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Home   /  Oahu Hiking Trails   /  Waikiki Walking Tour

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Self-Guided Waikiki Walking Tour

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A Self Waikiki Walking Tour is not only fun and great exercise, but allows you to see so many different sides to this exciting city. There are Lots of interesting and important sites along the way…in fact you will see over 15 captivating points of interest along this Oahu hike. You could actually consider this a Waikiki hiking path if you trek all 5 ½ miles around it.

Enjoy walking around Waikiki, passing through Kapiolani Park, the Waikiki Aquarium & Honolulu Zoo, strolling along the 1.5 mile stretch of the Ala Wai Canal, passing by the Army Museum, the International Market Place, and finishing by the Duke Kahanamoku Statue.

The Waikiki Beachside Bistro offers a delightful dining experience with a picturesque beachfront setting, serving delicious cuisine and providing breathtaking views of the ocean. 🌊🍽️


20 Waikiki Points of Interest Starting the Self-Guided Waikiki Walking Tour

Treking to the Diamond Head Lookouts

Waikiki walking tour through kapiolani park, strolling along the ala wai canal, reaching the hilton hawaiian village, selfie at the hawaii army museum, stroll thru the waikiki beach walk, royal hawaiian shopping center & international market place, pass by the moana surfrider hotel, stroll through the waikiki surf racks, waikiki walking tour finish line, 20 waikiki points of interest.

Whether you take on the 5 ½ mile Waikiki Walking Tour challenge or choose a smaller section of this hike around the city, we have a fun route for you to explore. There will be lots of interesting things to see around Waikiki, in fact there are at least 20 significant points of interest worthy of taking note of...we'll point them out to you through this walking route.

We will start off at the Duke Kahanamoku Statue that is located in front of Kuhio Beach.

However, if you are located towards the top of Waikiki near the Hilton Hawaiian Village or somewhere in-between, then it might make more sense for you to start off where you’re staying. I would recommend walking down as far as Kapiolani Park, where it’s much more peaceful and has some beautiful views of the park grounds, Diamond Head, and the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium.

The Ala Wai Canal also stretches along this Waikiki stroll a couple extra miles, and while it offers another beautiful side to Waikiki, you could elect to walk just part of it or skip it all together.

Starting the Self-Guided Waikiki Walking Tour

The Duke Kahanamoku Statue in Waikiki stands as a symbol of honor and respect for the legendary Hawaiian surfer and Olympic swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku, who played a significant role in popularizing the sport of surfing and promoting the spirit of aloha. 🏄🌺

Our Waikiki Walking Tour starts off at the iconic (1) Duke Kahanamoku Statue , which is a famous landmark that stands tall in front of Kuhio Beach. From here, we will walk south along the sidewalk towards Diamond Head.

You will pass other sections of Waikiki Beach including Kapiolani Beach, where you might see a handful of body boarders surfing waves along the (2) Waikiki Wall that stretches into the ocean. Take a quick stroll along the top of the wall where you can get one of the best views of Waikiki and all the surrounding action in the ocean and maybe an Oahu boat cruise in the distance.

The Waikiki Walls is a famous surf break located off the shores of Waikiki Beach, known for its long, gentle waves that are perfect for beginner and intermediate surfers. 🏄🌊

Continue walking along the oceanfront where, at some point, you will be surrounded by Kapiolani Park on both sides of the sidewalk. It happens to be one of the largest and oldest parks on Oahu and Hawaii for that matter. It’s absolutely beautiful, and is home to many, huge, shady banyan trees.

Banyan trees are not only distinctive with their wide canopy tops that provide shade, but are even better known for their many long roots that grow from the top branches back down to the ground. Sometimes you’ll see kids playing around them and even swinging on them like rope vines.

It won’t be long before you walk past the (3)  Waikiki Aquarium , which happens to be the oldest aquarium west of the Mississippi. Swing back by if you don’t have time to snorkel at Hanauma Bay or other neat snorkeling spots around the island.

The Waikiki War Memorial is a solemn and poignant tribute to the brave men and women who have served in the military, honoring their sacrifice and preserving the memory of their service for future generations.

Next door to the aquarium is the (4) Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium that was dedicated to the many Hawaii citizens who served in World War I. It was used as an aquatic swim center until the structure became unsafe from disrepair. It’s one of my favorite spots to take a sunset picture through the front decorative iron gates that are still standing tall.

As you continue traveling east, past San Souci Beach (one of farthest sections of Waikiki Beach on the east side), you will pass along the last group of hotels and apartment buildings that stand closest to Diamond Head.

The Louise Dillingham Memorial Fountain is a beautiful and serene landmark located in Honolulu, honoring the legacy of Louise Dillingham and serving as a symbol of beauty and tranquility in the heart of the city. 💦🌺

Once you reach the stunning (5) Louise Dillingham Memorial Fountain (which will be hard to miss) that sits in the middle of a roadway roundabout, this will be our crossing point to the other side of the street where we will travel west, back up along Kapiolani Park on the other side.

There is a crosswalk located back near San Souci Beach, if you wish to cross safely across the street. Either way, make sure to always look for oncoming cars before crossing.

The Diamond Head Scenic Lookout offers breathtaking panoramic views of Waikiki, Honolulu, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean, providing a stunning vantage point to appreciate the natural beauty of Oahu. 🌅🏞️

You could continue trekking further east along Diamond Head for an additional half mile up the road to reach 3 scenic lookouts.

These road turnouts provide some great views of the (6) Diamond Head Lighthouse , parts of Diamond Head Beach, and surfers riding waves in the distance. The views get better as you reach the (7) 2nd and 3rd Diamond Head lookouts . This is not part of our walking tour, but it’s quite rewarding if you’re up for the short trek.

The Kapiolani Park Bandstand is a historic and picturesque venue located in Honolulu's Kapiolani Park, providing a charming setting for live music performances and community events against the backdrop of Diamond Head. 🎵🏞️

Walking back up on the other side of (8) Kapiolani Park gives a new perspective with views to all the activity taking place in park that you won’t see from the beach side.

Beyond the trees, park benches, and people watching, you’ll also pass by the (9) Kapiolani Band Stand where many free concerts have taken place, including the Royal Hawaiian Band that plays here regularly.  One of my favorite parts of this park is the extensive duck pond and gardens that surrounds the beautiful pavilion.  Take a moment to stroll through it and enjoy all its beauty.

The Honolulu Zoo is a family-friendly attraction that allows visitors to get up close with a diverse range of animals from around the world, providing an educational and entertaining experience for all ages. 🦁🐨

At the top of the park you’ll walk past the (10) Honolulu Zoo that actually takes up 42 acres of Kapiolani Park. It’s worth a visit if you have young ones, but save it for another time as we continue on our Waikiki Walking Tour.

