Iconic Hawaii may arguably be found right in Waikiki. With it’s long stretch of idyllic white sand beaches, the tropical scent of plumerias, the mixture of classic and modern Hawaii, and the famous landmarks and eateries, you will stroll through the past, present, and future of Waikiki along this Journey. We’re showing you our favorite places to eat and explore, photograph and lounge, swim and bask when in Waikiki. Experience the timelessness of this slice of Paradise and discover what makes this historical destination so alluring.
Lulu’s for Breakfast
Not only does this place have an incredible panoramic view from Diamond Head to Waikiki, it’s open from 7am till 2am, serves up mouth-watering breakfasts, and their pineapple-lilikoi marmalade stuffed French toast will have you craving tropical fruits and macadamia nuts topped on everything for the rest of your trip. We think this is the perfect place to begin your Classic Waikiki Journey because, you’ll get an excellent idea of what Waikiki is all about from this perch spot.
Hang a Lei on The Duke
While you don’t necessarily have to hang a lei on The Duke, it does make this experience a little more lively. This statue depicts Duke Kahanamoku, one of the most recognized symbols of Hawaii, the Ambassador of Aloha, the Father of Surfing, the Olympic Champion. Full blooded Hawaiian, Duke’s legacy lives on in Waikiki, which is why we recommend a visit to his statue to relive this moment in time of vintage Hawaii.
Visit the Pink Palace
This hotel is actually named The Royal Hawaiian, but it’s never been able to shake its endearing nickname of the Pink Palace. A royal coconut grove once stood on these grounds, along with generations of royal Hawaiian homes built for the King Kamehameha families. There is unique shopping in this hotel, as well as rich culture and history decorating its walls, and a couple mai tai bars on hand for a quick refresher. In Hawaii, every hour is happy hour.
Bask and Swim at Gray’s Beach
We think this is one of the best spots for swimming along the Waikiki slice of tropical beauty. These waters are turquoise, clear as crystal, and warm yet refreshing with a sand-filled channel running through the reef, giving swimmers a soft sand bottom to tiptoe across. This beach fronts the luxurious Halekulani Hotel and offers beach goers some time in the sun along one of the oldest sections of Waikiki beach.
Yard House for Lunch
Located along the Waikiki Beach Walk on Lewer’s Street, Yard House is a unique place to grab lunch… and maybe a beer too (seriously, you have to check out their selection!). With an extensive and delicious lunch menu, this restaurant has become a popular place for Waikiki travelers to refuel, mingle, or simply socialize with friends or family. We love where this spot is located, amongst the buzz of the city, warmth of the sun, and excitement of Waikiki. The shopping around here is pretty incredible too.
Aside from the unique and eclectic gifts that you can find at this outdoor marketplace, we like the atmosphere the historical banyan trees offer, shading almost the entire row of vendors, booths, and visitors in its cool canopy of leaves. These grounds were once the foundation for the Hawaiian royalty’s summer homes, and later became the location of the temporary, 18-bed hospital named, The Queen’s Hospital. Now you can stroll through the freestanding huts along this marketplace and purchase unique gifts to take home. And you’ll most likely catch a street performer (or ten) along this strip of Waikiki, so be ready for some transient entertainment.
Hilton Hawaii Village
This shopping village is like a world of its own, tucked away from the main strip of Waikiki along a lively stretch of sand. We like this spot for its upscale yet relaxed and welcoming feel, for it’s Lappert’s ice cream shop, and for it’s lazy walks through the grounds of the Hilton Resort. Discover the black-footed penguins, parrots, chameleons, and koi fish amongst the gardens and you’re sure to feel like you’ve stepped foot into a tropical rainforest.
Duke’s for Dinner
You really can’t beat Duke’s. Their food is consistent, the view is stunning, and there is always entertainment in some form or another here, whether it’s a Hawaiian music duo or animated bar flies, we love Duke’s for it’s timeless ambiance and traces of the great Duke Kahanamoku and The Beach Boys who’ve graced Waikiki’s streets for generations. If you’re ordering dessert, look no further than the hula pie. Just be ready to put back a generous amount of macadamia nut ice cream and hot fudge. But don’t worry, you can walk it off later.
Sunset on the Beach
On select Saturdays and Sundays, you can catch a fun flick for free at Waikiki beach. A 30-foot screen is set up in the sand and people come from far and wide to settle into their beach chairs and blankets to watch a movie with the family at sunset. This doesn’t happen every weekend though, so we recommend checking into the online schedule at [dead link removed]. We think this is a great way to relax and take a break before the rest of your evening begins.
House Without a Key
For some reason, this classy joint is off the radar for many people. Perhaps because it is located within the timelessly elegant Halekulani Hotel and hard to find, or maybe because regulars prefer to keep it a secret, but for whatever the reason, we’re happy it’s remained relatively mysterious. This is what makes it so unique. Staying true to the historical traditions once consummated here, you will find well-blended cocktails, time-honored Hawaiian music, and a century-old Kiawe tree to sit and sip beneath.
Tiki’s Grill & BarCrank up your vacation night-mode at this energetic location. We love Tiki’s because it’s open till 2am (for those late-nighters out there), jams live music every night of the week, and offers drink and pupu specials on the regular. Plus, it’s has the perfect view to end your night, situated two stories above Kalakaua Avenue with palm trees as the only obstruction to your Waikiki panorama. This is a fun place to let loose and enjoy your vacation- try one of their tropical drinks (virgin or otherwise) for the ideal conclusion to your classic Waikiki Journey.