The Best Luxury Resorts to Book in Oahu, Hawaii

From the activities desk and modern amenities to the gourmet dining, luxury is guaranteed at the Four Seasons Resort at Ko Olina
From the activities desk and modern amenities to the gourmet dining, luxury is guaranteed at the Four Seasons Resort at Ko Olina | Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort at Ko Olina / Expedia
Charlene Fang

Whether this is your first time visiting Hawaii, or you’re a returning sun bird seeking warmth, a few days in Oahu is always a good idea. From historic estate properties turned luxury hotels to not-so-secret celeb hideaways and all-inclusive family-friendly resorts – no matter which you choose, paradise is on your doorstep. Here’s our round-up of some of the best luxury resorts Oahu has to offer, bookable with Culture Trip.

1. Halekulani, for the last word in luxury

Resort, Hotel

A luxury room at the Halekulani with an oceanfront balcony
Courtesy of Halekulani / Expedia
One of the oldest and best luxury resorts in Hawaii, Halekulani has welcomed guests to its serene beachfront grounds for more than a century. The four Premier Suites here overlook Waikiki Beach and have a distinctive design, spacious interior, and unobstructed views of Diamond Head. Halekulani also prides itself on providing an attentive, bespoke service with a personal butler, private kitchen facilities, in-room guest checkin, and complimentary airport SUV transfers making your trip stress-free.

2. Moana Surfrider, for beachside views

Resort, Spa Hotel, Hotel

Aerial view of beach-front pool, palm trees and ocean at Moana Surfrider
Courtesy of Moana Surfrider / Expedia
Flex to the max with a stay at the First Lady of Waikiki. Not only are you on Waikiki Beach, but there are scenic spots scattered everywhere around the property, too: from your balcony overlooking the sand to the majestic 75ft (23m) banyan tree planted in 1904, the Moana Lani Spa with its beachfront Lomi Lomi massages and the sweeping koa-wood staircase in the Moana Wing. Rooms-wise, you won’t regret forking out for the oceanfront suite with two separate balconies, so you’re in a prime position to catch both the sunrise and sunset.

3. The Kahala Hotel and Resort, for Old Hawaii grandeur

Resort, Hotel

Large cream couch overlooking a coffee table, zebra-patterned stools, and a private balcony overlooking the ocean at Kahala Hotel and Resort
Courtesy of the Kahala Hotel and Resort / Expedia
Everyone who’s anyone has stayed at this illustrious resort. Once the hiding place of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, this Honolulu landmark retains its grand Old Hawaii allure, without being stuffy. Rooms are spacious and understated, some looking out to the ocean and bathrooms accommodate double sinks and a deep-soaking tub. But, really, it’s the pristine stretch of white-sand beach that’s the star of the resort. While only a half-mile (0.8km) long, it’s partially secluded and thus one of the few “private” beaches in Hawaii, where all beaches are public. Of the five dining concepts, Hoku’s is a favorite for its nature-to-table Hawaiian cuisine and celebrated Sunday brunch.

4. Four Seasons Resort at Ko Olina, for thoughtful amenities

Chain Hotel, Luxury

A pool area looks over a small cove with a golden-sand beach and palm trees shrouding hotel buildings in the distance.
Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina / Expedia

The Four Seasons experience doesn’t come cheap – for good reason. At Four Seasons Ko Olina, the elegant beach-chic rooms are expectedly luxurious and come with wraparound ocean views. Within the resort, there’s a flurry of extras: an adults-only infinity pool, with cabanas kitted out with Kindles and Bose headphones; an activities desk that organizes everything from adrenaline-raising helicopter tours to turtle spotting with former Navy Seals; and creative gourmet concepts, like Mina’s Fish House by chef and James Beard-awardee, Michael Mina. If we have one complaint, it’s that they make it impossible to leave.

5. Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, for lazy beach vibes

Resort

An outdoor terrace dining area with wooden tables and bamboo chairs overlooks the beach, the ocean and other hotels in the distance at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort
Courtesy of Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort / Expedia

As the former location of the Outrigger Canoe Club, it’s no surprise that the hotel’s open beach access, mere footsteps from its freshwater pool, is its outstanding feature. This relaxed Waikiki resort has all you need for a week in the sun, including light-filled rooms with balconies to enjoy the gentle Hawaiian breeze and access to a private lounge for Voyager 47 Club rooms. There are always good vibes going at Duke’s Waikiki restaurant, especially on lazy Sunday afternoons when the smooth vocals of Hawaiian musician, Henry Kapono, entertain. For romantics, the hotel hosts a traditional Hawaiian vow renewal ceremony weekly as a complimentary service for guests.

