Take a stroll in the vast green expanse of Kapiolani Park to escape the busy Honolulu streets. Locals come here for their rest and recreation, and you can see groups of elderly Asians practicing their tai chi on the lawn, youthful soccer and rugby players on the sports fields, and musicians in one of the bandstands. Pack a picnic or just sit back for some people-watching at the pond with its remarkable bronze dragonfly statue.
The 300 acres (121 hectares) of Kapiolani Park was gifted to the people of Hawaii by King Kalakaua in 1877. Since then, it has pleased the crowds, providing a peaceful, open space with coconut grove at the foot of Diamond Head. The park is ideal for sports, and events and concerts are frequent in the Waikiki Shell, a large stage with seating. At night, the park becomes a haven for the homeless.
Fitness enthusiasts will appreciate the free outdoor equipment and the three running tracks. The longest jog is a 2.2-mile (3.5-kilometer) loop around the park’s perimeter. Bring your racket to enjoy the free tennis courts.
Nature lovers can keep an eye out for birds such as the red-crested cardinals, or marvel at the gnarled formations of the ancient banyan and ironwood trees. If you want to see some even more exotic creatures and plants, visit the Honolulu Zoo and gardens on the western side of the park. The park also houses an aquarium.
Visit the park on a weekend and you’ll no doubt encounter a concert, a crafts fair or a public performance of some description. The bigger events, such as the Kokua Music Festival in April, are held at the impressive Waikiki Shell, a dome-shaped venue that can seat up to 2,000 people, with room for a further 6,000 on the grass behind.
Kapiolani Park is situated east of Waikiki Beach, at the foot of Diamond Head. It’s open every day of the year. There is free parking near the entrance to the Waikiki Shell stadium, or metered parking along Kalakaua Avenue.