When you hear ‘Waikiki Beach’, you would be forgiven for thinking that it is just one long stretch of coastline with the same sand and water conditions in all areas. But you would be wrong!
Waikiki beach is around 2 miles long and your experience changes depending at which spot you’re at. We actually found this out by accident although I’m sure many bloggers before me have tried to explain this to holiday makers in advance!
Just in case this is news to you, here’s my tour and review of Waikiki beach, as experienced by a couple of honeymooners :). Also, just fyi, our time here was spent at the end of August – I’m not sure if weather conditions change at other times of the year.
Let’s start off with Hilton Hawaiian Village’s lagoon. This is at the Ala Moana end of Waikiki beach and it’s a man-made lagoon with absolutely no waves or sea creatures etc. Even though it’s part of the hotel, it seemed pretty open to the public and I walked right alongside it during my super long beach walk. I’m not sure how deep it gets but there were kids paddle boarding along the middle and riding peddle boats so I guess it can’t be too shallow? Either way, it looked like a nice calm place to hang out for a swim when you don’t want to face the waves on the beach.
Once you pass the Hilton lagoon, you come across Kahanamoku Beach. The water here is calm and you can hire surfing, paddle boarding and other water sport equipment from around here. It’s actually pretty quiet and is probably only made up of guests staying at the Hilton and other nearby resorts.
Next up is my favourite beach – Fort Derussy! This is the first beach that we went to when we got to Waikiki as it was the closest to our apartment but it’s also perfect for the following reasons:
- It’s fairly quiet. There’s a good amount of beach for your towel etc and the water is not too crowded at all!
- The water is fairly calm and easy to swim in. It isn’t as shallow as the rest of Waikiki beach but as it’s not crowded, it doesn’t matter too much that you’re not that far into the water.
- There is a great park right on the beach where you can play volleyball, tennis or just hang out on the grass for a great view of the ocean minus the sand in your stuff.
From what I could tell, this beach was mainly frequented by locals. It had a way more chilled vibe. People would come here for bbq/picnics and to play volleyball with their friends. It felt less touristy which was nice. The only thing is that I didn’t see any facilities down on this end and so you will have to shower off somewhere else!
Following the beach walk further, you will run across a cute little beach bar called the Koa Oasis Beach Shack. I stopped by here on our last day and it was the perfect place to watch the sun set :).
Continue along the boardwalk and you’ll pass a tiny strip of beach used as the departure point for the Mai Tai Catamaran. This company does snorkelling boat trips and sunset cruises. I looked into them as they seemed pretty fun but we didn’t get round to booking one. It’s good to know where they leave from though just for future reference!
Next up is the Sheraton hotel (you can wash off your feet in the showers here and fill up your water bottle with ice cold water for free!
And then, the famous pink landmark of Waikiki beach, The Royal Hawaiian. Tbh it’s nothing spectacular but it makes a nice change up from the rest of the beige buildings. The water around this area is nice and swimmable even if the beach is pretty crowded. Also, it’s very shallow and you can really spread out in the water while still touching the floor.
Carry on along the beach and you reach this statue of Duke Kahanamoku (the Father of surfing as we know it!) It’s a nice, open area of beach that you can access from the main strip instead of the narrow alleyways between resorts so far.
The water in this part of the beach has some bigger waves and you’ll see people with boogie boards or even just riding waves in their inflatable rings. It’s a really fun vibe and in the evening there’s a nice view of the sunset. Mind your feet in the water – there are areas of coral on the sea floor that sneak up on you.
From here, you can’t miss this huge Banyan tree.
Time it right and you can catch a free hula show and tiki torch lighting here every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 6.30pm. There’s a large grassy area to sit on in front of the tree but make sure you get there early to grab a good spot! There’s a great view of the sunset and the host of the show includes a section at the beginning where you can watch it set/take your pics to the soundtrack of Hawaiian Ukulele music! We watched about half an hour of the show before getting a bit bored (sorry!) but it was worth going just to check it out!
If you can’t make it on a show day, still check out this tree at sunset. There must be hundreds of birds living in it’s branches and the sound of them all getting ready for bed in the evening is incredible. I could have listend underneath it for ages but there was a huge crowd already and I needed to find a spot to watch the show from!
This area also marks the beginning of Kuhio beach. The water here is calmer as it’s protected by the famous Waikiki wall. You’ll find kids (affectionately termed ‘wall rats’ according to locals) hanging out along the wall at the end and jumping off into the water. Just a note – be careful swimming out into the sea as the wall in the water is submerged and if you don’t notice it you might end up with a nasty scrape on your feet like I did! 😦
I actually wish we’d spent some more time down this end of the beach as, further down towards the zoo, there’s a lovely shaded park area full of palm trees and banyan trees. I saw a few people chilling in hammocks here and it’s much quieter than the rest of the beach area. The zoo is also around here and right next to that is Kapiolani Park which has free tennis courts and a perfect view of Diamond Head crater.
I didn’t go any further that this, but the aquarium is also right here too. It didn’t really appeal to us but if you were looking for a non-beachy day out, you could easily spend a whole day down on this end at the zoo and the aquarium. There are free voucher books all around Waikiki so make sure you pick one up and look for discounts before you buy any tickets. I swear no activity should be bought at full price around here!
So there you have it – a free walking tour of Wakiki beach without having to leave the comfort of your own laptop! 🙂