6. Turtle Bay Resort, for turtle-spotting

Resort, Independent Hotel

Elegant and modern cream-toned bedroom with four poster bed, white couch, glass coffee table and a hanging bamboo chair at Turtle Bay Resort
Courtesy of Turtle Bay Resort / Expedia

Oahu’s famed North Shore is fully deserving of the hype. The pace is more chilled, the water pristine and the waves, awe-inspiring. One resort that has all the highlights is Turtle Bay. The self-contained property has ample distractions (horseback-riding lessons, an on-site spa, a golf course, two saltwater pools) and because it sits on Kuilima Cove, you’re in for a treat when it comes to snorkeling and turtle-spotting. The generously sized rooms have all the expected creature comforts, with most looking out to the ocean.

7. Paradise Bay Resort, for days spent in the sea

Resort

Balcony with two chairs and a table with two cocktails overlooking the ocean and the mountains in the distance at Paradise Bay Resort
Courtesy of Paradise Bay Resort / Expedia

For a quieter, activity-based getaway, the secluded Paradise Bay Resort is a compelling choice. Facing picturesque Kāneʻohe Bay, spacious self-catering cottages look out to the majestic Koolau Mountains and Chinaman’s Hat Island. Yoga and meditation classes are included with the resort fee, as is snorkeling and kayaking equipment. You will have to shell out extra for a chartered boat excursion to the nearby sandbar for an afternoon of snorkeling and a volleyball session, but it’ll be worth it.

8. Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, for cartoon cool

Chain Hotel, Resort

Aerial view of beach-front location of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, featuring the ocean and the stretch of beach in front of the hotel
Courtesy of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa / Expedia

Vacations are meant to be relaxing – not always easy with a couple of kids in tow. But the family-friendly Aulani resort buys you some breathing space, so you can at least finish your coffee while it’s still warm, thanks to its myriad attractions: waterplay areas, the Rainbow Reef for snorkeling, photo ops with Moana and Mickey, and fire-pit storytelling. For a proper escape, park them at Aunty’s Beach House while you take a breather at the adults-only Wailana Pool or tee off at the neighboring Ko Olina golf course. Come sunset, gather for snaps at Ko Olina Lagoon One, on the Aulani Disney Resort’s doorstep. Mickey might even swing by for a selfie.

9. 'Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, for beachside glamor at scale

Resort, Independent Hotel, Luxury

White-themed outdoor lounge area with couches and chairs at Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach with the ocean and palm trees in the background
Courtesy of 'Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach / Expedia

Sixty steps. That’s all it takes to get from this hotel to Waikiki’s sandy shores. Renovated in 2018, this 839-room hotel is all about the wow factor. There’s the 280,000gal (1,000,000lt) aquarium in the lobby filled with tropical fish, two restaurants from Masaharu Morimoto (of TV fame), an infinity pool that’s popular with local scenesters, and rooms decorated in an understated luxe style (all cream hues and warm wood accents). Shell out for one of the nine suites, and all-day access to the Longboard Club is thrown in, plus deep-soaking tubs and an expansive lanai for extra bragging rights.

10. The Royal Hawaiian, for Insta-worthy interiors

Resort, Hotel

Outdoor pool surrounded by lounge chairs and palm trees at the Royal Hawaiian with an ocean backdrop
Courtesy of the Royal Hawaiian / Expedia
Before there was millennial pink, there was the bubblegum façade of this historic hotel, dating back to 1927. Dubbed the Pink Palace of the Pacific, the hotel’s postcard-worthy stucco and Moorish exterior has made it a Honolulu icon. Rooms are split between the Historic Wing, where old-world grandeur meets pockets of the resort’s distinct pink hue. Contrastingly, the rooms in the newer Mailani Tower are understated and minimalist in style. Paying tribute to the resort’s storied past, you will find unique artifacts illustrating the history of the Hawaiian monarchy and daily cultural activities (lei-making, crafting of kukui-nut bracelets, and hula lessons). The best way to take it all in, though, is at the weekly Aha Aina Luau, where Hawaii’s history is re-enacted through a mele of food, song, stories, and hula.

Pierre de Villiers contributed additional reporting to this article.

If you’re looking for more beach luxury, check out our guide to the best luxury hotels in Maui, or read about the top luxury hotels in Hawaii. Alternatively, find out about the best resorts in Honolulu, or the best beach hotels to book on Oahu– now bookable on Culture Trip.

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