Waikiki is a tropical paradise located on Oahu’s South Shore in Hawaii. This coastal utopia offers more than sandy beaches and tasty Poke. There are many unique things to do in Waikiki, from hiking Hawaii’s mountains to catching some waves in the central Pacific Ocean. Here is our list of the best things you can do during your next visit to Waikiki.
Hike Diamond Head
Diamond Head is one of the best hikes in Oahu, and you can walk to the trailhead from Waikiki Beach. The Diamond Head Crater is a 760-foot volcanic tuff cone famous for its beauty and historic past.
You do have the option to drive to Diamond Head or hike from Waikiki. If you drive, the hike to Diamond Head’s Summit from the parking lot is 1.6 miles. Don’t be fooled by the short distance since there is an elevation gain of 515 feet. The hike has a steady incline on a path until you reach the top; it will get your heart pumping.
From there, you will go up a steep staircase to the summit. The views from the top are stunning, allowing you to see the vast blue ocean and the shores of Waikiki in the distance.
If you want an extended workout, you can take a walk from Waikiki Beach, and many choose this option. It can take anywhere from four to five hours round trip, so bring enough food and water for your journey.
Tickets to visit the Diamond Head Crater are $5 per car or $1 per person if walking. As of 2024, entry and parking reservations are required for non-residents; booking in advance is recommended as time slots sell out quickly.
Go Running at Kapi’olani Park
Staying healthy on vacation can be hard, but not in Hawaii. You will not be disappointed with your running views in Waikiki. Nothing is better than breathing in the salty sea air and feeling the Hawaiian sun on your skin.
While there are so many Waikiki Running Routes, one of the best is around Kapi’olani Park. This route is 1.75 miles long and will take you along a paved path. There are a lot of locals who run this route since the park is open day and night.
I recommend running at sunrise when the tourists are still getting ready for their beach day. You will feel like you have the entire beach town to yourself. Running during your vacation will make you feel less guilty about that fifth poke of the day or refreshing Hawaiian Shaved Ice!
Catch Some Waves
Hawaii is home to some of the best surfing in the world! The iconic North Shore, located in north Oahu, is home to Sunset Beach, which has some of the world’s most dangerous waves. Fortunately, Waikiki also has some of the best surfing in the state, which is less rough and ideal for beginners.
Surfing in Waikiki is a must when visiting Hawaii. You can join one of the world-class surf schools or rent a surfboard if you are a seasoned surfer. The beaches in Waikiki make paddling out easy since they have consistent waves.
If you want to attend a surf school, you can try tourist favorites such as Stoke Drift Surf School or Kahu Surf School. After you feel confident, you can check out the Top 6 Best Waikiki Surf Spots for Beginners.
One of the best places to rent a surfboard is Dukes Lagoon. Their booth is located right on the beach, making it easy to set up your rental. They will even hold your items, so you don’t have to leave them unattended. They have two-hour or all-day rentals, depending on how long you want to spend in the ocean.
Once you pick up your board, find where the surf schools are operating and hang out next to that area since the locals know where the best waves are. Here are the Best Waikiki Hotels for Surfing if surfing is your primary reason for visiting Waikiki.
Eat A Hula Dog
A favorite treat in Hawaii isn’t just Poke or Huli Chicken; another contender is the tasty Hula Dog. Anthony Bourdain made this local cuisine famous when he visited Hula Dog during season four of No Reservations; if he visited, you know it’s good.
A Hula Dog is a Hawaiin hot dog served in a bun-sized loaf of bread pierced with a “Puka” from one end. You can build your own Puka by choosing your Hula Dog® Bread, ranging from Brioche, Hawaiian, or Taro.
Then, select your choice of protein: a traditional Polish sausage or a veggie dog. The fun continues as you pick and choose what toppings you want. This includes your choice of roasted garlic lemon sauce, tropical relishes, mustards, and traditional sauce.
You can eat a Hula Dog by taking the thirty-minute walk from Waikiki Beach, making it the perfect lunch spot after a long run or day of surfing.
Experience SUP Surfing
SUP Surfing, or stand-up paddle surfing, is becoming one of the best activities to enjoy when visiting Waikiki. This area of Hawaii has some of the best waves on Oahu, making it ideal for beginner or advanced SUPers.
Thanks to Wakiki’s trade winds, you can expect good offshore wind conditions most of the year. Visit during the summer to experience the best stand-up paddle surfing in Waikiki. This is when the southern swells are most common, making the waves thrilling.
You can easily rent a SUP in Waikiki since tents and stands are everywhere. One of the best places for rentals is next to the Duke Statute, where you can rent SUP boards by the hour. Other rental spots include Moku Hawaii, Ohana Surf Project, and Hans Hedemann; some even offer first-time stand-up paddle surfing lessons.
The best beginner spots are found at Kaimana Beach and Kailua Beach Park. If you are comfortable with SUP and want a more challenging experience, head to Ala Moana Beach Park. SUP is a great way to burn calories before enjoying Waikki’s delicious food scene. Just rent a board and enjoy your day in Hawaii’s great outdoors.
Enjoy a Traditional Hawaiian breakfast
One of the best ways to learn about Hawaii is through their food. Supporting locals when traveling to their destination is vital, so eating a Hawaiian breakfast is necessary for what to do in Waikiki!
Waikiki has so many delicious Breakfast Spots, so choosing the best one can be challenging. But there is one place you simply cannot miss, and that is Goofy Cafe & Dine. This breakfast hotspot is located west of Waikiki near Hilton Hawaiian Village and is infamous for its Aloha Spirit.
Goody Cafe & Dine only uses healthy and fresh ingredients, utilizing a local Hawaiian theme. With their slogan of ‘Eat Local,’ you know you are in for a flavorsome morning. You must try Eggs Benedict, which has homemade hollandaise sauce with Lilikoi butter, poached eggs served with Okinawan purple potatoes, and fresh kale salad.
Their Big Island Beef Loco Moco is a must to try for a traditional Hawaiian breakfast. It is an island staple with a big Island beef homemade patty, eggs sunny side up, homemade special gravy sauce, and brown rice.
Their breakfast menu is offered from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM. They also serve lunch and dinner, but their breakfast dishes have gained recognition. Enjoying a traditional Hawaiian breakfast is an amazing way to kick off our day in Waikiki.
Visit the Waikiki Aquarium
If you want a break from the sun, you should visit the Waikiki Aquarium. The aquarium is home to more than 3,500 animals and 490 species of marine plants. This is a wonderful place to learn all about the fish of Hawaii and the sea plants you may see during your visit.
You can also see some unique marine mammals and invertebrates, such as the Hawaiian monk seal, giant crabs, green sea turtles, and seahorses. Other attractions include the Coral Farm, jellyfish, and living reef.
If you visit on the first or third Thursday of the month, you can join the Hawaiian Plant Guided Tour. You will tour the Waikiki Aquarium and learn all about Hawaii’s native plants and captivating flowers.
Visiting the Aquarium is one of the best things to do in Waikiki on a rainy day, or if visiting with children. The aquarium is next to the beach by Kapiʻolani Park, making it an easy walk from most hotels in Waikiki. You can visit daily from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM; tickets are $12 per person.
The Aloha Spirit in Waikiki
Waikiki is truly a vacation of its own when visiting Hawaii. Getting active in Waikiki and taking advantage of the scenic running trails and mountainous hikes are just a few exciting ways to spend your day. Waikiki is one of the best destinations in Hawaii, thanks to its turquoise blue ocean water, tasty Hawaiian meals, and variety of water sports.