This is an important juncture as we turn east and head up past Thomas Jefferson Elementary School where you cross the street and continue traveling north along the (11) Ala Wai Canal .

The canal was constructed over 7 years and completed in 1928. Its main purpose was to contain the runoff of mountain water that use to flood the Waikiki area, turning it into a once swampland.

The Ala Wai Canal is a man-made waterway that runs through the heart of Waikiki, offering a scenic pathway for jogging, walking, and enjoying views of the city skyline and nearby mountains. 🌊🏞️

While the Ala Wai Canal is a long 1.5 mile stretch of water to stroll next to, it’s a zenful part of this Waikiki stroll that I recommend exploring. And take note that there are lots of side streets that will connect you back to parts of Kuhio Ave and Kalakaua Blvd if you wish to exit this hike and get back to your starting point.

On the other side of the canal, you should see the (12) Lokahi Canoe Club and the Ala Wai Golf Course that both border this stretch of water.  If you’re lucky, you might see some outrigger crews in the water practicing paddling up and down the canal.  Take note that most clubs practice in the afternoons during the weekdays…

There’s also a stretch of the Ala Wai Community Park that you’ll see before reaching McCully St Bridge.

The McCully St Bridge will be our turning point for our Waikiki Walking Tour to head west (left) back into Waikiki.

This will connect us back up with Kalakaua Blvd, but we’re going to cross the street over to Ala Moana Blvd (near the Waikiki Brewing Co) for a block that will connect us to a few more points of interest on our return walk back to the Duke Kahanamoku Statue.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waterfalls create a serene and picturesque atmosphere, with cascading water and lush tropical surroundings, providing a tranquil oasis within the bustling resort. 🌊🌴

After trekking a long block along the park, turn left onto Kalia Rd to take you past the entrance to the (13)  Hilton Hawaiian Village .  Take a moment to enjoy the grand waterfall garden in the front that is full of cascading waterfalls off rocks and boulders into a wide pool of water.

You might even be able to skip seeing Waimea Falls after this encounter. Just kidding!  Actually let this inspire you to visit Waimea Valley in the North Shore where you will discover one of the best waterfalls on Oahu .

The Hawaii Army Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the military history of Hawaii, showcasing artifacts, exhibits, and stories that highlight the significant role of the Army in the islands. 🏛️

Continue walking along Kalia Road, which leads you along peaceful (14) Fort Derussy Beach Park, and the (15)  Hawaii Army Museum Society .  It’s currently being renovated inside the museum, but there are some impressive tanks in the front that you can take a selfie with, and a military helicopter peering from the roof.

Waikiki Beach Walk is a vibrant and bustling promenade lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, offering a lively and enjoyable atmosphere for visitors to soak up the sun and experience the lively spirit of Waikiki. 🏖️🛍️🍽️

Two more blocks and we turn up Lewers St that will shortly connect us back onto the main strip, Kalakaua Blvd, but not before walking past the (16) Waikiki Beach Walk outdoor shopping area.  This happens to be one of the more popular Waikiki shopping areas, filled with some interesting shops, art galleries, restaurants, and even an ABC Store .

You could easily end your Waikiki Walking Tour here with a little shopping and grabbing a bite to eat.  But take note that you will be passing even more grand shopping & restaurant areas just a few blocks away.

The International Market Place is a vibrant shopping destination in Waikiki, offering a mix of upscale boutiques, local shops, and diverse dining options, creating a lively and bustling atmosphere for visitors to enjoy. 🛍️🌺

Once you turn right back onto Kalakaua Blvd, the (17) Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center pops up quickly into view and takes up a few blocks of real estate.

Take note that you can grab yourself a Hawaiian shave ice at Island Vintage Shave Ice or an Icy-Dole-Whip like creation served out of a carved out pineapple at a place called Banan.  Not a bad way to reward yourself for completing this Waikiki hike.

Not far down the road is the recently renovated (18) Waikiki International Market Place .   Even if you’re not in the mood for shopping, it’s worth passing through the entrance where a grand iconic banyan tree still gives this place its character.  Take the escalator up one level and walk along an elevated platform that leads through a really neat tree house.

The Moana Surfrider is a historic and luxurious beachfront hotel in Waikiki, offering a perfect blend of elegance, Hawaiian charm, and breathtaking ocean views. 🌺🌴

Across the street from the International Market Place is (19) Moana Surfrider Hotel , which happens to be the oldest hotel built in Waikiki, constructed back in 1901.  The grand columns that line the front stand out along with the stunning European architecture of this Waikiki hotel.  They also have a special banyan tree that graces their back patio area.

Waikiki Surf Racks provide a convenient and secure storage solution for surfboards, allowing surfers to safely store their boards while enjoying the beach and other activities in Waikiki. 🏄🌊

And just like that, the Duke Kahanamoku Statue should start to appear once again.  But before we wrap up, there is one more impressive (20) surfboard alley you should check out on the side of the Moana Hotel, and it leads all the way down to the beach!  Walk to the end and take a right turn if you would like to celebrate at popular Dukes Waikiki .

A nice way to finish the Waikiki Walking Tour in my option.  The towering surfboards are actually long boards owned by individual owners, with many of them residing there over the decades and building more character over the years.

The Waikiki Surfer on a Wave Statue is an iconic symbol of the vibrant surf culture in Waikiki, capturing the essence of the sport and the spirit of the ocean in a dynamic and artistic sculpture. 🏄🌊

I hope you enjoy this Waikiki walking path that leads to parts of this beach side city, which you might not come across during your stay.  There are lots of Oahu hiking trails around the island worth discovering, and while you are not trekking on mountains or jungles, this Waikiki urban hike has lots to keep you stimulated.

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Hawaiʻi on the Cheap

affordable living and things to do

14 points of interest in Waikīkī are a fascinating self-guided walking tour

Among the high rises in the famous Waikīkī tourist mecca, there is much fascinating Hawaiian history to uncover about the once royal and rural area. Use the following list of tour stops, all located on Kalākaua Avenue for a self-guided tour.

At each tour stop, you will be directed to statues, historic sites, and other points of interest that can enhance your knowledge of Hawai’i and the history of the area. The list is followed by a Google map of the tour stops on this walking tour through the bustling neighborhood.

Begin your tour at the intersection of Kalākaua and Kapahulu Avenues, at the edge of Kapi’olani Park.

