Ainahau Triangle - Travel by Brit

When you think about Hawaii, do you think of turquoise waters, hula dancers, remote beaches, and pineapples? Well, if so — think again! There is so much more to do in Hawaii besides lounging on the beach, especially on the island of Oahu (and particularly in Waikiki!). 

Oahu is the perfect island to visit if you’re looking for the perfect blend of laid-back island life and a bustling city atmosphere — which is exactly what you’ll find in Waikiki. Waikiki is the “hub” of Oahu, so there are tons of things to do in Waikiki, like watersports and adventures, like surfing and parasailing, and shopping, dining, and more.

Below, we’ll dive into all the best things to do in Waikiki, Hawaii for all ages and interests, so you can plan the perfect few days in this iconic Hawaiian neighborhood. 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links, meaning that I earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase at no additional cost to you. This helps me keep the content on my website free for you to enjoy! 

Where Is Waikiki, Hawaii? 

First things first — if you’re planning your first trip to Hawaii, you may be confused about the difference between Oahu, Honolulu, and Waikiki. And wait — which island is Oahu again? 

Waikiki is a large neighborhood located in Honolulu — the capital of Hawaii. Honolulu is located on the island of Oahu, known as the “Main Island,” since it’s the most populated and visited by tourists. Other popular islands to visit in Hawaii include Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. 

Waikiki is only 3.4 square miles, so this neighborhood is mostly walkable. Below, we’ll list a few can’t-miss attractions in Honolulu that you’ll need an Uber, Lyft, or rental car to reach, but for the most part, all the best things to do in Waikiki, Hawaii, are within walking distance of the hotels and resorts in Waikiki — making this one of the best places to stay on Oahu without a car. 

The Best Things to Do in Waikiki, Hawaii

1. Relax on Waikiki Beach 

A trip to Waikiki wouldn’t be complete without visiting Waikiki Beach! There are tons of activities to enjoy on Waikiki Beach — from surfing the waves and going on a sunset cocktail cruise to riding an outrigger canoe and sipping frozen drinks on the beach. 

Though Waikiki Beach generally refers to the stretch of sand from The Royal Hawaiian to the Duke Kahanamoku Statue and is the best spot for beachside lounging, you’ll find several other great beaches to explore in Waikiki, including Kahanamoku Beach, Fort DeRussy Beach, Kuhio Beach, Queens Beach, San Souci Beach, and Kaimana Beach. 

A view of Waikiki Beach's blue water and golden sand with the pink facade of the Royal Hawaiian Resort in the foreground
A girl with brown hair wearing a black jumpsuit standing in front of a rainbow on a beach.

2. Attend a Traditional Hawaiian Luau 

Going to a luau is a must-do attraction during any trip to Oahu — luaus are a great way to immerse yourself in traditional Hawaiian culture, and aside from that, they’re a ton of fun! We loved attending the Ka Moana Luau in Sea Life Park, though it is a drive from Waikiki. Some of the best luaus in or near Waikiki include: 

3. Try Delicious Banana Ice Cream from Banan 

Getting shave ice is a must in Hawaii. But if you leave Hawaii without trying banana ice cream — you’re missing out! 

Banan is a local establishment located on the lower level of the Royal Hawaiian Center across from the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. Banan serves dairy-free, soft-serve ice cream with no added sugar made from frozen bananas — and it’s soooo good! I ordered the Chunkadelic (topped with dark chocolate, granola, shaved coconut, honey, and Banan’s house-made macadamia nut honey butter. Yummmm!)

Banan also serves its soft serve in a “papaya boat” or “pineapple yacht” and offers smoothies, acai bowls, and coffee. Grab a sweet treat at Banan and enjoy it on the beach — it will quickly become one of your favorite things to do in Waikiki! 

A girl wearing sunglasses and a black jumpsuit eating a yellow soft serve ice cream from Banan, one of the best places to eat in Waikiki
A banana soft serve ice cream from Banan in front of a row of surfboards, one of the best places to eat in Waikiki

4. Enroll in a Hawaiian Surf Lesson 

Waikiki is known as one of the top surfing locations in the country, so naturally, learning how to surf is one of the best things to do in Waikiki! 

