Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Waikiki

Hawaii

By Kristy Tolley

Welcome to Waikiki, the vibrant and bustling neighborhood located on the southern shore of Honolulu, the capital city of Hawaii. Known for its stunning beaches, world-class resorts, and vibrant nightlife, Waikiki is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Whether you’re into water sports, shopping, or simply relaxing by the ocean, Waikiki offers something for everyone.

One of the main attractions in Waikiki is the iconic Waikiki Beach, a two-mile stretch of pristine coastline that is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. The turquoise waters and soft, golden sand create the perfect backdrop for a day of relaxation and fun. If you’re a beginner, you can take surf lessons from one of the many surf schools located along the beach.

In addition to its beautiful beaches, Waikiki is home to several popular attractions. The Waikiki Aquarium, located at the end of Waikiki Beach, is a must-visit for marine life enthusiasts. Here, you can explore exhibits showcasing a variety of aquatic species, including colorful tropical fish, mesmerizing jellyfish, and playful sea turtles. Don’t miss the daily feedings and educational presentations, where you can learn more about Hawaii’s unique marine ecosystem.

If you’re interested in the history and culture of Hawaii, make sure to visit the Bishop Museum. This impressive museum houses a vast collection of Hawaiian artifacts, including traditional clothing, ancient weapons, and Polynesian crafts. You can also learn about the history of the Hawaiian monarchy and the impact of European explorers on the islands. The museum offers a fascinating insight into the rich heritage of Hawaii and its people.

In the evening, Waikiki comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene. Head to one of the many bars or restaurants for delicious Hawaiian cuisine and live entertainment. From traditional luau shows to exhilarating hula performances, there’s always something happening in Waikiki after dark. Don’t forget to try the famous Mai Tai cocktail, a refreshing tropical drink that perfectly captures the spirit of the islands.

Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a blend of both, Waikiki has it all. With its stunning beaches, exciting attractions, and lively atmosphere, it’s no wonder that Waikiki is a top-rated tourist destination. So pack your bags, put on your swimsuit, and get ready for an unforgettable vacation in Waikiki!

Explore Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous and picturesque beaches in the world. Located on the southern shore of Honolulu, it is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

With its golden sand, crystal-clear turquoise water, and gentle waves, Waikiki Beach is a haven for sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers. Whether you want to relax on the sand, take a refreshing dip in the ocean, or catch some waves, this beach offers something for everyone.

While at Waikiki Beach, be sure to check out the iconic Diamond Head. This volcanic crater offers stunning panoramic views of the beach and surrounding areas. Hiking to the summit is a popular activity for visitors looking for a little exercise and breathtaking vistas.

In addition to its natural beauty, Waikiki Beach is also home to a vibrant shopping and dining scene. Kalakaua Avenue, the main street that runs parallel to the beach, is lined with luxury boutiques, international retailers, and gourmet restaurants. From high-end fashion to traditional Hawaiian souvenirs, you’ll find it all within walking distance of the beach.

If you’re looking for a break from the sun and sand, Waikiki offers a variety of cultural attractions and activities. Visit the Waikiki Aquarium to explore the diverse marine life of the Pacific Ocean, or immerse yourself in Hawaiian history at the Bishop Museum. You can also catch a traditional hula performance or a live music show at one of the many entertainment venues in the area.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, exploring Waikiki Beach is a must-do experience. With its beautiful beach, stunning views, and endless activities, it’s no wonder that Waikiki Beach is considered one of the top tourist attractions in Hawaii.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, swimwear, and a beach towel to make the most of your time at Waikiki Beach.

Disclaimer: Some attractions may be temporarily closed or have limited availability due to COVID-19. Please check local guidelines and restrictions before planning your visit.

Visit the Diamond Head State Monument

The Diamond Head State Monument is one of the must-visit attractions in Waikiki. This iconic volcanic crater offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area and is a popular destination for hikers, nature lovers, and history enthusiasts.

Formed around 300,000 years ago, Diamond Head is part of the Honolulu Volcanic Series. It earned its name from the 19th-century British sailors who mistook the calcite crystals on its slopes for diamonds. In 1968, the Diamond Head State Monument was established to preserve this natural wonder and provide access to visitors who want to explore its beauty.

