Kalakaua Avenue is the pulsating artery that infuses life into the city of Honolulu, Hawaii. Known for its vibrant and festive atmosphere, it stretches majestically through the Waikiki district. With a plethora of luxury boutiques, world-class restaurants, and entertainment options, this iconic street symbolizes the island’s rich history and culture while exuding a modern, cosmopolitan charm. Experience unforgettable moments on Kalakaua Avenue. From serene sunset strolls by the beach to vibrant shopping sprees and lively Hula dancing nights, this avenue offers a wide range of captivating activities for everyone to enjoy.


  • Often dubbed as the “Rodeo Drive of the Pacific,” Kalakaua Avenue is the central artery of Waikiki. This lively boulevard is a melting pot of global cultures, boasting high-end retail stores, world-class dining, and Hawaiian cultural touchpoints.
  • It’s a shopper’s paradise, home to high-end retailers like Gucci, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton, as well as local boutiques and souvenirs.
  • Just a stone’s throw away from the world-renowned Waikiki Beach, visitors can seamlessly transition from a shopping spree to a refreshing dip in the Pacific. The beachside promenade offers picturesque sunset views, making it a magnet for romantic strolls.
  • Kalakaua Avenue is an exciting hub of activities catering to various interests, including world-class art galleries, water sports, and annual festivals.
  • With a vibrant nightlife, the avenue offers entertainment venues from traditional Hawaiian music shows to modern dance clubs and bars.


Street sign Kalakaua avenue in Waikiki, Hawaii
© Taku_S via Canva

Kalakaua Avenue’s history is as colorful as its present. The historic significance of Kalakaua, the iconic road that has greeted Hawaiian Royalty and VIP visitors since the 1800s. The bustling avenue in Waikiki was once a stage service road. In 1868, the stage service opened for business on what was then called Waikiki Road. However, in 1888, it was replaced by a horse-driven tramcar system. Years later, in 1901, an electric trolley service was introduced on Waikiki Road. The road itself underwent a name change in 1908 to Kalakaua Avenue, in honor of King Kalakaua, the last king of the Kingdom of Hawaii, who reigned from 1874 until he died in 1891. The king was known for his love of music, dance, and culture, and it was under his reign that many of the traditions Hawaii is known for today, like the Hula dance, were revived.

This major thoroughfare experienced significant modernization with the completion of the Ala Wai Canal in 1928. Interestingly, the canal played a crucial role in transforming the surrounding wetlands into the thriving tourism district of Honolulu. By diverting stream runoff into Waikiki, the canal helped create the iconic destination it is today. During World War II, following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Hawaii saw an influx of military activity. To aid military personnel in navigating the islands, numerous Military Routes and early Hawaii Routes were established. These routes were assigned different markings, such as US Route-style shields for Military Highways and an early version of the Hawaii Route Spade for lesser highways.

On a 1946 Army Map of O’ahu, Kalakaua Avenue was designated as part of Hawaii Route 101. It served as an essential military connector due to the presence of Fort DeRussy in Waikiki and Fort Ruger at Diamond Head Crater. However, after the conclusion of World War II, the United States Bureau of Public Roads renumbered the Hawaii Route System in 1955. This renumbering established many of the conventions still in use today in the Hawaii State Route System. Primary routes were given two-digit numbers, while secondary routes received three-digit numbers. O’ahu’s numbers fell in the range of 60-99. Unfortunately, Kalakaua Avenue did not retain its designation as a Hawaii Route and was not given a new number. Despite its lack of a Hawaii Route designation, Kalakaua Avenue continued to be a significant road. On the 1959 Shell Highway Map of Hawaii, it can be seen without a specific Hawaii Route marking, but its importance as one of Waikiki’s main thoroughfares remained unchanged.

Today, Kalakaua Avenue stands as one of the most vibrant avenues in Honolulu, Hawaii. Lined with a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, it offers a delightful blend of traditional Hawaiian culture and contemporary urban amenities. High-end retail outlets sit alongside local businesses, providing a mishmash of experiences for both locals and tourists. It’s the heartbeat of the city that never fails to captivate with its lively spirit and picturesque views of Waikiki Beach.

