Nutrition and Diet

Our Favorite Places to Visit in Waikiki

We were lucky recently to be able to take a four night trip to Oahu, HI as a family. There are so many incredible things to do there that we want to share some of our favorites places to visit in Waikiki.

Where We Stayed in Waikiki

My husband travels for work often, so we always try to use hotel points if we can when traveling. Dan has actually traveled to Waikiki numerous times and typically stays at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani hotel.

That’s where we stayed this recent trip and I thought it was the perfect location. It’s located right in the middle of the Main Street in Waikiki. It’s within walking distance to all the shops and restaurants and directly across the street from the beach.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani

As with any hotels, there are pro’s and con’s. Here is my honest opinion –

Pros

  • perfect location
  • has a pool (but the pool isn’t heated so it was cold during our stay)
  • beautiful lobby, open floor plan
  • rooms are nice, basic, nothing fancy
  • within walking distance of all the shops and restaurants on the Main Street in town
  • directly across from Duke’s Restaurant
  • the beach is directly across the street
  • really nice gym onsite and fun, outdoor bar
  • affordable, compared to price of some neighboring hotels
  • underground parking garage for hotel guests
  • great views from rooms

Cons

  • rooms are pretty basic
  • overnight parking is expensive
  • pool is not heated

All in all, this is a great option if you are looking for a nice hotel but nothing fancy. You cannot beat this location, especially if you don’t have a vehicle. I would definitely stay here again.

Activities in Waikiki

Dan and I have both been to Oahu multiple times in the past. Since we were only here for 4 days, we wanted to really focus on doing things to the kids wanted to do. For reference, our kids are 9 and 11 years old.

Pearl Harbor National Museum

My 9 year old son is obsessed with reading and learning about World War II. When we asked the kid what they wanted to do while in Hawaii, visiting the Pearl Harbor Museum was on the top of his list.

Pro Tip – we stopped here right after leaving the airport once we arrived. It’s only about 20 minutes from the airport.

There are so many areas to visit within this national museum. Since we hadn’t planned anything in advance (pretty much how we roll on vacation), we just tried to wing it. We got tickets to take a boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial. You can either purchase tickets in advance for a certain time, or just get stand by tickets and wait in line. We got stand by tickets and only had to wait about 30 minutes for the boat ride.

You can stay as short or long as you like. It started raining while we were visiting, so we didn’t stay very long. The trip to the USS Arizona Memorial is 100% worth the time, it’s a very humbling experience.

Diamond Head

We didn’t hike diamond head this trip but have done it in the past. Definitely recommend this activity if you are visiting Waikiki. It’s an easy hike and the views from the top are gorgeous!

Swimming with Dolphins

This excursion was a Christmas gift for the kids from their grandparents. Fun fact: Dan and I visited Oahu when we were 18 years old and did this very same activity. Fun to see our kids repeat our experience 25 years later!

The Kahala Resort in Oahu has an amazing program called Dolphin Quest. You can book a time to swim and play with dolphins in one of their lagoons on the hotel grounds.

If this is within your budget, I highly recommend this fun activity. The kids got in lagoon and were able to swim, play and spend about 45 minutes with the dolphins. We took about 1000 pictures and it was a highlight of their trip.

Pro Tip – the beach right outside this hotel is gorgeous! Great beach for kids as well because it’s very calm and shallow. There is a swimming dock as well. Bring your beach gear and plan on spending some time on the beach right after the dolphin experience.

Surf Lessons

Dan knows how to surf so he rented two boards for the kids and taught them himself. We rented boards right on the sand at Kūhiō beach (within walking distance of the hotel we stayed at). The rental rates were reasonable and they were helpful at finding the right boards for the kids. There are multiple places for surf lessons as well.

Shopping

There are no shortages of shops in Waikiki. The whole main street (Kalākaua Avenue) has shops lining the street on both sides. It has a good combination of fancy stores (Gucci, Prada) and less expensive spots (H&M, surf shops, etc). There are also a few great malls within the area that are worth checking out if you are looking to shop.

Checking out the other Hotels

There are so many beautiful hotels in Waikiki. It’s fun to walk through them, even if you aren’t staying there. Some of our favorites to check out include –

  • Moana Surf Rider
  • The Royal Hawaiian (the big pink hotel)

Favorite Beaches to Visit in Waikiki

My favorite activity in Waikiki is simply going to the beach for the day. We love stopping at the grocery store to grab sandwiches, chips and drinks and then just make a day of being beach bums. Here are a few of the different beaches we visited –

Waikiki Beach

This was a block from our hotel and the main beach we visited. It’s beautiful, clean and within walking distances of restaurants and shops.

Pro Tip – there are ABC Stores on every corner where you can purchase rafts, inner tubes and boogie boards to bring to the beach. The kids asked the people at our hotel’s pool if anyone had left any boogie boards or rafts behind and they gave them some. The only condition – they had to give them to another family when we left. So definitely check with your hotel before purchasing.

We would bring a deck of cards and sometimes take a break from the sun at one of the many hotel bars located right on the beach. We’d grab a Mai Tai and snack before heading back to the sand.

