Stay in Oahu

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Oahu

Oahu is filled with bustling beaches, picturesque views, and many tourist spots. When you are preparing your itinerary to visit Hawaii, you surely will include Oahu on your list.

Oahu is divided into five different regions: the North Shore, the South Shore, Central Oahu, the East Coast, and the West Side. Each part of the island has something unique for visitors to explore. From the crowded South Shore to the quiet North Shore, this island has it all.

However, after all the exploration of the day, you do need a place to rest to end your day. The kind of place you stay on Oahu will definitely add to your vacation. If you don’t find a good stay, chances are that you might remember your vacation just for one lousy experience, and we don’t want that!

We’ve wandered all around Oahu and managed to find the best places to spend your days while you’re here. So, if you are wondering where to stay, Oahu, we’ve got our favorites lined up for you!

Our Favorites In The North Shore

North Shore

If you are looking for a peaceful getaway, the North side of Oahu has it. This part of Oahu starts from Haleiwa to Laie, with the famous Turtle Bay in between the way. Due to its peaceful and quiet setting, it is often referred to as “the country” (more like the countryside).

Traveling here, we didn’t find many fancy restaurants or shops. But, yes, we can assure you that you’ll be left in awe of the beautiful secluded beaches and multiple surfing options.

Since this side is a bit far from the main town of Honolulu, accommodation options are pretty affordable and best for budget travelers. You can find camping grounds, vacation rentals, B&Bs and hostels to stay on Oahu.

Reasons To Stay Here

North Shore1

We won’t be wrong to say that the North Shore of Oahu is like a pilgrimage for those interested in water activities. But it is also known for many other things that most people are unaware of.

Best For Beach Bums: Those who love soaking under the sun on the beach will love the beaches here, as they are not very crowded. Basically, a laid-back atmosphere is what you’ll get here.

Too Many Water Activities: As we already mentioned, you can enjoy a lot of fun water activities here. From surfing the big waves at Banzai Pipeline to snorkeling in shallow water to seeing the sea turtles at Kuilima Cove and Shark’s Cove, it has all!

Experience A Local Feel: The North Shore of Oahu is all about authenticity. You can interact with the locals, have authentic Hawaiian food, and basically live like a local even though you are a tourist.

Far From The City Crowd: Here, you can find peace and tranquility. Enjoy the Hawaiian feel even without being part of the usual city crowd.

A Haven For Foodies: Love seafood? Oahu’s North Shore offers the best shrimp dishes on the entire island. Don’t forget to visit the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck to taste their delicious garlic coconut shrimp (my mouth is watering as I am writing this). There are many food trucks and restaurants that serve authentic Hawaiian food that you’ve got to try!

A Nature Treat: Since this part of Oahu receives more rainfall than the rest of the island, the vegetation is incredibly lush. You’ll see greenery everywhere you turn your eyes. Head to Sunset Beach to see one of the most beautiful sunsets. It’s a sight that we always behold and capture in our memories.

Reasons Not To Stay Here

North Shore2

While the vibe here is good for peace lovers, there are still drawbacks that you should consider before spending time here.

Weather Is Unpredictable: While the North Shore is a nature’s treat, due to the regular rainfall it gets, especially during the winter months, it is a hassle to explore.

Bad Weekly Traffic: TBH, we didn’t find much traffic during the weekdays or daily congestion, but on the weekend, the road was jam-packed! Most people come around here from Friday to Sunday, contributing to the bad traffic scenes.

No Nightlife: As there isn’t much crowd here, we didn’t see any nightlife here like those in other parts of Oahu. Hardly any restaurants or bars are open late. All you can do is grab a drink and sit in your room.

Higher Waves: During the winter months, i.e., from October to April, the ocean tends to have more giant waves. This may be good news for experienced surfers but may not be ideal for those wanting to swim or snorkel.

Not Many High-Rise Hotels Are Available: There are many budget-friendly hotels available here, but if you are looking for a luxury hotel, there’s only one: Turtle Bay Resort.

No Public Transport: Public transportation isn’t available here. We had our own vehicles, so we didn’t face a problem, but you’ll have to arrange your own transportation.

Accommodations We Recommended In The North Shore

Recommended In The North Shore

The vibe on Oahu’s North Shore is super chill, and the accommodation options totally match that laid-back feel. Here are a couple of places we would absolutely love to stay on the North Shore.

Turtle Bay Resort: It is the only resort on the North Shore that totally nails the laid-back surfer vibe this area is known for. The rooms are perfect—spacious and modern. They recently remodeled the place, which has really done wonders for it.

Courtyard by Marriot: If you’re checking out the North Shore, crashing at this hotel is a no-brainer. It’s right next to the Polynesian Cultural Center and, seriously, one of the best spots to stay on the island. Click here to check out the rates and book a stay with them.

Kuilima Estates: This place is perfect for a budget-friendly vacation. There were five of us, and it was just right. The location was awesome for exploring the north side of the island. Plus, it’s close enough to Turtle Bay Resort, so you can easily walk to the beach and hit up a few restaurants.

Ke Iki Beach Bungalows: Check out these beachfront bungalows, each with killer ocean and sunset views and loaded with all the amenities you could want right in the hotel. Plus, you can even hit up a yoga class right there, too.

Our Favorites In The South Shore

South Shore

Honolulu and Waikiki are the two main locations on the South Shore of Oahu. If you are planning a family vacation to Hawaii, this is the best part of the island to stay.

Waikiki and Honolulu are both filled with pristine beaches, historic sites, and cultural attractions, making them among the most crowded places on the island.

Due to its bustling area, you’ll find many luxury resorts and luxury accommodations here. However, budget travelers might not find many options to stay here (we have sorted out a few for you).

Reasons To Stay Here

South Shore1

Staying at the South Shore of Oahu offers a blend of relaxation, adventure, and cultural immersion that’s hard to beat. Here’s why:

Best For Shopping Lovers: For those who love shopping, Waikiki is a treat! There are more than 15 shopping malls in Waikiki. And guess what? You can visit and go on a shopping spree at the largest outdoor shopping mall, Ala Moana Center. From luxury brands to local ones, you can find everything here.

Wide Variety Of Cuisines: The south of Oahu boasts many food options. From fine dining in fancy restaurants to exploring the food trucks, you can experiment with your taste a lot. Don’t forget to visit the Ohana Food Trucks, which is just within walking distance of the famous Waikiki Beach, where you can find multiple cuisines in the same place.

Many Fun Activities Available: Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway on a Sunset Cruise or spending time with your family, the South Shore has a lot to offer—book various tours to visit historic places like Pearl Harbor or natural attractions like the Diamond Head Crater. Take your kids to the Honolulu Zoo for a fun learning experience.

Great Nightlife: Since the South Shore is crowded, you can enjoy great nightlife here. From watching free fireworks at Waikiki Beach to experiencing luas and partying hard at Surfer Bar Waikiki, you can enjoy the night to the fullest.

Many Transportation Options: As both Waikiki and Honolulu are centrally located, transportation is not an issue here. You’ll quickly get shuttles, cabs, trolleys, and buses to travel around. There are many rental cars and scooters available, which you can go for.

Reasons Not To Stay Here

South Shore2

While the South Shore of Oahu offers many attractions, there are also some reasons why it might not be the best fit for everyone. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you wouldn’t want to stay here:

Too Much Traffic: Too many people means too much traffic. With our car, we were hardly able to move forward during the peak hours, which were from 5 AM to 8 AM and 3 PM to 7 PM.

Very Crowded: On the South Shore of Oahu, you’ll find people everywhere. Almost more than 60,000 people visit this place, so we don’t have to tell you how congested it can be.

Resort Fees: Parking fees can quickly add up at resorts, so you need to be mindful of your budget. We ended up paying $50 for a night, which actually shook our budget.

Hectic For Parents Of Younger Kids: Waikiki’s busy streets can be a bit overwhelming for parents with young kids. The sidewalks are packed, and the traffic is heavy.

Accommodations We Recommended In The South Shore

Recommended In The South Shore

To the south of Oahu, you’ll find a variety of accommodations, from luxurious resorts to cozy boutique hotels and vacation rentals. Here are some options recommended for different preferences and budgets.

Outrigger Waikiki Beach: If you’re after luxury without breaking the bank, Outrigger Waikiki is where it’s at! Our stay there was great! It’s got that cozy, homey vibe but with all the fancy stuff. And let me tell you, the location couldn’t be better – right in the middle of Waikiki, surrounded by shops, and just steps away from the beach!

