Most people come to Hawaii to relax. They leave their stress, worries, and deadlines on the mainland to experience a tropical world filled with flowers, the soft sound of unfolding waves, and the swaying hips of hula dancers. Of course, many don’t just come to Hawaii to relax, they come to play!
In Waikiki, your Hawaiian adventure can begin with a surfboard in one hand and sunscreen in another. The soft, slow, and long-winded waves in Waikiki are perfect for learning how to surf, (if you don’t already know how). You can let the professional, CPR-trained instructors of Hans Hedemann’s Hawaii Surf School teach you or you can go at it on your own.
The advantage of going with Hedemann’s is they offer their lessons in a less crowded section of Waikiki beach called Tonggs. Their lessons begin with useful information about the ocean, how to position yourself on the surfboard, and water safety. Once in the water, the instructors give pointers on how to paddle, turn, and balance on your board so that you can surf your first Waikiki wave.
While riding through the gentle Hawaiian breezes while paddling in the warm Pacific Ocean, you may not notice the sun’s heat. But, you’ll be glad that you put sunscreen on before heading out into the surf. A tan is a lot more fun than a burn.
If you want to practice your new surf skills as you travel around the island during the rest of your stay, you can try these other gentle breaks: Chun’s Reef and Puena point on the North Shore, Cockroach Bay on the East side of the island, and the inside break of Haleiwa.
After a long surf session and plenty of paddling, your shoulders might feel like they’re going to give out and your knees may be weak from wave riding. That is the sign to head to shore. Dry off, grab your sunglasses and slippers (Hawaii’s word for sandals) and with the beach to your left, walk north for a bite to eat. In about a block, it’ll be hard to miss the bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku, one of the original Waikiki beach boys. If you appreciated your morning surf, you might want to tip your beach hat to Duke. He was the "father of modern surfing" and helped to spread the sport of surfing around the world.
One more block and you’ll see the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel on the ocean side. Inside you’ll find the Hula Grill Waikiki. Located right on the water, they have delicious lunch menu choices without the fancy prices.
After lunch, make your way out of the hotel and back onto Kalakaua Avenue. This juncture is the start to exploring Waikiki’s historic trail. With 23 points of interest, a few you passed on your way to lunch, the trail is a great way to walk off a big meal while learning the history behind the magic of Waikiki.
Heading further north along the shore, you’ll encounter ‘Aina Hau Park, International Marketplace, the U.S. Army Museum, Ala Moana Park, and the Hawaii Convention Center. Or return south towards Duke’s statue and you’ll find the King’s Alley entrance, remnants of Queen Lili’uokalani’s estate, Healing Stones, and more. You can visit www.waikikihistorictrail.com, to download the map and text, and be your own guide through historic Waikiki.
Now, if the sun is a few hours above the horizon, make your way back to Waikiki beach. There you can finish your day’s adventure relaxing on a catamaran for a sunset sail. Check-in time is at 5pm on Waikiki Beach (where you surfed this morning) between the Halekulani Hotel and the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.
From the ocean, you’ll get a spectacular view of Diamond Head. No doubt you noticed this incredible volcanic structure at the start of the day. If the sky is clear, Diamond Head will take on a red hue, reflecting the light of the descending sun. Lay back on deck with your hands behind your head and imagine all the fun you can have tomorrow. When your thoughts return to the unfolding sunset, enjoy and relax. It’s been a long and beautiful day in Waikiki.
What & Where:
Hans Hedemann’s Surf (2863 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu; 808-924-7778)
Hula Grill Waikiki Oceanfront at the Outrigger Waikiki (2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 203
Waikiki Historic Trail (Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association; 900 Fort Street Mall, Ste 1300, Honolulu; 808-441-1404; http://www.waikikihistorictrail.com/index.html)
HawaiiActive.com (44 Nonohe Place, Paia; 866-766-6284 or 808-871-8880)
For more information about Oahu check out these great books on Amazon Oahu Revealed: The Ultimate Guide to Honolulu, Waikiki & Beyond, Frommer’s Honolulu & Oahu Day by Day by Frommer’s, and Driving and Discovering Hawaii: Oahu, Honolulu, and Waikiki
Ready to visit Oahu? Check out these great Airfare and Hotel deals to Oahu
Adriana Attento McKnight is a freelance writer and traveler. She’s traveled to New Zealand, South America, Europe, and most parts of the United States. After New Zealand, she landed in Honolulu and fell in love with Hawaii. She currently lives on the Big Island with her husband and two puppies – Little Dude and Nani.