Are you trying to figure out where to stay on Oahu, Hawaii? This guide from a an Oahu local has everything that you need to know.
Even though this amazing Hawaiian Island is rather small, it can be quite daunting to try to determine where to stay on Oahu. There are simply so many options!
Do you want popular Waikiki? Kid-friendly Ko Olina? Or perhaps the lazy North Shore? Considering staying at a vacation rental? Or just want to opt for the usual Oahu hotel? This guide to where to stay on Oahu will explore all of these areas and more, so you can decide on exactly where to stay on Oahu.
Who Stays in Waikiki: Everyone (families, couples, elderly visitors, backpackers, business executives)
Pros: Lots of options for accommodations, food, and shopping; nightlife
Cons: Lots of tourists; lacks the island feel a bit
Popular Nearby Activities: Hanauma Bay, Waikiki Beach, Makapuu Lighthouse, Diamond Head Crater, Manoa Falls, Ala Moana Shopping Center, Ala Moana Beach Park, Pearl Harbor
If you’re looking for the easiest and most accessible form of accommodation on Oahu, that is definitely a hotel in Waikiki. Waikiki Beach is the most popular place to stay on Oahu, and, because of that, there are dozens of options to choose from. As a matter of fact, here’s a list of all of the Waikiki Hotels on the beach, so you can see that you have your share of hotels to choose from.
To narrow down your search, here are a few of my top recommendations, which are all walking distance from Waikiki Beach:
Hilton Hawaiian Village
The Hilton Hawaiian Village is situated directly on Kahanamoku Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Waikiki. You don’t even have to cross a street to get your feet from the tiled hotel floor to the sand!
The Hilton Hawaiian Village is also easily the largest of all of the hotels on this list. With five towers and over 3,000 rooms, there are many options to choose from within this one accommodation option alone.
Plus, with five swimming pools, a private lagoon for kayaking, a spa, a fitness center, a business center, and even a medical clinic for emergencies, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has everything. Add onto that 20 restaurants on the property, you can spend your whole vacation without ever leaving the property.
Room rates for the Hilton Hawaiian Village start at $283 per night, depending on season and availability.
*Fun Fact: the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on an iconic firework show every Friday night.
Book Here: Hilton Hawaiian Village
The Modern Honolulu
Located on the shores of Ala Wai Boat Harbor, The Modern Honolulu has been talked up by various famous travel sources, including Forbes Travel Guide and Thrillist. Wedding venues, multiple swimming pools, a spa, a fitness center, yoga classes, and an ever-present commitment to sustainability all contribute to The Modern Honolulu’s reputation.
Top that off with a trendy restaurant, two bars, and even an A-list Waikiki dance club called Addiction Nightclub! It’s no wonder that The Modern Honolulu has been recognized by publications across the country.
Room rates for The Modern Honolulu start at $279 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: The Modern Honolulu
The Halekulani is partly on Fort DeRussy Beach and partly on a separate little strip of unnamed beach in Waikiki. This five-star resort has a swimming pool, fitness room, and lounge, in addition to five restaurants and bars. La Mer, the most elegant restaurant at the Halekulani, has been recognized as the finest restaurant in Honolulu. Serving French food with a local Hawaiian twist, La Mer is Hawaii’s longest, consecutively ranked AAA Five-Diamond Restaurant.
Room rates for the Halekulani start at $549 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Halekulani
The Royal Hawaiian: Waikiki Luxury Hotel
The bright pink hotel that draws every tourist’s eye in Waikiki is known as The Royal Hawaiian. This five-star hotel is one of the oldest on the island, as it was built in 1927 – which means it also claimed some prime real estate right on Waikiki Beach.
In addition to its swimming pool, beach playground, and spa, The Royal Hawaiian is quite the popular wedding and wedding reception venue. It also has several eatery options, including The Royal Hawaiian Bakery, Surf Lanai, and the elegant Azure Restaurant & Bar.
Room rates for The Royal Hawaiian: Waikiki Luxury Hotel start at $427 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: The Royal Hawaiian
Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa
Like The Royal Hawaiian, the Moana Surfrider has also found its place along the coveted Waikiki Beach shoreline. As a matter of fact, the Moana Surfrider (originally the Moana Hotel) was the first hotel in Waikiki when it opened on March 11, 1901!
