If you take a right down Kalakaua Ave from Kapahulu, you’ll find yourself in a maze of high-rise hotels, tacky tourists shops, fancy restaurants, and the kind of upscale shops that have a bouncer at the door. For the most part, Waikiki can seem like a tropical playground only for the rich, but there’s plenty of cool stuff to be seen without spending a dollar.
There are hundreds of hotels in Waikiki, and while I could never dream of staying in most of them, I can stroll through the lobby, snap some photos, and imagine what the rooms would look like and what kind of people must be in them.
The first place we always pop into on a walk through Waikiki is Pacific Beach Hotel. There is a lobby restaurant with an expensive seafood buffet, but you don’t have to pay anything to take in the main attraction, a massive aquarium home to exotic fish and rays, and even mermaids. There’s a stair case where you can view the fish from. It’s pretty impressive.
Further down is the Hyatt Regency, and we love visiting their parrots. Our favorite is Mali, and African Grey. We’ve been trying to teach him to sing the Harry Potter theme for about a year now. They also have a waterfall inside their hotel, you know, as one does. No big deal.
If you come out the far end of the Hyatt and cross the street, you’ll find yourself at the Moana Surfrider. This is Waikiki’s first ever hotel, and I’m absolutely smitten with it. They have an enormous banyan tree on the beach side. There’s a bar under it, but I’ve never been brave enough to order a drink. I’m too scared to see the prices.
When you see the Cheesecake Factory, cut into the shopping center that runs behind it. A little ways in, you’ll see a pathway that appears, to my eyes, to lead into a magical tropical garden. It’s actually taking you onto the grounds of Waikiki’s second and probably most famous hotel, The Royal Hawaiian. This place is fa-a-ancy. If you just look at the cars waiting at the valet, you’ll know why I always feel a bit conspicuous strolling through its beautiful lobby. If you take a few minutes to sit on one of their rocking chairs and watch the ginger sway in the breeze, nobody will come out and shout at you.
From there, you can cut through the Sheraton parking garage and come out on Beachwalk. Head toward the ocean, then turn right and you’ll find yourself in Fort Derussy Park. You can stop into the free military history museum if you need a break from the sun, or continue your stroll past the impenetrable fortress of the Hale Koa and get yourself over the the Hilton Hawaiian Village. This is the largest resort in Waikiki, and they have a little bit of everything, including penguins.
My favorite part of this resort is the little Japanese section, which reminds me a bit of living in Taiwan. If you take your time strolling around, you’ll find some cool stuff hidden down slim alleys. You’ll definitely come back with plenty of photos.
From here, I suggest you make your way out to the shimmering blue of the Pacific and walk back with your feet in the water. Don’t forget to stop off and take a photo at the Duke statue. It’s a tourist requirement.
There is no end to the cool things you can see in Waikiki, and the people themselves provide plenty of intrigue. You could certainly spend a small fortune if you desire, but if you happen to be one of those people who doesn’t actually have a small fortune, you can still really enjoy Waikiki. Just make sure you have plenty of water and a bucket of sunscreen.
To see all the photos from our day in Waikiki, be sure to check out our Facebook page.