Few Honolulu neighborhoods, if any, can boast as much outdoor excitement as Waikiki. Although this is an extremely compact district towering with high-rise hotels and condos, its edges are framed by tree-filled parkland and it features more than a mile of prime Oahu beachfront.
And the beach is where the majority of Waikiki’s visitors and residents can be found throughout the year. Days are generally sunny and dry, with air temperatures frequently 80 degrees or more, making for perfect on-sand conditions. Public beach volleyball courts mark its east and west beaches. The scene is always lively along the waterfront, and each stretch of beach has its own personality.
Ocean conditions in Waikiki are family-friendly year-round as well—almost always gentle, sandy bottomed and shallow, with plenty of reef for snorkeling and surf spots with beginner-size waves.
“Beach boy” stands along the beach rent equipment from umbrellas and chairs to surfboards, body boards, snorkels/masks and standup paddleboards, plus offer all types of watersports lessons. Several types of boating opportunities are available right from the beach, including sporty and affordable catamaran rides, outrigger canoe paddling and even a real submarine experience.
A peaceful park on Waikiki’s west side is filled with a variety of trees that flora lovers will enjoy exploring. On the east side of the neighborhood, the 200-acre Kapiolani Park not only is exceptional for bird watching, walking, jogging and picnicking, but also hosts some of Honolulu’s best cultural and sporting events. The park is also home to the Honolulu Zoo and open-air Waikiki Shell, which hosts major concerts and more.
Other outdoor activities around Waikiki are less obvious than the beachfront and parks, but no less entertaining. Consider a walking tour of the neighborhood, which is offered through various organizations and also can be done self-guided by following the surfboard placards posted along Kalakaua Ave. Humans have occupied Waikiki for at least 600 years, and these storyboards record historic information about places where activity has thrived and about particularly notable individuals in more recent Waikiki history.
Waikiki is often the epicenter of street parades and street festivals, which take place along Kalakaua Ave. To see such a major thoroughfare closed to vehicular traffic and opened up to thousands of celebratory residents and visitors is thrilling, to say the least. The events are usually cultural in nature, so plenty of local color usually comes into play. On Halloween, Kalakaua Ave. is a sea of costumed merrymakers and the place to be. Each Tuesday and Friday night, everyone gathers to watch the free fireworks display in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
A favorite mellow outdoor activity of residents is to walk the dog or jog along the Ala Wai Canal on weekends, enjoying the many canoe paddlers that glide past. The distance from end to end is the perfect workout length.
Photos: Stacy Pope