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Where to Stay (and the Best Hotels) in Oahu

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Here are the 4 main areas to stay when visiting Oahu. Click on one or scroll down to get a rundown of the area along with our favorite hotels there:


Two quick notes about lodging in Oahu before we jump into the different areas to stay…


Airbnbs: Yes, there are Airbnbs in Oahu, but it’s a little tricky. Within resort areas, like Waikiki, they operate like normal and you can find places for short term stays (like a day or a week or whatever you want). But outside of those resort areas, they require a minimum 90 day stay. So if you’re having trouble finding an Airbnb in some areas, that’s why.


Resort Fees: Most hotels and resorts charge a daily resort fee. It’s usually somewhere around $30 - $45 dollars. Some provide a ton of unique activities, perks, and amenities for the fee but you may want to confirm how much they charge and what you get for it so you’re not caught off guard.


 

Waikiki


Waikiki is a great home base. There are tons of hotels and resorts — everything from budget stays to ultra luxury. You’re walking distance to great food, beaches, shopping, and nightlife, but it’s easy to jet out to other parts of the island. Plus, the water stays calm year round so surfing and swimming are always an option. The downside…it’s very crowded.


Our favorite places to stay in Waikiki...


The text reads "Best Pool in Waikiki" with a photo of the 'Alohilani resort pool and cabanas.



The text reads "Best Boutique Hotel in Waikiki" with a photo of a hand holding a ukulele with a graphic palm leaf wallpaper in the background.


  • Every bit of The Laylow was designed with Instagram in mind

  • Central location

  • Fun perks (like complimentary poolside shave ice)


The text reads "Best Budget Hotel in Waikiki" with a photo of a room at Hotel Renew.


  • Hotel Renew has a calm and relaxing vibe

  • Just one block from the beach

  • Very few amenities (but that’s where you save your


The text reads "Splurge hotels in Waikiki" with a photo of the Espacio Jewel of Waikiki.


  • ESPACIO Jewel of Waikiki is the most exclusive boutique hotel in Waikiki

  • Only 9 luxury suites and each one takes up an entire floor


 

Diamond Head


This is where you stay if you want to be close to Waikiki’s restaurants, nightlife, and activities, but also want to avoid the noise and crowds. You’re a 20 min walk (or short Uber / Lyft) to the center of Waikiki. The vibe is peaceful and relaxing and there are big parks, walking trails, and uncrowded beaches. And bonus, it’s less expensive than Waikiki too.


Our favorite places to stay in Diamond Head...


A room at the Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head with a view of the ocean from the balcony



Kaimana Beach Hotel lobby with a wall full of colorful artwork


  • Kaimana Beach Hotel is right on San Souci beach (which is way less crowded than the rest of Waikiki)

  • Hau Tree restaurant for cocktails, brunch, and casual meals just steps from the sand.


A dolphin swimming in a lagoon at the Kahala Hotel & Resort in Honolulu


  • Kahala Hotel & Resort is even further from Waikiki's crowds

  • Has an incredible Sunday brunch

  • You can swim with dolphins onsite


 

Ko Olina


This oceanfront resort community is nice if you love hotel amenities and want to avoid the crowds of Waikiki. There are 4 man made lagoons with calm water year round — perfect for swimming, paddleboarding, and for kids to splash around and snorkel. It’s the type of area where you never have to leave your hotel if you don’t want to (because they’ve got so much to do), but you’re only about a 45 minute drive to Waikiki, Kailua, or the North Shore. The sunsets are incredible on the west side of the island.


Heads up that most of your dining options are in the resorts.


Our favorite places to stay in Ko Olina...


Mickie and Minnie Mouse dressed in Hawaiian print clothes at Aulani a Disney Resort and Spa.


  • Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa is a luxury resort that’s fun for kids and adults

  • Endless amenities and activities including a 7-acre waterpark, a kids club, and character breakfasts


A photo of the picturesque pool deck at the Four Seasons Resort Ko Olina.


  • Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina is one of the most luxurious resorts in Oahu

  • Serene, laid back vibe

  • Beachfront with incredible sunsets

  • Gourmet food, full-service spa, 4 pools, tennis, golf, and more


 

North Shore


The North Shore is very laid back — mostly made up of small beach towns. This is the place for outdoor adventure — surfing, swimming, snorkeling, ziplining, hiking, skydiving, and horseback riding. During the summer, things get crowded as everyone turns up to watch pro surf competitions.


Keep in mind that this area is not walkable. You’ll definitely need a car. There’s also no nightlife. It’s more of a go to bed early so you can get up early and get outside kinda place. It’s also a little tougher to find a place to stay here because there are only a couple hotels and one major resort.


Our favorite places to stay on Oahu’s North Shore...


An aerial shot of the pools and ocean at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore.


  • Turtle Bay Resort is a splurge but with tons of amenities.

  • Beachfront with spacious rooms and bungalows.

  • Five pools, 7 beaches, horse stables, pools, a spa, and golf courses.


The lagoon style pool at the Courtyard by Marriott North Shore Oahu


  • Courtyard by Marriott North Shore is more affordable than Turtle Bay Resort (but we wouldn’t call it cheap).

  • Comfy beds and a cool looking lagoon style pool.

  • It’s next to the Polynesian Center and you can walk to a couple restaurants and food trucks.

  • Heads up that it’s in Laie which is a dry town, so no poolside cocktails (or any booze) on site.


 


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