If you’re planning on visiting the beautiful island of Oahu, then you’ve definitely heard of the ever-popular Waikiki. It is the heart of Oahu and is probably where you will be looking to stay during your trip. If you really want to make your visit to Waikiki special, then you need to continue reading.
First of all, you need to realize where you are in contrast to everything else on the island. Waikiki is a tiny little sliver on Oahu and is next to some of the most picturesque and lively landscapes on the whole island such as Diamond Head State Monument, Waikiki Beach Park, Hawaii Kai’s China Walls, Tantalus, Manoa Falls, and so much more incredible places that we will help you explore throughout this article. Below we will go over the 5 Ways to REALLY Visit Waikiki.
Header photo shot by Kawika Lopez @darthkanaka
1. Relax on a beautiful beach
Located at Waikiki is one of the most iconic beaches on the island: Waikiki Beach. On a sunny summer’s day, this place will normally be packed – and parking will be tough to find.
Even though Waikiki Beach is very popular, there are other incredible beaches located around the area which we listed below.
Ala Moana Beach Park: An awesome alternative to Waikiki Beach if the parking is full. It is located 3-miles away from Waikiki Beach.
Diamond Head Beach Park: Located 2.2-miles away from Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head Beach Park is an awesome place for surfing. This beach isn’t the best for swimming because the reef is shallow – but it is a good place for beach walks! If those things don’t appeal to you, we recommend at least stopping by to see the incredible views.
Hanauma Bay: Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular places to snorkel on the entire island of Oahu. It’s always a fun time visiting here and seeing and swimming with the incredible sea life. It is located 10-miles from Waikiki Beach.
Sandy Beach Park: If you’re looking for somewhere to relax – then this isn’t the best beach for you, but we made sure to include it for those adrenaline junkies! Located a little further than the previous beaches at 11.6-miles from Waikiki Beach, Sandy Beach Park is for those that are into boogie boarding and surfing.
2. Hike to an incredible viewpoint
There are plenty of hikes through the island – some of which are very hard, to which some are very easy. Below, we will list hikes within a 15-mile radius to Waikiki and their difficulty and a short description.
Diamond Head Crater Hike: Located 2.7 miles from Waikiki Beach Park. We rate this hike moderate. The Diamond Head Ridge Trail is a short 1.4-mile round-trip hike and is one of the most popular hikes on the island. If you want to experience a less tourist-bound hike, then the next hike will be for you. Standing at the top of Diamond Head, you will quickly realize how small you really are.
Makapu’u Lighthouse: A 3.6-mile loop trail located at the Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve Park. We would rate the difficulty of this hike moderate. It’s absolutely beautiful during sunrise. After hiking the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail – we recommend snorkeling at Hanauma Bay to cool off. It is located 13.7-miles from Waikiki Beach Park.
Koko Crater Trail: A 1.8-mile intense treck up an abandoned railway. The Koko Crater Trail features 1,050 stairs and incredible views of Honolulu. It is located 9.7-miles away from Waikiki Beach.
Hanauma Bay Rim Trail: Located 10-miles from Waikiki Beach Park, The Hanauma Bay Rim Trail is a 3.6-mile loop trail located at the Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve Park. We would rate the difficulty of this hike moderate. It’s absolutely beautiful during sunrise. After hiking the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail – we recommend snorkeling at Hanauma Bay to cool off.
Check out our article on the 15 Best Hikes on Oahu.
3. Visit an awe-inspiring waterfall
There are two popular waterfalls on Oahu: Manoa Falls and Lulumahu Falls. They both are incredible and are unique in their own ways.
Lulumahu Falls gives a much more “raw” feeling and the actual waterfall itself is typically much fuller. On the other side, Manoa Falls gives a very Jurassic Park kind of vibe – one that you cannot miss out on. The waterfall itself at Manoa Falls is typically a lot less impressive, to say the least. If you are looking for a less crowded, less touristy hike, then Lulumahu Falls is the hike you are looking for!
- Difficulty: Easy
- Height: 150-Foot Waterfall
- Parking: $5
- Typically not as “full” of a waterfall as Lulumahu Falls
- Much more crowded
- Unique and special vibe to the overall hike
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Height: 50-Foot Waterfall
- Parking: Free
- Can get quite muddy
- Located on private property
- Typically much fuller waterfall
4. Visit Tantalus Lookout
If you’re looking for a beautiful view of Waikiki, diamond head, and even pearl harbor, then you absolutely need to come to here! This is a place you cannot miss when visiting Oahu. The effort needed for this phenomenal view is close to zero. I can’t recommend visiting Tantalus lookout enough.
5. Experience the Friday Night Fireworks Show
Mahalo for reading 5 Ways to REALLY Visit Waikiki (Oahu) ♥