Wheelchair Accessible Waikiki

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Diamond Head

I have a love/hate relationship with Waikiki. There are some nice beaches and places to roll, but then there are some inconveniences that can make you crazy if you use a wheelchair. Keep in mind, I’m speaking as a power wheelchair user too!

First, the good. One of my favorite places to roll around is Fort DeRussy Beach park. There are many winding paths and a long stretch practically right next to the ocean that goes from the Hilton Hawaiian Village past several hotels then sends you back to Kalia Road. Also right nearby is the Army Museum which was free the last time I went there. Across the street is another nice place to roll around — the Ainahau Triangle and adjacent park with more paths and lots of trees and flowers. I like it because the paths are clean and wide and you’re not usually competing for space with walkers.¬†On the other side of Waikiki is another area I like to check out. Using the Honolulu Zoo as a general area marker, there’s also the Aquarium and a long stretch of beaches that connects up to the shops and hotels at the east end of Waikiki.

In between is where the hassle comes about. The newer “sidewalks” in Waikiki are made from this decorative stone that is really annoying to roll over in a wheelchair. The older walkways were smaller, but flat tiles. Thankfully there is a very long stretch of this remaining (on the north side of Kalakaua) which I prefer to use to go back and forth in Waikiki. However the issue is that the curb cuts on that side of the street are not consistent and there are a couple that could shoot you out into traffic if you’re not careful. Another issue is foot traffic. During the day it’s manageable but at night you can have street “performers” and vendors that crowd the space and make it difficult to navigate in a chair without running over some toes.

A workaround to the issues, however, is the bus system. There are several buses that run up and down the streets Waikiki. I will hop on/off the 8 bus quite frequently and this same bus will actually get you out of Waikiki and over to Ala Moana Shopping Center if you need a quick escape from Waikiki. All the buses in Hawaii are wheelchair accessible and affordable. You can get a visitor pass from most ABC stores.

Parking in Waikiki can be a pain in the ass, to be frank. There is a great parking lot next to the Honolulu Zoo which has accessible spaces, however if those are full then you might want to try the side streets instead of the parking structures. Not only are the structures expensive but many of them can be cramped if you need extra space.

As for the hotels, the Hilton Hawaiian Village is right near Fort DeRussy and has nice grounds. However if you are pushing yourself you might find getting around this mini-resort tiresome. There are several hotels on the beach and the Sheraton Waikiki is in the middle of Waikiki with a nice beachfront area. If you’re on a budget, I have stayed at the Aqua Palms — a boutique hotel across from the Hilton — for generally affordable rates. If you do stay there, check out Wailana Coffee House right next door.

Overall it’s worth exploring Waikiki for at least a few days on your trip to Hawaii. If you prefer a more relaxing setting on Oahu then go to Ko Olina or Turtle Bay, especially if you want accessible hotels but not quite as much hustle and bustle.

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One Response to Wheelchair Accessible Waikiki

  1. Carla says:

    Hey there, I too am a power wheelchair user. I am going to Waikiki for my first vacation in… forever! I’m torn as to where to stay… I was leaning toward the Hilton Hawaiian Village but I can’t decide. Help? :)

    When were you there?

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