Intersection of Kapahulu and Kalakaua Avenues in Waikiki

Begin your walking tour across from the beach at the intersection of Kalākaua and Kapahulu Avenues – 2021 photo by Carole Cancler

Tour stop: Kahi Hali’a Aloha Memorial

  • Native Hawaiians have lived in Waikīkī for around 2,000 years. During various modern construction projects, around 200 skeletal remains were unearthed at various places in the area. To dignify and honor those who once lived and died on this land, their remains are laid to rest in the 2001 memorial Kahi Hali’a Aloha (“Place of Loving Remembrance”). You can read a bit more information on the plaque. Like the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater, it is a moment for solemn reflection.
  • Nearby Kapiolanʻi Park was dedicated by King Kalākaua to his Queen in 1877 and donated to the people of Hawaiii in 1887. The verdant expanse is a stark contast to the adjacent beach neighborhood and a popular recreational area for residents and visitors.
  • Prior to 1920 (when the Ala Wai Canal was built), the Kuekaunahi stream flowed where Kapahulu Avenue is today. Look across Kapahulu Ave to the location that was once the site of Princess (and later Queen) Lili’uokalaniʻs seaside cottage “Ke‘alohilani”, located across from today’s Kūhiō Beach. Later replaced by a modest home for Queen Kapiʻolani, which she named “Pualeilani” and where she lived until her death in 1899.

Kahi Hali'a Aloha (Place of Loving Remembrance)

Kahi Hali’a Aloha (Place of Loving Remembrance) 2021 photo by Carole Cancler

Cross Kalākaua Avenue to Waikīkī (actually Queens) Beach and turn right to walk north along Kūhiō Beach.

Tour stop: Statue “Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana’ole”

  • Before the Ala Wai Canal was constructed in 1928, several streams flowed through Waikīkī, including the Kuekaunahi, near todayʻs ‘Ōhua Avenue (located to your right across Kalākaua before you come to Prince Kūhiōʻs statue).
  • Stop at the statue of revolutionary and statesman Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana’ole (1871-1922). A descendant of Kauaiʻs last king, Prince Kūhiō joined revolutionaries to restore the monarchy after the 1893 overthrow. Kūhiō was arrested, charged with treason, and imprisoned for a year. After self-imposed exile, he returned to his homeland and served as a non-voting delegate from Hawai‘i to the House of Representatives in Congress from 1902 until his death in 1922. A Hawai‘i State holiday is observed every March 26 to honor his many accomplishments in service of his people. Read more about Prince Kūhiō at the base of the statue.

Waikiki Beach Prince Kuhio statue

Waikiki Beach statue of Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana’ole – 2020 photo by Carole Cancler

Continue walking north on Kalākaua Avenue.

Tour stop: Pā hula (hula mound) at Kūhiō Beach

  • As you continue along Kalākaua Avenue, look for the large banyan tree between Lili’uokalani and Uluniu Avenues. This is one of several banyan trees in Waikīkī. There is another in the courtyard of the Moana Surfrider hotel, planted in 1904. Perhaps more famous is the banyan tree in the International Marketplace, planted sometime in the mid-1800s when it was the site of residences of King Lunalilo (1835-1874) and later Queen Emma (1836-1885), who was the wife of King LihoLiho (Kamehameha IV, 1834-1863). Makai (toward the ocean) behind the tree, you’ll find the pā hula (hula mound).
  • A pā hula is a space dedicated solely to the presentation of hula (indigenous Hawaiian dance). The outdoor venue is defined by a lava rock wall surrounding a large grass seating area makai of the hula mound. This is the only authentic pā hula in Waikīkī and was blessed in a traditional Hawaiian ceremony. The free Kuhio Beach Hula Show takes place weekly.  However, the hula shows have been suspended until it is safe for large crowds to gather again.

Banyan tree in Waikiki in front of pa hula

Banyan tree in Waikiki in front of pā hula (hula mound) – 2021 photo by Carole Cancler

Tour stop: Statue “Duke Paoa Kahanamoku”

  • Stop at the staute of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku (1890-1968). A legend in his own time, Duke was an Olympic champion, winning five medals in swimming at the 1912, 1920, and 1924 Games. “The Duke” is also known around the world as the undisputed “Father of Surfing” and was once appointed the official “Aloha ambassador” for Hawaiʻi. Read more about him at the base of the statue.

Statue of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku on Waikiki Beach

Statue of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku on Waikiki Beach – Depositphotos.com

Tour stop: Public Art “Healing Stones of Kapaemahu”

  • The unimposing Healing Stones of Kapaemahu located near the Waikīkī police station date from the 1500s. The stones honor four healers from Tahiti who visited hundreds of years ago and cured many people of various afflictions. It is believed the large, heavy stones were originally quarried in Kaimuki and moved to the Waikiki area in remembrance of the Tahitians. However, the value and meaning of the stones faded over time. They were subsequently moved and misused several times over the years (for example, as foundation material for a building). Finally in 1997, this wahi pana (sacred place) was established to restore the stones in a fitting place, which are said to bestow mana (miraculous power). Read about the healing stones on the nearby plaque.

Healing Stones of Kapaemahu in Waikiki

Healing Stones of Kapaemahu in Waikiki – 2021 photo by Carole Cancler

Tour stop: Moana Surfrider

  • The stately Moana Surfrider opened in 1901 as the Moana Hotel. Additional towers were added in 1952 and 1969. It is Waikīkī’s oldest hotel and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel has been renovated several times, lastly in 2007.

Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki

The Moana Surfrider (pictured in 2019) opened as the Moana Hotel in 1901 and is Waikīkī’s oldest hotel – DepsoitPhotos.com

Tour stop: Beach Right of Way west of Outrigger

  • All beaches in Hawai’i are publicly owned or controlled. Therefore, access to the shoreline is provided by Beach Right of Way (BROW) laws, which specify rules for beach transit corridors or BROW pathways. Note that the BROW does not include the right to cross private property, including hotels where you are not a guest, as well as in residential neighborhoods. If you want to get to a beach, you must find the nearest public beach access, which are typically not far apart and clearly marked. You can also use this Map of Public Shoreline and Beach Access Locations

BROW pathway between Outrigger and Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center in Waikiki

Beach Right of Way (BROW) between the Outrigger Hotel and Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center in Waikiki – 2021 photo by Carole Cancler

Tour stop: Kalakaua Avenue & Seaside Avenue

  • Walk into the Royal Hawaiian Center across from Seaside Avenue to the historic coconut grove ( PDF map ). This is the former site of a grove at the home of Kamehameha the Great and some of his successors. The area historically known as Helumoa (which you can find on old maps) included a grove of 10,000 coconut trees.
  • Before the construction of the Ala Wai Canal in 1928, the ‘Āpuakēhau stream passed through Helumoa on it’s way to the sea. From the 1400s-1800s, Hawaiians took advantage of the fresh water flowing abundantly through Waikīkī—which by-the-way, means “spouting water” in Hawaiian and now you know why!—to build loko i‘a (fishponds) and lo‘i kalo (taro fields). Over time, the loko i‘a and lo‘i were transformed into rice paddies. In 1928, the wetlands were drained and streams re-routed into the Ala Wai Canal.
  • The “pink hotel” beyond the grove is the historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel, built in 1927. The tower was added in 1969. The hotel was last renovated in 2008.

