Waikiki – The neighborhood of Honolulu with Waikiki Beach (USA)

Categories: Travel reports, North America, USA, Hawaii

Waikiki is probably the most famous district of the Hawaiian city of Honolulu. The majority of the area consists of large hotels of international hotel chains, countless shops, numerous restaurants and the famous Waikiki Beach.


Our entry to the USA via Vancouver

Our flight with a Boeing 747 from Frankfurt to Vancouver with Lufthansa took about 10 hours. Thanks to the large entertainment program on board, however, time passed quite quickly. In Vancouver we had about 5 hours stay, but also had to change the terminal here. What we didn’t know before and what was a bit surprising: We have already entered the USA at the airport in Vancouver. Sounds weird, but it’s like that. The process of entering the USA from an international airport (e.g. Frankfurt) via Vancouver is as follows:

1) For passengers arriving in Vancouver on flights operated by the following airlines, there will be an“in-transit pre-clearance”.

This applies to the following airlines: Air Canada, Air China, Air France, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, China Southern, Japan Airlines, KLM, Korean Airlines, Lufthansa, Philippine Airlines, WestJet.

2) Follow the sign “US Connections” or “E-Gates”.

3) Very important: Our luggage was already checked in Amsterdam as far as Honolulu, i.e. we did not have to pick up the suitcases in Vancouver at the baggage belt. Normally in the US, entry always takes place at the first airport in the US where you arrive – even if it is a stopover and you have a direct onward flight. You have to pick up your luggage first through immigration and then go through customs. Only then you can check in your suitcases again for the onward flight.

4) With its onward boarding passes and baggage sections, which have already been received at the departure airport, you reach a small checkpoint. Here the boarding passes are checked and the baggage sections are scanned.

5) After that, you will check the security check, where the hand luggage is checked (no liquids, etc.).

6) When you have done this, you get to the actual U.S. Immigration, for which a pre-term ESTA application: Here you get the usual questions from the officer, such as “What is the reason for the trip to the USA?”, “How long do you stay in the USA?” etc. Fingerprints and a facial photo are also taken. Finally, we were shown a digital photo of our suitcase on a monitor and we had to confirm that the suitcase belongs to us.

7) Then it was said: Welcome to the US 🙂 This part of the Vancouver airport is almost American soil.

8) Now you go to your onward flight gate and wait for the departure.

For more helpful explanations of who should go at Vancouver airport when & where to go, see the airport’s page. After the 5-hour stopover in Vancouver, Air Canada rouge continued to Honolulu.

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With Air Canada rouge to Hawaii

Waikiki Neighborhood in Honolulu

The location of Waikiki on the island of Oahu

By bus from Honululu Airport to Waikiki

We landed at Honolulu International Airport around 9 p.m. As with our last Oahu stay, we didn’t reserve our rental car until two days later, so we had to come to the city from the airport by another means of transport. Since the public transport of The Bus had been remembered very well from the last time, we wanted to try again with the city bus to get to the city. Buses leave directly in front of the terminal and lines 19 and 20 also run as far as Waikiki Beach, rattling off all the major hotels. Here you can download the bus route as a .pdf version.

The problem with using the bus, however, is that it is actually forbidden to take large bags on the bus:

Baggage that can be stored under a passenger’s seat or on a passenger’s lap, that will not protrude to another seat or otherwise interfere with other passengers, will be admitted at no charge. Baggage that will not be admitted on board shall include any large, bulky, dangerous or offensive article that may cause harm or discomfort to any passenger. No baggage may be stored in the aisle or on the seats.

Small carry-on suitcases are ok, but unfortunately not large suitcases. Since we didn’t want to take a taxi for 30 or 40 dollars, we thought, let’s just try. When we were here during our world tour in 2015, it worked. And behold: The bus driver made a small comment about the big suitcases, but he took us anyway. Mahalo 🙂 For just 2.50 dollars per person, the bus ride is definitely the cheapest way to get from Honolulu Airport to the hotels in Waikiki.

Things to know about Waikiki and the world famous Waikiki Beach

If you are in Waikiki for the first time, you may be a little disappointed, because the place is anything but lonely or idyllic. The beach is relatively narrow and on the other side of the promenade there is a high-rise next to the other. If you want to relax in the sun, you will unfortunately look in vain for a quiet place. Waikiki is a pure tourist stronghold,completely designed for the approximately 6 million tourists a year. We have read the remark “Mallorca of the Japanese”, which is somehow really true 🙂

Despite all this, Waikiki has a lot to offer and the ALOHA Spirit can be felt everywhere! Waikiki was originally the retreat of the Hawaiian royal family in the 19th century. With the construction of the first smaller hotels from 1880 and the interest of several renowned international hotel chains, Waikiki has developed over the years into a tourist stronghold. One of the first hotels on the beach was the pink-pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which still attracts many tourists and filmmakers today.

Another well-known hotel at the end of Waikiki northbound is the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, located near the marina. We already knew the spacious hotel grounds from our favorite series Hawaii Five-0, because a lot of scenes were shot here. Right in front of it is the large Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, which is open to the public. Here in the series Hawaii Five-0 Kamekona has its shrimp truck – whoever watches the series knows what we mean 😉 There was actually a shrimp truck in the same place when we were there – but unfortunately not from Kamekona.

Via Waikiki’s main commercial street, Kalakaua Avenue, you can stroll past the hundreds of shops, restaurants and large hotels until you get back to Waikiki Beach. Directly on the beach there is a statue of Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian athlete who is considered the founder of modern surfing. To honor his merits, his statue is often decorated with Hawaiian leis (flower chains). The fact that Hawaii is one of the world’s hotspots of surfing is also noticeable by the many surfboards that you see everywhere and that you can’t get past: either in the water, on the beach or in the alleys on the side of the beach.

Our Hotel Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach

Around 11 p.m. we arrived at our hotel Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach and were just looking forward to the bed and enough sleep. We chose Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach for good value for money. For a location in the middle of Waikiki Beach we paid here for a double room including breakfast in the second row 142 euros per night. Considering that in Waikiki you can also leave three or four times for a room, that was a very good price.

Our double room with 46 m2 was very generously designed and consisted of a small hallway, a bathroom and a bedroom/living room with a couch. A daily Asian-American breakfast was also included: toasts, cornflakes, sweet spreads, fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, bacon and especially for Asian guests rice soup, pasta and associated toppings. And the best was the location – in just a few minutes we were on foot at Waikiki Beach and in Waikiki itself we could reach everything on foot.

Free parking in Waikiki

If you have a hotel and car rental in Waikiki, you will find very quickly that parking is unfortunately relatively expensive. As a rule, you have to calculate for this $20 – $40 per night. However, the parking around our Hotel Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach was quite good and you have the following options:

(1) Use the valet parking of the hotel – just park directly in front of the hotel, hand in the keys and the car is parked by the hotel staff. This service is also very expensive at 32 dollars per night.

(2) A very good alternative is the Waikiki Banyan car park, which is located diagonally opposite Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach. Here you pay 20 dollars for 24 hours and you can also drive in and out as often as you like.

(3) The last option is to simply place the car on one of the side streets, such as Ala Wai Blvd or Paoakalani Ave. On three evenings we found a free parking space just a few meters from the hotel. It is important to note that parking is not allowed in certain sections on certain days due to cleaning work, so please always observe the signs. And of course there is a great deal of luck, as there are only a few free parking spaces … and which, of course, are often used by the locals. But it’s always worth a try.

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Parking in Waikiki

The Kohi’s Beach Hula Show

In addition to the beach, Waikiki also has other things to offer. For example, there is a free Kohi beach hula show on the beach of Kohia 3 times a week. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, depending on the weather conditions, it takes place from 6.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. From November to January, the show starts at 6 p.m. Directly diagonally opposite the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, behind a large Banyan Tree, is a slightly elevated stage where the show takes place. Unfortunately we arrived a few minutes late for the show and hardly got a seat on the meadow in front of the stage; the standing places around the stage were already well staffed. So a little tip: Better to be there a quarter of an hour earlier and reserve a nice seat. During the hour-long show, the two hula dancers were accompanied by three musicians who played authentic Hawaiian music, including at the Ukulule. A wonderful Hawaiian feeling under a clear starry sky.

The weekly fireworks display at Waikiki Beach

There’s another entertainment highlight in Waikiki: Every Friday, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort sponsors a fireworks displayfired directly at the Hilton Hotel. A beautiful view, as at least one local told us, is from Ala Moana Beach Park (or “Magic Island”), which is located on the other side of the marina. Since most tourists watch the fireworks from Waikiki Beach, it is also much fuller than in Ala Moana Beach Park. Just in time at 7.45 p.m., the fireworks in front of the Waikiki skyline started and lasted about 10 minutes – a great end to the day.

Sometimes the times of the fireworks can also change, so it is always good to take a look at the corresponding page again shortly beforehand. As a rule, the fireworks take place from May to August at 8 p.m., and from September to April already at 7.45 p.m.

Halloween in Waikiki

We’ve never been to the U on Halloween before and we’re all the more excited about what it would be like here. The local news outlets had already stopped talking about Halloween the day before. There was talk of a “spectacle” and a supermarket saleswoman also told us “Waikiki is going crazy on that day”. So we were really excited. Around 8 p.m. we set off from our hotel and just wanted to walk along Kalakaua Avenue. The boulevard was already packed with people around the time – with disguise and without. It was a single show. People have put a lot of effort into their disguises and have loved to pose in front of the cameras and show themselves: whether it is themselves, the dog or their own child.

