Unlike any other resort in Hawaii, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is really a world unto itself. It's a huge resort. In fact, it's the largest resort in Hawaii.
While the size can at first seem a bit imposing, most guests quickly learn, as I did several years ago, that initial impressions can be so totally wrong. The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort quickly became and remains one of my favorite resorts anywhere.
Even when I'm not staying at the resort on one of my annual visits to Oahu, I find myself drawn to the property whether it's to shop, enjoy their luau, dine at one of the resort's fine restaurants, or just wander the beautiful grounds.
Why do I enjoy this resort so much and why do I rate it as one of Hawaii's best 5-star properties? Here are just 10 of the many reasons I enjoy the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.
For any resort, it all starts with the accommodations, and you won't find better anywhere in Hawaii than at this resort's Ali'i Tower.
In ancient Hawaii, the Ali'i were royalty--and you definitely feel like royalty when you stay in the Ali'i Tower. The rooms are large and luxurious, the service is personal and the perks are well worth the extra cost.
In-room amenities include complimentary beach bag use, upgraded dressing area amenities, designer bathrobes/yukata for use during your stay, complimentary Kona coffee/tea and Keurig coffee maker, refrigerator, Hilton Serenity Collection alarm clock radio with connection for MP3 player and a 37” LCD television with Playstation 3 console/Blu-Ray & DVD Player.
In addition, Ali'i Tower guests receive private guest reception/registration right in the tower, exclusive concierge services, private Ali'i Tower pool, sun terrace and whirlpool on the second floor, first-in-line privileges at select resort restaurants, a private Fitness Center, and access to the lobby library business center.
Next Page > Village Wildlife
More than 60 species of exotic birds, waterfowl, turtles, and fish make their homes at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.
Throughout the resort are a number of beautiful fishponds filled with koi. Colorful tropical birds, ducks and swans wander freely throughout much of the property.
Next Page > The Food
One thing's for sure at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. You won't go hungry.
The resort has 18 on-site eateries to choose from including restaurants of varying cuisines and price ranges, intimate cafés, bars and even an ice cream parlor!
The recently renovated Tropics Bar & Grill® offers a casual beachside setting that's perfect for lunch or a light dinner.
Bali Steak and Seafood is the Village's signature fine dining restaurant. The food is some of the best in Hawaii and the service is top-notch.
Bali Steak & Seafood offers five different types of steak, including bone-in New York strip steak, filet mignon, bone-in ribeye, a 32 oz porterhouse and a massive 38 oz ribeye tomahawk for two.
Next Page > Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon
Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon
Named in honor of Hawaii's most decorated waterman and father of modern-day surfing, the man-made 5-acre Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon underwent a $15 million renovation in 2006-2007.
Originally part of Henry J. Kaiser's Hawaiian Village development in the early 1950s, the renovated lagoon features a state-of-the-art water circulation system with seven saltwater wells 195-250 feet below the surface of the ocean that draw in about 15,000 gallons of water per minute from the ocean, helping to turn over the lagoon's crystal clear water about five times a day. The lagoon's depth went from about 12 feet to approximately five feet, and more than 33,000 tons of sand replenished the beach and bottom of the lagoon.
An island with a two-tier waterfall, a board walk, park benches and landscaping create a park-like setting. About 60 coconut trees, along with a number of native Hawaiian plants, make the area even more inviting than ever before.
Recreation opportunities include the rental of a variety of beach equipment from the Hilton's Waikiki Beach Activities desk fronting the lagoon, including aqua cycles, kayaks, waterbees, stand-up paddle surfboards and rafts.
Next Page > Shopping
With more than 90 shops and boutiques, Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort offers a world-class shopping experience for guests and visitors alike.
Completed in 1970, the Rainbow Bazaar® is a charming promenade of shops and ethnic restaurants offering a diverse collection of international boutiques, jewelry shops, sundries and Hawaii-themed stores.
Three courtyards, inspired by Asian and Polynesian architecture, are shaded by a banyan tree and tropical plants. Granite lions guard the entrance to Rainbow Bazaar, and structures reminiscent of a Japanese pagoda and farmhouse, as well as a Thai temple, adds to the Asian and Polynesian atmosphere of the Bazaar.
The themed storefronts house a modern variety of merchants, including ABC Store, Na Hoku, Crazy Shirts, Tabora Gallery, Harley Davidson and many others including a personal favorite of mine, Honolulu Cookie Company.
