Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

Are you ready to dive into the ultimate O’ahu adventure? Are you wondering, “In Oahu, where to stay?” Let me be your guide to the best places to stay on this stunning island paradise.

From luxurious resorts to cozy beachside cottages, O’ahu has it all. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adrenaline-pumping activities, there’s a perfect accommodation waiting for you.

So, what’s the wait? Let’s embark on this unforgettable journey together and discover the hidden gems of O’ahu!

Waikiki Beach

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

Best Suited For: Those who want to experience city life, first-time visitors, and families.

Whenever people think of visiting Honolulu, the first place that comes to mind is Waikiki. Waikiki is a busy and happening part of the city, right next to Waikiki Beach.

I’ve been to Oahu a few times, and I loved staying in Waikiki during those times. I also loved it because of the view of the Honolulu skyline and the Diamond Head crater from there.

Staying in Waikiki has a lot of advantages. There are many different hotels to choose from, ranging from ones that are good for families to really fancy ones. Plus, you can walk to the beach, go shopping, eat at lots of restaurants, and see some of the best things the island has to offer.

What’s There To Do Nearby?

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

If you are staying in Waikiki, you won’t get bored as there are many things to do nearby. From the famous Waikiki beach to other historical places, all are located in walking distance.

  • You can first start your Waikiki exploration by visiting the Waikiki Beach. On the beach, you can swim or surf according to your experience. Kids can engage in boogie boarding activities while you sunbathe and watch people take surf lessons.
  • As you move forward, don’t miss out on visiting the famous Hanauma Bay. It is a natural beauty that used to be a volcano, but now people prefer snorkeling here and watching the great sea turtles. Swimming here is like being around more than 300 different kinds of aquatic creatures.
  • To know about the Hawaiian history, head to Iolani Palace and explore the place where the Hawaiian kings and queens used to reside.
  • If you are looking for something exciting, don’t forget to hike up the Diamond Head Crater. It’s an ancient volcano which offers you a really beautiful view of the place. The hike is pretty easy, so don’t get too afraid of walking to the top.
  • If you are a foodie, don’t forget to explore the nearby food trucks at Ohana Hale. Here, you can find a variety of food options and different cuisines that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

*There are many more attractions nearby, such as Waikiki Shell, Waikiki Aquarium, and Pearl Harbor, which you can visit with your kids for a fun and educational tour.

Pros Of Staying In Waikiki

  • There are a lot of hotels in which to stay that are centrally located, so you don’t have to think twice about exploring the area.
  • From family-friendly hotels to all the luxury hotels, you can find one of each type here.
  • Finding a hotel in Waikiki is super easy.
  • There’s a lot of things to do here, with many activity centers right in hotel lobbies or nearby.
  • Getting around is a breeze in Waikiki, with options like renting vehicles, taking taxis or rideshares, hopping on public buses, riding on ticketed trolleys, etc.
  • There are so many eateries to try, from little hidden gems to fancy award-winning spots.
  • For surfing beginners, Waikiki Beach is the best place to get some surfing lessons.
  • There are several tours to try out, such as sunset sails, scuba diving, paddle boarding, fishing, and more.
  • Trying water activities is a must here!

Cons Of Staying in Waikiki

  • The place is very crowded, and if you are someone who wants peace, this won’t be your ideal choice.
  • Often, you’ll have to encounter heavy traffic on the streets if you’re in a vehicle.
  • Finding a proper spot for parking your vehicles can be quite challenging.
  • At times, Waikiki can become quite noisy.
  • The rates of hotel rooms can get quite out of hand if you are traveling on a budget.

Best Accommodations To Explore

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

For Budget Travelers, Solo Travelers, Backpackers: The best hotels I can name are the Polynesian Hostel Beach Club, the Pacific Ohana Hostel, Hotel La Croix, and the Seaside Hawaiian Hostel, all located in Waikiki. By staying here, travelers can find a lot of things nearby within walking distance while also enjoying the Waikiki nightlife.

For Families: Boutique hotels and luxury resorts like the Hokulani, Moana Surfrider, the Hilton Hawaiian Village, the Halekulani, and the Outrigger Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel offer full service, an activity center for kids, multiple food options, and easy beach accessibility; perfect for a comfortable Oahu trip.

For Beach Lovers (Beach Bums): Those who want to step out of their hotels and relax on the beach or spend their entire day sunbathing and getting tanned on the beach can consider booking rooms in the Surfjack, the Royal Grove, the Park Shore Hotel, and the Waikiki Resort Hotel.

For Couples: For couples who are on their honeymoon or just for a vacation and want a piece of everything, including high-end accommodation, an infinity pool, and a nightclub, some well-known hotels I can recommend are Sheraton Waikiki, the Modern Honolulu, and the Laylow Autograph Collection. If you can spend extra, go for the recently renovated Waikiki Marriott Beach Resort, which has all the amenities you need.

