Waikīkī is a bustling urban neighborhood on the south shore of the island of O’ahu in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. The district is bordered on the north and west by the manmade Ala Wai Canal, on the east by Kapiʻolani Regional Park, and on the south by the Pacific Ocean. The iconic Lēʻahi (Diamond Head) volcanic crater rises at the edge of Kapiʻolani Park.
The neighborhood is surprisingly small, about 1.5 square miles. However, among the high-rise hotels and condominiums, the vibrant tourist mecca is packed with shopping malls and souvenir shops, restaurants, outdoor entertainment, and several attractions, including an aquarium and a zoo. Every hotel room is less than 1/2 mile from the beachfront that stretches for two miles.
History of Waikīkī
Prior to the 1800s, the Waikīkī ahupuaʻa (land division) covered a greater area than the Waikīkī district we know today. The ahupuaʻa extended from kou (what is now downtown Honolulu) eastward to maunalua (today known as Hawai’i Kai).
The Hawaiian word “waikīkī” means “spouting water”. The name harkens to the underground springs and mountain streams that once flowed through the area from the Koʻolau Range that runs southeasterly along Oʻahu.
Prior to the construction of the Ala Wai (“waterway”) Canal in the 1920s, the rivers in Waikīkī were: Pi‘inaio (emptied near today’s Fort DeRussy), ‘Āpuakēhau (emptied near today’s Royal Hawaiian Hotel), and Kuekaunahi (flowed along what is now Kapahulu Avenue).
Mosts of today’s Kapioʻlani Park was a waterway dotted by islands accessed by boat or wooden bridges. Two Hawaiian songs refer to the largest island, Makee: “Makee ʻAilana” and “Hula O Makee”.
Due to the abundance of fresh water, It was an agriculturally rich area that supported kalo loʻi (irrigated ponds for growing taro—a staple of the Hawaiian diet), manmade seaweed and fish ponds, banana farms, and other fruit and vegetable gardens.
Many types of fish were found in the streams, including ‘a‘awa, aholehole, kala, manini, mullet, ‘o‘opu moi, ‘oama, papio, and ulua, as well as shrimps and many types of limu (seaweeds) for which Waikīkī was once famous.
Due to the plentiful resources, as well as good surfing and canoe-landing sites along the ocean shore, Waikīkī became a favored locale by the Hawaiian ali’i (royalty) who established homes there.
King Kamehameha I (1758-1819) established a home at “Helumoa“, a grove of 10,000 coconut palms. In the 1880s, Helumoa was inherited by Kamehameha’s great-granddaughter, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The royal home is gone, but a small grove of coconut trees marks the location, now on the grounds of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.
King Lunalilo (1835-1874) and later Queen Emma (1836-1885), who was the wife of King LihoLiho (aka Kamehameha IV, 1834-1863), had a residence on what is now the site of the International Market Place. Scotsman Harry McFarlane and his wife Eliza leased some of the land and are believed to have planted the banyan tree now famously at the center of the open-air shopping mall in the center of Waikīkī.
Queen Kapiʻolani (1834-1899), consort to King Kalākaua (1836-1891) during his reign from 1874 to 1891, had a modest Waikīkī home at Kūhiō Beach, called “Pualeilani” where she lived until her death.
In 1868 at the age of 30, Princess Lydia Kamakaʻeha (1838, 1917), later named Lili’uokalani) inherited property in Waikīkī called Hamohamo. There, she established her principle home and gardens, called “Paoakalani.” (Different locations are cited today: Lili’uokalani and Kūhiō Avenues, ‘Ōhua Avenue, and Ala Wai Blvd at Wai Nani Way. In fact, Hamohamo appears to have included all of these areas). Princess Lili’uokalani also had a seaside cottage “Ke‘alohilani” located opposite what is now Kūhiō Beach.
As Queen Lili’uokalani from 1891 until her death in 1917, she resided at Washington Place in downtown Honolulu, now the residence of the Hawai’i state governor. However, she still enjoyed stays at her Waikīkī residences.
19th Century Hawai’i
After the arrival of Europeans in the late 18th century, shifts began to occur in Hawaiian society.
The native population dwindled sharply due to imported diseases, including measles, whooping cough, influenza, leprosy, chicken pox, polio, venereal diseases, yellow fever, and tuberculosis. It is estimated that more than 80% of the Native Hawaiians population declined by 1840, just 62 years after the arrival of Captain Cook.