There are tons of surfboard rental companies in Waikiki, but if you’re planning on surfing for the first time — booking a surfing lesson with a professional instructor is the way to go. This private surfing lesson in Waikiki lasts for one and a half hours and will give you and a private group a chance to learn about surfing techniques (and receive feedback) from an instructor. 

5. Hike Diamond Head Summit Trail 

While you’re exploring Waikiki, you’ll probably notice a lush, green mountain in the distance. That’s Diamond Head State Monument — an extremely popular hiking trail on Oahu. And spoiler alert — it’s not a mountain. It’s a volcanic cone. (But a dormant one — so don’t worry!). 

Hiking Diamond Head is easily one of the best things to do in Waikiki (and one of the top things to do on Oahu, in general!) and is only a 2.2-mile drive from Waikiki Beach. Admission to Diamond Head is $10 per vehicle or $5 per person. The hike itself is short — only 1.8 miles out and back — but it offers panoramic views of Honolulu and much of the island from the top. If you’re staying in Waikiki, it’s fun to look for your hotel from the top of the mountain. 

While it may not seem like it, walking to Diamond Head is a long walk from Waikiki Beach (don’t ask me how I know that… certainly not from walking 30,000 steps in one day…), so I highly recommend taking an Uber or Lyft. 

Tip: Diamond Head State Monument is closed on Wednesdays. However, it’s open every other day of the week from 6 AM – 4 PM! 

A view of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean from the top of Diamond Head hiking trail, one of the best things to do in Waikiki

6. Meet the Animals at the Honolulu Zoo 

Honolulu Zoo is one of the best things to do in Waikiki with kids and offers visitors a chance to see birds, reptiles, and other fascinating animals, like cheetahs, hippos, chimpanzees, and tigers. One of the coolest exhibits at Honolulu Zoo is the Hawaiian Garden, where you’ll learn more about Hawaii’s indigenous species. 

Honolulu Zoo isn’t huge, so it doesn’t take long to explore — you should plan to spend 2–3 hours here. Tickets are $21 for adults and $13 for children between the ages of 3–12. 

7. Shop ‘Til You Drop on Kalakaua Avenue 

Looking for all the action in Waikiki? You don’t have to look far — just find Kalakaua Avenue, the shopping and dining hub of Waikiki.  

There are tons of shops along Kalakaua Avenue, from luxury retailers like Prada, Gucci, and Tiffany and Co. to smaller shops where you can search for local goods like coffee, macadamia nuts, and other souvenirs. Two shops you’ll see repeatedly down Kalakaua Avenue are ABC Stores, convenience stores with lots of local Hawaiian goodies, and Honolulu Cookie Company, a shop that sells delicious shortbread cookies in the shape of pineapples. 

There are several outdoor shopping centers on or near Kalakaua Avenue, including the International Market Place and Royal Hawaiian Center. Ala Moana Center — the country’s largest outdoor shopping center with hundreds of retailers and restaurants — is located a bit further from Waikiki in Honolulu but is worth a visit if you’re a big shopper. 

8. Make Reservations for Brunch at Basalt 

Brunch is my favorite meal of the day (and always one of my favorite parts of vacation!). And the best spot for brunch in Waikiki is Basalt in Duke’s Lane Market & Eatery — hands down! 

Basalt offers a limited breakfast menu with some delicious options. The Charcoal Buttermilk Pancakes with guava strawberry sauce are popular, as are the Avocado Garden Toast and Loco Moco. I ordered a coconut macadamia nut crusted French toast because coconut and macadamia nuts are two of my favorites. It was delicious! 

Tip: If you order (and love!) the charcoal pancakes, you can buy the pancake mix in Duke’s Lane Marketplace to bring home with you! 

Two plates with French toast and an egg dish from Basalt, a great place to eat in Waikiki.

9. Explore the Waikiki Aquarium 

Like the Honolulu Zoo, the Waikiki Aquarium is also one of the best things to do in Waikiki with kids. And the best part? It’s located right next to the zoo, making it easy to combine these two family-friendly activities into one day. 

At Waikiki Aquarium, you’ll find marine mammals, like the Hawaiian monk seal, reptiles, like green sea turtles, and tons of fish, from parrotfish and triggerfish to eels and seahorses. For kids who are too young to go snorkeling, this is a great (and safe) way to see the aquatic life of Hawaii up close and personal. Waikiki Aquarium is also one of the most affordable things to do in Waikiki — tickets are only $12 for adults and $5 for kids. 

