Waikīkī Beach sees more than four million visitors every year. But did you know that just over 18,000 Oʻahu residents call Waikīkī home?

If you love being right in the middle of it all—with easy access to shops, world-class restaurants, and, of course, the beach—Waikīkī may be just the spot for you.

In this guide, you’ll get an insider’s look at this action-packed area, including where to live in Waikīkī, where to work, where to shop, and where to play.

Welcome to Beautiful Waikīkī

Waikīkī is the kind of place that’s inspired many songs—Hawaiian mele and English-language songs alike. Its glittering high-rise buildings, turquoise waters, iconic surf breaks, and white sand beaches make it an unforgettable place to visit—or live.

You’ll find Waikīkī on the island of Oʻahu. Waikīkī is a neighborhood within Honolulu, the largest urban center in the Hawaiian Islands. To give you a sense of the size and scope of Waikīkī, check out the population statistics below. Waikīkī residents make up 5.2% of the total population of Urban Honolulu and 1.8% of the total population of the island of Oʻahu.

Waikīkī means “spouting water” in Hawaiian, likely named for the marshes and wetlands that used to characterize the area. Officials believed that the stagnant waters in the area threatened public health. They built the Ala Wai Canal in 1928, cutting off three streams that flowed through the area and forever altering the landscape.

Today, Waikīkī is a top tourism destination. Visitors come from all over to frolic along the shoreline, browse the shops along Kalākaua Avenue, eat and drink in the area’s numerous restaurants, and take in nightly performances in the area’s hotels.

If you’re looking for a quiet place to escape, Waikīkī is probably not right for you. But if you love the excitement and energy of being right in the middle of a hub of activity, you might love it.

Next, we’ll help you get to know Waikīkī by answering the common questions we hear about the area.

Frequently Asked Questions About Waikīkī

What Is Waikīkī Known For?

To visitors and residents alike, Waikīkī is known as a major hub for tourism. Visitors flock to the area in droves, and Waikīkī’s streets are often filled with people enjoying the sights and sounds of Hawaiʻi’s biggest “city.”

Waikīkī Beach is also known as a great place to surf. You’ll find breaks all up and down the shoreline, as well as surfers of all abilities in the water. Surf school instructors push beginners into waves alongside longboard experts showing off their unique styles. The surf breaks along Waikīkī are among Oʻahu’s most crowded, but they’re also a lot of fun.

How Expensive Is It to Live in Waikīkī?

Data from payscale.com estimates that living in Honolulu is 84% more expensive than the U.S. average. Housing alone, according to their data, costs 214% more than the national average.

In Waikīkī, you’ll most likely be looking living in a condominium, which comes with monthly fees. With Hawaiʻi’s homeowners’ fees among the nation’s highest, this can mean significant cash outlay each month.

The other thing you’ll want to consider is the fact that, in Waikīkī, you’ll pay tourist prices for tourist items. Most of the stores, restaurants, and bars cater to visitors. Expect everything to be priced accordingly. You might be able to score some happy hour deals, but, if you’re shopping on a budget, buy your items outside of Waikīkī.

Do You Need a Car to Live in Waikīkī?

Waikīkī is a pretty pedestrian-friendly area, so it’s easy to grab yourself a cup of morning coffee or a quick lunch without hopping in your car. Additionally, Oʻahu has one of the most extensive bus systems in the Hawaiian Islands. (Read more about TheBus.)

To make the most of your time on Oʻahu, you’ll need a car. Oʻahu has lots of hikes, beaches, and activities to enjoy. Getting there will be much simpler with a car. Additionally, a vehicle can make things like a big grocery run easy.

Note: When you’re looking at Waikīkī real estate, ask about the parking situation. Is there deeded parking? Assigned parking? Having a dedicated, safe place to put your car will contribute significantly to your quality of life in Waikīkī.

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Looking Beyond Waikiki?

If you’re considering other areas beyond Waikīkī, check out our Insider’s Guide to Living in Honolulu. We’ll run you through a list of additional neighborhoods to explore, plus even more places to shop and have fun.

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Where to Live in Waikīkī

Waikīkī is a pretty contained area, as you can see from the map. The weather is often sunny and gorgeous—a definite perk of living in Waikīkī.

Most of the available properties in Waikīkī are condominiums. Waikīkī condos often come with amenities like swimming pools, fitness centers, and sweeping views of the surrounding area.

If you’ve got your heart set on a beachfront condo, check out the Waikīkī Shore, the only beachfront condo in Waikīkī proper.

