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25 Best Things to do in Waikiki, Hawaii

25 Best Things to do in Waikiki, Hawaii

Looking for things to do in Waikiki Beach? You’ve come to the right place! The Waikiki neighborhood is a premier tourist destination and part of the large capital city of Honolulu, which covers most of the southeast portion of the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

The famous Waikiki Beach is a 2-mile-long stretch of golden sand, dotted with luxury hotels, fabulous restaurants, and a host of the coolest things to do in Hawaii.

Walking down Kalakaua Avenue, you’ll see lively street performers, unique bars, and luxury boutiques. On the beach side of the street, you’ll find loads of other attractions like surfing lessons, scuba diving, catamaran boat tours, and so much more.

Waikiki Aerial View

And while Waikiki is a fantastic place to relax and reconnect with the ones you love, I would also recommend exploring other parts of the beautiful island of Oahu. The island is pretty small, so day trips around the island are pretty easy to do.

If you’re not looking to venture too far away from Waikiki, there are also lots of fun things to do in Honolulu and the rest of Oahu as well. Check out our “day trips from Waikiki” section below to learn about other amazing things to do on Oahu.

TLDR

  • Most significant landmarkWaikiki Beach
  • Best parkKapiolani Park
  • Best free activity – Hula Show at Kuhio Beach Park
  • Best activity for kids – Honolulu Zoo
  • Best activity for adults – Sunset Cocktail Cruise
  • Best food – Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Bar
  • Best nightlife – Blue Note Hawaii
  • Best all-round accommodationHilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

Best Things to do in Waikiki, Hawaii

1) Learn to Surf on Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach Surfboards

Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing, and the surfing culture in the islands is still very prevalent today.

Walking through the iconic surf racks next to the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is one of my favorite parts of Waikiki Beach.

While you’ll probably spend most of your time laying out on the golden sands or swimming in the refreshing ocean, I highly recommend trying some surf lessons while staying on Waikiki Beach!

Surfing lessons are one of many family-friendly Waikiki Beach activities, which is incredible! I recommend first trying a Group Surfing Lesson to get a feel of being on a board in the Pacific Ocean. You’ll first do a short lesson on land and then move on to the water.

Don’t worry; the boards used for lessons are very buoyant, and you’ll be attached, so if you fall off, just get back on and try again.

There are even specialized Kids Surfing Lessons for children aged 4 to 12. Catching a wave in Waikiki would be such a special memory for your child to hold onto for a lifetime.

After your time out on the water, I recommend checking out Sunrise Shack inside the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort for some refreshing smoothie bowls. My favorite one is the monkey bowl; it’s a delicious peanut butter and chocolate concoction. One bowl is big enough to share or have as an entire meal.

I also love their bright, happy aesthetic that makes you feel like you’re in a ray of sunshine while you’re in the shop!

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Oahu, Hawaii

2) Check out the Honolulu Zoo

Giraffe in Honolulu Zoo

Visiting the Honolulu Zoo is one of the best things to do in Waikiki with kids, especially when they’re looking for excitement outside of the beach.

The Honolulu Zoo is located within Kapiolani Park and is just two blocks away from the sands of Waikiki Beach, so it’s a great nearby option that’s not on the water. The zoo features over 900 species of incredible animals, some of which you can see at any typical zoo, such as elephants, monkeys, and lions.

You can also observe animals that are native to the islands and only found in Hawaii, like the ‘Io (Hawaiian Hawk) and the Pueo (Hawaiian Short-Eared Owl). The mission of the Honolulu Zoo is to provide conservation, education, and meaningful experiences to inspire care and stewardship of the land.

If you’re looking for a great evening activity that your kids will enjoy, the Honolulu Zoo also offers twilight tours. You’ll be able to observe animals as they prepare for bed but also see the nocturnal animals just start off their day.

It’s a fantastic experience for visitors of all ages. The tour is two hours long and consists of quite a bit of walking, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.

