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One of the islands on the archipelago of Hawaii, Oahu is among the best destinations for a tropical getaway, thanks to its crystal-turquois waters, stunning hikes, jaw-dropping wildlife, and glittering cities. With so much to see and do, deciding where to stay in Oahu can be tough.

With this complete guide on the best spots to stay on the island, we want to help you narrow down the top accommodations in Oahu for your travel needs. In addition, we will list each area’s unmissable attractions and give you some useful tips for spending a wonderful time in Oahu. 

Read more about Hawaii and the Pacific Islands

Where to stay in Oahu?

  • For the best prices on accommodations and the most choices, Booking.com has been my go-to choice especially once you reach Genius tier and you can find an additional 10-20% off places to stay.

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Where To Stay In Oahu

where to stay in oahu neighborhood guide with view of waikiki along the sans souci beachwhere to stay in oahu neighborhood guide with view of waikiki along the sans souci beach

Oahu has different regions with unique climates and natural landscapes where you can enjoy a wide range of diverse activities. This breakdown of the island’s top areas will help you find where to stay in Oahu based on your travel needs.

The main neighborhoods Of Oahu 

Following are Oahu’s best areas to stay in for a wonderful holiday.

1. Waikiki – Honolulu’s most famous district, Waikiki boasts gorgeous but busy beaches, lively nightlife, and the island’s top attractions.

2. Ala Moana – One of the districts of Honolulu, Ala Moana is right next to Waikiki but less crowded and so perfect for enjoying great beaches and awesome shopping and eating opportunities. 

3. North Shore – Famous for the Big Wave surfing spots and a laid-back atmosphere, the North Shore delights visitors with quaint small towns, pristine beaches, and stunning waterfalls.

4. Ko Olina – On the sunny Leeward Coast, Ko Olina is a resort town with jewel-like lagoons, excellent for swimming and snorkeling, and many upscale accommodation options.

5. Kailua – The main town on the Windward Coast, Kailua has a perfect mix of wonderful nature and cultural attractions. 

Oahu travel tips 

How to get around 

The easiest way to get around Oahu is with a rental car. The island isn’t that big, but having your car will give you the freedom to explore it all. You will find most major car rental companies on the island at the Honolulu Airport and Waikiki. To be eligible to rent a car in Oahu, you must be 21 years old or older and have an International Driving Permit (IDP). 

Another option is to get around via bus. Oahu has the best public bus service in Hawaii, and the company that operates all the routes is called The Bus. Getting around by bus is the cheapest option you will find, but also the slowest. So consider it when sifting through the various transport options. You can purchase tickets directly on the coach or by tapping the HOLO card upon getting on the bus. To get a HOLO card, you just need to pop into any ABC Store in Waikiki. 

The last best option is to book a ride through a ride-sharing service. Uber, Lyft, and Holoholo are all available in Hawaii, and finding a ride in Oahu is incredibly easy as the island is the most populated of the archipelago. 

Neighborhood map 

Oahu is divided into five distinct regions: Honolulu, the Windward Coast, Central Oʻahu, the Leeward Coast, and the North Shore. Here, you will find a handy map of the best places to stay in Oahu.

map of oahu with different neighborhoods and regions labelledmap of oahu with different neighborhoods and regions labelled
Map via HawaiiLife

Plan your trip

Pack Reef-Safe Sunscreen – Don’t forget to pack sunscreen when traveling to Oahu. However, be mindful of the sunscreen you buy: some contain harmful chemicals to the coral reef. So, make sure to pack sunscreen that doesn’t have oxybenzone and octinoxate in its composition. 

Turtle Regulations – Speaking of marine life, you should know that there are severe regulations around sea turtles. You can watch these incredible creatures, but it is illegal to touch or harass them at any time. 

Reserve Your Spot at Mount Diamond – While in Honolulu, you can’t not hike to the crater of Mount Diamond. This hike is among the most popular things to do in Oahu, and if you are traveling during summer, we suggest you reserve your spot in advance

Make a Reservation in Advance to Visit Pearl Harbor – Another site you should book your spot in advance is Pearl Harbor. While entry to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is free, you need a timed ticket to the USS Arizona Memorial. You can easily reserve your ticket through the Government’s Official Website.

