As a travel writer and a kama’aina or “child of the land” in Hawaiian, I know about Waikiki hotels. Growing up not far from the Waikiki of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, I have watched Waikiki transform from a simpler time when there were fewer hotels, showrooms had live entertainment with local celebrity singers and hula dancers performing every night, and a sprinkling of small bars were scattered like shells along the sands of Waikiki. In that long- ago time you could take an evening walk on the beach and listen to the Hawaiian music under the stars.

So much has changed since then. The Waikiki of today along bustling Kalakaua Avenue is such a compacted array of luxury brand stores, chain restaurants, and concept eateries, that some visitors may find it a bit contrary to their idea of relaxation. So they head to an outer island. But enchanting Oahu should not be overlooked because of its popularity, so I’ll tell you about an oceanfront oasis on the beach at Waikiki that you’ll love.

There are two sides to Waikiki: The Diamond Head side, and the Ewa side. The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is situated on the Ewa end of Waikiki on what was once referred to as the Kalia area. The famous Hawaiian water-man Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, and an Olympic medalist, was born here in this well-populated residential area. There was also a small hotel with thatched roof cottages along the beach called Niumalu Hotel. Decades later in the 1950’s Henry J. Kaiser (and partners) bought most of the land up, negotiated leases, dredged a tidal area and created a lagoon. Then he built rooms, restaurants, and bars, and opened his Hawaiian Village Hotel in September of 1955. Soon he added an incredible marvel of an aluminum dome that was constructed in 20 hours and built as an entertainment venue. He later sold the property to Conrad Hilton.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort has also made changes over the years by revamping its oceanfront 20-acre layout. Because of its size, manicured gardens, several pools, various room types, shopping, a luau venue, and multiple restaurant offerings, all along the largest expanse of Waikiki Beach, it is the only true resort in Waikiki, But I did promise you an oasis. So here is the secret: the Hilton’s Ali’i Tower.

The beachfront Ali’I Tower is a quiet “hotel within a hotel” in the large resort. Guests staying at the Ali’i Tower have their own front desk and concierge, a private pool and deck overlooking the beach, fitness room, and private bar. All of the rooms feature understated design and upscale amenities. Guests sporting their Ali’i Tower bracelet can go to the front of any line at the ever-popular Tropics Bar & Grill or Rainbow Room. Tip: Book the corner Diamond Head Oceanfront rooms on the upper floors. Your two lanais give you an expansive view from Diamond Head, across the surf spots along the reef, all the way to the Tapa Tower and Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, the marina, and across the ocean to Ewa Beach. Don’t miss the Friday Night Fireworks from your balcony. The Hilton Hawaiian Village has been continuing this beloved tradition since 1988. So settle in at the Ali’i Tower and relax knowing that you have found a slice of the old Waikiki that still exists.

More Recommendations

Stay for the Show

An experience that many people look for when they visit Hawaii is the classic Waikiki Beach scene. With so many hotels along nearby Kalakaua Avenue (Waikiki’s main street), there is a place for everyone. One of the favorite events in Waikiki is Friday Night Fireworks. They explode from the beach in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel. There are even fireworks packages available, if you want to enjoy the show from your room.

If staying at the Hilton is a bit much for you, it’s easy to find a spot of sand, watch the sun go down (like those in the photo), and wait for the show from the beach (beaches in Hawaii are public).

For locals, the fireworks are a sign that the weekend has begun! For tourists, the show is an extra special treat to enjoy after living like the Duke in the surf and sunshine all day long!

Hilton says Mahalo in a big way !

The Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki has just announced that is is rolling out a second weekly fireworks display. Starting August 6th 2013 guests and the public will be able to enjoy The Hilton’s tradition that started in 1988 celebrating it’s $100 million “Return To Paradise” master plan. With the addition of the Tuesday display there will also be a high energy 15 minute show by Tihati Productions at 7:45 followed by the fireworks at 8 p.m. Understanding that many guests who may not stay the weekend, Hilton decided that this would be a wonderful way to say Mahalo to them while hosting them at their resort, and also to the public. If you want to have the best view of the show, for a $20 admission fee Hilton offers the Rockin Hawaiian Rainbow review on Friday nights at 7p.m. Featuring Tihati celebrating the golden age of Hawaiian music, and a tribute to Duke Kahanamoku. This includes seating at the Super Pool and a Mai Tai punch cocktail, followed by of course the fireworks display. There is no admission charge on Tuesdays.

