Ghost Town in Waikiki

Hawaii’s tourist based economy is more or less dead… comatose at best, but mostly dead. Businesses that target the tourist trade are struggling with several permanently closed or in the process of closing. Tourism’s sharp decline has crippled Hawaii’s economy. Businesses in  the restaurant  industry, retail, home furnishings, catering and much more have been severely impacted.

Unemployment in the state of Hawaii has mushroomed to a high of 13.9% in the month of June. This occurred when the economy was partially re-opened after the first government mandated lockdown that spanned the months of March, April and May. It may be higher with this second go-round of lockdowns.

One morning last month I took a long walk through the Ghost Town of Waikiki and took a series of photos, some of which appear on this page. It is hopeful that the current stay at home orders are lifted, and that tourism can make a gradual comeback. Travel to Hawaii is slated to re-open in October. A new COVID-19 test will be required for incoming passengers at least 72 hours prior to arrival in Hawaii. Travelers will have to bear the financial burden of the test.

In the meantime, Hawaii’s tourist destinations struggle and look like ghost towns without too many people roaming around.

Waikiki Ghost Town
Hawaii’s tourist based economy is pretty much dead as long as stay at home, quarantine orders and travel restrictions remain in place due to COVID-19.
Waikiki Ghost Town - Kalakaua Ave.
The is just outside the Royal Shopping Center mall, usually a very busy place bustling with foot traffic and vehicles passing by. Nice day for a walk but hardly anything is open.
Waikiki Ghost Town - Kalakaua Ave
This stretch of Kalakaua Ave, right next to Waikiki Beach is usually bustling with vehicular and foot traffic. No tourists, no income, businesses closed. Very sad COVID-19.

More photos below.

Waikiki Ghost Town - Resort Shops Closed
The year round Waikiki Christmas Store is closed. Hopefully it can reopen during the holidays.
Waikiki Ghost Town - Closed
One of many shops in Waikiki that is closed.
Waikiki Ghost Town - The Duke
With no tourists local people can get a good, uncrowded shot of the famed Duke Kahanamoku statue created by artist Jan Fisher.
Waikiki Ghost Town - Kuhio Beach
There are hardly any tourists at the beaches these days. Been like that for months now.
Waikiki Ghost Town - Hyatt Regency Hotel
The escalators up to the check-in lobby are closed off. I think this hotel is currently closed for the duration.
Waikiki Ghost Town - Hyatt Regency
The empty mall at the Hyatt Regency hotel. This place is usually bustling with open shops, tourists and occasional, live entertainment.
Waikiki Ghost Town - No tourists
Usually this is a high trafficked pedestrian area right there on Kalakaua Ave.
Waikiki Ghost Town - Boarded Up
Duty Free Shoppers, all boarded up. Down for the COVID-19 count. Will Hawaii recover?
Waikiki Ghost Town - Masks Required
The dreaded government fashion statement, the face mask is required attire in order to ride the city Bus.
Waikiki Ghost Town - Waikiki Prince Hotel
A tour van was there to pick up a few departing visitors at the sparsely full Waikiki Prince Hotel.
Waikiki Ghost Town - Chart House Closed
The 50 year old Chart House Restaurant near the Ala Wai Harbor off Waikiki closed, possibly for good last month.


Melvin Ah Ching is a photographer, consultant, blogger, desktop publisher, and computer enthusiast living and working in Hawaii. The Hawaii Files have been online since 2006.