Save On Food by Eating in Food Trucks – Hawaii has a vibrant food truck scene, serving lots of deliciousness, from Asian dishes to Hawaiian pokè. Purchasing your meals at local food tracks is the best way to stay on a budget during your trip. 

#1 Waikiki 

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Image via Unsplash by AussieActive

What’s there and why visit

Waikiki is one of the districts of Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital city. It’s where all the action takes place, being it the bustling area of the city. Particularly popular for its three-kilometer-long beach, the area offers incredible views of the Honolulu skyline and the Diamond Head crater in the distance

Waikiki is a stone’s throw away from many of Oahu’s top attractions, so it’s always packed with tourists. 

Waikiki is where to stay in Oahu for every traveler, from first-timers to families, as it features a diverse array of accommodations from which to choose. Check out one of Waikiki’s more popular hotels when looking for a place to stay. If traveling to Hawaii for the first time, be sure to check out our other articles on Hawaii such as Best Island to Visit in Hawaii For First Time Visitors. However, keep in mind that the area is not tranquil due to the presence of many tourists and locals.  

Suggested hotels near Waikiki

BUDGET CONDO

entrance to charming royal garden condo in Waikikientrance to charming royal garden condo in Waikiki

Royal Garden Condo

This hotel is a great choice for beach goers. It’s within walking distance to 3 popular beaches, including Waikiki beach, as well as a few minute walk to the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. After a day of shopping and exploring all the attractions close by, come back and relax with a dip in the pool!

MID-RANGE

where to stay in oahu hilton garden In waikiki beachwhere to stay in oahu hilton garden In waikiki beach

Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach

Highly recommended by couples, this hotel is a favorite in Waikiki for those on a romantic getaway for two. With a beach within walking distance, an outdoor pool onsite and adjacent dining and shopping centers, the stunning views from the balcony are nothing short of amazing.

MID-RANGE

queen kapiolani hotel with diamond head viewqueen kapiolani hotel with diamond head view

Queen Kapiolani Hotel

“I liked the location. Close to the beach and shopping. Great restaurants around as well. Beautiful view of Diamond Head. The pool was very nice and a great place to hang out. The room was comfortable and the staff was friendly. The happy hour they offer is super fun. Wonderful amenities.”

LUXURY

sheraton waikiki sunset view of beach overlooking diamond headsheraton waikiki sunset view of beach overlooking diamond head

Sheraton Waikiki

This hotel is a top choice among couples and families, offering numerous activities, dining options and in-room amenities. There are several pools onsite, including an adult-only option, 2 fresh water pools, ocean-front pools and a huge waterslide. Rooms include a flat-screen TV and video games.

Things to see near Waikiki 

Waikiki BeachThe most famous beach in Oahu, Waikiki Beach is made of eight different beaches, one after another. Its soft golden sand is perfect for relaxing and sunbathing. At Waikiki Beach, you can spend time doing many water activities, from leisurely swimming in shallow lagoons to surfing in the parts of the beach with great breaks. If you want to try out Hawaii’s national sport, there are dozens of surf schools along Waikiki Beach.

Honolulu Museum of Art – Visiting a museum might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about sunny Hawaii. But if you are an art enthusiast, you will surely love the wide and diverse collection displayed at the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA). It includes everything from Asian and Hawaiian art to European Impressionist works. Besides admiring artistic expressions from the past, at HoMA, you will also see thought-provoking contemporary works made by local talents.

Shangri La – Shangri La is the former house of Doris Duke, heiress to American Tobacco and avid art collector, and is today part of the Honolulu Museum of Art. It displays Doris Duke’s extensive collection of Islamic art and can be visited only via a guided tour from the museum. Shangri La is one of the most interesting things to do in Oahu: not only is the house gorgeous, but the art pieces displayed inside are of great cultural relevance.  

Diamond Head Crater – Diamond Head is one of the most famous volcanos in Hawaii, and hiking to its crater is truly unmissable. Called by the natives Le’ahi (“Tuna Brow”) because it resembles a fin, the volcano was named “Diamond Head” when European sailors mistook its glittering calcite crystals for diamonds. The hike to the crater is easy, and once at the summit, you will marvel at breathtaking views of the Honolulu skyline and the Pacific Ocean. We recommend this tour that includes a knowledgeable guide and lunch!

Getting there 

Waikiki Beach – From Waikiki’s main street, Kalākaua Ave, proceed southeasterly for 6 minutes to get to the beach.

Honolulu Museum of Art – From Kalākaua Ave, take Seaside Ave on the left for 0,4 km and turn left onto Ala Wai Blvd. After 1,2 km, turn right onto Kalākaua Ave, drive for another 1,2 km, and then turn left onto S Beretania St. The destination will be on the right after 1,2 km more.

Shangri La – To get to Shangri La, you will need to reserve a spot on the guided tour from the Honolulu Museum of Art.  

Diamond Head Crater Hike – From Kalākaua Ave, drive southeasterly for 1,1 km and then turn slightly left to take Monsarrat Ave. After 1,6 km, turn left on Trousseau St., and then turn on the second street on the right (Kepuhi St). In 0,4 km, turn right to take Alohea Avenue, and at the end of the road, turn left on Diamond Head Rd. Keep following this street toward Diamond Head Tunnel to reach the beginning of the trail.

Suggested activities in Waikiki

From Honolulu: Oahu Helicopter Tour with Doors On or Off – Forge unforgettable memories with this helicopter tour of Oahu and admire jaw-dropping views of Honolulu, the Windward Coast, the North Shore, and Pearl Harbor, also by deciding if flying with the aircraft’s doors on or off.

Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion from Waikiki, Hawaii – Join this two-hour snorkel excursion to Turtle Canyons, the congregation site of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, to swim alongside them and much other sea life.  

#2 Ala Moana 

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Image via Unsplash by Robert Linder

What’s there and why visit

If you are wondering where to stay in Honolulu when traveling on a budget, Ala Moana is the right choice. Another one of Honolulu’s districts, Ala Moana is close to many incredible attractions but is less touristy than Waikiki.

In Ala Moana, you will find more locals than tourists, meaning the area is not-so-crowded and boasts a more authentic vibe.

Here you will find everything from a wonderful beach, the Ala Moana Beach Park, to the world’s largest outdoor shopping center with plenty of opportunities for shopping and eating. 

There is no shortage of outdoor activities in Ala Moana, with wonderful hikes at no more than a 20-minute drive. The district is also close to the historical Pearl Harbor center, which is Oahu’s must-visit. 

Suggested hotels near Ala Moana

BUDGET

walkway over water at pagoda hotel in ala moanawalkway over water at pagoda hotel in ala moana

Pagoda Hotel

This hotel is a favorite amongst the locals because it has a ton to offer without breaking the bank. It has many on-site amenities, including a floating restaurant, salon, shops and relaxing koi ponds to view. It is conveniently located close to downtown Honolulu, beaches and many restaurants and shops nearby.

MID-RANGE

where to stay oahu ala moana hotel suite with window overlooking oceanwhere to stay oahu ala moana hotel suite with window overlooking ocean

Ala Moana Hotel

“We had a fantastic stay! It was a great location we had a beautiful view of the ocean and the most beautiful sunsets at night. It is right next to the ala Moana mall which was really great if you wanted food or to do a little shopping. Great response time from the property manager if we had any questions. Highly recommend!”

MID-RANGE

best western the plaza hotel outdoor pool and seatingbest western the plaza hotel outdoor pool and seating

Best Western The Plaza Hotel

This hotel is pet friendly! Amenities include an on-site restaurant, outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi and breakfast. It is located close by to the Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial and the Missouri Center, and downtown Honolulu is a short drive away.

STUDIO APARTMENT

bed in studio apartment at ilikai marina vacationsbed in studio apartment at ilikai marina vacations

Ilikai Marina Vacations

At this apartment, the balcony views never disappoint. Either book your studio apartment to overlook the boats in the marina or the mountains. The site includes a snack-bar for guests. This property is also close by to Ala Moana Beach, Hawaii Convention Center and Fort DeRussy.

