A Self-Guided Walking Tour of Waikiki
Start – The Modern Honolulu Hotel
Finish – Waikiki Aquarium
Length – 3 miles, about a 1+ Hour Walk
It’s fun to explore a new city, a lot can be learned about the local people and culture by walking around the neighborhoods and checking out the sights by foot. Waikiki is notably one of the most popular neighborhoods in all of Honolulu, with several impressive sights to see such as Waikiki Beach, The Historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Honolulu Zoo among others.
Before embarking on this self-guided walking tour of Waikiki, it is best to wear comfortable shoes and remember to apply sunblock. It is also advised to bring water to prevent dehydration. This tour has 7 stops, with several cafes and restaurants along the way for breaks as needed.
Starting Point – The Modern Honolulu
An award-winning ultra-modern lifestyle hotel, The Modern Honolulu was designed by luxury architects George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg. Their work on the resort has been recognized and awarded for the hotel’s unique interiors, especially the lobby, which features a one-of-a-kind work of art located behind the reception desk, compiled of several surfboards. While inside, take note of the large bookshelf filled with carefully curated books depicting nostalgic Hawaiian culture. Those in-the-know sneak behind this bookshelf (a hidden secret passage) after sundown for cocktails located in a trendy lounge with live music known as The STUDY.
After leaving the Modern Honolulu, head towards the beach following the Duke Kahanamoku boardwalk. Distance is .5 miles.
First Stop: Kahanamoku Beach
Named after the legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku, this beach is one of 9 beaches that make up Waikiki Beach. Quite popular, it is likely full of swimmers and sunbathers at any given time. With calm waters and relatively smaller waves, this is a good beach for learning how to surf.
Leaving Kahanamoku Beach, continue SE on the boardwalk. The Fort DeRussy State Beach park is on the left. The Hawaii Army Museum is here. Distance is .6 miles.
Stop 2: Hawaii Army Museum
Located at Fort DeRussy State Beach, the Hawaii Army Museum houses a collection of World War II armor pieces, an AH-1 Cobra helicopter and other small arms. The museum itself is inside Battery Randolf, a structure made of solid concrete able to withstand a one-ton artillery shell. The battery was built in 1911 as part of the “Ring of Steel,” which encircled Oahu to defend against attack by sea.
Leaving the Hawaii Army Museum, continue SE on the boardwalk. The Royal Hawaiian Historic Hotel is on the left. Distance is .6 miles.
Stop 3: Royal Hawaiian Historic Hotel
Built in 1927, The Royal Hawaiian is known as “the pink palace of the pacific” this is likely due to the hotels Spanish –Moorish design. The land it sits on was said to be King Kamahameha’s playground and the resort’s Coconut Grove are believed to be on the former site of Queen Kaahumanu’s summer palace. During WWII, the hotel was leased exclusively to the US Navy and reopened to the public in February 1947. Free hotel tours are hosted every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00 p.m.
Leaving the Royal Hawaiian Historic Hotel head west on Waikiki beach until you see the path that leads out to the street. Take this path, heading North towards Kalakaua Ave. The International Market Place is just across the street on Kalakaua Ave. Distance is .2 miles.
Stop 4: International Market Place
The International Market Place first opened in 1956, the brainchild of Donn Beach. He created a marketplace with nods to surrounding nations such as Japan, Korea, China and the South Pacific. The marketplace was once known for its giant banyan tree and the many famous performers who entertained there. At its height, it had over 50 shops, restaurants and nightclubs. It fell into disrepair around the turn of the century and was remodeled in 2013 into the more modern shopping center it is today, with 10 restaurants and 90 stores, including a 3-story Saks Fifth Avenue. The original banyan tree was preserved and still stands there today.
Leaving the International Market Place head SE on Kalakaua Ave. towards Ka’iulani Ave. Make a left onto Ka’iulani Ave. The Princess Kaiulani Statue is on the right. Distance is .2 miles.
Stop 5: Princess Kaiulani Statue
The statue is of Princess Kaiulani feeding her beloved peacocks. The princess was heir to the royal throne when the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in 1893. Hoping to prevent the annexation of Hawaii by the US, one of her last efforts was to visit President Cleveland in Washington, where unfortunately she failed. Hawaii was annexed in 1898. Princess Kaiulani died at the age of 23 in 1899.
Leaving the Princess Kaiulani Statue head SE on Kuhio Ave towards Paoakalani Ave and make a right onto Paoakalani Ave. Continue on Paoakalani Ave making a left onto Lemon Rd. The Honolulu Zoo is at the end of the street. Distance is .5 miles.
Stop 6: Honolulu Zoo
The only zoo within a twenty-three hundred mile radius, the Honolulu Zoo occupies forty-two acres within the Kapi’olani Regional Park. Its first animals were a monkey, bear and African elephant, however now visitors can see over twelve hundred animals. The zoo receives over six hundred thousand visitors annually and has proven itself as a conservation partner with over fifteen species participating in the SSP (Species Survival Plan).
Leaving the Honolulu Zoo head left on Kapahula Ave towards the ocean. Turn left on Kalakaua Ave heading south on that street. The Waikiki Aquarium is on the right. Distance is .5 miles.
The Last Stop: Waikiki Aquarium
Waikiki Aquarium is the second oldest public aquarium in the United States. It is home to over 500 marine species and 3000 marine specimens. Only here can visitors view one of the ocean’s rarest fish on display, the Peppermint Angel Fish. Indoor exhibits include aquatic life from the South Pacific and Hawaii, in addition to an interactive coral display and other educational displays. Outdoors, find the Edge of the Reef, Hawaiian Monk Seal and Ocean Culture exhibits.