When you visit the Diamond Head State Monument, be prepared for a moderate hike. The trail is approximately 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) round trip and includes a steep uphill climb and stairs. The hike takes you through a series of switchbacks, tunnels, and bunkers, showcasing the area’s rich history and geology along the way.

As you ascend to the summit, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Waikiki Beach, the Pacific Ocean, and the Honolulu skyline. It’s the perfect opportunity to capture some memorable photos and admire the beauty of Hawaii from above.

Before you start your hike, make sure to bring water, sunscreen, and comfortable footwear. The trail can be hot and exposed, so it’s important to stay hydrated and protected from the sun. There is a small fee for entry into the Diamond Head State Monument, which helps with the maintenance and preservation of the park.

Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply want to enjoy the awe-inspiring views, a visit to the Diamond Head State Monument is a must-do when in Waikiki. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the beauty and grandeur of this iconic landmark.

Experience the Waikiki Aquarium

Located on the picturesque shoreline of Waikiki Beach, the Waikiki Aquarium is a must-visit attraction for nature and marine life enthusiasts. With a rich history dating back to 1904, it is one of the oldest aquariums in the United States.

The Waikiki Aquarium is home to a diverse range of marine creatures, showcasing the incredible biodiversity of the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can explore exhibits that feature colorful tropical fish, mesmerizing coral reefs, and fascinating sea creatures like jellyfish and seahorses. The aquarium also houses Hawaiian monk seals, an endangered species native to the Hawaiian Islands.

One of the highlights of visiting the Waikiki Aquarium is the opportunity to witness daily feedings and educational presentations. Knowledgeable staff members provide in-depth information about the different species and their habitats, offering insights into the delicate balance of marine ecosystems.

If you’re interested in learning more about conservation efforts and marine research, the Waikiki Aquarium offers educational programs, interactive exhibits, and even a chance to participate in a behind-the-scenes tour. These experiences give visitors a unique perspective on the vital importance of protecting our oceans for future generations.

Visiting the Waikiki Aquarium is not only an educational experience but also a chance to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The stunning views of Diamond Head and the nearby palm trees swaying in the breeze create a serene atmosphere that complements the beauty of the marine life on display.

Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple seeking a romantic outing, or a family looking for an educational adventure, a visit to the Waikiki Aquarium is an ideal way to spend a day in Waikiki. Immerse yourself in the wonders of the underwater world and leave with a deeper appreciation for the incredible oceans that surround us.

Note: The Waikiki Aquarium is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Admission fees apply, with discounts available for children, seniors, and military personnel. Visitors are encouraged to check the website for current information on exhibits, events, and any COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

Take a Sunset Cruise

One of the most iconic experiences in Waikiki is taking a sunset cruise along the beautiful coastline. There are several companies that offer sunset cruises, ranging from small catamarans to larger luxury yachts.

During the cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head, as the sun sets behind the majestic mountains. The colors of the sky change from vibrant oranges and pinks to deep purples and blues, creating a truly magical atmosphere.

Many of the sunset cruises also offer a variety of amenities, such as live music, a delicious dinner, and even fireworks. You can choose a cruise that fits your preferences and budget, whether you’re looking for a romantic evening with your loved one or a fun party with friends.

As you sail along the coastline, you may also have the chance to spot dolphins swimming alongside the boat or sea turtles surfacing for air. The crew on board the cruise will provide interesting commentary about the landmarks and history of the area, adding to the overall experience.

Whether you’re visiting Waikiki for the first time or you’re a frequent visitor, a sunset cruise is a must-do activity. It’s a perfect way to relax, unwind, and appreciate the natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning sunset photos that will surely make your friends and family jealous!

Discover the USS Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial is a solemn and iconic tribute to the USS Arizona and the brave individuals who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Located in Honolulu’s Waikiki neighborhood, the memorial sits above the sunken remains of the battleship and serves as a lasting reminder of the historic event that catapulted the United States into World War II.

Visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial can learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor through exhibits, videos, and personal stories that capture the emotions and experiences of those who were present that fateful day. The memorial also provides visitors with a rare opportunity to witness the sunken ship beneath the water’s surface, creating a powerful and emotional connection to the past.

