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Best Things to Do in Waikiki, Hawaii

Waikiki is a 3.4-square-mile neighborhood in Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii. It’s on the island of Oahu whose name means the gathering place.

There are plenty of reasons to gather around Waikiki. It’s full of beautiful beaches to relax in and other types of natural escapes. It has large shopping destinations for you to pick up anything you could want. It’s also got plenty of unique restaurants for a taste of island cuisine.

Like and subscribe to learn how to get the most out of your island vacation. Watch our video to learn about the best things to do in Waikiki, Hawaii.

Waikiki Beach

This 2-mile beach was once reserved for Hawaiian royalty but is now one of the most famous beaches in Hawaii and the world.

Enjoy every water sport you can think of, including snorkeling, sailing, surfing, and standup boarding. Window shop on the Kalakaua Boulevard. Take your picture by the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic champion known as the father of surfing. Stay at one of several resorts such as the century-old Royal Hawaiian Hotel known as the Pink Palace of the Pacific.

Kaimana Beach

Not everyone can handle the crowds on Waikiki Beach, so you may want to take a 1-mile walk to visit Kaimana instead. A large reef keeps it protected, and the water is shallow and calm. It’s one of the best places to snorkel in all of Waikiki, rivaled only by Hauma Bay and the North Shore.

Diamond Head

This green volcano is both a US National Monument and another popular Waikiki tourist destination. It’s also only a 2.2-mile drive from Waikiki Beach.

Getting up and down the mountain requires a 30-minute, 1.8-mile hike but rewards you with gorgeous views. Admission to the Diamond Head State Monument on the top is $10 per car or $5 per person. It’s open every day except Wednesdays from 6 am-4 pm.

Ala Moana Center

This is one of the best things to do in Waikiki, Hawaii, for shopaholics because it’s the largest open-air mall in the Pacific Islands. It has designer shops, galleries, specialty vendors, the largest food court in Oahu, a Japanese walking food court, and more.

The center also hosts Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk. It’s modeled after a traditional Japanese village with over 30 kiosks selling traditional food and beer.

Kalakaua Avenue

This area was named after King David Kalakaua and stretches from Honolulu to Kapiolani Park. It’s the shopping hub of Waikiki and has everything from luxury clothes to local food and souvenirs.  Don’t forget to visit the ABC convenience store or the Honolulu Cookie Company.

You can even visit other shopping centers along the venue such as the International Marketplace. The Royal Hawaiian Center is also a worthwhile stop. It has plenty of shopping areas, but you can also enjoy a cultural program, get a temporary tattoo, or try Hawaiian street food.


This is the best brunch spot in Waikiki. Their Charcoal Buttermilk Pancakes with guava-strawberry sauce are the most popular item on their menu, but the Coco-MacNut French Toast is another great option.

They also offer more substantial meals for lunch or dinner such as the Basalt’s Avocado Garden Toast and the Prime Rib Moco. You can even buy their charcoal pancake mix from Duke Lane’s Marketplace to attempt to recreate the dish at home.

Ainahu Triangle

This park is one of the best things to do in Waikiki, Hawaii if you want to see local plants and wildlife. These include banyan trees, plumeria flowers, and native roosters and chickens.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

This memorial commemorates the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that sank 18 ships, killed 2,403 Americans, and sent the United States into WWII. It features a documentary, a 75-minute memorial program, a Remembrance Center to honor the lost soldiers, and more.

One of the most memorable sections is the USS Arizona Memorial. You’ll have to reserve a ticket by 3 pm the day before, but it’s worth it. You can also tour other ships such as the USS Missouri or the Bowfin Submarine or get an all-inclusive tour.

A full stint at Pearl Harbor could take up a whole day, but be sure to give yourself at least a few hours to see everything it has to offer.


Shaved ice is one of the most famous Hawaiin treats, but Banan’s dairy-free banana ice cream is also worth a try.

You can add almost any toppings you want, such as dark chocolate, granola, coconut, honey, and their house-made macadamia nut honey butter. There are even options for how you get your ice cream served to you, including a papaya boat or pineapple yacht.

If you’re not in the mood for ice cream, try Banan’s smoothies, acai bowls, or coffee. Once you’ve decided, take your treat with you to enjoy on the beach.

Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium

The 2nd oldest public aquarium in the unique states was opened in 1904. It started with 35 tanks and 400 creatures but has now grown to 15 exhibits holding over 3,500 creatures. You can also enjoy special events and classes.

Ben Hollinger, director of the Honolulu Zoo, began with only a monkey, bear, and elephant. The 42.5-acre zoo was officially dedicated in 1947, and organizations and locals helped him grow it into what it is today. It has over 900 animals in its African Savana, Asian and American Tropical Forest, and Pacific Islands zones. There are new events every day, making the zoo worth visiting over and over again.

Both of these locations are perfect for families who want to see wildlife. Tickets to the aquarium are only $12 for adults and $5 for children. The zoo charges $14 for adults and $6 for children.

SKY Waikiki

This is one of the best things to do in Waikiki, Hawaii as well as one of the most unique. It’s found on the 19th floor of the Waikiki Business Plaza. Enjoy a seafood dinner or a tropical cocktail while looking down on the island below.

