Waikiki is synonymous with the concept of a Hawaiian vacation. Located on the island of Oahu, this world-famous beach has been featured in numerous songs, films and travel ads throughout the decades. Until the early 1900s, Waikiki was a swampland, separated from the rest of Oahu by streams and springs (hence its Hawaiian name, meaning “spouting waters”). In 1922, the Ala Wai Canal was constructed to drain the wetland and make it usable. The drainage left a narrow strip of beach that was plagued with erosion problems. A wide-scale land reclamation project was undertaken in the ’20s and ’30s, in which tons of sand was brought in from California to dump into the eroded swampland.

The result was phenomenal: the Waikiki area quickly became a prime real estate site, and world-class hotels and resorts began to speckle the shoreline, drawing in vacationers and heavyweights in the tourism industry who further developed this newly created haven. Some of the historic hotels that were constructed in the early 20th century are still standing today, notably the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (otherwise known as “The Pink Palace of the Pacific”) and Waikiki’s first hotel, the Moana Surfrider Hotel (a.k.a. “The First Lady of Waikiki”).

Aside from relics such as these and newer luxury hotels such as the Sheraton Waikiki, the Halekulani Hotel and the Hilton Hawaiian Village, as well as the host of restaurants, seaside bars and music venues, Waikiki also has a happening day-time scene. The beach itself is perpetually dotted with bikini-clad sunbathers, and the ocean is frequented with every type of water athlete imaginable: surfers, bodyboarders, swimmers, kayakers, etc. The coral reef lining the ocean bottom near the beach poses a slight discomfort for swimmers, but is ideal for surfing and bodyboarding, as it helps create big waves. The entirety of Waikiki includes the beach, as well as the area from the Ala Wai Canal to Diamond Head, another popular landmark. At the foothills of Diamond Head lies Kapiolani Park, an oceanside park featuring many nice picnic areas and walking trails as featured on many Hiking Tours on Oahu. So there is definitely something for everyone.