See Related: Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Kids

3) Go Shopping at the Royal Hawaiian Center

Royal Hawaiian Center Building
image by つんつん is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

The Royal Hawaiian Center is located in the heart of Waikiki. It is located right between the Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort, and The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, two of the original and most iconic hotels on Waikiki Beach.

The center includes world-class shopping, great cafes and restaurants, and wonderful small boutiques to find great souvenirs.

In the middle of the shopping center, you’ll find a beautiful courtyard called the Royal Grove, which is landscaped with gorgeous tropical plants.

In this courtyard, you’ll often see live music and a free hula show. Kids are welcome to join free cultural classes that range from lei-making to lauhala weaving to ukulele lessons and are held throughout the center daily.

If you’re looking for a caffeinated pick-me-up, head over to Island Vintage coffee, located on the second level of the Royal Hawaiian Center.

It’s seriously my favorite coffee shop chain in the Hawaiian islands. Island Vintage Coffee offers an array of breakfast and brunch items, but my absolute favorite thing about Island Vintage Coffee is its unique iced coffee flavors.

I highly recommend the frozen banana Kona mocha. I’ve never had banana paired with coffee before I tried it here, and trust me, it’s delicious! Plus, you can’t go wrong with fresh Hawaiian-grown coffee.

4) Have a Drink at the Mai Tai Bar of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Waikiki Beach
image by Anosmia is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

You don’t have to be staying at the iconic (and frankly, expensive) Royal Hawaiian Hotel in order to enjoy it. The Mai Tai Bar, located on the beachfront portion of the hotel, is the perfect spot to grab a drink and relax under the shade of the signature pink umbrellas at the Royal Hawaiian.

The signature Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai is always a must for me. Besides fun cocktails, the bar serves lunch and dinner; I recommend trying the ahi poke with won ton chips. There is also a keiki (kids) menu in case you’re traveling with picky eaters.

The best time to go to the Mai Tai Bar is between 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., when there’s live music daily. It’s also an excellent spot to enjoy the sunset.

You could spend the whole day on the beach in front of the Royal Hawaiian by renting beach chairs and an umbrella for the entire day.

Any large beach equipment is regulated in Waikiki; this Beach Umbrella and Chair Set Rental is one of the legitimate rental services and is definitely worth having the shade when you’re visiting Waikiki.

See Related: Best Bars in Minneapolis & Saint Paul, Minnesota

5) Enjoy a Free Hula Show at Kuhio Beach Park

Hula Show in Kuhio Beach Park
image by hainst is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The free hula show at Kuhio Beach Park is an authentic hula performance given by real hula halau (dance troupes) from around the island. It’s a great free way to experience an essential part of Hawaiian culture.

Hula has been around since the times when ancient Hawaiians first settled in Hawaii and has been a vital tool to pass down family history and Hawaiian mythology.

Since Hawaiians had no written language before contact with explorers from the west, the only way to communicate and pass down information was through chant, dance, and oration.

Today, hula is still an important part of modern Hawaiian culture and an amazing way for Native Hawaiians to feel connected to their ancestors and native identity.

The show goes on every Saturday night from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Kuhio Beach hula mound. For more hula show, you can book a Waikiki Whale Watching Tour with Hula Show.

6) Swim in the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village

Hilton Hawaiian Village Building by the Beach

The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is a unique swimming spot that’s (literally) between a pool and the ocean.

If you or someone you’re traveling with doesn’t yet feel comfortable with the thought of swimming in the open sea but is looking for a similar experience, this is a great option!

Though the salt-water lagoon is on the property of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, it’s open to the public and located right next to Duke Kahanamoku Beach. Any Waikiki tourist can enjoy the lagoon even if you’re not staying at this particular hotel.

Besides swimming, there are so many other fun activities you can do in the lagoon, like paddle boarding, aqua cycling, and peddle boating.

I highly recommend staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort while visiting Waikiki. It’s a great overall hotel with the level of service you’d expect at any Hilton property. There are five swimming pools and several restaurant options, so it really has something for everyone.

See Related: Best Beaches in the US to Visit

7) Explore the Waikiki Aquarium

Fish at Waikiki Aquarium
image by CW Abas Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The Waikiki Aquarium first opened its doors in 1904 and is the second oldest public aquarium in the United States. If you’re looking for what to do in Waikiki when it’s raining, this is a great option.

The Waikiki Aquarium is home to hundreds of species of varying marine life, including marine mammals, fish, invertebrates, and reptiles. It focuses primarily on species that are naturally found throughout the Pacific Ocean, especially in Hawaii.

At the Hawaiian Monk Seal Habitat, you can observe Native Hawaiian Monk Seals, which are one of the most endangered seal species in the world.

The Edge of the Reef exhibit is a great way for kids to get up close to species that you can find while snorkeling the coral reefs of the Hawaiian islands. The exhibit includes species like parrotfish, butterflyfish, sea cucumbers, and red pencil sea urchins.

On the exterior grounds of the Waikiki Aquarium, you’ll find a beautifully manicured garden filled with Native Hawaiian plants, including red ohi’a lehua blossoms, loulu palm trees, and naupaka flowers.

8) Hike the Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head Crater Overview
image by wallyg is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The Diamond Head Crater is one of the most notable landmarks in Waikiki and in all of Hawaii. The moment you see that stunning silhouette through your airplane window, you know you’re about to land in paradise.

Not many visitors know that you can actually hike the Diamond Head State Monument, but the Diamond Head trail is the closest hiking trail to the heart of Waikiki and boasts some impressive views of the beach and beyond.

The hike is moderate and will take about one hour to complete. It starts off as a paved path that will eventually lead to a few flights of stairs and a tunnel, where you will finally make it to the viewpoint and end of the hike. Make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, and water, as there isn’t much shade along the trail.

You must make reservations in advance to visit Diamond Head. You can make reservations directly with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

See Related: Best Hiking Trails in America

9) Go on a Sunset and Cocktail Cruise

Sunset Sailing in Waikiki
image by Edmund Garman is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

There’s nothing more romantic than watching the sunset on a boat cruising along the Waikiki coastline. This Waikiki Sunset and Cocktail Cruise is one of the greatest things to do in Waikiki for couples looking to get away and connect for a few hours.

Traveling with family can sometimes get chaotic, so a short cruise along Waikiki Beach can definitely make you feel more at ease to just unwind a little. Sunset and the golden hour are the most magical times in Hawaii, and there’s no better place to enjoy it than from the sea.

On the cruise, you’ll see some amazing views of the beautiful Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and Honolulu Harbor.

10) Enjoy Live Music at Blue Note Hawaii

Blue Note Hawaii Interior
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Located within the beautiful Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, Blue Note Hawaii is one of Oahu’s premier live music venues that feature local artists as well as performers from around the world.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Waikiki that are indoors, I would highly suggest checking out Blue Note Hawaii.

The venue first opened in 2016 and featured mainly jazz and blues artists. Today, artists of all genres, including reggae, rock, and pop perform here. You can also catch a comedy show at Blue Note every now and then. There are less than 350 seats, making it a very intimate, private setting.

In addition to amazing live music, guests can also enjoy Blue Note’s full-service restaurant and bar. The menu is pacific-rim inspired with a lot of Hawaiian and Asian fusion flavors going on.

I recommend the pork belly bao buns for a delicious starter and the Molokai purple gnocchi with coconut-lime miso sauce for a unique twist on the classic dish.

See Related: Best Music Festivals to Attend this Summer

11) Have a Picnic at Kapiolani Park

Kapiolani Park Scenery
image by jdnx is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Kapiolani Park is the largest park in Hawaii and is located at the edge of Waikiki, just across from Kuhio Beach Park and right under Diamond Head. This park is not your typical park. It encompasses the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Shell, which is a huge outdoor concert venue.

