Waikiki Beach Guide: A Tropical Paradise for Sun, Surf, and Sand

Everyone visiting Hawaii always have this perfect vision of Waikiki Beach is all about with that gorgeous stretch of beach on the southern side of the island. But, did you know that Waikiki beach is actually a string of eight beaches that flow into each other and make up the whole beach vibe and culture here? With over two miles of beach fun and sun, you’ll find all the right reasons to visit and enjoy Waikiki.

With its long stretch of white sand, turquoise to dark blue waters and waves that take you long distances to the shoreline, Waikiki is everyone’s dream beach and rightly so.

Stretching from the Hilton Hawaiian Village all the way to Kapiolani park, Waikiki is an outdoor adventure lovers beach with swimming, snorkeling, surfing and yes, even canoe surfing as a fun pastime along with so many other fun water activities you can do here.

Let us show you the best of Waikiki beach and activities you’ll enjoy here while visiting a fun day on the beach in Hawaii.

Explore Waikiki Beach (stroll, swim, adventure activities and entertainment on the beach)

History of Waikiki Beach from past to present

Waikiki beach has always been the gathering place for outdoor activities, sports and a playground for Hawaiian royalty in the past.

Translated from Hawaiian Waikiki beach means spouting waters and has always been a popular spot for water activities because of perfect conditions here. The royals opened up small hotels for visitors around the 1800s and in 1901 opened up the grand hotel Moana Surfrider and to be followed up by the striking pink palace called the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and then to be followed by some more hotels.

This ensued with the development of what Waikiki is today, a playground for all to enjoy with world class hotels, restaurants and bars, shopping venues and enjoying nature outdoors on the beach at Waikiki.

History of Waikiki Beach from past to present

Best time to visit Waikiki

Hawaii in general is a year-round destination and you can go wrong visiting any time of the year here on the islands. But in general Waikiki does have two major peak seasons for tourism being Winter time from December to March and summer time from June to early September. The rest of the year celebrates with holidays and events that does keep visitors and locals coming back to visit this area.

But the best time to actually come to experience Waikiki should be the shoulder season of the year when the weather is almost perfect, hardly any rain and of course not as many tourists crowding the whole scene and packing all the beach areas, bars and restaurants with visitors.

When is the shoulder season here in Oahu for those that do not know?

March through end of May is the typical spring shoulder season and fall time from September until November. This doesn’t include holiday events and schedules where there would be more visitors coming during the holiday season for those timeframes.

Usually the weather is great, the crowds are less and the plane fairs are very competitive.

Best time to visit Waikiki

Getting there and amenities at the beach areas

Waikiki beach area is fairly compact and easy to walk to through different parts of the district. If you are coming from Honolulu International Airport then the drive to Waikiki beach is less than 9 miles to get to the main parts of town.

Parking is difficult here so taking public transportation, shuttle or Uber into town is the preferred way of getting around the district.

Taking Public transportation

The bus system around Waikiki and Honolulu is extensive and easy to use. Google maps is the best way to look out for where you want to go – just search your destination and then click the bus icon which will immediately give you the bus line you need to take and where the nearest bus stop is.

Day bus tickets are the easiest way to get around and inexpensive to cabs or Uber and you can purchase them at your local ABC store or 7-11.

Getting there and amenities at the beach areas

Waikiki Beach Facilities

There are lifeguard stations located throughout the beach park to watch out for safety and patrolling the area. The other facilities to the beach area includes:

Bathroom facilities – you can find the public bathroom locations at Queens and San Souci beach, Kuhio ad Fort DuRussy beach. Outside of these areas you can head out to the many establishments to use the bathrooms

Showering areas – there are showering areas at all of the beach parks

Concession stands – located at Queens beach or directly at hotel or restaurant venues ocean front.

Barbeque grills and picnic tables – you’ll find these amenities at San Souci, Fort DeRussy and Queen Kapiolani Park

Parking spots – mostly metered street parking fronting Kapiolani, San Souci and The Outrigger

Parking garage – located at Fort DeRussy Beach Park

8 Beaches rolled into one at Waikiki Beach

8 Beaches rolled into one at Waikiki Beach

The beach scene here is fun and you have over 2 miles of beach area to explore, do some outdoor water fun or just relax and enjoy the vibe on the beach or try a cool tropical drink from the many beachfront hotel bars or restaurants close by.