As you search for your spot, you’ll want to be aware of two concepts that are quite common in Waikīkī—but not so common for other locations:

Where to Work in and Around Waikīkī

Tourism is, far and away, the biggest business in Waikīkī. Jobs in hospitality, food and beverage, retail, leisure activities, tours, and more are plentiful in the area.

Beyond Waikīkī, Honolulu acts as a large job center for the island. If you’re moving to Waikīkī without a job, check out the most popular occupations in Honolulu, listed below. These can make good targets for a job search:

Most Popular Occupations in Urban Honolulu

  1. Office and administrative support
  2. Food preparation and serving related
  3. Sales and related
  4. Transportation and material moving
  5. Educational instruction and library
  6. Management
  7. Healthcare practitioners and technical
  8. Business and financial operations
  9. Construction and extraction
  10. Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

(Source)

Job-Hunting Tip: Many jobs in Waikīkī and Honolulu go to friends and colleagues. In other words, who you know on Oʻahu can give you a huge boost when it comes to finding a job. Once you arrive, make sure to tell any friends, colleagues, or family members on the island that you’re looking.

Where to Shop in Waikīkī

Many of the stores in Waikīkī cater to tourists and the kinds of items tourists need. If you’re looking for sunscreen, slippers (a.k.a. flip flops), a sarong, or a beach towel, there are stores all over Waikīkī with plenty of those items in stock. (There are 40 ABC Stores in Waikīkī alone!)

Below, you’ll find a list of our favorite hidden gems in Waikīkī, plus some nearby conveniences to keep you stocked.

House of Mana Up

As you comb through Waikīkī’s plentiful retail stores, you’ll see how difficult it is to find items actually made in Hawaiʻi. That’s where the House of Mana Up comes in. Nestled in the Royal Hawaiian Center, the House of Mana Up is stocked with pieces from Hawaii-based artists, makers, and artisans, including clothing, accessories, beauty products, and more. If you need a unique gift—or you just want to treat yourself—the House of Mana Up makes a great stop.

The Waikīkī Famers’ Market

Inside the Hyatt Regency, you’ll find the Waikīkī Farmers’ Market on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. This market tends to cater to the snacking crowd, so expect items like cut fruit, jerky, and baked goods, plus vendors selling locally crafted items. If you’re searching for a farmers’ market on a larger scale, check out the Kapiʻolani Community College (KCC) Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, just a short drive away.

Foodland Farms Ala Moana

There are plenty of mini-marts in Waikīkī, but you’ll have to venture a bit farther for a full-scale grocery store. We recommend Foodland Farms in the nearby Ala Moana Shopping Center. This grocery store goes beyond the basics, with an extensive prepared foods section, a wine store, and even a whiskey bar. Oh, and they’ve also got excellent poke. If you prefer to go all-organic, Whole Foods is right down the street.

Don Quijote

As you’ll discover, Hawai’i is a melting pot of a bunch of different cultures—and you’ll see plenty of them represented at Don Quijote. Technically a “convenience store,” Don Quijote feels like it has everything—fresh produce, pantry items, frozen food, Japanese beauty products, small appliances, local snacks, bakery items, tableware, and much, much more. If you love trying new flavors and foods, Don Quijote is a must.

The ALOHA Collection

ALOHA’s splash-proof bags are perfect for Hawaiʻi living. Whether you need a fun and functional beach bag, a mini pouch to hold your stuff, a dopp kit or a duffel for traveling, or a hip pack for hands-free living, ALOHA’s colorful bags are a great choice. Plus, they’re built to last. These bags also make excellent gifts for your mainland friends as well as your new Oʻahu friends. They’ve got an online storefront, plus a brick-and-mortar location in the Moana Surfrider.

What to Do in Waikīkī

Wondering how you’ll spend your days when Waikīkī becomes your home base?

First, we want to encourage you to think of Waikīkī as the perfect jumping-off spot to explore the island of Oʻahu. With that in mind, make sure to check out our other articles on Oʻahu, including:

If you want to stick close to Waikīkī, though, here are our top picks:

Making Waikīkī Your Home

High-rise buildings, bustling streets, and lively bars and restaurants—that’s not what many people picture when they think of Hawaiʻi. But, throw in a gorgeous beach, plus tropical weather year-round, and you might have something that feels right. If so, you’ll feel right at home in Waikīkī.

Planning a move to Waikīkī? (Or anywhere else on Oʻahu?) We’d be happy to help! Our Honolulu-based team would love to help you make a safe, easy, and affordable move to the Aloha State. Just reach out for a free quote to get started.

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