24 Fun & Unique Things to Do in Waikiki | 2024 (with Photos)

James A. Smith

James A. Smith - Chief Editor

Published: July 11, 2023

James is a travel enthusiast who shares his firsthand experience of exploring Waikiki. With a passion for adventure and a love for this incredible destination, he provides a curated list of 24 fun and unique activities to enhance your trip to Waikiki in 2024.

Fun & Unique Things to Do in Waikiki, Hawaii

Waikiki, a neighborhood in Honolulu, Hawaii, is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and world-class dining and shopping options.

Whether you want to learn how to surf or immerse yourself in the local culture through a traditional Hawaiian luau, Waikiki has something for everyone.

In this article, we'll share 23 exciting things to do in Waikiki, ensuring that you'll have a memorable trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Hanauma Bay

Top Choice Hotel

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Roy's

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Mai Tai Bar

Best Time to Visit

Peak tourist season in Oahu for ideal weather.

Average Temperature

Oahu's average temperature in United States: Warm and pleasant

Transportation Options

Buses, taxis, ride-sharing, bicycles, scooters, mopeds, walking, car rentals.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)

$$

My Top Recommendation

If you're looking to spend some time in Oahu, one thing I highly recommend is exploring the breathtaking beauty of Waikiki Beach, with its turquoise waters and palm-lined shores, it's the perfect spot for a relaxing beach day or catching some waves.

Another must-do experience in Oahu is visiting the historic Pearl Harbor, where you can pay tribute to the fallen heroes and learn about the events that unfolded during World War II, it's a humbling and educational experience that recounts an important part of American history.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Beach towel
  3. Swimsuit
  4. Snorkeling gear
  5. Comfortable walking shoes
  6. Light clothing
  7. Hat
  8. Sunglasses
  9. Camera
  10. Travel adapter

What Not to Miss

  1. Waikiki Beach
  2. Diamond Head State Monument
  3. Pearl Harbor National Memorial
  4. Kualoa Ranch
  5. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
  6. North Shore
  7. Polynesian Cultural Center
  8. Lanikai Beach
  9. Manoa Falls
  10. USS Arizona Memorial

What to Avoid

  1. Crowded tourist areas
  2. Rush hour traffic
  3. Overpriced tourist traps
  4. Touristy restaurants with subpar food quality
  5. Unreliable or exorbitant transportation options
  6. Falling for scams or getting overcharged
  7. Overpacking or carrying unnecessary belongings
  8. Disrespecting local customs or traditions
  9. Overtourism activities that harm the environment
  10. Ignoring safety precautions in outdoor activities.

1. Learn to Surf on Waikiki Beach

Surf on Waikiki Beach

Surfing on Waikiki Beach is a Hawaiian experience that should be on every traveler's bucket list. Waikiki Beach has gentle waves and is an ideal spot for surf lessons.

There are some great surf schools to be found, with Waikiki Beachboy instructors located in front of the Royal Hawaiian Beach, Prince Kuhio Beach, and Queen Kapiolani Beach.

Waikiki beaches are shallow and calm because of the protection from surrounding reefs. Advanced surfers may want to consider Oahu's north shore, where the waves are bigger.

2. Enjoy a Traditional Hawaiian Luau

Traditional Hawaiian Luau

A traditional Hawaiian luau is a feast for the senses, and experiencing one is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Hawaii.

Many luaus serve a traditional menu of kalua pork, poi, poke, lomi salmon, opihi, and haupia on a long communal table and feature traditional Hawaiian music, hula dancing, and fire knife dancing.

Luau organizers also often provide cultural demonstrations such as lei-making and ukulele lessons. The luau is a celebration of Hawaiian culture and provides visitors with the opportunity to experience the warmth and hospitality of the Hawaiian people.

3. Sea the Sea Turtles and Fish at the Waikiki Aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium

The Waikiki Aquarium features over 3,500 marine animals, including colorful tropical fish, green sea turtles, and Hawaiian monk seals.

The Waikiki Aquarium is dedicated to educating visitors about the importance of conservation and marine biodiversity, and visitors can participate in hands-on activities such as feeding fish and touching sea urchins.

The Waikiki Aquarium is a family-friendly attraction and one of the most interesting things to do in Oahu with kids.

4. Explore the Honolulu Museum of Art

Honolulu Museum of Art

The Honolulu Museum of Art, located in nearby downtown Honolulu**,** is a world-class art museum**,** which houses 50,000 works in its permanent collection.

It hosts Polynesian art, as well as art from Asia, Europe, and the Americas, including paintings, sculptures, and textiles.

Visitors can also stop by the Foster Botanical Garden, a peaceful respite among tropical plants in the middle of busy downtown Honolulu.

5. Visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

The USS Arizona Memorial is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in American history and the events of World War II.

The memorial, located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is dedicated to the 1,177 sailors and Marines who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

At the Visitors Center, you can hop on a shuttle that takes you over to Ford Island, where you can also see the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

History buffs will also want to explore the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii at Fort DeRussy Park.

6. Hike to the Top of Diamond Head

Diamond Head

Diamond Head is a volcanic crater located just a short distance from Waikiki Beach that offers a challenging but rewarding hiking experience.

You can climb to the top of the Diamond Head crater, which offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, Waikiki Beach, and the Honolulu skyline.

The hike to the top of Diamond Head is steep and requires a moderate level of physical fitness, but the stunning views at the summit are well worth the effort.

If you want to see an active volcano, look no further than Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes on Big Island**.**

7. Refuel at Island Vintage Coffee

Island Vintage Coffee

Island Vintage Coffee is a popular coffee shop in Waikiki that offers a range of delicious coffee drinks and tasty snacks.

The café is known for its high-quality, locally sourced coffee beans, which are roasted on-site to ensure freshness and flavor.

Island Vintage Coffee has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere and is a great spot to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee after a day of exploring the island.

8. Explore Magic Island Lagoon

Magic Island Lagoon

Magic Island Lagoon is a man-made peninsula with large “seawalls” that hold back the tide and provide a calm, shallow basin for beach-goers.

The lagoon is located on the oceanfront and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Diamond Head.

Magic Island Lagoon is an excellent spot for swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The beach is perfect for families with children due to the gentle waves and calm waters.

9. Visit the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center

Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center

The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center features over 110 shops and restaurants, including high-end boutiques, local artisan shops, and international brands.

The Royal Hawaiian Center also offers a variety of dining options and hosts events and performances throughout the year, including hula shows, live music, and cultural celebrations.

Whether you're looking for a special souvenir or simply want to soak up the local culture, the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is a great way to spend a day in Waikiki.

10. Visit the Ala Moana Shopping Center

Ala Moana Shopping Center

Ala Moana Center is the largest open-air shopping center in the world with over 350 stores and restaurants, ranging from luxury brands to affordable retailers and local artisans.

It also hosts the signature Mai Tai Bar at the top of the 3rd level. There are also several outdoor shopping centers along Kalakaua Avenue—including the International Marketplace and Royal Hawaiian Center. Kalakaua Avenue is the main shopping street of Waikiki.

Adjacent to the center is Ala Moana Beach Park, a beautiful oceanfront park with plenty of grassy areas, walking paths, and a beach, which is perfect for families with children with its gentle waves and calm waters.

11. Explore the Stunning Islamic Art at Shangri La Museum

Shangri La Museum

The Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design is housed in the former home of Doris Duke near Diamond Head just outside Honolulu.

Visitors can explore the stunning gardens and architecture of the property, which features intricate tilework, colorful mosaics, and ornate wood carvings.

The Shangri La Museum features a stunning collection of Islamic art, textiles, ceramics, and other treasures from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.

12. Visit Kapiolani Park and Queen Kapiolani Garden

Kapiolani Park

Kapiolani Park is a 500-acre public park with lush green lawns and several historic landmarks. Visitors to the park can explore the Honolulu Zoo, the Waikiki Aquarium, and the Diamond Head Theatre.

Adjacent to the park is the Queen Kapiolani Garden, a beautiful botanical garden that features colorful tropical flowers, plants, and trees. Visitors can stroll through the garden, and take in the breathtaking views of Diamond Head.

Whether you're a nature lover or simply looking for a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, Kapiolani Park and Queen Kapiolani Garden are top spots.

13. Enjoy the Spa at the Moana Surfrider

Spa at the Moana Surfrider

The Moana Surfrider is a historic beachfront resort, often referred to as the "First Lady of Waikiki." Since it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, free guided tours are available.

If you're looking for a truly indulgent experience, then the spa at this Westin resort is a must-try. The spa at the Moana Hotel offers a range of luxurious treatments designed to soothe the body and mind.

With its stunning ocean views and peaceful ambiance, the spa at the Moana Hotel is the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring Waikiki.

14. Visit the Honolulu Zoo

Honolulu Zoo

Located in the heart of Waikiki, the Honolulu Zoo currently houses over 900 animals organized into three tropical ecological zones: the African Savanna, Asian and American Tropical Forest, and Pacific Islands.

The Honolulu Zoo is home to elephants, tigers, zebras, and many species native to the Hawaiian islands. The grounds of Honolulu Zoo also include a huge variety of tropical plants, creating a botanical garden setting, which includes native Hawaiian plants.

15. Visit the Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace

As the only royal palace in the United States, the Iolani Palace is a must-visit destination for any tourist looking to explore Hawaii's rich history and cultural heritage.

Built in 1882, the palace served as the official residence of Hawaii's monarchs until the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893.

Visitors can take guided tours that provide a fascinating glimpse into the daily lives of Hawaii's kings and queens, as well as the complex political landscape of the time.

16. Discover the Hana Koa Brewing Company

Hana Koa Brewing Company

For beer lovers visiting Waikiki, the Hana Koa Brewing Company is a must-visit destination.

This local brewery offers a range of handcrafted beers, from crisp lagers and refreshing ales to bold stouts and flavorful IPAs.

With its laid-back and welcoming atmosphere, the brewery is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a cold brew after a day of exploring Waikiki attractions.

17. See the Kuhio Beach Hula Show

Kuhio Beach Hula Show

The Kuhio Beach Hula Show is a free, family-friendly event that takes place at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound. Professional hula dancers from one of Hawaii's hula schools take to the open-air stage under the palm trees.

The show begins with the blowing of the Conch shell just before sunset hour, and the story dance spectacle is accompanied by Hawaiian live music.

With its stunning beachfront location and lively atmosphere, the Kuhio Beach Hula Show is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

18. Explore the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a protected marine life conservation area located 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of Waikiki**.**

The area boasts a diverse array of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and coral formations. The bay is also perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and observing the marine ecosystem.

Visitors can also explore the Hanauma Bay Education Center, which provides a wealth of information about the area's geological history, ecology, and conservation efforts.

19. Try Outrigger Canoe Surfing

Outrigger Canoe Surfing

Outrigger canoe surfing is a great way to connect with the ocean and the Hawaiian culture, as it dates back to ancient Hawaiian times when it was used for fishing and transportation.

Duke Kahanamoku Beach at Waikiki Beach is the perfect location to try this activity, as it boasts calm and warm waters year-round, as well as consistent waves for surfing.

You can also check out the Outrigger Canoe Club, near Diamond Head.

20. Shop for Unique Gifts at Kalakaua Avenue

Kalakaua Avenue

Kalakaua Avenue is the main shopping district in Waikiki, lined with high-end stores and local boutiques selling unique Hawaiian clothing and souvenirs.

You will find every high-end retailer in the area on Kalakaua Avenue. This mile-long avenue is named after King David Kalakaua. Kalakaua Avenue is the heart of Waikiki.

The Ala Moana Center, located just outside of Waikiki, is the largest open-air shopping center in the world, with over 350 stores to choose from.

Another popular shopping destination in Waikiki is the ABC Stores, which can be found all over the area. The ABC stores offer a wide selection of Hawaiian souvenirs, snacks, and beverages.

