Waikiki is the heart of the tourist scene in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Waikiki skyline, situated 5 miles east from downtown Honolulu, is a forest of boxy hotel towers hugging the coastline. The narrow beaches are usually packed with people tanning and playing in the sand, and the Waikiki streets host scores of restaurants, clubs, clothing shops, and the ubiquitous "ABC" convenience stores.

Just as Las Vegas has lost the luster of the glory days of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, Waikiki isn't the hottest vacation spot in Hawai'i anymore, having passing on her crown to the resorts in Maui. Still, the beaches, streets, and restaurants are filled with ordinary folk here on vacation, which is fine by me.

Facing south and west, the sunsets in Waikiki can be breathtaking and are best enjoyed from an extravagent, elegant restaurant on the beach. Even as the sunlight slips away, swimmers and kayakers glide across the ocean water.

Oahu is not a big island and highways allow easy transport by rental car or public bus to the other coasts to the north, east, and west. My favorite escape from touristy Waikiki was the Lanikai Beach and Kailua area on the windward (east) side of Oahu.

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