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Corporate Group Travel - What To Do In Waikiki

Corporate Group Travel - What To Do In Waikiki

Written by: Jenni Liu, Sales & Events Coordinator

So you’re planning a corporate incentive trip to reward your employees, or maybe you’re hosting a corporate retreat, and you think: Why not Hawaii? And indeed, why not! Our islands are no stranger to travelers from all over the world, but for U.S. mainlanders, the added bonus is that it’s a part of the U.S., so you get all the tropical escape feels while not having to worry about passports and foreign currency. While there are plenty of awesome activities to be found around all the islands, our focus here is on Waikiki, as this is where we see many corporate groups staying and playing. Waikiki is the most tourist-accessible strip on the South Shore, and most of the activities we’ll explore below are walkable within Waikiki. If walking isn’t the preferred mode of travel, and attendees don’t want to rent a car, there are plenty of other transportation options available, such as cabs, Uber, Lyft, or Biki Bikes. Read on for some pro-tips!

1. Excursions and Activities

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With our year-round temperate weather and beautiful landscape, Oahu has no shortage of opportunities for outdoor activities that can take your breath away: literally! Make sure you’re comfortable with physical activity and always do your research before booking. The suggestions below are all pretty customizable and allow participants to be as easy-going or intense as their comfort level allows!


Catamaran Sail

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Snorkeling and sunsets and snacks, oh boy! Nothing alarming here: a catamaran sail may be just what the doctor ordered. You can choose a simple sunset sail to relax after your long flight, or you can find excursions that offer snorkeling and swimming near honu (the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle) and other marine life. Many sails offer food and beverage packages for the full experience, and some companies book Friday night fireworks sails for the weekly pyrotechnics by the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Depending on the group size, some charters may even allow for a full buyout of the sail so that you can have the experience all to yourselves. If you experience motion sickness, be sure to take Dramamine or wear Sea Bands to combat choppy waters; essential oils such as peppermint can also help. And make sure to wear reef-safe sunscreen!

Surf Lessons

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Where else would you rather learn to surf than iconic Waikiki Beach? Waikiki stretches for a little over a mile, but there are actually several names for the different beach locations and surf spots along the coast, starting from Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon down to Colony Beach nearer to Diamond Head. Tiki’s Grill & Bar is in the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, nearer to Diamond Head and the Zoo, and overlooking Prince Kuhio and Queen Kapiolani Beaches. Most of the beach action and activities can be found in this area, with mild waves that are great for both beginners and for experienced surfers who want to just play around and take it easy.

Diamond Head Crater Hike

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There are few places in the world where you can hike up a volcanic cone and see spectacular city and ocean views, and Waikiki is one of them. Diamond Head Crater, known as Lēʻahi to native Hawaiians, got its English name from British sailors who saw glittery mineral deposits in the mountain and mistook that for diamonds; its Hawaiian name is said to be derived from “brow of the ‘ahi,” as the crater’s shape resembles the crest of an ‘ahi tuna. The Diamond Head State Monument is a well-maintained state park that offers restrooms and water fountains at the base, in addition to a visitor’s kiosk selling bottled water and information pamphlets, and even boasts food and shave ice trucks to reward yourself after the hike. The hike itself is not too strenuous, depending on your comfort level. It certainly can be done in slippers (that’s “flip flops” to mainlanders) although since it is dusty and rocky at many points, sneakers may be more appropriate. Parts of the hike are paved, and at one point, hikers are offered the choice of either a more leisurely incline up to the summit, or a steep set of stairs. There is even a short tunnel burrowing through the rocks to give a little sense of adventure. Since this is such a close and popular attraction for Waikiki visitors, be prepared for crowds, especially on the weekends. Make sure to have plenty of water handy, and wear a hat and sunscreen.

The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB*) has some great resources regarding -
Oahu Travel Tips: Land Safety and Conversation
Oahu Travel Tips: Ocean Safety

2. Family-Friendly

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You’ll find that many attendees will want to travel with their loved ones since a trip to Hawaii basically means “Instant Vacation.” There are plenty of family-friendly activities to suggest for families and kids of any age around the island, and even right here in Waikiki!

