Exploring Waikiki – Central

It’s hard for us to believe that as of tomorrow night, we’ll have been here two full weeks. You’ll remember our first two nights were spent at the Moana Surfrider, and the remainder of February has been in a vacation rental. Since both are located in the central part of Waikiki, I thought I’d take you on a little tour of the part of town with which we’ve become familiar. If we had to equate it to neighborhoods back home, we’d call it the Times Square / 5th Ave area as it’s centered on both tourists and shopping.

First though, some general background info: in its early history, Waikiki, which means “spouting water”, used to be wetlands. Today, it is a roughly 1.5 mile long strip of land along the south shore of Oahu, with the Ala Wai Canal running along the mauka (toward the mountains) side and the Pacific Ocean on the makai (toward the ocean) side.

Across the Ala Wai, which was built to drain the early wetlands, is a golf course. I don’t play, but I can imagine how lovely it is there. The walk along the canal is also a popular spot for those out for a stroll or a jog.


Turning around and heading toward the beach is where most of the action is, though. The main drag here is Kalakaua Avenue, lined with restaurants and beautiful plazas and shops ranging from mid to high end.

Most of the shopping plazas are open air and multi-level, giving you a really fun tree house feel at the top.
Looking eastward along Kalakaua, toward Diamond Head.
Cars, buses, and trolleys all share the busy roadway on Kalakaua.

The International Market Place is currently undergoing a renovation, but you can still see how much it has changed from its earlier days here in Waikiki.


From the canal side, crossing Kalakaua will lead you to the beach, the primary attraction here in Waikiki. There are actually several distinct beaches all along Waikiki, but the main beach in central Waikiki is simply referred to as “Waikiki Beach”. It is mainly tourists who gather here, soaking up the sun and swimming. More adventurous folks can sign up for surfing and paddle boarding lessons as well.

Fun floats, like this flamingo, are popular here.
Surfers crossing.
Proper board care is a must.
A common scene along the beach walk.
Personal board storage along a beach access walk.

Sure, palm trees abound here, but the Banyan trees dotting Kalakaua are true showstoppers.


In addition to the obvious natural beauty, there is a mix of modern and older architecture that is also visually interesting.


Smaller side streets often have little alleyways, which can be lined with open-air shops, markets and sometimes, motorcycle or other two-wheeled rental agents.



Central Waikiki is a wonderfully unique place, offering up a great mix of shopping, dining and beach going all at once. While we’ve enjoyed our stay here and will miss the quick walking access to just about anything you’d need, we are looking forward to our next rental starting on Wednesday, in the quieter, more residential Ewa (pronounced ‘Evah’) side of Waikiki, to the west.

Me ke aloha pumehana,


8 thoughts on “Exploring Waikiki – Central

  1. That was an excellent post! And the pictures are so beautiful too. Thank you for teaching me all about Waikiki! Can’t wait to hear about what comes next! 🌈


  2. I love hearing about your adventure plus I am learning so much since I have never been to Hawaii. It looks amazing.
    Thank you and I look forward to more of your posts. They are very well written!!


  3. Love hearing about Hawaii and seeing it all. Last time I was in Hawaii I was in the original Imternational Market place! Longgg time ago.


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