Our Waikīkī: Living Local in O‘ahu’s Most Famous Neighborhood
Waikīkī is much more than a tourist destination and faces the same challenges of other urban neighborhoods on O‘ahu. It has public schools, family-run restaurants, places people call home. Here are their stories.
It’s just after 5 a.m. and the sun hasn’t peeked over Diamond Head yet, but Waikīkī is already wide awake. Delivery trucks line Kalākaua Avenue, tourists search for coffee, runners dodge surfers on sidewalks. On any given day, there are more than 82,500 visitors in Waikīkī, coexisting with thousands of residents and workers who commute to this neighborhood, once a serene swath of taro fields and fish ponds. What has lured people to Waikīkī has been the same for years: a turquoise-blue ocean, golden sandy beaches and near-perpetual sunshine that seems to instantly put you in a better mood.
“There’s something for everyone in Waikīkī,” says John R. K. Clark, retired deputy fire chief who grew up near Diamond Head and still surfs here almost every day. “That’s what makes this place so special.”
But Waikīkī is much more than a tourist destination and faces the same challenges as other urban neighborhoods on O‘ahu. Waikīkī has public schools, family-run restaurants, places people call home. There’s crime, homelessness, traffic. People work, live, shop, surf and staycation here.
This is our Waikīkī.
How the state is dealing with king tides, eroding beaches and trash in the Ala Wai.
Tips from our style editors for navigating the Waikīkī shopping scene.
We asked our readers what they miss the most about old Waikīkī.
Find out how these local spots survive the test of time.
The Waikīkī beachboys are a holdover from a bygone era, when this legendary band of Hawaiian watermen ruled the beach as Waikīkī rose to become Hawai‘i’s premier resort destination.
Look between the tourist hot spots and chain restaurants to find these five hidden gems.
Listen to our playlist of songs that expresses the world’s love for Waikīkī.