Since my last trip to Hawaii there has been a big transformation in Waikiki. The International Market place which is located on Kalakaua Avenue in the heart of Waikiki is now new, upscale and very modern.
I have very mixed feelings about the International Market place now. If you are a first time visitor to Waikiki you may think that the new market place is wonderful with its beautiful open space. And it is. However it has lost its old traditional charm. Thank goodness they have kept the original banyan tree which still dominates and is the main feature. But the old Hawaiian feel and street vendors are gone. I missed the Auntie’s stringing leis and the Hawaiians carving Hawaiian tiki statues. I missed the true international flair it had back in the day.
When I lived in Hawaii, the international market place was often our meeting place, particularly in the evenings and quite often it was where we spent the entire evening. There was always something happening and it was fun and remained like this for years.
However, It is now a beautiful open air environment with high end shops and many restaurants on several levels.
The ground floor has benches and chairs scattered about, so it’s easy to relax and enjoy just being there. Water features are everywhere, which make it feel fresh and calming. There is also a variety of trees, palms, potted plants and other vegetation. At the front near the Kalakaua entrance, you will find a new Don Ho statue where you can take photos with the local legend.
I have fond memories of the old international market place and while I miss the old one, there are certain aspects of the new market place that are simply delightful. It is still a great place to sit and take a break from walking or Waikiki traffic. You will find comfortable seats, lounges and benches on all levels of the market place. Stop and visit Don’s Tree house in the historic banyan tree which was planted in the mid 1800’s.
It seems that no matter how hot the day is, it is always cool and refreshing in the market place under the magnificent banyan tree.