From shopping outlets and centers to the famous Kalakaua Avenue, you won't run out of options in Waikiki.

21. See the Famous Bronze Statue of Duke Kahanamoku

Famous Bronze Statue of Duke Kahanamoku

The bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku in Waikiki is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Honolulu, Hawaii.

Located on Kuhio Beach, the statue pays homage to Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic Champion and the "father of surfing".

The statue depicts Duke holding a surfboard and serves as a tribute to his pioneering role in popularizing surfing as a sport and culture.

22. Explore the Local Dining Scene

SKY Waikiki

For a unique dining experience, visit SKY Waikiki, located on the 19th floor of the Waikiki Business Plaza. Here, you can savor fresh seafood, sip on tropical cocktails, and take in the breathtaking views of Waikiki from above.

Another iconic dining destination in Waikiki is the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, also known as the "Pink Palace in the Pacific." The hotel offers a range of dining options that showcase unique Hawaiian local flavors and international cuisine.

23. Take a Waikiki Trolley Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

Waikiki Trolley Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

A Waikiki Trolley Hop-On Hop-Off Tour is a fantastic way to explore the sights and sounds of Waikiki, Hawaii.

The trolley tour operates on a convenient route that covers many of the top destinations in the area, including Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, and Ala Moana Center.

The trolley's open-air design provides unobstructed views of the stunning landscapes and iconic landmarks, and the onboard narration offers insights into the history and culture of Waikiki.

24. Witness the Honolulu Fish Auction

Honolulu Fish Auction

The Honolulu Fish Auction is the only fresh tuna auction in the United States and the only fish auction between Tokyo and Maine.

Visitors can witness the auction process and learn about the different types of fish caught in Hawaiian waters, including ahi tuna, mahi-mahi, and ono.

You can also find fresh, locally-sourced seafood for purchase and experience the flavors of Hawaii in a truly authentic way.

FAQs Relating to Fun Things to Do in Waikiki

Let's look at some frequently asked questions relating to fun things to do in Waikiki.

What should I not miss in Honolulu?

Some of the things to do in Honolulu include a visit to Pearl Harbor, the iconic Waikiki Beach, the Diamond Head State Monument, the Iolani Palace, and the Honolulu Museum of Art.

You can also go on a whale-watching tour at the Honolulu Harbour, see the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, and visit Fort DeRussy Beach Park or Kaimana Beach.

How do I spend the day at Waikiki Beach?

There are plenty of ways to spend a day exploring Waikiki Beach. Start the day with a sunrise stroll along Waikiki Beach, then rent a surfboard and hit the waves.

Take a break from the water to enjoy lunch at one of the beachfront restaurants or food trucks. In the evening, catch a free hula show at Kuhio Beach or enjoy a sunset dinner cruise off the coast.

What is Waikiki famous for now?

Waikiki is a world-famous tourist destination known for its beautiful Waikiki Beach and stunning views of Diamond Head, a volcanic crater.

Waikiki is also famous for the grand Kapiolani Park ****and traditional Hawaiian cultural experiences. Waikiki is also known for its luxury hotels and high-end shopping.

Is Waikiki very touristy?

Yes, Waikiki is known for being a very touristy area. Waikiki's famous beach is lined with high-end hotels and chain restaurants, making it a hub for commercial tourism.

The most touristy areas are Kalakaua Avenue, Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Diamond Head Beach Park, the Royal Hawaiian Center, and Kuhio Beach Park. You will also find a lot of tourists at the Honolulu Zoo.

Summing Up: Fun & Unique Things to Do in Waikiki, Hawaii

Waikiki is a truly unique destination that should be on everyone's travel list when visiting the Hawaiian Islands.

Whether you're looking to relax on a beach towel or climb a volcano crater, Waikiki has something for everyone.

From fun Honolulu harbor cruises and enjoying the stunning Waikiki beaches to attractions in Kapiolani Park and trying your hand at outrigger canoe surfing, there are plenty of exciting things to do in Waikiki.

So pack your bags and get ready for an incredible Hawaiian vacation in the beautiful paradise of Waikiki.

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