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My family and I have been fortunate to visit Waikiki many times. While certainly busier and more commercial than the other parts of the island and the other Hawaiian islands as well, Waikiki still holds a special attraction for us. We love the great hotels and food, the stunning views of Diamond Head from Waikiki Beach, the warm turquoise waters and the warmth of the Hawaiian people.

Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.Waikiki is a vibrant district nestled within the city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu and offers travelers a blend of tropical paradise and urban excitement. Known for its stunning beaches, luxurious resorts, and countless activities, Waikiki attracts millions of visitors annually. Bounded by the Ala Wai Canal to the north and west, Kapahulu Avenue to the east, and the stunning Pacific Ocean to the south, Waikiki offers an array of experiences that cater to every type of traveler.

Here’s our guide to the best places to stay and eat and things to do in Waikiki:

Best Places to Stay in Waikiki

Waikiki is home to some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Here are five top-notch places to consider for your stay:

Extra large lanai in our room at the Halekulani.
1. Halekulani
Our family has been visiting Waikiki for years and have never had the opportunity to stay at the Halekulani, arguably the nicest hotel on the island. This iconic beachfront hotel offers those breathtaking views of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach that I love (especially when you can enjoy that view from your room, too!) Known for its impeccable service and serene ambiance, Halekulani features spacious rooms with private lanais, exquisite dining options, and the renowned SpaHalekulani for ultimate relaxation. Read our full review of the Halekulani and book your stay at the Halekulani here.

Bedroom at the Halepuna Waikiki in Oahu.
2. Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani

Located just steps from Waikiki Beach, Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani is Halekulani’s sister property, offering a more boutique experience. This stylish hotel features modern design, a rooftop infinity pool, and a garden sanctuary. We were fortunate to stay here on our most recent visit to Waikiki and while I worried that our guest room would be too small for our family of four, it really wasn’t. Located just behind Halekulani, it’s got quick and easy beach access and is in the heart of Waikiki, which means food and shopping options are right outside the hotel door. Best of all, guests can enjoy the best of both worlds with access to Halekulani’s amenities while experiencing the unique charm of Halepuna. Read our full review of Halepuna and book your stay at Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani here.

3. Hilton Hawaiian Village
Hilton Hawaiian Village is a sprawling resort that offers something for everyone. With over 22 acres of lush tropical gardens, multiple pools, and a wide range of dining and shopping options, this family-friendly resort is a mini-paradise within Waikiki. The hotel hosts a spectacular fireworks show every Friday night but our favorite part of the hotel is the shallow Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, perfect for kids to play safely. Fortunately, the lagoon, like all of Hawaii’s beaches, is public, so you don’t need to be staying at the hotel to enjoy it. We also really enjoyed the Waikiki Starlight Luau, on the hotel’s beachfront Great Lawn. Read our full review of the Hilton Hawaiian Village and book your stay at Hilton Hawaiian Village here.

4. Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach
For those seeking an upscale experience, the Ritz-Carlton Residences offer luxurious accommodations with stunning ocean views. This high-rise hotel features spacious suites with full kitchens, an infinity pool, and world-class dining. The Ritz-Carlton is perfect for travelers looking for a home-away-from-home feel with all the amenities of a five-star resort. We absolutely love the convenience of the kitchen and laundry, especially because we have young children. The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Waikiki are perfect for families. Read our full review of the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach and book your stay here.

5. Sheraton Waikiki
The Sheraton Waikiki is a popular choice for its central location and fantastic amenities. Situated right on the beach, this hotel boasts an infinity-edge pool that seems to blend into the ocean, a bustling poolside bar, and several dining options. Its proximity to Waikiki’s shopping and nightlife makes it an excellent choice for those who want to be in the heart of the action.

Best Things to Do in Waikiki

Waikiki offers an abundance of activities for all ages. Here are five must-do activities that showcase the best of this vibrant district:

Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.
1. Waikiki Beach
Of course, you’re not going to go to Waikiki without spending time on its world-famous beach. Whether you’re lounging on the golden sands, taking a surf lesson, or swimming in the warm waters, Waikiki Beach is the perfect place to soak up the sun and enjoy the ocean. We can never drag our kids away from the soft sand and warm waters.

