Featuring beautiful beaches and blissful mountain ranges, Oahu is one of the most popular Hawaiian islands for travelers. But with all its natural beauty spread across the tropical island, it can be a challenge to nail down where to stay in Oahu.
Besides its white-sand beaches and tropical rainforests, the best areas to stay in Oahu offer vibrant underwater worlds and incredible hikes across ancient volcanoes. The absolute best hotels in Oahu will not only come with mesmerizing views but easy access to all the local attractions.
Not sure where to start planning your Hawaiian island getaway? Kickstart your Oahu accommodations search with this complete guide to the best places to stay in Oahu, Hawaii.
Best places to stay in Oahu, HI
Oahu breaks up into several regions, each with its own unique characteristics. The many personalities of Oahu were shaped by volcanic activity, bringing arid landscapes to one side and lush jungles to the other.
Enveloping the entire island of Oahu are golden sand beaches and an electric-blue ocean teeming with reefs and tropical marine life. The top accommodations in Oahu help to showcase all its amazing scenery.
Much has been written about the action in Waikiki in Honolulu. But couples, families, friends, and solo travelers have plenty of other options around Oahu—whether that’s a beachfront resort on the Leeward Coast or chasing waves on Oahu’s North Shore.
Whether you choose to spend your vacation in a central location like Honolulu, or somewhere more remote like Oahu’s Windward Coast, it’s simple to get around the entire island. Whatever your travel style, you can choose a solid base for your Hawaii vacation and embark on day trips to top Oahu attractions like Pearl Harbor or to its quieter beach towns.
The best areas to stay on Oahu are:
✓ Best area to stay in Oahu for first-time visitors
Set near bustling downtown Honolulu, Waikiki is one of the best places to stay on Oahu. Travelers will feel the rush of the ocean breeze from the many hotels, resorts, and villas in town thanks to their proximity to arguably the most famous beach in Hawaii.
Backed by Honolulu’s high-rises, with the Diamond Head Crater completing the backdrop, Waikiki Beach is a great option for a classic Hawaii vibe. From the second the glorious white sand and turquoise water of the Pacific Ocean comes into view, you’ll feel you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
The two-mile stretch of golden shore also includes the family-friendly Kuhio Beach Park, with its shallow lagoon-like water. Continue on to explore Kapiolani Park, one of the other top Honolulu beaches, for fewer beach crowds and picnic space.
But life in Waikiki isn’t all about the sun and sand. Visitors can make the most of its central location to dig into all the best things to do in Honolulu, including nearby shopping and cultural sites.
Behind the local city favorite Ala Moana Beach, visit the Ala Moana Shopping Center, the largest open-air mall in the United States. To further scratch the shopping itch, head over to the Royal Hawaiian Center.
For history and culture, wander down to the stunning Iolani Palace, home of Hawaii’s last monarch. End your day in Honolulu exploring the Honolulu Museum of Art.
With vintage-inspired accommodations, the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club is one of the top hotels on Oahu. The boutique resort brings you back to 1960s Hawaii. It offers plenty of cultural activities and entertainment to keep you busy when you aren’t swimming at the beach. Each room comes with a private balcony and ensuite bathroom.
Thanks to its postcard-worthy ocean views, you’ll have to keep the camera handy at Queen Kapiolani Hotel. Enjoy bright and airy accommodation that taps into the coastal vibe while gazing upon Diamond Head, the ocean, and the Honolulu city skyline. Guests can enjoy the on-site pool, with Kapiolani Beach Park across the street.
A 4-star hotel, Moana Surfrider Resort & Spa is right on the sands of Waikiki Beach—so close you’ll hear the sounds of the waves landing. The luxury accommodations at this beachfront hotel feature tranquil tones and far-reaching views with a private beach area just for you. Moana Surfrider has an on-site pool and multiple restaurants and dining options to choose from.
Primed for the romantic vacation of your dreams, couples will quickly fall in love with Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. With panoramic ocean views streaming through the vast windows, wake up to lush blues and bright skies. The all-suite property comes with a full kitchen, cable TV, ensuite and spacious balcony. Guests at this luxurious hotel can also enjoy the on-site pool and recreation deck.