The economy also shifted from agriculture to capitalism brought on by foreign trade in a succession of products over 200 years, including sandalwood, whaling, cattle, sugar, and pineapples.
The very first sugar plantation was established on Oʻahu in 1825, but closed after two years. Another opened in Koloa on Kauaʻi in 1835 and by 1838 there were 20 sugar plantations throughout Hawaiʻi and dominated the economy for over 100 years. Sugar and pineapple plantation production began to decline in the latter part of the 20th century. The last sugar mill closed in 2016.
The Great Māhele in 1848 under the reign of King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli, 1814-1854) abolished the traditional ahupua’a land divisions and paved the way for private land ownership by non-natives.
An independent nation, the Hawaiian Kingdom was under constant threat of annexation by France, Britain, Russia, and the United States. We know how that story ends: the Kingdom was forcibly overthrown by U.S. businessmen in 1893 who defied American government orders. However, the U.S. government supported wavered. Due to a strategic U.S. need during the Spanish-American war (April-December 1898), but over the objection of the indigenous population, Hawaiʻi was annexed as a U.S. Territory in 1898. She became the 50th U.S. state in 1959.
20th Century Waikīkī
By 1920 it is estimated there were just 24,000 Native Hawaiians where there had been 300,000 (as estimated by Kamehameha Schools).
From the 1880s through the 1920s, various homes, bathhouses, and small hotels began to dot Waikīkī. Different seawalls, groins, and piers were also constructed along the shoreline.
All the very first hotels are gone, such as the San Souci (demolished in 1927) and the origina Seaside (demolished in 1925). However, a few historic hotels exist today:
- The stately Moana Hotel, today known as the Moana Surfrider, opened in 1901 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Additional towers were added in 1952 and 1969.
- Halekulani opened in 1917 as a modest beachfront hotel that included the former home of Honolulu businessman Robert Lewer, plus several private The home was replaced in 1931 and the bungalows were demolished in the 1980s to make way for the luxury hotel you see today.
- The pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened in 1927. The tower was added in 1969.
As the once self-sustainable Native Hawaiian agricultural economy gave way to hotels and visitors, many other changes contributed significantly to the Waikīkī landscape we know today:
The Waikīkī Natatorium was built in 1927. The 100 X 40 meter saltwater swimming pool at the east end of Waikīkī Beach was dedicated to the thousands of Hawai’i citizens who served during World War I. Famous swimmers who performed there include champion Esther Williams and Olympians Buster Crabbe and Johnny Weissmuller, among many, many others. Eventually the Natatorium fell out of use and closed in 1979. Discussions are ongoing whether to restore or demolish the historic landmark. Read more about the Waikīkī Natatorium.
The Ala Wai Canal was completed in 1928, which served to drain the wetlands and re-direct the streams. The canal now forms the north and west boundaries of todayʻs Waikīkī district. The ocean shore was also dredged, filled will crushed coral, and topped with sand to widen the beachfront.
Until 1935, tourists could only come to Hawai’i by boat. Pan-American airline began air travel in 1935, offering a 16-hour flight from the Los Angeles. Although this is a long flight by todayʻs standards, it was a great improvement over the 5-day sea voyage.
The Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 put Hawaiʻi in the center of the Pacific Theater during the later part of World War II, which again drastically changed Hawaiian life.
During the 1950s, like much of the rest of the world after World War II, Hawai’i experienced a boom. The construction of new 10-story “high-rise” hotels resulted in a surge in tourism. The island territory closed out the decade by becoming the 50th state in the union.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, many of the former “high-rise” hotels were demolished in favor of 20-plus story hotels and condominiums. Some of the most significant are the Ilikai (1964), Hilton Hawaiian Village Rainbow Tower (1968), Sheraton Waikīkī (1971), and twin-tower Hyatt Regency (1976).
Waikīkī Beach today
Today, Waikīkī has over 100 hotels offering 30,000 hotel rooms. Most tourists to Hawai’i visit O’ahu, staying in Waikīkī and filling those hotel rooms almost every day of the year.
Since the beginning, most tourists come to Hawai’i to enjoy the tropical weather and laid back island vibe. Average daytime temperatures are in the 80’s Fahrenheit (26-29°C) and fall just 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit (5-8°C) at night. Refreshing trade winds from the Northeast ease the moderate humidity, which averages 73% RH and a dewpoint of 65°F.
