Waikiki is synonymous with Hawaii, but it's located on the Hawaiian island
of Oahu and not the island of Hawaii. The area used to be a favorite
vacation spot for Hawaiian royalty. Today it's a favorite tourist
vacation spot. The island of Oahu has been greatly influenced by
World War II and the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December
7, 1941. Resentment toward the Japanese still persists, but it
is fading into the past. In fact, we consistently find the people of
Oahu to be the friendliest and most optimistic in the world.
Visitors will find that the climate in Maui is fairly
consistent on a year round basis, but permanent residents will think
winter is significantly cooler. In the summer months from June -
October expect average highs are 88 F (31 C) and average lows
are about 75 F (24 C). In January and February, average
highs are about 81 F (27 C) and lows are roughly 66 F (19 C).
The summer months are dry. From October - March about 2 inches
(60 mm) of rain falls each month. Summer is a popular vacation
time for Hawaiians on the islands, but most visitors choose winter and spring break
for their visits.
A rental car obtained from the Honolulu International Airport is the best
transporation option for Oahu. Without a rental car, an aiport
transfer is great way to save on transportation
from the airport to the hotels in Waikiki or to arrange a lei greeting:
Cab fare in 2015 to Waikiki without tip was about $45, which makes
cab a reasonable choice for 2 or 3 passengers.
Shuttle - At Take That Vacation, we can't say enough good things about
Speedi Shuttle customer
service. Even though we weren't booked with them, they used
their cell phone to call our shuttle service, waited with us until our
ride arrived, carried our luggage and refused a tip. That's
worth our number one recommendation for Honolulu airport transfers.
Prices in 2015 without tip were $15.50 per person.
Take the #19 or #20 Honolulu
City Bus between the airport and Waikiki. The price of
$2.50 per person can't be beat, but this transit system is typical
American with no provision to store luggage comfortably on the
bus. Luggage must fit on your lap or under the seat.
Expect to spend about an hour on the bus.
For visitor transportation around the Waikiki area, the Waikiki
Trolley operates several routes. The Honolulu
City Bus is a great method to get to Diamond Head State Monument,
Hanauma Bay or Sea Life Park. Bus fares in 2015 were $2.50
one way and exact change is required. The Honolulu bus system
annouces the attractions at each stop, so it's easy to find your way
Things to see and do in Waikiki / Honolulu:
Waikiki Beach - Waikiki forms
the eastern edge of Honolulu, but commonly referred to as if it's a
separate city. The beach is a popular spot for novice surfers,
with a light easy roll that's perfect for beginners. Stroll the
waterfront into Kapiolani Park and walk out on the cement piers.
Locals feed bread to the tropical fish. See reef triggers,
angelfish and stick fish up close.
Place - Waikiki. This was a magical spot with the large banyan
tree spread out over shops and restaurants. It remains to be
seen what the modern version will be like when it repoens in the
spring of 2016.
ABC Stores - a symbol of Hawaii, there's almost
and ABC Store on every
street corner. Buy chocolate macadamias, snacks and knick-knacks.
Kapiolani Park, including the Honolulu Zoo and the
Waikiki Aquarium. Kapiolani Park is very large with lots of open space and great
waterfront access. It starts right at the east end of the
waterfront string of hotels in Waikiki, which means the Zoo and the
Waikiki Aquarium are in easy walking distance from many hotels. Hawaiians love to set up large family picnics in the parks on weekends.
- it marks the end
of Kapiolani Park and the end of Waikiki. Drive through a tunnel into the center of this
extinct volcano in Diamond
Head State Monument and then climb to the top to the World War II bunker.
It's a tradition to reach the summit at sunrise. Hike up through the switch backs, stone steps, tunnels,
spiral metal stair cases and a bunker to reach the top. It was always just
on the edge of my limits for claustrophobia and fear of heights. Well worth the effort.
Kapiolani Park & Waikiki from Diamond Head
Pearl Harbour - This is the number one attraction on Oahu.
