A girl on her surfboard at Waikīkī Beach Image Ben Ono Hawai‘i Tourism Authority
A girl on her surfboard at Waikīkī Beach. Image: Ben Ono, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority

Waikīkī family travel

Waikīkī

Waikīkī family travel

With its famous beach and family-friendly restaurants and attractions, Waikīkī is the ideal place to start your holiday. It’s around 30 minutes’ drive from Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, where flights from Australia and New Zealand arrive

Best things to do in Waikīkī

Waikīkī Beach

Waikīkī’s biggest drawcard is undoubtedly its beach. Stretching for more than three kilometres, it actually consists of several smaller beaches that interconnect. They include Duke Kahanamoku Beach (named after the Olympian, who’s considered the father of modern surfing), Fort DeRussy Beach and Queen’s Surf Beach. Protected from the surf by a break wall, Kūhiō Beach is ideal for families with younger kids, with activities such as surfing and outrigger canoeing. Other popular water sports include stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking, sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving and even SUP yoga. Don’t miss the weekly fireworks show that lights up the sky outside Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikīkī Beach Resort every Friday night at 7.45pm or 8pm, depending on the time of year.

A girl looking at a shipwreck on a tour with Atlantis Submarines in Waikīkī
A girl looking at a shipwreck on a tour with Atlantis Submarines in Waikīkī

Submarine adventure

You can also explore under the water on a glass bottom boat tour, or in Atlantis Adventures’ environmentally-friendly 48-passenger submarine, which dives to depths of up to 30 metres to see coral reefs, fish and other marine life.

Waikīkī Aquarium

Opposite beautiful Kapi‘olani Park, Waikīkī Aquarium showcases more than 500 marine species and maintains more than 3,500 marine specimens, with a focus on the unique aquatic life of Hawai‘i and the tropical Pacific. Located within the park, Honolulu Zoo is home to more than 1,200 animals living in specially-designed habitats. It also offers Twilight Tours.

waikikiaquarium.org

Lē‘ahi (Diamond Head State Monument)

For panoramic views over Waikīkī, challenge the kids to a hike to the top of Lē‘ahi (Diamond Head State Monument) – a 230 metre-high extinct volcanic crater and National Natural Landmark. Advance reservations are required for visitors to help protect the environment.

Visit dlnr.hawaii.gov

The entrance to International Market Place
The entrance to International Market Place

International Market Place

If your family includes little shopaholics, head to International Market Place, which has more than 100 shops showcasing local and international brands and eateries. Stores include Anthropologie, Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, Honolulu Cookie Co., Kona Coffee Purveyors, Burberry, Vince, Christian Louboutin, Sunglass Hut and MCM. It also hosts a range of free on-site experiences, including open-air fitness classes, a monthly lei-making class, a free cultural audio tour, and a hula show on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays honouring Hawai‘i’s beloved Queen Emma as told through Hawaiian and Polynesian song and dance. The centre also boasts the largest collection of outdoor and open-air restaurants in Waikīkī on its Level 3 Grand Lānai.

shopinternationalmarketplace.com

Royal Hawaiian Center

Spanning three blocks on the beach side of Kalākaua Ave, Royal Hawaiian Center has more than 90 shops and over 30 eateries across four levels. Stores range from internationally renowned, luxury brands Hermès, Tiffany & Co. and Valentino to boutiques featuring Hawai‘i-made products. The Center also hosts free live entertainment at The Royal Grove, such as hula performances, and offers an array of cultural activities and experiences throughout the year, including ‘ukulele lessons, lei-making classes and hula lessons for keiki (kids).

royalhawaiiancenter.com

Best hotels and resorts in Waikīkī

Kids admiring the view from OUTRIGGER Reef Waikīkī Beach Resort Grand Navigators Suite Ocean View Deck
Kids admiring the view from OUTRIGGER Reef Waikīkī Beach Resort Grand Navigators Suite Ocean View Deck

OUTRIGGER Resorts & Hotels

OUTRIGGER Resorts & Hotels has three properties in Waikīkī that are ideal for families. The flagship OUTRIGGER Reef Waikīkī Beach Resort recently completed a US$85 million transformation, with renovated guest rooms, artwork celebrating the islands’ culture, a pool deck with cabanas, and a revamped cultural centre offering cultural activities such as hula, ‘ukulele and lei and bracelet-making lessons. Its new Wellness Wing boasts an on-site  restaurant, Monkeypod Kitchen by Merriman, Voyager 47 Club Lounge, a state-of-the-art gym, treatment rooms and a Coral Kids’ Club, which has a strong focus on ocean conservation.

outrigger.com

Waikīkī Beachcomber by OUTRIGGER

Located on Kalākaua Ave next to International Market Place and just steps from the beach, OUTRIGGER Waikīkī Beachcomber Hotel has also undergone a US$35 million upgrade, with its style and design curated by a collection of local artists and influencers. It also has a high-tech interactive Beachcomber Activities Lounge, restaurant and craft brewery Maui Brewing Co. and a poolside café. Home to iconic beachfront eatery Duke’s Waikīkī, OUTRIGGER Waikīkī Beach Resort also has rooms overlooking the beach and Lē‘ahi (Diamond Head) and offers live music nightly at Hula Grill Waikīkī.

waikikibeachcomber.com

Aqua-Aston Hospitality

Honolulu-based hotel company Aqua-Aston Hospitality has several properties to choose from, including the landmark ‘Ilikai Hotel & Luxury Suites, which featured in the opening sequence of the original Hawai‘i Five-O television series and has rooms with full kitchens and two pools, and Aston Waikīkī Beach Tower, which has a pool deck with a spa, barbecues and cabanas overlooking the beach. Aston at the Waikīkī Banyan also has rooms with full kitchens and a pool deck with a playground area.

aquaaston.com

The pool at Castle Bamboo Waikīkī Hotel
The pool at Castle Bamboo Waikīkī Hotel

Castle Resorts & Hotels

For families who like the convenience of kitchens or kitchenettes, Castle Resorts & Hotels offers condominium-style accommodation at several properties in Waikīkī. Waikīkī Shores is the neighbourhood’s only condominium option directly on the beach, with panoramic views. Just a block back from the beach, Waikīkī Grand Hotel is a quieter option, while Bamboo Waikīkī Hotel has Asian-inspired décor that celebrates Hawai‘i’s multi-ethnic heritage. The Palms at Waikīkī overlooks Ala Moana Boulevard, with a pool and sundeck enhancing its tropical feel.

castleresorts.com

Play giant chess at Holiday Inn Express Waikīkī
Play giant chess at Holiday Inn Express Waikīkī

Holiday Inn Express Waikīkī

Holiday Inn Express Waikīkī is three blocks back from the beach, with a free hot buffet breakfast, a pool with private cabanas, spa, gym, a kids’ games room and a 5th floor deck with a nine-hole mini-golf course, shuffleboard, giant chess, ping pong and foosball ideal for family fun.

ihg.com

Waikīkī Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

Located on the site of one of Queen Lili‘uokalani’s summer homes, Waikīkī Beach Marriott Resort & Spa has a family pool surrounded by day beds and cabanas, an adults-only pool, a day spa, gym, and a large rooftop deck overlooking Kūhiō Beach. Guests can dine at in-house Italian, seafood and steakhouse restaurants, and the Paina Waikīkī Lū‘au.

marriott.com

Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikīkī Beach Walk

One block back from the beach, Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikīkī Beach Walk offers complimentary breakfast and a social evening gathering on the Grand Lanai (balcony), which has a bar and a pool with a spa and shallow section for young children. It’s also home to a Roy’s restaurant, Ruth’s Chris steakhouse and Yard House brew pub.

hilton.com

Best restaurants and cafes in Waikīkī

Dishes served at Duke's Waikīkī
Dishes served at Duke's Waikīkī

Duke’s Waikīkī

Slip into the Hawai‘i groove at Duke’s Waikīkī — a vibrant beachfront eatery known for its barefoot bar, tiki vibe and umbrella drinks. Located at OUTRIGGER Waikīkī Beach Resort, it offers a kids’ menu that includes fried chicken, a cheeseburger and fish and chips. And Kimo’s original hula pie is a must for dessert!

dukeswaikiki.com

Barefoot Beach Cafe

Barefoot Beach Cafe is a casual oceanfront restaurant on Queen’s Surf Beach, with live music every night from 5.30pm to 8.30pm and Sundays from 10am to 1pm.

barefootbeachcafe.com

Tiki’s Grill & Bar

With large tiki statues and cups, colourful lights and live music, Tiki’s Grill & Bar is a fun themed restaurant in the Twin Fin Hotel, offering a casual American and Pacific-Rim menu with flavours of the islands.

tikisgrill.com

Tanaka of Tokyo

Teppanyaki is always a hit with kids, and the spectacular fire show at Tanaka of Tokyo won’t disappoint. You’ll find venues on the third floor of Waikīkī Shopping Plaza, the Ala Moana Center and at OHANA Waikīkī East by OUTRIGGER.

tanakaoftokyo.com

Tucker & Bevvy

If you’re missing home, head straight to Tucker & Bevvy. Inspired by Australian beachside cafes, it serves take-away salads, sandwiches, wraps, smoothies and cold pressed juices at two locations — the Park Shore Hotel and in the atrium of the Hyatt Regency Waikīkī Beach Resort.

tuckerandbevvy.com

International Market Place

It’s also worth checking out the eateries at International Market Place, which has the largest collection of outdoor and open-air restaurants in Waikīkī, including Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi, STRIPSTEAK Waikīkī, ShoreFyre, Skybox Taphouse, Moani Waikīkī Island Bistro & Bar, Herringbone, Crackin’ Kitchen and Liliha Bakery. 

shopinternationalmarketplace.com

Waikīkī Food Hall at the Royal Hawaiian Center

Waikīkī Food Hall at the Royal Hawaiian Center also has some fantastic offerings on the third floor of building C, including Waikiki Brewing Co., Wiki Wiki Cheese Burger, Meataly Boys, POTAMA, 5-Star Shrimp, Allegrini Waikīkī and MILK.

royalhawaiiancenter.com

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