10. Go Snorkeling at Queens Beach 

Though the best places for snorkeling on Oahu are generally found outside of Waikiki, like Shark’s Cove on the North Shore or Hanauma Bay on the southeast coast, there are a few places in Waikiki where it might be possible to see some aquatic life with a mask and snorkel. 

Queens Beach, located just across from the entrance of the Honolulu Zoo and on the other side of the Waikiki Wall, is known to be a decent spot for snorkeling in Waikiki. You might see tropical fish and sea turtles. Bring water shoes — the coral and rocks are sharp here. 

San Souci Beach and Kaimana Beach are also good spots for snorkeling in Waikiki. Look closely — you might even see a Hawaiian monk seal or two sleeping on (or flopping across!) these sandy beaches. 

11. Lounge Poolside at a Luxurious Waikiki Resort 

If you’re staying in Waikiki — don’t miss the chance to explore the amenities at your resort. 

Many of the best places to stay in Waikiki have luxurious swimming pools, beachside bars, relaxing hot tubs, fabulous on-site dining, local shopping, and other cool places to explore. Some resorts even offer oceanfront views and beachfront access to Waikiki Beach. 

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Waikiki, scroll down to view our recommendations at the bottom of this list, or read through the top places to stay on Oahu to get tons of inspiration! 

A hand holding a pina colada in a plastic cup by the pool at Outrigger Resort Waikiki Beach.

12. Explore the High Seas on an Outrigger Canoe 

Have you seen an outrigger canoe before? 

If not, you’ll definitely see one of these unique fishing vessels in Waikiki. Outrigger canoes were originally designed for navigating the choppy waves off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands. Now, riding an outrigger canoe is simply one of the most fun things to do in Waikiki. It’s kind of like surfing… but without all the hard work! And don’t worry — catching fish is not required. 

According to Waikiki Beach Services, you can join outrigger canoe rides from the Royal Hawaiian for $45 per person (age 5+). Rides last anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. 

13. Get Dinner, Drinks & Hula Pie from Duke’s Waikiki 

Duke’s is one of the best places to eat on Oahu (and one of the best places to eat on Maui, too!), making it a must-visit restaurant and one of the best things to do in Waikiki. Duke’s Restaurant also has locations in Kauai, Maui, Huntington Beach, La Jolla, and Malibu, but the location in Waikiki is the original one that opened in 1992. 

Duke’s Waikiki is in the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort and overlooks the fluffy golden sand and turquoise waves on Waikiki Beach. In fact, Duke’s even has a grab-and-go barefoot bar — so if you’re in a rush, grab a tropical cocktail (the Lava Flow is my favorite!) and an appetizer (like coconut shrimp, yum!) and enjoy them on Waikiki Beach. 

However, if you have time, get dinner reservations at Duke’s and sit on the deck (during sunset, if you can!). Duke’s serves traditional Hawaiian favorites with an elevated flair, like Huli Huli Chicken and Sauteed Macadamia Nut & Herb Crusted Fresh Fish. And do not leave without getting Kimo’s Original Hula Pie for dessert. You’ll thank me later! 

A Lava Flow cocktail from Duke's Waikiki, one of the best places for happy hour in Waikiki.
A plate of coconut shrimp, french fries, and sauces at Duke's Waikiki on Oahu

14. Learn Hawaii’s Royal History at Iolani Palace 

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that Hawaii only became a state in 1959. However, visiting Hawaii will quickly remind you of the state’s unique history and culture that vastly differs from the continental U.S. — especially when visiting landmarks like Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace is a National Historic Landmark and the only official royal residence in the United States. It was home to the final monarchs of Hawaii, such as King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani, and has been restored with period-accurate furnishings and artifacts. 

Though Iolani Palace is technically in Honolulu, it’s only a four-mile drive from Waikiki, making it one of the best things to do near Waikiki (and totally worth the drive!). The palace is open for tours from Tuesday through Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM. 

15. Visit Pearl Harbor National Memorial 

You cannot visit Waikiki without taking a short 13-mile drive to Pearl Harbor National Memorial — especially if you’re a history lover (like me!). 

Pearl Harbor is one of the best things to do in Waikiki and Honolulu (and in Hawaii, if we’re being honest!). This memorial remembers the attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet by the Japanese Navy on December 7th, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor sunk or damaged 18 U.S. warships, killed 2,403 American citizens, and launched the United States into World War II. 

The USS Arizona Memorial is the must-see attraction at Pearl Harbor. You can book your ticket online for $1 in advance to secure your seat on the boat to visit the memorial. Tickets become available at 3 PM the day before the tour, and tickets to tour the USS Missouri and Bowfin Submarine (also worth seeing while at Pearl Harbor!) are sold separately. 

Want to visit Pearl Harbor, but don’t have a rental car? No problem! Check out these all-inclusive tours with transportation included from Waikiki: 

  • Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial — This tour includes round-trip transportation to and from Waikiki, the boat ride and tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial, access to exhibit galleries “Road to War” and “Attack,” and a stop in the gift shop. 
  • Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial & Battleship Missouri — If you’re interested in touring both the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Battleship Missouri, this is the tour for you! In addition to admission to the memorial and battleship, this tour also includes round-trip transportation to and from Waikiki and time to explore the Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Center. 
The white USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, one of the best things to do in Waikiki.

16. Wander through the Honolulu Museum of Art 

The Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA) is in Honolulu, and therefore, one of the best things to do in Waikiki if you’re willing to drive a few miles. This museum showcases both permanent and rotating exhibits and is home to an arthouse cinema that shows independent films and hosts performances, lectures, and other events. 

Visitors can enroll in art classes at the Honolulu Museum of Art. There are several interesting options to choose from, including drawing, painting, ceramics, and metal work. The museum even offers kids classes with age-appropriate activities — this is a great way to keep little ones entertained during a vacation to Waikiki. 

Aside from kids’ classes, HoMA is one of the most fun, family-friendly, and affordable things to do on Oahu. While adult tickets cost $25, all kids under the age of 18 are free! 

17. Sip on Coffee from Knots Coffee Roasters 

Knots Coffee Roasters is a trendy coffee shop in Waikiki that serves delicious craft coffee and pastries. You’ll find this coffee shop in the lobby of Queen Kapiolani Hotel. The Longboard Latte — a coconut macadamia nut latte — and Blueberry Danish croissant — were delicious! 

The outdoor patio at Knots Coffee Roasters is beautiful, so I recommend sitting here while sipping your coffee before heading off to check out more of the best things to do in Waikiki. 

A brown cup of coffee with a black lid in front of Knots Coffee Roasters in Waikiki
Two croissants sitting on a plate with a coffee cup in the background at a coffee shop in Waikiki.

18. Stroll around the Ainhau Triangle 

Looking for a scenic location to stroll around in Waikiki? Head to Ainhau Triangle — one of the best (and most peaceful) things to do in Waikiki. 

Ainahau Triangle is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of Waikiki! This park is incredibly lush, green, and a great place to spot some of the tropical plants that grow in Hawaii, like the banyan tree and plumeria flowers. Chances are, you might see some chickens roaming around here too! 

A girl holding two yellow and pink pulmeria flowers toward the camera in a park in Waikiki, Hawaii

19. Snap a Photo with Duke Kahanamoku on Kuhio Beach 

Duke Kahanamoku was a master of swimming, surfing, and outrigger canoeing and was an Olympic gold medalist in the early 1900s. He’s known as the “Father of Modern Surfing” and is a true Hawaiian hero. He even has a restaurant (Duke’s) named after him! 

Duke passed away in the 1960s, but his memory lives on in Hawaii, and especially in Waikiki. You’ll find a bronze statue of Duke welcoming guests to Waikiki (and its wonderful waves) on Kuhio Beach. Be sure to snap a photo of (or with!) Duke during your trip to Waikiki. 

20. Go on an Adventurous Day Trip to the North Shore 

Anyone who has been to Oahu will tell you that you can’t leave the island without paying a visit to the North Shore. The North Shore is about a one-hour drive from Waikiki, but it’s worth getting a rental car for — you’ll miss out if you don’t spend a day on the North Shore! 

Oahu’s North Shore is the island’s “untouched” coast and, unlike Waikiki, has remained relatively undeveloped. On this 17-mile stretch of coastline, you’ll feel the laid-back “island vibe” Hawaii is known for and be able to enjoy activities like snorkeling, surfing, shopping from local vendors, eating from food trucks, and exploring miles and miles of gorgeous beaches. 