The USS Arizona Memorial is accessible via a short boat ride from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, where visitors can explore additional exhibits and educational displays related to the attack. While aboard the memorial, guests can pay their respects to the fallen crew members, take in panoramic views of the harbor, and reflect on the impact of the attack on American history.

It is important to note that due to its significance and limited capacity, the USS Arizona Memorial is a popular attraction and often requires advance reservations. Visitors are encouraged to plan their visit in advance to secure their spot on the memorial tour.

A trip to the USS Arizona Memorial provides a unique opportunity to honor the memory of those who served and sacrificed during the attack on Pearl Harbor. It serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength of the American people and the enduring legacy of those who fought for freedom.

Go Shopping at the International Market Place

Waikiki is known for its excellent shopping opportunities, and one of the must-visit destinations for shopaholics is the International Market Place. This bustling marketplace offers a fusion of local crafts, high-end boutiques, and international brands, making it the perfect place to find unique souvenirs or indulge in some retail therapy.

As you stroll through the open-air market, you’ll be greeted by the sights, sounds, and scents of Waikiki. From colorful Hawaiian shirts and handmade jewelry to traditional crafts and tropical home decor, there’s something for everyone at the International Market Place.

Be sure to visit the ABC Stores located within the market, where you can find a wide range of snacks, drinks, and souvenirs at affordable prices. These stores are a convenient option if you need to pick up any last-minute essentials during your visit to Waikiki.

If you’re searching for luxury brands, head to the Grand Lanai section of the market. Here, you’ll find upscale shops like Gucci, Chanel, and Tiffany & Co., offering a selection of high-end fashion, accessories, and jewelry.

After a long day of shopping, take a break at one of the market’s many cafes or restaurants. Enjoy a refreshing tropical drink or indulge in some local cuisine while taking in the lively atmosphere of the marketplace.

Whether you’re a serious shopper or just looking for a unique keepsake from your trip to Waikiki, a visit to the International Market Place is a must. With its diverse array of shops, vibrant atmosphere, and convenient location, it’s no wonder why it’s a favorite among both locals and tourists alike.

Enjoy a Traditional Hawaiian Luau

When visiting Waikiki, one must experience a traditional Hawaiian luau. A luau is a celebration of Hawaiian culture and food, and it is a must-see attraction for tourists.

At a luau, you will be greeted with a warm aloha and a traditional lei. You will be able to witness a variety of cultural performances, such as hula dances, fire knife dances, and traditional music. These performances are a beautiful showcase of Hawaiian traditions and history.

One of the highlights of a luau is the delicious Hawaiian food. You will have the opportunity to indulge in a buffet full of local delicacies, such as kalua pig, poi, laulau, and haupia. These dishes are prepared with traditional Hawaiian methods and ingredients, giving you an authentic taste of the island.

During the luau, you will also have the chance to participate in various activities and games. You can learn how to hula dance, play traditional Hawaiian instruments, or even try your hand at coconut husking. These interactive experiences allow you to immerse yourself in the Hawaiian culture.

As the sun sets, the luau will culminate in a breathtaking fire dance performance. This mesmerizing display of talent and skill is a truly unforgettable sight. It is the perfect way to end a magical evening in Waikiki.

Whether you are visiting Waikiki for the first time or are a repeat traveler, a traditional Hawaiian luau is an experience not to be missed. It provides an opportunity to learn about the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii while indulging in mouthwatering food and enjoying captivating performances. Make sure to add a luau to your itinerary for an unforgettable trip to Waikiki.

Take a Surfing Lesson

If you’re visiting Waikiki, one of the most iconic beaches in the world, you can’t miss the opportunity to learn how to surf. Waikiki’s gentle waves and warm waters make it the perfect spot for beginners to learn this popular water sport.

There are plenty of surfing schools and instructors available in Waikiki that offer lessons for all skill levels. Whether you’re a complete beginner or have some surfing experience, you’ll find a lesson that suits your needs.

During your surfing lesson, you’ll be taught by experienced instructors who will guide you through the basics of surfing. They’ll teach you how to paddle, how to catch a wave, and how to balance on the surfboard. You’ll also learn about ocean safety and etiquette, ensuring that you have a fun and safe experience.

Surfing is not only a great way to enjoy the beautiful ocean but also a fantastic workout. You’ll be using your entire body, from your arms and core to your legs and feet, to paddle and balance on the surfboard. It’s a great way to stay active and improve your fitness while having a blast in the water.

