The 23 Best Things To Do In Waikiki |A Local Guide (2024)

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a person on a surfboard in the water

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I can guarantee you there are more than 25 things to do in Waikiki but my favorite by far is taking a walk along Waikiki Beach in the evening. The sun is setting, the lights and tiki torches are coming on, and even the ocean seems to slow down a bit.

With all of the best things to do in Waikiki lists out there, including this one, my number one recommendation is to schedule (if you must) a whole day of “nothing to do”. On another note, this list has been carefully curated only to contain things to do within Waikiki, not the island of Oahu as I see on other lists.

Diamond Head and Ala Moana Beach Park are as far out as I go. If you are planning to explore the rest of Oahu I have another guide for that and you may want to consider getting an activity pass to save some money.

Take A Walk Along Waikiki Beach

A beautiful view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head in the background, this is one of the best things to do in Waikiki.

Waikiki Beach is an oasis of fun and relaxation, it is truly one of the best things to do in Waikiki. The turquoise waters, combined with the white sandy beach and swaying palm trees, provide the perfect setting for a leisurely day of swimming, sunbathing, or surfing.

Tip: To secure the best spot, make sure to arrive early, especially on weekends. You can also wait to early evening when most of the sun worshippers have left for the day.

Recommended Hotel: Stay at The Royal Hawaiian to be right next to the beach and enjoy their private beachfront access.

Experience all that Waikiki Beach has to offer with a glass-bottom cruise. Book your tickets now.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Indulge In A Coconut Cake At House Without A Key

a slice of cake on a plate
Photo Courtesy of Halekulani Hotel

A visit to ‘House Without A Key’ is a must for their delectable coconut cake. Complement it with a cool tropical drink for the ultimate dessert experience.

House Without A Key is located in the Halekulani Hotel; I have personally reviewed this hotel, check out this detailed review and youtube video.

Tip: Book a table at sunset for a breathtaking view alongside your meal.

Recommended Hotel: Halekulani Hotel, which houses the restaurant, offers beautiful views of the ocean.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Take A Stroll Through The International Marketplace

a group of people in a courtyard with trees and people around
Photo Courtesy of 505 Design

At the International Marketplace, you’ll find everything from high-end boutiques to local handicrafts. It’s the perfect place to pick up unique souvenirs. I do miss the old one from days past with the carts and pushy pearl sales people but times marches on. Another thing that you can look forward too at the International Marketplace is all the live performances and events going on every week, check out their website and you’ll be sure to find something that piques your interest.

Learn more about the International Marketplace and all that it has to offer at its website.

Tip: Book restaurant reservations early as many here are popular.

Recommended Hotel: The Laylow, Autograph Collection is close by and offers a modern, stylish stay.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Soak Up The Sun At Ala Moana Beach Park

a beach with buildings in the background

Ala Moana Beach Park is a favorite among locals most tourists seem to miss this amazing beach because it is on the far edge of Waikiki. The beach’s calm waters make it perfect for swimming, while the park is ideal for a family picnic or a game of frisbee.

Tip: Early morning is the best time to visit to beat the crowds and enjoy a peaceful sunrise.

Recommended Hotel: Ala Moana Hotel is just a short walk away, making it an ideal location for beach lovers.

Explore Ala Moana on a hoverboard with this company; yes you heard me right, a hoverboard.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Golf At The Ala Wai Golf Course

a palm trees by a body of water

Ala Wai Golf Course offers an exceptional golfing experience with its challenging layout and panoramic views of Waikiki’s skyline and the Ko’olau mountain range.

Open from 6:30 am to 10 pm daily, this is one of the most popular places to golf near Waikiki. Learn more about the Ala Wai Golf Course at their website.

Tip: Book your tee times in advance as slots tend to fill up quickly at this popular course.

Recommended Hotel: Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach is close to the golf course and offers spacious rooms with stunning views.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Watch A Sunset From Magic Island

a sunset over a body of water

Magic Island is a man-made peninsula that provides a picturesque vista of Diamond Head and the Honolulu skyline. It’s an ideal location for a serene walk or a family picnic.

Tip: This spot is perfect for sunset viewing. Bring a picnic blanket and enjoy the spectacular colors as the sun dips below the horizon.

Recommended Hotel: Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is just a short walk away from Magic Island and offers extensive amenities.

Stand Up Paddleboard out to Magic Island with this 5-star tour provider.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Visit The U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii

a building with palm trees in front of it
Photo Courtesy of The U.S. Army Museum Of Hawaii

The U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii offers a unique look into Hawaii’s military history. It is a must-visit for history buffs who wish to understand the island’s strategic role in various conflicts.

To learn more about this fantastic museum and any events that may be coming up, make sure to visit their website.

Tip: The museum is free, but donations are welcome to help support its upkeep.