During a day trip to the North Shore from Waikiki, I recommend getting a breakfast burrito from Kono’s Northshore or an acai bowl from Hale’iwa Bowls (or both…), going snorkeling at Shark’s Cove, shopping in Haleiwa, lounging around with the sea turtles at Laniakea Beach, and grabbing a shave ice from Matsumoto Shave Ice before the drive back to your hotel in Waikiki. 

A girl in a green swimsuit standing on a beach on Oahu's North Shore with golden sand, green palm trees, and blue waves lapping the shore.

21. Watch the Friday Fireworks at Hilton Hawaiian Village 

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is one of the best (and most popular) places to stay in Waikiki for families and offers tons of fun things to do, from pools with waterslides to luaus and spa treatments. 

One of the resort’s most beloved events is Friday Fireworks that begin at 7:45 PM (and 8 PM from June to September). This spectacular showcase takes place on the beach right in front of the resort, but the colorful bursts can be seen from almost any of the beaches in Waikiki. This fireworks show is one of the best things to do in Waikiki, and bonus — it’s free! 

22. Order a Smoothie Bowl from Sunrise Shack 

Looking for filling and nutritious coffee, smoothies, smoothie bowls, or juices in Waikiki? Head to the Sunrise Shack, located in the lobby of the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. 

The Monkey Bowl was my favorite at Sunrise Shack. This smoothie bowl was made from a blend of banana, coconut cream, peanut butter, almond milk, dates, cinnamon, salt, and coconut oil and was topped with granola, peanut butter, banana, coconut flakes, and cocoa nibs. This bowl was perfect for a chocolate and peanut butter lover (like me!), but Sunrise Shack offers plenty of other options too, like the Blue Dream Bowl and Jungle Matcha Bowl. 

Sunrise Shack also has locations at Shark’s Cove, Sunset Beach, Kailua, and Ala Moana Center. 

A delicious smoothie bowl with peanut butter, banana, chocolate, and granola on top in front of a yellow wall with a colorful rainbow painted on it in Waikiki.

23. Admire Waikiki on a Doors-Off Helicopter Ride 

Want to see Waikiki from a whole new point of view (and have the thrill of a lifetime while doing it?). If so, you’ll love a doors-off helicopter ride over Waikiki. This is one of the best things to do in Waikiki for thrill seekers! 

Here are a couple of the top-rated helicopter tour options in Waikiki: 

  • Waikiki Sunset Helicopter Tour — This unforgettable helicopter tour in Waikiki lasts for 50 minutes and offers spectacular views of Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and Diamond Head while illuminated in hues of pink, orange, and red as the sun sinks below the horizon. 
  • Waikiki 20-Minute Helicopter Tour — This short and sweet helicopter tour is only 20 minutes long and flies over iconic sites and some of the best things to do in Waikiki, like Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, and Diamond Head. 
  • Oahu Helicopter Tour — Want to see more than just Waikiki on your helicopter ride? This tour departs from Honolulu and flies over Waikiki, Diamond Head, Makapu‘u Point, the Koʻolau Mountain Range, Waimea Bay, Oahu’s North Shore, Pearl Harbor, the Dole Pineapple Plantation, and other points of interest on Oahu! 

24. Stand in Line for Malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery 

Leonard’s Bakery has been serving delicious malasadas to the island of Oahu since 1953. And, although it’s technically located a short distance from Waikiki Beach — the fresh malasadas are worth the ten-minute drive! 

So — what’s a malasada? Malasadas are Portuguese doughnuts with a crispy outer layer and a soft, fluffy interior dusted with granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar. At Leonard’s Bakery, you can order stuffed malasadas with delicious tropical cream fillings, such as coconut, macadamia nut, guava, mango, pineapple, or traditional custard or chocolate. 

Tip: See a line wrapping around the building? This is totally normal. It’s worth waiting for. The line moves quickly… the malasadas are just that popular! 

