Aerial view of Waikiki
|o Total||3.4 sq mi (9 km2)|
Waikiki is most famous for Waikiki Beach, which is one of six beaches in the district, along with Queen's Beach, Kuhio Beach, Gray's Beach, Fort DeRussy Beach and Kahanamoku Beach. Waikiki Beach is almost entirely man-made.
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 mainland tourists. The area at coordinates is still called "Sans Souci Beach".
Waikiki has had erosion problems since the late-1800s, because hotels and homes were built too close to the natural shoreline, while seawalls and other structures blocked the natural ebb and flow of sand along the beach. By 1950, more than 80 structures, including seawalls, groins, piers and storm drains, occupied the Waikiki shoreline.
The area became filled with large resort hotels, such as the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Halekulani, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, Marriott Waikiki, Sheraton Waikiki, 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, including surf competitions, outdoor performances, hula dancing and outrigger canoe races. The many amenities, shops, and hotels enable Waikiki to generate approximately 42 percent of Hawai?i's visitor revenue.
In the early 1900s, Waikiki was home to many wetlands, which were believed to harbor disease-carrying mosquitoes. To get rid of the mosquitoes, islanders created the Ala Wai canal. The canal, originally known as the Waikiki Drainage Canal, was created by a Hawaiian dredging company run by Walter F. Dillingham. The project took about seven years, 1921-1928.
In the early 20th century, Duke Kahanamoku became a well-known surfer in Waikiki. Throughout his life and after competing in the Olympics, many people around the world wanted to learn to surf. Duke's influence made Waikiki beach a surfing hotspot. "Dukes", a club in Waikiki named for Kahanamoku, helped Don Ho produce music and hosted the longest-running show in Waikiki.
In the early 1900s, plans for the Ala Wai Canal were developed to help with drainage and seawalls and groins began to appear. These helped build sand at one beach, but typically appropriated sand from others. Before 1950, Waikiki beaches were continuous. They became separated into sections, some with sandy beach and others without.
Following World War II, Waikiki beach restoration efforts have occurred every few years. Sand was imported to this artificial beach from the 1920s to the 1970s, once by boat and barge from Southern California. 1,730 feet of shoreline was replenished at a cost of $2.4 million following chronic erosion of more than a foot a year.
Importing stopped in the 1970s. In March 1971, the Department of the Army Pacific Ocean Division, created a Draft Environmental Statement for the Kuhio Beach Sector of Waikiki, which aimed to improve the overall quality and size of the fading and narrowing shoreline.
A partial restoration was completed in the spring of 2012. The project imported sand from nearby shoals and widened the 1,700-foot (520 m) long beach by about 37 feet (11 m) between the Royal Hawaiian Hotel concrete groin and the K?hi? Beach crib wall. The project temporarily restored the beach to its 1985 shoreline. Two aging sandbag groin structures were also removed in 2012.
In 2017, beach erosion worsened with high-energy king tides and elevated sea levels. Honolulu's mayor stated: "I'm not a scientist, but I'll get a jackhammer in there and remove all the concrete that's there creating this backwash and sucking out more sand, plus it's just downright dangerous."
The neighborhood extends from the Ala Wai Canal (a channel dug to drain one-time wetlands) on the west and north, to Diamond Head (L?ʻahi, tuna brow) on the east. Waikiki Beach is noted for its views of the Diamond Head tuff cone, its usually warm and cloud-free climate and its surf break.
The Waikiki skyline is filled with high-rises and resort hotels. Half of the beach is marked off for surfers. For some distance into the ocean the water is quite shallow, with numerous rocks on the bottom. The waves can have some force, particularly on windy days. The surf is known for its long rolling break, making it ideal for long boarding, tandem surfing and beginners.
Largely as a result of shoreline development, Waikiki has eight distinct beaches. They are Ft. DeRussy, Duke Kahanamoku, Halekulani, Royal Hawaiian, Kuhio, Kapiolani, Queens and Kaimana. Since 1951, nearly 80,000 cubic meters of sand have been added to restore Waikiki beaches. Today, however, it is believed that very little of the added sand remains. From the beach the sunset in the sea is visible from mid-September to late March
Ala Moana Beach Park, Hawaii's single most popular beach, is adjacent to but not technically part of Waikiki, and was also artificially made.
Waikiki'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). Waikiki'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.
Waikiki beach has had repeated problems with erosion, leading to the construction of groins and beach replenishment projects. Imported sand came from California and from local beaches such as P?p?haku Beach on Moloka'i, and a sandbar from O?ahu's Northern side near Kahuku. Officials look for ways to sustain the existing sand by eliminating loss due to tidal flow.
Erosion claims about one foot of beach per year.
Hawaii state Department of Education operates conventional public schools throughout Hawaii. Thomas Jefferson Elementary School is located in Waikiki proper, while Waikiki Elementary School is located nearby, at the makai (seaward) edge of the Kapahulu neighborhood.
Waikiki is twinned with: