We stayed in an ocean front 2BR 2BA unit on the 19th floor of the Lagoon Tower from Dec 22-Dec 29. Ocean front truly means ocean front, the two southern end units on each floor have balconies that front the ocean with no obstructions. The view was incredible. Condo was clean, nicely decorated and kitchen well stocked. Having a kitchen in Waikiki really helps - just being able to eat breakfast in your room can save big $$. Some other reviews mentioned music/noise from bars below - we heard them every night, even on the 19th floor. The music went late - bring ear plugs. They do the trick. Free laundry on each floor was great. I never waited for a machine.
We had a car. A car in Waikiki is both a blessing and a curse. Parking at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is expensive - $25-$30 per night. We got a tip that you can park for free until 10:30pm in the lot directly across from the Lagoon tower, where all the locals park to surf. There is an overnight lot next to the free lot where you can park for 10 hours for $6. If you are willing to do a little work, you can save a lot on parking. Finding a spot in the free lot can be tricky during the day. Most visitors from the mainland are up early anyway so securing spot early in the AM is not so bad.
I would recommend trying to get out of the complex at least a few times for a meal. Alan Wong's Pineapple Room is at Macy's at the Ala Moana shopping mall (walking distance)- even after reading questionable reviews, we thought the burger (at $15) and the Kailua Pig BLT were both incredible. Every burger in Waikiki is expensive - might as well get a good one. The Wailana Coffee house across from the Hilton had good breakfast food. Every breakfast place seems to do a good Coconut Macademia Nut pancake so use this trip as an excuse to eat something you would not normally. Restaurant Epic requires a car, but was probably turned out the best meal we had - roasted duck salad, cioppino, shrimp risotto, and short ribs with mac 'n cheese. Dessert was a french toast with nutella, macademia nuts and caramel. Also a car ride away was Cinnamon's - red velvet and guava chiffon pancakes. Ala Moana Mall had the biggest food court I have ever seen - lots of options, but definitely food court quality food. Fresh malasadas from Leonard's are worth the trip. We went to Costco and loaded up on basics - they had a fresh tuna poke bar which was really good. I still don't understand the appeal of the Loco Moco (hamburger over rice, topped with an egg and gravy). We ordered pizza from Roundtable in the Hilton complex the night of the fireworks - it was expensive and just OK. Still nice to have dinner on the balcony and watch the fireworks.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village faces three well known surf breaks - Kaisers, Rock Pile, and Ala Moana Bowls. We watched the surfers go out every morning - some before dawn. Our son who regularly surfs in FL enjoyed Rock Pile. I think the other spots were more advanced. By Florida standards, the paddle out is long to all three breaks. Before I let him go out on his own, I made him take some lessons. We used Hans Hedemann in Waikiki and had a very good experience. They have a shuttle that can pick you up at the Hilton (pick up point can be a madhouse, many tours leave from the same spot in the Tapa Tower). Watch out for the reef - we don't have those where we live and it takes a while to get used to it. After lessons (Seth and Moses were both excellent instructors), we rented longboards from Hawaii Surfboard Rentals. They deliver and pick up - 2 day minimum, about $25 a day - much less expensive than the rental stands at the beach and you don't have to abide by the stand's hours. The Hilton has a special storage area for boards rented through third parties. My son was able to surf before 8:30am and after 4:30pm. We also tried stand up paddle boarding a couple of afternoons and really enjoyed that. The sea turtles swim right up to you if you paddle past the Hilton dock.
Many reviewers have commented on how crowded the Hilton complex is. The days before Christmas were not so bad. In the days following Christmas, the crowds got considerably bigger and lines got much longer. The line to rent chairs/equipment and check out towels started well before 8:30am when the stand opened. With so many visitors coming from the mainland, the Hilton should really consider opening the stand earlier, especially during peak periods. There are over 3,000 rooms and maybe 3 stands throughout the property for rentals/towels. Fitness center was full every morning by 6am. Since we are from Florida, we don't do pools, hot tubs, or lie in the sun on vacation. However, every time we walked past the pool with the water slides, it was packed.
Despite the crowds, I must note that we never waited very long for an elevator, even on check out day. Everyone was extremely friendly and we had an incredible trip. Would return to this property in a heartbeat.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.