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Honolulu’s Waikiki neighborhood has been a vacation spot for centuries – in the 1800s, even Hawaiian royalty spent their time here. And it continues to be a favorite among travelers and surfing enthusiasts worldwide. Explore all there is on offer with our list of the top nine activities.
Take a break from the sun and head to the Royal Hawaiian Center, one of the largest shopping malls in Hawaii. With more than 100 shops and restaurants, you’ll find almost everything here, from luxury brands and upscale dining to surf shops and ice cream. Located in the center of the mall is a lush garden, as well as a bronze statue of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the great-granddaughter of King Kamehameha. The Royal Hawaiian also offers daily cultural programs, such as hula dancing and Hawaiian quilting and weaving courses.
Shangri La is the impressive estate of Doris Duke, heiress to the founder of the American Tobacco Company and Duke Energy Company. She became interested in philanthropy and experiencing different cultures through travel, eventually becoming enamored with Islamic art after seeing the Taj Mahal in India. Over a period of nearly 60 years, she amassed a vast collection of Islamic art, now on display at Shangri La. Admire the intricate mosaics, tile work, carpeting and architecture of the house itself. Outside, the ocean views and beautifully maintained gardens are magnificent.
Just a short walk from the beach, the US Army Museum of Hawaii was originally built to protect the islands from invading forces. Today, it is home to a museum that traces the military story of Hawaii, from ancient times to the Vietnam War. History buffs and anyone with an interest in the military will find this free museum fascinating. Plus, you’ll get a chance to see old helicopters, tanks and other military equipment.
Known as the heart of Waikiki and named after King David Kalākaua, this bustling thoroughfare is home to the area’s most prominent hotels, restaurants and shops. There is no shortage of places to stock up on Hawaiian specialties like Kona coffee, macadamia nuts and fruit preserves. You can also check out some of Waikiki’s historic hotels, like the elegant Moana Surfrider and the bright pink Royal Hawaiian. On Kalakaua Avenue, you’ll be in the middle of all the action.