Pearl Harbor would be about a $30 cab ride from Waikiki. It's
the World War II memorial to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The
highlight is a walk out on to the surface of the sunken USS Arizona,
which can be a sobering moment.
and Capitol Building in Honolulu. Take the #2 or #13 from
Waikiki there and back. The #2 runs about every 10 minutes.
Kapiolani Park & Diamond Head
Savor the Tastes of Oahu:
Spam - introduced by the American Army during
World War II and still popular today in Hawaii. It's on the menu
at McDonald's. Try spam musubi - grilled spam on rice.
Shave ice - a Hawaiian variation on the snow
cone. The slivers of ice hold more flavor. Try some sweet
and sour on top.
The famous Luau with pork, sweet potato and
taro slow cooked in an earth oven.
Huli Huli Chicken - huli means "turn"
and refers to the repeated turning of chicken on a barbecue.
DoleWhip - the popular pineapple ice cream
served at the Dole Plantation.
Ahi - yellow fin tuna.
Poke - cubed raw fish preserved in salt. The term is
now applied to any cubed meat.
A rental car is an easy way to take a day trip around
the island of Oahu.
The southeast corner of Oahu is one of my favorite areas in the Hawaiian
Islands. The beaches are so distinctive here: Hanauma Bay for
snorkelers, Sandy Beach for surf and sun, Makapu'u for body surfing, Waimanalo Beach for walking against the backdrop of mountains so
close you wonder how the beach fits in. Diamond Head is a great hike with
fabulous views. The
drive around the island had some lovely spots, including
Lanikai Beach, Turtle Bay and Sunset Beach. Other stops include the
Polynesian Culture Center and the Dole Pineapple plantation.
Hanauma Bay, Oahu
Hanauma Bay It's easy to reach Hanauma Bay
Nature Preserve, which is about 10 miles from Waikiki. The least expensive way to Hanauma Bay is by
but it takes more than an hour to get there. Take the #22 city
bus, but it only runs every hour in the morning and every half hour in
the afternoon. Make
sure you pick the right day - they are always closed
on Tuesdays. A shuttle service
can be arranged from any Waikiki hotel. Try Hanauma
Bay Tours, Hanauma
Bay Snorkel Adventures, Tommy Tours or Viator,
for reasonable return transportation including snorkel
equipment. Using a rental car can be problematic, since the parking lot is small and they stop
admitting visitors when the lot is full. There's an entrance fee
and a requirement to watch a video about protecting the reserve.
The hill down to the beach is very steep and it costs extra to catch
the tiny shuttle. The walk down isn't tough, but at the end of
the day, when you have no energy left, you will likely be grateful to
fork out the fare for a ride up. They rent snorkel gear at the beach.
It's a very safe location. The wind usually drives on shore and the reef creates
a protected area for swimmers and snorkelers.
Koko Crater - hike Koko Head which has a World War II railway tie staircase of over 1,000 steps that goes straight up the face of the crater.
crater is just east of Hanauma Bay and easily accessible from Waikiki.
Sandy Beach - for the surfing, a few minutes from
Hanauma Bay. It's on the #22 bus route.
Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail - great views at this
point near Sandy Beach, where the road turns north and the east side
of the island begins.
Honolulu Festival, Waikiki
Life Park - access by city bus
or a tour from most hotels. The #22 or #23 city bus will get you
to Sea Life Park, but it's a slow trip by bus and with the $2.50 fare
it's a crowded bus ride at times. Seedolphins, sharks, sea
lion and penguins. Pay extra to
swim with the dolphins, but for those with children the interactive
dolphin encounters are expensive, because a paying adult must be
present in the water too.
Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden
- 400 acres with themed vegetation sections from many areas of the
world. This is a state park with no admission fee.
- located in the cemetery at Valley of the Temples Memorial Park.
