15 Things to Do and See at Waikiki Beach!

Last Updated on May 23, 2023 by admin

Waikiki Beach is one of the best beaches in all of the Hawaiian islands. Each year, millions of tourists visit Waikiki. Waikiki Beach has a rich history, as it was a gathering place for Native Hawaiian royalty. Today, Waikiki Beach is a major hub of Honolulu. Waikiki Beach is approximately two miles long and is known for its golden sand and sparkling turquoise water. In this post, we’ll share our complete guide to visiting Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii!

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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.


How to Get to Waikiki Beach

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Waikiki Beach is located in Hawaii’s capital city of Honolulu. If you’re traveling from out-of-state (or from another island), you’ll first need to fly into Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL). From there, Waikiki Beach is a short 9-mile drive. 

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



About Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is actually comprised of 9 distinct smaller beaches:

  1. Kahanamoku Beach
  2. Fort DeRussy Beach Park
  3. Gray’s Beach
  4. Royal Moana Beach
  5. Kuhio Beach
  6. Kapiolani Beach
  7. Queens Beach
  8. Kaimana Beach
  9. Outrigger Canoe Club Beach

We especially loved spending time at the Kahanamoku Beach because it was close to a beautiful lagoon and lots of restaurants. (We were staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort, so it was very convenient!) We also recommend visiting Royal Hawaiian Beach and the Prince Kuhio Beach, as they’re both close to a lot of Waikiki landmarks!

Tips for Visiting Waikiki Beach

  • Be sure to pack reef-safe sunscreen, which is required at Waikiki Beach. (Many other sunscreens contain chemicals that can harm the ecosystem.) 
  • It’s illegal to drink alcohol on Waikiki Beach. Instead, you can drink alcohol at one of the many beach bars.
  • Don’t take any sand or coral home with you. Please be a respectful visitor and follow Leave No Trace principles.
  • Don’t touch or feed any of the local wildlife.
  • Don’t leave your valuables unattended on the beach.
  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated! If you bring an insulated water bottle, your water will stay cooler for longer.

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!

See our Hawaii itinerary to help plan your trip!

Things to Do on Waikiki Beach

1. Go Swimming at Waikiki

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

The first thing you should do is go swimming at the beach! The water at Waikiki Beach is clean and very comfortable. When we visited Waikiki, the water temperature was about 78 degrees. It was perfection! We could have spent all day swimming at Waikiki Beach.

2. Learn How to Surf at Waikiki Beach

If you’ve ever wanted to try surfing, Waikiki is the place to learn! Sign up for surf lessons and learn how to ride a wave. The best part about learning to surf in Waikiki is that you’ll be surrounded by other beginners, so don’t feel shy about your ability level and give it a try! 

3. Walk the Waikiki Historic Trail

As you walk through Waikiki, you may notice surfboards with historical information written on them. This is part of the Waikiki Historic Trail. If you walk the full trail, you’ll learn all about the history of Waikiki.

4. Grab a Drink at Duke’s Waikiki

Duke Kahanamoku was one of Waikiki’s most famous residents. He was an Olympic swimmer and award-winning surfer. At Duke’s Waikiki, you can go to the Barefoot Bar and have a cocktail. (Try their signature cocktail, the Duke’s Mai Tai!)

5. See the Duke Kahanamoku Statue

One of the most famous sights on Waikiki Beach is the Duke Kahanamoku statue. The statue is located on Kuhio Beach and honors Duke Kahanamoku as the Father of Modern Surfing. 

6. Book a Mermaid Photo Shoot

With this mermaid photo shoot tour, you’ll learn how to snorkel while also being dressed as a mermaid for a photo shoot. They’ll provide you with a mermaid tail and show you the best poses.

7. Hop On the Waikiki Trolley

A fun way to explore the city is to take the Waikiki Trolley tour. You can hop on and off as you like, and you can buy passes for 1, 4, or 7 days. It’s a fun way to cruise around Waikiki Beach.

8. Take a Glass Bottom Boat Cruise

With this afternoon cruise, you’ll be able to peer through a hole in the ship to look down to the water below. The catamaran crew will share about Hawaii’s history, all while looking for turtles, dolphins, and other wildlife.

9. Have a Mai Tai at the Royal Hawaiian

Mai Tai at Royal Hawaiian
A Mai Tai from the Royal Hawaiian luau. Cheers!


The Royal Hawaiian is a historic resort located right on the beach in Waikiki. You can’t miss the blush pink hotel! The Mai Tai has its origins at the Royal Hawaiian, so be sure to try one of their signature cocktails at Mai Tai Bar. The bar has outdoor seating and is steps away from Waikiki Beach.

10. Take a Shaxi Dive Bar Tour

If you book this Shaxi Dive Bar Tour, you’ll hop in an open-air shaxi and visit 4 dive bars in Waikiki. You won’t have to worry about driving, and you’ll get to check out some great bars!

11. Go On a Guided Turtle Snorkel Adventure

Take a catamaran and snorkel around Turtle Canyon. With this guided turtle tour, all the snorkeling gear is included. All you have to do is show up and have fun! 

12. Learn How to Scuba Dive

Take a scuba-diving class and explore the waters around Honolulu. With this scuba diving tour, you’ll get to take home video footage of your underwater adventure! 

13. Book a Sunset Cruise

Things to do in Honolulu and Waikiki

A sunset cruise is the perfect way to cap off a day at Waikiki Beach. With this sunset cruise tour, you’ll get a 1.5 hour cruise during the sunset hour. The price includes an appetizer and two alcoholic drinks. When we visited Waikiki, it was kind of difficult to find a spot to see the sunset. We had to walk to the far end of the beach to be able to see it. A sunset cruise would solve that issue and make it very easy to see the sun dipping below the horizon! If you’re lucky, you might even see the famed green flash at sunset. The green flash is a phenomenon in which the sunset glows green due to how the earth’s atmosphere bends the light. Price information is linked here.

14. After Dinner Walking Tour

If you want to see Waikiki at night, take this walking tour. You’ll learn about Waikiki’s history and you’ll stop at notable land marks. Pricing information linked here.

15. Watch the Fireworks

The Hilton Hawaiian Village hosts a fireworks display every Friday night. If you’ll be in Waikiki on a Friday, be sure to check them out! 

Frequently Asked Questions About Waikiki Beach

Can you drink on Waikiki Beach?

Drinking alcohol on Waikiki Beach is illegal. However, if you’d like to drink an alcoholic beverage, there are plenty of outdoor bars located throughout the two-mile stretch of beach. We’d recommend that you check out Duke’s Waikiki Barefoot Bar and the Royal Hawaiian’s Mai Tai Bar.

What time does Waikiki Beach close?

Waikiki Beach is open 24 hours a day. Because of the time change difference, our toddler woke us up at 3am on our first morning in Hawaii. What did we do? We went for a beach walk! The beach was empty and it was very peaceful.

Where’s a good place to eat on Waikiki Beach?

There’s a lot of great restaurants located along Waikiki Beach. We’d recommend you check out Duke’s Waikiki for a good meal.

Does it cost money to go to Waikiki Beach?

Waikiki Beach is a free beach that is open to the public. The restaurants and hotels surrounding the beach, though, can be quite expensive!

Can you go to Waikiki Beach at night?

Waikiki Beach is open 24 hours a day. You can walk on the beach or swim during the night. Of course, be sure to do so safely.

Recommended Hotels for Honolulu

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. 

See our full review of our stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort here!


Luxury Hotels

  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 Trip to Hawaii

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

  • Reef-Safe Sunscreen: You have to use reef-safe sunscreen while you’re in Hawaii, because other sunscreens can harm the waters. Make sure you buy yours in advance, as they tend to be more expensive on the islands. 
  • 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: Waikiki Beach in Hawaii

Waikiki Beach should definitely be added to your travel bucket list. It’s one of the most famous beaches in the world. We loved the turquoise waters and the easy access to Honolulu’s best shops and restaurants. We hope this article inspires you to visit Waikiki Beach and see it for yourself!

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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.

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!