Things to see near Ala Moana 

Pearl Harbor – This historic site is a must-see while in Oahu. Center of the attacks on American territory during World War II, the terrible event of December 7, 1941, is still very present in the memory of the locals. In the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, you will see a series of monuments and memorials, the most famous of which is the USS Arizona Memorial. By visiting the monument and the visitor center, you will learn much information about what happened and the subsequent involvement of the United States in the war. Walking around Pearl Harbor will surely make you feel strong emotions!

Ala Moana Beach Park – Part of the Ala Moana Regional Park, this beach is one of the neighborhood’s main attractions. It is the perfect location for enjoying the amazing oceanic waters without the crowd that populates Waikiki Beach. At Ala Moana Beach Park, you will find acres of shady trees with picnic tables and many areas for activities like tennis courts, jogging and biking trails, and a yacht club. This urban beach is a mile long and features calm blue waters perfect for swimming, which makes it a locals’ favorite.

Ala Moana Center If you want to do some shopping while in Oahu, the Ala Moana Center is the place to be. This four-story shopping complex is the largest open-air shopping center in the world and among the largest mall in the United States. Here, you will find everything from expensive boutiques to local stores, as well as fine-dining and international food stalls. The mall also features an amphitheater hosting Hula shows every day. So, even if you are not a shopaholic, you shouldn’t miss stopping by the Ala Moana Center even just to catch the Hawaiian dancers!

Manoa Falls – Oahu’s most famous waterfall, Manoa Falls is nestled in the heart of a tropical rainforest. For its stunning beauty, this waterfall has been featured in many movies, like Jurassic Park and The Hunger Games. Besides being popular internationally for being depicted in movies, a local legend says a group of ancient Hawaiian warriors haunts the waterfall’s grounds. To reach Manoa Falls, you will need to do a two-mile hike that runs deep into the trees, making the overall experience even more unforgettable. For an awesome tour, plus lunch, we recommend checking out this guided hike.

Getting there 

Pearl Harbor – From Ala Moana Blvd, drive in a westerly direction and turn on Piikoi St. At the end of the road, turn left to enter the H-1 freeway West. From H-1, follow the directions for the USS Arizona/Stadium exit. Don’t take this exit, but proceed on HI-99 (Kamehameha Highway) and continue until you reach the 4th traffic light. Turn left at this light onto Arizona Memorial Place. When you get to the base of the hill, you will be at your destination.

Ala Moana Beach Park – The beach park is right across Ala Moana Blvd. 

Ala Moana Center – The shopping center is located on Ala Moana Blvd. 

Manoa Falls – From Ala Moana Blvd, drive in a southerly direction and take Atkinson Dr. Turn on the first street on the left (Mahukona St.), and after 600 meters, turn right to take S King St. In 100 meters, turn left on Punahou St, which becomes Manoa Rd. Keep following it for 5 km to reach the destination.

Suggested activities in Ala Moana

Oahu: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Tour – Join this informative guided tour to discover the history of Pearl Harbor by visiting the memorial sites and the exhibits at the Visitor Center, all after having ventured into Honolulu’s downtown area.

Oahu: Honolulu Haunts and Hauntings Ghost Tour – Discover the dark side of the island with this walking tour of Honolulu’s most haunted areas, hearing the stories about the local ghosts called the Night Marchers.

Want to see some of the greatest views on you hikes?

Make sure to checkout these stunning waterfall adventures along the way!

#3 North Shore

where to stay oahu man surfing wave off of oahu.where to stay oahu man surfing wave off of oahu.
Image via Unsplash by Katie Rodriguez

What’s there and why visit

You won’t find a more Hawaiian laid-back vibe than on the North Shore. The ultimate surfing paradise, nature dominates on the North Shore. Its fantastic beaches are mainly frequented by those looking for strong emotions as the area is famous for Big Wave surfing during the winter. But the splendid North Shore beaches also boast incredible sea life, making it an ideal area for snorkeling. For more information on snorkeling in Oahu be sure to check out Best Snorkeling on Oahu for Beginners: Your Guide Around the Island.  

The North Shore is also where you will find Oahu’s best trails, like the Ehukai Pillbox Trail, with incredible viewpoints.  

All in all, the North Shore is the best area to stay in Oahu if you are looking for a nature-centered holiday with lots of outdoor adventures. 

Suggested hotels near North Shore

PRIVATE LODGING

kalani hawaii private lodging king and bunk bed roomkalani hawaii private lodging king and bunk bed room

Kalani Hawaii Private Lodging

This unit offers private parking on site. Beach and water sport equipment storage is provided. With a popular surfing beach right across the street, it’s possible to see a surf competition while there. There are several other activities to do and restaurants close by as well.

MID-RANGE

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Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore

This hotel is a top choice for those looking to get the ultimate surf experience. It sits close to well known surf spots like Sunset, Pipeline, and Waimea. The hotel also has a pool, on-site restaurant and fitness center, as well as free Wi-Fi.

LUXURY VILLAS

where to stay oahu view or room and amenities at ocean villas at turtle baywhere to stay oahu view or room and amenities at ocean villas at turtle bay

Ocean Villas at Turtle Bay

“The location was great. We were close to the beach and able to use the restaurants at the Turtle Bay resort. We were close to the North Shore beaches. On our 3rd day, we found the local hikes next to the resort. The rooms were also stocked with beach chairs, umbrellas, snorkeling gear and boogie boards which we used daily.”

LUXURY RESORT

turtle bay resort room with king bed, ocean view, ocean wall decorturtle bay resort room with king bed, ocean view, ocean wall decor

Turtle Bay Resort

This resort offers the option between guest rooms, suites, or ocean bungalows. It offers so many activities, from hiking and biking trails, to live entertainment and cultural experiences. There are several restaurants to dine at, as well as a club lounge that offers drinks and appetizers through the day.

Things to see near North Shore 

Laniakea Beach – This fabulous beach boasts white, soft sand, calm waters, and tall palm trees, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the Hawaiian weather. Laniakea Beach is mainly famous for being one of the best places on Oahu to see Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. If you want to make this unforgettable encounter, be at the beach at the beginning of the afternoon when the turtles show up on shore to bask in the warm sun before returning to the sea.

Waimea Valley Trail – Oahu is popular for its many hiking trails with stunning views, and the Waimea Valley Trail is one of them. The three-kilometer hike winds through a lush botanical garden and ends at a 13 meters high waterfall. The trail is paved, so it’s easy and family-friendly. Reaching Waimea Falls is rewarding not only for its beauty but also because you can swim in it. 

Shark’s Cove – In Pupukea Beach Park is an unmissable snorkeling spot called Shark’s Cove. Don’t let the name impress you: there are no sharks around! This nickname comes from the shape of the reef, which looks like a shark. The reef in the area is inhabited by an array of marine life, including butterflyfish, parrotfish, surgeonfish, sea turtles, and eels, so snorkeling here is a must-do activity! The best time to visit Shark’s Cove for snorkeling is during the summer when the current is calm. 

​​Ehukai Pillbox Trail – Another fantastic trail in North Shore is ​​the Ehukai Pillbox Trail. 3,7 km long, this moderate trail takes you to two World War II-era pillboxes from which you will have stunning views. From the top, you will see the Banzai Pipeline, the most famous spot on the island for surfing. The Ehukai Pillbox trail is always perfect for walking, but it’s at sunset that it displays its most magical side.

Getting there 

Laniakea Beach – From Haleiwa, the closest town in the area, drive easterly to Kamehameha Hwy. After 1,1 km, turn left to take HI-83 E. Proceed for 2,2 km, and you will be at Laniakea Beach. 

Waimea Valley Trail – From Haleiwa, follow the same road as if you would go to Laniakea Beach. Once at the beach, keep driving on the HI-83 E for a total of 6,1 km, and then turn right to take Waimea Valley Rd. After 960 meters, you will be at the Botanical Garden, where the trail starts. 

Shark’s Cove – To get to Shark’s Cove, follow the directions for Waimea Valley Trail. Don’t turn right on Waimea Valley Rd, but keep driving on the HI-83 E. To access the beach, you will need to change the direction of travel, which you can do by turning left on Ke Iki Rd. Once you have re-entered the HI-83 E, drive for 480 meters and turn right to get to the beach.

​​Ehukai Pillbox Trail – From Haleiwa, reach the HI-83 E and drive on it for 9,4 km. The trail starts on the right of Sunset Beach Elementary School.

Suggested activities in North Shore

Oahu: Shark Cage Dive on the North Shore – Join this special cruise on the North Shore in search of sharks and, if you are brave enough, hop into a glass cage to see up close these magnificent sea animals alongside many others.

Oahu: North Shore Oceanfront Horseback Riding Tour – Make special memories with this horseback riding experience on the beach and at local fruit farms in true pani’olo (Hawaiian cowboy) fashion. 

#4 Ko Olina   

where to stay oahu native dancers performing.where to stay oahu native dancers performing.
Image via Unsplash by Anvesh

What’s there and why visit

Located in Oahu’s Leeward Coast, Ko Olina is something special. It is a resort community built back in the 1980s that features upscale resorts and residential communities. It goes without saying that it is where you will find the best hotels in Oahu. Being specifically created for tourists, Ko Olina is not ideal if you want to experience the authentic Hawaiian lifestyle. However, here you will find all the comforts and top-notch eateries.

Ko Olina boasts fabulous beaches and shallow man-made lagoons, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. A little north on the coast, you will find great spots to see turtles and other wildlife. 

Suggested hotels near Ko Olina

RESORT

mariotts ko olina beach club hotel roommariotts ko olina beach club hotel room

Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club

Rooms at the Beach Club offer a fully equipped kitchen, a separate living area, a dining room, a washing machine and tumble dryer, a TV with cable channels, and a DVD player. The resort has several dining options to enjoy, a fitness center and a spa by the water. It is a short drive away to Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park.

MID-RANGE

embassy suites by hilton oahu kapolei outdoor pool at sunsetembassy suites by hilton oahu kapolei outdoor pool at sunset

Embassy Suites by Hilton Oahu Kapolei

This hotel offers free breakfast every morning during your stay. There is also a restaurant on-site, as well as an outdoor pool, hot tub, fitness center and lounge. With the hotel being centrally located, it has easy access to Pearl Harbor, Kapolei Golf Course and Diamond Head Monument Park, as well as markets and shopping centers.

LUXURY RESORT

beach villas at ko olina view of pool and beachbeach villas at ko olina view of pool and beach

Beach Villas at Ko Olina

“This is a great place to stay. The accommodations are roomy and clean with lots of appliances to use. The best thing is that this is not a typical resort in that there are no restaurants. The pool is quiet and the beach access is fantastic. This is the second visit for us and it is just as nice as we remembered. An easy drive to grocery stores. Cannot fault anything about Beach Villas.”

LUXURY RESORT

four seasons resort at ko olina room view of beachfour seasons resort at ko olina room view of beach

Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

This beach resort has it all. Beaches, pools, lagoons with watersports, restaurants and bars! It provides 24-hour in-room dining options and the choice of plush, signature or firm mattress topper on your bed! With the marina a short 5-minute drive away, there is also something to do here!

Things to see near Ko Olina 

Electric Beach – Another awesome spot in Oahu to watch and swim with turtles is Electric Beach. Officially called Kahe Point, this beach takes its nickname from the presence of a power plant right next to it. The power plant warms up the beach’s waters, attracting a ton of heat-loving wildlife. Electric Beach isn’t the most beautiful beach on the surface, but the sea life here is mindblowing!

Paradise Cove Luau – You need to participate in a traditional luau in Hawaii. These gatherings are similar to a backyard BBQ, where ​​friends and family meet to eat a big meal, hang out, play games, and sing songs. Luaus have been commercialized and are now popular tourist attractions, a great way to get to know Hawaiian culture. Paradise Cove Luau in Ko Olina is usually rated as the number one luau on the island, so it’s the best one to participate in. 

Ulua Lagoon – Ko Olina is famous for its four lagoons. These are beautifully artificial coves perfect for swimming and enjoying the panorama. Ulua Lagoon is the last you meet at the end of the line of lagoons. Being the farthest away from the resorts, it’s usually the least crowded. Ulua Lagoon is ideal for spending leisurely moments in total tranquillity.

