The Best Waikiki Beachfront Hotels (Part 1)

The Best Waikiki Beachfront Hotels (Part 1)

The island of Oahu is called “The gathering place” because it was where all the island chiefs “ali’i” would come when summoned by King Kamehemeha who “united” the islands.  He did so by running his competition over the dramatically beautiful Pali cliffs about 45 minutes from the beaches of Waikiki. The authentic reproduction of the Byodo-in temple from Uji Japan is also in the area…  but I digress!

It costs less to fly into Honolulu than any other island. The main Waikiki beach area is from Fort De Russey to Kapiolani Park on the Oceanside, and Kapiolani Park to Lewers St  on Kuhio Ave. This Waikiki area is about 11 blocks long and 7 blocks wide, which is easy to walk for the average person who enjoys walking.

Kalakua Ave is the only inbound street, which goes to Kapiolani Park (the large green space where you find the band shell and many weekend festivals) and continues on to Diamond Head.  The beachside, more expensive hotels and better restaurants are on Kalakua. Kuhio is outbound from Waikiki, has the lower priced hotels, loud bars, a late night falafel stand (and ladies of the night can be found there later at night, but they don’t interfere with people). Other loud bars and a food stand are also on Lewers close to Kalakua. The Ala Wai is also one way outbound traffic; if you are driving it is often faster to go on the Ala Wai and avoid the bumper to bumper fun that Kuhio can often offer.

If you are car dependent, it will add greatly to the expense and frustration; driving in Waikiki is not fun, parking is expensive, but it is a necessity to get out and see many sites outside the beach area.

I’ve compiled a list of good Waikiki hotels based on my own personal visits. All of these properties have at least one restaurant, a spa, great beds and in their top rooms are deluxe. My view is in getting the biggest value for your dollar today.

The Moana Surfrider is the Grande Dame, the first hotel built in Waikiki, located next to the Police Station and Kuhio Beach Park, which is the best beach where you can rent umbrellas and chairs, get surf lessons, paddleboard, ride outrigger canoes: anything that has to do with the water. The original building is charming and graceful, with a full-length veranda out front with very inviting rocking chairs. No trip to Waikiki is complete without at least a few minutes rocking in these historic chairs. They just ooze with Mana (life)!  It is a very restful time. Inside there is history everywhere.

The restaurant under the banyan tree (the oldest and largest one in Waikiki) is a lovely treat for either lunch or dinner; there is excellent Hawaiian music for either meal.

A few drawbacks: they built a tower and annex and yet have the same original pool, which isn’t big enough for all. The few chairs in the shade are a bit crowded, but at 2pm the sun goes behind the building and there are many more chairs in the shade, with room to breathe. The fees for an umbrella and chairs oceanfront cost $40.00 in the front row and $30.00 in the 2nd row but they are not lounge chairs, just short chairs and are not padded. The least expensive rooms do not have a lanai; that was so disappointing. Even the budget hotels on Kuhio at half the price have lanais. The room was tiny but they do have the heavenly beds, which really are. 

Outrigger Waikiki  is famous as the home of Duke’s, which is always abuzz; the oceanfront tables are worth the wait at least once. Live Hawaiian music adds to the nightly festive atmosphere.

Outrigger is very a dependable family. The staff is friendly and helpful. The spacious rooms have Hawaiian décor and the beds are very comfy.

The pool area has just been “refurbished,” but to me it looks the same as before; too small for the amount of guests who like to sit around and it had way too much chlorine for me. On weekends, the lower deck and Jacuzzi are off limits after 3pm, so that’s more competition for the low amount of chairs around the pool.  There is not a lot of space to walk around between he chairs and the pool

The Royal Hawaiian, the Pink Palace, was the second hotel to be built in Waikiki. The entrance is hidden behind the Royal Hawaiian shopping center, which stretches 3 blocks from Lewers St.  to Seaside Ave.  The center road is called Royal Hawaiian and that takes you in by car; it shares the entrance with the Sheraton Waikiki.  Or you could enter via Don Ho Alley—poor guy, a Legendary Hawaiian entertainer and he gets a wee alley, not even a block long, named for him!

This is the only Waikiki property that has a luau, which is a great production with yummy food.

The staff is helpful, friendly, and really wants everyone to have a good time. The rooms are comfortable and have lanais.

By Kathleen Chan