Located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Honolulu combines pristine beaches, ancient craters, and exciting nightlife for the Hawaiian experience you’ve been waiting for. As one of the most popular destinations in the United States, though, choosing where to stay in Honolulu isn’t always simple.
The best areas to stay in Honolulu provide memorable beach days, incredible hikes, and cultural experiences within walking distance. And the best hotels in Honolulu won’t just give you a comfortable place to stay each night. With wondrous Pacific Ocean views, you’ll wake up to turquoise colors streaming through your window, getting you excited for another day in paradise.
Not sure where to begin your Honolulu accommodations search? Give it the help it deserves with our guide to the best places to stay in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Best places to stay in Honolulu, HI
Hawaii’s most populous city, Honolulu offers a range of interesting areas showcasing its many experiences. Beyond Downtown Honolulu, the Hawaiian capital city comprises several neighborhoods that will suit budget travelers, families, couples, and those seeking an extravagant vacation.
Many of these districts, from Waikiki to Kahala, are set along the pristine southwest coast, where the turquoise water laps the bright white sand. But even these areas show marked differences. Travelers can choose between either a happening nightlife, jammed with bars and clubs; or a romantic candle-lit evening at a resort restaurant.
Away from the coast, Honolulu has inland neighborhoods, set among the lush jungles where waterfalls tumble into the valley and mountains soar above. Beyond a more serene experience, areas like Manoa will help you save with a lower average price per night while still being mere minutes from the top tourist attractions in Honolulu.
The best areas to stay in Honolulu are:
✓ Top area to stay in Honolulu for shopping & nightlife
With its famed 2-mile stretch of sandy beaches, Waikiki is one of the best places to stay in Honolulu. In the bustling capital, Waikiki is a hub of dining and shopping while harboring the most raucous nightlife in town.
The range of resorts, condos, and hotels in Waikiki will give you a ton to think about. Hotel prices cover both ends of the budget spectrum, with family-friendly and romantic options spread throughout.
Perhaps the biggest reason for basing yourself in Waikiki, though, is the location. With so many things to see & do in Waikiki, you could easily forego the car rental and get around on foot or use public transport.
Alongside Waikiki Beach, you can picnic in Kapiolani Park or escape the crowds at Kuhio Beach Park. Families should also place the nearby Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium high on their Honolulu trip itinerary.
With its retro 1960s vibe, the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club is one of the best Honolulu hotels. The boutique hotel comes with a great location, just 5 minutes from Waikiki Beach. Catch all the sun from the outdoor swimming pool or chill in your room, featuring a private balcony and hand-crafted furniture.
A mere block behind Waikiki Beach, Queen Kapiolani Hotel offers far-reaching views of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean. Spend your days at the beach, hiking, or lounging in the hotel pool. The Honolulu Zoo is right across the street, too. Each spacious room includes traditional decor, flat-screen TV, and access to a tour desk ready to kick-start all your adventures.
The Westin Resort is a 4-star hotel with a freshwater pool and your own private beach area. Each room comes with tranquil tones befitting its location. Enjoy lovely views from your balcony before relaxing at the on-site spa. You won’t have to go far for dinner; the resort hosts multiple restaurants.
With stunning ocean views pouring through the floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll wake up in paradise at Aston Waikiki Beach Tower. Each suite comes with its own kitchen, cable TV, ensuite, and daily maid service. Enjoy the outdoor pool and recreation deck before a short stroll to the white sands of Waikiki Beach.
With the largest number of luxury suites on the island, the Ritz-Carlton Residences has all you need for a high-end experience. With the ocean colors bursting into the room, make the most of the modern amenities, including a full kitchen. Choose between two infinity pools with poolside cabanas, a fitness center, and a movie theater before picking between multiple cuisines at the on-site restaurants.
✓ Best area to stay in Honolulu for sightseeing & culture
Much like Waikiki, Ala Moana has a wonderful selection of restaurants, bars, and nightlife. These complement the area’s assortment of shopping, including the largest open-air mall in the United States, the Ala Moana Shopping Center.
Ala Moana is only 5 minutes from Downtown Honolulu and a half-hour from Honolulu International Airport. The proximity to both will give your Honolulu vacation a quick start; you’ll be lazing on the white sand beaches of Honolulu in no time.
One of the top beaches in Honolulu, Ala Moana Beach is a local favorite owing to its spectacular views and calm turquoise waters without the hefty crowds who gather at the nearby Waikiki Beach.
From the sand, you can walk across to Magic Island and the Magic Island Lagoon, for picnics, swimming, and stunning sunsets. Another option is Kahanamoku Lagoon, a protected swimming space that’s great for young kids.
Ala Moana isn’t just beaches and restaurants. You’ll find a range of cultural and historical experiences here, too. Keep your eyes peeled for the impeccable Iolani Palace and the Honolulu Museum of Art in nearby Downtown Honolulu.
Within walking distance from the beach, the Studio at Ala Moana has some of the best accommodations in Honolulu from which to explore the city’s history and culture. Your private apartment comes with a lovely ocean vista and homely interior decor. Make the most of your kitchenette before eating out on your own balcony or relaxing in front of the cable TV.
The bright and airy decor will make you feel right at home at Waikiki Marina Resort. Along with an abundance of natural light, each suite comes with a full kitchen, private balcony, and cable TV. Downstairs, you can dine at the on-site restaurant or dive into the outdoor swimming pool.
An expansive resort on a 22-acre beachfront property, Hilton Hawaiian Village has everything you need on your doorstep. Set alongside the Kahanamoku Lagoon, choose between canoeing on the man-made lake or the hotel’s five outdoor pools. Wander the tropical gardens, past waterfalls on your way to lei-making classes, before relaxing in your waterfront room.
Steps from Ala Moana and Waikiki Beach, Prince Waikiki balances affordability and luxury. Let the ocean shine through the floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views of the Pacific and marina below. Enjoy oversized bathrooms and cozy living spaces before bathing in the infinity pool, making use of the spa, or dining with a view.
✓ Top area to stay in Honolulu for adventure travelers
For prime access to some of the finest beaches on Oahu with excellent proximity to the city center, make your way to Diamond Head. One of the best areas to stay in Honolulu, Diamond Head offers envious access to the famed Waikiki beaches without having to pay top dollar.
From your hotel, you’ll enjoy either incredible views towards the Diamond Head Crater or out towards the Pacific, where every night the sun puts on a mesmerizing light show.
From this part of town, you’re perfectly situated to explore beyond Honolulu, too. Continue south along the coast to reach the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design. One of the top tourist attractions in Oahu, the unique art gallery sits in the most spectacular of settings.
The next stop is on your Oahu road trip is the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, featuring an exotic underwater world and some of the best snorkeling near Honolulu.
Behind the beach you’ll spot another ancient crater that can be climbed on the thigh-burning Koko Head Crater Trail, rewarding you with panoramic views.
Have your choice of Diamond Head or Pacific Ocean views at Kaimana Beach Hotel. From the lobby, enjoy a quick stroll to Sans Souci Beach while being close to crater hiking and shopping in Waikiki. Each room offers pleasant decor that fits the beach vibe. You’ll also get to enjoy the sea breeze from your own private balcony.
Equally romantic and great for families, enjoy the spectacular views and excellent location at Lotus Honolulu. From your private balcony or patio, gaze upon Diamond Head or the Pacific while being close to local attractions like the zoo and aquarium. Each room comes with amenities like an LCD TV, espresso machine, and iPod dock to get the good times rolling.
Friends enjoying a reunion or families traveling to Honolulu will adore Villa Alikae. Featuring five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a personal bar, and a private pool, you can say goodbye to the world and hang with the ones you care about. From the villa, have 150 feet to the local beach and only 1.5 miles to Diamond Head.
✓ Top area in Honolulu for budget travelers
Wondering where to stay in Honolulu on a budget? A 10-minute drive from the city center, Manoa is a residential neighborhood that presents a budget-friendly option for backpackers looking to experience paradise on a shoestring. If you’re looking for free things to do, you’ll have plenty to experience around town.
Just outside of Manoa is the Lynn Arboretum, a beautiful garden space featuring a wide variety of native flora and endangered plants. Although worth exploring in its own right, it’s here that you’ll find the trail to one of the most accessible waterfalls around Honolulu. Manoa Falls splits the dense jungle, tumbling down 150 feet into the pool below.
Away from heavy tourist traffic, travelers will have an opportunity to explore a different side of Honolulu in Manoa. Home to a University of Hawaii campus, the town has a youthful, down-to-earth vibe where you can mingle with locals.
Of course, whenever the pull is too strong, you can find yourself back in the action of Waikiki and Downtown Honolulu in no time at all.
HI Hawaii is an excellent option for solo travelers and those on a budget. The hostel comes with gender-specific dorm rooms, a communal lounge, and a large kitchen space. Travelers with a car can also make use of the free parking. Ala Moana beach is under 10 minutes away. The Windward Coast is easily accessible from this excellent location.
Set within a beautiful jungle landscape, the Manoa Valley Inn provides a different kind of view. The garden and sun terrace showcases the beautiful surroundings, allowing it to be the star of the show. The inn provides a breakfast buffet each morning and also has its own outdoor pool.
✓ Best district in Honolulu for luxury travelers
Between Diamond and Koko Head, Kahala is an upscale neighborhood with some of the most expensive real estate in all of Hawaii. It’s a relaxing part of greater Honolulu, where the pristine and secluded local beaches often feel like private hideaways just for you.
One of those is Kahala Beach, a beach that’s easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. With the off-shore reef stopping the waves in their tracks, Kahala Beach offers calm, crystal clear waters and is the perfect place to sunbathe away from the world.
Whenever you aren’t at the beach, you can head to the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art. You’ll also find a broad range of quality restaurants, cozy morning cafes, and shopping at the Kahala Mall. Around the town’s only resort, you can dine at high-end establishments.
One of the top resort hotels in Honolulu, the Kahala Hotel and Resort, showcases the other side of town, away from the crowds. The luxurious location, the only one of its kind in Kahala, provides excellent amenities, including a private beach experience, four restaurants, and a deluxe spa. The warm-colored rooms come with mountain or ocean views, plus a deep-soaking tub.