Just like many of the other hotels along Waikiki Beach, the Moana Surfrider also has a spa, swimming pool, and fitness center. It also has quite a few locally-known restaurants, including Beachhouse at the Moana, Veranda at the Beachhouse, and Surfrider Café.
Room rates for the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa start at $311 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Moana Surfrider
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa
The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa has also secured itself some prime real estate on Waikiki beach. With its swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and myriad of shops, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki truly has something for everyone. There are three restaurants at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, but the most popular is a locally-sourced breakfast buffet called SHOR.
Room rates for the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa start at $232 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa
Vacation Rentals, B&Bs, and AirBnbs
As of June 2019, Oahu has put restrictions on short-term vacation rentals on the island. Fortunately, Waikiki is not one of these restricted areas. If you do plan on staying a little bit outside of Waikiki, over 50% of the 1,715 allowed vacation rentals will be located in the nearby Waikiki area, so there are many options.
Who Stays in Ko Olina: Families, couples
Pros: Not overly busy; has a resort feel; access to great outdoor activities
Cons: 1-hour drive to the North Shore and Waikiki
Nearby Activities: Ko Olina Lagoons, Maili Pillbox Hike, Oahu luaus, Makaha Beach
The hotel that you choose to stay in at Ko Olina can completely change your experience. While some are kid-oriented, others are more suitable for couples. While some are traditional hotels, others are timeshares. So before picking your hotel, make sure to read up on your options!
Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
Disney’s Aulani is a miniature Disney park right on the Ko Olina Lagoons. Of course, Disney has packed their resort with tons of fun kid-friendly activities, including the keiki cove splash zone, a high-tech scavenger hunt, painting with light, and snorkeling in the rainbow reef. But they have activities for adults as well, including spa treatments, hydrotherapy gardens, and the Pulu Bar mixology station.
Room rates at the Aulani start at $484 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina
The Four Seasons Resort Oahu is the most couple-friendly resort in Ko Olina. With multiple resort boutiques, a couple of swimming pools, a high-tech health club, and rooftop tennis courts, this resort provides tons of ways for guests to unwind on their Hawaii vacation.
The Four Seasons also has a couple of notable restaurants, including the seafood-focused Mina’s Fish House and the Italian-centric Noe. As a matter of fact, these are some of the best restaurants in Ko Olina.
Room rates at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina start at $589 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina
Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club
Located on Ko Olina Lagoon 3, Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club offers a combination of both hotel and timeshare options. The amenities include a spa, fitness center, and swimming pool (with a waterslide!). The Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club also has a timeshare option, which can include rooms with multiple bedrooms and a kitchen.
Room rates at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club start at $320 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club
Vacation Rentals, B&Bs, and AirBnbs
Because Ko Olina is known as a resort area, it also does not have any restrictions concerning vacation rentals. Honestly, there are so many different forms of accommodation in the Ko Olina area, I would recommend looking into alternative options for your stay. For a more complete guide, check out our ultimate guide to the Ko Olina Lagoons.
North Shore – Waialua to Banzai Pipeline (includes Haleiwa)
Who Stays on the North Shore Between Waialua and Banzai Pipeline: Budgeting travelers, backpackers
Pros: Prime surf; laidback atmosphere
Cons: Waves are too large for swimming in the summer; 1-hour drive to Waikiki and the Honolulu Airport; quite a lot of tourists
Nearby Activities: Haleiwa, Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach, Laniakea Beach
While there are no traditional hotels in this popular portion of the North Shore, there is one cheap hotel option. So if you’re hardcore budgeting on this Oahu vacation, this next hotel isn’t a bad option.
Backpackers Vacation Inn and Plantation Village
The Backpackers Vacation Inn and Plantation Village is a budget hostel on the North Shore, Oahu. While not packed with amenities (as to be expected), it has a fantastic location.
Room rates start at $60 per person per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Backpackers Vacation Inn and Plantation Village
Vacation Rentals, B&Bs, and AirBnbs
Unfortunately, due to the new vacation rental allotment law, there are absolutely no legal vacation rentals, B&Bs, or AirBnbs located between Waialua and Banzai Pipeline. That means that if you want to stay within this popular part of the island, Backpackers Vacation Inn and Plantation Village is pretty much your only option at the moment.