Grove at Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center

A few steps from Seaside Avenue, youʻll find a grove in the middle of the bustling Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Looking at this, you’d never guess you are just steps from Kalākaua Avenue, the main thoroughfare through Waikīkī – 2021 photo by Carole Cancler

That completes your walking tour of Waikīkī and several hundred years of Hawaiian history. Hopefully, your visit to this island paradise by knowing a little bit about those who came before and what they did here.

The following Google map lists each tour stop along Kalākaua Avenue and can be used to enhance your self-guided walking tour of the Waikīkī.

Self-guided tour map of Waikīkī

waikiki walking tour

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Waikiki Now: Narrated Walking Tours of WAIKIKI

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Honolulu, Hawaii. There's so much information out there about what WAIKIKI is really like right NOW.  Why not check it out yourself? In these NARRATED videos, we walk through Waikiki showing points of interest: hotels, restaurants, things to do, etc.

waikiki walking tour

There are TIME STAMPS in each video description to make the video searchable.  Most of the walk is narrated to the geolocations below (time stamps).

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase through my links I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my  disclosure  for more info.

WAIKIKI NOW videos come out 2x a month and a great way to get your bearings to see what is near your hotel. Hope this helps take the guesswork out of planning your trip!

NARRATED walking tour: End to End (START HERE)

This is the most comprehensive Waikiki walking tour. It's almost 45-minutes and is fully narrated pointing out points of interest, hotels, and restaurants. We'll walk down Ala Moana Boulevard and Kalakaua Ave. This video is the BEST one to watch if it's your first time to Waikiki and you're looking to get your bearings of the area.

Island: OAHU City: Honolulu Neighborhood: Waikiki

Winter in Hawaii: December

Winter in Hawaii are the months of December, January, and February. Temperatures are still warm but the weather often brings a lot of rain. The two videos below compare how drastically the weather can change from day to to day. On December 1st, it was dumping rain non-stop. Then, the very next day, December 2nd, it was bright and sunny again! 🙂

  • Summer (June/July/August): Highs of 88° F (31° C)
  • Winter (December/January/February): Highs of 79° F (26° C)

15 Most Common Waikiki Hotel Pick-Ups: Tours & Activities

If you're staying in Waikiki, most tours/activities will pick you up from your Waikiki hotel (or a nearby Waikiki hotel). The video below shows 15 of the most popular spots.

15 Waikiki Breakfast Spots: from $ to $$$

If you're going on an early morning tour/activity, grabbing breakfast in Waikiki is something to work in your itinerary.

Waikiki Block Festivals

Waikiki Parades

Throughout the year, Waikiki has several parades. These parades typically start at ALA MOANA BOULEVARD and continue down KALAKAUA AVE.

Waikiki Now: Friday Fireworks

Waikiki: Shopping Areas

Waikiki: More Walking Videos

Waikiki Now: Walking Videos

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Waikiki Walking Tour 1: Hawaiian Royalty

Gps guided walking tour.

  • 120 Minutes*
  • About 3 Miles
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Malia hosts this tour.

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Self Guided Waikiki Walking Tour on the Historic Trail

Explore one of the most famous vacation destinations in the world on this Waikiki walking tour.  Learn about the royalty that used to live in the area, sample great food, shop until you drop, and maybe even take a surf lesson.  Itʻs up to you.  By the end of the tour, you will have a much greater understanding of the Waikiki Historic Trail and plenty of fun to go along with it.

  • Waikiki Historic Trail: Visit stops 1-12 on the historic trail.  We provide background information between each stop  
  • Shopping Options: International Market Place, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, Dukes Lane, and much more
  • Food Options: Poke, Hawaiian Hot Dogs, Korean BBQ, Dukes Restaurant, Shrimp Trucks, Local Food, Mai Taiʻs, Dole Whip
  • Historical Options: Prince Kuhio Statue, Duke Kahanamoku Statue, Moana Surf Rider, Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Don Ho, Princess Kaiulani Statue, Queen Liliuokalaniʻs land, Kapiolani Park
  • Water Activities: Swimming, snorkeling, Surfing, canoe rides, catamaran sails
  • Related Tours
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  • Local Discounts

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GPS Guided Virtual Audio Tour of the Waikiki Historic Trail

There is so much history in Waikiki!  Kings, Queens, and commoners alike loved Waikiki.  To help share their stories, we have incorporated the Waikiki Historic Trail  for you to experience.  We share stories in between and help you find the historical markers.

Waikiki is also full of great food and shopping options.  You can explore however many of them you want and weʻll share some of our favorites.  This tour has it all, walking along the beach, through the city, along the canal, and ends in Kapiolani Park.

This Waikiki walking tour is GPS guided and easy to follow.  You can join from anywhere along the route, but we definitely recommend starting from the beginning.  It is built on the worldwide VoiceMap travel app, which is free to download and easy to use.

Explore and learn about the Sands of Kakuhihewa

We incorporated the surfboard markers and stories from the Waikiki Historic Trail map into this walking tour.  There are opportunities for history buffs to learn more along the route.  Learn about local legends Duke Kahanamoku and Don Ho.  Hear about the Hawaiian Royalty that used to live in the area and still owns much of the land today.  All the while enjoying the modern amenities that this world-famous town has to offer.

waikiki walking tour

This GPS Guided Walking Audio Tour begins near Kapiolani Park. From there we will explore the urban areas and quieter parts of town.

The route is about 3 miles and takes a minimum of 2 hours to complete, but there are various options along the path for you to enjoy. 

waikiki walking tour

We begin the tour at the first stop on the Waikiki Historic Trail . The surfboard marker is located near the surfer statue by Kapiolani Park.

We highly encourage guests to read the surfboard markers and follow along at waikikihistorictrail.org for extra information.

waikiki walking tour

Along the way, we will share stories and traditional names of the surf breaks in Waikiki .  You will probably see some surfers and bodyboarders from the end of the pier.

waikiki walking tour

Another surfboard marker from the Waikiki Historic Trail is located at the entrance to ʻThe Wallʻ on the Waikiki Side.

We highly recommend learning more about the English names of the surf breaks we just saw before resuming the tour.

waikiki walking tour

The Catholic Church in Waikiki is full of its own history and just off the route.  Weʻll share a few of its stories and provide an opportunity to pause and explore.

There is a museum for Sister Mary Ann Cope and Father Damien .  They achieved Saint Hood through their work at the Leaper Colony on Molokai.

waikiki walking tour

Weʻll share some stories to expand on the information featured there, but we highly recommend pausing and finding out more about this surfer, statesman, and scholar.

waikiki walking tour

The Statue of Prince Jonah Kuhio has additional information located at its base.  He also served as a Territorial Delegate to the United States Congress.

The Prince is a descendant of the last King of Kauai, Kaumualii.  He was adopted by King Kalakaua and named a Royal Heir.

waikiki walking tour

She was named heir to the throne by her brother King Kalakaua.  The tour is narrated by a descendent of one of the Queenʻs personal retainers.

Learn more about the head of the House of Kawananakoa. The Prince surfed, studied, and traveled with his brothers.

While they were in California, the trio fashioned their own boards and became the first people to surf outside of Hawaii.

We will share the story of a ship-wrecked sailor and his family.  He married his interpreter, and they founded this Royal Grove Hotel .

Their son would later go on to found the Aston Hotel Chain.  We see some of his original properties along the route.

This part of the tour offers mouth-watering food choices that arenʻt budget-busting prices.  Sample poke, local style hotdogs, food trucks, and much more.

These are some of our favorite local food options in Waikiki.  Easily pause the tour, stop for a bite, and resume when ready.

As you walk back to the beach and Duke Kahanamoku Statue, you will learn a little about Prince Edward.  King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani also adopted him.

The Prince was brothers with Kuhio and Kawananakoa.  Unfortunately, his health was never as strong as theirs.  He was able to join them in their studies in California .

While it is no longer there, we will point out the site of the former Kings Village.  It was the location of King Kalakauaʻs Waikiki residence.  

Even though the building is gone, you can also read more about it at station 7 on waikikihistorictrail.org if you want to learn more.

waikiki walking tour

Visit the world-famous Duke Kahanamoku Statue.  He was an Olympic medalist, Sheriff, Actor, and considered the Father of Modern Surfing.

Stop and read the plaque as well as the information for stop 5 on waikikihistorictrail.org for extra stories about the Duke.

Known as the Wizard Stones, this stop is located next to the Duke Kahanamoku Statue, Waikiki Police Station, and right off the beach.

We will provide some background and places to find more information about them, but we highly recommend stopping to read the plaques and marker 6 from waikikihistorictrail.org.

waikiki walking tour

Stop 10 at the Courtyard has plaques about the tree and a historical museum upstairs. Not to mention, the Beach Barʻs famous Mai Taiʻs.

Visit the famous surfboard alley in Waikiki on the way to a great view of Diamond Head from the beach.  Donʻt worry.  You donʻt have to get on the sand if you donʻt want.

Located nearby stop 11 on waikikihistorictrail.org , so we recommend pulling that up while you are here.  Itʻs also a great spot to cool off and take a dip during the tour.

waikiki walking tour

Visit the Pink Palace, also known as the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and its courtyard in Helumoa.  This is also an excellent spot for a Mai Tai with an ocean view.

There is a plaque for the historic bell tower and even more information at stop 12 on waikikihistorictrail.org for history buffs.

waikiki walking tour

We will share stories about her, and there is also a cultural center found in the courtyard we highly recommend visiting if they are open.

waikiki walking tour

When you get to the International Marketplace, you will also see a statue of Don Ho and a plaque with more information about the singer.

waikiki walking tour

The walk through the International Market Place is packed with history.  You will see the historic banyan tree and several historical plaques.

There is more info about King Lunalilo, and the area at stop 9 on waikikihistorictrail.org .  Not to the mention shopping, food, and restrooms.

waikiki walking tour

Learn about Kamehameha the Fourth, his son Prince Albert, and his wife, Queen Emma.  The Royal family had a lasting legacy in the Hawaiian Islands.

The statues are located in the middle of the International Marketplace in Waikiki.  There is also a hula mound in the courtyard where you may see a show.

waikiki walking tour

Visit the Princess Kaiulani Statue in the heart of Waikiki. For more information, there is also a surfboard marker here from the Waikiki Historic Trail .

The princess had a home here, and you will learn more about her life. This is the last stop in town before we walk along the canal and the park.

waikiki walking tour

Walking along the Ala Wai canal, you will have beautiful views of the Koolau Mountain Range.  Weʻll share stories, place names, and weather information.

You will also learn about the Ala Wai Golf Course, and weʻll share some info about those behind the Waikiki Historic Trail .

waikiki walking tour

If you are cutting the tour into sections, this is an easy place to pause and resume the tour another day.  We continue exploring the historic trail in Part 2: Military History in Waikiki.

waikiki walking tour

To close the tour we take a peaceful, easy walk in the shade through Kapiolani Park.  You may even see the giraffes and zebras of the Honolulu Zoo as we walk.

Then you will hear stories of the Royal Hawaiian Band and Waikiki Shell as we walk towards the Queen Kapiolani Statue finale.

waikiki walking tour

Meet Queen Kapiolani, who the park was dedicated in her honor by her husband, King Kalakaua.  Her main focus was women and children.

There are plaques with historical information on the statue, and we will share stories about her and her husband along the walk.

More Self-Guided Excursions for this Waikiki Tour

This self-guided Waikiki Walking Tour takes you on the Diamond Head side of the Historic Trail.  We highly recommend adding Part 2 and exploring the entire town.  There is so much to explore in the area and so many stories to tell.  Make sure to take a look at these similar GPS-led excursions by Audio Tour Hawaii.

Waikiki Part 2

Downtown walking tour, waikiki full combo.

In addition, when you purchase any combo tour where more than one device is recommended, we will provide a discount code for any additional purchases.  Of course any local, military and group discounts apply to combination tours as well as individual routes.

Suggested Routing and Itinerary

The GPS Guided Waikiki Walking Tour by Audio Tour Hawaii is about 3 miles long and takes approximately an hour and a half for the full route.

  • This tour includes the royal history of Waikiki.  It is a “behind the scenes” walk through one of the most famous vacation destinations in the world.
  • History buffs will love the free extras and can follow along at waikikihistorictrail.org
  • There are options to save time or break the tour up into sections.

While you donʻt need a half day to complete this route, you can take a dip, add surf lessons , or other activities to your tour.

  • There are several great restaurants and bars along the route.  Easily turn this into a Waikiki food tour or even pub crawl.
  • Take the opportunity to cool off with a swim on one of the most famous beaches in the world.
  • Visit the Honolulu Zoo before or after the tour.
  • Experience the Waikiki Aquarium before or after the tour.

You can easily plan this tour around sunset or sunrise.  The tour ends at the Queen Kapiolani Statue at the end of Waikiki.  Right across from the beach.

  • Decide if you will take the whole walk or break it into sections.  If you do, try to end the first day at the Mai Tai Bar in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
  • You can even start the tour at sunset, and you will finish before everything closes.
  • You can even book a catamaran in Waikiki and board it on the walk back to your hotel.