Beach scene

My son loved this beach the most because there were a lot of locals that hung out not the pier. They taught him how to time the waves and jump off the pier into the shallow water. He did it over and over and over.

The kids also said this beach was better for boogie boarding than Waikiki Beach because the waves were a bit stronger.

This beach was also within walking distance from our hotel. Only about 10 minutes away. Still plenty of restaurants, shops and stores nearby.

Sorry Hilton Beach

beaches we loved in Waikiki

This was the beach at the hotel where we did the Dolphin Quest activity mentioned above. This beach is so quiet, peaceful and tranquil. Perfect for families with small children because there aren’t really any waves and it’s shallow very far out into the water.

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach

Hand’s down, the MOST BEAUTIFUL beach I’ve ever seen in my life! Just for reference I’ve been to the beaches in Miami, Maui, Fiji, Thailand, Greece, France and Italy.

Dan said he learned about this beach a long time ago from local friends in the area. It’s a drive (about 45 minutes from our hotel) but so worth it. It can be tricky to locate and find parking. There is a main area you can park but it’s often crowded. We had to park within the residential areas a few blocks away and then just walk through one of the many little alleyways between homes to access the beach.

It’s just stunning.

Favorite Places to Eat in Waikiki

places to eat in Waikiki

My favorite part of vacation is eating. We don’t eat out very often at home, so it’s like a kid in a candy store when we go on vacation. Oahu has not shortages of great restaurants.

Here are a few of the places we dined while on vacation this time –

Restaurant 604

This was our first stop after leaving the airport. It’s close by and has a cool vibe. After being on the plane for almost 6 hours, we were all starving and looking forward to lunch.

This place has a great menu, I had the Poke Nachos and they were fantastic. Lots of fun drinks, great beer and an indoor/outdoor vibe. Highly recommend if you are looking for a lunch spot after arriving.

Duke’s Barefoot Bar

This is always one of our go to spots in both Waikiki and Maui. It was located directly across the street from our hotel, so we actually dined here multiple times.

After a day at the beach, we strolled right up and sat on their beachside patio. The kids loved their Kaluha pork nachos. Dan had wings (he always does) and I had a delicious falafel naan sandwich.

They have great Mai Tai’s and the kids loved their virgin daiquiris.

Lulu’s Waikiki

Neither of us had been here before, but the original place we wanted to go had too long of a wait, so we gave Lulu’s a whirl. It has a very sports bar vibe but the menu has a lot of great options. Dan had stir fry and he said it was fantastic. I tried the Korean beef tacos and I thought there were just okay. The food is good, not great. Good option if you need a last minute dinner idea and aren’t looking for anything too fancy.

Island Snow

25 years ago we had local friends introduce us to Island Snow and it’s still one of our favorites for Shave Ice.

We stopped here on our way to Lanikai Beach, it’s definitely not within walking distance of our hotel (it’s on the other side of the island). There are no shortages of other shave ice spots in Waikiki, we just love this one.

Duke’s Restaurant

We chose to have a “fancy” dinner one night during our trip. We dined at Duke’s (not the barefoot bar option) and it was delicious. My favorite part was that they had a nice salad bar that you could add to your meal that had plenty of great salads, pasta dishes, breads, and vegetables. The best part – for just $1 the kids could add it to their meals as well.

The kids and I all added the salad bar and I will say it was a nice way to add in some more vegetables. They had about 8 prepared salads (caprese, a pasta salad, an asian salad, etc), fresh baked breads, fruit and your typically build your own salad.

For entrees, Dan had Huli Huli Chicken served with rice and vegetables that was definitely the winning dish of the night!

I ordered the Coconut Ginger Braised Seafood. The flavor of this dish was outstanding but it was a very small portion. I was very glad that I had added the salad bar.

Travel Tips

We love to travel and have acquired some great tips over the years.

Mediterranean Diet snacks
  1. Always bring your own snacks for the plane / train / car. You never know when you might get delayed or if there will be limited snack options for purchase. Check out some of our favorites in these posts –

2. The Mediterranean diet is all about balance. The best part about travel is trying new cuisines, so be sure to include some local fare on your trip. We were lucky in Hawaii that there was so much fresh fish and seafood on the menu pretty much everywhere we went. We didn’t stress over how we ate but we tried to work in plenty of fruits and veggies and typically shared dessert. If we wanted to try different dishes, we’d just order a few and share.

3. We like to loosely plan out what we want to do and see but we make sure to add in plenty of free time to just explore. There is nothing worse than packing in so much on vacation that you get home and are just exhausted. We picked a few things we wanted to do and then just left the rest of the days open to figure out what we wanted to do.

4. Time zone changes are no joke. We were lucky on this trip that it was only 3 hours but sometimes that can really mess with your sleep. We tried to ensure we didn’t stay up crazy late.

5. Make sure you are drinking water, especially if you are traveling by plane.

6. Take short video clips of random scenes during your vacation, it’s so fun to put them together once you get home into little collage videos.

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Last modified: February 20, 2024

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