Mermaid Cave – This hidden gem is located inside Nanakuli Beach Park. Finding Mermaid Cave isn’t straightforward, and you can reach it only if there is low tide, as this lava rock cave is filled with oceanic waters. Local legends want the sea cave to be frequented by the mythological half-fish-half-human creatures when the moon is high. Whatever the truth, the spot is mesmerizing, with the sun rays coming through the rocky hole and giving the waters a unique crystal-blue color.   

Getting there 

Electric Beach – From Ko Olina Resort, proceed northwesterly on HI-93 E to get to the beach. You can either walk for 20 minutes or drive for five.  

Paradise Cove Luau – From Ko Olina Resort, take Olani St. and turn on the first street on the right (Aliinui Dr.). Walk it for 480 meters, and the destination will be on your left.

Ulua Lagoon – From Ko Olina Resort, take Olani St. and turn on the first street on the left (Aliinui Dr.). Drive for 1,1 km, and then turn right to take Waipahe Pl. The lagoon will be at the end of the road, on your left.

Mermaid Cave – From Ko Olina Resort, take Olani St. and turn on the first street on the right (Aliinui Dr.). After 640 meters, keep left at the fork, following the sign to Waianae, and enter HI-93 W. In four kilometers, turn left to take Piliokahi Ave. The cave will be on your left after 160 meters. 

Suggested activities in Ko Olina

Catamaran Sail and Snorkel from Ko Olina – Set sail in a 16-meter catamaran for this half-day snorkeling excursion of Oahu’s incredible reef during which you will see up close wonderful sea life but also relaxing onboard while sipping cocktails and admiring the panorama. 

Star Tour Show at Ko Olina – Spend a special night admiring the universe by joining this start tour show hosted by a NASA astronomer who will teach you about Polynesian star navigation and will illustrate the latest NASA discoveries.

#5 Kailua

mountain overlook of kailua ocean mountain overlook of kailua ocean
Image via Unsplash by Amanda Phung

What’s there and why visit

Kailua is located on Oahu’s Windward Coast and is more affordable than the touristy Waikiki.

It is among the best places to stay in Oahu if you want to spend your vacation at the beach. Crystal-clear waters, soft sand, and breathtaking panorama characterize the area. Experience the ocean on a glass botton boat tour

The town boasts the most beautiful beaches on the island, perfect for swimming, windsurfing, and kite flying. 

Kailua features delicious restaurants, a vibrant market, and luxurious wineries, and it is also home to Hawaii’s largest wetland, a true sanctuary for endangered wetbirds. 

Suggested hotels near Kailua

GUEST HOUSE

beautiful guest house near kailua beachbeautiful guest house near kailua beach

Beautiful Guest House Near Kailua Beach

This 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom guest house offers beautiful views all around with it being just a few steps from the door to the beach and gardens surrounding this private property. You can tour the Nuuanu Valley Rain Forest, which is just a short drive away.

RESORT

paradise bay resort in kailua lounge area on waterparadise bay resort in kailua lounge area on water

Paradise Bay Resort

If you are looking to get away from the touristy things and get lost in Hawaii, look no further. This resort offers Free yoga and meditation classes, views of the Koolau Mountain Range an outdoor pool, a floating sun lounge, on-call spa services and kayak rentals and snorkel equipment are included in the resort fee. They offer many activities as well, such as dinner shows and guided tours.

BED AND BREAKFAST

hawaii's hidden hideaway B&Bhawaii's hidden hideaway B&B

Hawaii’s Hidden Hideaway B&B

“Perfect neighborhood cozy vibe within 8 minute walking distance to gorgeous Lanikai beaches. Loved having awesome Kailua town nearby, we are obsessed with Down To Earth Organic markets. Janice was a fabulous host and we really enjoyed the community spirit of the lush Lanikai neighborhood.”

STUDIO GUEST HOUSE

where to stay oahu romantic ocean view guesthouse where to stay oahu romantic ocean view guesthouse

Romantic Oceanview Guesthouse

This stylish guest house includes vaulted ceilings, wood flooring throughout, and a huge, tiled bathroom and kitchen. With private beach access, you can get to the beach in only a couple minutes walking. The property is very private with many surrounding trees and island-like landscaping.