Find your perfect beach area at Waikiki at any of these 8 fun beaches

Starting with the lesser-known parts of Waikiki to the heart of the beach scene and fun below

1. Outrigger Canoe Beach club

On the fringe of Waikiki sits the Outrigger Canoe Beach Club which is a little off the beaten path because it is the only way to access the beach is to walk through the rocky coral areas of San Souci beach or from a small alleyway next to the Colony Surf Hotel that will lead you to this smaller beach.

2. San Souci Beach

The beach at San Souci is also a little off the beaten part of the Waikiki beach scene and mostly a local beach. A little further out from hotel row, the beach follows Queen Kapiolani beach and has a sandy beach area with a long reef area that stretches out fifty feet and is a great spot for swimming snorkeling and water activities like surfing and boogie boarding.

San Souci beach is not as well known as the other beach parks so it is not as busy but parking is available street side with metered parking.

3. Queen Kapiolani Beach

Located next to Kuhio beach, Queen Kapiolani Beach has a large cement barrier wall called Waikiki wall that juts out into the water and a lot of kids jump off with their boogie boards to surf back to the beach area. It’s also a great spot to catch some nice views and capture some pictures of Waikiki beach area.

Nicknamed the Queen’s beach, there is a large outdoor screen area on the beach that is used for special movie nights at the beach. There’s typically lots of food booths and different types of entertainment that is being presented before the movie typically gets shown.

4. Prince Kuhio Beach

One of the most popular and crowed public beaches in Waikiki, Kuhio Beach is one of the most popular and busy beaches due to the wider beach area, public facilities and the large protected lagoon areas that have break walls that protect the lagoon areas that front the beach.

These family friendly pools are safer and shallow areas for children to swim in safely with minor waves entering the lagoon areas which extend out 40 feet into the ocean area and makes a large pool area to swim in.

Kuhio beach has a popular entertainment and hula show that is free and a fun experience to hear and see authentic music and hula to enjoy on the beach.

5. Royal Hawaiian Beach

Located right next to Gray’s Beach, the Royal Hawaiian Beach which is known as Waikiki Beach Center due to all the outdoor activity outlets in the area. From this beach area you can take a variety of catamaran rides right off the beach area, take a surfing class or even go on an outrigger canoe experience in the local waters.

If you are looking for a nouvelle experience, sign up for an outrigger surfing experience here to ride the waves around Waikiki.

Or you can take a fun surfing lesson here for a group lesson or a private lesson to learn some surfing techniques and get out and hit the waves.

6. Gray’s Beach

Located in an area around the Cement section close to the Halekulani Hotel. Gray’s Beach is one of the oldest beach areas of Waikiki and was name for the old hotel called Gray’s by the Sea which once stood at this location. Extensive erosion of this section of the beach has left most beach gone with ongoing erosion projects not making any type of progress in this beach area which is almost gone.

There are future projects to improve the beach erosion programs and hopefully this beach area will be placed on the fast track based on the experimental program’s updates.

7. Fort DeRussy Beach Park

Lying in between Gray’s Beach and Duke Kanamoku Beach, Fort DeRussy Beach Park is beautiful and not as busy as the other Waikiki beaches in the upper areas. It also has a nice green grassy park areas with picnic tables, coconut trees, shade and volleyball courts, tennis courts.

It is considered a more local beach and family friendly spot to hang out in Waikiki beach area.

8. Duke Kahanamoku Beach

The Duke Kanamoku Beach section of Waikiki Beach fronts the area around the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort with the starting point at the Ala Moana Channel and harbor area. The beach area is also popular with visitors and because the area has a protected sea wall that fronts the beach area.

Beach inspiration – check out this drone fly through of Waikiki beach below – don’t you wish you were here?

Other fun things to do at Waikiki Beach
Waikiki beach activities – surfing fun

Other fun things to do at Waikiki Beach

Promenade the wide streets of Waikiki

Promenade the wide streets of Waikiki

This is definitely a fun pastime to enjoy the street scene, people watch, check out the menus and window shop famous Waikiki Beach

Watch the free hula entertainment at Kuhio Beach

When you hear the conch sounding on Kuhio Beach, that is the start of the free music and hula performances next to the large banyan tree and it is fun and spectacular – did we mention it is also free?

Check out our post on visiting Kuhio Beach here for more inspiration and images.

Waikiki Aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium

Located next to San Souci beach on the waterfront, the Waikiki Aquarium is a family friendly venue to visit and see all the fantastic tropical fish, corals and marine life that you will find around the Hawaiian Islands. It’s perfect for kids and a nice attraction that is great after all the beach fun at Waikiki.

Check out the Waikiki Aquarium website here for more details.

Honolulu Zoo

Honolulu Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo is another family friendly venue that is located at Kapiolani park area with mostly metered street parking. The zoo and animals offer a nice break from the beach activities with tropical garden settings to view the many animals that are located in side for families to visit and enjoy a day at this fun venue.

Check out the Honolulu zoo website here for more details.

Here’s a quick look at the Honolulu zoo below

Torch lighting and Hula shows

Head out to Kuhio beach for the torch lighting and free hula ceremonies on the beach. This happens every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday under the banyan tree at Kuhio Beach, catch a ceremonial torch lighting and FREE hula show. The show usually starts about 6:30 PM (6 PM in the winter months).

Check out what the Kuhio hula shows are like below

Free Friday Firework show at the Hilton
Sunset time in Waikiki

Free Friday Firework show

Every Friday night at the beachfront of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, you can watch the firework display in the skies over Waikiki. Watch from the lagoon in front of the Hilton or anywhere in Waikiki really or catch an open spot on the beach area for a great show.

Check out our post on free things to do in Honolulu here for more inspiration and images.

If you want to see the firework show on a cruise, check out this fun cruise here for more information on this experience.

Here’s a peek at the Friday Firework display below

Enjoy sunset at Waikiki Beach

Enjoy sunset at Waikiki Beach

Pick any of the 8 Waikiki Beaches to enjoy the best sunset of your life or find one of the cool beach bars or ocean front restaurants and your set for a fabulous experience with cocktails or a delicious dinner experience.

A sunset experience in Waikiki is easy, fun and why not go for a swim or surf afterwards with no crowds and the water temperature is still nice.

tip – there are some stone piers that jut out of the beach areas and worth walking to and capture more of the water views along with Waikiki in the background, so look out for them.

Enjoy a Luau experience in Oahu

Enjoy a Luau experience in Oahu

Oahu has some fantastic luau experiences you can go do in Oahu, there’s plenty of choices of places and a few in the Honolulu area.

Check out my post on the best luau to do in Oahu here for inspiration and which ones to experience there.

Here’s a look at Paradise Cove Luau, one of the popular favorite luau’s on Oahu

Here’s a quick look at the Paradise Cove luau below

Adventure sport and recreation at Waikiki Beach

Adventure sport and recreation at Waikiki Beach

Cruise around Waikiki Bay

A cruise around the bay in Waikiki is a lot of fun and shouldn’t be missed to enjoy the water scene here, you’ll enjoy the coastline views and cruise itself for a different experience here.

Check out this cruise experience here for more details and booking your tour experience

Cruise around Waikiki Bay
Waikiki beach Honolulu – sailing adventures

Take a surfing lesson

How about bragging to friends and family that you learned to surf and hone your skills right on Waikiki beach. That’s a lot of fun and with expert guides that show you the best spots to surf and catch the perfect waves, you’re going to love this entire experience.

Check out this surfing experience with group lessons here or for private lessons here for more details and booking your tour experience

Take a surfing lesson

Sunset cruise experience on Waikiki bay

If you are looking for something romantic or just fun to do at sunset into night, how about doing a fun sunset dinner cruise experience. You’ll love cruising around Waikiki bay with fantastic views of the beach and city skyline all the way to Diamondhead on a beautiful ship.

Check out this sunset cruise experience here for inspiration and booking info.

Hike up Diamond Head

Hike up Diamond Head

The large Diamond Head Crater and park that marks the base of Kapiolani Park is an iconic landmark at the end of Waikiki. A visit to the park grounds and hiking to the top for the magnificent views of Waikiki and the entire coastline of Honolulu is a fun activity day time into late in the afternoon before the park closes down.