Queen Kapiolani: If you’re into staying active and want a great location without spending a ton, this place is perfect. The price is fair, and you get an awesome view of Diamond Head and the ocean. It’s a win-win situation for sure!

Royal Hawaiian Hotel: Also known as the Pink Palace, this hotel is right in the middle of Waikiki. We picked this hotel for its prime location, rich history, awesome vibe, and how easy it is to hit the beach, grab food, or go shopping.

Hilton Hawaiian Village: This hotel is in an awesome spot and has tons to do right on the property. It has multiple pools, classes for activities, easy access to the beach, restaurants, and even shopping. We definitely got a lot for what we paid!

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa: This eco-conscious hotel totally lives up to its name. It’s in a prime spot where you can easily walk to the beach, restaurants, coffee shops, and stores. We really found it to be super convenient!

Our Favorites In The West Side Or The Leeward Coast

The Leeward Coast

Unlike the rural vibe of the North Shore and the bustling setting of the South Coast, the Leeward Coast has a blend of both qualities.

It is most famous for its four calm man-made lagoons, beautiful but quiet resorts, and laid-back atmosphere, which make it perfect for families or anyone wanting to kick back and relax.

The sun’s always shining on this side of Oahu, and you’ve got all the amenities right there—spa, fine dining, golf course, you name it. If you don’t mind being a bit away from the action, Leeward Coast is your spot for a peaceful getaway.

Accommodations are limited here, but you’ll surely enjoy your time staying on this peaceful side of the Hawaiian island.

Reasons To Stay Here

The Leeward Coast1

Staying at the Leeward Coast of Oahu offers a unique and often less crowded experience compared to the more touristy areas like Waikiki. Here are some reasons to consider staying on the Leeward Coast:

Lesser Crowd: The Leeward Coast is quite isolated and has a minimum attraction, which is why you won’t see many crowds (be happy for some peaceful time).

Warm Weather: Though there is always a risk of some rainfall, compared to the North Shore, the weather will be much sunnier. We seriously enjoyed basking under the sun here.

Natural Beauty All Around: This area boasts an impressive array of natural wonders, from its crystal-clear waters to its stunning mountains. Ko Olina’s man-made lagoons are super calm, with no big waves or rocks, making them perfect for snorkeling and letting the kids splash around. Plus, the powdery white sand, turquoise water, and swaying palm trees look too beautiful to be true.

Easily Travel Anywhere Around Here: Beaches and resorts are walkable. When you don’t feel like walking, you can book a free shuttle service.

Great Places To Stay: The Leeward Coast has great resorts with all the luxury, making it the best place to stay with your family. The resorts have all the amenities and offer activities like golf courses and horse riding, so you have a great time on your vacation.

Many Places To Shop: Want to shop for essentials or things you’ve forgotten to carry with you, like snorkel gear? There are shopping centers around, like Walmart and Target, where you can go. Luxury stores are also available in case you want to shop for something more luxurious!

Reasons Not To Stay Here

The Leeward Coast2

While the Leeward Coast of Oahu offers its own attractions, there are factors to take into account that could make it less appealing to certain travelers:

Too Expensive: Staying in this part of Oahu is quite expensive and out of the budget for many. Although you may get what you pay for, you actually can’t stay for longer here. Leeward Coast may be quiet and peaceful, but there aren’t many budget-friendly hotels you’ll find here.

No Authenticity: We found the Leeward Coast to be quite over the top, which means it lacks Hawaiian authenticity. If you are looking for a local experience, you might not find one here. The resorts are overly decorated with a foreign touch that won’t make you feel as if you’re in Hawaii.

Remote Location: The Leeward Coast is situated on the western side of Oahu, which can be pretty remote compared to more centrally located areas like Waikiki. It took us a lot of time to travel to popular attractions on other parts of the island, such as Pearl Harbor or the North Shore.

Less Tourist Infrastructure: Unlike popular tourist areas like Waikiki, the Leeward Coast has less developed tourist infrastructure. This is one reason we couldn’t find many tour operators, rental shops, and visitor services. For first-time visitors, it can be quite challenging to arrange activities and transportation.

Limited Accommodation Options: While there are accommodation options available on the Leeward Coast, they may be more limited compared to areas like Waikiki. This means you have fewer choices, especially for those looking for a specific type of lodging or amenities.