Are you looking to learn as much ab out Hawaii as possible during your virtual GPS-guided walking tour by AT.Hi ?  Feel free to break the tour into sections and explore over multiple days. Here are the most straightforward areas to start.

  • The Surfer Statue to Royal Hawaiian Hotel
  • The Surfer Statue to International Market Place
  • Royal Hawaiian Hotel to Queen Liliuokalani Historical Trail Stop
  • International Marketplace to Honolulu Zoo
  • Princess Kaiulani Statue to Honolulu Zoo

We are also working on the Waikiki Walking Tour Part 2: Military History in Waikiki.  That will finish up the other stops from the Historic Trail and is the Ala Moana Side of Waikiki.  Stay tuned, and more info will be on the way shortly.

Not Just for Visitors

New to the Community?  Represent a school group or local organization?  Even tour companies looking for a way to save money on employee training will love the AT.Hi experience.  We offer Kamaaina Pricing and free, fun retention quizzes for all our tours.  Why should visitors get to have all the fun?

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Please Contact Us prior to visiting our physical address.   Please also feel free to reach out with questions.  Thank you for choosing Audio Tour Hawaii, or AT.Hi for short.

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Duke Statue, Waikiki

Know Before You Go, Shaka Guide's Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour

June 24, 2023

Shaka Guide

tourists walking using Shaka Guide's audio tour app and looking up

Start Planning! 

  • The tour starts at the Royal Hawaiian Center and ends past Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Statue. 
  • A few restaurants and cafes are cash-only.  Here are some suggestions !
  • The tour takes about an hour without stops. Plan to spend about two hours. 
  • You’ll be walking so wear comfortable shoes.
  • If you’re traveling in a group, everyone will need to purchase the tour individually or use a headphone splitter. 

The budget truly depends on the activities you decide to do. That’s the beauty of touring Hawaii with Shaka Guide -- you have the freedom to explore on your terms! 

Here’s a cost breakdown of the major activities on the tour:

  • $4.99 per person: Shaka Guide’s Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour
  • $15.00-$25.00 per person: Lunch

Start Packing!

  • Sneakers/comfortable shoes
  • Towel (if you want to swim at Waikiki Beach)
  • Bathing suit (if you want to swim at Waikiki Beach)
  • Sunscreen 
  • Sunglasses and/or Hat

Malama Aina

In Hawaiian the word malama means “to take care” and the word aina means “land.”

When you’re in Hawaii, we ask that you practice this and pick up your trash; respect the marine life, plants, and animals; and avoid spots that are unsafe.

Hawaii’s natural resources are precious, it’s up to all of us to help preserve these resources for generations by respecting the aina when you visit. 

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at [email protected].

RELATED:  10 Ways to be a Safe and Responsible Traveler in Hawaii

Top-Rated Things To Do in Waikiki, Hawaii

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Shaka Guide’s Heart of Waikiki Itinerary

Top-Rated Things To Do in Waikiki, Hawaii (2023 Guide)

Best Places to Eat in Waikiki for Any Budget

The Best Cheap Eats in Waikiki

Honolulu Travel Guide  


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Buildings on Waikiki along the shoreline

Discover the Best Places in Heart of Waikiki

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Waikiki Beach Walk

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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Intentional Travelers

5 Great Routes to Run or Walk in Honolulu and Waikiki, Oahu

For visitors to downtown Honolulu and Waikiki looking to stay active, there aren’t any real hikes in Waikiki, but there are some great walking and running routes.

If you’re looking for non-urban hikes near Waikiki, check out our Honolulu hiking guide .

In this post, I’ll share my favorite running routes in or around Waikiki, Kaka’ako, and Honolulu’s historic district. They allow you to explore, people watch, and experience some highlights of Oahu while burning off that delicious Hawaiian food!

Sign up below each Honolulu or Waikiki walking maps to get an interactive look at the routes on MapMyRun.

We’ll cover: – 3 Waikiki walking/running routes – Kaka’ako walking/running route and points of interest map – Downtown and historic Honolulu walks/runs – Tips for running and walking in Honolulu Hawaii

Updated: June 2021. Originally published: June 2014.

What travel restrictions and rules are in place in Hawaii? Find post-pandemic travel updates for Hawaii here: What you need to know about Hawaii travel right now

Staying Active in Honolulu, Hawaii

We often visit Jedd’s family in Honolulu, Hawaii. With its picturesque landscapes and favorable climate year-round, Hawaii is an ideal place for an active vacation.

Honolulu is a unique place in that it is a “major” city on a relatively small island. While you may not get the traditional, quiet, country vibe if you stay in town, there certainly is a lot to see and do. And it’s easy to take day trips to the rest of the island.

See our suggested Oahu itinerary and list of things to do here

3 Waikiki Walking/Running Routes

waikiki walking tour

If you want to be at the heart of all the action, then Waikiki is the place for you. There’s an abundance of hotels and condos for rent within walking distance of the beach. But you can also find a place elsewhere and do a day trip into Waikiki to see what it’s all about.

For more info, check out our free guide about where to stay on Oahu .

Heart of Waikiki Beach Walk

Waikiki Running Walking Route | Intentional Travelers

Enter your email below to access this Waikiki beach walk and 5 other route maps for free:

Diamond Head Loop Walk/Run Route

Kapiolani Park Waikiki Running Walking | Intentional Travelers

Enter your email to access this Diamond Head map, plus our other routes:

Walk Magic Island & Ala Wai Harbor

Magic Island Running Walking Route | Intentional Travelers

Sign up to access all our Waikiki walking routes:

Honolulu Walks and Running Routes

The following three Honolulu walks might still be considered near Waikiki, but they’re closer to downtown. While not entirely off the beaten path, you’re likely to see fewer tourists this side, especially in the mornings.

Kaka’ako Art Walk

murals in Kakaako street art district | Kakaako walking tour, Honolulu

Distance: 3.2 miles Type of Route: To add some distance to this flat route around Kaka’ako wall art, you can start at Kaka’ako Waterfront Park for sea views. This is another great place to watch surfers and see Diamond Head from a distance. The rest of the route goes through town, though there are not always sidewalks. This used to be an industrial/warehouse part of Honolulu, now known for its street art, trendy restaurants, and ever-growing number of condo buildings. SALT is a hub for eateries and cute shops. Wander around and discover murals painted in the annual POW!WOW! street art festival throughout the district. Parking: Free parking lot inside Kaka’ako Waterfront Park opens at 6am; a paid parking garage is in the Keauhou Place building

Kakaako art walking route map, Honolulu

Enter your email below to access our interactive Kakaako walking route map, among others:

Historic Honolulu Self-Guided Walking Tour

Honolulu historic district and downtown | Honolulu Oahu Walks

Distance: 2.2 miles Type of Route: This Honolulu walk in the heart of the city is mostly on sidewalks and may require stops at street lights. You’ll see historic sites like Kawaiahaʻo Church (built in 1842), Iolani Palace (former home of Hawaiian monarchs), Honolulu City Hall and Hawaii State Capitol building, King Kamehameha statue, Aloha Tower (a 1926 lighthouse), and Hawaii Pacific University.  Parking: Street parking may be available; a paid parking garage is in the Keauhou Place building

Tip: Iolani Palace and nearby Honolulu Museum of Art are included in the Go Oahu all-inclusive pass .

Historic Honolulu walking route map, Oahu

Sign up to access all our Honolulu walking tour maps for free:

Ala Moana and Kaka’ako Waterfront Park Walks in Honolulu

View of Diamond Head and Waikiki from Kaka'ako Waterfront Park, Honolulu, Hawaii

Distance: 5.3 miles (options to extend or shorten) Type of Route: A flat Honolulu walk through two waterfront parks. This can also be combined with the Kaka’ako art walk or any Waikiki walks on either end. Connecting between Ala Moana and Kaka’ako is not the nicest looking area, but it’s a small section of the route. Great for watching surfers and other activities going on in the parks and marina. Parking: You can park free within Ala Moana or Kaka’ako parks, though you may have to wait for a spot at peak times

Ala Moana Kakaako Parks walking route map, Honolulu Hawaii

Access our Honolulu walks interactive maps below:

Tips for Runs and Walks in Honolulu Hawaii

  • Early morning always has fewer crowds and cooler temperatures for running Oahu.
  • Stay hydrated! Waikiki, Ala Moana, and Kaka’ako Waterfront parks do have water fountains. 
  • People without homes do sleep outside in the parks and streets of Honolulu. Please be courteous.
  • Be sure to hide all valuables when you park in Honolulu.

Looking for more hikes on Oahu? Read our guide to hiking Oahu Looking for other things to do on Oahu? Check out our Oahu itinerary and activities list Need an awesome place to stay on Oahu? Grab our free Oahu Accommodations guide Want to save money on Hawaii activities? Find out if the Go Oahu card is worth it

We welcome your thoughts and questions! Please use the comments section below.

Like this post? Pin it for later or share with friends!

Best Honolulu Walks for exercise and sightseeing | Intentional Travelers

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Walking Tour of Historic Honolulu

'iolani palace.

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre 

An excellent place to begin a walking tour of historic Honolulu is at the ʻIolani Palace. ʻIolani Palace was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom's last two monarchs - King Kalakaua, who built the Palace in 1882, and his sister and successor, Queen Liliʻuokalani.

The ʻIolani Palace in Honolulu is the only royal palace located in the United States.

Neglected after the overthrow of the monarchy, restoration began in the 1970s through efforts of many concerned individuals. Restoration and preservation continues, and, as a result, today's visitors to the palace can enjoy an ongoing historic restoration and learn much about Hawaiian history and culture.

Tickets for all tours are obtained at the nearby ʻIolani Barracks.

ʻIolani Palace is located in the Capitol District of downtown Honolulu at the corner of King and Richards Streets at 364 South King Street, Honolulu. There is limited metered parking on the grounds and on nearby streets.

Parking is also available at numerous lots downtown and at the Aloha Tower Marketplace . The best was to reach downtown from Waikiki is on The Bus, Oʻahu's public transportation system.

A docent-guided tour costs $27 for an adult. Children/Youth (5-12) pay $6. No children under 5 are admitted. Tours are offered every 15 minutes Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday from 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m., and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

A 60 minute self-guided, pre-recorded audio costs $20 for an adult. Children/Youth (5-12) pay $6. These tours are available on Mondays from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m, and Fridays from 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

'Iolani Barracks

On the northwest lawn of the ʻIolani Palace grounds sits the castle-like ʻIolani Barracks.

ʻIolani Barracks was originally built in 1870-71 on the land where the Hawaii State Capitol building now sits. It was designed to house the royal palace and royal tomb guards.

German architect Theodore Hececk designed the Barracks as well as the new Royal Mausoleum in Nuʻuanu Valley off of the Pali Highway. The building is made of coral blocks and intended to look like a medieval castle.

When constructed ʻIolani Barracks contained a kitchen, mess hall, dispensary, living quarters and prison lockup. Following the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, the Royal Guard was disbanded.

ʻIolani Barracks was then used for different purposes at different times, including use as headquarters for the National Guard of Hawaii , a temporary shelter for refugees of the 1899 Chinatown fire, a government office building, and even a storage facility.

When plans were completed to construct the State Capitol Building, it was decided to move the Barracks to its present location on the grounds of ʻIolani Palace. The building was dismantled block by block and reconstructed in 1965.

ʻIolani Barracks now houses The Palace Gift Shop, ticket office, video theatre, and membership office. The Palace Gift Shop is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Coronation Stand and Pavilion

The large gazebo located on the southwest lawn of the ʻIolani Palace grounds is the Coronation Stand or Coronation Pavilion. It was built for the February 12, 1883 coronation of King Kalākaua and Queen Kapiʻolani. It was moved to this location from its original site near the King Street steps of ʻIolani Palace.

The Royal Hawaiian Band regularly gives concerts near the Coronation Pavilion. It has also been used for the inauguration of the Governors of the State of Hawaii. On many afternoons you will find Hawaiian music artists performing on the grounds nearby.

King Kamehameha I Statue

Walking towards King Street from the front of ʻIolani Palace, you will see the large statue of King Kamehameha I across the street.

King David Kalākaua commissioned a statue of Kamehameha I in 1878. At the time a kahuna (priest) is said to have commented that the statue would only feel at home if it rested in the lands of Kamehameha's birth.

Thomas Gould, an American sculptor living in Italy was commissioned to do a sculpture. He used John Baker, a part Hawaiian and friend of Kalākaua, as his model. Gould was paid $10,000 and his sculpture was sent to Paris for bronzing. It was then put on a ship bound for Hawaii, but the ship sank off the Falkland Islands. It was thought that the statue was lost forever.

With money collected from insurance a new statue was commissioned and that statue arrived in Honolulu in 1883. It stands in front of Aliʻiolani Hale, the Hawaii Supreme Court Building on King Street. It is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Honolulu. Twice a year, on May Day and for Kamehameha Day on June 11, it is adorned with leis.

Within weeks of the arrival of the new statue, the original statue also arrived in Honolulu, having been salvaged and located in a junk yard in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. The English captain that had found it sold it to King Kalākaua. Remembering the prophecy of the old kahuna, the original statue was send to the town of Kapaʻau, near Kamehameha's birthplace on the Big Island of Hawaii where it stands today.

Ali'iolani Hale

Sitting directly behind the statue of King Kamehameha I is a building known as Aliʻiolani Hale. Hale in Hawaiian means "house" and Aliʻiolani literally means "a chief known unto the heavens." This is a "secret" name given to King Kamehameha V at birth.

