Waikiki Self Walking Tour
Every morning when I'm in Waikiki, I just can't wait to wake up and take my morning walk to get the blood flowing. If you want the simple version, just walk across the Ilikai foyer, down the walkway, around the lagoon and heads towards Diamond Head till you hit sand. Then left, right, left on Lewers Street and right on Kalakaua Avenue and head right to Kapi'olani Park and return.
Its about a 1 hour round trip walk and even in the morning, you will be delighted with all the characters you will see from al over the world. If you want the historical version of the walk and what was once there, read below and each surf board statue you run into will explain the history of Waikiki.
Ilikai Foyer #1
Paoa Park in front of Fort DeRussy Beach Park #2
He learned so well that in 1911 he broke the world's record for the 50-yard and 100-yard sprints in the first AAU swim meet held in Hawai'i. In 1912 he was named to the U.S. Olympic team and won the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle. This area is also where he learned to become a champion surfrider and Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddler. Hawaiians say you can still feel the "mana" (spirit) of Duke and the Paoas here on their former lands. Continue walking down the beach
Kalia Road - #3
The fishponds were controlled by the chiefs, but maintained by the commoners. The fish grown in the ponds were mostly ama'ama or mullet and awa or milkfish, both of which adapted well to brackish water. The ponds were "royal iceboxes" with readily available food for guests. Ancient Hawaiians believed their fish ponds were inhabited by mo'o deities who were sometimes described as creatures with terrifying black bodies, 12 to 30 feet in length. Hawaiians believed they were the guardian spirits of fish ponds, who not only protected the caretakers but punished those who abused their responsibilities. The reclamation of Waikiki began here in Kalia when the U.S. military acquired 72 acres of land and started draining it in 1908 to build Fort DeRussy. It took over 250,000 cubic yards of sand and coral dredged from various O'ahu areas to cover Ka'ihikapua and its sister ponds in Kalia. The Hale Koa Hotel is used exclusively for U.S. military personnel and their dependents.
U.S. Army Museum - #4
Outrigger Reef Hotel - Beach Side #5
Royal Hawaiian Hotel (Pink Hotel) Back Lawn #6
This area was known as Pua'ali'li'i. King Kamehameha built a Western style stone house here. This residence was often occupied by his favorite wife Ka'ahumanu and her staff. Kamehameha ended Waikiki's nearly 400-year reign as O'ahu's capital when he moved his residence and headquarters to Honolulu because of its harbor and access to foreign trade and goods.
Later, the modest residence of Kamehameha V Lot Kapuaiwa, the grandson of King Kamehameha I, was built here. These lands were inherited by his half-sister, Princess Ruth, and later willed to Princess Bernice Pauahi, the last of the Kamehamehas. Her estate still owns this land today, and funds the Kamehameha Schools, which educates thousands of native Hawaiian children across the State. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel or "The Pink Palace" was built in 1927 at a cost of $5 million. With 400 lavishly decorated rooms and Spanish-Moorish style architecture, it was touted as the "finest resort hotel in America."
Duke's Restaurant, Beach Patio #7
Today this is a favorite spot for some of Waikiki's famed beach boys. This elite group got their start in the 1930s when the first Waikiki Beach Patrol was organized. They have been called "Waikiki's ambassadors," serving the needs of royalty, Hollywood celebrities, and the general public alike. Today, they are professionals licensed by the State of Hawai'i to teach surfing or canoe riding and must be regularly qualified in life-saving tests.
James Michener, author of "Hawaii" the best novel on Hawaii and a real "must read" said of the beach boys: "Without these remarkable people the island would be nothing. With them, it is a carnival. They are generous, courageous, and comical. They are perpetual adolescents of the ocean, the playboys of the Pacific."
Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel, Courtyard, next to Banyan Tree #8
The first beachside hotel, the Park Beach, was a converted home which offered 10 rooms, each equipped with a bath and telephone. The Moana Hotel, the "First Lady of Waikiki," which opened in 1901, established Waikiki as a resort destination. The four-story, 75 room structure was the tallest building in Hawaii. It sits on the area known in ancient times as Ulukou, or "kou tree grove." Kou is a wood highly prized for bowls and other eating implements.
Fifteen years after its opening the Moana added 100 new rooms in two wings that created this courtyard facing the sea. Under the banyan tree, Johnny Noble and his Orchestra delighted dancers and listeners. In 1935, Harry Owens and Webley Edwards inaugurated the famed radio program "Hawai'I Calls." It was beamed to Hawaiian music audiences for 40 years. At its peak in 1952, the weekly program was broadcast on 750 stations worldwide.
Kuhio Beach - No surfboard marker, just plaque #9
Kuhio Beach - Statue of Duke Kahanamoku #10
Kuhio Beach #11
The low retaining wall offshore is called "Slippery Wall" because it is covered with fine seaweed that creates a very slick surface when wet. Young people often enjoy sliding on it. But it can be dangerous. It's best to avoid it. Actually the wall was built to keep the sand from eroding away, but it's always a losing battle. Every few years sand is brought in to rebuild the world's most famous beach.
Not far from here, on the slopes of Diamond Head, was a temple that was dedicated to surfing. Temple priests would announce surf conditions to the villagers below by flying a kite. Surfs had their special names and the most famous in Waikiki was Kalehuawehe or "take off the lehua." It was so named when a legendary hero took off his lei of lehua blossoms and gave it to the wife of a ruling chief, with whom he was surfing. Romance and surfing often went together. Waikiki has the best summer waves in the world. The swells vary in height from 2 to 8 feet and the very, very rare 30 feet (in Steamer Lane). The rides can easily extend a hundred yards or so.
The longest ride recorded took place in 1917 when the great Duke Kahanamoku caught a wave 35-feet high and rode it to shore, a distance of a mile and a quarter. You are standing on what was the mouth of an old stream, the Kuekaunahi, one of three that flowed from the mountains and valleys of the Ko'olau Range down through the marshes of Waikiki to the sea. Waikiki was indeed a marsh; hence, its name "spouting water."
Kapi'olani Park - Beach Side #13
Kapi'olani Park Beach is part of the 100-acre Kapi'olani Regional Park which was dedicated in 1877 by King Kalakaua in honor of his Queen Kapi'olani. The park's main feature was a horse-race track in early years. In ancient times, there were at least two temples or heiau located near the shoreline in this area. One was Kupalaha, at Queen's Surf Beach. It may have functioned in connection with the famed Papa'ena'ena heiau where it is believed the last human sacrifice was made by Kamehameha I in Waikiki. The other was Makahuna near the foot of Diamond Head, which was dedicated to Kanaloa, the god of the Seas, and was attended to by fishermen and seamen.
Hope you enjoyed your walk...also the Waikiki Zoo is actually a great surprise and is much better than you would expect. Most of those coupon books on the streets have a free admission coupon and its well worth the visit.