Besides these two main attractions, Kapiolani Park also includes tennis courts, soccer fields, a 3-mile jogging path, and an archery range. There are, of course, large grassy areas with shady trees that are perfect for family picnics.

Each Sunday afternoon, the Royal Hawaiian Band provides a free concert at the Kapiolani Bandstand, right by the parking lot and koi pond area of the park.

Kapiolani park is a great overall attraction if you’re looking for something slow and easy to do and is a part of Waikiki on Oahu that both tourists and locals love to enjoy. Glide at Kapiolani Park on a segway tour.

12) Experience the Unique Rock-a-Hula Luau

Rock-a-Hula Luau Perfromance
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Looking for unique activities in Waikiki? Check out this Waikiki Luau Buffet with Rock-a-Hula Show at the Royal Hawaiian Center.

The evening will begin with a welcome mai tai drink and lei (flower necklace) followed by a luau buffet dinner, including a pig roasted in an underground oven known as an imu. While you enjoy dinner, hula dancers and Hawaiian performers will serenade you. This is typical of what you’ll find at most luaus in Hawaii.

After dinner, you’ll be led to an amphitheater for a night of entertainment. The Rock-a-Hula show is unlike any other luau show I’ve seen before. It combines hula dancing and Tahitian fire knife dancing, two staples of a luau, with other performances, including an Elvis impersonator.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Maui, Hawaii

13) Try the Famous Coco Puffs from Liliha Bakery

Coco Puffs
image by hawaii is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Liliha Bakery is one of Hawaii’s most beloved bakeries. It first opened its doors in 1950 on a small side street of Honolulu and has since expanded to five locations across the island of Oahu. One of the bakery’s newest locations is right in the heart of Waikiki Beach at the International Marketplace.

While Liliha Bakery has a full-service restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the best part of the eatery is the baked goods section. They freshly bake all of their pastries and desserts fresh every day.

The number one thing you’ll have to try if you make a stop at Liliha Bakery is the coco puffs, their signature pastry. Coco puffs are profiterole filled with creamy custard (I like the chocolate and matcha flavors) and topped with rich chantilly cream.

Other desserts I recommend from Liliha Bakery are the chocolate dobash cake, lemon coconut square, and haupia (coconut) malasada.

To be honest, I’ve never met a dessert from Liliha Bakery that I didn’t like!

14) Go on a Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Sea Turtle

One of the most fun Waikiki Beach things to do for the whole family is an Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour. This is a great way to see the amazing ocean life Hawaii has to offer without ever having to get in the water.

The tour will take you along the coast of Waikiki Beach, where you’ll pass the beautiful Diamond Head Crater and even over a shipwreck. Throughout the tour, you’ll see hundreds of colorful tropical fish and other marine life that call the living coral reef of Waikiki home.

This is a unique experience where you’ll get to see Hawaii both above and below the water at the same time. Guests may even see Hawaiian green sea turtles, dolphins, and reef sharks. The operators of this guided tour are super friendly and knowledgeable about the ocean and Hawaiian history.

If you’re traveling with kids, I highly recommend taking them on a glass bottom boat tour! Especially if they’re too young to snorkel or swim.

See Related: Best Islands to Visit Around the World

15) Have Afternoon Tea at The Veranda at The Moana Surfrider

Moana Surfrider Dining Tables
image by Booking.com

The Moana Surfrider, formerly known as The Moana Hotel, is the oldest hotel in Hawaii and is fondly nicknamed the “First Lady of Waikiki.”

She first opened her doors in 1901 and is still one of the most stunningly beautiful hotels on Oahu today. If you’re searching for Waikiki things to do that are fun and make you feel a bit posh, this is it.

The Veranda at The Moana Surfrider offers afternoon tea every weekend (including Fridays) from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm with several prix fixe menu options. The Moana Classic Tea includes finger sandwiches, various desserts, scones, and tropical sorbet.

The tea selection is extensive and includes classic flavors like earl grey and jasmine, as well as some unique tropical teas like passion-orange-guava and mango-pineapple. I highly recommend this activity to any tea lover!

16) Enjoy the Sunset in Waikiki on a Helicopter Tour

Waikiki Sunset Scenery

Is there anything better than watching the sunset on a beach?

If there’s one thing I miss about living in Hawaii, it’s the perfect sunsets every single evening. Waikiki Beach is one of the best places on Oahu to watch the sunset, but there might be one place that’s even better: up in the Hawaiian skies!

I highly recommend a helicopter tour to anyone visiting Oahu. It’s a great way to see the island from a different perspective and in a short amount of time. You can also see a lot of the island that’s not accessible by car or difficult to get to on foot.

This Waikiki Sunset 50-Minute Helicopter Tour is a fabulous quick helicopter tour of the Honolulu and Waikiki area. You’ll be in the air at the perfect time to watch the sunset over the horizon.

From the air, you’ll be able to see lots of recognizable Hawaii landmarks, including Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Lanikai Beach, and the USS Arizona Memorial.

See Related: Helicopter Bungee Jump into a Volcano in Pućon, Chile

17) Go Shopping at the Ala Moana Center

Shoppers at Ala Moana Center
image by jdnx is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Ala Moana Center still remains my favorite shopping center and is definitely the best place on the island to shop. It is the largest open-air shopping center in the world and the eleventh largest shopping mall in the United States. With over 350 shops and 100 dining options, it’s super easy to find something for everyone here.

At Ala Moana, you can find a range of shopping options from the ABC Convenience store to mall mainstays like Zara all the way up to luxury shopping like Balenciaga and Dior.

If you’re looking for authentic Hawaiian clothing, check out Kahulale’a, beautifully made in Hawaii with unique Hawaiian designs. Other great options for local stores are Jams World, Local Motion, Manaola, Reyn Spooner, and Tori Richard Hawaii.

For some local snacks, I highly recommend checking out Cookie Corner. They make the best cookies.

As for food, it may sound strange, but I recommend the Foodland Farms grocery store. Foodland poke is the gold standard of poke in Hawaii and definitely a must-try.

You can’t go wrong with any flavor, but my favorites are the California roll poke and shoyu (soy sauce) poke with all the toppings and extra oyster sauce!

Ala Moana is right at the start of Waikiki when coming from Honolulu, just a few minutes away from the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It’s a bit less chaotic than the heart of Waikiki and more affordable, so I recommend checking out this Ocean View Condominium Studio. It’s a great accommodation right next to Ala Moana with a gorgeous ocean view.

18) Take an E-Scooter Tour of the Waikiki Shoreline

Waikiki Shoreline and Skyline
image by jdnx is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

An E-Scooter is a great way to see a lot of sights in a short amount of time. The shoreline of Waikiki is pretty long, especially if you consider going down past the hotels and to the Ala Moana and Kaka’ako areas. It can get especially tiring when you’re under the hot Hawaiian sun.

This Sunset Guided E-Scooter Tour will take you along some of Waikiki’s most notable landmarks, including Fort DeRussy and Duke Kahanamoku Beach. At Fort DeRussy, you can see lots of World War II-era relics and exhibits.

You’ll also go through Kaka’ako, my favorite Honolulu neighborhood. The area is full of amazing cafes and restaurants and the coolest street art. There are huge murals throughout the neighborhood, many of which were created by local artists like Kamea Hadar.

The tour will start and end at the Kaka’ako Waterfront Park and lasts approximately two hours.

See Related: Is Hawaii Worth Visiting? Everything You Need to Know

Day Trips From Waikiki

19) Enjoy the Honolulu Museum of Art

Honolulu Museum of Art

The Honolulu Museum of Art and the Honolulu Academy of Art are two of the most gorgeous buildings in Downtown Honolulu.

The museum first opened its doors to the public in 1927 and was the former house of a prominent missionary family in the late 1800s. The family greatly appreciated art, so it’s only fitting that their former home is now the largest art collection in the Hawaiian islands.

The museum is home to over 5,000 works of art and is mostly made up of works from the Americas, Europe, and Asia. The museum also features a lot of art pieces created by local artists and art that depict life on the islands.

If you have time, I also recommend visiting Shangri La, which is managed by the Honolulu Museum of Art. It is the former home of Doris Duke, a socialite and art collector. Shangri La is located right next to Diamond Head and is now a museum of Islamic art, culture, and design.

Shangri La is home to over 4,500 artworks, many of which originate from the Middle East. Tours of Shangri La begin and end at the Honolulu Museum of Art and happen four times a day from Thursday to Sunday. The Honolulu Museum of Art is open on the same days from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

20) Visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona Memorial and Skyline

When many visitors come to Oahu, especially for the first time, they will make it a point to stop at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. It’s one of the most important landmarks in modern American history and something I think every American should see at least once.

Start your visit at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to get to know the history of the area and what Hawaii was like at the time of the attack.

There is a short film you can watch about the attack before you take a boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial. This is the most moving part of visiting Pearl Harbor, as you’ll actually get to see the wreckage of the USS Arizona up close.

If you don’t plan to rent a car, you can still visit Pearl Harbor by joining this Pearl Harbor City Tour. This tour will pick you up directly from Waikiki and take you through the city of Honolulu, where you’ll learn about the history of Hawaii before getting to your destination.

This tour includes a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial and the World War II Valor Memorial.

See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in the USA

21) Snorkel at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Hanauma Bay Aerial View

Hanauma Bay is the best place in Oahu for snorkeling. The bay is absolutely teeming with gorgeous colorful tropical fish and other marine life like Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles. It’s a great place to snorkel, whether you’re a beginner or an avid snorkeler.

The bay is home to hundreds of different species of fish, so you’re guaranteed to see a lot of sea life during your time here. To preserve the natural beauty of the area, don’t forget to only wear reef-safe sunscreen, don’t step on the coral, and don’t take any live animals out of the bay with you.

Reservations to visit Hanauma Bay must be made in advance on the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources website. Admission is $25 for adult visitors and free for children under 12. The bay is closed to visitors on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Book a Hanamu Bay Snorkeling Half-Day Tour and North Shore and Hanauma Bay Sightseeing Tour.

22) Visit ‘Iolani Palace

'Iolani Palace Architecture
image by Edmund Garman is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Did you know Hawaii has its very own royal palace?

Right in the heart of Downtown Honolulu, you will find ‘Iolani Palace, which was once the home of the Hawaiian Monarchy. Visiting ‘Iolani Palace is one of the top Honolulu things to do and should not be missed if you’re planning to visit the downtown area.

The palace was built in 1882, but the land it sits on has been the site of the royal residence since Kamehameha III’s rule in 1845. Once the palace was completed, it became the official residence and where all royal business was conducted.

The palace hosted many dignitaries from around the world. It had the most modern amenities of its time, including indoor plumbing, electric lights, and a telephone. It even had electricity before the White House!

Today, visitors can see most parts of the palace as it was when it was last used as the royal residence, including the throne room.

The palace boasts a vast art and furniture collection. While there, you can also learn about the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom and what led to the eventual overthrow and subsequent annexation to the United States.

See Related: Real, Magical Castles in Fairytales to Visit

23) Visit Bishop Museum

Bishop Museum Exhibit
image by Joel Abroad is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Bishop Museum is a great place to visit if you’re looking to learn more about Hawaii’s natural and cultural history. The museum is separated into several wings based on topics including archaeology, botany, and zoology.

The museum is complete with a library and archives filled with materials about Hawaii and other Pacific islands. Bishop Museum has the largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific cultural artifacts in the world. It’s also an amazing place to learn about Hawaiian culture.

The museum was founded by Charles Reed Bishop, the husband of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, one of the last monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It was extremely important to both Charles and Princess Pauahi to preserve the Hawaiian culture for future generations.

During your visit, I highly recommend checking out the Hawaiian Hall and Planetarium. The planetarium is my favorite exhibit and has a great live program called The Sky Tonight, where you can see exactly which stars and constellations will be in the evening sky of the current day you’re visiting.

Get your museum admission ticket now and skip long lines.

If you’re visiting with young children, check out the Science Adventure Center. Here, kids can learn the ins and outs of everything from volcanoes to surfing. It’s a really great activity for kids of any age.

The museum is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and is approximately 15 minutes away by car from Waikiki.

24) Go Souvenir Shopping at the Aloha Swap Meet

Aloha Swap Meet
“Aloha Stadium Swap Meet” by coolmikeol is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The swap meet at the Aloha Stadium is my favorite place to find affordable souvenirs and gifts for out-of-state friends and family. The swap meet features over 400 vendors from all over the islands selling everything from hand-carved wooden items to clothing to snacks.

Hawaii is considered a melting pot of cultures from the east, west, and around the Pacific, and no place showcases this better than the swap meet at Aloha Stadium. In addition to souvenirs, the food selection at the swap meet is also amazing.

I recommend checking out Olay’s Thai Express for authentic Thai cuisine and Kau Kau corner for what locals call mixed plate lunch, which is basically a selection of local BBQ favorites often served with rice and salad.

The swap meet is open every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. Admission is $2 for all; children under 12 are free. Aloha Stadium is just 25 minutes away from Waikiki.

See Related: What to Buy in Japan: Souvenirs to Take Home

25) Spend a Day on the North Shore of Oahu

North Shore Beach and Scenery

I truly believe that no trip to Oahu is complete without visiting the iconic North Shore of Oahu. This part of the island is known for its chill vibes, laid-back lifestyle, and world-class surfing. You can usually find visitors and locals walking around Haleiwa Town in their swimsuits and not much else.

North Shore covers a large part of the island, but my favorite town is Haleiwa. Definitely check out the Haleiwa Town Center for some great food, like Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck and Cholo’s Mexican Cantina.

If you’re looking for something fantastically refreshing, try out Matsumoto’s Shave Ice, a local favorite and the best place on the island to try one of Hawaii’s favorite treats. I recommend a combo of passion fruit and strawberry shave ice.

Some of my favorite beaches on this side of the island are Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach. Waimea is known for its popular rock jumping spot and is one of the calmer beaches, but parking is tight so prepare to get there early or get dropped off.

Sunset is an amazing, long beach with golden sands and endless palm trees. It’s right next to Pipeline, which is known as one of the best surf spots around the world. On your visit, don’t forget to book the Exciting Sites North Shore of Oahu Tour.

Polynesian Cultural Center is a great way for the whole family to learn more about Hawaiian culture and other Pacific cultures. I recommend staying at the nearby Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore if you don’t feel like making the round trip drive between Waikiki and the North Shore all in one day.

FAQ

What is Waikiki known for?

Waikiki is known as the birthplace of surfing at the iconic Waikiki Beach. It’s also known for the breathtaking Diamond Head Crater.

Is Waikiki worth visiting?

Waikiki is worth visiting if you’re looking for a tropical beach vacation that’s fun for the whole family and is located within the United States.

Are there things to do in Waikiki at night?

Yes! There are lovely bars and restaurants along the main road, Kalakaua Avenue. For kids, check out the Honolulu Zoo’s twilight tours. For adults, check out Blue Note Hawaii for concerts and comedy shows.

What’s the best time of year to visit Waikiki?

The weather is great year-round in Hawaii, so Waikiki is great to visit anytime. The driest months are June to August.

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Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It's a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Use World Nomads to find the best policy for your travel schedule.
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In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use Booking.com as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.
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