From Kamehameha the Great to Elvis Presley, discover the rich history of Waikiki from swampy farmlands to royal playground and how it became one of the most famous destinations in the world.
In early Hawaii, Waikiki was a much larger area than the 1.5 square miles it encompasses today. Old Waikiki, much of it swampland, included the neighboring valleys of Manoa and Palolo. Translated, Waikiki means “spouting water,” a reference to the rivers and springs that richly flowed into the area.
In the mid to late 1800s, Waikiki served as a vacation retreat for the kingdom’s royalty. Kamehameha IV, Kamehameha V, Lunalilo, Kalakaua, Liliuokalani and Princess Kaiulani were among the dignitaries who maintained residences in the area, enjoying moonlight horseback rides, thrilling canoe races and carefree romps in the ocean.