Difference between revisions of "Honolulu/Waikiki"
Revision as of 04:15, 27 March 2007
Perhaps the best known beach in the world, Waikiki was the favorite playground of Hawaiian royalty in the 19th century. At the time, Waikiki was an area of wetlands fed by streams from the valleys above Honolulu. That all changed in the 1920s when the government decided to build what would become the Ala Wai Canal, which would drain the wetlands and pave the way for later development.
These days, this 1.5 mile stretch of white sand beach is the nucleus of Hawaii's tourist industry, packed full of high-rise hotels that promise to treat you like a king, some of which may also require a king's ransom for admission. Often criticized for its concrete-jungle appearance, Waikiki has undergone a recent face lift to give it a more "Hawaiian sense of place."
Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. with Interstate Highways that don't connect to another state. They are H-1, H-2, and the newest one H-3, all located on the island of Oahu.
Honolulu International Airport  is the main aviation gateway for the Hawaiian Islands. The airport's Main Terminal is served by most major American airlines from the mainland U.S, and by many international airlines from other countries around the Pacific Rim. Its Inter-island Terminal is the home of Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines, both of which offer frequent local service to the other Hawaiian islands.
The Airport Waikiki Express provides shuttle service to hotels in Waikiki every half hour for $8 per person. City buses #19 and #20 ($2 Adult/ no change given/ $US bills and coins accepted) also come to the airport once every half-hour, going through A`ala Park downtown and on to to Waikiki. You can catch them on the outside second level of the international and domestic departure terminals.
The best way to get to Waikiki by rental car (where your hotel is most likely to be) is to follow signs for H-1 east, then follow H-1 east about 2 miles to exit 18A (Waikiki/Nimitz Highway). Follow Nimitz Highway (which turns into Ala Moana Boulevard past downtown Honolulu) straight into Waikiki. You will pass through Honolulu's industrial district, along Honolulu Harbor, and past downtown Honolulu and the Ala Moana Shopping Center.
When getting direction in Hawaii you're more likely to hear "mauka" or "makai" then north, south, east or west. Mauka means towards the mountains. Makai means towards the water, in this case the ocean. This means that the direction of mauka/makai is dependent on where you are on the island. In the case of Waikiki and Honolulu, which are located on the south shore of Oahu, mauka roughly means north, and makai roughly means south.
H-1 is some distance away from Waikiki itself and you need to go onto surface streets to and from Waikiki. If you need to access H-1 west from Waikiki to go someplace outside of the city, there are two main routes:
To get back to Waikiki from H-1 east, take either of these routes:
In Waikiki, the three main streets, from makai to mauka, are Kalakaua Avenue (one way Ewa to Diamond Head, along Waikiki Beach), Kuhio Avenue (two-way), and Ala Wai Boulevard (one way Diamond Head to Ewa, along the Ala Wai Canal).
If you're traveling light, TheBus  offers service from Honolulu Airport to Waikiki. Take either route #19 or #20 to Waikiki. You may carry your bag onto the bus, provided that your bag fits under the seat and doesn't disturb other passengers. Routes #8 and #19 serve Waikiki and Ala Moana Center.
If not the most famous beach in the world, Waikiki Beach is by far the most famous in Hawaii. It forms the foreground of most postcard pictures of Diamond Head. It is the first beach that comes to mind when most people think of Hawaii. Consequently, it is also, by far, the most crowded.
Museums and Galleries
Diamond Head Crater, located on the southeast coast of Oahu at the end of Waikiki overlooking Pacific. Observation deck at the top with breathtaking views. Moderate hike with a lot of steps towards the end. About 1.5 hour hike. Bring water and flashlight (for tunnel).
First time visitors should be sure to book at least one luau. Some are better than others, check with your hotel concierge for recommendations.
Learn how to surf from the beachboys! For a real Hawaiian experience, American style, head over to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and look for the surf boards. Surfing lessons are fun and the waves at Waikiki beach are very easy.
Ever-present ABC Stores are located so that most hotels are within no more than a one-block walk. In fact, many locations are located in the shopping areas of the major hotels. They provide all manner of convenience store food, souvenirs, and merchandise, but the convenience does come at an extra cost.
Popular with locals, Longs Drugs are general merchandise stores with locations throughout the islands. The nearest location to Waikiki is on the second level of Ala Moana Center.
Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, Aloha Stadium, 99-500 Salt Lake Blvd, +1 808-486-6704. Hawaii's Largest - Open every Wed, Sat & Sun 6AM-3PM. Bring your hat and sunscreen and plan to spend at least half a day. There are many merchants with lots of local food items, clothing and Hawaiian souvenirs. Admission is $0.50 per buyer, under 12 free.