Waikiki Beach Walk is an unavoidable neighborhood for anyone staying in Waikiki during a Hawaii vacation. High-end shops full of luxury goods line the streets, restaurants both chain and classy can be found, and hotels that strive to impart a sense of ohana dot the eight acres of this shopper’s paradise.
In the past, Waikiki Beach Walk was a mess; tall buildings right up on the sidewalk, no designated loading zones for the stores and restaurants, and slow-moving tourists equaled congestion unlike anywhere else in the state. Fortunately, the completion of a long-term renovation leaves Waikiki Beach Walk much more traversable, with some green areas, and several high rises knocked down to create more air and light. Good thing, too. The previously unrestricted development of high rise buildings and ugly storefronts was practically an affront to what Hawaii stands for. This renovation was overdue, and worth it. Waikiki deserves this colorful, lively and fun cosmopolitan area after all those years of grim buildings and belching delivery trucks. I applaud the new Waikiki Beach Walk.
As with any popular, thriving city destination, Waikiki Beach Walk often gets new restaurants and shops. These are a few I enjoyed dining in or shopping in during a recent trip to Oahu.
- Kaiwa Waikiki: Based in Toyko, Kaiwa featured the best quality teppan fusion Japanese fare and a huge sake menu. The setting is very sophisticated and chic, with tables laid out to give a feeling of privacy despite the bustle of the popular restaurant. I prefer the traditional shoes-off, sit at a low table type of deal when dining at authentic Japanese restaurants such as this. Some sushi rolls, sashimi, and sake are three “S” words that suit a vacation in the South Pacific well.
- Taormina Sicilian Cuisine: What do you think of when you think of southern Italian fare? Messy red sauce spaghetti may come to mind. Forget all that — at Taormina, southern Italy is presented in the classic, classy style. Lobster and fish fresh from the sea, in traditional Italian spices, are presented in a truly elegant dining area. Antipasti, primi piatti, pesci, carne and other courses are delicious..and filling! Try to save room for the dolci course. After all, if you ever don’t want to pass on dessert, it’s while you’re on vacation.
- Roy’s Waikiki: Chef and restauranteur Roy Yamaguchi is practically synonymous with high-end fare done right in Hawaii. Roy himself oversees all the Roy’s in Hawaii, while the few scattered throughout the southwestern and western US states are franchises. Come experience Roy’s as he fully intended it to be, on Waikiki Beach Walk. A strong emphasis of seafood indicates the importance of freshness and locality to his dishes, and many are delectable. I must say that the miso cod and short ribs at Roy’s Waikiki are just about worth the air fare to Hawaii in and of themselves.
Shopping Picks in Waikiki Beach Walk
There are a wide array of shops on Waikiki Beach Walk. Some shops are a little on el cheapo side of things (hello, Crazy Shirts) while others are absolutely stocked with luxury souvenir goods.
The ubiquitous ABC Stores outlet here is as good as any of the many, many other ABC Stores throughout the island chain; handy for one dollar puka necklaces and forgotten sundry items, it’s always worth a walk-through.
Cross the street to see Skye’s Koa & Ukelele shop. Skye’s Koa and Ukelele is right in the Outrigger Reef on the Beach; it’s a beautiful store, in a beautiful and friendly resort.
You can even get a spa treatment on Waikiki Beach Walk (Serenity Spa and The Shiatsu & Massage Center), though I didn’t try either of these for myself. All in all, a tourist is bound to find whatever he or she wants as a souvenir here.
Now, there are tons of chain stores, and chain restaurants in Waikiki Beach Walk. You know, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Cheesecake Factory and the like. These were all popular with tourists, and from what I could see, doing great business. However, Kaiwa, Taormina, and Roy’s are special. And isn’t a sense of speciality one of the reasons you planned a trip to Hawaii in the first place? Any of these restaurants will add to the great memories of a vacation in Oahu, Hawaii.