Gorgeous long sandy beaches, sparkling turquoise waters and the backdrop of the famous Diamond Head in the background. Equally influenced by Hawaiian royalty and tourists from all over the world, Waikiki Beach in Oahu is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.
Originally a retreat for former Hawaiian royalty and monarchs, the popular Waikiki beach on the South Shore is now literally a paradise for young and old alike. Soft white sand, an endlessly long boardwalk, numerous quaint boutiques, restaurants and beach bars overlooking the sparkling turquoise sea invite visitors to throw everyday worries overboard. Waikiki Beach has become known primarily as a surfer's paradise. Even the monarchs frolicked there in the 19th century to unwind and ride the waves. Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian water sportsman and multiple Olympic champion, was also an important personality who advanced water sports in Hawaii. In honor of Duke, the Duke Kahanamoku statue, Waikiki's landmark, stands on Waikiki Beach.
In 1901, the Moana Surfrider, the first hotel on Waikiki Beach, opened its doors. This was the starting signal for the world-famous beach on the South Shore. Today, Waikiki Beach is home to countless accommodations for all price ranges. From 5-star hotels or resorts to shared rooms for backpackers, visitors are offered everything. The many surf boys teach vacationers how to surf and impress with their ability to ride the waves. But there's no need to panic, those who aren't surfer types still have countless ways to enjoy Waikiki's beautiful beach. For example, travelers can let off steam playing beach volleyball, try their skills at canoeing, or jump into the cool turquoise waters in secluded areas without waves.
The history of Waikiki Beach
Before Waikiki Beach became famous and popular with travelers from all over the world, Hawaiian monarchs and kings frolicked on its stunning beaches. In the earlier years, the Waikiki Beach area consisted mostly of swampland. Fish ponds and wet marshes were located next to the breathtaking beaches instead of hotel complexes and resorts, and the Manoa and Palolo parts were still part of Waikiki as well. It all started with the Hawaiian King Kamehameha. He was Hawaii's first king, considered generous and revered by his people. In 1450, the government center of Oahu was located in Waikiki. Reason enough for King Kamehameha to dock in Waikiki Beach, but not to enjoy the beauty of the land.
Rather, he had the intention to conquer Oahu with his fleet and ultimately unite the islands of Hawaii. Until the year 1830, aristocrats came to Waikiki again and again to enjoy the beach for themselves and to test their skills on the longboard. In the years that followed, visitors who were not of aristocratic descent flocked to the beach for the first time. Quickly, the beauty of the palm-lined beach spread and more and more travelers wanted to see the gorgeous beaches with their own eyes. The opening of the Moana Surfrider in 1901 was an important step for tourism on the beach. Even more crucial was the opening of Honolulu Airport in 1927, which opened the doors to international tourism.
The beach sections of the Waikiki Beach
Waikiki is not called the Manhattan of the Pacific for nothing and there are several reasons why the beach is world famous. The beaches of Waikiki have everything to offer what the heart desires. Another plus is that they are all free to visitors. Whether cultural and historic, romantic and secluded, or action-packed and sometimes crowded, each of Waikiki's eight beach sections offers vacationers a distinct atmosphere with the unique backdrop of Diamond Head in the background. The eight sections were created by natural eruptions and are named after the following:
- Prince Kuhio Beach
- Queen Kapiolani Beach
- Fort DeRussy Beach Park
- Gray's Beach
- San Souci Beach
- Outrigger Canoe Club Beach
- Duke Kahanamoku Beach
- Royal Hawaiian Beach
Are Waikiki's beach sections natural?
Malicious tongues claim that such a dreamlike beach with the perfect backdrop of Diamond Head cannot be natural. But don't worry, the paradise in the Pacific Ocean was created purely from nature, except for human mistakes. Human errors mean, among other things, not paying attention to erosion, which has existed since the 19th century. Bungalows and vacation homes built too close to the beach, for example, cause problems due to erosion. As a result, sand had to be imported from California as early as 1920 and 1930. The importation was stopped, however, because engineers realized that local sand was best suited for integration. Thus, instead of importing sand from California, it was decided that sand from other Hawaiian beaches, such as Waimea Bay Beach or North Shore beaches, would be preferred.
Aside from these and similar problems, Waikiki's mile-long beach is completely natural, and so it's justifiable that visitors love the beach for that very reason. Waikiki's dazzling underwater world is equally natural. Besides the world famous Hanauma Bay, visitors also get to see the many colorful fish and corals on the beach in Waikiki. With a little luck, sea turtles will also show up. But beware, visitors should definitely keep an eye out for jellyfish. If these are sighted, a warning is also issued by the lifeguards. Even with to pay attention to it is still not a disadvantage.
Duke Kahanamoku statue at Waikiki Beach - world famous surfing legend and Olympic gold medalist
For Duke, or Duke as his real name was, it all started on the beach in Waikiki. The native Hawaiian moved to Waikiki with his family when he was 3 years old and learned to surf on traditional Hawaiian surfboards. Besides surfing, swimming was the Hawaiian's great passion and in 1911 Duke had his first breakthrough in freestyle swimming. He went on to compete in 5 Olympic Games and was ultimately a 5-time Olympic champion. During his travels for Olympic participation, he introduced surfing to the rest of the world. He taught it to friends in Hollywood and taught locals as well as visitors on beaches in Hawaii and California.
Without Duke Kahanamoku, modern surfing would never have become popular and thus Waikiki Beach would never have become as famous. Duke was the first person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame with his talent in both surfing and swimming. In order not to let this great Olympic champion be forgotten, the Duke Kahanamoku statue was erected at Waikiki Beach in his honor.
Waikiki's sunsets - a breathtaking sight
Sunsets are plentiful in Hawaii, yet travelers should not take the breathtaking natural spectacle for granted. Waikiki's long sandy beach faces completely south, making it the perfect location for beautiful sunsets. Whether from a beach bar, pool bar or simply from a blanket on the beach, a beautiful spectacle is offered daily. Visitors can marvel anew each day as the glowing sun bathes the sky and sea in orange-red colors and the sailboats in jet-black silhouettes. The sunsets in Waikiki are as famous as the beaches themselves. Not many places in the world have more colorful sunsets to marvel at.
Interesting facts and good to know
Sharks on the beach in Waikiki
Another positive reason and certainly one of the factors why Waikiki Beach is world famous and popular, there has not been a single shark attack in over 150 years of tourism at Waikiki Beach. This does not immediately mean that there are no sharks in the Pacific Ocean around Hawaii, yet this fact should take away feelings of fear from vacationers. Lifeguards and beach attendants are also on the lookout for sharks throughout the day and sound the alarm immediately if there is any danger in sight.
Eating and drinking at the beach in Waikiki
If you take a stroll along the beach in Waikiki, you will always encounter vacationers sipping a cocktail from a pineapple or spooning rainbow-colored ice cream. Numerous beach bars on the beach in Waikiki leave nothing to be desired and invite visitors to enjoy the Hawaiian atmosphere. Attention: Alcohol is prohibited on the beach in Hawaii, as in California, and is punishable by fines.
Culture at Waikiki Beach
Along the beach, there are regular cultural festivals, which are also popular with travelers. The Waikiki Historic Trail is also a popular route among visitors. The trail winds along the beach of Waikiki and tells the historical story of Waikiki with the help of surfboards with information.
Waikiki Beach Parking
Like most popular places, finding parking is not easy at Waikiki beach. Parking on the street here is prohibited or subject to charges. Nevertheless, there are solutions. At the zoo, which is located directly at the beach or also on Monsarrat Avenue in Kapiolani Regional Park, there are enough free parking spaces available.
Beach opening hours
Waikiki Beach is actually open 24 hours. Visitors who are still on site after dark or who want to admire the stars from the beach will most likely be approached by the local police. On the beach of Waikiki there is a ban on staying overnight, which is taken very strictly and is to be prevented with strict controls.