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Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous and iconic beaches in Hawaii, known for its beautiful white sand, vibrant culture, and stunning views of Diamond Head. If you’re planning a trip to Oahu and want to soak up the sun on this world-renowned beach, read on to learn exactly where Waikiki Beach is located.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Waikiki Beach stretches approximately 2 miles along the southern shore of Oahu, on the island’s southeast coast in Honolulu.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to find your way to Waikiki Beach. We’ll explore Waikiki’s location on Oahu, specific points of reference and surrounding landmarks, directions to drive or take public transportation there, where to park once you arrive, and tips for navigating the beach area.

Locating Waikiki Beach on the Island of Oahu

Waikiki’s Place on Oahu’s South Shore

Waikiki Beach is situated on the southern shoreline of the island of Oahu in Hawaii. More specifically, it lies on the southeast coast, fronting the area of Honolulu. Stretching around 2 miles long, the golden sands of Waikiki Beach extend from the Ala Wai Boat Harbor to the eastern edge of Diamond Head crater.

It parallels the main thoroughfare of Kalakaua Avenue and faces the calm, turquoise waters that lap the south shore of Oahu.

The beach overlooks the area known as Waikiki, a vibrant neighborhood crammed with hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment. High-rise towers punctuate the landscape, while historic sites, gardens and the Honolulu Zoo dot the inland areas.

Thanks to its accesibility and abundance of amenities, Waikiki forms the tourism center of Hawaii.

Waikiki enjoys a prized location for beachgoers, set apart from Oahu’s rougher northern and western shores. The south and east sides of the island fall under the rain shadow effect, blocking moisture and winds.

As a result, Waikiki Beach boasts gentle waves and consistently warm weather ideal for sunbathing, swimming and aquatic activities.

Waikiki’s Distinct Crescent Shape

One of Waikiki Beach’s most distinctive geographical features is its calm crescent-like shape. This form occurs due to the way the shoreline curves outward around a point named Kūhiō Beach. The beach itself actually consists of three sections – Fort DeRussy, Kūhiō and Queen’s Surf – creating one long arched stretch.

The curve of the coast maximizes the amount of sand exposed during low tide. It also creates a partial barrier from currents, preventing the rough waves found on Oahu’s north shore. These conditions foster the placid waters Waikiki is so famous for, allowing safe recreation and beautiful vistas of the beach.

Waikiki’s shape also enables broad views of the sea and horizon, especially towards Diamond Head crater in the east. For this reason, hotels and resorts along the beachfront capitalize on the panoramic sightlines.

Postcard-perfect photographs can be taken anywhere along the golden coastline from sunrise to sunset.

Waikiki Beach Reference Points and Nearby Landmarks

Diamond Head to the East

The iconic Diamond Head crater sits just to the east of Waikiki Beach. This ancient volcanic cone was formed over 300,000 years ago and stands at 760 feet tall, providing a stunning natural backdrop to Waikiki.

From many vantage points along Waikiki Beach, you can gaze up at the rugged green slopes of Diamond Head.

Honolulu Neighborhoods Inland

Behind the main beachfront hotels and resorts of Waikiki lie several vibrant Honolulu neighborhoods. These areas give visitors a taste of real local culture. Just a short walk from the beach you’ll find Chinatown with its colorful open-air markets, herb shops, and Chinese gardens.

The upscale Ala Moana area features large malls and shopping plazas. Historic downtown Honolulu also sits next door to Waikiki.

Major Resorts and Hotels Along the Beach

Lining the lovely golden sands of Waikiki Beach is a string of famous hotels and beachfront resort complexes. On the west end you have the Hilton Hawaiian Village, while central Waikiki boasts iconic resorts like the Hyatt Regency and Sheraton Waikiki.

More world-class hotels and dining options line the waterfront along eastern Waikiki Beach.

Iconic Waikiki Surf Spots

The waves rolling into Waikiki Beach provide perfect conditions for surfing. Legendary spots like Queen’s Surf, Publics, and Canoes attract locals and visitors looking to catch a wave in Waikiki. The beach boys who taught surfing to tourists in the early 1900s started a proud tradition that continues today.

Watching surfers gracefully riding the curling blue waves is an integral part of the Waikiki Beach scene.

Driving Directions to Waikiki Beach

From Honolulu International Airport

The drive from Honolulu International Airport to the popular Waikiki Beach is about 9 miles (15 km) and takes around 15 minutes without traffic. Simply follow the Nimitz Highway/H-92 W route straight out of the airport area as it runs alongside downtown Honolulu.

After around 8 miles, take the Waikiki/Diamond Head exit that feeds onto Kapiolani Boulevard. Follow Kapiolani Blvd for just over 1 mile and you will enter the heart of Waikiki where you can find public beach access parking lots and street parking.

From Other Oahu Locations

No matter where you are staying on Oahu, Waikiki Beach can be easily accessed in less than an hour by car in typical driving conditions. Those coming from west side locations like Ko Olina or Ka’ena Point can take either the H1 east or Farrington Highway east which leads into Kamehameha Highway that goes directly into Waikiki.

The drive takes approximately 40-50 minutes covering around 35 miles. Visitors staying on Oahu’s famous North Shore in areas like Sunset Beach or Pipeline can reach Waikiki Beach in about a 30-40 minute drive down the H2 and H1 freeway.

As Waikiki is a major tourist destination on Oahu, free or paid public parking can be tricky, especially on peak seasons. Consider using ride share services or TheBus, Oahu’s excellent public transportation system that offers routes island-wide including an affordable direct ride from Honolulu International Airport into the heart of Waikiki.

So whether you are staying nearby Honolulu or at the farthest points on Oahu, reaching the world-famous Waikiki Beach is convenient and accessible year-round by various transportation options.