✓ Top place to stay on Oahu for a quieter Honolulu experience
Beginning on the edge of the Waikiki Beach shoreline, the Diamond Head neighborhood offers a prime balance between modern amenities and peaceful vibes. Despite having amazing proximity to all the action in Waikiki and further beyond in Honolulu, those staying in Diamond Head can pick and choose when they want to be among the crowds.
From your envious position in South Oahu, you can walk down to Kapiolani Beach Park for a swim, or head in the other direction to hike to the summit of the Diamond Head Crater. While enjoying your panoramic views, you may be able to point out several local attractions from the Honolulu Zoo to the immersive Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art.
Further along the Kalaniana’ole Highway, you can visit the stunning Hanauma Bay, home to some of the best-protected reefs on the island. From the bay, you can see the peak of another ancient volcanic crater, which you can climb via the Koko Head Crater Trail.
Along with having cheaper accommodation options than the nearby Waikiki, it’s easy to see why Diamond Head is one of the top areas to stay in Oahu.
Gaze upon the nearby Diamond Head Crater or the endless blues of the Pacific Ocean at Kaimana Beach Hotel. Each room comes with a private balcony, flat-screen TV, and free WiFi. It’s all complemented by amazing staff who can help plan your solo or family vacation. Walk right onto the sand or enjoy a 15-minute stroll to the famous Waikiki Beach.
Tucked away in the foothills of the Diamond Head Crater, guests at Lotus Honolulu will have unforgettable views of the prehistoric volcano. The hotel is connected to the beachfront via two scenic walking trails, offering a best-of-both-worlds experience. Each room comes with a gorgeous balcony or patio with a premium espresso machine.
For friends and family searching for exclusive accommodations in Oahu, look no further than Villa Alikae. With your own private pool, bar, and balconies kick back in your 5-bedroom palace without a stranger in sight. Explore the surrounding gardens before venturing to Ka’alawai Beach, a mere 150 feet away.
✓ Top region to stay on Oahu for water activities
Featuring the Seven Mile Miracle and the Banzai Pipeline, Oahu’s North Shore gifts travelers and beach bums with some of the best big-wave surf on the planet. When winter comes around, the currents stir up trouble and the surging Pacific Ocean rises to immense heights, forming epic barrels for the best and bravest to ride.
But North Shore Oahu isn’t only amazing for surf: It presents a quieter, more rural vibe than the urban experience in Honolulu. From the central town of Haleiwa, you can venture into the countryside and see the so-called “real Hawaii.” In the summer, the small scattering of sleepy coastal towns is both family-friendly and romantic.
Take a morning stroll along white-sand beaches before nursing a hot cup of coffee in a cozy cafe. On the North Shore, you won’t feel rushed. But with the memorable Turtle Bay, Sunset Beach, and the Polynesian Cultural Center nearby, you won’t have a shortage of things to do here.
In this central location, you’ll be well placed to enjoy the best of the North Shore at Kalani Hawaii Private Lodging. Make the most of your stay by booking a room with both a full kitchen and a private balcony. From there, enjoy a five-minute walk to the impeccable Sunset Beach.
Backed by jungle-laden mountains, the Courtyard lets you enjoy splendid scenery while making the most of its many on-site amenities. Each room features ensuite bathrooms, spacious living areas, and cable TV. Guests will also have access to the pool, fitness center, hotel restaurant, and the nearby Polynesian Cultural Center.
Each room at the Turtle Bay Resort has a private balcony looking down to one of the most unique shorelines on the island. Enjoy the modern decor from your cozy suite before choosing between two championship golf courses, on-site restaurants, and bars, along with the fitness center. And you’ll do it all the while being steps away from the green sea turtles that call the bay home.