Kalia Tower® has a variety of shops to choose from, including Aloha Ukulele, Making Waves and Maui Clothing Company.
In and around the Ali'i Tower®, resort wear from formal to fun and trendy can be found. Boutiques include Royal Fish and Aloha Bella. Jewelry creations beckon from the windows of Island Pearls by Maui Divers, while Boutique Sharon has the elegant apparel of Harari and Ann Namba.
Rainbow Tower® features Kariza Designs and Volcom.
The Tapa Concourse presents an array of shops to rival many malls. You'll find a Louis Vuitton boutique here, as well as Blue Ginger, Hi Trend Sunglasses and LeSportsac.
Next Page > Rainbow Revue and Fireworks
Rockin' Hawaiian Rainbow Revue and Fireworks
Every Friday evening, poolside at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort becomes the place to be in Waikiki as the resort features their free event, Rockin' Hawaiian Rainbow Revue and fireworks.
From 7:00-7:45 p.m. the always superb performers of Tihati Productions present a quick moving, energetic look at Hawaii's music and dance.
The festivities begin with a tribute to Duke Kahanamoku, legendary Olympic gold medalist and surfer and the world famous Waikiki beach boys. Also included is a charming keiki (children's) hula performance. A crescendo of torch lights, drums, and about five minutes of fireworks brings the show to a delightful and moving finale.
Next Page > Luau
Waikiki Starlight Luau®
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort's Waikiki Starlight LuauTM is offered Sunday through Thursday at the resort's open-air Rooftop Garden.
The luau menu features a modern twist on traditional luau fare with not only traditional luau favorites such as kalua pig and lomi lomi salmon but additional offerings featuring the islands' freshest ingredients crafted into such selections such as steamed banana leaf-wrapped island fish; Thai lemongrass marinated huli huli chicken; rotisserie sirloin of beef with a rosemary and guava barbecue sauce and Hawaiian paella with Portuguese sausage.
Guests are taken on an exhilarating voyage across the South Seas in a celebration of Polynesian music and dance. From the mesmerizing Otea of Tahiti to the graceful Hawaiian hula to the rhythmic Maori dances of New Zealand, the show embraces the audience from its start to its exciting climax, an unprecedented four-man Samoan fire-knife dance.
Read our full review of the Waikiki Starlight LuauTM and view our gallery of 24 photos of the luau.
Next Page > The Artwork
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort's award-winning art collection features more than 200 pieces of work on display throughout the 22-acre resort. Many reflect modern-day artists' interpretations of ancient scenes and traditions of Hawaii. The collection was honored by the Hawaii Tourism Authority in 2004 with a Kahili Award for preservation of Hawaiian culture.
Resort guests and visitors can take a self-guided tour of the Village's art collection, using a map/guide available at the any of the resort's concierge desks.
Included in the collection are works by sculptor Kim Duffett whose Kaha Ka ‘Io Me Na Makani, "The Hawk Soars with the Winds" has become a de facto gateway not only to Hilton Hawaiian Village, but to all of Waikiki Beach and is one of the most popular photo spots for visitors to Hawaii. This larger-than-life trinity sculpture reaches heavenward to a height of 15 feet, and consists of one male and two females performing the awe-inspiring movements of hula kahiko on the edge of a lava rock waterfall fronting Kalia Tower.
Hilton's Rainbow Murals designed by renowned artist Millard Sheets adorn the mauka (mountain) and makai (ocean) ends of the Village’s Rainbow Tower have become a Waikiki landmark. The world's tallest ceramic murals climb the entire height of the 31-story tower.
Additional artwork includes works by Hawaii artists such as Carol Bennett, Moana Eisele,Dale Evers, Luigi Fumagalli, James Hoyle, Herb Kane, Melinda Morey, Michael Powell, Roy Tabora, Hiroshi Tagami, John Young, Pat Walker and Daniel Van Zyle.
Next Page > Swimming and Beach
Swimming Pools and Beach Activities
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort sits on the widest stretch of beach in Waikiki with access to the biggest swimming pool of all, the Pacific Ocean.
In addition, however, the resort has five swimming pools for guests' enjoyment:
- The two-tiered, 10,000-square-foot Super Pool surrounded by lava rock waterfalls and tropical plants – the largest pool in Waikiki.
