Where it’s The Fourth of July Every Week

by Gray Cargill on July 2, 2014

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Since we’re all gearing up for the Fourth of July (Independence Day) here in the U.S.–a holiday celebrated in big cities and small towns alike with a night of fireworks following a day of parades and cookouts–I thought now might be a good week to share my experience of watching the Friday night fireworks in Waikiki. This is a Waikiki tradition, and not a bad way to follow a nice dinner or to end the typical work week.

The fireworks are hosted every Friday night, year-round, by the Hilton Hawaiian Village. You can find the schedule on their website. (I had a typo in my notes so I thought they were supposed to start at 7pm, but they didn’t start until 7:45pm, which meant I waited an hour for them.)

If you want to view the fireworks close-up, the beach at Hilton Hawaiian Village would be the place to be. But because I’m not a fan of crowds, I took Sheila Beal’s (GoVisitHawaii.com) advice and picked a spot on the pier in front of the Outrigger Reef on the Beach. It wound up being a great spot for me.

Waikiki at Night

Waikiki Beach at Night from the pier at the Outrigger

Even though I’m nightblind, I didn’t walk off the edge of the pier, so I’m grateful for that. This is a long pier that offers not only a prime view of the fireworks, but also a stunning view of the hotels all aglow along Waikiki beach. Looking up and down the beach from the pier and listening to the rhythmic beating of the waves making their way to shore was very peaceful.

There was a small group of four or five people at the very end of the pier. At first I thought they were gathered around a tripod to take photos of the fireworks, but eventually, I realized they were fishing.

The longer I sat there, the more people wandered out to the pier. But it was never crowded. Meanwhile, I watched thick hordes of people walking down the beach toward the Hilton for the entire time I sat there. Clearly, the pier was a better choice for me. In fact, it would have been ideal, but for a few minor things:

Waikiki Beach at Night

Another shot of the hotels along the beach from the pier

  • The pier is made of rough concrete that is not comfortable to walk on with your bare feet or sit on for any length of time. (My feet were bare because I’d taken off my sandals to walk across the sand to get there.)
  • I was enjoying the pleasant smell of the salty ocean air until somebody near me started smoking, and the smoke was blown right into my face. Cough, cough.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Fireworks

One of my better fireworks photos

  • There’s a rocky outcrop between the pier and the fireworks show; a few minutes before the show started, some people came along and perched themselves on the rocks directly in front of (and higher than) those of us watching from the pier. I thought that was incredibly rude. I had to change my position so I could see the fireworks again.

Nonetheless, I was in paradise, having a wonderful, relaxing trip, getting to enjoy free fireworks on the beach, with the luxury of sitting there for an hour because I had nowhere else I needed to be and nothing else I needed to do. In my life, that is rare. How can I complain about that?

For a fireworks display that takes place every week (not just once a year), it’s very good. It lasts about ten minutes. The light from the fireworks reflects on the water, which is really pretty. My photos don’t do it justice at all (I take lousy night photos), but my video turned out well, I think:


After the show, I made my way through the Outrigger, up festive Lewers Street, through the Royal Hawaiian Center, and back down the street circus of Kalakaua to my hotel, where I decided to end my evening with a macadamia nut ice cream from the scoop shop (Kokoa Bar) in the lobby. The girl behind the counter told me that all their ice creams are made with all natural Hawaiian ingredients. A Maui rancher owns the cows that make the milk that’s used in the ice cream, and other local ingredients, from coffee beans to chocolate to macadamia nuts to mangos and other fruits, are also grown in the islands. It was delicious!

Mac Nut Ice Cream

Macadamia Nut Ice Cream

Fireworks and ice cream from the local scoop shop. Kinda sounds like a typical Fourth of July, doesn’t it? Only in Waikiki, this happens every week.

Katie July 25, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Life is good in Maui … maybe I need to head there soon and slot back some of my other destinations to finally experience Hawaii … sounds like heaven!

Gray Cargill July 26, 2014 at 1:28 pm

This is actually on Oahu, Katie, but I’ve heard Maui is very nice too.

Arianwen July 10, 2014 at 6:23 am

That looks awesome. I loved that Darling Harbour in Sydney had fireworks every weekend. My comment was just like yours, only English – ‘Why are there fireworks when it isn’t bonfire night?!’

Gray Cargill July 12, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Gotta love cities that celebrate life every week, right, Arianwen?

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