A girl with brown hair holding a pink box filled with malasadas from Leonard's Bakery, one of the best things to do in Waikiki
The colorful red, blue, and yellow sign showing where to park at Leonard's Bakery on Oahu, Hawaii

25. Set Sail on a Boat Ride 

Boating is always a good idea in Hawaii. From whale-watching tours and sunset dinner cruises to snorkeling tours and glass-bottom boat cruises, you’ll be able to find the perfect adventure for your group’s unique interests. Here are a few options:

  • Moana’s Sunset Cocktail Sail — Board a catamaran and watch the sun sink below the horizon of Waikiki Beach while sipping on tropical cocktails on this highly-rated sunset cruise. It doesn’t get better than that, right? 
  • Waikiki Beach Glass-Bottom Boat Cruise — Want to marvel at Hawaii’s marine life without submerging yourself in it? This glass-bottom boat cruise from Waikiki will give you the chance to see shipwrecks, sea turtles, eels, dolphins, and tropical fish from the bottom of the boat with commentary from a knowledgeable guide. 
  • Oahu Dolphin Watch, Sea Turtle Snorkel, and Waterslide — This popular tour gives participants the chance to observe sea turtles and dolphins on a double-decker boat, then allows for plenty of time to have fun on the high seas with complimentary kayaks, snorkeling gear, paddle boards, and a waterslide! 
  • Waikiki Whale-Watching Cruise — During whale-watching season from December to March, board a double-decker catamaran and sail out into the Pacific Ocean for the chance to see humpback whales in their natural habitat. If no whales are spotted on the tour, you can reschedule for a different time for free! 

26. Enjoy the Best Views for Happy Hour at Sky Waikiki Raw & Bar 

Looking for an unforgettable experience paired with incredible views in Waikiki? Make happy hour plans at Sky Waikiki Raw & Bar! 

This spectacular rooftop bar serves up fresh seafood, oysters, tropical drinks, wine, beer, and, best of all, panoramic views of Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and Honolulu from the 19th floor of the Waikiki Business Plaza. It’s one of the best things to do in Waikiki that we discovered just in time for our last dinner on the island! 

Time your reservation for sunset, so you can watch the sun sink below the horizon while sipping on a drink, like a Mai Tai or Spicy Mangorita. Then, enjoy dinner while watching the city come alive with bright, twinkling lights. Though the raw bar and sushi is the star of the show here, the Spicy Kauai Garlic Shrimp and Spicy Ahi Nachos were excellent. 

A frozen cocktail being held in front of the Waikiki city skyline at night from a rooftop bar.
A blue plate with shrimp and rice sitting on a wooden table.

27. Round Up a Team for a Game of Beach Volleyball 

Beach volleyball is a popular pastime on the beaches in Waikiki. Round up a team and play a game at Fort DeRussy Beach Park or Queens Beach! Both beaches are popular options for beach volleyball and have permanently installed courts. 

28. Swim or Paddle in the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon 

The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is a five-acre saltwater lagoon with a water filtration system in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. 

The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is the ideal spot for water sports, like SUP or kayaking, and it’s also a safe spot for swimming (especially for kids too small to swim in the waves). Though it’s in front of the resort and often called the “Hilton Lagoon,” the lagoon is public access, so anyone is welcome to pull up a chair and swim, float, or paddle here. 

29. Go Parasailing over Waikiki Beach 

Looking for an activity that is a bit more adventurous than lounging on the beach but still more tame than surfing or a helicopter ride? If so, you’ll likely love parasailing over Waikiki Beach! 

This parasailing experience includes a one-hour boat ride and parasailing adventure over the Pacific Ocean with a small group for an intimate experience. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head while the wind whips through your hair. And if you’re lucky — you might even see some dolphins and sea turtles on the boat! 

Where to Stay in Waikiki, Hawaii 

There are tons of incredible resorts in Waikiki, Hawaii — it can be difficult to choose just one to stay at! To help make your decision easier, here are a few of the best places to stay on the island and what makes them notable: 

  • Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort — As I’ve mentioned a few times in this blog, I stayed at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort during my trip to Oahu (and loved it!). Not only does this hotel offer beachfront access to Waikiki Beach, but it has tons of great dining options in the lobby, like Duke’s Waikiki and the Sunrise Shack. 
  • The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort — The Royal Hawaiian is a historic beachfront hotel on Waikiki Beach that opened in the 1920s. It’s known for its pale pink facade (called the “Pink Palace of the Pacific”) and offers tons of great amenities, like a heated swimming pool, a luau, and beachfront access. 
  • Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa — The Moana Surfrider was the first resort to open on Waikiki Beach in 1901 and has since been renovated into one of the most luxurious resorts in Waikiki, with a full-service restaurant and beach bar, a luxurious spa, and stunning rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and lovely oceanfront views.  
  • The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club — If you’re looking for a boutique hotel experience rather than a big resort, you’ll love this trendy hotel that offers complimentary bicycles, a swimming pool, and poolside cabanas, as well as on-site dining and a coffee shop. 
  • Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort — Hilton Hawaiian Village is one of the best resorts in Waikiki for families. This resort hosts the Friday Fireworks and offers numerous other family-friendly events. The swimming pool at this resort is one of the largest and most unique in Waikiki and is home to the city’s largest waterslide. 

If you’re looking for more ideas of where to stay in Waikiki or an in-depth review of the resorts listed, read my detailed post about the best luxury resorts on Oahu

How to Get Around Waikiki, Hawaii 

Waikiki covers a surface area of 3.4 square miles, so overall, this neighborhood is walkable. During our time in Waikiki, we spent most of our time walking from the beach to our hotel (Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort) and nearby restaurants and other things to do in Waikiki. 

There are, however, times you’ll want to use other modes of transportation to get to some of the best things to do in Waikiki, like Diamond Head, Iolani Palace, and the Honolulu Museum of Art. Ridesharing services (like Uber and Lyft), rental bikes, or the public bus are reliable methods of transportation for these nearby attractions. 

If you’re planning to explore other popular attractions outside of Waikiki and Honolulu, like the North Shore, Hanauma Bay, or Kualoa Ranch, I recommend a rental car. During my trip to Oahu, we spent two days in Waikiki (either walking or using public transportation) and three days with a rental car. Peek at my detailed five-day Oahu itinerary to see how we did it! 

Save Money with the Go Oahu Pass 

Want to know the best deal for checking all these things to do in Waikiki off your bucket list? 

It’s called the Go Oahu Pass. This all-inclusive pass allows you to enjoy dozens of attractions over a two, three, four, five, or seven-day period on Oahu! And the best part? You only have to pay once — and you’ll spend up to 50% less than if you purchased each activity on its own! 

The following things to do in Waikiki are included as a part of the Go Oahu Pass: 

  • Ka Moana Luau at Aloha Tower 
  • Battleship Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor 
  • Diamond Head Shuttle & Self-Guided Hike 
  • USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Audio Tour 
  • Pearl Harbor and Honolulu City Tour 
  • Waikiki Cruise with Snorkeling 
  • Iolani Palace Tour 
  • Waikiki Sunset Beach Yoga 
  • Waikiki Surfboard Rental 
  • … and much, much more! 

Learn all about the Go Oahu Pass to determine if this might be a good investment for your vacation to Oahu to enjoy all the best things to do in Waikiki and beyond! 

FAQs – Best Things to Do in Waikiki, Hawaii 

What is Waikiki best known for?

Waikiki is best known for its world-famous beaches, luxurious hotels and resorts, high-end shopping, world-class dining, and vibrant nightlife near the beach. 

Can I get around Waikiki without a car?

You can get around most of Waikiki without a car by either walking, taking an Uber or Lyft, riding the bus, or riding a scooter or bike around town.

Is 3 days enough in Waikiki?

Three days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Waikiki and Honolulu to check off most of the best things to do in Waikiki. Plan to spend an extra 2–3 days exploring other parts of the island outside of Waikiki, like the North Shore, Hanauma Bay, and Kualoa Ranch.

What is the famous street in Waikiki?

Kalakaua Avenue is the famous street in Waikiki that is a hub for luxury shopping and high-end dining. This is also where you’ll find the entrances to well-known beachfront resorts in Waikiki, like the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort and the Moana Surfrider.

Enjoy the Best Things to Do in Waikiki for a Memorable Oahu Vacation 

No matter if you love lounging on the beach, shopping, hiking, or sightseeing — you’ll be sure to find something you love in Waikiki, Hawaii! Which of these awesome things to do in Waikiki and Honolulu sounds most fun to you? 

Save the Best Things to Do in Waikiki for Your Hawaiian Vacation

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Brit! I'm a writer from Phoenix, AZ who loves coffee, golden retriever puppies, and obviously, travel! I help ordinary women (like me!) dream, plan, and do extraordinary travel experiences.