- The Tapa Tower pool
- Ali'i Tower™ pool (exclusively for Ali‘i Tower guests)
- The Kalia Tower™ Infinity pool (exclusively for Kalia Tower and Mandara Spa guests)
- The 5,000-square-foot Paradise Pool serving the Lagoon Tower and Grand Waikikian which features four slides including the longest waterslide in Waikiki, a 77-foot lava tube slide, three waterfalls and two heated spas.
Waikiki Beach Activities
A one-stop shop for fun in the sun and surf, Waikiki Beach Activities offers water sports equipment rental and instruction for snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, surfing and aqua cycling. Air mattresses, beach chairs and umbrellas are also available to rent.
The independently operated Beach Activities Center is located in front of the beach, between Rainbow and Ali‘i Towers, next to Hau Tree Bar®, and at the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. Open daily, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Kahanamoku Beach was named as the number two beach in the list of 2012 Best Beaches in America by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach.
Next Page > The Grounds
How does the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort manage to host thousands of guests each day along with over a thousand staff and yet never seem as crowded as Grand Central Station on a Monday morning? The answer is in the layout of the resort and its carefully designed landscaping.
As the Village has grown over the past half century, entirely new buildings have been added rather than additions to existing structures bringing the current total to seven guest towers. By its very nature this tends to spread out the number of guests who might normally congregate in any one area.
Also, at any given time of the day, many guests are likely to be off exploring Waikiki or other areas of Oahu or on an organized tour. The Village's Tapa Tower bus and tour transportation center does an excellent job in facilitating guests leaving on organized tour without clogging the resorts Port Cochere area.
The resort has over 22 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens featuring over 50 varieties of flora indigenous to Hawaii and from regions around the world such as Africa, Asia, Australia, Brazil, China, Fiji and other islands of the South Pacific. In addition over 500 palm trees are found within the resort's grounds.
Careful placement of paths results in a distributed flow of guests throughout the resort while numerous seating areas, koi ponds and grassy areas still allow guests to find their own private piece of paradise even in the busiest times of the day.
Granted, the Super Pool deck can get pretty crowded on an especially hot day or for the Friday evening show and fireworks, but, in the early mornings or evenings, there are plenty of quiet spots for all.
Next Page > In Conclusion and Book Your Stay
A Few More Reasons
Those were just ten of the reasons that I really like the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. There are plenty of others:
While located in Waikiki, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is very much an oasis unto itself. Separated from the hustle and bustle of central Waikiki by Fort DeRussy Park and the Hale Koa Hotel, it is still close enough to allow guests to experience all that Waikiki has to offer.
The staff at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort are top notch. Many have worked at the resort for most of its 50+ year history.
Housekeeping staff are some of the friendliest and most efficient I know in Hawaii.
The folks in the public relations department that I deal with have become personal friends whom I look forward to seeing whenever I'm on Oahu.
Independently owned and operated, Mandara Spa is a full-service spa and salon on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Kalia Tower.
There are 25 treatment rooms in which a variety of Hawaiian themed treatments are offered. Guests can choose everything from Tropical Hawaiian Scrubs and Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage to Vanilla & Pikake Facial and Hawaiian Pohaku (Warm Lava Stones) Massage.
Activities, Crafts and Culture
No Hawaii resort offers such a wide assortment of entertainment for the whole family.
Complimentary shows and live events, many of which highlight the traditions, dance and music of Hawaii are offered on most days at various locations throughout the resort.
Throughout the week Hawaiian artisans demonstrate and display their arts and crafts at various locations throughout the resort. Guests can learn Hawaiian hula and then try some hula aerobics, learn to play the ukulele, create their own Hawaiian lei, or even practice the twelve ways to tie a sarong.
October 2009 saw the official launch of Camp Penguin, the resort' specially designed program for kids 5-12.
The Atlantis Submarines shuttle boat departs from the Hilton Pier for a short cruise to their dive location where visitors then board one of two Atlantis Submarines for an undersea adventure to man-made and natural reefs, and sunken ships off the coast of Oahu.
Located in the Tapa Tower near the bus and tour transportation center are a number of kiosks where guests can learn about additional activities.
For more information about the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort you can visit their excellent website.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary stay for the purpose of reviewing the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.