Many visitors who seek quietude at Waikiki Beach walk toward Diamond Head and Kapiolani Park. No complaints there. But try going the other direction, toward Ala Wai Harbor. After dodging the flesh on beach towels in front of the resorts, you will come to the end of the sand—just beyond the Rainbow Tower of the beautiful Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort—and then the very swimmable Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon.
The large saltwater oval offers the best swimming on this end of Waikiki. It's named for Olympic swim champion and all-time surfing great, Duke Kahanamoku, whose family once owned the property on which the Hilton Village now stands. On the side of the hotel opposite the lagoon, you will also find a sweet shaded park that is named for the Duke. The feats of the Duke are legendary and he was on a first-name basis with every celebrity who visited Waikiki for decades. He once paddled his great hardwood longboard, called Papa Nui, to greet epic surf that was thundering offshore. The guy had to do it. Onlookers with binoculars watched as Duke faced the killer waves—until he saw the greatest wave of all and rode it for a mile or more, right onto the sands ow Waikiki Beach.
To find other walks around Waikiki and Honolulu - all the glitz plus the cultural sites, get a copy of the Oahu Trailblazer guidebook that has maps and more photos.