Things to Do

Waikiki Beach and Kalakaua Avenue in Honolulu, HI at night
© gregobagel via Canva

Shop on Kalakaua Avenue

Kalakaua Avenue is a shopper’s paradise, boasting a rich selection of retail establishments that cater to diverse tastes and budgets. The avenue is home to Luxury Row, a high-end shopping destination featuring world-renowned brands such as Gucci, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. For those seeking local Hawaiian goods and souvenirs, the International Market Place provides a unique shopping experience with its collection of specialty stores.

In addition to Luxury Row and the International Market Place, Kalakaua Avenue offers many other exciting shopping destinations. The Royal Hawaiian Center, one of the largest shopping malls in Hawaii, is a must-visit. Here, you can browse hundreds of stores, ranging from international brands to unique local shops, all while enjoying Hawaiian music and hula performances. For a more eclectic shopping experience, visit the Waikiki Beach Walk. This outdoor shopping complex features a variety of specialty boutiques where you can find authentic Hawaiian clothing, jewelry, and handcrafted goods.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore local shops such as Island Slipper, where you can find locally made, comfortable footwear, and Ukulele Puapua, recognized for its vast collection of ukuleles. Shopping on Kalakaua Avenue isn’t just about the purchase; it’s about the rich and cultural experience that comes along with it.

Visit the Local Attractions

At the renowned Royal Hawaiian Hotel, sometimes referred to as the Pink Palace of the Pacific, you may immerse yourself in the culture and allure of Hawaii. This 1927-built hotel with Spanish and Moorish architecture offers a window into Hawaii’s illustrious past. Step back in time at the Moana Hotel, recognized as the First Lady of Waikiki. This historic hotel, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, showcases a unique blend of Hawaiian Gothic fusion style.

Relax and unwind at Kapiolani Regional Park, Hawaii’s largest and oldest public park. Located along the east end of Kalakaua, this park acts as a natural border between Waikiki and Diamond Head. Explore the Fort DeRussy Military Reservation, once a crucial American defense bastion in 1908. Today, this historic site has been transformed into a public park, housing the Hawaii Army Museum and a dedicated hotel honoring the U.S. military.

Immerse in Culinary Delights

Kalakaua Avenue is a food lover’s paradise, offering a diverse array of dining options that cater to a variety of palettes. Notable restaurants and local food joints dot the length of Kalakaua Avenue, each offering a unique gastronomic adventure. Seafood enthusiasts may find their heart’s delight at the Ocean House Restaurant, famed for its ocean-fresh fare. Duke’s Waikiki, a local favorite, serves traditional Hawaiian dishes in a beachfront setting, providing a quintessential island dining experience. For a quick bite, local food trucks and hole-in-the-wall joints offer tasty meals on the go, like poke bowls and shaved ice, embodying the spirit of Aloha in every bite.

Enjoy the Nightlife

Kalakaua Avenue comes alive as the sun sets, transforming into a vibrant hub of nightlife that caters to a multitude of tastes. The street is lined with various entertainment venues, from traditional Hawaiian music shows and hula performances to modern dance clubs and bars. Luaus and sunset dinner cruises offer a taste of Hawaiian culture while providing a unique dining experience. The Avenue is also home to several high-end cocktail bars boasting breathtaking views of the city, perfect for a relaxing evening after a day of sightseeing. The nightlife on Kalakaua Avenue is a dynamic mix of authentic  Hawaiian charm and contemporary entertainment, ensuring an exciting night out for everyone.

Explore other Activities

Kalakaua Avenue is not just about shopping, food, and nightlife. It’s also an exciting hub of activities that cater to a myriad of interests. You can spend your day exploring world-class art in galleries, taking a leisurely walk along the Waikiki Beach Walk, or indulging in water sports. For history buffs, a visit to the iconic Royal Hawaiian Center is a must, where you can learn about the history and culture of Hawaii, participate in traditional Hawaiian craft workshops, and watch mesmerizing hula performances. For nature lovers, Kapiolani Park at the end of Kalakaua Avenue offers a peaceful retreat with lush green spaces, a zoo, and an aquarium.