Polynesian Cultural Center - Tahiti
Cultural Center - on the east
coast before you reach the North Shore. Tours with
transportation can be arranged at any hotel in Waikiki. The
center promotes the cultures of Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa, Aotearoa (New
Zealand), Fiji and Tahiti. See presentations by each of these
cultures, a canoe pagent, a luau and an evening show. The center
was created by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints
(Mormon). The Mormon temple is adjacent to the center as is
Brigham Young University of Hawaii. Some of the proceeds from
the center fund student education at the university and a significant
number of students are employed by the cultural center. This is
one of the most popular tourist attractions on Oahu.
Dole Pineapple Plantation -
Enjoypineapple ice cream, a Pineapple Maze, a Plantation Garden Tour and a
Pineapple Express train ride. Prices for each venue are very
reasonable. The site can be overrun with tourists
treating themselves to pineapple ice cream, but children and ice cream
lovers will enjoy this attraction. Take a
from Waikiki to Ala Moana Shopping Center and then ride the #52 all
the way to the plantation. It only costs a few dollars, but takes
nearly 2 hours one way. A taxi will take about 40 minutes and
cost close to $100 for the 26 mile trip.
Turtle Bay Resort
Turtle Bay Resort - the most extravagant and expensive part of our trip to the Hawaiian islands, but well worth it. The hotel is built on the oceanfront between two
bays at the eastern edge of the North Shore.
It has 3 wings and because of the design, all three wings have ocean views regardless of which side of the wing your room is on.
Our room was on the 3rd floor facing west over the pool toward the sunset. The room was spacious with a large lanai (covered deck) and a large bathroom with two rooms and double sinks.
It was very difficult to leave at the end of our visit.
Turtle Bay Resort
One of the nice features of the Hotel is the sheltered bay called Kuilima
Cove, adjacent to the east side of the hotel. It provides a nice sandy beach for guests and the
cove is a great spot to snorkel and see a variety of tropical fish including reef triggers (Huma huma nuku nuku apua’a), velvet tangs and saddle wrasses.
The water isn't as clear as some other sites because of all the nearby wind and wave
action, but this location is a very safe one for the beginning snorkeler and it's only a few feet from the hotel.
If you don't have a mask and snorkel, rent one from the hotel.
Then come back in the evening and try dining in the open air at Ola's on the
beach in this cove.
Turtle Bay Resort
In the main hotel, we enjoyed eating at the Palm Terrace, which has views out over the pool and the ocean.
There's a buffet every night, but the first night, I had the Filet Mignon and Jumbo Prawns.
For the starch I didn't go with the waiter's recommended Okinawan Sweet Potato Puree and I regretted it, but my wife bailed me out with some delicious
samples of hers. She also enjoyed the Asian slaw. For dessert, I let the waiter pick, because I obviously should have
listened on the starch recommendation. He recommended the Banana Cheese Cake Carmel Xango and, even though I'm not a banana fan, this was exquisite.
The Hawaiian music from a live band rounded out a fabulous dinner experience.
Sunset Beach, North Shore
North Shore - Banzai Pipeline Surfing
This is where the real surfers come to compete in the big waves of
Hawaii. We had the opportunity to visit the Banzai Pipeline twice during our stay at Turtle Bay.
On the first day, it was windy. The red flags were staked out on the beach warning of unsafe conditions, but the ocean was full of surfers.
There weren't many spectators, but there were lots of high powered cameras taking photos.
The second day was a marked contrast. The 18 foot waves were sufficient to start the HIC Pipeline Pro trials.
Although the conditions were more dangerous, the red flags came down and most of the surfers were sidelined at the beach waiting for their turn to compete.
The spectators, surfers, photographers and TV reporters filled the beach.
It was great fun to watch.
Waikiki Beach Hotel - the Select Oceanview units have nice views down
the Waikiki Beach from this waterfront hotel. Tiki's restaurant
on the 3rd floor is a great spot to watch the sun go down and listen
to local contemporary Hawaiian live music.
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani
- At the Sheraton Princess
Kaiulani, you arrive at the front desk and you are still outside – the front desk faces the outdoor swimming pool and has no walls or doors.