Leonard’s Bakery

This is one of the best places to try a malasada, a Portuguese-inspired doughnut that’s become a favorite Hawaiian dessert. They come filled with whatever type of custard you like, including unique flavors such as haupia, coconut, and pineapple and guava.

Honolulu Museum of Art

This museum was founded by Anne Rice Cooke in 1922 and is the largest art museum in Hawaii. She hoped to promote the diversity of the islands, and her vision was achieved.

The museum has over 50,000 pieces of Asian and Pacific art, the largest in the US. There are also rotating cultural shows to enjoy.

Shangri La Mansion

Heiress Doris Duke created this mansion to mimic a Muslim palace. It has over 4,500 of her most prized artifacts on display. You’ll need to buy a ticket from the Honolulu Museum of Art and take a shuttle to the mansion.

Like and subscribe to ViewCation for more ways to get the most out of a trip to the Hawaiin Islands. Keep watching to learn about more of the best things to do in Waikiki, Hawaii, including museums to visit and havens of natural beauty to revel in.

Lyon Arboretum

There are over 6,000 tropical plants within these lush gardens. They sit just outside of the city limits and provide a beautiful escape from urban life. Admission is free but a $5 donation is appreciated.

Hanauma Bay

This crescent-shaped beach is also a natural marine preserve. It’s one of the best snorkeling areas in Oahu because it’s so well-maintained.

In addition to the plentiful marine life, you’ll get a chance to gaze at cliffs and coral beds. Go through a video entry to reach the park and beach areas.

There are also plenty of other water fun opportunities here. Try taking a catamaran around the bay or signing up for a surfing lesson. It’s also a romantic spot for a sunset dinner cruise.

Farmer’s Markets

Waikiki hosts a market every Wednesday at the Blaisdell center from 4-7 pm. You can also check out the KCC market at the entrance to Diamond Head from 7:30-11 am on Saturdays and 4-7 pm on Tuesdays.


Hawaii’s rich Asian history began when immigrants came to the area in the 1800s to work on its sugar plantations. Many decided not to leave when their contracts expired and instead bought land along the harbor.

The area they colonized has turned into Hawaii’s Chinatown. It sits on the edge of Waikiki and Honolulu and is one of the hippest places on the island.

It’s full of bars, pop-ups, galleries, restaurants, and more. It also celebrates the Asian history of the area with flower shops, dim sum stands, and other features.

Iolani Palace

This palace was built in 1882 and was once the home of Liluokalani, the last queen of Hawaii. It’s full of furniture, artifacts, and fashion from her lifetime. Register for a tour for a glimpse into Hawaii’s former royal family.

Bishop Museum

This spot hosts a range of items that celebrate the tradition and culture of ancient Hawaiians. It has one of the most expansive collections of this type in the world.

Aloha Swap Meet

This flea market began in 1979. It’s held in the Aloha Bowl and hosts over 400 vendors. You’ll find local crafts, cheap souvenirs, pop-up food stands, and more.

Kuhio Beach

This spot is more than a beautiful beach or a place to see the unique banyan tree. It also hosts a ceremonial torch liting and free hula show at 6:30 pm every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Makapu’u Point Trail

This scenic, 2-mile, well-paved trail will let you see many of Waikiki’s best sites. This includes craters, inlets, a wildlife sanctuary, and more. Get to the head to see the Makapu’u Lightoughouse and the whales and seabirds that congregate there. Come out in the early morning to make sure the climate isn’t too hot.

Halona Blow Hole

Halona means lookout in Hawaiian, and you’ll be able to see for miles in this beautiful area if you can reach the lookout spot. You’ll also get a chance to see the unique rock formation shoot water into the air like a geyser. In the summer months, you may also be able to visit the oft-filmed Halona Beach Cove.

Foster Botanical Garden

The 13.5-acre Foster Botanical Garden was given to a German botanist by the queen of Hawaii in 1853. It’s a peaceful haven for butterflies and features everything from palm trees to rarer plant species.

Get a map when you enter to make sure you find your way through. You can also take a guided tour if you want more direction.

US Army Museum of Hawaii

Battery Randolph, a defensive structure for Honolulu Harbor, was built in 1911. It was used in several wars before being converted into a museum.

You’ll see everything from ancient native weapons to modern warfare exhibits here. Even better, admission is free.

Island Vintage Coffee

This is one of the few coffee shops in the world that naturally processes and roasts its coffee beans. You’ll notice the difference when you taste it. Don’t pass up the tropical meals such as acai bowls, burgers, and the Island Style Plate, either.

Tiki’s Grill & Bar

3 students of the University of Hawaii created this spot on their own. They put a Hawaiian spin on traditional American dishes that you can watch them prepare in the open kitchen.

A few of the most notable items on their menu include calamari steak, kalua quesadillas, cajun-seared tuna, tiki nachos, and potato canoes. Take your meal to the porch for a relaxing experience.

Have you ever been to any of the Hawaiian islands? Let us know in the comments below. Like and subscribe for more unmissable island destinations.

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