Waikīkī (/waɪkiːˈkiː/; Hawaiian: [vɐjˈtiːˈtiː, wɐjˈtiːˈtiː]) (also known as Waikiki Beach) is a beachfront neighborhood of Honolulu, on the south shore of the island of Oʻahu, in Hawaii, United States. 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.
The area was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty in the 1800s who enjoyed surfing there on early forms of longboards.
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. The area at coordinatesis still called “Sans Souci Beach”.
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.
The neighborhood extends from the Ala Wai Canal (a channel dug to drain former wetlands) on the west and north, to Diamond Head (Lēʻahi) 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.
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.
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.