It’s a wonderful effect. The Princess Kaiulani was not exceptional accommodation, but being right on the main waterfront street of Waikiki meant that it was only a short 5 minute walk to the beach.
Have a meal by the pool, including evening Hawaiian entertainment, even if you are not a guest.
Hilton Hawaiian Village -
Hilton Hawaiian Village is located right on the waterfront at Waikiki and it also has its own man-made
Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon which makes for safe,
child-friendly swimming too. There are multiple towers and
grounds that turn the Hawaiian Village into a distinct tropical
community. Each morning children have an opportunity to
pet an African penguin and watch them being fed. There are also
macaws, turtles and African cichlids to see. Take a trolley or
city bus to Kapiolani Park, the International Market, the Waikiki Aquarium
and the Zoo. A great choice for a family vacation.
Waikiki Hotel -
directly beside the Royal Hawaiian, with units aligned perfectly to
view the beach and Diamond Head.
Park Shore Waikiki is right on Kalakaua Ave at the corner of
Kapahulu, which is directly across from the zoo and Kapiolani Park. It
has reasonably priced rooms at the back. You can't beat this location.
Ohana Waikiki West - WestJet
#1 seller, 80% of the rooms have kitchens. This
hotel is popular with families and with groups tours, especially school
groups. The units are reasonable, but the showers are small and
there are no tubs. It's a short walk through the International
Market to Kalakaua Street and the beach at Waikiki. The Ohana
Waikiki West is part of the Outrigger chain. Outrigger hotels
include the Ohana Waikiki East across the street, while the Outrigger
Waikiki on the Beach and the Outrigger Reef on the Beach are, as their
names imply, located on the Waikiki waterfront.
by Bill MacArthur - We've visited Waikiki six times now and have stayed anywhere for one week to six weeks per
visit. We love it and can't wait to go back again next December.
During our one week stay, we booked the Outrigger and flight combo through Expedia and got a good deal.
Longer stays certainly work out to a more reasonable per night cost (we've never paid more than $100 per night for a one bedroom place), and we have found them on
Last year, we rented a two bedroom place and the price worked out about the same per person when we broke it down, but we dealt with a real estate/rental company and were very impressed
(Ohana Beach Rental -
obrhi.com). We like dealing with them as they are a local real estate/management company managing over 85 properties.
We had some minor issues with the condo last December (sink disposal not working) and they had staff on site within one day to fix it.
Depending on the time of year and the location, several condo's have a minimum 30 day rental, however, we've noticed that others will rent for two weeks etc.
We've stayed at the following:
Waikiki Shores - Beautiful, right on the beach by Fort Derussey Park - pricey though.
Waikiki Park Heights - Older building (like most in Waikiki), some condo's dated, but great location (a block from the beach, near the centre part of Waikiki) outdoor pool, not heated.
Royal Kuhio - As with Waikiki Park Heights, some condo's are dated, others are renovated.
GREAT pool and deck area. Close to the beach, but on a noisy part of Kuhio Avenue (one block back from the main drag) in the entertainment section of Waikiki.
Foster Tower - On the main drag, across the street from the beach.
Amazing location, great pool. Closer to Diamond Head and Queen Kapiolani Park.
Updated condo's but few have Lanai's, however big windows open.
Outrigger Luana - Hotel/Condo complex. Small convenience kitchen.
Great location (close to Ala Moana Shopping Centre and parks)
Waikiki Landmark - Stunning condo, fantastic building, we stayed in a two bedroom.
Three pools, huge pool deck and bbq area, nice lanai's, close to Ala Moana Shopping Centre and on the Ala Wai Canal side.
Traffic can be a bit noisy as the building is where three main traffic arteries intersect.
Next December, we're staying at the Aston Waikiki Sunset (booked through Ohana Beach Rental).
The building is older, but it's well maintained.
We've noticed that most condo's advertised as one bedrooms in fact don't have separate bedrooms (more like a studio apartment), but if you don't mind that, they're certainly quicker to maintain, and we're never in the condo much anyway.
So, lots of great choices in Waikiki.