The second part of a Perfect Waikiki Walk focuses on the stretch of beach from Kuhio Beach—the epicenter of Waikiki—past the historic Moana and Royal Hawaiian hotels, Hilton Hawaiian Village, and ending at the scenic Ala Wai Yacht Harbor. Any time of day is ideal for this leisurely stroll. Mornings are cool and quiet, afternoons perfect for a swim and evenings for a romantic sunset cocktail at one of the numerous seaside bars and restaurants.
Start your walk at the iconic Duke Kahanamoku Statue, located on Kalakaua Avenue at Kuhio Beach. If you are lucky enough to be in Hawaii in August, the Duke will be decorated with dozens of birthday leis, including the prestigious maile lei. The world-famous Olympic swimmer and father of modern-day surfing, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku was born on Aug. 24, 1890. Visitors and residents alike pose for photos in front of Hawaii’s ambassador of aloha. Duke’s legacy lives on at Duke’s Waikiki, one of the most popular restaurants in Hawaii, and unofficial home of today’s Waikiki beachboys.
Enjoy a bit of Waikiki history with the surfboard signage along Kalakaua Avenue, which tells the stories of Prince Kuhio (for whom this portion of the beach is named), Waikiki’s years as a royal retreat and the fabled Kahuna Stones. The “wizard” stones are located next to the beach’s main pavilion, which has a snack outlet and restrooms where you can change into swimwear if you are in the mood for a swim. This is the best spot to return to another day if you want to take surf lessons, ride on a catamaran or catch waves with the beachboys in an outrigger canoe.
Take off your slippers and walk to the shoreline in front of the historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Waikiki’s fabled “Pink Palace,” which opened its doors on Feb. 1, 1927, marked by a black tie gala with more than 1,000 guests in attendance. Make a note, perhaps, to return for a stroll through the hotel’s historic lobby and its always popular Mai Tai Bar.
The beach leads to a point with a cement walkway, a good vantage point from which to take in the sweep of Waikiki’s magnificent curve, framed by Diamond Head. The row of fine hotels—the modern Sheraton Waikiki, the historic Halekulani and the recently refurbished Outrigger Reef—along this part of the beach welcome visitors, with all sorts of dining and drinking establishments. Among our favorites are the Sheraton’s RumFire (a hot spot at night), Halekulani’s House Without a Key (for sunset cocktails and live Hawaiian entertainment) and the Outrigger’s Shore Bird (Waikiki’s famous beachside barbecue).
Just past the Outrigger Reef on the Beach is the U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, located on the Diamond Head end of Fort DeRussy, with its beautifully landscaped grounds. The museum is a bit of a hidden treasure, with free admission and rarely any entry lines. Enjoy the historic military photographs from one of the key eras in Hawaii’s history.
Just beyond DeRussy is the swank Hilton Hawaiian Village, a 22-acre resort complex with magically landscaped grounds, several world-class restaurants and a popular poolside bar where you can reward yourself near the end of your walk. The end of your walk itself is rewarding, with views of the scenic Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, the mid-Pacific destination of sailing adventurers from all over the world. The harbor’s forest of sailing masts is visible from the Ilikai Hotel, Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki and one of our favorite old-time restaurants, The Chart House.
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