Also be sure to experience all of the shops, restaurants (including beach side dining) and fantastic live music offered nightly. The Hilton Hawaiian Village truly has something for everyone !

Stay Up Late to Enjoy Island Fire and Lights

Pélé—the Hawaiian goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes—may provide the Big Island with its fiery glow, but she can’t take all the credit for the illuminated Hawaiian nights. At remote stargazing sites like Kauai’s Napali coastline or Polihale Beach the galaxy bursts overhead with wild displays. The Big Island’s Mauna Kea Observatory delights stargazers with glimpses of other worlds. For a spark of a decidedly more human kind, kick off the weekend with dinner at Rum Fire on Oahu’s Waikiki Beach. Here, over cocktails and pupus (appetizers), guests can watch Friday Night fireworks at the neighboring Hilton Hawaiian Village. After the show, keep the night alight with the “God of Fire” roll at Doraku Sushi restaurant.

An Oahu Experience in One Place

For people who want to visit Hawaii and stay in one place, a trip to Honolulu and the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort is the perfect place to throw down a towel and enjoy the sun. This complex goes far beyond a hotel and offers shops, restaurants, a spa, and a beach. The self-contained resort in Waikiki is the perfect spot for families as well as honeymooners and business people.

For those who have an itch to get out, the main strip in Waikiki and the quieter beachside neighborhood of Ala Moana are both within walking distance (or the Waikiki trolley).

Bali Steak & Seafood at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

Bali Streak & Seafood’s riff on the ubiquitous Mai Tai is the “Bali Tai”. Crafted using some local spirits, it’s made with Old Lahaina Silver Rum, Ferrand Dry Curacao, Ginger Liqueur, local honey syrup, fresh lime and pineapple juice, and a float of Old Lahaina Dark Rum. Not sweet but balanced; it’s the quintessential cocktail to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Rainbow Tower (you are sitting in it at the restaurant), your adventures on Oahu, and the gilded sunset you are enjoying at this moment from right here on Waikiki Beach.

Bali Steak & Seafood is all about quality. From your cocktail, artisan beer selection and the wine cellar, to the freshest produce, beautifully aged-steaks and incredible fish from the Honolulu Fish Auction-brought in early that morning. If Big Eye Tuna is offered, go for it- it’s the best of the best. Same for the moist Opakapaka or Mahimahi. Of course, they have Maine Lobster (grown in Kona) and tender, flavorful cuts of beef (Allen Brothers Meats) including domestic Wagyu cooked perfectly to your preference. But when in Hawaii. . . you should go for the local fish. The menu is an eclectic mix combining island flavors and textures but always letting the quality of the food take center stage. In the skillful hands of creative and passionate Chef de Cuisine Benjie Cabutaje and his staff, you’ll enjoy favorites like Traditional Lump Crab Cake, Domestic Wagyu Steak Tartare, Truffle Potato Tots, Grilled Kahuku Corn, Steaks, Kauai Prawns, Oysters, Rack of Lamb, King Crab, a Sustainable Ocean Seafood Platter with an assortment of seasonal fish, shellfish, lobster and crabs, and their famous Lobster Bisque. There is a thoughtful listing system on the menu denoting which items are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and egg free. Wait service is professional and attentive but minus the hovering so you can relax and enjoy the conversation at the table. Mari’s Garden an Oahu farm provides the hearts Romaine lettuce for the crisp Caesar salad and Ho Farms tomatoes from Oahu are featured with Mari’s beets in the Quinoa salad. In keeping with Chef Cabutaje’s commitment to use local and sustainable products whenever possible you’ll find products from Hawaii throughout the menu including Hamakua Mushrooms, Sweet Land Farms, Nalo Farms, Surfing Goat Dairy, Fresh Island Seafood Co. Tropics Fish, Kona Cold Lobster, Newport Steaks, Big Island Abalone and Kona Sea Salt. Having trouble deciding? Your waiter will gently guide you through the menu if you wish and can certainly recommend some great wines to accompany your selections. Have you saved room for dessert? Dessert could be as simple as a blissful island fruit sorbet or as divine as the Coconut Bombe. Night caps and after-dinner drinks are always an option, and a favorite is the Adult Affogato made of whiskey gelato and hot espresso- a perfect topper to a splendid evening on the beach at Waikiki.

Bali Steak & Seafood offers dinner only from 5pm. to 9pm. An advance reservation to request an ocean front table is strongly advised.

Information on this page, including website, location, and opening hours, is subject to have changed since this page was last published. If you would like to report anything that’s inaccurate, let us know at

Nearby highlights
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR