Reveling in the Beach at the Outrigger Reef
As someone who works in the travel industry, I often feel a lot of pressure to do anything, see everything, and be everywhere when I travel. This past trip to Hawaii, in between Aloha Festivals activities, it was very important to me that I made some time to do absolutely nothing at all. For the sake of “research,” I wanted to park myself on that world-famous Waikiki beach and zone out to the horizon, holding a pulpy paperback in my hand, and reading snippets in between swimming like a buoyant fish. After all, isn’t the beach the reason so many people come to Waikiki in the first place?
Waikiki, as beaches go, has that special “it” factor. Sure, it’s got all the requisites (soft sand, big sky, vast blue water), but one thing it has that the other beaches don’t is views of Diamond Head Crater, a dormant volcano that punctuates Waikiki like a big green-ish beauty mark. Waikiki also has calm, bathtub-like waves frequented by sea turtles, always-incredible sunsets, and fabulous people watching.
This is not one of those get-away-from-it-all beaches—for that you’ll need to head to the North Shore. Instead, people come here from all over the world, activities bustle from dawn through dusk, children are constantly playing, someone’s always swimming, and you’ll almost always see a bride and groom, photographer in tote, searching for the most beautiful backdrop for their photos.
If you want to fully revel in all that is the Waikiki beach scene, I highly recommend a stay at the Outrigger Reef, a beach-lover’s hotel if there ever was one, where the spirit of Polynesian seafaring pervades in décor and activities. The hotel makes an effort to uphold Hawaiian traditions–outrigger canoes set out from the beach with regularity (highly recommended), as do catamarans, surfers, and stand-up paddlers. The interior of the hotel has a distinct Hawaiian feel, from the live music and plentiful artwork to cultural activities, like lei making, in the hotel lobby.
The hotel recently renovated their rooms to make them even bigger. My room came with an incredible view, and I could hear the waves right from my balcony. At night, with the balcony doors thrown open to catch the tradewinds, it was almost as if I was lying on the beach itself–instead of in a big, comfy bed in the privacy and comfort of my own hotel room. (My stay here was so good, in fact, that I reserved a stay here for my parents in the coming months.)
Even if you’re not staying in the hotel, have a hearty breakfast at the new Kani Ka Pila Grille (known for its nightly live music, popular with tourists and locals alike), or lunch at the beachfront Shorebird (mai tai specials from 1pm to 5pm), then head to the beach to put in your stakes. For an all-day rental of 11 bucks, you can reserve a lounge chair (totally worth it). The guy at the activities desk will carry your chair for you to the exact spot where you want to sit. Then, spend a day soaking up the best of the Waikiki beach scene.
Coming next week: I’ll give you the luau lowdown…
My name: Rachel Berg.
Favorite way to get around: By Venetian gondola during starlit high tide, gliding past decaying and slightly spooky palaces, with perhaps a bottle of prosecco placed between the gondola seat cushions.
View that took my breath away: Unable to sleep in the mystical city of Sfat in Israel, I wandered outdoors predawn and was treated to a purple-on-purple sunrise below the mountaintop that seemed to emerge feet-first through ground-level clouds.
Greatest travel lesson learned: Sunny weather isn't everything. Some of my best travel memories involve go-karting through a deluge turned mud-fest in Mexico, drinking tea in the cold Denali tundra, and watching electric thunderstorms roll through national parks out West.
Most challenging travel moment: Getting leveled by altitude sickness in Cuzco and realizing that my body was forcing me to slow down and rest despite the fact that there was so much to do and see.
Travel ambition: To see the northern lights.