Immortalized in countless postcards for more than a century, Waikiki is Hawaii’s most famous neighborhood. With more than a mile of beachfront, an iconic Diamond Head backdrop, and glistening rows of upscale hotels, shops and restaurants, this glamorous Honolulu setting is attracting more visitors and investors from around the world than ever before.
Waikiki’s boundaries are the Ala Wai Canal on the west and north, and Kapahulu Ave. on the east—which means that all properties are within four blocks of the beach. Within the last decade, the district has experienced an unprecedented transformation: Entire blocks have been rebuilt, shopping centers have been overhauled or created, new luxury hotels have risen or been fully renovated, and new upscale residential condos constructed. Waikiki living is increasingly opulent, with swank towers such as Allure Waikiki, Watermark and Trump just a few steps from Cartier, Tiffany and Gucci. The second phase of the “new Waikiki” is now beginning; The Ritz-Carlton Residences and possibly a Saks Fifth Avenue are just a sampling of what’s on the way.
Waikiki is much more than a designer-boutique destination. In fact, this is one of the most colorful neighborhoods in Hawaii. Shops are open late, crowds linger around street jugglers, and half the foot traffic is just that—sandy feet, no shoes.
Waikiki’s rich past can be discovered throughout the neighborhood. Hawaii’s Royal Family established its court here as early as the 1500s, and a century later planted more than 10,000 coconut trees at a spot they called Helumoa; the descendants of these trees still thrive at what are now The Royal Hawaiian and Sheraton Waikiki hotels. Other interesting sights include the Wizard Stones near the Duke Kahanamoku statue; surfboard markers that retell stories of the district; and the U.S. Army Museum, a former battery that exists today because the building was so strong it couldn’t be torn down.
Of course, with its tradewinds, gentle surf and golden sand, Waikiki’s main attraction is the beach!
Key attractions in and around Waikiki include:
+ Waikiki Beach, running almost the entire length of the district
+ Multiple shopping centers, featuring hundreds of stores from indie boutiques to Gucci
+ Ala Wai Golf Course, one of the world’s most popular urban courses
+ 170-acre Kapiolani Park, home of the Waikiki Shell, Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium
+ Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and Waikiki Elementary School