The Best Hotels in Oahu For Every Traveler

You'll never be far from the beach at these hotels
You'll never be far from the beach at these hotels | © Alvis Upitis / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Elizabeth Rose
21 January 2021

From mid-century high-rises to the elegant “grand dames” of yesteryear, Oahu, Hawaii, has a hotel to please every flavor of traveler. Although it’s the third largest Hawaiian island, you can drive the perimeter in four hours, which means Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head and the North Shore surf are practically neighbors. Here are the best places to stay.

The Modern Honolulu

Hotel
Map View
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Courtesy of The Modern Honolulu by Diamond Resorts / Expedia
The Modern is exactly that. The decor is sleek and contemporary; there’s an upcycled surfboard display in the lobby. The rooms, decorated in neutral colors complemented by city or ocean views, are made for relaxation, which might come in handy after a day touring Honolulu or shopping in the huge nearby mall, Ala Moana. If that’s not your thing, head to one of the two pools and sip on a mai tai from the pool bar. An open-air dinner at The Grove restaurant surrounded by lush greenery and island flowers with a view of the yacht harbor is a fantastic way to start your evening.
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The Kahala Hotel & Resort

Resort, Hotel
Map View
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Courtesy of The Kahala Hotel & Resort / Expedia | Courtesy of The Kahala Hotel & Resort / Expedia
Located on the beach next to the private Wai’alae Country Club golf course, this luxury resort has hosted the rich and famous over a 50-year history. Spend your vacation watching dolphins leap in the private in-resort lagoon, dining on fine Hawaiian cuisine at Hoku’s restaurant or just strolling the 800ft (244m) white sandy beach. In the evenings, listen to live music at The Veranda, while sampling craft cocktails.
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Halekulani Hotel

Resort, Hotel
Map View
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Courtesy of Halekulani / Expedia
Stay right on the ocean in this luxurious hotel where all suites and many guest rooms come with ocean views, a setting made for sunset lovers. There are three open-air restaurants, each with sea views, including the elegant La Mer, an award-winning fine dining eatery featuring cuisine from the south of France with island touches. Relax at the indoor-outdoor hotel lounge where you sip cocktails while listening to gentle Hawaiian tunes.
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The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

Boutique Hotel, Independent Hotel
Map View
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Courtesy of The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club / Expedia | Courtesy of The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club / Expedia

With a mid-century surf vibe, this hotel is a place to soak up the hang-loose beach culture of Oahu. There’s a large club pool, in which families can splash for most of the day. However, there’s a kids-free swim time from 6pm to 9pm daily, plus “dive-in” movies on the large screen overlooking the pool. Finish your day with a Hawaiian dinner at the in-house Mahina & Sun’s helmed by Honolulu chef Ed Kenney.

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Moana Surfrider

Resort, Spa Hotel, Hotel
Map View
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Courtesy of Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach / Expedia | Courtesy of Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach / Expedia
Moana Surfrider reflects the elegance of the Victorian era yet doesn’t skimp on modern amenities. Arrive to a grand, columned portico before settling into your luxurious room tastefully decorated to reflect the beauty of Hawaii. Then head to the courtyard where you’ll find a huge banyan tree, planted in 1904. Relax there with a fine wine at the Vintage 1901 veranda bar. Elsewhere, waves lap the private beach area, the ocean-view freshwater pool will beckon you, and you can experience a Hawaiian-inspired spa treatment at Moana Lani Spa, the only oceanfront spa in Waikiki.
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The Royal Hawaiian

Resort, Hotel
Map View
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 Courtesy of The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki / Booking.com
Known as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific,” The Royal Hawaiian was opened in 1927 right on the beach at Waikiki. Costing $4m it was a marvel, with a candy-colored exterior and a Spanish-Moorish style. That splendor is still there, with more modern luxuries added including an inviting garden spa and the award-winning Azure seafood restaurant. The 528 rooms and suites are modern and come with timeless garden or ocean views.
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Hotel Renew

Budget Hotel, Independent Hotel
Map View
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 Courtesy of Hotel Renew / Expedia

Hotel Renew, with a laid-back beachy vibe, is located centrally in Waikiki and is only a minute’s walk from the shores. The hotel even has complimentary beach gear (boogie boards, snorkeling equipment, towels and more) and a place to store your surfboard. When you’re not tackling the breaks, relax in one of the 72 rooms, which come in pastel or earth tones with Hawaiian touches and local art. For an ultra-chill evening, head to the lobby to grab a bag of calm-inducing local lavender.

Turtle Bay Resort

Resort, Independent Hotel
Map View
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 Courtesy of Turtle Bay Resort / Booking.com

Located on the North Shore, this resort offers two golf courses and five miles of ocean beach, some rugged and some soft and sandy. And yes, there are sea turtles – see them with a snorkel or kayak excursion. Not up for an adventure? Lounge in a private cabana poolside or look up at the swaying palms as you relax in a hot tub. Dine on sushi or fresh fish on the outdoor deck at Roy’s Beach House or hit Lei Lei’s bar and grill after a round of golf and enjoy course views. You’ll find luxury resort rooms with a view, plus three- or four-bedroom ocean villas.

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  • Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

    Chain Hotel, Resort
    Map View
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    Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa |  Courtesy of Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa / Expedia

    Bring your family to Aulani on the west coast to experience local culture enhanced by Disney magic. Children can go wild with the Kids Club experiences and have their photo with Mickey or his chums. Adults can enjoy the luau, book a treatment at the spa and hang at one of the lounges dotted throughout the resort. There’s fine dining including beachfront Hawaiian-inspired cooking plus plenty of grab-and-go options.

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    The Laylow, Autograph Collection

    Chain Hotel
    Map View
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     Courtesy of The Laylow, Autograph Collection / Expedia

    Hang loose in a style-conscious hotel where statement prints and mid-century modern furniture complement the charm of the trendy Honolulu neighborhood, Kuhio. Splash your cares away in the saltwater pool and grab a complimentary shave ice drink when the heat gets a bit much. There’s an on-site restaurant, Seoul Tofu House, and a coffee bar, Hideout, which serves farm-to-table Hawaiian cuisine plus artisan cocktails and local beers. You’re not far from attractions such as the International Marketplace and Waikiki Beach and you can end the day around the fire pit, enjoying live island music.

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    Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head

    Resort, Hotel
    Map View
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     Courtesy of Lotus Honolulu Hotel / Expedia
    Urban chic decor enhances the traditional island vibe at this high-rise hotel with rooms offering views of Diamond Head and the ocean. Explore the natural wonders by borrowing a complimentary bike from the hotel or simply sink into the sands. Make sure you’re back for the daily wine tasting, before heading to TBD… by award-winning chef Vikram Garg, for island fusion cuisine. Guests rave about the curry du jour.
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    Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

    Chain Hotel, Luxury
    Map View
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     Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina / Expedia

    This exclusive beachfront resort on the rugged western coast is a rambling property dotted with pools, lagoons and ocean views. The casually elegant rooms are spacious – some come with outdoor hot tubs and others large balconies – and offer refined decor reflecting the island surroundings. Excitement abounds with cliff jumping at Waimea Bay Beach Park, helicopter rides and sailing the coastline in an outrigger canoe. Take things easier by digging your toes into the white sands or playing golf among waterfalls at Ko Olina Golf Club.

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    These recommendations were updated on January 21, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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