Hawaii is one of my favorite places in the world. With top luxury resorts and vacation rentals all over the island, figuring out where to stay on Oahu depends on what type of vacation you’re after. Are you traveling to Hawaii with kids? Want to relax at the beach? Experience the best hikes on Oahu? Go on a foodie tour of the best places to eat in Waikiki?
Whether you’re traveling to Hawaii for the first time, planning a girl’s trip, honeymoon, or a family adventure, there is plenty of luxury, budget, trendy, and family-friendly options. We’ve rounded up the best places to stay on Oahu to enjoy the ultimate aloha experience.
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Overview: How to Decide Where to Stay on Oahu
Waikiki Beach + Ala Moana
Many visitors choose to stay in Waikiki during their visit to Hawaii. The south shore is home to the world-famous Waikiki Beach, and it’s a prime destination for restaurants, nightlife, and upscale shopping. Enjoy a surf lesson, climb Diamond Head, and book a catamaran cruise to watch the sunset.
An hour’s drive from Waikiki, the North Shore, is heaven on earth. Start your day with a stop in Haleiwa and grab breakfast or lunch in this historic town before visiting Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach. Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center to experience a luau. During the summer months, the waves are flat and perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. In winter, the surf is big; it’s best to sit back and watch the professionals at work. Surf competitions are typically held in November through December so the North Shore can get pretty busy.
The Westside is pristine, uncrowded, and beautiful. If you’re traveling to Oahu with kids, they’ll love the lazy river at the Disney Aulani Resort. Visit Ko Olina for the Paradise Cove Luau and don’t leave home without visiting Makaha, Yokohama Bay, and Makua Beach.
Kailua + Lanikai
Take a drive on the Kalanianaole Highway and enjoy the scenic road with plenty of lookouts where you can pull over and look for whales. There are also several hikes along this route, including the Makapuu Lighthouse trail and Tom-Tom trail. Rent a kayak in Kailua and head to the Mokulua Islands, or go on a full moon hike on the Lanikai Pillbox trail.
Best Places to Stay in Waikiki
- The Laylow Waikiki
- Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort
- Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
- The Royal Hawaiian – Waikiki
- Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa
The Modern Honolulu Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, is a luxury boutique hotel that overlooks Waikiki and Ala Moana. Located on Ala Moana Blvd, The Modern Honolulu is near all the action in Waikiki, yet a bit further from the main hustle and bustle.
The hotel is located near Kahanamoku Beach, Ala Moana Bowls, and the Hilton Lagoon. It’s also not far from the Hawaii Convention Center and Ala Moana Shopping Center. Guests can watch the sunset from the pools or balconies.
From the Honolulu airport to the Modern Honolulu, it’s approximately a 17-minute drive without traffic. If you’re visiting the Modern Hotel pool, bar, or restaurant, you can get validated parking for $35 plus tax. If you’re only visiting for a few hours, you can park at the Ala Moana Bowls parking lot for free in some stalls. (Some stalls are paid parking.) Keep an eye out for the sign, so you don’t get a ticket.
1775 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815 (808) 943-5800
The Penthouse at the Modern Honolulu Hotel
The Penthouse features floor-to-ceiling windows and ocean views as far as the eye can see. There is also a 1,500 sq. ft. landscaped terrace, with stunning views. It’s a complete luxury experience.
The Modern Honolulu Sunrise Pool is a resort pool with a wood deck, surrounded by greenery. There is a pool bar that serves drinks and food. The sunrise pool is open daily from 7:00 am- 9:00 pm and is open to guests of all ages. The Sunset Pool on the second floor is an Adults-only pool.
Where to stay on Oahu not Waikiki
- The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel – Diamond Head
Where to Stay on Oahu – West Side
Where to Stay on Oahu – North Shore
Turtle Bay Resort – Kahuku
Fun Things to do on Oahu
With some of the best beaches and surf in the world, there are countless bucket list experiences on Oahu. Spend time climbing mountains. Explore some of the best hikes in Hawaii. Swim with turtles and visit some of the best beaches in the world. Eat local food and embrace the “aloha” spirit.
Pearl Harbor National Memorial
Visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Check out exhibit galleries, the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.
Free Fireworks Show
Don’t miss the free fireworks show every Friday at 7:45 pm. The light display is hosted by the Hilton Hawaiian Village, near the Modern Honolulu hotel. Visit the sunset pool for a cocktail and a great view of the show.
Take a sunset cruise
One of the best ways to experience Waikiki is on a boat. With iconic views of Diamond Head and the city skyline, spending a few hours on the water is always a good time. Daily catamaran and boat cruises are available in the morning and around sunset in Waikiki.
Get warmed up at THE STUDY Bar + Lounge inside the Modern Honolulu. Go beyond the lobby bookshelves and step into a chic lounge. THE STUDY has Happy Hour every night from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Live music starts at 8:00 pm. After a few hours at THE STUDY, make your way past the velvet rope to ADDICTION, one of the hottest nightclubs in Honolulu. Reserve a table and dance the night away.
1775 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Just a few blocks away, you’ll find the Hideout at the Laylow in Waikiki. Enjoy live entertainment every night of the week, before making your way to Sky Waikiki. Cool off with the tropical breeze at this rooftop bar and restaurant/nightclub. Enjoy happy hour drink specials from 5 pm – 9 pm.
2270 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Thanks for checking out our guide to the best places to stay on Oahu. What’s on your Hawaii bucket list?
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