Named after Hawaii’s legendary surfer and the official “Ambassador of Aloha,” this Waikiki Beach was voted “Best Beach in America” in the 2014 rankings. Dozens of palm trees spring from the sand to provide natural shade from the sun, and young children love splashing and lounging in the protected saltwater lagoon. The ocean here isn’t nearly as busy as at the main Waikiki Beach, and since the offshore reef manages to break up the waves, inflatable rafts meant for lounging in the sun replace surfboards, SUP boards, and canoes.
When standing on the wide, white sand beach, iconic Diamond Head looms to the left on the far side of Waikiki. To the right, the Ala Wai Boat Harbor houses mariners from all across the Pacific, and the famous Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort lines the entire shoreline. The beach—as you can imagine—is very popular, so it’s a good idea to arrive early and stake out a good patch of sand. Once here, exhale deeply, slather on sunscreen, and peacefully float in the saltwater lagoon. You should also probably cancel the rest of your plans—since there’s a good chance you won’t want to leave.
Duke Kahanamoku Beach is the westernmost beach in Waikiki and is separate from the main Waikiki Beach, often referred to as “Canoes.” Even though the Hilton fronts the entire beach, there are a couple of public access points from Kalia Road and Pahoa Place. Parking in Waikiki can be tough, however, so visitors staying in Waikiki are better off visiting on foot. Every Friday night at 7:45pm there is a free fireworks show, and the beach shouldn’t be confused with the Duke Kahanamoku Statue, which is at nearby Kuhio Beach.