When picturing Honolulu, most visitors are actually thinking of Waikiki, the city’s iconic tourist district with a famous beach and views of Diamond Head mountain. Tourists come from all over the world to experience the beauty of Waikiki and stay at its world-class historic hotels. The area saw its heyday in the 1950s and 60s, and while much has changed, there is still a sense of nostalgia for vintage Hawaii. While the streets adjacent to the beach are undoubtedly busy with tourist activity 24/7, there are parts of the neighborhood that are quieter and more residential, and the plus side to living in Waikiki is that you'll have access to everything you need without needing a car.
Waikiki may be lacking in formal coworking spaces, but it does have a wealth of coffee shops to work from. The Banyan Breeze is a quaint coffee shop in the lobby of the Waikiki Banyan, and Island Vintage Coffee in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center offers ample seating and a full food menu. Just across the bridge from Waikiki, you’ll find Honolulu Coffee Experience Center, a huge, quiet café perfect for days spent working without too much distraction.
Experience Old Waikiki with a visit to the iconic hotels The Moana Surfrider and the “Pink Princess,” The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, located right on Waikiki Beach. Off of Kuhio Avenue lie a few midcentury-modern hotels that have undergone recent renovations to restore them to their golden-era glory, and have corresponding restaurants that are noteworthy: Mahina & Suns at the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club and The Hideout at the Laylow have standout drinks and menus; don’t miss the view from Deck at the Queen Kapiolani Hotel and Hau Tree at Kaimana Beach Hotel; a poolside tropical cocktail is best enjoyed at Hey Day at White Sands Hotel. If you’d like to enjoy the sunset outdoors with a beverage, Duke’s Restaurant is a crowd favorite, while House Without a Key at Halekulani Hotel delivers an upscale ambiance and live Hawaiian music.
You can’t beat the shopping in Waikiki, with almost every major retailer making an appearance along Kalakaua Ave or in the nearby Ala Moana Shopping Center. International Market Place and Luxury Row are the destinations for luxury shopping, while smaller boutiques are scattered throughout Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues.
Not surprisingly, the activities in Waikiki center around the ocean. You can enjoy the pool at any number of hotels, but the real draw is Waikiki Beach. When you’re feeling antsy, you can head over to Star Beach Boys to sign up for a surf lesson or outrigger canoe ride. Or if you prefer to let someone else steer the ship, gather some friends for a snorkel tour or booze cruise that leaves from one of the catamarans that leave Waikiki Beach, such as the Maita’i Catamaran or Na Hoku 2 Catamaran.
A half-Dutch writer and photographer who grew up on Oahu, Hawaii. She has spent years exploring and enjoying the Hawaiian Islands for travel and lifestyle publications and assignments.
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