Recommended Hotel: Halekulani Hotel is near the museum and offers luxurious accommodations with a hint of classic Hawaiian elegance.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Watch A Sunset From The Mai Tai Bar

two glasses of liquid with flowers and pineapples on a table

The Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel is the perfect spot to watch a breathtaking Waikiki sunset. Sip on their signature Mai Tai cocktail as you watch the sunset over the Pacific.

I’ve done a detailed written review and a youtube video of this amazing hotel, make sure to check them out.

Tip: The bar can get crowded during sunset hours, so arriving a bit early will ensure you get a good spot.

Recommended Hotel: The Royal Hawaiian houses the Mai Tai Bar and provides iconic pink-hued luxury accommodations.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Visit The Historic Sections Of Waikiki Hotels

a staircase inside a building

Waikiki’s iconic hotels, such as ‘The Royal Hawaiian’ and ‘Moana Surfrider’, have preserved sections that offer a glimpse into the area’s glamorous past. These historic sections can be visited through a walking tour.

I have done detailed reviews of The Royal Hawaiian and Moana Surfrider along with youtube reviews of the Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian.

Tip: Opt for a guided tour to gain insightful information about the history of these grand establishments.

Recommended Hotel: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa allows you to stay in a piece of history while enjoying modern amenities.

If you are a fan of the paranormal, then you need to book this ghost tour of Waikiki.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Experience The Famous Waikiki Friday Fireworks

fireworks over a city

Every Friday evening, a dazzling fireworks display illuminates the sky above Waikiki Beach. This weekly spectacle is a must-see and provides an unforgettable end to your week.

Read more about the fireworks schedule and the history behind its origin on the Hawaiian Airlines website.

Tip: The fireworks can be viewed from anywhere along Waikiki Beach, but the area around the Hilton Hawaiian Village offers the best views.

Recommended Hotel: Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort puts you right at the center of the action, offering front-row seats to the spectacle from the comfort of your room.

Enjoy the Friday fireworks while relaxing on a catamaran with this tour provider.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Watch The Iconic Kuhio Beach Hula Show

a man performing on a grass field with a crowd of people watching
Photo Courtesy of Sowhatshouldwedo.com

Experience authentic Hawaiian culture at the Kuhio Beach Hula Show. This free event features traditional hula dancing and music, set against the backdrop of a beautiful Hawaiian sunset.

Tip: Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot as it tends to get crowded.

Recommended Hotel: Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is conveniently located close to Kuhio Beach.

I highly recommend that you book with this well-rated luau company, this tour also provides unbeatable views of the fireworks.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Shopping At The Royal Hawaiian Center

a group of people walking on a street
Photo Courtesy of Royal Hawaiian Center

The Royal Hawaiian Center is a shopper’s paradise, offering a blend of high-end retailers, local boutiques, and a selection of restaurants and entertainment options.

Read about all of the food, shopping, and entertainment that the Royal Hawaiian Center has to offer at its website.

Tip: In addition to shopping, the Center often hosts free cultural activities such as hula lessons and lei-making.

Recommended Hotel: Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort is conveniently located near the Royal Hawaiian Center, offering beautiful beachfront accommodations.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Hike To The Top Of Diamond Head

Diamond Head in the distance

For the adventurous, a hike up Diamond Head is a must. The moderately challenging trail rewards you with panoramic views of Waikiki and the surrounding area.

Tip: Start your hike early in the morning to avoid the heat and crowds.

Recommended Hotel: Queen Kapiolani Hotel offers stunning views of Diamond Head and is just a short distance from the trailhead.

Enjoy a rigorous bike and hike of Diamond Head with this 5-star tour company.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Book A Surfing Lesson At Waikiki Beach

a person in a body of water with buildings in the background

Waikiki Beach is known as the birthplace of surfing. Take a lesson from one of the many surf schools along the beach and ride the gentle waves.

Tip: Book a private lesson if you’re a beginner. The personalized attention will have you up on your board in no time.

Recommended Hotel: Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort is right on the beach and offers easy access to surf schools.

If you want 1 on 1 surfing lessons with a professional, then you need to book your tickets with this 5-star company.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Glide Over The Water On An Outrigger Canoe Ride

a group of people rowing a canoe in the water

Experience the thrill of an outrigger canoe ride on the turquoise waters of Waikiki. This traditional Hawaiian mode of transport offers a unique perspective of the beach and is a fun group activity.

Tip: It can get wet, so don’t bring any items you don’t want to splash!

Recommended Hotel: Sheraton Waikiki offers direct beach access and fantastic sea views from the comfort of your room.

Get an adrenaline rush with this exciting outrigger canoe surfing, book your tickets now.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Marvel At Tropical Species At The Waikiki Aquarium

a building with a blue awning and palm trees
Photo Courtesy of University Of Hawaii At Manoa

The Waikiki Aquarium is home to over 500 species of aquatic animals and plants. A visit here is an educational and fun activity for all ages.

