7.2 miles, Half day
Long before Waikiki became a tourism mecca, an adjacent 300-acre tract of land at the base of Diamond Head was set aside for a public park because it wasn't considered suitable for anything else. Since it was one of the few places on Oahu where rain almost never fell, Hawaii’s King Kalakaua designated Kapiolani Park as home to a permanent horseracing track in the particularly wet winter of 1876.
Enthusiasts believed that far too many races had been canceled that year because existing tracks were so muddy. Since many alii (royalty) lived in Waikiki, the king selected this flat plain because it was dry, convenient and unoccupied.
The ponies are long gone. But what you’ll find here today is a city park thriving with walkers, runners, soccer matches, softball games, tennis enthusiasts and picnickers. Toss in all the action of the Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, Kapiolani Bandstand and the Pacific Ocean just across Kalakaua Avenue, and you’ll likely find yourself experiencing Kapiolani Park more than once during your Waikiki stay.
If you’re into walking, you can tackle much of this itinerary on foot. Or you can find a metered parking space at Kapiolani Park and hike portions of the itinerary, then hop in your car for the Diamond Head hike and Kapahulu Avenue stops. If you opt for this excursion on a Sunday, be sure to check out Art at the Zoo Fence (artonthezoofence.com) and Royal Hawaiian Band (honolulu.gov/rhb/concertcalendar.htm) concerts at the Kapiolani Bandstand.