(Click above to listen to the podcast and scroll below to see highlights, pictures, maps and more.)
Waikiki Walking Tour
This podcast and blog describe a 2-mile walk that can easily be expanded to fill a full day if you decide to take advantage of some of the places to stop, or it could serve as an introduction to some Waikiki highlights that you could come back to visit later. It begins at a surfing spot on Waikiki Beach at the foot of Diamond Head Crater looming above Waikiki, then it winds its way along the beach as you pass the aquarium, historical hotels, monuments and memorials along the beach. Then, you will walk past two large shopping and dining complexes, and then finish the walk back to the beach at perhaps the best place to watch the sun set in all of Hawaii!
Note: You can follow along by reading the text below, listening to the podcast, and/or searching for the interactive map and pictures by searching for Honolulu on the website http://www.walkli.com. (For now, Walkli is only available on your computer, but mobile versions are coming soon.) The screenshots of the maps are taken from the Walkli map. The numbers are aligned with the letters on the maps.
Begin at Kaimana Beach, a quiet public beach popular with locals and tourists for its soft sands and calm waves. It is a great place for children to swim and for beginners to learn to surf. Group surf sessions are held daily here. See the Kaimana Beach Surf Shop stand here if you are interested in a lesson. Group surf lessons are offered daily at 9 am, 12 pm and 3 pm. Perhaps you should surf before you walk!
2-B-War Memorial Natatorium
To reach the War Memorial from Kaimana Beach, walk away from Diamond Head (in the Ewa direction, as the locals say) with the ocean on your left along the ocean path until you see a large arch on your left. The arch is the entrance to the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium. This large monument is in recognition of the men and women of Hawaii who served in World War I. The area on the beach side of the arch is often used for Veterans Day and Memorial Day Celebrations, but it is only the central entryway to a now-closed natatorium, a saltwater swimming pool on the ocean. There is an effort to raise funds to refurbish and re-open the natatorium, but as of now it has not been successful. From the ocean you can see the entire natatorium and Kaimana Beach nestled at the foot of Diamond Head.
You will find the Waikiki Aquarium just past the War Memorial arch in the Ewa direction. Since 1904, the Waikiki Aquarium has highlighted appreciation for and conservation of the marine life of the Pacific Ocean. If you would like to visit, the Aquarium is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets are $12. Special events are often held here, including a weekly summer concert series. Check the official website for the latest information.
Waikiki Aquarium website:
Duke Kahanamoku Statue
4-D-To reach the Duke Kahanamoku Statue on Kuhio Beach, walk in the Ewa direction along the beach following the path through San Souci State Recreational Park. Stay on the path as it leads you toward Kalakaua Avenue as it skirts around Queen’s Beach and the Waikiki Wall on your left, but stay on the beach side of Kalakaua Avenue. Walk along the Kuhio Beach Park path, and you will soon see the bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku welcoming everyone to Waikiki with open arms. You may see flower leis draped around his neck that have been affectionately placed here by visitors and locals alike. Duke was a well-loved Hawaiian swimming, surfing and outrigger canoe paddling hero of the past, but you may hear people talk of this Hawaiian legend fondly, even today. He was born in 1890 and grew up swimming and surfing in Waikiki near the current Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. He was discovered as a swimming sensation when he broke the world record in the 100-yard freestyle during his first competition. He went on to win gold and silver medals in the 1912 Olympics, two gold medals in the 1920 Olympics, and a silver medal at age 34 in the 1924 Olympics. He was one of the original Waikiki Beach Boys, men who earned their living teaching visitors how to surf and canoe at Waikiki Beach. You can still find Waikiki Beach Boys in the Waikiki surf today in front of Duke’s Waikiki at the Outrigger Beach Resort, our next stop, where we will learn more about this amazing legend of Hawaii!
5-E-Duke’s Waikiki at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort
From the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, walk toward the beach and continue walking in the Ewa direction. You will pass in front of the Moana Surfrider Hotel, where we will return later. For now, continue to the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach resort, and you will see the flagship of the Duke’s restaurant chain, Duke’s Canoe Club of Waikiki, overlooking the beach. The chain is, of course, named after Duke Kahanamoku. As Duke’s fame spread worldwide, he began acting in Hollywood and using his fame to spread the popularity of surfing to the U.S. mainland and Australia. Later, he served as Sheriff and official greeter of Honolulu. Go inside Duke’s to see photos and memorabilia of Duke and the Waikiki Beach Boys. There is indoor and outdoor seating for good food and drinks at reasonable prices. There is often entertainment outside just opposite the bar, especially in the afternoon. Food and drinks are both served at the bar, as well as at the table seating.
6-F-Royal Hawaiian Resort
Continue walking along the ocean in the Ewa direction and you will come to the famous Royal Hawaiian Resort. This “Pink Palace” was opened in 1927 to the delight of the rich and famous. The hotel has been featured in a number of television shows and films. It is currently an SPG Luxury Collection hotel.
To get to the Moana Surfrider, so you can see this classic hotel from the front on Kalakaua Avenue, walk back to Duke’s. Enter Duke’s from the beach side and walk all the way through the restaurant and through the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach Resort until you exit at street level on Kalakaua Avenue. Then, walk to your right in the direction of Diamondhead for less than a block and you will see the Moana Surfrider resort on the right. This hotel, built in 1901, is the oldest in Waikiki. Walk through the lobby and into the courtyard. Perhaps you would like to rest for a while under the huge Banyan tree that has been here for over 100 years!
8-H-Royal Hawaiian Center
Now, walk in the Ewa direction again on Kalakaua Avenue. Just after you pass the Outrigger Waikiki, you will see the Royal Hawaiian Center on your left. This 4-tiered complex fronts the next three blocks of Kalakaua Avenue. With more than 110 shops and restaurants, it is one of Hawaii’s largest shopping complexes. Shopping includes apparel and jewelry in all price ranges, Hawaiian crafts, and a variety of dining options. The complex is open from 10 am until 10 pm most days, but holiday hours can vary.
9-I-Waikiki Beach Walk
Turn left off of Kalakaua Avenue at Lewers Street and you will see another shopping, dining and entertainment complex on both sides of the street. Waikiki Beach Walk features a variety of shops, boutiques with locally made products, as well as nightlife and outdoor entertainment. It is open 10 am – 10 pm every day, including holidays.
10-J-House Without a Key at the Halekulani
After you pass Waikiki Beach Walk, you will reach Kalia Road at the end of the street. Turn left and on your right you will see the beautiful white Halekulani resort. This exclusive hotel has a number of excellent restaurants and lounges, but the best way to end your day is to walk through the lobby, pass the shops and head all the way to the outdoor restaurant and lounge at House Without a Key. Get there at least an hour before sunset and enjoy the nightly Hawaiian music and hula dancing, and have a great Mai Tai and some delicious snacks as you watch the sun set in the ocean as you end your walk and your perfect day in Waikiki!
If you will be visiting Oahu, you might also like to check out my article and podcast about visiting the highlights of Oahu’s famous North Shore. See the expert surfers, the giant turtles, and enjoy all North Shore has to offer in one day following my plan here:
Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you plan for a perfect trip to Hawaii!