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Waikiki Visitor Guide 2021: Everything you need to know

Published by: Bounce14 May, 2021

Waikiki is one of those iconic dream destinations that draws tourists from all over the world. Of all the outstanding beaches in the Hawaii archipelago, this one is probably the most famous.

The name Waikiki translates from the Hawaiian for 'gushing fresh water' and it first captured the public imagination way back in 1901 when the Moana Surfrider Hotel was built. Surfing is indeed deeply woven into Waikiki culture, and its shallow rolling waves make this a great place to discover this sport.

Let's be clear, though. While surfing and Waikiki are closely linked, there is far more to this beachfront tourist mecca than just riding the waves. You are spoiled for choice in regard to both breathtaking natural attractions, and manmade activities.

The relaxed environment means you won't need much here. Plop your bags into a locker at a rental service in Waikiki, and explore to your heart's content. For most destinations, you will be welcome in just some comfortable beach attire. All you really need is a towel and a credit card and you are good to go.

Waikiki baggage policy


Since it's such a major draw for tourists, you'll see lots of people carrying heavy luggage around Waikiki. True, thanks to the tropical climate, you don't need to bring a turn of heavy clothes. But all those bathing suits soon add up. To make enjoying this paradise easy on yourself, it's a good idea to track down a luggage storage in Waikiki where you can keep your belongings. That way, if you find yourself caught between an early checkout and a late flight, you won't need to carry around everything you own with you.

Waikiki food policy


Exploring local culinary habits and traditions always provides a wonderful window into another culture and Waikiki is no exception. Here you will find fresh fish and an ideal climate for farming, combined with both native and foreign influences, bring you some amazing dishes.

Laulau is meat or fish wrapped in luau leaves, tied with ti leaves and then steamed for several hours. Another local favorite is poke which is raw cubed tuna soaked in soy sauce and topped with seaweed.  Poi is made from ground taro root. This staple of the local diet is served as a thick paste.

Round that off with a malasada which is a round ball of dough, fried and then rolled in sugar. It originates in Portugal.

Waikiki camera policy


As is so often the case in Hawaii, Waikiki is incredibly photogenic. Chances are, you'll find yourself stopping to take photos every few minutes of the stunning surroundings. There are no rules against that, but there are some best practices you should be aware of. For instance, setting up a tripod or lights on the beach can be a difficult task, especially during the busy tourist season when cruise ships make Waikiki a bustling place. It may be easy to drop any large camera equipment off at a luggage storage in Waikiki so you can enjoy yourself more. Also, remember that Hawaiian culture is big on respect. Don't take people's photographs without their permission.

Waikiki rules


The beach is so stunning that it is definitely going to draw most of the tourists, but there is so much more on offer here. You can get a close-up look at Komodo dragons at the Honolulu zoo, visit Pearl Harbor, the Iolani Palace, the Nuuanu lookout, or simply amble along the self-guided Waikiki historical trail.  Surfboard placards along the way will tell you all you need to know.

If shopping is your thing, Kalakaua Avenue is the place for you. Here you will find artisanal shops and tiny boutiques, Hawaii's largest mall, and the Royal Grove outdoor events area where there might well be some live event taking place.

Waikiki getting around


There is plenty of public transport so you have some choices available to you in this regard. Bear in mind, however, that the two-mile strip can easily be negotiated on foot, leaving you free to dive in and out of both the water and the beachfront bars and restaurants at will.

Other options are

  • Car rental. Numerous options exist but expect parking to be hard to find in some places.

  • The Bus is the name of the main bus service. Single tickets cost $2.75 but a day pass is just $5.50. Any bags must fit under your seat or on your lap.

  • Taxis. Prices are controlled so you shouldn't get ripped off, and cab drivers are a great resource for local knowledge. A tip of between fifteen and twenty percent would be considered normal. 

  • Biki is a bike-sharing service that allows you to rent a bike in one area and drop it off in another. A great way to cover plenty of ground.

Waikiki locker rental


Despite all that this exciting destination has to offer, you won’t really be free to make the most of your visit if you are having to haul your bags around with you. Fortunately, there are options and the most convenient of these is to simply rent a locker and drop off any bags that you don't need immediately. 

There are some services that accept online booking and this might save you dragging bags to a service only to find that there are no lockers available when you get there. Look out for a service that can provide free insurance and security seals for extra peace of mind.

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