After your lesson, you’ll have the chance to practice your new surfing skills on your own. Waikiki has consistent waves that are ideal for beginners, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch some waves and ride them all the way to shore.

So don’t miss the chance to take a surfing lesson while you’re in Waikiki. It’s an experience you won’t forget and a fantastic way to make the most of your time on this beautiful Hawaiian island.

Try Stand-Up Paddleboarding

If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to explore the beautiful waters of Waikiki, then stand-up paddleboarding is the perfect activity for you. This popular water sport combines elements of surfing and kayaking, providing a great workout and an opportunity to enjoy the stunning scenery of the area.

Stand-up paddleboarding, also known as SUP, involves standing on a specially designed board and using a paddle to propel yourself forward in the water. It’s a relatively easy sport to learn, making it suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. Plus, it’s a great way to improve your balance and core strength.

One of the best things about stand-up paddleboarding in Waikiki is the calm and clear waters. The area’s protected reef creates a nice, gentle swell that’s perfect for beginners. You’ll have the chance to see colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and maybe even dolphins as you explore the bay.

There are several rental shops and tour operators in Waikiki that offer stand-up paddleboarding lessons and tours. They’ll provide you with all the equipment you need, including a board, paddle, and a leash for safety. The friendly instructors will teach you the basic techniques and guide you through the waters, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, stand-up paddleboarding is an activity that shouldn’t be missed during your visit to Waikiki. So grab a board, head out into the water, and experience the thrill of gliding across the waves while enjoying the breathtaking beauty of Waikiki Beach.

Visit the Honolulu Zoo

If you’re an animal lover, a visit to the Honolulu Zoo is a must when exploring Waikiki. Located in Queen Kapiolani Park, the zoo is home to over 900 different animal species from all around the world.

Established in 1877, the Honolulu Zoo is the oldest zoo in the Pacific and has been a favorite attraction for both locals and tourists alike. With its lush landscape and tropical setting, the zoo provides a unique and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

As you wander through the zoo, you’ll encounter a variety of animals, including lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, and more. The zoo is divided into different exhibits, each representing a different region of the world. From the African Savanna to the Pacific Islands, you’ll get to see animals from every corner of the globe.

One of the highlights of the Honolulu Zoo is the African Savanna exhibit, where you can observe African elephants, giraffes, zebras, and gazelles in a naturalistic environment. You can also visit the tiger exhibit, where you can get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.

Aside from the animal exhibits, the zoo also offers educational programs, live animal presentations, and interactive experiences. Kids will love the Keiki Zoo, a special area designed just for them, where they can pet and feed friendly animals.

Visiting the Honolulu Zoo is a great way to spend a day in Waikiki. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply looking for a fun activity to do with your family, the zoo has something for everyone. Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at one of the snack stands or restaurants located within the zoo, and be sure to bring your camera to capture all the memorable moments!

COVID-19 Update: The Honolulu Zoo is currently open with enhanced safety measures in place. Please check the zoo’s official website for the latest information on hours of operation and visitor guidelines.

FAQs

What are the top tourist attractions in Waikiki?

Some of the top tourist attractions in Waikiki include Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head State Monument, Honolulu Zoo, and Waikiki Aquarium.

What are some fun things to do in Waikiki?

There are plenty of fun things to do in Waikiki. You can go swimming or snorkeling at Waikiki Beach, hike up Diamond Head for amazing views, visit the Honolulu Zoo to see exotic animals, explore the Waikiki Aquarium, take a surf lesson, or simply relax and enjoy the beautiful sunset.

Is Waikiki a good place for shopping?

Yes, Waikiki is a great place for shopping. There are numerous shopping centers and shops along Kalakaua Avenue, where you can find a variety of stores selling clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, and much more. The Royal Hawaiian Center and International Market Place are popular shopping destinations in Waikiki.

Are there any cultural attractions in Waikiki?

Yes, Waikiki has several cultural attractions worth visiting. You can explore the Polynesian Cultural Center, which showcases the cultures and traditions of the Pacific Islands. You can also visit the King’s Village, a Hawaiian cultural center that offers regular hula performances and cultural exhibits. Additionally, the Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu, the only royal palace in the United States, is just a short drive away from Waikiki.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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