Fodor's Expert Review Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
2169 Kalia Rd., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA See on Map
What had been a plain but pleasant oceanfront bargain now offers polished elegance in keeping with its prime location, the beachfront property having been drastically improved through renovations of its guest rooms and the addition of a Hawaii-themed entry. The signature poolside restaurant Kani Ka Pila Grille offers nightly live music by legendary Hawaiian entertainers—though the Shore Bird Restaurant & Beach Bar and Ocean House Restaurant are also options. It's worthwhile to go for an ocean view or oceanfront accommodation in the Ocean Tower; other rooms have less enchanting views, but bathrooms have a fresh, contemporary design. It's a completely smoke-free hotel. In 2017 the resort plans to create a 34,000-square-foot open recreation space including enhanced swimming pools, landscaped lounging areas and open-air dining options, with construction continuing through 2019.
There are a variety of standard rooms to choose from, with views that include standard, city, ocean, and Diamond Head/ocean views, in a variety of configurations. All rooms include air conditioning, blackout drapes, free WiFi, and a mini-fridge. There are additional Voyager 47 Club ocean view suites, premium rooms that have no resort fees and include access to the club lounge.
Bathrooms have marble vanities in a separate washroom, as well as an exclusive line of toiletries created for Outrigger. Bathing options include full or half bath/shower combos.
The lobby is grand and spacious, with seating and tables through the whole area, dramatic rugs, and bold murals. Hawaiian cultural artifacts are scattered about, including paintings of classic Polynesian sailing vessels.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Parking costs are some of the highest in Waikiki, and valet only. Consider skipping a rental car if you’re staying in Waikiki or looking for cheaper, public parking options nearby.
The large, kidney-shaped pool is surrounded by a lovely stonework sundeck with plenty of comfy, padded loungers, attached kiddie pool, and nearby hot tub.
LaaKea Spa combines native island and traditional spa therapies to create a relaxing experience. Unique treatments include traditional Hawaiian lomilomi massage and lomipohaku massage (a combination of lomilomi and hot lava rock).
If you’re visiting the spa, don’t worry about tipping -- a 20% service fee is automatically added to your treatments.
The brightly painted and brightly lit fitness center is open 24/7, with a variety of cardio and weight machines.
Want to grill on the beach, but don’t want to do all the work or buy all of the stuff? The Reef Bar & Market Grill offers a truly unique dining experience where guests can choose their own proteins or kabobs and sides (the protein menu also includes fish and a veggie stack) and then grill them on their own, all while enjoying beautiful ocean views. In addition to this unique dining experience, the hotel offers room service (breakfast and dinner), a Starbucks, and a wonderful poolside happy hour and dinner service at Kani Ka Pila Grille where guests can enjoy nightly Hawaiian music from 6 to 9 p.m.
If you’re traveling with kids, take advantage of the free breakfast at the Reef Bar & Market Grill for children 5 and younger (with purchase of an adult menu meal).
The Hana Hou Bar offers plenty of snacking options including sliders, seafood, tacos, and bar favorites. The drinks menu includes beer, a nice selection of wines by the glass and bottle, and a variety of handcrafted cocktails and tropical classics. Happy hour at Kani Ka Pila Grille is from 2 to 5 p.m., the perfect time to enjoy some poolside cocktails.
Waikiki and surrounding areas are easily reachable from the airport by cab or rideshare. There is plenty to do in these areas without ever leaving (walking, biking, taking the bus, or hailing a car), so a rental car is only necessary if you want to explore other parts of the island.
You may find the staple Hawaiian food poi cooked many different ways during your travels, but you’ll rarely find it in as intriguing and utterly satisfying a form as in the donuts at Liliha Bakery (18-min drive). Sadly, once you try them, you’ll regret every morning that you don’t wake up to these chewy, sweet purple treats. If you’re in the mood for something besides donuts for some reason, find some incredible offerings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at their coffee shops. Pro tip: Grab a dozen poi donuts to take home – one of the locations is between Waikiki and the airport.
Venture outside of your ramen comfort zone at Agu Ramen (5-min walk) by adding their signature “hot mess” (a heavy dose of parmesan) to your bowl. No really, it works! Their offerings include classic ramen bowls, options for vegans and vegetarians, and a ridiculously unctuous curry that will have you thinking about it for days. They also have a great happy hour at their multiple locations that includes 50% off appetizers and draft beers.
While Tiki’s Grill and Bar (6-min drive) has a pretty delicious Pacific Rim menu, you don’t need to go much further than the bar to have a good time. The drink menu is full of fun, tropical cocktails, including the memorable Son of an Itch. This tasty treat comes in your choice of glasses to take home, is served with a bamboo backscratcher, and the best part--it has dry ice in it, so it’s as playful as it is yummy. Live music helps make this popular place even more fun.
If you’re in the mood for a bit of Irish aloha, Irish Rose Saloon (4-min drive) has nightly live music and that great pub feel that you’re looking for. It’s a true favorite among locals and visitors.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Outrigger offers a fairly complete experience, from dining and swimming to the daily cultural activities that are a nice way for guests to get to know Hawaii. The free pink trolley that is available to guests to get around Waikiki and to Ala Moana Center is also a huge draw, and the free drawstring beach bag on arrival is a nice touch. There is also a huge variety of shops, including boutiques and jewelry stores, located inside the hotel, making shopping easy and convenient.