It was super fun to walk up and down the promenade and just look. The whole thing reminded us a bit of the German carnival – because scary costumes, as you actually know it from Halloween, were rather in the undernumber. From minions to princes and princesses to shining jellyfish; here there was everything to see.

The meaning of the word ALOHA

On the statue of the Duke there is also a small sign explaining the famous word ALOHA a little more with a quote from him. Aloha is a Hawaiian word and means “friendship,” “love,” “affection,” “love,” “compassion,” “kindness,” or “sympathy.” Most of the time it is used for greetings and farewells – after a few days on the islands you use it automatically. We have heard of the Aloha Spirit many times… it’s about the hospitality of the Hawaiians, which we’ve also experienced. It’s not for nothing that Hawaii is also referred to as Aloha State 🙂

The Hawaiian alphabet

Where we are in the Hawaiian language: Did you know that the Hawaiian alphabet consists of only 12 letters? Together with the Okina (head-standing high-point), it is considered one of the shortest alphabets in the world. We like the language insanely well and it kind of sounds like Hawaii: sun, beach, sea, hula dances, flower chains and ukulele music. Unfortunately, the language is increasingly being supplanted by English, although you can hear some Hawaiian words in between. And you can’t get past the ‘Hang loose’ or Shaka hand sign, which means “cool” or “all right” anyway 😉

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The Hawaiian Alphabet

Our rental car for the island tour on Oahu

As described above, we did not have a rental car for the first 2 days. You don’t need it if you want to explore Waikiki, Honolulu or the surrounding area like Pearl Harbour. Here you can always take the cheap bus for 2.50 dollars each way, buy a TheBus day ticket for 5 dollars or just run 🙂

However, a rental car is an advantage to explore the rest of the island of Oahu. We were able to pick up our rental car directly at Alamo in Waikiki (151 Kaiulani Ave) and finally drop off at the airport. We had already booked our sour before the holiday online via billiger-mietwagen.de and have for a midsize SUV for 4 days incl. paid €164 to the all-round carefree insurance package.

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Our midsize SUV from Alamo in Waikiki

Starbucks Global Icon Island Mug of Waikiki

We are collecting the Starbucks Mugs from the cities and islands we visit on our travels. Unfortunately, not every city that has a Starbucks store with an own mug. But if the city has an own mug we like to collect them as a souvenir. We only collect city mugs from the "Global Icon Series", which was released in 2008. You can see our complete collection here: Starbucks - Our collection of Mugs from the Global Icon Series

Waikiki has several Starbucks stores and also a really nice cup with a hula dancer, which is now very rare and correspondingly expensive.

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The Starbucks City Cup of Waikiki

All travelogues from Hawaii

We had already visited the islands of Hawaii during our trip around the world on the way from North America to Australia. Here we were on O'ahu, Kaua'i, Maui and Big Island. Because we were so enthusiastic about the different islands and the diversified nature, we were able to make up for all the things we had not been able to do last time or which were partly not even possible. In 2015, for example, you couldn't see flowing lava on Big Island, because it didn't flow towards the sea as usual, but towards an inhabited village. And this was closed for access for the safety of all. But since 2016 the lava of Kilauea is flowing towards the ocean again and so we could finally realize one of our biggest wishes: To stand very close to flowing lava. We also wanted to snorkel on O'ahu in Hanauma Bay, climb Koko Head Crater, see a hula show, marvel at the fireworks of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, enjoy the sunrise on the 3,055 meter high Haleakala and watch the turtles on the beach along the Road to Hana. So many things we didn't know about last time or didn't manage to do last time.

Travel Reports Hawaii » Hawaii: Things to know, Photo spots & Travel Guide for a holiday
» O‘ahu: Waikiki – The neighborhood of Honolulu with Waikiki Beach
» O‘ahu: Honolulu – Things to do & the most beautiful photo spots
» O‘ahu: Honolulu – Hike to Manoa Falls & Tantalus Lookout
» O‘ahu: An Island Tour & & the most beautiful photo spots
» O‘ahu: Koko Crater – A hike on the old railway tracks in Oahu
» O‘ahu: Hanauma Bay – One of the most beautiful snorkelspots on Oahu
» O‘ahu: Diamond Head Crater – Stunning view over Honolulu
» Big Island: Arrival in Hilo & Akaka Falls State Park
» Big Island: Lava Hike on Big Island – Get close to flowing lava & feel the heat
» Big Island: Hawaii Volcanoes NP – The Lava Viewing Area at Ocean Entry
» Big Island: Lava Boat Tour – A boat trip to Ocean Entry on Big Island
» Big Island: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Things to do & Photo spots
» Big Island: Hike to Papakolea Green Sand Beach
» Maui: Lahaina, Nakalele Blowhole & the west coast of the island
» Maui: Sunrise from the top of Haleakala Volcano
» Maui: The panoramic Road to Hana & the Piilani Highway