If this activity piques your interest, then you should look at their hours and upcoming events on their website.

Tip: Don’t miss the Hawaiian Monk Seal exhibit, one of the most popular at the aquarium.

Recommended Hotel: Castle Waikiki Shore is located nearby and offers spacious, self-catered accommodation.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Set Aside An Afternoon For The Honolulu Zoo

a giraffe standing in grass next to a tree

Get up close and personal with a range of exotic animals at the Honolulu Zoo. From African lions to Hawaiian honeycreepers, the zoo offers a glimpse into the world’s diverse ecosystems.

Learn all about the Honolulu Zoo and upcoming events on the Honolulu Zoo website.

Tip: Be sure to check the feeding times to make the most of your visit.

Recommended Hotel: Park Shore Waikiki is a short walk away and offers comfortable rooms with stunning views of Diamond Head.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Unwind With Amazing Views At Kapiolani Park 

a grassy field with trees and a mountain in the background

After a day of exploration, unwind with some quiet time at Kapiolani Park. This beautiful park hosts various musical performances, craft fairs, and other local events that add to the relaxing atmosphere.

Tip: Bring a blanket and picnic basket to enjoy a leisurely meal while you listen to music.

Recommended Hotel: Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head is conveniently located near Kapiolani Park and offers serene accommodation away from the hustle and bustle.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Stroll Along The Famous Kalakaua Avenue 

a city with palm trees and buildings on the beach

Kalakaua Avenue is the heart of Waikiki’s shopping and entertainment district. Lined with restaurants, luxury boutiques, and entertainment venues, a stroll down this lively street is a must-do.

I recommend just after sunset when the lights start to come on and the street performers come out to show their stuff.

Tip: Don’t miss the street performers who often set up along the avenue, adding to the vibrant atmosphere.

Recommended Hotel: Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa is located right on Kalakaua Avenue and offers luxurious rooms with private balconies.

Experience the best of Waikiki and all that it has to offer with this extremely well-rated tour provider.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Swim With Sea Turtles In Waikiki

a turtle swimming in the water

Embark on a snorkeling adventure and get a chance to swim with sea turtles. These gentle creatures are a delight to watch as they glide effortlessly through the water. You don’t really need a tour for this but if you want to get off shore a bit it might be worth it. I see turtles almost every time I visit Waikiki.

Tip: Always remember to keep a respectful distance from the turtles and never touch or chase them.

Recommended Hotel: Turtle Bay Resort is located on the North Shore, a popular spot for sea turtle sightings, and offers a unique, luxury stay.

Stay within the calm waters of Waikiki and experience up-close encounters with sea turtles, book your tour now.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Enjoy Tea And Sandwiches At The Moana-Surfrider

a large building with columns and a flag on top with Iolani Palace in the background

Treat yourself to a traditional afternoon tea at the historic Moana Surfrider Hotel. The ‘Veranda at the Beachhouse’ serves a delightful selection of teas, sandwiches, and pastries.

I have done a detailed written review and a youtube video of the Moana Surfrider, make sure to check them out.

Tip: Make sure to reserve your spot in advance as afternoon tea is a popular event.

Recommended Hotel: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa lets you experience the grandeur of old Waikiki, with its elegant rooms and prime beach location.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Fly High Above The Waves With A Parasailing Tour

a parachute in the sky

For a thrilling adventure, try parasailing over the beautiful waters of Waikiki. It provides a bird’s-eye view of the island that is truly unforgettable.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring your waterproof camera or a GoPro to capture this incredible experience.

Recommended Hotel: Trump International Hotel Waikiki is near various water sports operators and offers luxurious accommodations.

Enjoy a guided parasailing tour of Waikiki with an eagle-eye view of the whole area. You need to book your tickets now.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Embark On One Of Waikiki’s Famous Catamaran Cruises

a white boat on a beach
Photo courtesy of SailHolokai.com

Finally, wrap up your trip to Waikiki with a catamaran cruise. It’s a fantastic way to relax on the water, enjoy the sunshine, and take in the stunning coastline views.

Tip: Opt for a sunset cruise for a magical experience.

Recommended Hotel: Halekulani Hotel is a luxurious option near various catamaran operators and offers beautiful views of the ocean.

Snorkel with turtles and ride a Catamaran with this 2-3 hours long luxury tour. If this piques your interest, then you need to book here.

Click Here To See Recent TripAdvisor Reviews

Whether you’ve come for relaxation, adventure, shopping, or cultural exploration, Waikiki has something to offer every traveler. With a blend of natural beauty, rich culture, and exciting activities, your time in Waikiki will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience.

If you’re looking for more things to do while visiting Oahu, then you need to check out my list of the best things to do on Oahu.

Know of something unique that should be on the list of best things to do in Waikiki? Leave a comment and I will check it out.

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