Windward Side (East Coast)

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

Best Suited For: Those who want to stay in a quieter area of Oahu. This area also opens up people to many more adventures as compared to Waikiki.

Oahu has some really great spots to hang out, and while the east side, also known as the windward side of Oahu, isn’t as happening as Waikiki, it still has amazing places to explore and stay.

Being an adventurer, I always look for places with outdoor fun within my reach, and somewhere that’s not got the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. And trust me, if you are someone like me, you’ve got to check out places on the windward side.

This region of Oahu has got amazing panoramic mountain views, world class beach, and awesome hiking trails that sure to add up to your Oahu adventure on the Hawaiian islands.

You might not find many eateries here and shops to shop, but the laid-back feel will definitely make up for that absence.

What’s There To Do Nearby?

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

If you are planning to stay here, there are some must-visit places that you shouldn’t miss out on.

  • Kualoa Ranch is my first recommendation, especially if you are on a Hawaiian vacation with your family. This has a setup of the famous Jurassic Park movie (it’s the same place where the movie was shot). You can hop on a tour to explore the shooting spots of the Jurassic Park movie. Your kids can spend time zip-lining while you wander around the place UTVing.
  • If you are looking for more adventure, this area has one of the most difficult hikes, the Koko Head Crater trail. The hike is quite steep, so I recommend you keep this activity first before your windward side exploration (this hike does need some energy).
  • To see a piece of Japan in Hawaii, head to the famous Byodo-In Temple, a replica of the same temple in Japan. The temple is constructed without any nails, so that’s a sight you wouldn’t want to miss. This is the perfect place to find some peace in the busy town.
  • Now, if you are a morning person, you’ve got to check this out. Go to Lanikai Beach to catch the beautiful sunrise in Hawaii. Wherever I’ve gone around Oahu, I found this spot to be the best to watch the sun come up, spreading its colorful hues all around, and you shouldn’t miss this, either!

*Don’t forget to visit other hiking trails, such as Lanikai Pillbox Hike and Makapu’u Point Lighthouse, famous white-sand beaches like Kailua Beach and Kane’ohe Beach, and eateries like Maui Brewing Company and Cafe Kopi. There are also many shopping and dining options you can engage in while you are here.

Pros Of Staying On The Windward Side

  • Beautiful beaches with multiple activities are available.
  • You can engage in many outdoor activities.
  • With unpredictable sunny and rainy days, this is the best place to relax.
  • Spend your time hiking different mountains and get to witness a breathtaking view of the island.
  • The Kane’ohe and Kailua regions are not very developed, so you can expect peaceful nights here.

Cons Of Staying On The Windward Side

  • The trade winds from the northeast can make the place quite muddy due to rain and storms.
  • Less to no nightlife in this area of Oahu.
  • No lavish, all-service, and major hotels are available here.

Best Accommodations To Explore

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

For Budget Travelers, Solo Travelers, Backpackers: For budget-friendly hotels on the Windward Side, get a room in a Guest House Near Kailua Beach. With limited spending, you’ll be getting amenities that are comparable to a decent hotel. This is more like a house that’s sure to make you comfortable.

For Families & Beach Bums: If you are looking to have a homely experience away from home, check out the Modern Luxury Beach House. The house has everything you need in a house, from a washer to a well-equipped kitchen, so you can feel at home even in a foreign land. Kailua Beach isn’t far from here, making it easily accessible for beach bums as well.

For Couples: Paradise Bay Resort is the best option for couples, as this is the only real hotel you’ll find on the east coast of Oahu island. There are cottages and suites available, so you can book one according to your budget and preference. There’s a pool, hot tub, floating sun lounge, and many other amenities you can check out on their website, which will definitely make your stay even more memorable.

North Shore

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

Best Suited For: People who love surfing, want to get some local Oahu vibes, have family, and are into adventurous activities.

The North Shore of O’ahu is famous all around the world for its killer waves and world-class surfing. Unlike the busy city scene of Waikiki, the North Shore is more laid-back and rural, with fewer buildings and more homes. The North Shore of Oahu is seriously one of the best spots ever!

I really love hanging out here during the summers as it is the best time to spend time on its pristine beaches, watching sea turtles, and snorkeling to see various aquatic animals. Plus, that chill surfer vibe is the best here for all surf lovers.

But don’t worry! If you are planning a visit here during the winter season, the experience here is no less. The waves get huge, especially at places like the Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach, and it becomes the ultimate surfer’s dream. All the top surfers from around the world come to hang out here, and the atmosphere is something unique that you should experience.

What’s There To Do Nearby?

