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Travel on Point(s) is an independent, advertising-supported website. This site is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites like This compensation does not impact how or where products appear on this site. Travel on Point(s) has not reviewed all available credit card offers on this site. Reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any partner entities.

Two Nights In Waikiki

Before we headed to Oahu’s leeward coast we spent two nights in Waikiki. I'll go over how we got around the Waikiki Beach area of Oahu, what we did, where we stayed and some of the things we ate. I hope you enjoy this guide for a short stay of just two nights in Waikiki and all that can be accomplished in that timeframe. Also, be sure to check out my trip report from the less traveled side of Oahu.

This Waikiki trip report is a guest post from Jim Fatzinger, The Travel Organizer, and we thank him for putting this great travel guide together for us.

A Little Information About Waikiki & What To Expect

Waikiki, which is all many visitors to Oahu ever see, is probably the least authentic Hawaiian experience one can have. That isn't to say there is no fun to be had though!

The population of Waikiki (<20,000) is less than 6% of the total population (≈350,000) of urban Honolulu, of which it is a neighborhood. Waikiki only accounts for about 2% of the total population of the island of Oahu. Visitors to Waikiki outnumber residents by more than 250 to 1 in any given year! Apart from hotel, restaurant, and store employees, almost everyone you see is a visitor. That is kind of wild when you think about it.

Getting From The Airport To Waikiki

You really don’t need (or want!) to rent a car if you don’t plan to leave Waikiki during your stay. It is only 1.6 miles from the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort (the westernmost end of Waikiki) and the Honolulu Zoo (the easternmost end of Waikiki). Walking from one end to the other takes about 35 minutes by the way.

I should also note that parking is not cheap! The average overnight parking rate is around $45 and on-street, metered parking usually costs $1.50 an hour. That is if you can even find any. Here are a couple of decent options if you prefer not to use rideshare apps:

  • Charley’s Taxi is a popular option which is dependable, can be arranged in advance, and offers a fixed price ($35 one way).
  • Roberts Hawaii has been around for a long time and offers shared transfer services for $26/person, making it a better option if traveling alone.

Because we had a dinner reservation (see below), I opted to take advantage of a promotion in my Lyft account. Our ride took us from the airport to our hotel in about 25 minutes for $31.00 (tip included)

Two Nights In Waikiki

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort Redemption & Tips

In a nod to the name of this website, Travel on Point(s), here’s how we used points and credit card perks to slash the cost of our stay. Toward the end of 2023, we took advantage of a referral bonus associated with my wife’s American Express Hilton Honors Aspire. She earned 15K Hilton Honors points for referring me. I then earned 180K Hilton Honor points after meeting the minimum spend requirement for the offer at the time.

Our initial plan was to cancel my wife’s Aspire card when the new, higher annual fee came due but when she was “grandfathered” into the $450 annual fee for one more year, we decided to keep her card open. We knew that we could easily offset the lower annual fee with the semi-annual $200 resort credits. So, now we both had $200 in resort credits we could apply toward our 2-night stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.

Hotel Redemption

We booked our two night stay with a mix of a free night certificate and Hilton Honors points. The great thing about the Hilton free night certificates is that they work for pretty much any hotel as long as their is a standard room available. No category caps here! The free night certificate saved us 70,000 points, and that is what we booked the second night for as well. Free night certificates, and points bookings, help avoid the $50 a night resort fee too. And, because we weren’t picking up our rental card until we headed to Oahu’s Leeward Coast, we avoided the $68.06 a day self-parking charge.

Credits For The Win

We used our $18/person/day food and beverage credit and our $400 in resort credits to pay for 10 meals (2 dinners, 2 breakfasts, and a lunch) during our stay. The final amount charged to the Aspire card we used to check in? $0! Not a bad use of Hilton status perks and credits right there.

Activities During Our Two Nights In Waikiki

Here are some of the fun things we did on our short visit two nights in Waikiki.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Fireworks Display

Every Friday night at either 7:45pm (winter) or 8:00pm (summer), the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort lights up the sky with a free 10-minute fireworks display. The closest vantage point is around the resort’s lagoon (which is open to the public). Other prime viewing spots include:

  • Duke Kahanamoku Beach (enter via Paoa Place from Kalia Road)
  • Fort DeRussy Beach Park (especially near the Atlantis Submarine pier)
  • The jetty extending into the ocean from Steak Shack at the beach end of the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort

Even if you are not staying at the resort it is worth the walk over to check out the display.

Two Nights In Waikiki

Turtle Canyon with Hawaii Nautical

This was the first of three ocean activities we did with this provider because we had had a good experience on a previous visit. From Waikiki, Hawaii Nautical (HN) cruise tours depart out of Kewalo Basin Harbor, which is a 40-minute walk (or a short Lyft/Uber/taxi/bus ride) from the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. However, you can also book similar tours under the “Port Waikiki Cruises” (PW) banner which depart from the pier at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The activities offered are similar and are operated by the same company. Offerings and their differences are summarized below:

  • 8:00: HN Turtle snorkel, daily (ex. Wednesday), April-November, 2 hours, $65-$122.621/pp
  • 8:00: HN Whale watch, daily, December-March, 2 hours, $65-$122.621/pp
  • 9:00: PW Sail to Diamond Head, Sunday and Thursday, year-round, 1 hour, $25-$49.50/pp
  • 10:30: PW Turtle snorkel & lunch, daily (ex. Wednesday), year-round, 2.5 hour, $88.50-$177/pp
  • 11:00: HN Turtle snorkel & lunch2, daily (ex. Wednesday), year-round, 3 hours, $99-$176.981/pp
  • 1:30: PW Turtle snorkel & sail, daily, year-round, 2.5 hours, $71.50-$143/pp
  • 1:30: PW Whale watch tour3, daily, December-March, 2 hours, $74-$99/pp
  • 3:00: HN Whale watch tour3: daily, December-March, 1.5 hours, $50-$96.531/pp
  • 3:00: HN Cocktail sail (HN): Daily, April-November, 1.5 hours, $50-$96.531/pp
  • 5:00 or 5:30: HN Sunset cocktail cruise, daily (ex. Friday), year-round, 1.5 hours, $65-$122.621/pp
  • 5:00 or 5:30: PW Sunset cocktail cruise, daily (ex. Friday), year-round, 1.5 hours, $66-$139/pp
  • 6:00: HN Fireworks cruise, Fridays, year-round, 2 hours, $99-$187.851/pp
  • 6:00: PW Fireworks cruise: Fridays, year-round, 2 hours, $96.50-$192.50/pp
    • 1 = includes transportation
    • 2 = turtle sighting guaranteed
    • 3 = whale sighting guaranteed

As you can see, activities are available throughout the day, depending on your interest. The upper end of the price range for Hawaii Nautical cruise tours reflects the cost of including shuttle transportation to Kewalo Basin Harbor. Some of the Port Waikiki sailings run a few dollars more compared to the comparable Hawaii Nautical option. Also, you must find your own way to the Hilton pier for those activities. All cruise tours are on spacious vessels which offer plenty of shade. Most include two (2) complimentary drinks on board and food items appropriate to the time of day.


Cultural Presentations

There’s nothing wrong with the ubiquitous luau experience you can find on any Hawaiian island and there are some really good ones. Our favorite is the Toa Luau on Oahu’s North Shore by the way. But, they are pricey and if one doesn’t fit into your schedule, or budget, you should know that there are some really good cultural presentations which don’t cost a penny! For example:

