Enjoy fun in the sun at Waikiki Beach and Honolulu (updated 2021)
Are you wondering what the top things to do in Waikiki now when you visit?
Waikiki is the main tourist hub and fun place to explore and enjoy with so many amazing places and attractions to see in the neighborhood and surrounding Honolulu area.
If you are interested in checking out all the top things to do in Waikiki for planning your visit, check out all these top things to do in Waikiki now for inspiration and to fill up your must do list when you are in the city day time tonight.
Why visit Waikiki in Oahu?
With so much happening in this fun and cool tourist district of Oahu, you’ll love exploring all the fantastic attractions, easy to walk to activities and outdoor fun, fantastic food choices, world class shopping and window shopping, cool bars and night clubs and so many other wonderful things to do around Waikiki, there’s something for all visitors in every age group to enjoy.
Where is Waikiki located?
Waikiki is the tourist neighborhood located in the City of Honolulu. Just east of the business and towntown district of Honolulu. The Waikiki neighborhood is on the southern tip of the city and bordered by the Ala Wai canal and Kapiolani park. If you are visiting Oahu, Waikiki is where you want to be based to experience the best of the attractions around the neighborhood and surrounding city of Honolulu.
Here’s 32 fantastic things to do in Waikiki now
1. Hike up to Diamond Head
One of the most popular and fun Waikiki attractions is to hike up Diamond Head and experience the expansive panorama of Waikiki and Honolulu below. Popular time frames would be early in the morning for cooler temperatures or later in the afternoon for that golden light and sunset views (park closes at 6pm). Park is open from 6am to 6pm with the trail head closed off at 4:30 pm and parking fee is $5 per car. For a first hand look on what the hike is like, check out my post on doing the Diamond Head hike here for more inspiration.
Check out the visitor information site here for more details on visiting the state park.
2. Explore cool and hip Kaka’ako
Looking for something fun and cool to do in Waikiki? Check out the hip and fun district of Kaka’ako in Waikiki’s trendy district filled with colorful street art and graffiti walls, fun bars, galleries, and cool new restaurants. This once run-down area of warehouses and a rough neighborhood is now uber trendy and filled with vivid graffiti and street art – it’s considered the place to be and hang out with hot new entertainment venues filled with cutting edge art, shopping, dining and entertainment.
You can check out more details on my post about things to do in Honolulu here for exploring the Kaka’ako neighborhood. Or check out the cool new Salt center for innovative art, food, shopping and new events in the area.
3. Stroll down Kalakaua Boulevard
It’s always busy day or night time on this popular street at Kalakaua Boulevard. The main thoroughfare In Waikiki is filled with trendy shopping malls, galleries and boutique stores, cafes and restaurants, bars and entertainment venues on the street. The street is fun to explore day time but really comes alive at night when everyone seems to be out and enjoying the lively night scenes, window shopping, eating snacks and dining al fresco. Even the old style International marketplace has become hip, trendy and world class gathering place, shopping venue and foodie spot to explore on Kalakaua.
4. Explore Kapiolani park in Waikiki Beach
If you are looking for some down time then large green park area on the edge of Waikiki is a nice respite to enjoy on the edge of Waikiki. You can also check out popular attractions in the park including the Honolulu Zoo, Diamond Head Crater, Queens beach, Waikiki Aquarium and also the bandstand at Waikiki Shell that has weekly free or paid events and concerts for visitors and locals. There’s plenty to do and see in the park or you can just relax and enjoy the views and beach scene overlooking Waikiki beach area.
5. Free Hula show at Kuhio Beach
One of the fun things to do in Waikiki is to watch the ongoing hula shows are offered at Kuhio and Waikiki hosts a free hula show at Kuhio Beach which Is a fantastic way to enjoy a hula experience for free at the beach. You’ll enjoy different types of hula styles along with music accompaniment and the visitors are allowed to hang out on the grass or beach area around the stage. Check the calendar here for any updates on the regular show schedule at Kuhio.
6. Explore the fun at Waikiki Beach
Probably the biggest draw to Waikiki is Waikiki Beach and the beach scene, outdoor attractions and adventure experiences you can have directly on the beach. Waikiki beach is the most well known stretch of two mile beach on Waikiki fringed with oceanside bars and restaurants, world class hotels and gorgeous turquoise waters and surprisingly shallow areas that make surfing and beach fun relatively safe and family friendly. Once just a haven for family royalty, Waikiki Beach was mostly swampland until world class resorts like the Ala Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian Hotel put Waikiki beach on the tourist map. Strolling on Kalakaua Boulevards for the fun window shopping and swank shops or directly walking on Waikiki Beach itself is part of life’s simple joys here in Waikiki and enjoying all the fantastic views all around.
