Waikiki Beach offers surf, Spam and submersibles galore
Waikiki is a vibrant, ever-changing beachfront neighborhood in Honolulu. It's also one of the world's top vacation destinations . Its sprawling resorts are as famous as its beaches. Incidentally, the elegant Moana Surfrider, the first of the Waikiki Beach hotels, opened in 1901.
Location and features
Waikiki is situated on the southern edge of eastern Oahu. Kalakaua Avenue is Waikiki's main drag, and it's abuzz day and night with shoppers, diners and pleasure-seekers of all types. While the volcanic cone Diamond Head isn't technically part of Waikiki, its vivid and majestic presence looms over the entire district.
What's more, Pearl Harbor, Chinatown and Ala Moana Center—the latter is Hawaii's biggest mall—are all just 30 minutes from Waikiki by car, if not closer.
Things to see
The University of Hawaii operates the Waikiki Aquarium, which is across the street from Kapiolani Park. More than 3,000 creatures reside there, including an extremely hard-to-find peppermint angelfish, some playful monk seals and a group of fearsome sharks.
The Honolulu Zoo is a 24-acre wildlife preserve with elephants, monkeys, birds and other animals from across the globe. Its gardens boast some of the most beautiful Polynesian flowers in existence. On Saturdays, this zoo offers guided walking tours at twilight; these expeditions are visually stunning and highly enlightening.
U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii
The U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii might be modest in size, but it is sweeping in its subject matter. Its halls are housed inside a military outpost that was built in 1909, and they feature native weapons from hundreds of years ago, as well as more recent tools for fighting. Also on display are uniforms, posters, photographs and vehicles. Admission to this museum is free.
When you board an Atlantis submersible, you dive approximately 100 feet below the waves. Tour guides will identify the marine life that you encounter, and if you're really lucky, you could see a whale. You'll also get excellent views of coral reefs and shipwrecks throughout the journey.
Of course, a person can't list Waikiki's primary attractions without mentioning its major beaches: Kahanamoku, Gray's, Kuhio, Sans Souci, Kapiolani and the hugely popular Royal Hawaiian. Nowhere on Earth can you find superior conditions for swimming and water sports.
Yearly events of note
Held every May, the Waikiki Spam Jam is a festival that celebrates the canned meat with which many Hawaiians have fallen in love. Booths line Kalakaua Avenue so that more than 24,000 people may sample countless Spam dishes. Spam merchandise is readily available. In addition, many volunteers are on hand to collect donations for the Hawaii Food Bank.
August brings Duke's OceanFest to the shores of Waikiki. This multi-day event is named after Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic great, actor, legend of surfing and local sheriff. It features a series of athletic contests, including swimming, volleyball, stand-up paddling and surfing competitions. Duke's noble spirit still thrives.
The Waikiki Ho'olaule'a is a 12-block-long street party that rages each September on Kalakaua Avenue. Thousands of people attend this free event, and it showcases hula dancers, Hawaiian musicians, island arts and craft and irresistible area food. And naturally, leis are everywhere.
The Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by tropical waters that help keep the weather pleasant and consistent all year long. In fact, Waikiki's coldest month is January, a time when the average low temperature is 66 degrees Fahrenheit. No matter what month it is, you can expect Waikiki's high temperatures to range from 80 to 90 degrees and its low temperatures to be somewhere between 66 and 75.
January, February, October, November and December are comparatively rainy in Waikiki. During each of those months, the average rainfall exceeds 2.1 inches. By contrast, May through September is a particularly sunny period; the average monthly precipitation during that time is less than an inch. Further, tropical storms are rare in the region, but if they do occur, they'll probably take place in August or September.
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