Getting To Know Waikiki Beach!
The Best Visitor's Guide Travel Information
One of the world's most famous beaches is a breeze if you know it.
Leid-back and lovely, Oahu is an island with no attitude, a diverse destination framed by the most photographed landmark on earth, Diamondhead.
This section provides an overview of Oahu and Honolulu. The links to the left offer insight into the island's attractions, restaurants, bars and nightlife.
The most important thing to remember is to quickly adopt Hawaii's "Aloha Spirit," which quite simply means go with the flow. Life here is not about you and it's not about us – it's about everyone.
Accommodations Hotels Best Locations
Most of the activities, restaurants and bars are centered in Waikiki Beach and you can walk just about anywhere.
There are several hotels right on the beach but they are generally expensive, 4- and 5-star properties. If that's in your budget, you'll be living the lifestyle.
For others, you can actually stay in Waikiki Beach for less than $100/night in decent places. The less expensive accommodationsare 2-4 blocks off the beach. And the more to go toward Diamond Head, the more the price goes down in hotels. Not all of them are gems, tho, so be sure and try and check them carefully.
Arrival and Orientation
Once settled, it's time to start suntanning!
The first thing to realize is that Honolulu is a city on a fairly large island and in no way occupies all of Oahu. While most of the social action occurs in Honolulu, it by no means is the only place with activity. Honolulu and Waikiki Beach in particular are crowded and in many ways very touristy but there is an entire island to explore, including the North Shore with its famous Bonsai Pipeline.
Sunsets on Waikiki Beach are a must-see nightly happening.
The North Shore has a life all it's own. This is a great place to watch surfers in the winter and sunsets anytime at nearby Sunset Beach. Don't even think about joining the surfers in the winter swells, though. Beneath the huge waves are jagged coral and it's no badge of honor to wear the scars of survival. That is, if one is fortunate enough to even survive.
The main road through Honolulu is Interstate H-1, or the Honolulu Highway. It goes from Pearl Harbor to Diamond Head, cutting through the airport and Waikiki. Just past Diamond Head it becomes Highway 72, which eventually turns into Highway 83, hugging the coast well past the North Shore.
In Waikiki, Kalakaua Ave., runs along the beach and all seaside hotels. Kuhio Ave., and Ala Wai Blvd., both to the makai (see below) are the other two main streets. The Hawaiian alphabet only contains 12 letters, so many roads and places seem to look or sound the same. To properly speak Hawaiian, pronounce each vowel.
Waikiki's most famous landmark is known as Mt. Leahi to locals.
While in Honolulu, Diamond Head is a natural landmark. It is to the east of Waikiki. Locals talk in terms of "mauka," meaning toward the sea, and" makai" (inland) or "ewa" (pronounced "eva") which is opposite of Diamond Head toward the Ewa Plantation. For those interested in some bar trivia, Diamond Head's actual name is Mt. Leahi – it acquired its nickname when British sailors found olivine crystals on its slopes and thought them to be diamonds. (It must be noted that olivine crystals are green, so they had either been out to sea too long or had just discovered the Mai Tai bar).
From the airport, shuttles to Waikiki are a quite pleasing $8 each way ($14 R/T). Taxi fare is approximately $35. The trip takes between 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic.
Getting Around Waikiki Beach
For those staying in Waikiki, most everything is within easy walking distance. However, for exploring the entire island – something that is highly recommended by PubClub – a rental car is necessary.
But only for a day or two. Why pay $10-20 a day to park it in a hotel garage for a week when it will only be used a couple of days? Rental car rates are as low as $30 a day for a midsize. When driving, watch out for unmarked white vans. They are Oahu's latest attempt to catch speeders. They patrol the highways and supposedly will ticket people going just a single mile an hour over the speed limit.
Taxis are readily available and most nightclub activity is within 5-10 minutes of Waikiki, so fares will be less than $10 for those staying in that area. Honolulu has a clean and efficient bus system, called The Bus, and it operates from 5 a.m.-1 a.m., and goes to Hanauma Bay, Sandy and Makapuu beaches every half-hour from Waikiki. Pick-up spots are marked by yellow-and-orange striped signs.
The People, Customs and Social Scene
Partying with locals is a great way to experience the Aloha Spirit.
Hawaiians move not at the speed of light, but rather at the speed of like. That is, however they like. So don't be in a hurry here. They also do dress in floral prints - the proper term for the button-down is "Aloha shirt," not "Hawaiian shirt" – and they surf a lot. It is this "hang loose" spirit that shapes the soul of locals. One of their favorite expressions is: "You lucky you live Hawaii." Haoles who adapt the same attitude will get the most out of their time in Hawaii.
Leis are used by locals to celebrate an occasion – a birthday, promotion, wedding, etc. Offer a "congratulations" and it will be warmly received. Orchards worn in the ears of wahines signal their relationship status – left is married or taken, right is single.
Those coming to Hawaii looking to party should spend the bulk of their time in Honolulu. While no one will mistake it for Mykonos, it does have some active nightlife, plus a world-famous beach lined with hotel bars that serve potent colored drinks with umbrellas and pineapples sticking out of the glass.
The place to start is tourist-crowded Waikiki Beach. It's also the place to go in order to meet singles on holiday. The typical nightclub dress code is Aloha shirt and jeans in the clubs for men and for women it's spaghetti -string tops and skirts or shorts. Drink 'em if you've got 'em for pubs and bars is 1 a.m.; some clubs like Lulu's, Pipeline and Zanzibar are open until 4 (and don't start to fill up until after midnight).
Above all, relax and have fun. Nightlife in Honolulu is not about being noticed, it's about having a good night on the town after a day on the beach. Cheers – or, literally, "bottoms up" – is okole maluna (remember to pronounce all the vowels). SEE OUR COMPLETE NIGHTLIFE GUIDE.
Waikiki Suntanning Tips
There's a way to tan in Waikiki without getting suburned.
The following Hawaiian suntanning tips are provided by PubClubber Luau Larry, who ran a suntan booth on Waikiki Beach for several years.
• Hawaii is just 23 degrees north of the equator. So be careful because the it's much easier to burn here than at home.
• The most eas places to burn are skin closest to your bones: forehead, nose, shoulders, hands and feet. Use the highest protection factor on these areas.
• Before buying suntan lotion, check the ingredients before buying lotion. Try and use products whose first ingredient is lotion, not water.
• Avoid mineral and baby oils. They are not absorbed into the skin and will cause blisters. Instead, use vegetable, sesame or mink oils.
• The only way to avoid a sunburn is to get a suntan. Tanning is not a race, it's a marathon. Don't try and do it all in one day.
So, just who is Luau Larry? Read about him in this article!