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

Whether you’re a family, a couple, a backpacker, or someone who’s all about eco-travel, the North Shore is perfect in the summer. And when winter hits, it’s all about the surfers, the waves, and the backpacker scene. However, the activities in Oahu, especially in this part, can make or break your time here.

  • If you are looking for some beach experience, I suggest you visit the famous Laniakea Beach. I really love going to this beach whenever I want to witness Hawaii’s famous sea turtles. These amazing creatures come ashore to soak up the sun’s warmth before heading back to the ocean at night. With its soft, white sand and plenty of palm trees, the beach’s sight will be a treat to your eyes.
  • To have some mild adventure, you can go to the Waimea Valley. It’s a short hike, making it perfect for the kids and the older people to participate in the trail. At the end of the trail, you’ll find a 45ft. waterfall where you can swim or relax.
  • The Polynesian Cultural Center is a great place to experience the authenticity of Hawaiian culture. It is like a mini Hawaii, with different Hawaiian islands set up to showcase luaus and offer unique and authentic food options.
  • Coming to food options, head to Hale’iwa where you can find local food trucks to try various Hawaiian cuisines. Since it is the main hub, you’ll also find several boutique shopping and fine dining options to spend your time here.

*The North Shore is filled with multiple activities to try out. To see the whales, you can go to Ka’ena Point. Shark’s Cove is the perfect spot for a beginner-friendly snorkeling experience. And don’t forget to visit famous food trucks like Giovanni’s to taste some delicious shrimp dishes.

Pros Of Staying In The North Shore

  • It has a peaceful and laid-back local vibe.
  • There are beautiful beaches to witness.
  • From the ocean to beaches and mountains, you can find everything here.

Cons Of Staying In The North Shore

  • Due to dangerous waves during the winter, swimming and surfing are prohibited on most beaches.
  • Little to no nightlife. You won’t find any late-night eateries.
  • Since there’s a one-way road, traffic can be quite congested.
  • There are not many accommodation options to choose from.

Best Accommodations To Explore

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

For Budget Travelers, Solo Travelers, Backpackers: On the North Shore, you’ll mainly find vacation rentals and hostels that are budget-friendly options. The two most common names are Ke’lki Beach Bungalows and Backpacker’s Vacation Inn & Hostel.

For Families: With various activities and services, Turtle Bay Resort is the best option for families to live in. To get details on Turtle Bay Resort fees, check their official website. You can also watch the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” to get an idea of how the resort actually looks. Some common activities that Turtle Bay offers are surfing lessons, horseback riding, and hiking trails, among many others.

For Beach Bums: If you are looking for a place to stay that’s not far from your accommodation, then Backpacker’s Vacation Inn & Plantation is your go-to place. Although the place is a bit outdated, it’s within walking distance of Three Tables and Waimea Bay Beach, which definitely serves the purpose of you staying here.

For Couples: There’s one hotel that I recently found out that doesn’t have many amenities but offers a great stay with its own waterfall, and that’s Courtyard by Marriott. If you are on a romantic getaway, this place will give you a cozy and unique experience on a budget.

West Coast (Leeward Shore)

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

Best Suited For: People who are on a high-end luxury vacation, families, and beach lovers.

If you are on a high-end vacation and looking to stay in Oahu but in a luxury resort, the west side of Oahu is the best place to be. The Leeward Shore, or the West Coast, talks all about money and opulence.

If you’re looking for a vacation where you can simply relax on a Hawaiian beach all day and then enjoy some tasty food and drinks in the evening at fancy restaurants without any worries, this could be the ideal option for you.

Although this side of Oahu isn’t very developed, it’s still famous because of Ko Olina, a resort community situated in the southern part of the island.

The Leeward Shore consists of multiple luxury resorts that are all about grandeur, with markets selling expensive and branded high-end items and highlights four man-made lagoons.

While I would certainly not recommend this place for budget travelers, you can visit it just for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When you’re in Hawaii, why not see the rich part of the island?

What’s There To Do Nearby?

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

West Coast has a lot to offer to it’s travelers, from adventurous hikes to showcasing their authentic side. Some common things I love doing during my stay here covers the entire essence of Oahu.

  • While you’re here, spend time hiking the popular Pink Pillbox Hike. It is a moderately challenging trek that takes you up to a ridge. From there, you’ll get stunning views of lush green mountains, the coastline to the west, and, in the distance, the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
  • Looking for some adventure? Head to the Electric Beach for a snorkeling experience. It’s one of the prime spots for swimming with turtles on Oahu, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot some dolphins! But remember, during winter, the waves can get quite high, making it unsafe for swimming.
  • If you’re up for it, I suggest giving Paradise Cove Luau a go. It’s set on a stunning beach and offers a richer cultural experience. They even do a hukilau, where you get to help pull in fishing nets from the ocean, adding to the authenticity of the experience.
  • Another option to watch luaus is in the nearby town of Kapolei. You’ll find various places that may be performing. Luaus are a great opportunity to delve into Polynesian history and culture. So, I suggest you do not miss out on this while you’re here.