✓ Recommend area to stay in Oahu for a quieter seaside experience
Protected by the wind, Oahu’s Leeward Coast is drier than the opposite coast. Like North Shore, it’s a quieter experience than the buzz of Waikiki. With a selection of luxury resorts facing west for the evening’s sunset, this part of the island is well set up for families and couples alike.
Between the white-sand coves of Ko Olina Beach and Kapolei, visitors can make the most of the surrounding golf courses, the shopping center, and the local marina. When you’re done, you can retreat to your beachside lodgings for some uninterrupted R&R.
With your position in West Oahu, you’ll have envious access to must-visit destinations, including Pearl Harbor, just 25 minutes away; the coastal town of Waianae; and the Makaha Valley.
Experience some of the best local nature away from the crowds or simply enjoy the facilities at your beautiful resort. The choice is yours.
A Travel Sustainable property, the Hampton Inn & Suites Oahu Kapolei is a great base to explore the Leeward Coast and Pearl Harbor. From your modern accommodations, make use of the fitness center and outdoor pool. The inn is alongside a large shopping center, with restaurants and entertainment while offering easy access to Ko Olina Beach.
Each day at Residence Inn, you’ll have your choice of the delectable on-site restaurant and bar or the family-friendly barbeque facilities. Enjoy the spacious outdoor pool, or relax in your private dining area with a full kitchen and cable TV. In the morning wake up to the smell of the continental and buffet breakfasts.
Facing the stunning golden shoreline, Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club is as romantic as it gets. Offering airport shuttles, be whisked away to paradise with nothing to see but lush rolling hills, white sand, and turquoise waters. Each room comes with a fully equipped kitchen. You’ll also enjoy a choice of three outdoor pools, on-site restaurants, live entertainment, and a spa.
Through the floor-to-ceiling windows, enjoy fairytale views of the ocean from this luxurious 5-star hotel. Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina is one of the best Oahu hotels. Fall asleep and wake up in heaven. Sip a coffee on your private balcony before relaxing by the pool. Grab a tropical cocktail at the bar before having a beachfront dinner at the on-site restaurant.
✓ Top-rated place to stay on Oahu for lush landscapes and pristine beaches
Located in East Oahu, the Windward Coast is as lush as it is rugged. Along with receiving the lion’s share of the wind, it rains more on this part of the island than elsewhere. But among the jungle landscapes are some of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu. And its mountainous terrain teems with outdoor activities.
Compared to South Oahu and the Leeward Coast, there’s a dearth of major resorts here. Backed by towering mountains rather than skyscrapers, the Windward Coast showcases the might of nature, not the ingenuity of humanity. And, wow, is it a sight to behold!
On any given day, you can enjoy the sparkling white sands along Kailua Bay, including Lanikai Beach and the neighboring Kailua Beach, before embarking on the memorable Lanikai Pillbox hike, one of the top hiking trails on Oahu. But days on the sand won’t end there. Add Waimanalo Beach and Makapu’u Beach (with its iconic red roof lighthouse) to your ultimate Oahu itinerary.
On the Windward Coast, you’ll also find Kualoa Ranch. For movie & TV buffs, the famed ranch will be instantly recognizable. It provided the backdrop for many scenes from the blockbuster Jurassic Park along with several popular TV shows like Lost and Hawaii 5-0.
Close to the beach but with private mountain views, Paradise Palms BnB offers a little of everything. Under the swaying palm trees, kick back on your patio and take in the lush garden views. Cook up a feast in your full kitchen or enjoy the complimentary breakfast. From there, enjoy a short walk to Kailua Beach.
Tucked among the jungle landscape on Oahu’s Leeward Coast, Kailua Beach Guest House will be your home away from home. Cook up your favorite breakfast in your very own kitchen before enjoying the mountain views from your private balcony. Afterward, have your choice of spectacular hikes and pristine beaches.
One of the few resorts on the east coast, Paradise Bay Resort, is your choice for upscale local accommodation. On Kaneohe Bay, you’ll be close to beaches while also having a luxurious outdoor pool. Each room has a kitchen or kitchenette and a private patio. The resort also rents out kayaks and snorkel equipment.