Escape Travel

A Travel Guide to Waikiki, Hawaii

people on beach

Waikiki is the ultimate tropical playground nestled on the sun-kissed shores of Oahu! A fusion of sun, surf, and aloha spirit where adventure and relaxation coexist in perfect harmony, Waikiki should be on every travel-lover’s list. Catch a wave on the legendary Waikiki Beach or immerse yourself in the colorful kaleidoscope of marine life while snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, or hike up the iconic Diamond Head for breathtaking panoramic views across the sea. From fresh poke to tropical fruits and Japanese ramen, the food in Waikiki is also a highlight. So whether you are a seasoned surfer or a sun-worshipping beach bum, Waikiki promises an unforgettable adventure filled with sunshine, perfect for families, friends or couples.


Waikiki is situated on the southern coast of the island of Oahu, which is one of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. Oahu itself is part of the state of Hawaii, located in the central Pacific Ocean. Waikiki is nestled between the neighborhoods of Honolulu and the vast Pacific Ocean, offering a stunning waterfront setting. As the heart of tourism in Hawaii, Waikiki enjoys a prime location with easy access to the vibrant city life of Honolulu, where visitors can explore cultural landmarks, shopping districts, and a bustling culinary scene.

When to Visit

Waikiki enjoys a warm climate year-round, with average temperatures ranging from 75°F (24°C) to 85°F (29°C). The peak tourist season is from December to March when many visitors escape colder climates. However, the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) offer pleasant weather and fewer crowds. It’s best to avoid the summer months if you prefer to avoid larger crowds and higher hotel rates.

How to Get There

  1. By Air: The closest major airport to Waikiki is Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Honolulu. Many international and domestic airlines operate flights to and from this airport. From the airport, you can reach Waikiki by taking a taxi, ride-sharing service, airport shuttle, or rental car.
  2. By Car: If you are already on the island of Oahu, you can drive to Waikiki. The H-1 freeway connects various parts of the island, and Waikiki is easily accessible from the freeway.
high rise buildings near beach

Best Areas to Stay

  1. Waikiki Beach: This area is the heart of Waikiki and offers a wide range of accommodations, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels. Staying here gives you easy access to the beach, shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
  2. Diamond Head: Located at the eastern end of Waikiki, Diamond Head offers a quieter and more residential atmosphere. It’s a great option if you prefer a peaceful setting but still want to be close to Waikiki’s attractions.
  3. Ala Moana: Adjacent to Waikiki, Ala Moana is known for its upscale shopping center, Ala Moana Center. There are several hotels in this area, and it’s a convenient location for both shopping and beach access.

What to Do

  1. Visit Waikiki Beach: Enjoy the sun, sand, and surf at Waikiki Beach. You can relax on the beach, go swimming, or try your hand at various water sports like surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, or snorkeling.
  2. Explore Diamond Head: Hike to the top of Diamond Head Crater for panoramic views of Waikiki and the surrounding area. The trail takes about 1-2 hours round trip and offers breathtaking vistas.
  3. Visit Pearl Harbor: Take a trip to Pearl Harbor, located near Honolulu. Explore the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Missouri, and the Pacific Aviation Museum to learn about the history of World War II.
  4. Go Shopping: Waikiki is a shopper’s paradise with a range of shopping options. Explore Kalakaua Avenue, which is lined with high-end boutiques, international brands, and local shops. Don’t miss the International Market Place for a unique shopping experience. Or visit the outlets for a great fashion bargain.
  5. Enjoy Hawaiian Culture: Attend a luau to experience traditional Hawaiian music, dance, and cuisine. You can also visit the Polynesian Cultural Center to learn about the diverse cultures of the Pacific islands.
people on beach

What to Eat

To truly savor the flavors of Waikiki, make sure to indulge in the local Hawaiian cuisine. Start your culinary journey by sampling traditional dishes like kalua pig, a succulent and smoky slow-roasted pork, and lomi-lomi salmon, a refreshing salad made with salted salmon, tomatoes, and onions. Don’t miss out on trying poke, a popular Hawaiian dish featuring fresh cubed raw fish marinated in flavorful sauces. For a unique fusion experience, explore the vibrant food trucks and stalls offering a variety of treats like shrimp scampi, garlic butter shrimp, and mouthwatering plate lunches with a mix of proteins, rice, and macaroni salad. For dessert don’t miss a taste of tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and papaya, or indulge in a shave ice dessert with a rainbow of flavored syrups.

In addition to the local Hawaiian cuisine, Waikiki also boasts a vibrant Japanese food scene that is not to be missed. With its strong cultural ties to Japan, the neighborhood offers a wide range of authentic Japanese dishes. From sushi and sashimi made with the freshest seafood to steaming bowls of ramen with rich and flavorful broths, Waikiki has something for every Japanese food enthusiast. For an interactive dining experience, head to a teppanyaki restaurant where skilled chefs grill and prepare your food right in front of you. And don’t forget to try some traditional Japanese desserts like. Waikiki’s Japanese food scene will transport you to the Land of the Rising Sun without leaving the beautiful shores of Hawaii.

Whether it is a gateway to exploring the other Hawaiian Islands or the ultimate destination in itself, Waikiki is the perfect mix of relaxing beach holiday and recreation and activities to keep everyone in your travel party entertained.

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