Honolulu Zoo

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Officially established in 1877 (with the modern iteration of the zoo originating in 1984), the Honolulu Zoo offers guest and member passes, and is great for children of all ages to learn about wildlife in an open-air environment. Among different exhibits and animals that you might also find in other zoos, Honolulu Zoo also features both indigenous and endemic species of native Hawaiian and Polynesian animals, some of which are endangered and not housed anywhere else. A word of caution that the zoo can get very hot in the afternoon, so make sure to stay hydrated and wear plenty of sunscreen and coverings, especially for the keiki!

Waikīkī Aquarium

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If you’re not into snorkeling but still want to see some beautiful marine life, the Waikiki Aquarium is just a stone’s throw outside of the main strip for your convenience! The aquarium opened in 1904 as the Honolulu Aquarium, and is actually the second-oldest public aquarium in the United States. Its current focus under the University of Hawaii is propagation of native species, and encouraging research and conservation of threatened and endangered species. Visitors of all ages can experience a variety of exhibits, including an open-air “Edge of the Reef” hands on area for keikis, an endangered Hawaiian monk seal habitat, and also a variety of native plants and flora. The aquarium’s modest size means that you can see all the exhibits in a timely manner and still leave enough time in your day for other activities, and the indoor tank area is comfortably air-conditioned for a soothing experience.

3. Dining and Entertainment

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Activities aside, there is another very important aspect of traveling: food! No matter if your group is made up of adventurous foodies or more traditional palates, there is something to please everyone here in Hawaii. Because of the island’s plantation history that saw the importation of workers from China, Portugal, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa, the Hawaiian islands are a true melting pot of cultures, and in the present day, this diversity is found predominantly in our food. Indeed, a local staple is the “mixed plate,” and features a literal mixed plate of food from Polynesian and Asian cultures. Your attendees are definitely going to expect some food tips and group dinners while in town!

Luau

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There is nothing more iconic than a Hawaiian luau: whether it’s the variety of cultural dances from across Polynesia or the abundance of traditional food and local island staples, the idea of a luau in popular culture has become synonymous with Hawaii. Of course, many of the luau representations you see on TV shows and in movies are less about cultural accuracy, and more about a fun beach-side or pool-side party with food, drink, and plastic flower leis, and perhaps some entertainment. Lūʻau is actually a traditional Hawaiian dish of luau leaves (the tops of the taro plant) with squid or chicken, cooked in coconut milk, and since the dish is a staple at parties, the word luau became the word for the party itself (the original Hawaiian words to describe a feast was pāʻina or ʻahaʻaina; the word luau became the de facto name for such a gathering in 1856). What better way to experience cultural dances and enjoy traditional foods than at a luau? There are fantastic luaus all across the island, and even some in and near Waikiki for your convenience.

Welcome Party or Farewell Dinner

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You’re going to want to gather all your attendees together for a group meal at least once while you’re here, outside of the luau experience. Whether you have a group of 25 or 250, there are some great options around town for a group dining event. Perhaps you want to welcome everyone to Hawaii on your first night here, or host a farewell dinner at the end of the trip! Whatever the reason, guests will want to know the dining options available to them, and may expect a hosted group dinner in addition to wanting hints for other recommended dining. Depending on your group size, your options may be limited, so make sure you get an estimated count and start enquiring early! Waikiki has plenty of dining options for large groups including restaurants, ballrooms, and hotels.

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These are just a few of the great things you can focus on while you’re in town. If you have a website or social media page for your corporate travel or incentive trip, you can list some ideas and links there and get your attendees excited and educated! They’ll likely want to start booking and researching things in advance, so it’s great to keep them informed in a timely manner. Stay tuned next month for more tips and suggestions for your next event. Aloha and Happy Planning!

Resources used, and other information to help you with your planning:
*Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB)
Go Hawaii - Hawaii Travel Information
Catamaran Charters on Yelp
Surf Lessons on Yelp
Diamond Head Crater
Honolulu Zoo
Waikiki Aquarium
Hawaii's Rainbow of Cultures
Diamond Head Luau
Hawaiian Electronic Library - Hawaiian Dictionary