*If you have the time, I recommend you check out the gorgeous white-sand beaches, such as Nānākuli and Mākaha. For a more secluded experience, head to Yokohama Beach at the end of the road and take a walk along the rocky coast to Ka’ena Point. In Wai’anae, stop by Kahumana Farm to Table Cafe for some delicious local produce.

Pros Of Staying In The West Side

  • This side of Oahu is pretty secluded, offering a peaceful vibe, perfect for a relaxed vacation.
  • The mountains definitely enhance the entire beauty of the island.
  • If you don’t like rain, this dry region will be something that you’ll love.
  • Many luxury accommodations are available.

Cons Of Staying In The West Side

  • Attraction to the prime location of Oahu will be very far as the west side is isolated from the rest of the areas.
  • You won’t see lush greenery or rainforest due to the dry climate and little to no rainfall.
  • Since the west side focuses on luxury tourism, you won’t find budget-friendly accommodation or shopping options.

Best Accommodations To Explore

Great Places to Stay When Visiting Oahu

For Budget Travelers, Solo Travelers, Backpackers: Although there aren’t any budget hotels, there surely is an affordable option for those looking to explore the west coast side of Oahu. Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club is an option to check out that’s more like a vacation rental, but yes, with its own private lagoon. While this may have a touch of affordability, it’s not very light on the pockets for many.

For Families: With home-like amenities and access to Disney Club, you can go for Aulani Disney Resort. Kids will surely love hanging out in the clubs while you relax in their spa and wellness center.

For Beach Bums: If you are in the west side of Oahu, try getting a booking at Ko Olina Lagoons. The four lagoons and sandy beaches in Ko Olina are privately owned. The pedestrians present here are allowed to walk to and from the lagoon beaches. You can also access the rocky shoreline for fishing. Definitely an ideal option for diehard beach bums.

For Couples: Couples who are luxury seekers and want perfection in everything while at their stay in Oahu should surely check out Four Seasons Resort Oahu. It has an onsite spa, infinity pool, private lagoon, private beach, golf course, and much more that will make your luxury trip unforgettable.


What amenities can I expect at accommodations in Oahu?

All around Oahu, the basic amenities you’ll find in your hotels and resorts are easy beach access, swimming pools, dining options, several activities and entertainment options, and spa and wellness facilities.

How far in advance should I book my accommodation in Oahu?

It’s recommended that you book your accommodation in Oahu as early as possible, especially if you plan to visit during peak seasons or popular events. Booking accommodations several months in advance can help you secure your preferred property and possibly avail of early booking discounts.

When is the best time to visit Oahu?

Oahu enjoys warm weather throughout the year, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences and priorities. The drier months from April to October are generally considered ideal for outdoor activities and beach vacations. However, this period coincides with the peak tourist season, resulting in higher prices and larger crowds. Shoulder seasons, such as spring (April to June) and fall (September to November), offer pleasant weather with fewer visitors and more affordable rates.

What types of accommodations are available in Oahu?

Hotels: These are budget-friendly options that most tourists visiting Oahu opt for. These facilities provide accommodation, dining options, and other amenities to their guests.

Resorts: Resorts typically offer extra activities and amenities right on site, like adventure centers, spas, restaurants, and room service, which hotels do not provide. Resorts are also spread in a larger area and cost more than a hotel.

Vacation Rentals: This type of accommodation includes condos, villas, and beach houses, offering a more private and customizable experience. These offer all the comforts of home, including a cozy living space and a complete kitchen.

Hostels: These are budget-friendly accommodations ideal for solo travelers or those seeking a social atmosphere.

Camping: Camping is often seen as a budget-friendly way to explore the island. The County manages 17 campgrounds on Oahu. Many of these campgrounds are situated in stunning locations, either near the beach or mountains. This is one of the best options for those who are looking to explore the island with fewer amenities.

How to save while staying on Oahu?

The best way I can suggest is to stay in different places. If you are on a five-day trip, plan to stay for three days on Waikiki Beach and the east side of Oahu. This way, you’ll get the best of both worlds while experiencing the happening city life and the quiet island life. Dividing your stays in different types of accommodations can also help you stay on budget.

Ready To Stay On Oahu And Multiply Your Experience?

With an array of accommodations to choose from, ranging from luxurious resorts to cozy beachside cottages, O’ahu offers something for everyone. From the bustling city scene of Waikiki to the laid-back vibes of the Windward Side, each region of O’ahu has its own unique charm and attractions to explore. So, don’t wait any longer and make your stay more memorable than ever before!

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