Royal Hawaiian Beach, Waikiki
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Swimming at Waikiki Beach is a delicious treat! And some spots are better than others. In front of the pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel is a good spot because the ocean floor is sandy and there are sweeping views of the sparkling ocean and Diamond Head curving up majestically in the distance. This spot has the warmest water of any of the Waikiki beach areas.
The Royal Hawaiian, along with the Moana Surfrider, is one of the few hotels left in Waikiki that has rich architecture dating back to the 1920s. You feel you are back in time during the glory days of Waikiki as you look up at the beautiful curved details of the Spanish-Moorish building and it's lovely pink exterior, mission-style bell towers, and purple pots on the roof. Make sure you take time to walk the lush tropical gardens.
The great thing about Hawaii is that it's warm enough to swim at night. At this spot, the lights reflect on the water, and a moonlight swim is a feast for the senses. The soft sand at the Royal Hawaiian Beach takes on a golden hue at night and it's incredibly romantic to sit on a blanket and watch the waves splash on the shore. The Waikiki Oceanfront Stroll crosses Royal Hawaiian Beach. At sunset, head past Sheraton Waikiki on the path with handrail that takes you right over the water. Live Hawaiian music from the poolside of the grand hotels wafts into the air. You'll never forget this lovely walk! Another romantic place is the International Marketplace across the street on Kalakaua Ave. There's a magical banyan tree that stretches out over the marketplace, a landscaped waterfall and pretty orchids below, and lots of stalls selling coral jewelry, candles, and clothing. It's exciting at night as there are street performers outside.
Places to Eat
A fun though expensive place to eat is Duke's Canoe Club Waikiki, which is filled with memorabilia about Duke Kahanamoku, olympics swim champion and surfer who brought surfing from Hawaii to the rest of the world. Duke's is just steps east along the beach from the Sheraton Waikiki. Mornings, check out the breakfast buffet- pricey at $14.95. The omelets they cook right in front of you at the buffet are delicious, as are all the other tropical fruits and pastries displayed before you eyes. You can sit on the balcony with views of the brilliant blue-green ocean below, or else on the patio right by the sand. The atmosphere at Duke's is wonderful and sunsets are fantastic, but the only reasonably-priced section at lunch and dinner is the seat-yourself section which is usually full these days. There's a happening bar scene here too.
Even better is Hula Grill, which is above Duke's. It is such a good find! Here you get even better views of the beach and the surfers lined up bobbing over the waves, and the prices are better too! Unfortunately the food we had both times wasn't very good- pancakes like cardboard and only tiny morsels of fruit. But you can't beat the view.
For an easy place to take your family, eat at The Cheesecake Factory, on Kalakaua Ave in Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. The garden patio is lovely at night, with a lit fountain, breezy fans, and pretty vegetation. Inside I like the booths next to the garden windows- what a serene view! Food is your typical chain restaurant fare.
For a sort of tropical jetsons-style family meal, check out Jimmy Buffets at the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort, across Kalakaua Ave from Cheescake Factory. There is lava flowing under your feet in the raised bar area, an ocean scene projected on the wall with waves rolling into shore, and lamps with whooshing water like the ocean above the rock-cave booths. Kids love it. If you've had enough sun it's nice to be in the dark cool interior.
Here's a non-family outing: For a wild bar scene, try out Moose McGillycuddy's at 310 Lewers St, near the corner of Kalakaua and Lewers, just northwest of here. Populated by military men, this bar has a ratio of men to women of about 1 to 20. One night when I went with a friend, so many men bought us drinks that we had a row of drinks waiting for us on the counter! Live rock music every night makes this a fun place to dance. Overall, Moose McGillycuddy's is somewhat seedy, but fun for a change of pace.
Great Place to Stay
If you want to be in the midst of all the action, right beside the International Marketplace, stay at the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Resort. You can walk across the street at any time of day or night and be at the very best part of Waikiki Beach! Usually this part of Waikiki is off-limits because there's no parking and it's just hard to access. But you will get to know the heart of Waikiki really well if you stay right in it! You can shop and dine at Waikiki Beach Walk, Royal Hawaiian Center, Duty Free Shop, and Macy's, and afterwards enjoy the gorgeous views from your room- ask for a room with a view (see photo below). I wouldn't call this area quiet or serene, but it's great for couples, singles (you can fall into bed within minutes of being out on the town), or couples with older children.
Other nice spots in Waikiki from east to west are: the Hau Tree Beach all the way on the Diamond Head end of Waikiki- lots of shade and a lovely swim; the great bodyboarding beach near Kapahulu Avenue; the ocean swimming pool, a safe spot for more timid swimmers, and very romantic at night with the moon shining on the still water; Duke Kahanamoku Statue Beach, in the center of it all; and all the way west before you hit the harbor, my favorite spot, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach, with tons of fun stuff for kids to do.
Photo GalleryClick on photo to see large version
This is the center of Waikiki and parking is very expensive. You can park at a public parking lot on Seaside Avenue. This is probably the cheapest parking in the area. Turn off Kalakaua Ave to get onto Seaside Avenue because it's one-way. The parking will be on your right, after the ABC store.
You can also search for parking along the side streets that branch off from Kalakaua Ave.
If you can walk farther, you can park for free along Ala Wai Blvd if you're patient and can find a spot. The earlier in the day, the easier it'll be.
You can also park at the time-limited, metered parking along Saratoga Rd, and then walk along the beach to this spot. Bring plenty of quarters for the meters!
If you're buying a drink or pupus at one of the hotels, you can probably park in their lots and get your parking validated at a reduced rate, but I've never done it, so check out the rules and prices first.
Duke's Canoe Club Restaurant, call (808) 922-2668.
Hula Grill Waikiki, call (808) 923-4852.
The Cheesecake Factory, call (808) 924-5001.
Jimmy Buffets, call (866) 253-4760.
Moose McGillycuddy's, call (808) 923-0751.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating:
|Ahhh!!!!!! Dukes, ggggrrrrreat times.|
|Best place in Waikiki........best Ocean Views......I will be there for a COLD BEER.|
|I just got back from a stay in waikiki, this was my first and definately is NOT going to be my last....|
|Well said!!! Thanks|