Where to Stay on Oahu - A Local's Guide
If you are wondering where to stay on Oahu, you’ve come to the right place! My family has lived there for over 70 years and I know all of the best hotels in the best areas.
My recommendations below are split up by location — Honolulu (including Waikiki), the North Shore, and Ko Olina. This is where I recommend you stay.
Airbnb more your style? Click here for the 11 Best Airbnb Oahu Rentals: Waikiki, Kailua, North Shore.
All photos below via the hotel.
Other Hawaii Information
If you will be visiting Oahu, we have everything you need to plan your trip!
FOR WHAT TO PACK… click here for our Hawaii packing list.
FOR WHERE TO EAT… click here for a local’s guide to the best places to eat.
FOR WHAT TO DO… click here for my top 10 recommendations. My number one recommendation is to swim with dolphins in the wild. Click here for a detailed post about how to do that!
FOR A GUIDE TO THE FAMOUS NORTH SHORE… click here.
FOR THE BEST PHOTO OPPS… click here!
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Where to Stay on Oahu:
Where to Stay In Honolulu (Including Waikiki):
If you want to stay in a lively area where you can easily walk to the beach, restaurants, bars, and more, Waikiki is where you should stay. I do want to mention though that if you stay in Waikiki, I highly recommend that you rent a car and make sure to get out of Waikiki on most days. It can be a bit of a tourist nightmare and the beaches elsewhere are much better. If you stay in Waikiki and never leave for the duration of your trip I can almost guarantee you will not love Oahu. I cannot stress this enough.
That being said, like I mentioned above I often choose to stay here because I really do think Waikiki Beach hotels and Honolulu hotels are some of the best options. After a day of exploring and driving around the last thing I want to do is get back in a car to drive to dinner. When you stay here you don’t have to worry about that. Nor do you have to worry about drinking and driving! It’s also convenient location-wise.
The Royal Hawaiian
When it comes to Waikiki hotels, The Royal Hawaiian is THE most iconic. It’s actually probably the most iconic of all Oahu hotels. It holds a special place in my heart in particular because it is where my aunt was married!
The Royal Hawaiian is a 5-star pink hotel located directly on Waikiki Beach. It dates back to 1927. In terms of luxury hotels Oahu, this is my highest recommendation. The location is perfect, the hotel is beautiful, and it has everything you could ever want! You don’t even need to leave here if you don’t want (but you should).
The Moana Surfrider
The Moana Surfrider, known as “The First Lady of Waikiki”, has been around since 1901 and is a 4-star hotel also located directly on Waikiki Beach. It is one of the best places to stay in Oahu and one of the best hotels on Waikiki Beach! It’s also where my uncle was married :)
The photos above say it all really. It’s historic, perfectly located, and a place I highly recommend staying at if you’re interested specifically in Waikiki beachfront hotels.
If you are more interested in a boutique hotel Waikiki, The Surfjack may be for you! It’s 4-stars too but not located directly on Waikiki Beach so it will be quite a bit cheaper. Its location is still within walking distance of everything in Waikiki, though, so don’t worry about that!
Their restaurant is said to be great, their coffee shop is one of my favorite in Waikiki, and their “Wish You Were Here” pool makes it one of the most fun places to stay in Oahu.
Also on the boutique hotels Oahu list, The Laylow! Walking into The Laylow is like walking into Pinterest. It’s modern, beautiful, and the most Instagrammable hotel on Oahu.
If you’re looking for Honolulu hotel deals, this 3-star gem is a good one. I was actually quite surprised to see it ranked as just 3-stars because I have been and it’s amazing. The bar and restaurant are good, it has great views, is very centrally located, and is just all around lovely. Very highly recommend.
The Kahala Hotel and Resort
The Kahala Hotel and Resort is the best places to stay in Honolulu if you don’t want to stay in Waikiki, especially if you are looking for beachfront hotels in Honolulu! It is a luxury 5-star resort in Kahala where my family lives. I’ve spent my entire life visiting this place — walking across the golf course at night to it, Mother’s Day brunches at the Plumeria Beach House, and many visits to see the dolphins.
Speaking of dolphins, they have 6! They live in The Kahala’s natural ocean water lagoon that many of the rooms look out at. You can swim with them, too!
The real perk here is that you are away from all of the crazy tourists that come with Waikiki. It’s located on the beach, one much more chill than Waikiki Beach, plus there’s a pool (duh) and five restaurants (they’re great).
Where to Stay on the North Shore:
Oahu’s North Shore is my favorite place to escape the hustle and bustle of Honolulu. It’s famous for it’s huge waves and being home to the charming surf town, Haleiwa. It is a historic town that my local mother often refers to as “old Hawaii”. Being here is like stepping back in time.
Turtle Bay Resort
Of all North Shore Oahu hotels, Turtle Bay Resort is the best of the best. The drive into the property alone will convince you that this place is where it’s at.
Turtle Bay Resort is a 4-star resort in Kahuku about 30 minutes from my favorite North Shore destination, Haleiwa. If you want to stay on the North Shore not in an Airbnb, this is where to do it.
Where to stay in Ko Olina:
Ko Olina is a vacation and residential community on the west coast of Oahu. I would not personally stay here because it is quite far from everywhere I go, but I know many people are interested in it so I am including my recommendations.
Four Seasons Resort Oahu
If you have ever stayed at a Four Seasons then you know why this is on my list. I’ve had the luxury of staying at many of their Hawaii properties and they are some of the best in the entire state!
Four Seasons Resort Oahu in Ko Olina is no different. If you want a spectacular stay away from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, this is for you. This Oahu luxury resort is beach front, just opened a few years ago so it’s sparkly and new, and is one of the top hotels in Oahu.
Aulani Disney Resort and Spa
Have kids or love Disney yourself? Aulani Disney Resort and Spa is for you. It’s a 4-star resort hotel also in Ko Olina and the best place to stay for a family vacation.
Don’t miss the Disney character breakfast! I have zero children and I’ve already been twice :)