Hawaii’s legendary Gold Coast, Diamond Head and stretches of postcard-perfect beach await

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There’s no one right way to enjoy Honolulu’s stretch of perfection, Waikiki Beach. And whether you’re traveling with kids or seeking a tropical adventure or looking for a tranquil oasis, Waikiki is ready to make your dreams a reality.

Family fun

If you’re traveling with kids, the siren song of the beach will likely have been tickling their ears for quite some time. There’s nothing like the feel of sand, surf and sun after traveling, and Waikiki’s famous stretch of beach offers the perfect spot to get everyone synced to island time.

When it’s time to brush the sand off and explore the area, the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium are packed with fun for the whole family.

The Honolulu Zoo is the only zoo in the United States to have been established by grants made by a monarch, King David Kalakaua. The zoo encompasses 42 acres and is home to 905 different animals from the tropics, including Komodo dragons, orangutans, elephants, primates, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and a variety of African animals.

The Waikiki Aquarium, founded in 1904, it is the second-oldest public aquarium in the United States. Naturalistic exhibits focus on the marine life of Hawaii and the western Pacific. Don’t miss exhibits on green sea turtles, amazing jellyfish and the reef’s hunters, including zebra sharks and giant groupers.

Expand little ones’ horizons in other fun ways, like music (the Royal Hawaiian Band, originally founded in the early 1800’s by King Kamehameha III, often performs a free concert on Sundays at Kapiolani Park) or a stroll through the Kapiolani Community College farmers market, where local fruit, flowers and foods are sure to dazzle and delight.

Assorted plate lunches for sale at Kapiolani Community College Farmers’ Market 
(Hawaii Tourism Authority / Dana Edmunds)
Assorted plate lunches for sale at Kapiolani Community College Farmers’ Market  (Hawaii Tourism Authority / Dana Edmunds)

Polynesian Cultural Center showcases the fascinating history and culture of Polynesia. You’ll not only learn about the Hawaiian arts, you’ll also experience the food, dances, and other traditions of the people of Tonga, Tahiti, Marquesas, Fiji, Aotearoa, and Samoa. After exploring the villages, enjoy the Alii Luau Buffet and evening show “Ha: Breath of Life.”

Take a short hike through a lush Hawaii rainforest in Manoa Valley en route to a spectacular 150-foot waterfall. The trail is well maintained, making it perfect for hikers of all ages. Located just a short drive mauka (toward the mountains) from Waikiki, you’ll easily forget that you’re in bustling Honolulu.

On the go

The calm waters of Waikiki are perfect for learning new water sports, or for polishing your form. Learn the ins and outs of gliding across the waves in an outrigger canoe. Master the art of focused balance on a standup paddleboard.

And definitely get ready to ride the waves in Waikiki’s iconic pastime – surfing. The history of surfing at Diamond Head skims across cultures, classes and generations. Soak up the stories of local surfers as you choose your approach. A lesson is definitely in order, and board rentals abound.

Kaimana Beach, located just steps from Lotus Honolulu, is one of Waikiki’s best snorkeling spots due to its calm conditions and impressive showcase of beautiful reefs, fish, and other marine life.

Prefer to keep moving on dry land? Waikiki is famous for its beaches – and all that beautiful sand is just perfect for a game of beach volleyball.

For a more adventurous workout, hike the Diamond Head State Monument trail to view the spectacular crater from the summit. An explosive eruption blasted out the saucer-shaped crater about 300,000 years ago.

The hike from trailhead to the summit just under a mile long, but it is steep and strenuous. The ascent moves through a series of switchbacks then up steep stairs and through a lighted 225-foot tunnel, emerging into Fire Control Station, completed in 1911. The station directed artillery fire from batteries in Waikiki and Fort Ruger outside Diamond Head crater. At the summit, you’ll see bunkers and a lighthouse built in 1917. The view of the shoreline from Koko Head to Waianae is jaw-dropping.

Waikiki beach at sunset. (Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson)
Waikiki beach at sunset. (Hawaii Tourism Authority / Tor Johnson)

Peaceful pastimes

If your idea of the perfect escape on Hawaii’s Gold Coast involves less exertion and more relaxation, Waikiki is ready to help you find your tropical bliss.

Start the day by getting centered in one of the world’s most beautiful settings. You’ll find outdoor yoga classes at Kapiolani Park, right across from Waikiki Beach.

Want to catch an artsy film, new exhibit, or take an art class? The Honolulu Museum of Art is more than just a museum. They are dedicated to the ethnically diverse arts community in Hawaii, offering visual arts, arts education, performing arts, films and videos, and public programs that focus on the museum’s unique location in the Pacific.

Enliven all your senses with a visit to the Oahu Botanical Gardens. Foster Garden showcases 13.5 acres of plants collected from the world’s tropics over a period of 150 years. Koko Crater Botanical Garden features a two-mile loop of sweet-smelling plumeria trees. Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, the largest of the three, is a whopping 400 acres of lush rainforest, walking trails, and campgrounds.

Finish your peaceful exploration by finding a perfect spot on Waikiki Beach to settle in with a cool drink and watch the surfers silhouetted against the setting sun.

Experience a completely different side of Waikiki at the Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head. Explore the history of the city or make memories of your own as you embrace the tropical tranquility that flows throughout our intimate oasis.