Waikiki History


If you travel to Honolulu and visit Waikiki, the world’s most famous beach resort, you probably know already that you will find amazing beaches, fun activities for the whole family and a wonderful weather. However, perhaps you haven’t heard yet about the interesting history of Waikiki. It involves whaling ships, terrible epidemics, warrior kings, a deposed Queen, displaced inhabitants and tourists arriving in the island, skyrocketing the economy while at the same time, changing dramatically the inhabitants’ lifestyle.

The origins of Waikiki go back to the eruption of Diamond Head. 25 centuries ago, the island was a pristine wetland where nobody lived, other than wild flora and fauna. Human beings didn’t arrive until sometime between 800 and 1200 A.D. The Polynesians discovered this rich land and eventually settled along the coast. The land allowed them to crop. The sea provided them with fish. The name Waikiki means "spouting water", and it is a reference to the rivers and springs that flowed into the land. In the 1450s, Waikiki was established as the governmental center of Oahu.

The battle of Nuuanu Pali is a milestone in the history of Waikiki. In 1790, Kalanikupule, the chief of Oahu, hijacked a ship to attack Kamehameha I. He kept the ship for some time before the original sailor recovered the control, and then he sent Kalanikupule and the Hawaiians overboard and made them swim to shore. After the prospective attack to Kamehamela was reported, the king turned an army against Kalanikupule, and this was when the battle took place, and Kalanikupule was defeated. Diamond Head became a historical point.

White man didn’t inhabit Waikiki until the 18th century. It was British explorer Captain James Cook who, on January 18, 1778, discovered Oahu and other Hawaiian islands. The area turned into an important center: a resting spot for merchant, fishing and whaling ships.

By the late 1800’s, Waikiki was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty. As ourselves today, they also enjoyed surfing (an old version of it). A few small hotels opened in the 1880s. For example, the guest house of Allen Herbert, renamed it the "Sans Souci" by the Greek-American George Lycurgus. Furthermore, the private beach house of King Kalakaua hosted famous guests such as Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote many novels on Oahu. The Moana Hotel was built on Oahu at Diamond Head in 1901.

The island owes a lot to a man called Lucius Pinkham, Hawaiian Board of Health Director, who ruled that the swamp should be replaced with a canal in order to drain the swamp completely, turning the island into a beautiful place. With the construction of the Ala Wai Canal, in 1921, more hotels were built, and the island became attractive to many wealthy tourists. It turned into the great vacation spot it is today, especially when Hawaii became a state of the union, since by then, travel packages became affordable for many Americans.

These days, Waikiki has plenty of international hotels, such as the Hyatt Regency Waikīkī, the Sheraton Waikīkī, the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and even some historic hotels such as the Moana Surfrider Hotel and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Thousands of people visit this amazing place all yearlong, looking for its great beaches, surf contests and tons of fun.

Ala Wai Canal


Kalakaua Ave. 

Moana Hotel

Moana Hotel 1920


Waikiki 1859

Waikiki 1859

Weather Forecast|Weather Maps
Featured Listings
  • Outtrigger Luana Waikiki
    2045 Kalakaua Ave
    honolulu, hawaii 96815
    United States

    Deluxe hotel rooms along exciting Kalakaua Avenue
  • Waikiki Beach Walk
    Beach Walk
    honolulu, hawaii 96815
    United States

    Waikiki Beach Walk is the largest development in
  • Ala Moana Shopping Center
    1450 Ala Moana Blvd
    honolulu, hawaii 96815
    United States

    Ala Moana Center in Honolulu is the largest
  • Hawaii Army Museum Society
    2161 Kalia Rd
    honolulu, hawaii 96815
    United States

    US military museum features the military history
  • Hilton Hawaiian Village
    2005 Kalia Road
    honolulu, hawaii 96815
    United States

    Immerse yourself in the 22 oceanfront acres of