North Shore – Laie
Who Stays in Laie: Budgeting travelers, backpackers, couples, locals
Pros: Prime surf; laidback atmosphere; seclusion
Cons: Waves are too large for swimming in the summer; 1-hour drive to Waikiki and the Honolulu Airport
Nearby Activities: Laie Point, Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline, Polynesian Cultural Center
If you’re looking for a more traditional version of a hotel on the North Shore, head over to the city of Laie.
Turtle Bay Resort
This resort is the local-pick for where to stay on the North Shore. Whenever locals want to feel like they’re on vacation, they go to the North Shore and stay at Turtle Bay Resort. With tons of amenities and activities, including a fitness center, a spa, and a golf course, there is a ton to do!
Room rates for Turtle Bay Resort start at $288 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Turtle Bay Resort
Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore
Like Turtle Bay Resort, the Courtyard by Marriott is also located in Laie. If you’re looking for the most familiar hotel option on the North Shore, this is your best bet. The amenities include both a fitness center and a swimming pool.
Room rates for Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore start at $218 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore
Vacation Rentals, B&Bs, and AirBnbs
If you’re hoping to stay in a vacation rental in Laie (or in the nearby cities of Kahuku, Hauula, or Punaluu), you better book your accommodation FAR in advance. Because of the aforementioned vacation rental restrictions, this section of Oahu has only been allotted 23 vacation rentals!
Who Stays in Kapolei: Budgeting travelers, business executives
Pros: Ability to explore a part of Oahu that most visitors don’t know about
Cons: Bustling local city; 1-hour drive to Waikiki and the North Shore
Nearby Activities: Ko Olina, Maili Pillbox Hike, Oahu luaus
Although Kapolei has been growing exponentially over the past few years the tourism industry has been slow to realize it. So while there are a couple of places to stay in Kapolei, there are not many.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Oahu Kapolei
The Embassy Suites is the most recent addition to the places to stay in Kapolei. It has quite a few amenities, including a business center, a fitness center, and a swimming pool.
Rooms rates for the Embassy Suites by Hilton Oahu Kapolei start at $246 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Embassy Suites by Hilton Oahu Kapolei
Hampton Inn and Suites Oahu Kapolei
The Hampton Inn and Suites is connected to the largest shopping area in Kapolei, Ka Makana Alii. Its amenities also include a business center, a fitness center, and a swimming pool. Overall, prices are comparable to the Embassy Suites, but it is possible to find individual nights for oddly cheap prices.
Rooms rates for the Hampton Inn and Suites Oahu Kapolei start at $132 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Hampton Inn and Suites Oahu Kapolei
Vacation Rentals, B&Bs, and AirBnbs
Most visitors who choose to stay in Kapolei do not opt for vacation rentals, B&Bs, or Airbnbs. That may be a good thing, because the city of Kapolei as well as its neighboring city of Ewa were given a total of only 171 vacation rentals.
Kaneohe and Kailua
Who Stays in Kaneohe and Kailua: Couples, families
Pros: Amazing beaches; laidback atmosphere
Cons: 1-hour drive from Waikiki; a bit touristy
Nearby Activities: Kailua Beach, Lanikai Beach, Lanikai Pillbox Hike, Chinaman’s Hat, Kualoa Ranch, Byodo-In Temple
It could be argued that this Kaneohe and Kailua area is the best place to stay on Oahu for couples, especially if they are on their honeymoon. It’s secluded and peaceful, but the beach is also within walking distance, the nearby hikes are stunning, and the food is healthy and delicious!
Paradise Bay Resort
Located in Kaneohe, Paradise Bay Resort is the only hotel on the eastern side of Oahu. This little hideaway includes complementary deluxe continental breakfast, a kitchen or kitchenette (depending on the room), kayak and snorkeling equipment rentals, and more!
Room rates for Paradise Bay Resort start at $308 per night, depending on season and availability.
Book Here: Paradise Bay Resort
Vacation Rentals, B&Bs, AirBnbs
Considering the popularity of the Kaneohe and Kailua area, it is rather surprising how few vacation rentals will be allowed in this portion of the island. Out of the nearly 2,000 vacation rentals on Oahu, only 183 will be in the Kaneohe and Kailua area. In other words, if staying in this part of the island is a must-do, be sure to book your vacation rental months in advance!
Looking for more information for your perfect Oahu trip? Here are 100 things to do on the island!
Where did you stay on your trip to Oahu? What did you think of the area that you chose? Tell me about it in the comments!
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