First thing in the morning, we left Ko Olina and drove east, through Honolulu, along the harbor and piers. Waikīkī 100% feels like a city with narrow streets, cars honking, and tall buildings. Luckily, there are a ton of parking garages, but just note that they can be pricey. We were there for only a few hours and paid close to $40 just to park. Locals, if you know any secrets, I'd love to hear them! We found a garage near Kahanamoku Beach at the top of the touristy beach area and walked right out to the water to check out the views. There are tons of right-of-ways to get out onto the beach.
We loved strolling along the beach, dodging waves, across the boardwalks and over to the official start of Waikīkī beach at the beautiful Royal Hawaiian Resort. You've probably seen this historic pink hotel before on postcards. It was just as magical as I pictured! We kept walking over to the Duke Kahanamoku statue and across the street to grab some breakfast. We found Kai Coffee inside this great outdoor mall. They I got a Kai latte, which is their signature macadamia nut latte with macadamia nut whipped cream and a chocolate-covered macadamia nut on top. This was the first macadamia nut-flavored food I'd ever tried in my life, and it was delicious. I basically lived on a strict diet of macadamia nut and coconut lattes for the rest of the week. Mike chose one of their single origin coffees. Because they're each made-to-order, you can even choose the brewing method: pour-over, aeropress, French press, or slow drip. They also have a variety of delicious scones and pastries. It was the perfect pick-me-up for our busy walking morning.
After our coffee stop, we kept walking South along the beach. There were tons of surfers, outrigger canoes, and sailboats in the harbor. We ventured out onto one of the walls to check out all the fish. So many colors!Waikīkī Aquarium and walked on the streets back to our Jeep. We really loved Waikīkī as a day trip but were glad we chose a calmer and more secluded area to stay. If you're looking for a place with a lot of night life and excitement, Waikīkī would definitely be the place for you.
Diamondhead, Koko Head Crater Stairs, Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail, and Lanikai Pillbox Hike are all in this area. We stopped at a the scenic overlooks as we drove around Hanauma Bay and up to H3, through the amazingly scenic mountain tunnels.