It was Kamehameha V who commissioned the construction of this building which he originally intended to be his palace. The building was completed after the death of Kamehameha V under the reign of David Kalākaua who had plans to build his own palace across the street. Kalākaua named the building Aliʻiolani Hale in honor of the late king.

Following the completion of construction in 1874, the building was used as the headquarters for the Hawaiian government and home to the Legislative Assembly and Supreme Court. It was in this building that the Provisional Government officially overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893.

Today Aliʻiolani Hale is home to Hawaii's Supreme Court and State Law Library. There is also a Judiciary History Center on the first floor.

Aliʻiolani Hale is well worth a stop. It was in one of the conference rooms of the building that several scenes from ABC's Lost was filmed such as the scene where Claire meets the prospective adoptive parents of her baby and where Michael and his wife meet with their attorneys over their divorce terms.

U.S. Post Office, Custom House, and Court House

Located to the right of Aliʻiolani Hale (as you face the building) and across Mililani Street is the U.S. Post Office/Customs House/Court House. As you may guess, the building has been used for numerous purposes since its construction was completed in 1922.

This three-story Spanish colonial revival building was initially used to house U.S. Federal Government offices and the Customs House in Hawaii. A new and larger building was built for Federal Government in the 1980's and the building was sold to the U.S. Post Office.

In 2002 the State of Hawaii reached a deal for Par Development LLC, an affiliate of Denver-based RSD Corp., to buy the building from the U.S. Postal Service for $7 million, restore it, bring the interior up to standards and then sell 120,000 square feet of the 160,000-square-foot property to the state for $32.5 million. The U.S. Postal Service then bought back the rest of the improved space for $1.

The historic building has been renamed and is now officially the King David Kalākaua Building. David Kalākaua was king from 1874 until his death in 1891 but also served as Honolulu's postmaster from 1863 until 1865.

Kawaiaha'o Church and Mission Cemetery

From the front of the King David Kalākaua Building, take a right on King Street and carefully cross busy Punchbowl Street. On the southeast corner of King and Punchbowl sits the grounds of Kawaiahaʻo Church.

As you enter the church grounds you will notice a small structure to your right surrounded by a wrought iron fence. This is the mausoleum of King William Lunalilo.

Upon the death of King Kamehameha V on December 11, 1872 there was no direct heir to the throne, so the Hawaii Legislature met to choose a new monarch. Prince William Lunalilo , a descendant of a half brother of Kamehameha I, was selected to be the new king.

Lunalilo never married and after a little over a year as king he died of consumption, leaving his estate to needy Hawaiians. There is a widely held belief that he was poisoned. Prior to his death he asked his father to bury him on the grounds of Kawaiahaʻo Church with his people rather than with the other royalty of Hawaii at the new Royal Mausoleum in Nuʻuanu.

The current church was designed by Hiram Bingham, the first missionary on Oʻahu. The church was completed in 1842 in a New England style of architecture. It is constructed of coral slabs quarried from reefs offshore of Oʻahu and carried to the site by parishioners. The interior was made from wood cut in the nearby Koʻolau Mountains. The interior was remodeled in the 1920's due to wood rot.

Kawaiahaʻo Church was dedicated in 1842. It is known as the "Mother" Protestant Church in Hawaii. Numerous members of Hawaii's royalty have worshiped in the church and the royal boxes remain at the rear of the church.

The church's name Kawaiaha'o in Hawaiian means "fresh water pool of Haʻo." Haʻo was an ancient queen of Oʻahu and it is said that on this site a spring existed in which she took ceremonial baths of purification. A reconstructed spring sits on the north side of the church.

Behind the church sits the peaceful Mission Cemetery where the remains of many of Hawaii's early missionaries, political and economic leaders are buried. The names on the gravestones are a virtual "who's who" of Hawaiian history.

Mission Houses Museum

As you exit the rear of the grounds of Kawaiahaʻo Church, cross over Kawaiahaʻo Street. The small buildings you see across the street are the Mission Houses complex and include three original structures dating back to the 1830's.

It is here where Hiram Bingham and the rest of his company including a farmer, printer, two teachers, wives and children were given land to build thatched houses for their stay in Hawaii. Years later, King Kamehameha III allowed the missionaries to build more permanent, western style houses.

The structures on the property include the Hale Laʻāu which was the home in which the first missionary Hiram Bingham, surgeon and later physician Dr. Gerrit Judd, printer Elisha Loomis and their families all lived. Gerrit Judd became a trusted adviser and finance minister to King Kamehameha III.

The Ka Hale Paʻi was the printing house where Americans and Hawaiians created the Hawaiian alphabet in order to produce books and other printed items. The Ka Hale Kamalani or the Chamberlain House was the home of the Chamberlain family and was also used as a storehouse for mission goods.

The newer buildings on the site include a museum, auditorium and gift shop. The Mission Houses are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guided tours of the houses and print shop are offered at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. General admission is $10, Hawaii residents, members of the military, and senior citizens pay $8, students (6 years - college) pay $6.

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waikiki walking tour

Waikiki walking tour to help bring back Japanese tourists

H ONOLULU (KHON2) — As part of the State’s ongoing efforts to bring back Japanese tourists, a new walking tour in Waikiki will launch Monday, April 1.

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An all-time high of 1.5 million Japanese tourists visited the islands back in 2019. By 2023, that number dwindled to 573,000 after the pandemic, according to the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association.

The State hopes to bring back at least 900,000 Japanese arrivals in 2024.

“Regenerative tourism is what we’re all about now,” stated Mufi Hannemann, HLTA’s President and CEO. “We want tourism that’s sustainable, that’s resilient, that reflects our people, their belief and what they want to see in our tourism industry.”

The new Waikiki walking tour is expected to bolster regenerative and responsible tourism through certified cultural specialists to teach topics like the ocean, Hawaiian history and culture.

According to Hannemann, the walking tour will be an opportunity for Japanese guests to leave with a deeper appreciation and knowledge of Hawaii.

“The Japanese have it within their culture to be respectful anyway, this will really allow them to be much more aka mai about why these particular assets are very important to us,” stated Hannemann.

The Waikiki Walk with Aloha tour is part of many ongoing efforts to promote Hawaii in Japan. It will be open to all wanting to participate but will be spoken in Japanese.

Other initiatives include Governor Josh Green’s push for a travel corridor where Japanese tourists can process all paperwork before arriving in Hawaii, per HLTA.

Check out more news from around Hawaii

Back in November 2023, state tourism officials launched a Hawaii-themed pop-up shop that sold locally-made products at Toykoy’s Haneda Airport.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KHON2.

Waikiki walking tour to help bring back Japanese tourists


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