Waikīkī is the famous beachfront neighbourhood in Honolulu. Lying on the south shore of the island of Oʻahu, in Hawaii, it is a safe bet tourist hot spot for Americans to take a vacation. I spent a weekend there to see why it has become the go-to destination for Americans looking for a taste of paradise.
The centre of Waikīkī is split in two. One side the tall hotels stretching along the shore and the vast openness of the ocean and the mountains in the distance. From the beach you can watch the distant surfers and paddle boarders, the toned and tanned show-offs and the pasty families getting sunburnt.
I took an early evening walk from The Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort to the Duke Kahanamoku Statue.
As I strolled along the seafront I could the hotel diners were queuing up for buffets while local musicians perform traditional Hawaiin songs. It was warm and the music, smell of food and the sunset made a memorable evening out. The outside space of the hotels are surrounded by large candles and typical tropical furniture and fittings decorate the seating areas. Occasionally a Hula girl will appear and take a turn on the stage which for anyone that has working in the industry might appear a bit tacky but it’s definilty on the must see list when you visit a Hawaiin Island.
On my walk back to my AirBNB apartment I noticed the beach was starting to fill up with people taking out blankets and drinking beers. As it got dark, a huge Fireworks Display kicked off right above my head. Apparently, this happens every Friday evening inWaikīkī. A little bit ‘Disney’ for me but was great for families with kids.
It’s an unusual place if I’m honest. Large hotels are clumped together with manmade beaches that offer guests no reason to venture outside the complex. If you do, there are the ubiquitous designer shops and all the restaurant and bars that make every US city within walking distance.
But for me, the most interesting parts of Honolulu are the destinations that lie just out of walking distance from the big resorts. Kakaako waterfront park is a public space that would easily put your local council managed park to shame. The is an enclosed seawater swimming pool with a depth that is ideal for kids. There is a running/walking route around the entire park. An outdoor gym too, not the type that have popped up all over the UK which appear to made purely for geriatrics but a well-equipped adult workout space. Add to this the locals availing of the BBQ spaces under trees and you have a fantastic opportunity to take a peek inside family outdoor evenings that we get for only two weeks per year in the UK.
In the other direction and unmissable from the beaches, is Diamond head. If you’re in good shape and it isn’t too hot, you can get to the top in 30 minutes. There are steep sections and some stairs, so pace yourself, take water and a sunhat. But it’s worth the effort as the views are amazing.
But let’s not all assume it’s paradise here (I think it is!), it is an Island right in the middle of the Pacific so it gets its fair share of inclement weather.
As they say on the west coast of Ireland “If you can see the mountains, it’s going to rain. If you can’t, then it’s already raining.” I love the Hawaiian Island of Oahu and in my following posts, I’ll cover the north shore, the quiet and unspoilt west as well as the beautiful south.