The Queen Kapiolani Guide to Waikiki Attractions
Whether you’re here just for a weekend getaway or a longer visit, there are plenty of attractions in and near Waikiki that you won’t want to miss. We highly recommend bringing your camera and wearing comfortable shoes-there’s so much to see and do in Waikiki that you might need to extend your stay by a few days.
Stop by the concierge desk any time for additional recommendations, but these staff favorites will get you started as you plan your Waikiki itinerary:
Ala Moana Center
If shopping is your bag, then this is your destination. Ala Moana offers one of the largest open-air shopping centers in the world, including retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Prada, BCBG Max Azria, and more than 30 restaurants. Take a rest from shopping at the adjacent Ala Moana Beach Park.
This landmark lighthouse is located at Pier 9 in Honolulu Harbor and offers visitors a glimpse of recent Hawaiian history as well as a beautiful example of the Hawaiian Gothic architectural style.
Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum
To see the world’s largest collection of all things Polynesian as well as an entomological collection that boasts more than 13.5 million specimens, make time to see the Bishop Museum, also known as the Hawaii State Museum of Natural and Cultural History.
Visible from just about anywhere in Waikiki, Diamond Head is an inactive volcanic tuff cone that towers over the landscape. A hiking trail that will take you to the top, but be prepared for a somewhat strenuous hike that includes two tunnels and a narrow spiral staircase. The panoramic view of the island and the Pacific shore are well worth the hike.
Honolulu Academy of Arts
You’ll find this incredible art museum at 900 South Beretania Street across from Thomas Square. Housing more than 40,000 works of original art displayed in 32 galleries and six courtyards, this museum is certainly worth an entire day of exploration. Also onsite is the Doris Duke Theatre, which many believe to be the island’s best venue for independent, alternative and art films.
Downtown Honolulu is the location of the only official residence of royalty in the history of the U.S. After the monarchy ended in 1893, this magnificent two-story building was repurposed as the capitol building of Hawaii and today houses a museum that is open to the public.
Naturalists, artists and connoisseurs of beauty will appreciate this impeccably maintained living museum of Hawaii’s diverse flora and fauna. On Saturdays, admission is free for this 200-acre botanical garden and trails will guide you through a rainforest with water features.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
As the only National Cemetery in the state, this is the place where men and women of the US Armed Forces are honored, including those killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor and unknown service members from World War I through the Vietnam War. Notable interments include President Obama’s grandfather, Stanley Dunham, as well as astronaut Charles Veach.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Founded in 1963, the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) has been recognized as Hawaii’s top paid visitor attraction for more than 30 years. Set on 42 lush acres of Oahu’s North Shore, the PCC features six-island villages representing Aotearoa (New Zealand), Fiji, Hawai’i, Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga, as well as exhibits representing Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Marquesas. Each village shares its native culture through exhibits, demonstrations and hands-on activities, including new “Go Native!” activities to entice guests to “do as natives do” and actively participate in real-life aspects of Polynesian daily life.
USS Arizona Memorial
Commissioned in 1916 and most famous for its sinking by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor Day, the USS Arizona still lies on the floor of the harbor in homage to those that lost their lives that day. The wreck was designated as a national shrine in 1962, and a monument was built to honor the sacrifice of those who perished.
Nestled alongside a living coral reef, this aquarium is home to more than 400 marine species and receives more than 350,000 visitors per year. With plenty of hands-on learning exhibits, this is a great activity for families and kids.