  • There is a 20-minute hula show daily @ 5pm at the world’s largest open-air shopping mall (Ala Moana Center), 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard, a 20-minute walk from the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach resort
  • Aloha Friday” is a 90-minute presentation of music and dances from Hawaii and Polynesia which takes place on Fridays from 4:30-6:00pm in the Pualeilani Atrium Shops at the Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, 2424 Kalakaua Avenue.  Similar presentations are offered from 4:00-6:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • The Royal Hawaiian Center at 2201 Kalakaua Avenue presents Mala Nui Hula in the Royal Grove on Fridays from 5:30-6:30pm. This production of music, hula, and audience interaction rivals many luaus.
  • Nā Lani Sunset Stories is a 45-minute show on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays that begins at 6:00pm (September-February) or 6:30pm (March-August) at Queen’s Court in the International Marketplace, 2335 Kalakaua Avenue.
  • The Ho’okela Hawaiian Heritage and Culture Center (2nd floor of the Pualeilani Atrium Shops at the Hyatt Regency), in conjunction with the Hawaiian Music Perpetuation Society, sponsors a wide variety of cultural activities; check out their calendar!
  • The Royal Hawaiian Band performs on the first Thursday of every month from 12:00-12:45pm at Queen’s Court in the International Marketplace, 2335 Kalakaua Avenue. They also perform regularly at Iolani Palace and other venues; you can check their performance schedule here.

Art On The Zoo Fence

Art on the Zoo fence displays 2-dimensional work of resident Hawaii artists on the south fence of Honolulu Zoo every Saturday and Sunday from 9:00am-3:00pm. Free parking is available along Monsarrat Avenue and across the street at Kapiolani Park. This venue has been displaying the work of local artists for more than 70 years!

Two Nights In Waikiki: Dining

While we tried to maximize our dining at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort to maximize our status and Aspire card credits, we did have a nice food crawl I wanted to share. In addition to being comprehensive and value-focused, I like to try to include something no one has written about before in the posts I write for the good folks at Travel on Points. So, since everyone knows Waikiki is nothing if not expensive, I struck out in search of an enjoyable way to spend a couple hours on a “progressive” meal starting at “Art on the Zoo Fence” and working one’s way west (toward the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort:

  • Stop #1 @ 10:30am:
    • Liliha Bakery first opened its doors in downtown Honolulu in 1950. They opened an outlet on Level 3 of the International Marketplace, 2330 Kalakaua Avenue, in 2021. Your sinful delight here? Their signature coco puff, a delicate puff pastry filled with creamy chocolate pudding topped with Chantilly butter cream ($2.99).
  • Stop #2 @ 11:00am:
    • Paia Fishmarket is an institution in Paia town on Maui but they opened an outlet at 2299 Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki in 2018 (almost directly across the street from Marakame Udon). Pick up one (or more!) of their fish tacos for $6. Note: The route suggested here will bring you to Paia Fishmarket when they open @ 11:00am.
  • Stop #3 @ 11:30am:
    • Penny’s Waikiki Malasadas You can get about a dozen beignets for $6.95…but don’t. Instead, order a box of 3 malasadas for $8.95 to split with your travel companion. If you add a 12-ounce cup of macadamia nut coffee and use the Dining Advantage coupon for $5.00 off an order of $10 or more, your final tab will be less than $7.00 (before tax and tip).
  • Stop #4 @ 12:00 noon:
    • Musubi Café Iyasume on Waikiki Beach Walk @ 227 Lewers Street. These rice balls are a steal at less than $3.00 each; an avocado, bacon, egg, and Spam musubi will set you back less than $3.50.
Two Nights In Waikiki

So, there you have it – a 4-course meal (beverage not included) for under $17 – and a lot of fun along the way discovering these delightful, local eateries in the heart of Waikiki!

Taking The Bus To The Airport

Since we weren’t in any hurry, we opted to ride The Bus back to the airport after our two nights in Waikiki. We had to pick up our rental car for our trek on the road less traveled. A one-way trip on Route #20 takes the better part of an hour, depending on traffic. While it can take a bit longer, it costs only $3.00/person. By showing our Medicare cards we were able to reduce the cost to $1.25 per person. The Bus makes 2 stops at Honolulu's airport. The first stop is at the Departures level of Terminal 1 and then at the Departures level of Terminal 2.

Two Nights In Waikiki: ToP Thoughts

Hopefully you enjoyed my trip report after spending two nights in Waikiki. It was nice to spend a couple of days checking out all the area had to offer and kind of get our bearings upon arrival. It primed us for our next leg of our journey, Oahu's lesser known leeward coast. Be sure to check out that guide if you have any interest in getting of the well beaten path a bit. You can also check out my other travel reports that I have written for ToP. As always, thank you for reading!


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