The Honolulu Zoo.
2. Honolulu Zoo
Located at the eastern end of Waikiki, the Honolulu Zoo is a fantastic destination for families. Home to a wide variety of animals, including elephants, lions, and native Hawaiian species, the zoo offers educational exhibits and beautiful grounds to explore.

3. Diamond Head State Monument
For breathtaking views of Waikiki and the surrounding coastline, hike up Diamond Head, an iconic volcanic crater. The trail to the summit is moderately challenging but well worth the effort for the panoramic vistas. It’s a great way to get some exercise while experiencing one of Oahu’s most famous landmarks. While we haven’t yet done this hike with our young children, my husband and I used to do it before we had children and loved going at sunrise since it was cool and the views of Waikiki in the early morning light are beautiful. On the way back, we’d always stop for a refreshing acai bowl for breakfast.

Hula lesson at the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki.
4. Royal Hawaiian Center

Shopaholics will delight in the Royal Hawaiian Center, which offers a mix of luxury brands, local boutiques, and dining options. The center also hosts cultural activities, such as hula lessons and lei-making workshops, providing a taste of Hawaiian traditions. My kids and I got to experience a hula lesson and we all loved it.

5. Kapiolani Park

Adjacent to the Honolulu Zoo, Kapiolani Park is a sprawling green space perfect for picnics, jogging, and enjoying the outdoors. The park also hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, making it a lively spot for both locals and visitors.

Best Places to Eat in Waikiki

Waikiki’s culinary scene is as diverse as its visitors, offering everything from casual beachside dining to gourmet experiences. Here are five fantastic dining options:

1. Duke’s Waikiki
Named after the legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku, Duke’s Waikiki is a beachfront restaurant that offers delicious Hawaiian cuisine and stunning ocean views. The menu features fresh seafood, tropical cocktails, and live music, creating a quintessential Hawaiian dining experience. But of course, no meal at Duke’s is complete without finishing it all off with a slice of Hula Pie.

2. Goma Tei
Located in the Ala Moana Center, Goma Tei is a must-visit for ramen lovers. Known for its rich broths and perfectly cooked noodles, this popular eatery offers a range of ramen dishes and other Japanese specialties in a casual, relaxed setting.

Acai bowl from Island Vintage in Waikiki.
3. Island Vintage Coffee
Also situated in the Royal Hawaiian Center, Island Vintage Coffee is the perfect spot for a quick bite or a leisurely brunch. My husband likes to get one of their delicious acai bowls every morning for breakfast (here’s how he avoids the long lines), and the menu also includes sandwiches and salads, all made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Don’t forget to try their signature Hawaiian coffee.

The Beach House at the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki.
4. The Beachhouse at the Moana

The Beachhouse at the Moana Surfrider is an exceptional dining option for travelers seeking an unforgettable culinary experience in Waikiki. Nestled within the historic Moana Surfrider, this elegant beachfront restaurant offers stunning ocean views that perfectly complement its refined menu. Featuring a diverse selection of locally sourced seafood, prime cuts of meat, and fresh produce, the Beachhouse provides a taste of Hawaii’s rich culinary heritage. The sophisticated yet relaxed ambiance, coupled with impeccable service, makes it an ideal choice for romantic dinners, special occasions, or just enjoying a luxurious meal by the sea.

5. Roy’s Waikiki
Roy’s Waikiki is a superb dining option for travelers looking to experience innovative Hawaiian cuisine with an Asian twist. Located in the heart of Waikiki, this renowned restaurant, helmed by celebrated chef Roy Yamaguchi, offers a vibrant and inviting atmosphere. Diners can savor a unique menu featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients, including signature dishes like misoyaki butterfish and hibachi-style grilled salmon. The impeccable service and stylish décor, along with an impressive selection of fine wines and creative cocktails, make Roy’s Waikiki a must-visit for an unforgettable culinary adventure in Honolulu.

Waikiki, with its blend of natural beauty, luxurious accommodations, and vibrant culinary scene, offers an unforgettable experience for every traveler. No matter how many times we visit, we are always eager to return, even before we’ve left. Aside from the hotels, the dining and the things to do, it’s the aloha spirit of the islands that keeps us returning year after year after year.

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