How about a sparkling azure ocean, white sand beaches, surfers, hula dancers and swaying palm trees for starters? Throw in the opportunity to enjoy some world-class shopping/dining experiences and a laidback aloha vibe. There's no doubt where in the world you are when you hit the hedonistic streets of Waikiki. Before heading out to Maui or Kauai, make sure you take a couple of days to soak up the delights of this dynamic Hawaiian city.
Getting There and Around
All flights arrive at Honolulu International Airport, from where you can take a taxi to Waikiki Beach about nine miles away. The other alternative is a shuttle bus. If you haven't got too much luggage, you could take the airport bus, which is the cheapest option by far.
Most tourists stay within the area of Waikiki Beach, where the beach and the majority of the attractions are located within walking distance from one another. Honolulu's downtown area is three miles from Waikiki.
Generally, although it is possible to seek out a bargain, hotels in Waikiki are on the expensive side. One of the most iconic places to stay is the romantic and luxurious Royal Hawaiian Hotel, located on the beachfront. Easily recognisable by its pink exterior, it has been used in many TV shows and movies. At the other end of the scale, check out the quirky Royal Grove Hotel. It's also pink, but is a great budget option! We have always stayed there on our visits to Waikiki and love its retro vibe. Additionally, it's only a block away from the beach!
Kick-start the Day with a Hawaiian Breakfast
Before you head to the beach, enjoy a relaxed breakfast at Lulu's . While you tuck into local specialities loco moco or longboard benedict, check out the stunning views of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach.
Hit the Beach
Waikiki is probably the most famous beach in the world, and deservedly so. Where better to learn to ride the waves than the birthplace of surfing? If you don't bring your own board, you can rent one - the waves are perfect for beginners. As well as being incredibly warm, the ocean is the most sublime turquoise you will ever lay eyes on. If you prefer a more sedate experience, rent a sun lounger and simply chill in paradise.
Meet the Local Marine Life
If you can tear yourself away from the beach, check out the small, but excellent Waikiki Aquarium which has a vibrant display of native fish, turtles and two Hawaiian monk seals.
Shop till you Drop
For the ultimate Hawaiian shopping experience, make tracks to the bustling Ala Moana Center, a sprawling mall chock-a-block with stores and restaurants. There are regular Hawaiian music and dance events on the stage and lots of opportunities to buy souvenirs or sample local delicacies.
Happy Hour in Paradise
After a shopping session, make your way back to Waikiki Beach, this time to watch the sun sink over the ocean. The torch-lighting and hula show takes place on the beach most evenings. Crowds gather to watch the entertainment in the fading light. It's a magical time of the day in Waikiki and the atmosphere is mellow, everyone enjoying the vibe and the beauty of the setting.
Hike Diamond Head
Start the day energetically with a hike to the summit of Diamond Head, the dramatic volcanic crater which overlooks the city. Take some snacks and plenty of water. If you head out early, you will avoid the intense midday heat. The trail is steep and a little uneven, but the hour's climb is worth it for the sweeping views of the ocean and city skyline.
Lunch at Duke's - A Hawaiian Institution
After building up an appetite on the trail, enjoy a leisurely lunch at the famous Duke's. Duke's Barefoot Bar is right on the beach and serves dishes featuring locally grown produce and an abundance of tempting accompaniments. Try the mahi-mahi - the fresh fish is excellent! They often have live music too. A visit to Duke's is a quintessential Hawaiian experience not to be missed.
After some more beach time, take a stroll along to the elegant and historical Royal Hawaiian Hotel and soak up the traditional ambience. Treat yourself to a delicious cocktail at the Mai Tai Bar, a mere few steps away from the sand. A blissful way to wind up two days in paradise.