During the summer months from April-September, the rainfall in Waikīkī is less than one inch per month. From October-March rainfall averages just two inches. Though there are rare exceptions, any rainfall typically comes and goes quickly. In fact, you can expect a short rain shower 20 days out of 30.
Waikīkī is centrally located on Oʻahu island’s south shore. The neighborhood is next to Ala Moana Shopping Center, the world’s largest open air mall. It is also close to downtown Honolulu, Chinatown, and many popular tourist sites, such as Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head, as well as the airport.
There is nowhere on the island that is more than an hour’s drive from Waikīkī (if you can avoid rush hour travel). The island is just 30 miles wide and 44 miles long. It’s less than 30-minutes to the beaches and towns on the windward (east) coast. And just under an hour to Makaha on the western shore or Haleiwa town and the famous surfing beaches on the Oʻahu north shore.
The two-mile shoreline known as Waikīkī Beach is actually composed of many smaller beaches. The names and boundaries of these beaches fluctuate depending on the source or time period it is referencing.
List of beaches in Waikīkī
We suggest there are a total of 11 named beaches. From west to east, the Waikīkī beaches are:
- Duke Kahanamoku Beach in front of the manmade Hilton Hawaiian Lagoon
- Fort DeRussy Beach and Park in front of the Hale Koa (military) Hotel
- Gray’s Beach, a sliver of beach and boardwalk from the Halekulani to Sheraton Hotel
- Royal Moana Beach, from the Royal Hawaiian to the Moana Surfrider
- Central Waikīkī Beach, roughly in front of the Waikīkī police station
- Prince Kūhiō Beach, centered at Ōʻhua along Kalākaua Ave
- Queen’s Surf Beach, eastward from the Kapahulu Groin aka “The Wall”
- Kapiʻolani Park Beach, either a small beach next to Queens or the entire shoreline bordering Kapiʻolani Park (aka San Souci)
- San Souci State Recreational Park, west of the the Natatorium, but most people seem to refer to this as Kapiʻolani Park Beach.
- Kaimana Beach, east of the the Natatorium
- Outrigger Canoe Club Beach (public access is from Kalākaua Ave near the Colony Surf)
In addition, there are names for offshore areas along Waikīkī Beach that are used by surfers to identify the best waves. Check out this Waikīkī Beach Surf Map
Hawai’i Beach Right-of-0way (BROW)
All beaches in Hawai’i are publicly owned or controlled. Access to the shoreline is governed by the Beach Right-of-Way (BROW) laws. The BROW includes the right of transit along the shoreline and through designated transit corridors or BROW pathways to and from the beach.
To ensure public access, coastal landowners (from hotels to private homes) are required to maintain the shoreline of their property (such as by controlling overgrowth of vegetation). However, note that the BROW does not include the right to cross private property, including hotels where you are not a guest.
For BROW laws, see Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapter 115: Public Access to Coastal and Inland Recreational Areas
Along Waikīkī Beach, find BROW at the following locations (listed west to east):
- Duke Kahanamoku Beach
- Fort DeRussy Beach
- Kalia Rd west of Halekulani Hotel
- Kalia Rd west of Sheraton Hotel
- Kalākaua Ave west of Outrigger Waikiki
- Kūhiō Beach
- Queen’s Surf Beach
- Kapiʻolani Park Beach
- Kaimana Beach
- Kalākaua Ave near Colony Surf
For more information, see: Honolulu Shoreline Access Points
Waikīkī lifeguard towers
Most lifeguard towers are staffed from 9:00-5:30PM daily. There are nine towers at the following approximate Waikīkī Beach locations:
- Duke Kahanamoku
- Fort DeRussy
- Central Waikīkī (2 towers)
- Kūhiō (2 towers)
- Kapiʻolani Park
Beach showers & restrooms
Many beaches throughout the Hawaiian islands provide outdoor showers for rinsing off salt water after a day at the shore. The following parks along Waikīkī offer showers and public restrooms.
- Duke Kahanamoku Beach Park
- Fort DeRussy Beach Park
- Kūhiō Beach Park
- Queen’s Surf Beach
- Kapiʻolani Park Beach
Surfing & other beach activities
Surfing started in Waikīkī, initially on heavy “longboards” as the “sport of kings”. The lighter maneuverable boards of today came 50 years later.
Duke Kahanamoku (1890-1968) grew up in Waikīkī near today’s Kalia Road. “The Duke” is best known as Hawaii’s “surfing ambassador” who introduced the sport to both coasts in the U.S., as well as Australia and New Zealand.
He also became an Olympian swimmer in the 100 meter freestyle and 4×200 freestayle relay, earning medals in in three Olympics: 1912 (Gold and Silver), 1920 (two Gold), and 1924 (100m Silver).
Among his other achievements, Duke Kahanamoku worked in over two dozen Hollywood movies, was sheriff of Honolulu from 1934-1959, and was inducted into the Swimming, Surfing, and U.S. Olympic Halls of Fame.
The shallow, rocky shoreline along Waikīkī produces gently rolling waves beloved by surfers. The waves average two to four feet, making them ideal for beginners to the sport.
Many other water sports are available at Waikīkī Beach, including outrigger canoe rides, boogie boarding, snorkeling, and stand-up paddle boarding. Other beach activities include sunbathing and beach volleyball.
If you are staying at a beachfront hotel, check with your hotel services for beach rental gear. Otherwise, there are beach rental stands at Fort DeRussy Park, as well as beach services near Kūhiō Beach and Queen’s Surf or Kapiʻolani Park Beach.
Locals and tourists also find affordable beach gear at big box and warehouse stores such as Costco, Target, and Walmart. ABC convenience stores throughout Waikīkī carry a limited selection of towels, snorkel gear, and other beach paraphernalia. Before you buy, check out the Facebook Group Pass It On – Beach Gear And More – in Hawaii.
Things to do in Waikīkī
The vibrant tropical paradise of Waikīkī is much smaller than other well-known beaches. It’s half the size of Venice Beach in California. Miami Beach in Florida has 10 times the space.
But there’s a lot you can do in Waikīkī other than sit on the beach or enjoy water sports. The neighborhood is packed with places to shop, eat, and play. Since Waikīkī is only 1.5 square miles, everything is within easy walking distance and close to the beach.
Hawai’i residents mostly avoid the tourist area. But you might find locals picnicking in Kapiʻolani Park (especially on weekends), catching a show at a Waikīkī venue, dining in restaurants, visiting the zoo or aquarium, or enjoying a staycation at a hotel on the beach.
Parking in Waikīkī
Free street parking in Waikīkī can be very difficult to find. Further, restrictions can be confusing. If you find a spot, be sure to read the signs carefully. If you park during restricted times, expect to be ticketed and possibly towed. Also, do not park within four feet of any driveway flare, within 10-feet of a fire hydrant, within 20-feet of a crosswalk, or within 30-feet of a stop sign. However, free parking is available on Ala Wai Boulevard and Monsarrat Avenue. Most other streets in or near Waikīkī are metered. More info: Parking Rules Brochure.pdf (honolulu.gov)
Metered Parking is available at Kapiʻolani Park along Kalākaua and Paki Avenues and the Honolulu Zoo parking lot (151 Kapahulu Avenue). More info: www2.honolulu.gov/honolulumyway/
Public parking can be found at the following garages and shopping centers:
- International Market Place Parking Garage, 2377 Kuhio Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
- Hale Koa Hotel parking garage, 2055 Kālia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815
- Royal Hawaiian Center, 2201 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
- Waikiki Parking Garage, 333 Seaside Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
- Waikiki Shopping Plaza, 2270 Kalākaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Hotel parking if often restricted to hotel guests or those dining in their restaurants. However, public parking may be available at the following hotels:
- Aston at the Waikiki Banyan, 201 ʻŌhua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
- Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, 2570 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
- Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach, 349 Seaside Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
- Ohana Waikiki East, 150 Kaʻiulani Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
- Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, 120 Kaʻiulani Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
- Waikiki Beach Marriot Resort & Spa, 2552 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
More info: https://en.parkopedia.com/parking/waikiki/
Waikīkī Shopping Malls
There are two major thoroughfares through Waikīkī: Kalākaua Avenue, which runs parallel to the beach and Kūhiō Avenue a few blocks mauka (towards the mountains). Along both streets, you’ll find hotels, condominiums, shops, restaurants, mini-malls, and several larger malls featuring national retailers and luxury brands. Sprinkled throughout Waikīkī are ABC convenience stores offering a variety of useful supplies and foods.
Here are three of the biggest shopping malls in Waikīkī (listed west to east):
- Waikīkī Beach Walk, 227 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815
- Royal Hawaiian Center, 2201 Kalākaua Avenue Honolulu, HI 96815
- International Market Place, 2330 Kalākaua Avenue, Honolulu HI 96815 (enter from Kalākaua or Kūhiō Avenue)
In addition, the worlds largest open-air shopping mall is located just west of Waikīkī across the Ala Wai Canal. Ala Moana Center is a 10-minute drive by car or a 30-minute walk from the center of Waikīkī. Or take the convenient and affordable Waikīkī Trolley “Pink Line”, operating between Ala Moana Center and Waikīkī with convenient stops at select hotels. It costs just $5 for an all-day hop-on/hop-off pass and runs at 30-minute intervals. More info: https://waikikitrolley.com/
Food & Drink in Waikīkī
Visitors and residents can dine at hundreds of eateries in Waikīkī, from fast food to five-star dining. You can dine while overlooking the ocean or mountains, sip a cocktail beachside, or grab a nosh to go.
Every shopping mall in Waikīkī offers a selction of eateries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These are convenient and affordable ways to keep yourself charged up. The best places to find nearby restaurants (besides a quick Google search from your current location) are the following restaurant search websites:
Before you choose a restaurant, you might want to check out our article on 37 delicious Hawaiian foods.
Waikīkī Grocery & Convenience Stores
The following convenience stores (listed east to west) offer a limited selection of groceries and other fresh food provisions in Waikīkī.
- Food Pantry at Eaton Square, 438 Hobron Ln, Honolulu, HI 96815 is a convenience store in a mini-mall on the west end of Waikīkī offering a useful selection of groceries and everday items.
- Island Country Market, 383 Kalaimoku St, Honolulu, HI 96815 at the Ritz Carlton Residences has a modest selection of groceries and fresh produce along with a full service deli.
- Dukes Lane Market & Eatery, 2255 Kuhio Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815 offers more groceries, beer, wine, and liquor than most ABC stores, plus rotisserie meats, pizza/flatbread, bakery, coffee/tea bar, bubble/boba beverages, and gelato, as well as the upscale restaurant Basalt.
- ABC stores are located throughout Waikīkī and offer a few groceries (in addition to many other necessities and niceties); the fresh food selection varies from one store to the next. Prices are generally higher than independent stores or supermarkets.
For a full-scale supermarket, you’ll find most are located outside of Waikīkī and many more throughout Honolulu and the rest of O’ahu. Here are our recommendations:
- Mitsuwa Marketplace, 2330 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815 in Waikīkī is a Japanese supermarket on the second floor of the International Marketplace (near Saks Fifth Avenue store on Kūhiō Avenue). Find a wide selection of groceries, fresh produce, deli items, and more.
- Don Quijote, 801 Kaheka St, Honolulu, HI 96814, just outside of Waikīkī. The supermarket offers groceries, fresh produce, kitchenware, souvenirs, and more. Open 24 hours. Don Quijote also has stores in Pearl City and Waipahu.
- Foodland Farms supermarket Ala Moana, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814 just outside of Waikīkī at the Ala Moana shopping center (enter from Ala Moana Blvd). Hawaii’s largest locally owned and operated grocer, find Foodland stores on the Big Island, Kauaʻi, and Maui, as well as Oʻahu.
- Times Supermarkets is a local supermarket chain with stores throughout Oʻahu, as well as on the islands of Kauaʻi and Maui. The closest stores to Waikiki are (west) 1772 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826 and (east) 3221 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816.
Other national grocery stores with locations in Honolulu include H Mart, Safeway, Target, Walmart, and Whole foods, plus warehouse stores Costco and Sam’s Club.
Several locations in Waikīkī offer free entertainment on outdoor stages featuring Hawaiian music and hula shows. For dates and times of upcoming shows, visit the links below or scroll down to our Calendar of free and cheap things to do in Waikiki.
The following entertainment venues are listed west to east in Waikīkī:
- Waikīkī Beach Walk has free live performances and cultural activities.
- Royal Hawaiian Center offer free live entertainment as well as cultural classes in hula, ‘ukulele, lei making, and more.
- International Marketplace features free live entertainment throughout the shopping center.
- Duke’s Restaurant at theOutrigger Waikīkī hotel presents nightly entertainment, which you can enjoy free from the beach.
- Blue Note Waikīkī is a nightclub upstairs at the Outrigger Waikīkī hotel offering nightly shows from local talent to national touring acts.
- Kūhiō Beach Hula Show is an authentic Hawaiian show on the beach at the pa hula (traditional hula mound) near the banyan tree on Kalākaua between Uluniu and Liliʻuokalani Avenues.
- Barefoot Beach Café at Queen’s Beach offers live contemporary and Hawaiian music by local musicians. Enjoy with your meal or listen free from the nearby beach or park. More info:
- Waikīkī Shell regularly schedules a variety of entertainment on the outdoor stage. Listen free in nearby Kapiʻolani Park.
Fireworks shows are presented weekly at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The show can be seen from anywhere along Waikīkī Beach. More info: https://www.hiltonhawaiianvillage.com/resort-experiences/resort-activities
- Fireworks have been cancelled until further notice due to community health restrictions.
Free outdoor movies are presented by Sunset on the Beach at Queen’s Surf in Waikīkī. Family-friendly movies are screened weekends in summer. Before the movie, enjoy a variety of food vendors and free live music. More info: https://www.sunsetonthebeach.net/
- Free outdoor movies on Waikīkī Beach have been cancelled until further notice due to community health restrictions.
Waikīkī Aquarium (formerly Honolulu Aquarium) originally opened in 1904, making it the second-oldest public aquarium in the United States. Located on the O’ahu shoreline, the recently renovated aquarium focus on the unique aquatic life of Hawai‘i and the tropical Pacific. The aquarium showcases over 500 marine species and more than 3,500 specimens.
- Address: Waikīkī Aquarium, 2777 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
- Hours: open daily 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Christmas and Honolulu Marathon Day
- General admission: $12/adult. Kama‘āina/Military: $8.
- Parking: metered street parking on Kalākaua Ave
- Website: https://www.waikikiaquarium.org/
Honolulu Zoo emphasizes Pacific Tropical ecosystems and Hawaiian values of malama (caring) and ho`okipa (hospitality). Spread over 42-acres, the exhibits are organized into tropical ecological zones: the African Savanna, Asian and American Tropical Forests, and Pacific Islands.
- Address: Honolulu Zoo, 151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815.
- Hours: Daily 10AM-6PM. Closed Christmas Day.
- General admission: $19/adult. Kama‘āina/Military: $8.
- Parking: The Zoo parking lot entrance is on Kapahulu Avenue and charges $1.50 per
- Zoo map: Honolulu-Zoo-Map (PDF)
- Website: https://www.honoluluzoo.org/
Queen Kapiʻolani Regional Park
Kapiʻolani Park is Honolulu’s oldest and largest park. It was dedicated by King Kalākaua to his Queen in 1877 and donated to the people of Hawaiʻi in 1887. Nestled against Diamond Head Crater, the park offers expansive grassy areas and shaded picnic areas, making it a perfect place for a relaxing afternoon with family and friends away from the hustle and bustle of Waikīkī. Other amenities include sports courts, play fields, a jogging trail, fitness stations, and public restrooms.
- Address: Kapiʻolani Park, 3840 Paki Avenue, Honolulu 96815
- Hours: daily 5:00 a.m. – midnight
- Parking: metered street parking is available on Kalākaua, Monsarrat, and Paki Avenues; free on Sundays and State holidays.
- Picnic sites map: http://www.co.honolulu.hi.us/rep/site/dpr/dpr_docs/Kapiolani_Park_Map.pdf
- History and photos: https://www.honolulu.gov/parks/default/kapi-olani-regional-park.html
Diamond Head (Lēʻahi) State Monument
Diamond Head is the famous crater ridgeline called Lēʻahi by Hawaiians, meaning “brow of the tuna”, which it clearly resembles. The name “Diamond Head” came later when British sailors noticed sparkly calcite crystals in the volcanic rock. A photo of the crater is often used as the iconic landmark that defines Waikīkī. Today the tuff cone is a State Monument. The short but steep Diamond Head Summit Trail features stunning views and history.
- Address: Diamond Head (Lēʻahi) State Monument. The entrance is off Diamond Head Road between Makapuʻu Avenue and 18th Avenue in Honolulu, HI 96815.
- Trail Hours: open six days a week, 6:00am – 4:00pm. year-round including holidays. Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.
- Visitor Center hours: 7:00am to 3:30pm daily.
- General admission: $5. Kamaʻāina: FREE
- Parking: $10/non-resident.
- Website: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/oahu/diamond-head-state-monument/
- Brochure (PDF): https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/files/2014/09/hsp_dh_brochure_2012.pdf
Calendar of free and cheap things to do in Waikīkī
The following free and cheap events are taking place in Waikīkī.