- Few available pool chairs after 7 a.m.
- Late night noise in lower-floor rooms
- Fee for parking
This 524-room hotel in the most popular part of Waikiki is constantly buzzing.
Located on one of the best stretches of sand on Waikiki Beach, the main draw to this Outrigger outpost is its location -- in the heart of the action, between two of the most historic, most luxurious resorts in Oahu, the Moana Surfrider and the Royal Hawaiian.
But its popular location has a downside -- it's incredibly crowded, and often noisy. Outrigger's lobby is located on the 2nd floor, so guests enter at street level through what's essentially a shopping mall and head up an escalator. Duke's Canoe Club, a veritable tourist trap and one of the most popular restaurants in Waikiki, is located on the ground floor and its nightly music can rattle the windows on some of the lower-floor rooms. However, the hotel's 2012 renovations included a much-need soundproofing to all rooms, which has made noise less of an issue in most floors. Queen's Beach, just out front, is easily the most crowded beach in all of Oahu.
On the beach, in the heart of Waikiki
With a front door on Kalakaua Avenue and a back door on the sand, the hotel is in the heart of Waikiki. Two of Waikiki's most luxuious hotels -- the Moana Surfrider and the Royal Hawaiian -- are next door, and the International Market Place, where vendors hawk endless carts full of puka-shell necklaces and Obama bobbleheads, is across the street.
Kalakaua Avenue is a touristy, milelong stretch of shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels that runs along Waikiki Beach on Oahu's southeast coast. It offers a curious blend of mainland creature comforts and local flavor. On the sidewalks, Japanese tourists intermingle with tanned locals, surfboards under their arms, on their way to the beach to catch a few waves after work. On both sides of the street, high-end retailers -- Tiffany, Cartier, and yes, even an Apple store -- are interspersed with indoor malls and streetside vendors hawking cheap seashell jewelry and T-shirts. Seemingly every midmarket chain restaurant can be found here -- Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Tony Roma's -- along with more than a handful of Starbucks and fast-food joints. And towering above it all: 40-story, thousand-room hotels like the Hyatt Regency and Princess Kaiulani dotting the landscape like pins in a cushion.
Center of one of the most famous, and most crowded, beaches in the world
Outrigger Waikiki is on what's arguably the nicest stretch of Waikiki Beach. Loosely speaking, the entire 1.5-mile stretch of sand alongside Kalakaua Avenue is known as Waikiki Beach. In reality, it's more like three separate beaches, the borders of which vary depending on whom you ask. Outrigger Waikiki is located on the section called Queen's Beach, which is the part you see on postcards of Waikiki: manicured, palm tree-dotted lawns leading to a sunny white-sand beach. Children splash about in the shallow water near the shore, while surfers and standup paddle-boarders (the rad new thing to do) patrol the outer waters.
To summarize Queen's Beach in one word: packed. Packed with energy, packed with activity, packed -- most significantly -- with people. Towels carpet the sand like blankets at a sold-out concert. Families with small children, honeymooning couples, even locals taking lunch breaks -- they all merge here, sunning, swimming, and sandcastle-building, all the while doing their best not to kick sand in each other's faces.
In addition to soundproofing, all guest rooms were remodeled and updated in 2012, with even balconies getting a facelift. All rooms received new furniture, wallpaper, linens, and carpets, providing a much needed refreshing. Dated, low-quality bedspreads were replaced by elegant deep-red comforters with a tropical design and matching bolsters, which along with the traditional wood furnishings and a few decor touches helped keep the Hawaiian look of the rooms. Bathrooms feature shower/tub combos (in some cases, half-size tubs) and generic granite countertops, but most have attractive wooden cabinets and locally made toiletries, as well as huge mirrors with bamboo-shaped metal frames.
Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach draws lots of families with its beachfront location, lively atmosphere, large rooms, and family activities throughout the day -- from lei-making to ukulele and hula-dancing lessons. But its pool doesn't quite compare to the enormous pool and waterslide at the Sheraton Waikiki.
Steak and seafood aplenty; plus cheap eats and ample to eat within walking distance
Outrigger Waikiki's on-site restaurants are all either on or overlooking the beach, and they span a wide price range, from cheap sandwiches to $40 steaks. Plus, the hotel's central location means that there's plenty of other places to dine within walking distance.
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