of the Shaka Guide Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour.


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