You can catch a bus, trolley, Uber or do a self-drive directly to the visitors center before you get to start your hike to the rim of the crater walls.

Check out our post to hiking up Diamond Head here for more inspiration to visiting this historic national landmark.

Weather and best time to visit Waikiki, Oahu

Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is located on the island of Oahu and is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and pleasant weather. The best time to visit Honolulu depends on your preferences for weather, crowd levels, and activities. Here’s a breakdown of Honolulu’s weather and the ideal times to plan your trip:

Weather Overview:

  • Year-Round Tropical Climate: Honolulu enjoys a tropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year. It has two main seasons: a dry season (summer) and a wetter season (winter). However, even during the wetter season, rainfall tends to be brief and intermittent.
  • Summer (June to August): Honolulu’s summer months are warm and relatively dry, with temperatures typically ranging from 75°F to 88°F (24°C to 31°C). These months offer plenty of sunshine and are ideal for beach activities, water sports, and outdoor exploration. However, it’s also the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices.
  • Fall (September to November): Fall is a fantastic time to visit Honolulu. The weather remains warm, with temperatures between 73°F and 87°F (23°C to 31°C). Rainfall is minimal during this time, and you can enjoy the island with fewer crowds. It’s an excellent time for both outdoor activities and cultural events.
  • Winter (December to February): Honolulu’s winter is mild, with temperatures averaging between 68°F and 80°F (20°C to 27°C). This is the rainy season, especially on the windward (eastern) side of the island. While you might encounter some rain, it’s still possible to enjoy Honolulu’s attractions, and you’ll find fewer tourists during this time.
  • Spring (March to May): Spring is similar to fall, with pleasant temperatures ranging from 69°F to 82°F (21°C to 28°C). The island starts to dry out from the winter rains, and the landscape becomes lush and green. Spring is an excellent time to visit for both weather and smaller crowds.

Best Times to Visit Honolulu:

  • Late Spring (April to June): This period offers great weather with warm temperatures and minimal rainfall. It’s an excellent time to enjoy outdoor activities and explore the city without the peak summer crowds.
  • Fall (September to November): Fall is another fantastic time to visit Honolulu. The weather is still warm, and you can enjoy the city with fewer tourists, making it easier to find accommodations and enjoy popular attractions.


  • Peak Tourist Season: If you don’t mind larger crowds and higher prices, visiting during the summer (June to August) can still be enjoyable, especially if you plan well in advance.
  • Water Activities: Honolulu is a great place for water activities, including surfing, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. Be sure to check the ocean conditions and surf reports for safety.
  • Festivals and Events: Honolulu hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, so check the event calendar to see if any align with your travel dates.

In conclusion, Honolulu’s tropical climate means you can visit year-round, but late spring and fall offer a good balance of pleasant weather and fewer crowds. However, any time of year can be a great time to explore this vibrant city and its beautiful surroundings.

Check out these other fantastic places to visit around Oahu

Visit to Iolani Palace in Honolulu

Check out the Kaka’ako district in Honolulu

Top things to do around Honolulu and beyond

Explore the top attractions around Waikiki area

Top places to eat in Honolulu

Best restaurants in Waikiki

Enjoyed the post – pin it for later

Waikiki Beach guide
Waikiki Beach guide

Conclusion to visiting Waikiki Beach and a short guide

Conclusion to visiting Waikiki Beach and a short guide

If you want to be right in the center of all activity in Waikiki then head out to Waikiki Beach

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Disclosure – Some links in this article on this Waikiki Beach guide are affiliates which provide a small commission to support this site at no extra cost to you. Thank you for reading, and happy travels

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  1. Amber

    Omg cant wait to go here! It’s high on my list!

    • emorata

      Waikiki beach is amazing and fun to explore

  2. Linda (LD Holland)

    I am already counting down to the sleeps before we will be enjoying the Waikiki beaches. This post was a great one to show us what to expect. I am glad we will be there in shoulder season when the crowds should be less. We will definitely be listening for the conch sound for some free entertainment.

    • emorata

      How exciting for you, I’m sure you’ll have a great time in Waikiki and exploring all of Honolulu area



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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.