Taking Public Transportation to Waikiki


TheBus is an affordable and convenient way to reach Waikiki Beach from various parts of Oahu. Several bus routes connect Waikiki with downtown Honolulu, Waipahu, Pearl City, and other neighborhoods. TheBus has frequent schedules, with buses arriving every 15-30 minutes depending on the route.

Key bus stops in Waikiki include the Ala Moana Center, Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and Waikiki Beachcomber.

Some useful bus routes for getting to Waikiki include:

  • Route 8: Goes between Waikiki and Ala Moana Center
  • Route 19: Connects Waikiki with Airport and Pearl Harbor
  • Route 20: Links Waikiki and downtown Honolulu
  • Route 22: Connects Waikiki with Pearlridge Center

TheBus offers day passes for $5.50 which allows unlimited rides for a 24-hour period. This can be a cost-effective option if you plan on taking multiple bus trips in one day. Most buses have bike racks, allowing visitors to combine cycling and public transportation.


The Waikiki Trolley is a convenient way for visitors to get around the various attractions and shopping destinations in the Waikiki area. The trolley has four color-coded routes that cover places like the Honolulu Zoo, Ala Moana Center, Diamond Head Crater, Kapiolani Park, and more.

Useful trolley lines for Waikiki Beach include:

  • Pink Line: Stops along Kalakaua Ave opposite Waikiki Beach
  • Blue Line: Connects Waikiki hotels to the Honolulu Convention Center
  • Red Line: Covers attractions like the Honolulu Zoo and Kapiolani Park

The Waikiki Trolley offers hop-on, hop-off convenience for exploring places near the beach. Fares are affordable at only $2 per boarding or $25 for a 4-day pass. Trolleys run daily from early morning to late evening at frequencies of every 20-60 minutes.

Combining TheBus and the Waikiki Trolley can be a great car-free way for visitors to reach Waikiki Beach as well as attractions around town. Public transportation avoids the hassle of driving and parking while keeping things simple and wallet-friendly.

Where to Park Once You Arrive

Finding parking in Waikiki can be a bit of a challenge, but there are some great options to consider. Here are a few ideas for where to park once you arrive in the popular beach neighborhood of Honolulu:

Public Parking Garages

Several large public parking garages are available near Waikiki Beach. These include the Waikiki Trade Center Garage on Seaside Ave, the Waikiki Shopping Plaza Garage on Kalakaua Ave, and the Royal Hawaiian Center Garage on Kalakaua Ave. Parking rates are around $3-5 per hour or $25-35 per day.

The garages are secure, convenient options in the heart of Waikiki.

Hotel Valet Parking

Many hotels in Waikiki offer valet parking for around $15-40 per day. Some hotels will validate for a discount if you eat at their restaurants or shop in their stores. Valet parking allows you to avoid circling for an open spot.

Some hotels with valet parking are the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Sheraton Waikiki, Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, and Hyatt Regency Waikiki.

Municipal Parking Lots

There are a handful of hourly and daily municipal parking lots within a few blocks of Waikiki Beach. Notable options are the zoo lot on Kapahulu Ave, the Honolulu Stadium lot, and the Kapiolani Park lot. Rates range from $1-3 per hour or $8-15 per day depending on the location.

The walk to the beach may be farther than the hotel garages, but the rates are cheaper.

Parking Option Avg. Hourly Rate Avg. Daily Rate
Public Garages $3-5 $25-35
Hotel Valet N/A $15-40
Municipal Lots $1-3 $8-15

Navigating Waikiki Beach

Main Access Points and Entry Streets

Waikiki Beach stretches for about 2 miles along the southern shore of Oahu. The main access points to the beach are via the following streets:

  • Kalakaua Avenue – The busiest street running parallel to Waikiki Beach. Most hotels, shops, and restaurants are located on this street.
  • Kuhio Avenue – Located one block inland from Kalakaua Ave, it also has several hotels and shops.
  • Ala Moana Boulevard – Runs along the east end of Waikiki near the Ala Moana shopping center.
  • Ala Wai Boulevard – Forms the inland boundary of Waikiki. The Ala Wai canal and parking areas provide access points to enter Waikiki Beach.

There are also several public access points with parking along Ala Moana Blvd and Ala Wai Blvd to easily enter Waikiki Beach.

Distinguishing Different Sections of the Beach

Waikiki Beach has several relatively distinct sections, each with its own vibe and attractions:

  • Fort DeRussy Beach – The quietest area on the west end near the military recreation area.
  • Halekulani Beach – Centered around the luxury Halekulani Hotel with white sand and calm swimming.
  • Gray’s Beach – In front of the Gray’s By The Sea boutique hotel, known for surfing and bodyboarding.
  • Royal Hawaiian Beach – Iconic beach section fronting the “Pink Palace” Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
  • Kuhio Beach – Wide beach area with a wall separating it from Kalakaua Ave, often hosting volleyball games.
  • Queen’s Beach – Family-friendly swimming area protected by coral reefs and surfbreaks.
  • Kapiolani Beach Park – Largest beach park in Waikiki located at the east end, popular for picnics and events.

As you explore Waikiki’s 2-mile coastline, it helps to use these beach sections and landmark hotels as reference points to find your way around.


With its iconic crescent shape and prime location on Oahu’s southern shore, Waikiki Beach is easy to find once you know what landmarks to look for. Whether you take a scenic drive, ride public transportation, or walk from nearby resorts, you’ll soon be sinking your toes into that famous white sand with Diamond Head as your backdrop.

The directions, tips, and local context provided above will help you seamlessly make your way to Waikiki Beach to enjoy quintessential Hawaiian fun and relaxation. Now all that’s left is prepping your beach gear, applying some sunscreen, and getting ready to make some unforgettable memories on the shores of this world-famous beach.

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