Waikiki is one of the most famous surfing beaches in the world and one of the most popular beaches in Hawai’i. The Beach Boys sang about the idyllic swells here in the 1960s, but long before then, and ever since, thousands have flocked here each year to enjoy the surfing culture, lively nightlife, family activities and the waves and white sand. Winter is the busiest time in Waikiki because the swells are biggest, but it’s a great time to come and watch professional surfers show off their talents.
Hire a surfboard and join the pros waiting to catch a wave at the back of the swells. If you’re a beginner or want to touch up on your skills, book lessons through one of the many surf schools. You can also go scuba diving, snorkelling and parasailing.
Head further south and you’ll come to Diamond Head. Stop at Queens Surf Beach for a picnic on the grass and then continue on to the Diamond Head State Monument. This huge crater encompasses 192 hectares (475 acres) of hiking trails, military history and incredible ocean views. Take the trail through a 69-metre (225-foot) tunnel to a lighthouse and wartime bunkers.
Nearby Kuhio Beach is more sheltered than Waikiki. Stroll to the end of the Kapahulu Pier and watch the sun set over the sparkling water and golden sands.
Waikiki town has accommodation, restaurants and shops to suit every budget. Kalakaua Avenue is the main strip where you’ll find luxury boutiques and plush hotels. Look for the distinctive pink façade of the Royal Hawaiian hotel and the elegant Moana Surfrider resort. Sip cocktails in bars and be entertained by street performers.
There is an array of activities for families. Spend a day at the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium, where you’ll find more than 500 species of animals. Book a submarine tour in the Pacific Ocean to see more marine life in its natural environment.
Waikiki lies just south of central Honolulu. Several parking lots nearby charge a small fee by the hour or for a full day.