48 Hours in Waikiki

Why Go?

How about sparkling azure ocean, white sand beaches, surfers, hula dancers and swaying palm trees for starters? Throw in the opportunity to enjoy some world-class shopping/dining experiences and a laidback aloha vibe.

There’s no doubt where in the world you are when you hit the hedonistic beaches of Waikiki. Before heading out to Maui or Kauai, make sure you take a couple of days to soak up the delights of this Hawaiian city.

Getting There

All flights arrive at Honolulu International Airport. From there you can take a taxi to Waikiki Beach located about nine miles away. The other alternative is a shuttle bus. If you haven’t got too much luggage, you could take the airport bus, which is the cheapest option by far.

Most tourists stay in the area of Waikiki Beach, where the beach and most of the attractions are located within walking distance from one another. Honolulu’s downtown area is three miles from Waikiki.

Paradise Hawaiian Style

Checking In

Although it is possible to seek out a bargain, hotels in Waikiki are on the expensive side. One of the most iconic places to stay is the romantic and luxurious Royal Hawaiian Hotel, located on the beachfront. Easily recognisable by its pink exterior, it has been used in many TV shows and movies. At the other end of the scale, check out the quirky Royal Grove Hotel, a great budget option and only a block away from the beach. This is where we always stay and we love it!

The Royal Grove

Day One

Kick-start the Day with a Hawaiian Breakfast

Before you head to the beach, enjoy a relaxed breakfast at Lulu’s While you tuck into local specialities loco moco or longboard benedict, check out the stunning views of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach.

Hit the Beach

Waikiki is probably the most famous beach in the world, and deservedly so. Where better to learn to ride the waves than the birthplace of surfing? If you don’t bring your own board, you can rent one – the waves are perfect for beginners. As well as being incredibly warm, the ocean is the most sublime turquoise you will ever lay eyes on. If you prefer a more sedate experience, rent a sun lounger and simply chill in paradise.

Pay a visit to the Aquarium

If you can tear yourself away from the beach, check out Waikiki Aquarium, which has a vibrant display of native fish, turtles and two Hawaiian monk seals.

Waikiki Aquarium

Shop till you Drop

For the ultimate Hawaiian shopping experience, make tracks to the Ala Moana Center, a sprawling mall chock-a-block with stores and restaurants. There are regular Hawaiian music and dance events on the stage and lots of opportunities to buy souvenirs or sample local delicacies. Additionally, you will find ABC stores on every street corner and they sell everything you could possibly need from sun block to hula girl key rings. Check out Crazy Shirts for cool t-shirts.

Torch Lighting Ceremony & Hula Show

Make your way back to Waikiki Beach, with a pause at Moose’s (310 Lewers St. Honolulu) for Happy Hour and a bite to eat. The cocktails here are great value and you’ll soon be feeling relaxed and ready to hit the beach again, this time to watch the sun sink over the ocean. The torch-lighting and hula show take place on the beach most evenings and crowds gather to watch the entertainment in the fading light. It’s a magical time of the day in Waikiki and the atmosphere is mellow with everyone enjoying the vibe and the beauty of the setting.

Hula Show

Day Two

Take a Hike up to Diamond Head

Start the day energetically with a hike to the summit of Diamond Head. This dramatic volcanic crater overlooks the city. Take some snacks and plenty of water. If you head out early, you will avoid the intense midday heat. The trail is steep and a little uneven, so watch your footing. The hour’s climb is worth it for the sweeping views of the ocean and city skyline.

Diamond Head

Lunch at Duke’s Barefoot Bar

After building up an appetite on the trail, enjoy a lunch buffet at the famous Duke’s. The iconic Duke’s Barefoot Bar is right on the beach and serves up a buffet featuring locally grown produce and an abundance of tempting accompaniments. Alternatively, try the fresh fish dishes or burgers. They often have live music, and a visit to Duke’s is a quintessential Hawaiian experience not to be missed.


Cocktails at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel

After some more beach time, take a stroll along to the historical Royal Hawaiian Hotel and soak up the traditional old world ambience. Treat yourself to a delicious cocktail at the Mai Tai Bar, a mere few steps away from the sand. Chill out and take in the stunning ocean views with drink in hand – a perfect way to round off your sojourn in Waikiki.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel