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Neighborhood of Honolulu
Aerial view of Waikiki
Aerial view of Waikiki
Country United States
State Hawaii
County Honolulu County
City Honolulu
 • Total 3.4 sq mi (9 km2)
ZIP Code 96815
Area code(s) 808

Waikīkī (/wkˈk/; Hawaiian: [vɐjˈtiːˈtiː, wɐjˈtiːˈtiː]) (also known as Waikiki Beach) is a beachfront neighborhood of Honolulu on the south shore of the island of Oʻahu in the U.S. state of Hawaii. Waikiki is most famous for Waikīkī Beach, but it is just one of six beaches in the district, the others being Queen's Beach, Kuhio Beach, Gray's Beach, Fort DeRussy Beach and Kahanamoku Beach.

Waikīkī is home to public places including Kapiʻolani Park, Fort DeRussy, Kahanamoku Lagoon, Kūhiō Beach Park, and Ala Wai Harbor.


The name Waikīkī means spouting fresh water in the Hawaiian language, for springs and streams that fed wetlands that once separated Waikīkī from the interior.[1]


The area was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty in the 1800s who enjoyed surfing there on early forms of longboards.[2]

A few small hotels opened in the 1880s. In 1893, Greek-American George Lycurgus leased the guest house of Allen Herbert and renamed it the "Sans Souci" (French for "without worries") creating one of the first beach resorts. Later that year Robert Louis Stevenson stayed at the resort; subsequently it became a popular destination for tourists from the mainland.[3] The area at coordinates 21°15′49″N 157°49′17″W / 21.26361°N 157.82139°W / 21.26361; -157.82139 is still called "Sans Souci Beach".[4]

Today, the area is filled with large resort hotels, such as the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Halekulani, the Hyatt Regency Waikīkī, Marriott Waikiki, Sheraton Waikīkī, and historic hotels dating back to the early 20th century (such as the Moana Surfrider Hotel and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel). The beach hosts many events a year, including surf competitions, outdoor performances, hula dancing and outrigger canoe races. Because of the many new amenities, shops, and hotels, the area of Waikīkī generates approximately 42 percent of Hawaiʻi's states visitor revenue and income due to the increase of tourism.[5]

In the Early 1900s, Waikīkī was also home to many swamps, which were believed to harbor disease carrying mosquitos. As a way to get rid of the mosquitos, islanders created a way to facilitate movement of this water. This creation was the Ala Wai canal. The Ala Wai canal, which was originally known as the Waikīkī Drainage Canal, was created by a Hawaiian dredging company run by Walter F. Dillingham. The project took about seven years, beginning in 1921and ending in 1928.[6]

In the early 20th century, Duke Kahanamoku became a well-known surfer in Waikiki. Throughout his life and after competing in the Olympics, many people around the world wanted to learn how to surf. Duke Kahanamoku's influence made Waikiki beach a hotspot for beginners and professional surfers.[7] "Dukes", a club in Waikiki named for Kahanamoku, helped Don Ho produce music and had the longest-running show in Waikiki.[8]


Waikīkī beach looking towards Diamond Head
Waikīkī beach as seen from Diamond Head

The neighborhood extends from the Ala Wai Canal (a channel dug to drain former wetlands) on the west and north, to Diamond Head (ʻahi) on the east. Waikīkī Beach is noted for its views of the Diamond Head tuff cone, its usually warm and cloud-free climate and its surf break.[9][10][11]

The Waikīkī skyline is now dotted with an abundance of both high-rises and resort hotels. The beach is actually fairly short, with half of it marked off for surfers. For some distance into the ocean the water is quite shallow, although there are numerous rocks on the bottom. As with most ocean beaches the waves can have some force, particularly on windy days. The surf at Waikīkī is known for its long rolling break, making it ideal for long boarding, tandem surfing and beginners.[12][13]

Main thoroughfares[edit]

Waikīkī's main thoroughfare is Kalakaua Avenue, named after King Kalakaua, which houses most of the high-end hotels (Royal Hawaiian, Sheraton, Hyatt, Moana Surfrider Hotel), most of the luxury designer brand stores (Apple Store, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Burberry, Dior, Tiffany & Co., Fendi, Cartier, Gucci, and Coach) and popular surf clothing brand stores (Quiksilver, Billabong, Volcom). Waikīkī's other main thoroughfare, Kuhio Avenue, named after Prince Kuhio, is better known for its restaurants, cafes and grocers, along with its clubs, nightlife and prostitution.[14][15]

Waikiki at sunset. Photo by Janine Sprout.

Beach problems[edit]


Waikīkī Beach erosion in 2011
The restored Beach in June 2012

Over time, Waikīkī beach has had problems with erosion, leading to the construction of groynes and beach replenishment projects. For example, in the 1920s and 1930s sand was imported from Manhattan Beach, California, via ship and barge to Waikīkī.[16] Importing of sand also came from local beaches such as, Pāpōhaku Beach on Moloka‘i, and even a sandbar from Oʻahu's Northern side near Kahuku.[17] Importing stopped in the 1970s. In March of 1971, the Department of the Army Pacific Ocean Division, created a Draft Environmental Statement for the Kuhio Beach Sector of Waikīkī, which aimed to improve the overall quality and size of the fading and narrowing shoreline.[18] Officials are looking for ways to sustain the existing sand by eliminating loss due to tidal flow.[19] Subject to permits, a partial restoration was completed in the spring of 2012. The proposed project imported sand from nearby shoals and widened the 1,700-foot (520 m) long beach by about 37 feet (11 m) between the Royal Hawaiian Hotel concrete groyne and the Kūhiō Beach crib wall. The project restored the beach to its 1985 shoreline.[20][21]

Water quality[edit]

Waikiki Beach has had contamination problems with sewage spills.[22][23][24][25]

Government and infrastructure[edit]

District 6 of the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) encompasses Waikiki.[26] The Waikīkī HPD Substation is located at 2425 Kalakaua Avenue next to Kuhio Beach Park.[27]

The United States Postal Service operates the Waikīkī Post Office at 330 Saratoga Road.[28]


Hawaii Department of Education operates public schools. Thomas Jefferson Elementary School is located in Waikīkī proper, while Waikīkī Elementary School is located nearby, at the makai (southern) edge of the Kapahulu neighborhood.[29]

The Hawaii State Public Library System operates the Waikīkī Public Library at 400 Kapahulu Avenue.[30]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Waikiki is twinned with:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lloyd J. Soehren (2010). "lookup of waikiki ". in Hawaiian Place Names. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library. Retrieved December 13, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Longboards used by royalty". Hawaii-post.com. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  3. ^ Helen G. Chapin (1981). "The Queen's "Greek Artillery Fire": Greek Royalists in the Hawaiian Revolution and Counterrevolution". Hawaiian Journal of History. 15. 
  4. ^ "Sans Souci Beach Park". Honolulu, HI, USA: City and County of Honolulu. August 15, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Our Waikīkī: King Tides, Beach Erosion and Water Pollution—Can Waikīkī Be Saved?". Honolulu Magazine. 2018-02-12. Retrieved 2018-04-11. 
  6. ^ Gaye, Chan (30 September 2006). Waikiki : A History of Forgetting and Remembering. University of Hawaii Press. 
  7. ^ Wright, Katie (2005). Duke Kahanamoku: Cultural Icon. Center for Pacific Island Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa. 
  8. ^ "Don Ho". TIM. Retrieved 2018-06-18. 
  9. ^ "Waikiki Historic Trail - Map". Hawaii Tourism Authority. Retrieved October 1, 2012. 
  10. ^ Young, Peter T (May 11, 2012). "Ho'okuleana: Waikīkī – Before the Ala Wai". Retrieved October 1, 2012. 
  11. ^ Ejiri, Masakazu (1996). "1: Introduction". The Development of Waikiki, 1900–1949: The Formative Period of an American Resort Paradise (Thesis). Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. p. 1. Retrieved October 1, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Queens - Surfing in Oahu, United States of America - WannaSurf, surf spots atlas, surfing photos, maps, GPS location". wannasurf.com. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Canoes - Surfing in Oahu, United States of America - WannaSurf, surf spots atlas, surfing photos, maps, GPS location". wannasurf.com. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  14. ^ "City to beautify Kuhio Avenue". The Honolulu Advertiser. January 26, 2004. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Prostitution shifts from Waikiki". The Honolulu Advertiser. August 31, 2003. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  16. ^ Bonnie Beckerson (2001). "City of Manhattan Beach History". Retrieved April 26, 2010. 
  17. ^ Catherine, Toth Fox (2 February 2018). "Our Waikīkī: King Tides, Beach Erosion and Water Pollution—Can Waikīkī Be Saved?". Honolulu Magazine. Retrieved 26 April 2018. 
  18. ^ United States. Army. Corps of Engineers (25 March 1971). Waikiki Beach erosion control improvements, Kuhio sector : environmental impact statement. 
  19. ^ "Where's Waikiki's sand?". CNN. Atlanta, GA, USA: Turner Broadcasting System. July 5, 2003. Archived from the original on July 7, 2008. Retrieved October 1, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Beach to be rebuilt with recovered sand - Hawaii News". Staradvertiser.com. June 30, 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  21. ^ Sophie, Cocke (9 March 2015). "Waikiki Beach Is Totally Man-Made (And Disappearing). Can Hawaii Save It?". Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 April 2018. 
  22. ^ CNN, Jason Hanna. "Hawaii's Waikiki beaches shut after sewage spill". CNN. Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  23. ^ "Investigation Of Waikiki Beach Sewage Spill Closes". www.wateronline.com. Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  24. ^ Savage, Sam; Venzon, Nel C Jr (2008-01-30). "Massive Discharge of Untreated Sewage into the Ala Wai Canal (Oahu, Hawaii): A Threat to Waikiki's Waters?". Redorbit. Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  25. ^ "Sewage spill fouls Waikiki Beach - Wikinews, the free news source". en.wikinews.org. 2006-03-31. Retrieved 2017-03-31. 
  26. ^ "HPD Community". Honolulupd.org. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Contact HPD". Honolulupd.org. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  28. ^ ""Waikiki USPS Location Details". United States Postal Service. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  29. ^ "School Information." Waikiki Elementary School. Retrieved on May 22, 2009.
  30. ^ "Waikiki Public Library". Hawaii State Public Library System. May 22, 2009. Archived from the original on November 30, 2009. Retrieved March 1, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 21°16′31″N 157°49′52″W / 21.2752°N 157.8312°W / 21.2752; -157.8312