Well, as anywhere in this world, there is always a tourist trap! Hawaii is no exception when it comes to "Waikiki". But, it's where the father, and the legend of surfing "Duke Kahanamoku" loved to be, "Waikiki Beach" to be exact.
Depending on the fluctuation of tourism, the area can get pretty chaotic, sometimes it can feel like your in Japan walking through the crowded streets of tokyo, hmm.. Maybe I am exaggerating a bit.. lol But it can get pretty crowded at times..There are also sometimes when the place can be a ghost town, and you swore you saw a tumbleweed rolling across the street..
The stores and shops are extrememly overpriced, as well as the fast food restaurants. Your better off going to another town, the price gets lower..
Waikiki can get pretty monotnous if you won't get out of the trap and explore.. Do what the locals do. You will find that your experience there would be alot more interesting...
I am not at all saying that Waikiki is nothing to look at, because the sunsets in Waikiki are amazing... Nothing like sitting on the sand watching the beautiful sun, set right before your eyes....
Unique Suggestions: Go ahead and explore the whole island. Don't waste your coveted days in Waikiki.
Go to places like The North Shore, it has a bohemian atmosphere about it. You will see alot of surfers, and alot of the "Hippyish 70's " lifestyle going on there. It is a very calm and relaxed environment. There are also alot of great places to eat there, local cuisine as well
as a mixed melody of cultural foods.. They're are old lunch wagons artistically made to bring a smile to your face. Don't let that fool you.. The food is awesome! My mouth is watering already... The look of these restaurants may look old and unappealing to your eyes at first ,but inside is where good eats happen...
Fun Alternatives: Get on a dinner cruise... If you aren't the seasick type. It is so romantic.. If you are into water sports, or any type of water activity available it is here in Hawaii... Go to a local travel agency and see what they have to offer and start making arrangments to have fun!
If you are into the the pastimes, and historical places, visit "Pearl Harbor" and walk thru the "USS BowFin".
Waikiki is a tourist trap and shops around here are ridiculously expensive! Too many tourists here also as they think this is the best part of the island and its over commercial. Dont waste all of your holiday time here!!
Fun Alternatives: I loved Waimanalo and Kailua beaches.. not many tourists at all. These were my favourite beaches on Oahu. Located on the east side of the island.
The beach at Waikiki has something in common with the Hard Rock Cafe, it has good atmosphere (Diamond Head and the palms), but it lacks something of substance. The sand is less fine that at other beaches, making it harder to clean out of your bathing suit. Waikiki was not impressive, but unlike other tourists I waited until after to judge.
Downtown Waikiki - personally I didn't think it was very special. You have Chinatown and Aloha Tower here - the tower has been closed since Sept 11 so I couldn't go up the top while I was there. Chinatown is just Chinatown :) Can be missed in my opinion!
In Waikiki there are several establishments catering mainly to Japanese tourist allowing them to get their thrills shooting firearms. They can shoot to their heart's content anything from a .22 to a sub machine gun. I guess it makes them feel like Rambo or Dirty Harry. I wonder when they will let them shoot bazookas and rocket launchers?
If your a first time visiter, go into downtown Waikiki. It is a total trap, but a must see atleast once. However, don't spend more than a day there in the shops. And, if possible, do not stay in the hotels there....they jack up the prices. Venture out towards Diamond Head.
If you just slide up (north or maka) Kapahulu Ave within about a mile, you'll find a much more authentic Hawaii. Restaurants, coffee bars, surf shops, a couple of off-beat bars. Going even further afield, take a look at this site:
Unique Suggestions: You could try this for a GREAT view and spectacular drive:
Fun Alternatives: Look for a uke shop where they make 'em by hand: