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Waikīkī

Waikīkī is a neighborhood of eastern Honolulu and is one of the most famous places in the entire world. The name Waikīkī means “spouting fresh water” in Hawaiian, reminiscent of the springs and streams that once fed the wetlands that separated Waikīkī from the island’s interior.

Renowned for its beautiful beach and magnificient hotels, all in the shadow of Diamond Head volcano, Waikīkī has been a world-famous vacation and tourist destination since the latter part of the nineteenth century.

History

The area was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty in the 1800s. Much like the locals and tourists of today, Hawaiian royalty enjoyed surfing at Waikīkī on early forms of longboards. A few small hotels opened in the 1880s. In 1893, Greek-American George Lycurgus leased the guest house of Allen Herbert and renamed it the “Sans Souci” (French for “without care”) creating one of the first beach resorts. Later that year Robert Louis Stevenson stayed at the resort; subsequently it became a popular destination for tourists from the mainland.

Today, Waikīkī is filled with hotels like the Hilton Hawaiian Village, the Halekulani hotel, the Hyatt Regency Waikīkī, the Sheraton Waikīkī, and historic hotels dating back to the early 20th century (such as the Moana Surfrider Hotel and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The beach hosts many events a year, including surf competitions, outdoor performances, hula dancing and outrigger canoe races. Over time, Waikīkī beach has had its problems with erosion, leading to the construction of groins and beach replenishment projects. For example, in the 1920s and 1930s sand was imported from Manhattan Beach, California, via ship and barges to Waikīkī. The importing of sand is said to have stopped in the 1970s and officials are looking for ways to sustain the existing sand by eliminating loss due to tide flow.

Waikīkī is home to public places of note, including Kapiʻolani Park, Fort de Russy Military Reservation, Kahanamoku Lagoon, Kūhiō Beach Park, and Ala Wai Harbor. Since 2001, there have been free movies on the beach. Many tourists from around the world can view a movie on an outdoor 30 foot screen. This particular free movie event in Waikīkī is called “Sunset on the Beach”.




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