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

Last Updated on May 23, 2023 by admin

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. 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. In this post, we’ll share our tips for visiting the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon!

Be sure to see all our articles about things to do in Hawaii!

Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon in Waikiki Beach

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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.)

If you need to book a rental car, you can use the search box below:


Tip: If you’re looking for flights, I recommend checking the SkyScanner website to see the best prices for your dates of travel!



Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon in Waikiki Beach

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

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. 

Tip: Take a look at the Go City Oahu all-inclusive pass. You’ll be able to save money by bundling multiple attractions on the island!

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 ($)
  • Paddle Board ($)

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 linked here. 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. 
  • Hike Diamond Head: The giant crater that you can see from Waikiki Beach is called Le’ahi in native Hawaiian, and is otherwise known as Diamond Head. You can actually hike to the top and be rewarded with excellent views of Waikiki. The trail is 1.6 miles long roundtrip and takes approximately two hours to complete.
  • Book a Helicopter Tour: A helicopter tour will give you an aerial view of Waikiki, Honolulu, and the numerous beaches. There’s even some tours that are doors off, in which you have completely unobstructed views of the coast! (The doors off option is great if you want to practice photography without shooting behind a glass window.) 
  • Pearl Harbor Memorial: About 10 miles away from Honolulu is the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. There is a memorial theater, several exhibits, a circle of remembrance, and a boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial. 
See our full guide of things to do in Honolulu.

Recommended Hotels in Waikiki

We recommend staying in Waikiki when you visit Honolulu. You’ll be steps away from the beach, and you’ll have a dazzling array of restaurants and shops within walking distance. 

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

The picture above shows the lagoon with the Rainbow Tower at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in the background.

Luxury Hotels in Waikiki

  • Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort: When we visited Waikiki in 2022, we stayed at the Ali’i Tower at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The Ali’i Tower is the most luxurious tower on the resort property, and it has its own private pool, lounge, and check-in. The Ali’i Tower has ocean-view and oceanfront rooms, and it’s just steps away from the beach and lagoon. We wrote a full review of our stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village here.
  • Halekulani Hotel: This luxury 5-star hotel has a beautiful pool overlooking Waikiki with a mosaic floor of 1.2 million pieces of glass tiles. The hotel also offers daily surfing demonstrations.
  • The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort: This is another 5-star located right on the beach with two pool options. (Plus poolside cabanas!)

Moderately Priced Hotels in Waikiki

  • Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel: This hotel is located within walking distance of the beach, as well as other attractions such as the Honolulu Zoo and Kapahulu Avenue. 
  • Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach: Waikiki Beach is just a 3-minute walk from this hotel. This hotel also offers daily complimentary breakfast. 

Budget Hotels in Waikiki

  • Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki Hotel: This hotel is located just a few blocks away from Waikiki Beach. There’s also a small outdoor pool.
  • Ilima Hotel: This hotel is just a couple of blocks from the beach, and it has free parking.

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! 

(Click on any of the above images for current pricing and shipping information.)

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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Thanks for reading!

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 Spanish novels, or playing cribbage. I hope my blog inspires you to see the world!