Oahu, while not a large island, is still a hugely diverse place. The nature of Hawaiian islands means micro climates dominate the island’s and many different habitats form in surprisingly small locations. This means traveling only a short distance can completely transform the landscape you are in. This makes choosing the best place to stay on Oahu, Hawaii very important.
The Majority of Oahu’s tourists head for Honolulu or more specifically Waikiki. While a lot of good things can be said about Staying on the Island and State Capital, There are downsides. It is a densely populated City and maybe not the Tropical paradise you initially envisioned when choosing Hawaii as your destination. This guide is intended to help you choose where to Stay on Oahu. It’s worth saying we generally feel the best option is a multi-base trip. With a few days in Waikiki and a few days in another area.
The beating heart of the island, Waikiki has a lot going for it. The incredible blend of tropical beauty and a fully-fledged City makes Waikiki a pretty unique place. Few places in the world offer this level of beach and city blend. However, this built-up nature means you lose some of Hawaii’s true tropical paradise feel. If this is essential to you then Waikiki may not be the place for you, at least not for your entire trip.
Waikiki is rammed with a huge array of hotels from fairly cheap to high-end ocean-front luxury dream hotels. So there is bound to be something to suit your budget. Waikiki is small so location isn’t too important, anything central will be close to the beach and to all amenities.
Talking of amenities, Waikiki is a very metropolitan area and has anything you could possibly expect from a US City. There are endless restaurants and bars from ultra-high-end fine dining down to Starbucks and McDonald’s. You will find a similar trend with the City’s shops, from high-end designer brands right down to bargain outlets, and the ever-present ABC Stores.
Waikiki boasts a long list of things to do and activities and also serves as the perfect base to get out and see and do just about everything on this island. Honolulu is the transport hub of the island so getting to anywhere is fairly straightforward.
There are thousands of hotels to choose from, so we put together a list of our favorite 10 to help you find your perfect hotel. Be it Budget or High-End.
Kailua has risen in popularity recently after a spate of high profile visitors, not least of which was the Obama Family. This rise in visitors numbers has however not gone unnoticed by the resident of the area who has seen their beautiful sleepy paradise turned into a major tourist hot spot.
It’s not hard to see why the popularity is up now the secret is out. This sleepy corner of Paradise only a short drive from Honolulu is a haven of relaxation. Beautiful beaches, excellent weather, warm seas with abundant life, and an excellent array of restaurants and bars. It’s the perfect spot to get away from it all.
Well, at least it was. The influx of visitors has made the town just a little less sleepy than it used to be. While most residents are still welcoming there are always the few who want to be less friendly. By ensuring you stay in a legit guesthouse/holiday rental will ensure a trouble-free stay.
There isn’t a great deal to do in Kailua, so expect most of your time to be spent relaxing on the incredible beach or enjoying water sports or hikes in the local area. For anything more adventurous you will need to leave the area. But being so close to Honolulu means the whole island is accessible. We would certainly recommend hiring a car if you are to stay here.
Ko Olina / Kapolei
Home to some very luxurious High-end resorts and hotels, Ko Olina is really what a lot of people imagine when they picture Hawaii. Calm waters, stunning beaches, and fantastic Dining. It’s a genuine piece of heaven on earth. For those that can afford it. While some hotels are not out of this world expensive, very few could be considered cheap. But you will get something incredible for your money.
Located around 30mins west of Honolulu Airport the Town of Kapolei is just the other side of Pearl Harbour, its West coast beach area is known as Ko Olina and is home to the big luxury resorts. The town boasts plenty of amenities should resort life get too much for you.
Resort life revolves around eating, drinking, relaxing on the beach, and water sports. But the location means you can get out and explore the island too as you are not far from the trunk roads heading out of Honolulu. A hire car is very handy if you want to explore the islands but if you plan on staying mainly in the resort with just a few planned excursions it’s not at all necessary.
Really if you want the utmost in luxury and style look no further assuming you have the means to pay for it.
Kahuku / North Shore
The Islands North Shore is a rugged and Exposed Coastline. The High surf and exposed nature make it a haven for Surfers looking for the Ultimate Swells. The selection of Hotels and Guest houses is rather limited, and while the North Shore is a great place to visit we probably wouldn’t recommend it to stay if it wasn’t for the world-famous Turtle Bay resort.
Perched right on the top of the Island the Turtle Bay Resort is the Quintessential Hawaiian Escape. Development in the area is very low so the resort retains the tropical Paradise feel very well, with over 150* Movie and TV Appearances the resort is the go-to filming location for anyone wanting to showcase Hawaii on the big and small screen.
The resort is fairly self-contained and you will find no reason you NEED to leave however that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t with so much to see and do on Oahu, it would be a bit of waste to spend it all relaxing on the beach with a cocktail.
Island Hopping is one of the great attractions of Hawaii. The small island chain has cheap and fast air connections between the Islands so splitting your stay up between a few islands is easily done. Check out Our guides on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island to see if this is something you are interested in? The other Islands have so much to offer.
Have Your Say
Let us know if you have stayed in any of these areas? What did you think of Waikiki? Did the blend of City and beach appeal or were you looking more for the Hawaiian paradise escape? Please feel free to just drop us a comment below if you have anything to add or if you just have a question about the different areas to stay on Oahu.