Whether you are landing on O‘ahu for your first trip to Hawai‘i or you are escaping to Waikiki for a weekend staycation, you'll feel a sense of aloha as soon as you arrive. In Hawaiian, "aloha" is a way to say hello or goodbye, but it is also used as an expression of love and to describe a way of life.
You'll find that Waikiki is more than white sand beaches, sparkling water, exciting restaurants, and luxurious resorts. In fact, the area was once a place of healing, rejuvenation, and recreation for Hawaiian royalty. Enrich your stay in paradise by taking some time to learn about the native culture and obtain a richer sense of place to take back home with you.
As you turn onto Beachwalk Drive, you'll spot the Hawaiian tapa design adorning the side of Embassy Suites Waikiki's Aloha Tower. The nod to the native culture continues into the interior of the resort and the newly styled one- and two-bedroom suites with Hawaiian décor and touches throughout, including textiles, fabrics, artwork and furniture. A guest favorite is the hula dancer nightstand lamps!
A centerpiece in the suites' spacious living rooms is the kapa (bark cloth art) piece by artist, Dalany Tanahy. Her abstract geometric designs depict Waikiki, meaning "spouting water" in Hawaiian, incorporating elements of the kalo plant and sea urchin. To learn more behind the inspiration, listen to her Q&A with Embassy Suites Waikiki General Manager, Simeon Miranda.
On the Grand Lanai pool deck, you can't miss the rare native Alula plant which the hotel planted in celebration of Earth Day in partnership with the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative and Hui Ku Maoli Ola. Possibly one of the strangest looking plants, a full head of succulent leaves crowns from the top of a stem. It is believed to be extinct in the wild.
Visit The Royal Room
When searching for things to do in Waikiki, there are so many options! Part classroom and part gallery, The Royal Room is a must-see. Curated by the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame, the museum-quality interactive exhibits focus on the musical heritage of Hawai‘i as well as the art of Hawaiian feather lei making and its significance to Hawaiian royalty. Join a feather work class offered Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Call 808-499-7408 for reservations.
Take a Hula Class
Hula is about more than just swaying your hips; it's the storytelling dance of the Hawaiian Islands and one of the ways Hawaiian ancestral knowledge is passed down. Learn by doing at a free hula class at Waikiki Beach Walk's Plaza Stage every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. The Ka Lei Hula Class teaches the basics of hula and features a fun playlist of Hawaiian songs. Sign up here as spots are limited.
Listen to Live Hawaiian Music
Every Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., enjoy live Hawaiian music at Plaza Stage at Waikiki Beach Walk. Hosted by Blaine Kia, Ku Ha‘aheo fills the atmosphere with classic and contemporary Hawaiian music. You may spot unique Hawaiian instruments such as the slack-key guitar, ‘ukulele or ipu (gourd) drum.
Strum an ‘Ukulele
After being inspired by the performance, try your hand at an ‘ukulele lesson at The ‘Ukulele Store located on the second floor of Waikiki Beach Walk. Embassy Suites Waikiki guests can enjoy introductory classes on Thursdays and Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. led by Na Hoku Hanohano music award winner Tyler Gilman. You'll also love shopping the impressive collection of hand-crafted instruments made of Hawaiian Koa and Mango wood.
A popular Hawaiian lu‘au (feast) dish, "poke" literally means to cut into pieces. It is traditionally prepared with raw fish, shoyu (soy sauce), green onions, kukui nut and limu (seaweed). Now a world-wide culinary sensation, try poke at Poke Bar on Waikiki Beach Walk which uses only the freshest Hawaiian ‘ahi (tuna). You can decide to keep it traditional or make modern customizations with endless toppings, proteins and mix-ins.