7. Free fireworks Waikiki activity
For a free and colorful night experience, check out the firework display on Waikiki beach. You’ll find the show start every Friday night between 7:45 to 8pm on the beach area facing the Hilton Hawaiian Village, right on Waikiki beach. Come early on the beach to find a spot and maybe closer to the stage or beach area which is perfect picture taking.
Tip – At a distance, you can park easier at Ala Moana park with nice views to the fireworks display at Waikiki and views of the coastline lit up at night.
8. Photography Waikiki Tours
A guided tour showing you the best spots around town and in the area to experience without the headache of driving, parking and a knowledgeable guide is a great way to spend the day and capture some of the best images and scenes around Oahu. You can actually do your own walking and photography tour with these cool self guided tours of Waikiki here for inspiration.
A visit to the beach areas and the various attractions mentioned on this post are fantastic photo ops for you to visit and capture for your vacation time in Waikiki.
9. Enjoy amazing malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery
For a delicious foodie experience, go to Leonard’s and try some of the famous malasadas (Portuguese inspired doughnuts and now a local favorite dessert). These fried goodies are best hot and just served fresh and you can have them filled with different custards or tropical inspired flavors. If you are looking for unique flavors consider trying the haupia, coconut, pineapple and guava filled malasadas for some yummy goodness.
10. Learn to surf on Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach is a perfect surfing beach with shallow water that expands out at a distance from the beach with sandy soil to land on. Learning to surf on Waikiki is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a new adventure experience or even brush up on some of your surfing background. You’ll enjoy the wonderful surf, sandy beaches and even bragging rights of spending a day surfing and picking up new skills when you take a surfing class in Waikiki.
Check out this surfing lesson experience on Waikiki Beach here with an outfitter with a cause for more information and planning for your surfing fun on the beach.
11. Visit the Honolulu Museum of Art
If you’re into visiting museums, this one is definitely worth visiting with an eclectic mix of Polynesian inspired artifacts, artwork, sculpture spanning ancient to contemporary styles. The Honolulu Museum of Art hosts and impressive collection along with some fascinating rotating shows highlighting the unique history and culture of Pacific Island lifestyle and interests. Check out their website here for more information and details to the current shows on their calendar.
12.Tour Shangri la from through Honolulu Museum
The famous American heiress Doris Duke created her own Shangri La Mansion that shines lick a Persian jewel box. Created entirely like a Muslim palace, the home is a customized with spectacular marbles, hand-maid inlay tiles and special artwork that showcase the best Islamic art she purchased from various sources to create an amazing Shangri La fronting the Pacific Ocean. Tours to this special place have to be arranged in advanced but you can easily book a tour here for visiting this amazing and historic home. You can check out the schedules and prices here for tours.
13. Whale watching show from Waikiki Beach
Winter to early spring time is the best time to enjoy the migrating whales visiting the Hawaiian islands. Best way to do this is cruising the wonderful coastline along Waikiki and outer areas in search of these majestic humpback whales. This luxury catamaran cruise experience leaves from Kewalo Basin Harbor with expert crew onboard to make this a fun and cool way to enjoy the coastal views and marine life around Oahu.
14. Have a luau experience
What’s not to like with a fun luau experience not far from Waikiki. This luau called is Ka Moana is held at the Sea Life Park and includes admission to the park grounds along with the Luau experience. With 3.5 hours of fun, go get a fantastic dinner show experience, free hula lessons and henna tattoo, craft making and other interactive activities during the event.
Check out the details to this one of a kind luau experience here for more details, calendar and current prices.
15. Visit Manoa Falls
Located in the Honolulu area towards the university, Manoa falls is an easy hike through lush jungle area called Rainbow valley for all the rain and rainbows occurring daily. You’ll know when your close when you reach the rock cliff areas where Manoa falls cascades about 150 feet from the top to the basin area. When you are in the area already, check out the Lyon Arboretum which is close by.
Check this website here for updates and timeframes that you can visit the falls during the week.
16. Explore a mature and lush Lyon arboretum in Honolulu
If you love natural gardens then visit the Lyon Arboretum very close to Manoa Falls. Entrance is free but a requested donation of $5 helps to maintain the expansive gardens in the park. Large with lush garden areas and an inspiration point that really inspires, it is hard to believe that this is just in the city limits with all this tropical splendor and beautiful landscape to enjoy. With over 6,000 indigenous and other lush tropical flora to get lost in, you’ll enjoy a peace of quiet and solitude not far from the busy metro area. Check out this website here for more details to visiting and their calendar of events.
17. Experience a Shaved Ice delight
If you are looking for a really good shaved Ice experience in Honolulu then check out the different locations that you can find Waiola Shaved Ice. The longest running shave ice store on all the island, the Moilili location is the original location to go for that authentic experience. They have thousands of Flavor combinations that will inspire and delight your tasebuds – check out their locations here
18.Visit the Honolulu Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo located at Kapiolani park is the perfect family friendly attraction that is colorful and filled with a fantastic assortment of animals regionally and from around the world. The gorgeous tropical settings and environments make this zoo fun to explore specially to capture over 1,200 animals in photographs with friends and family. Check out the zoo’s website here for more details and information to what’s currently happening or any other special events currently going on.
19. Take a picture with Duke Statue
The world-famous Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku has a bronze statue located on Waikiki beach right at the end of hotels. Duke known as the ambassador of Honolulu was a the greatest waterman and the father of modern day surfing in Hawaii.
The statue is in a perfect spot to take pictures with the surfer who is typically adorned with fresh and old leis as a symbol of friendship. With fantastic views of Waikiki beach and ocean in the background, this is the perfect moment to capture with your friends and family along with the Duke of Waikiki.
You can find the duke statue next to the Police station on Kalakaua Boulevard and across from the Hyatt Regency on Waikiki Beach.
20. Dining and shopping at Ala Moana Center
This is the largest open-air shopping mall in the Pacific and filled with high end designer shops, local galleries and art, souvenir and gift specialty vendors and the biggest food court you’ll find around Oahu along with a cool Japanese food walking court.
There’s plenty of things to see and do at Ala Moana Center and the outdoor venues and even outdoor food venues really complement the Hawaii lifestyle and shopping at its best. Or just window shopping, people watching and enjoying the outdoor spaces here are part of the fun exploring this outdoor mall area.
21. Snorkeling fun at Hanauma Bay
One of the best snorkeling areas on Oahu and a marine preserve sanctuary, Hanauma Bay is quite spectacular and well maintained. You have to go through a video entry to the park first and then have access to the park and beach areas. What you’ll find at Hanauma Bay is a magnificent crescent shaped beach protected by small cliffs with beautiful coral beds, colorful tropical fish and some cool marine life that may unexpectedly show up.
For more information on visiting Hanauma Bay State Park, check out their website here for more details and visiting.
22. Visiting the Waikiki Aquarium in Waikiki
Visiting the Waikiki Aquarium in Waikiki is a fantastic family friendly attraction that caters to young and old alike. Located in close to the Honolulu zoo, the Honolulu Aquarium has lovely tropical fish displays, a small shark tank, and other colorful exhibits to enjoy in this relatively small but fun aquarium. Check out the details to visiting and entry here for more information.
23. Visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona
The most popular attraction to visit in the area in Honolulu is a visit to Pearl Harbor which is a short ride you can from do Waikiki or even take a bus from there. This is a must visit attraction to absorb and experience the infamous Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. You can easily spend an entire morning or afternoon here to get historic insight to the history, culture and military presence in Oahu.
You can also book a nice tour of the Pearl Harbor and visit to the North Shore here for a guided tour of the park and visit to other attractions along the North Shore area.
24. Visit a local Farmers markets
If you want to check out local culture and eating fun, check out a local farmers market in the area. You can find a regular market held every Wednesday on the Lawn at the Blaisdell Center, the farmers market is held from 4 to 7pm. At the KCC farmers market facing the Diamond Head entrance, the market is on Saturday from 7:30- 11am and on Tuesdays evenings from 4 to 7pm.
Check the best 10 farmers markets to visit in the Honolulu area here for details of location and times when the markets are going on.
25. Explore the Chinatown district
Just located on the edge of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, Chinatown is part of the historic and old part of Honolulu and a fun place to explore. Now a more hip and cool place to visit in Waikiki with hip bars, pop up shops, galleries and restaurants, Chinatown still maintains all it’s classic Asian charms. Filled with Lei flower shops, dim sum parlors and cheap souvenir stands, you’ll find a variety of quirky, fun and kitchy things to explore at Chinatown.
26. Japanese food experience at Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk
If you are looking for a fun and unique food experience close to Waikiki, check out the Shirokiya’s Japan Village Walk at the Ala Moana Center. This mini village modeled after a typical old Japanese style village has over 30 kiosks serving typical and favorite Japanese foods and local beers. There is a cool set up buddhas in the back that serve as guardian spirit for the area.
27. Take a Sunset cocktail cruise around Waikiki at night
If you are looking for a romantic or fun evening experience try a sunset cruise here. This is a great experience to enjoy sunset on the water and fantastic views of Waikiki and the golden hour. Many cruises do offer cruises with dining or drinking options to compliment the cruising experience. Most of the experiences launch right on Waikiki beach with catamarans that offer a typical 1 ½ to 2-hour tour cruising the coastline and passing through popular attractions in the area.
28. Tour the Iolani Palace
The royal Iolani palace is where the last queen, Liliuokalani was living prior to the US coup that overthrew her government and installed an interim colonial government. This once royal palace built in 1882 was at its time, the most innovative and outstanding royal palace and only one in the USA of it’s time frame. Filled with magnificent furniture, artifacts, memorabilia and even fashion of the royals during that time frame, you’ll get to see all of these wonderful collection within the palace rooms. You can visit the palace with a docent tour by registering for a set tour on their website here for more details and instructions to the tour.
29. Experience Hawaiian history at the Bishop Museum
Visiting the Bishop Museum in Honolulu will give you a fantastic insight to the history, tradition and cultural heritage of the ancient Hawaiians. The Bishop Museum at Kahili represents the most expansive collection of Polynesian artifacts, historical treasures, artwork even royal adornments and fascinating exhibits to explore. It’s a great space to explore and see the history of the early voyagers and Polynesian settlers, Hawaiian and cultural beliefs or exhibits and folklore along with features on Volcanoes, different cultures, even early sporting events on the Hawaiian Islands.
To visit the museum, check out the details on their website here for more information, prices and other events happening soon.
30. Enjoy a classic tropical cocktail in Waikiki Hawaii
What’s more enjoyable then ordering a tropical cocktail on the beach or with a view from above looking into Waikiki and the bay. There’s so many cool and popular places in Waikiki to hang out and order a tall Blue Hawaii, Mai tai, Pina Colada or any other popular drink that would quench any thirsty soul looking for entertainment, people watching and just enjoying a perfect tropical drink in Hawaii. Check out all these popular and unique bars here to enjoy a perfect tropical drink in Waikiki for more inspiration.
Other Cool Waikiki Activities in Honolulu Waikiki area
31. Aloha Swap Meet
If you are looking for cheap souvenirs or unique treasures from Hawaii then head out to the Aloha Swap meet located at the Aloha Bowl. You’ll find this flea market with inexpensive souvenirs mostly made in china and a few local crafters, snack vendors, pop up food vendors and ad hoc mix of sellers plying something odd or cheap on site for you to take home. Entrance is just a buck (free for kids under 11) on Wednesdays and the weekends at the swap meet and you can check their website here for updates and events.
32. Enjoy a meal or drinks in a classic hotel by the beach
Want to do something extra special in Waikiki? How about planning a delicious dinner with sunset views or maybe a wonderful tropical drink at the bar with a music combo or some hula performance? Then head to the classic signature hotels at the Royal Hawaiian (Azure restaurant or the Mai Tai Bar), Dinner at the Halekulani (Orchids or House Without a Key) or the fabulous Moana Surfrider (The Veranda Beach House or Beach Bar Lounge)
Where to stay in Waikiki
If you are planning to spend more time exploring Waikiki and Honolulu, you should base yourself in Waikiki for easy walking and access to most of these attractions located around the district.
The number one rated hotel in Waikiki has affordable rooms and many different room categories with large terraced suites, comfortable rooms and excellent customer service.
Located right on Waikiki Beach, this beautiful property is an oasis of calm but still in the heart of beach, shopping and dining venues. Nice pool and outdoor amenities and comfortable rooms, many with ocean views.
The hotel also located on the beach is know for comfort, great customer service, good location to shops, dining and easy access to Waikiki Beach. With ocean views and clean modern lines, the stays here are effortless and comfortable.
Looking for more reviews? Check out the most popular and well rated hotels through Trip Advisor here for more details, rates and availability.
Conclusion on Top things to do in Waikiki Beach
You’ll have a great time visiting and hanging out in Waikiki with these cool and fun activities and places to visit around the area. Whether you love being out doors and doing adventure activities or easy things like happy hour on the beach and finding some interesting foodie venues, Waikiki has all the right things for everyone to experience. Enjoy your visit and hopefully you’ll get to visit all these places and fun things to explore in the area.
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Conclusion of best things to do and see in Waikiki Beach
For Waikiki fun, you’ll love explore all fun activities and attractions around this easy and walkable district of Honolulu. Hope this gives you some great ideas of things to do and see around the tourist district here.
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