Accommodations We Recommended In The Leeward Coast

Recommended In The Leeward Coast

When recommending accommodations on the Leeward Coast, it’s essential to consider various preferences, budgets, and travel styles. Here are some accommodation options across different price ranges and styles:

Four Seasons Resort Oahu At Ko Olina: This is the absolute best luxury hotel in Ko Olina, and that’s saying a lot! It’s in a prime spot, and let me tell you, the lagoon is amazing, and their pools are seriously amazing to relax.

Beach Villas At Ko Olina: With clean rooms and great views, this vacation rental is the only one right on the beach in Ko Olina. It’s hands down the best and most budget-friendly choice for group travelers.

Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club: This luxury resort on Oahu’s Leeward side offers gorgeous villa-style rooms and plenty of space, making it a great choice.

Aulani Disney Resort & Spa: At the Aulani Disney Resort, you’ll find Mickey with an immersive stay and great pools. With plenty of water activities for both children and adults, you won’t be bored. Plus, the hotel rooms are incredibly comfortable, and the view is simply spectacular.

Our Favorites In The East Side Or The Windward Coast

Situated on the East Windward side of the island, this region is about a 20-30 minute drive east of Waikiki.

The place is known for its breathtaking mountain views and residential vibe. Kailua and Kaneohe are the largest towns here, with Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach being the star attractions.

However, finding a place to stay can be a bit challenging. Hotels are scarce, and legal vacation rentals are hard to come by.

Reasons To Stay Here

Windward Coast1

There are numerous enticing reasons to consider making the Windward Coast your accommodation destination of choice:

Perfect Spot To Surf: While most people know the North Shore to be the perfect spot for surfing, many surfers like coming here. While experienced surfers can surf on Kailua Beach, beginners can get surf lessons here.

Remote and Peaceful: Oahu’s Windward Coast has a more remote and local vibe due to the lack of major hotels and dining options. There are beautiful beaches here, like Waimanalo Beach, that often feel empty as not many visitors make the trek this far east.

Multiple Activities To Participate In: Although the crowd is small, Windward Coast doesn’t fall short of activities. You can visit places like Kualoa Ranch, Makapu’u Lighthouse, and the Koko Crater Botanical Garden. There’s so much to discover! To explore more, go through Our Favorite Tourism Activities On Oahu to know more about how you can enjoy here.

Near To Central Location: Even though there aren’t many partying options here, you can still drive to Waikiki if you have a vehicle. Waikiki is just 20-25 minutes drive from here, so you wouldn’t be completely isolated.

Reasons Not To Stay Here

Windward Coast2

Reasons you might want to think twice about staying on the Windward Coast:

Less Accommodation Options: When we were here, we didn’t find any big resorts or hotels. If you’re planning to stay on this side of the island, the best options are B&Bs or vacation rentals.

Bad Weather: The Windward Coast might not be a great option for staying because of its not-so-great weather. Like the North Shore, you might get some quick rain showers, but they usually pass pretty fast.

Accommodations We Recommended In The Windward Coast

Recommended In The Windward Coast

Our top and only pick for accommodations on the Windward Coast are:

Paradise Bay Resort: During our stay, we checked out the Paradise Bay Resort, which was the only decent option we could find. It’s up north of Kailua in Kahaluu. It’s hands down our favorite place on the Windward side of Oahu.


What types of accommodations are available in Oahu?

Oahu offers a wide range of accommodations, including luxury resorts, boutique hotels, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, and budget-friendly hostels.

What areas in Oahu are popular for tourists to stay in?

Per our personal experience, the popular areas we found for tourists to stay in Oahu include Waikiki, Honolulu, North Shore, Ko Olina, and Kailua.

What is the best time of year to visit Oahu?

While you can visit Oahu any time of the year with warm weather year-round, but the best time to visit is typically during the dry season from April to October when the weather is consistently sunny and dry.

Get Ready For A Great Stay On Oahu

Here are our favorite hotels for you! Oahu offers a wide range of accommodations and experiences across its regions. From luxury resorts to cozy vacation rentals, Oahu caters to various budgets and tastes. Ultimately, your choice of accommodation can significantly enhance your Oahu experience, ensuring that your stay is as memorable and enjoyable as the island itself.


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