Kalakaua Avenue also hosts a wide variety of beach activities and events that add to its lively atmosphere. The pristine beaches along the avenue invite visitors for sunbathing, surfing, and beach volleyball. Annual events such as the Aloha Festivals Waikiki Hoolaulea fill the streets with a festive air, featuring Hawaiian music, dance, and food. The Pan-Pacific Festival Parade is another summer attraction, showcasing cultural performances from across the Pacific Rim. These events and the natural allure of beach activities make Kalakaua Avenue an exciting, year-round destination for tourists and locals alike.

Tips for Visiting Kalakaua Avenue

When planning your visit to Kalakaua Avenue, consider these tips to maximize your experience:

  • Early morning or late afternoon visits will help you avoid the peak tourist crowds and enjoy a quieter stroll.
  • Opt for comfortable walking shoes, as the avenue is best explored on foot.
  • Don’t miss the luxury boutiques and local shops that line the avenue. Take time to browse and find unique souvenirs.
  • numerous eateries are offering a variety of cuisines. Plan for a meal or two here to sample local flavors.
  • Check local listings for live performances and festivals that often occur along the avenue.
  • Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and a hat for protection against the intense Hawaiian sun.
  • Carry a water bottle to stay hydrated while exploring.

Remember, Kalakaua Avenue is more than just a street; it’s a vibrant cultural experience that encapsulates the spirit of Honolulu.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Kalakaua Avenue is renowned as the vibrant, energetic heart of Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawaii, with its array of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Attractions on Kalakaua Avenue include famous landmarks such as the Waikiki Beach Walk, the Royal Hawaiian Center, and the statue of Duke Kahanamoku.

Kalakaua Avenue is located in Waikiki, a neighborhood in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Kalakaua Avenue features a mix of high-end designer stores, local Hawaiian boutiques, and popular retail chains, offering a diverse shopping experience.

Dining options on Kalakaua Avenue range from local Hawaiian cuisine to international fare, with an array of cafes, fine-dining establishments, and street food options.

Yes, Kalakaua Avenue is pedestrian-friendly with wide sidewalks and numerous crosswalks. It’s also closed to vehicle traffic during certain events, transforming into a bustling street fair.

How to Get There

Getting around Kalakaua Avenue is fairly straightforward, thanks to the well-structured layout of the city. Walking is arguably the best way to soak in the vibrant atmosphere, as the avenue is pedestrian-friendly with wide sidewalks and plenty of crosswalks. If you prefer not to walk, bicycle rentals are readily available and provide another great way to navigate the avenue. Public transportation is also efficient, with TheBus, Honolulu’s public transit system, offering regular service along Kalakaua Avenue. For those who prefer a more comfortable ride, taxis and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are readily available.

By Car

To reach Kalakaua Avenue by car, you’ll likely begin your journey on H-1, one of Honolulu’s major highways. If you are driving from Honolulu’s downtown area, start on H-1 West. Take exit 25A for King St. towards Waikiki. Merge onto South King Street, then continue straight to stay on this street. After approximately half a mile, turn right onto Kalakaua Avenue. Please be aware of parking regulations along the avenue.

By Bus

If you’re traveling by bus from the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, take Route 19 or 20 of TheBus. Both routes will take you to Kalakaua Avenue. TheBus operates multiple times an hour, making it a convenient option.

By Bike

If you prefer to bike, consider using Honolulu’s bike-sharing program, Biki. Bike stations are scattered across the city, including on Kalakaua Avenue. Biking allows you to enjoy the scenic beauty of the city and is a fitting choice for the environmentally conscious traveler.

Kalakaua Avenue is an Unmissable Highlight of Any Visit to Honolulu!

The street’s vibrancy, cultural richness, and a multitude of attractions make it a microcosm of the city’s overall spirit and charm. The various forms of transportation available on Kalakaua Avenue serve to enhance your experience, offering a range of perspectives and ways to explore. No matter how you choose to navigate this lively avenue, each turn and corner promises discoveries that enrich your understanding and appreciation of Honolulu. So, don’t wait! Pack your bags, and immerse yourself in the unforgettable adventure that is Kalakaua Avenue.