Waikiki is legendary for its postcard views and beaches. But it wasn’t always that way. Waikiki or “spouting water” used to be a thin stretch of sand surrounded by streams, ponds and wetlands. There were no buildings until the 1880s, a far cry from the Waikiki that later won the hearts of stars like Frank Sinatra and Shirley Temple.

With iconic Diamond Head in the background, you’ll surely be drawn to the surf and sun. And if you’d like to read more about beaches, you can click here. However, as you’ve probably guessed, Waikiki is far more than just a beach. Although Waikiki still captivates visitors with its old Hawaii charm, it continues to attract new visitors with the following world-class festivities, shopping and cuisine.


Honolulu Festival – March

Waikiki is home to some of the most colorful cultural festivals. Many travel to Oahu solely for the Honolulu Festival, which is a three day event celebrating the relationship between Hawaii and the Pacific Rim region. Festivalgoers will gain a rich cultural experience with crafts, dance performances and art demonstrations. The event culminates with a Grand Parade that starts from Saratoga Road and continues through Kalakaua Avenue.

Ukulele Festival – July

If you want to experience the magic of the ukulele, there is no better place than the Annual Ukulele Festival. Listen to various performers of all ages, and you’ll see why this instrument has become so popular around the world.

Na Hula Festival – August

If you’re visiting the Hawaiian Islands, watching hula is a must. You can do so at Kapiolani park for free at this non-competitive hula event.

Hoolaulea – September

Waikiki’s Hoolaulea (or really big party), part of the Annual Aloha Festivals, is a worthy venture for those who want to soak up the island culture at a fun, casual block party featuring live Hawaiian music, crafts, hula and food.


Waikiki offers a one of kind shopping experience from trendy local boutiques to high-end designer stores. Anyone wanting to bring home a piece of vacation won’t be disappointed.

Luxury Row

For visitors searching for the ultimate shopping experience, take a stroll through Luxury Row at Kalakaua Avenue.

Royal Hawaiian Center

If you want to do all your shopping in one place, check out the Royal Hawaiian Center. With its four levels and more than 100 local and international stores, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone in your party.

T Galleria by DFS

Take a break from the hot island heat with a trip inside the T Galleria by DFS, a true shopper’s dream of designer brands, gifts and even gourmet food.


Waikiki is the place to go to sample cuisine from around the world. The following are just a smattering of dining options to satisfy your appetite for a unique Hawaii experience.

Hy’s Steakhouse

Step inside Hy’s Steakhouse and you’ll feel like you’ve ventured back in time where fine dining, superb customer service and delectable local and traditional American dishes will sweep you off your feet.


To get a taste of Hawaii’s famous Hawaiian fusion cuisine, book a table at internationally renowned restaurant Roy’s.

The Veranda

For that charming, quintessential Hawaiian afternoon tea experience, delight in delectable scones and sip Hawaiian tea under a banyon tree at the Moana Surfrider Hotel.

The Oceanarium

Pacific Beach hotel’s Oceanarium offers a feast for the eyes as well as your stomach. Taste a little bit of everything with one of the restaurant’s themed buffets while taking in its three story, 280,000-gallon aquarium filled with 400 fish and 70 different types of marine life.

Tanaka of Tokyo

For an exciting dining experience, reserve a seat at Tanaka of Tokyo. The restaurant serves up delicious Japanese dishes with a side of entertainment.

Starlight Luau

To top off your Waikiki visit, make a date to experience a real outdoor luau at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. It will stimulate the senses with its live music, fire dancers, and ono (delicious) Hawaiian buffet.

Planning your own once-in-a-lifetime trip

Waikiki has evolved into a premier travel destination. With its near perfect weather and ample activities, it’s almost always bustling with visitors. If you’re planning your own once-in-a-lifetime trip, the best time to visit is between mid-April to mid-June and September to mid-December since it avoids typical holiday and summer vacation crowds.

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