The golden stretch of sand running along the length of Waikiki and the beautiful aqua coloured bay beyond it are one of the main reasons that visitors come to Hawaii, and may not even venture much further afield. Perfect for lazing, swimming, stand-up paddle boarding or surfing out at the edge of the bay, it’s a picture postcard setting. With its close proximity to the beach (just 1.5 blocks back from the middle of the beach), and room rates that won’t break your budget, the Aqua Ohia Waikiki Hotel is a great place to stay and take advantage of all that Waikiki has to offer.
Note: The author was a guest of the Aqua Ohia Waikiki.
? Dog-friendly: This hotel allows up to 2 medium sized dogs per room, for an extra charge per night. However, when I stayed it was without my dog. Find out how to travel to Hawaii with your dog.
The newly renovated hotel in Waikiki (they were still putting on the finishing touches when I stayed), the hotel has been converted from a former student dormitory, which means that all rooms come with a kitchen, including a 4-burner stove and oven (with microwaves and toasters available on request). All rooms, ranging from standard rooms up to junior suites, also come with a king-size bed or two double-beds as standard, plus a private lanai (the Hawaiian term for a balcony). From my balcony on the 9th floor, I couldn’t quite see the beach, but higher levels would likely offer a glimpse in between the other beachfront high-rises.
This isn’t a luxury stay, although that’s evident from the non-astronomical rates compared to many hotels in Waikiki. The bathroom and kitchen in my room could benefit from further updating (the bench tops and door in particular were showing their age), although this still may be planned for the future. In contrast, the other half of my hotel room was furnished with smart hotel-style furniture, including the comfortable king-size bed with a cute “Aloha” cushion.
The swimming pool is a tad small, and when I popped out was full of young children. But that wasn’t an issue as I preferred to head to the beach (where the water also felt warmer). The biggest plus about this hotel (as well as being comfortable and affordable) is it’s location, with all of the attractions of Waikiki being in walking distance, often no more than a 5 minute walk…
Top Picks To Do Within 5 Minutes Walk of the Aqua Ohia Waikiki
1. Relax on Waikiki Beach
It’s just a quick 5 minute walk from the Aqua Ohia Waikiki to Waikiki Beach, meaning that it’s not too far to carry the complimentary beach chairs and towels provided by the hotel. Cross the road and head down Duke’s Lane, then after crossing another road, head down the walkway with the surf boards lined up along its side, that’ll pop you right out onto the middle of Waikiki Beach. Then either spend your day lazing on the sand, regularly taking a dip in the aqua water to cool down, or else hire a stand-up paddle board or a surfboard, or pay to take a ride on one of the many catamarans and outrigger canoes located along the beach.
2. Dine at the Cheesecake Factory
Next to the walkway, you may notice crowds of people hanging outside of a restaurant, especially in the evening. It’s the Cheesecake Factory, and there’s a reason that it attracts such big crowds. With great-value dishes, big serving portions and consistently high quality, it’s a must-eat place while you’re in Waikiki. Be prepared for a wait though if you’re dining after 5pm. We waited an hour for a table for 2, with longer waits for larger groups. Alternatively, just order a slice of one of their delicious cheesecakes (ideally to share!), from the bakery counter at the front.
3. Cocktails at Duke’s
On the other side of the walkway is the Outrigger Resort, with Duke’s Waikiki located right at the front, on the beachside. With one of the best locations around for watching the sunset (the frontmost deck area for resort guests is cleared in the late afternoon, to make more room for even more tables), it’s the perfect place to relax with a cocktail and enjoy the sun slowly slipping below the horizon after a day on the beach. Duke’s also offers great food for lunches and dinner (with lunch prices being cheaper, the same as at the Cheesecake Factory). Plus there’s a daily breakfast buffet from 7am to 10:30am (a good option considering there’s no restaurant at the Aqua Ohia Waikiki).
4. Watch the Kuhio Beach Hula Show
Just a short way down Waikiki Beach at the start of Kuhio Beach (okay, it might be more than a 5 minute walk, but not by much) is a grassy area where a free show is held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evening. Starting with the lighting of torches and the blowing of a conch shell to all four corners, the hour-long show starts around sunset at 6:30pm (or 6pm in November, December and January). Featuring authentic Hawaiian music and hula dancing by some of Hawaii’s finest hula troupes, it’s best to arrive early if you want to sit down on the grass and have a good view.
5. Shop at Duke’s Marketplace
If you’re looking to buy inexpensive dresses, sarongs, jewellery, towels and other souvenirs, whether for yourself or to take home, the best place to head at Waikiki Beach is to Duke’s Marketplace. Located in the part of Duke’s Lane closest to the beach (next to the Holiday Inn), there are dozens of market stalls to browse while walking to and from the beach. The vendors are open to bargaining, meaning that you if you strike a good deal, you’ll spend far less than for similar items at the ubiquitous ABC Stores. (Alternatively, the hotel provides free shuttles to the Ala Moana Center, the largest shopping centre in Hawaii, if it’s the big brands you’re after.)
Note: The author was a guest of the Aqua Ohia Waikiki.
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