Known in Hawaiian as “spouting fresh water” because of the streams that once separated Waikiki from the interior of Oahu, this community was originally a hotspot for Hawaiian royalty. The first recorded history begins in 1790 when Kalanikupule, the chief of Oahu, hijacked a ship to start an attack against Kamehameha I. This began the battle of Nuuanu Pali when Kamehamela defeated Kalanikupule and took control of Oahu.
In the late 1800s King Kalakaua invited famous guests to his private beach house, such as Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote many novels on Oahu. It became a vacation destination for the rest of the world in 1901 when its first hotel, the Moana Surfrider, was built at Diamond Head. Due to the area’s extreme swampiness, which caused serious mosquito problems, the swamp was replaced with the Ala Wai Canal in 1921. At that time more hotels were built, confirming Waikiki as a destination for wealthy tourists.
Located on the South Shore of the island, Waikiki extends from the Ala Wai Canal, which was dug to drain former wetlands, on the west and north, to Diamond Head on the east. The community is home to the “Father of modern surfing,” Duke Kahanamoku, who won Olympic gold medals in the 100-meter freestyle in 1912 and 1920. He later became a Hollywood actor and helped spread the popularity of surfing and the spirit of Hawaii around the world. The statue of him at legendary Waikiki Beach is a symbol of the community.
Today, Waikiki is populated with a plethora of high-rises and resort hotels. The beach is fairly short and the surf there is known for its long rolling break, which makes it perfect for any type of surfing. Though Waikiki is known as a great vacation destination, thousands of residents call it home, primarily in high-rise condos and apartment buildings that offer unparalleled ocean and mountain views, and amenities such as pools and barbecue stations.
Offering great views of the Honolulu skyline, Waikiki residents also enjoy world-class shopping, entertainment, and dining on the main strip of Kalakaua Avenue. Other Waikiki attractions are the Waikiki Aquarium, as well as the nearby Honolulu Zoo and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Waikiki is also adjacent to the Ala Moana Shopping Center, known as the world’s largest open air shopping center, and just a short distance to the specialty stores and theaters of Ward Centers.
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