The area was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty in the 1800s who enjoyed surfing there on early forms of longboards.
A few small hotels opened in the 1880s. In 1893, Greek-American George Lycurgus leased the guest house of Allen Herbert and renamed it the "Sans Souci" (French for "without worries") creating one of the first beach resorts. Later that year Robert Louis Stevenson stayed at the resort; subsequently it became a popular destination for tourists from the mainland. The area at coordinates
21°15′49″N 157°49′17″W21.26361°N 157.82139°W is still called "Sans Souci Beach".
Today, the area is filled with large resort hotels, such as the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Halekulani, the Hyatt Regency Waikīkī, Marriott Waikiki, Sheraton Waikīkī, and historic hotels dating back to the early 20th century (such as the Moana Surfrider Hotel and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel). The beach hosts many events a year, including surf competitions, outdoor performances, hula dancing and outrigger canoe races.