The world-famous four-kilometre stretch of white sand known as Waikiki Beach is actually a number of beaches and fronts Waikiki - the tourist hub of Honolulu. With the beach, hotels, shopping, restaurants and nightlife all concentrated within easy walking distance, this former retreat for Hawaiian royalty is still a popular holiday destination today.
From Ala Moana Boulevard in the west, Waikiki Beach turns into the main drag of Kalakaua Road and on to the Diamond Head crater. The Moana Hotel opened in 1901 paving the way for numerous other hotels and attractions to establish Waikiki Beach as a resort destination and international holiday playground. The area’s popularity continued to grow with the advent of surfing with Hawaiian board legend Duke Kahanamoku offering lessons on Waikiki Beach. Duke is now immortalised in bronze on a surfboard at Kuhio Beach. Today, the landscape is a mix of upmarket boutiques, historic hotels, ultra-modern condos and traditional crafts but still retains that laidback, surfer vibe.
For outdoor pursuits, surf and sand is where it's at. From relatively quiet in the morning to wall-to-wall people in the mid-morning summer sun, the coastline of Waikiki Beach differs changes with every beach. Offshore, the location is ideal for swimming, body-boarding, surfing, sailing and most water activities all year round. From May to September, the rough summer swells are better suited to surfing than swimming. Kuhio Beach Park boasts a lovely boardwalk with beginner surf lessons and free hula and Hawaiian music performances from 6.30pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Duke Kahanamoku Beach and Lagoon and Fort DeRussy Beach Park offer family-friendly calm waters and shaded areas, while Queen's Surf Beach is an aquatic reserve and ideal for snorkelling.
Glare from the sand and surf getting too much? Head to the huge variety of retail offerings from Waikiki Beach Walk, an open-air shopping centre with 70 locally owned shops and restaurants, to the upmarket 2100 Kalakaua centre for international luxury brands, as well as attractions such as Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium. To visit Waikiki Beach, take the Green Waikiki trolley which runs every 35 minutes for a scenic look from Diamond Head to Kahala Mall.