Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon in Waikiki Beach
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The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon: A Hidden Gem Near the Hilton in Waikiki!

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Kelly

The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is located at the far western end of Waikiki Beach. It’s a saltwater lagoon that has calm water, which is perfect for swimming and paddle boarding. (Especially for kids!) The lagoon is featured right next to the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, but it’s open to the public. We found it to be the perfect place for our toddler to play in the water.

We spent a lot of time at the lagoon on our recent trip to Hawaii. In this post, we’ll share our tips for visiting the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon!

Kelly from Our Adventure Journal walking along the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon in Waikiki Beach
Here I am walking along the edge of the lagoon!

About the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon

Aqua bike at the duke Kahanamoku lagoon, things to do in Honolulu

The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is a man-made lagoon that was built in the 1950s. The lagoon was named after Duke Kahanamoku, who was a major Hawaiian icon. He was a  world-famous surfer, an Olympic swimming champion, a sheriff, and an actor.

The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is a saltwater lagoon. It contains a water circulation system that keeps the water clear and clean.

There’s a small island in the middle of the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. You’re not supposed to climb on it, but it adds to the charm and beauty of the lagoon. 

The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is surrounded by sandy beaches. Depending on when you visit, some areas of the beach may be shaded by the resort’s towers. We were grateful to have a shady spot for our toddler to build sand castles and splash in the water.

The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is approximately 5-10 feet deep.

The lagoon is on the Hilton property, but it’s free and open to the public. 

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You can read all about stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort!


Activities at the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon

Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, things to do in Honolulu

There are a number of things you can do at the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon! 

  • Swim
  • Play in the Sand
  • Aqua Bike ($)
  • Paddle Board ($)


How to Get to the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon

 

The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is located on the far western side of Waikiki Beach. It’s right next to the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is managed by the Hilton, but you don’t have to be a guest of the Hilton to use the lagoon. 

If you’re staying at a hotel along Waikiki Beach, you can reach the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon simply by walking up the beach. You’ll reach the lagoon at the end of the path.

There is a paid parking lot next to the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. (It’s the Ala Moana Boulevard Parking lot.)

Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon in Waikiki Beach


Fish at the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon

There are fish in the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. We saw many of them just a few feet away from us. Our daughter really liked seeing them in the water! 

I didn’t see anyone fishing at the lagoon, but there are reports of fishing. Be sure to read up on any fishing regulations.

See our Hawaii itinerary to help plan your trip!

Activities Near the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon

There are plenty of fun things to do near the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon! Here’s a few ideas to consider:

  • International Market Place: The International Market Place is a great place to go shopping. There are over 80 unique stores and restaurants. 
  • Waikiki Aquarium: The Waikiki Aquarium has over a dozen exhibits showcasing local marine life. The aquarium is open from 9am to 4:30pm daily. At the time of this writing, tickets were $12 for general adult admission. 
  • The Royal Hawaiian Center: The Royal Hawaiian Center hosts many cultural events focused on indigenous Hawaiians’ history and customs. The Royal Grove is in the center of the Royal Hawaiian Center and is filled with coconut trees. There are over 100 stores and restaurants at the Royal Hawaiian Center. 
  • The Honolulu Zoo: The Honolulu Zoo has a variety of animals, including giraffes, zebras and lions. The zoo even has a twilight tour on Saturday evenings after close. 
See our full guide of things to do in Honolulu.

 

Kelly from Our Adventure Journal at the lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
Here I am observing the rainbow and the lagoon!

 


What to Pack for a Visit to the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon

When you visit Hawaii, expect to spend a lot of time at the beaches! Here’s a few things I recommend bringing:

  • Portable Charger: We like this cell phone charger because the cord is embedded. (That’s one less thing to search for in your bag!) This charger will let you charge your phone when you’re out exploring. You don’t want to run out of battery while you’re on the go, because you don’t want to miss a photo opportunity.
  • Waterproof Phone Case: Protect your belongings with a waterproof phone case. 
  • Quick Dry Towel: This is perfect for hikes where you wouldn’t want to pack a bulky towel from the hotel. It’s easy to throw into a beach bag.
  • Flotation Strap: If you’re going to be snorkeling or surfing, and you want to bring a camera or GoPro, you should make sure you have a flotation strap. That way, if you drop your equipment, it won’t sink to the bottom of the ocean.
  • Water Bottle: Stay hydrated while you’re out in the sun! We like this water bottle because it’s insulated and will keep your water cooler for longer. 
  • Vacation Hat: Protect your face from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat. 
  • GoPro: A GoPro will let you take amazing underwater footage. We highly recommend getting one if you want excellent underwater photos and videos!

Summary: Our Visits to the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon

Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon at sunset in Waikiki

We really enjoyed spending several afternoons at the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. What we liked best about the lagoon was that we were able to swim in the tranquil waters. This is perfect for families with young children, because you don’t have to worry about rogue waves. Part of the beach was shaded during our visit, which provided excellent sun protection while we played in the water. We also really enjoyed having lunch at the nearby food truck! There’s also plenty of Hilton property restaurants located within walking distance. It was the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon in Waikiki. 

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Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please see individual websites embedded in this post for the most current trip-planning information.

Hi, I’m Kelly!

After studying abroad in Spain, I became passionate about international travel. Since then, I’ve traveled to 6 continents and 36 states within the United States. When I’m not travel blogging, you can find me hiking, reading books in Spanish, or playing cribbage. I hope my blog inspires you to see the world!