Things to see near Kailua 

Kailua Town – This small town is merely three square blocks wide, but it’s a great spot to immerse yourself in the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle. Most tourists don’t stop in Kailua town, but it’s worth exploring. Stroll around and stop by the Island Treasures Art Gallery to admire local art creations, get your hands on some Hawaiian books at Bookends, and stop by a poke bar for a local meal to spend a lovely day in Kailua town. 

Lanikai Beach – Considered Oahu’s most beautiful beach, Lanikai Beach is paradisiacal with its perfect white sand and peaceful blue waters. The coral reef in front of the beach makes Lanikai Beach popular among snorkelers and divers. The area is also fantastic to explore by kayaking. If kayaking peaks your interest, we recommend this awesome tour of Kailua Bay. Due to its beauty, Lanikai Beach tends to be crowded at the peak of the high season.

Kailua Beach – Kailua also boasts Oahu’s second most beautiful beach, Kailua Beach. This four-kilometer-long beach has everything you need for a perfect beach day, from volleyball beach courts to picnic tables to BBQ pits. With amazing turquoise waters and clean white sands, at Kailua Beach, you can spend your time doing many fun activities, like swimming, surfing, and bodysurfing. 

Kailua Town Farmers’ Market – In Kailua, you will find many “best of Oahu”. Besides beaches, the local farmers’ market is the best of its kind on the island. Every Sunday morning, Kailua Town Farmers’ Market features more than 60 tents where locals sell fresh produce, flowers and tropical plants, and different craft creations. You will also find freshly baked goods and wholesome meals at the market.

Getting there 

Kailua Town – The town winds around Kuulei Rd.

Lanikai Beach – From Kuulei Rd., drive in a northeasterly direction for 965 meters and then turn right on S Kalaheo Ave. Keep driving straight on Lihiwai Rd., and after 480 meters, turn left to take Alala Rd. Keep going on Aalapapa Dr., and in 640 meters, turn left on Kaiolena Dr. After 160 meters, make a left turn and take Mokulua Dr., and you will be at the beach in 85 meters.

Kailua Beach – From Kuulei Rd., walk in a northeasterly direction for 965 meters and then turn left on N Kalaheo Ave. In 640 meters, turn right onto Hauoli St., and you will be at the beach.

Kailua Town Farmers’ Market – From Kuulei Rd., drive in a westerly direction, and in 1,9 km, turn right on Ulukahiki St. Then turn immediately right, and you will be at the market.

Suggested activities in Kailua

Kailua Twin Islands Guided Kayak Tour, Oahu – Join this five-hour kayak tour of Kailua and Lanikai beaches, and see the Twin Island’s bird sanctuary and snorkel above live coral reefs.

Keauhou Manta Ray Night Snorkel in Kailua-Kona, HI – With this incredible tour after dark, you will have the rare opportunity of admiring wild manta rays in their natural habitat and snorkel around them.

Final Thoughts 

Oahu is among Hawaii’s biggest islands, where you will find the iconic Honolulu. An incredible beach destination for its lively sealife and exciting waves, Oahu is usually frequented by travelers who want to sunbathe, snorkel, or surf. However, Oahu’s stunning nature goes beyond its beaches to feature fantastic hiking trails dotted by waterfalls and breathtaking viewpoints. 

With all the things you can do on the island, narrowing down where to stay in Oahu requires some decision-making.

With this guide, we hope to have helped you figure out the best place to stay in Oahu during your vacation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where to stay in Waikiki for those traveling on a budget?

If you are traveling on a budget but want to stay in central Waikiki, you should look for hostels and hotels away from the Waikiki Beach strip. You can also take look at Waikiki Beach budget hotels.

What is the recommended duration to stay in Oahu?

While 3-4 days would be sufficient to see the most popular attractions and sights in Oahu, at least 5 days is recommended to have days spent beaching, hiking and exploring the Island’s coast.

When is surf season in Oahu?

While you can surf all year round in Oahu, winter is the best season to experience the famous big waves. From November to April, the North Shore will be packed with professional surfers trying to tame giant waves. 

Is it safe to travel to Hawaii?

Yes, Hawaii is safer than the mainland U.S. regarding violent crimes, making it great to visit. You should only be careful not to leave your valuables in your rental car to prevent the possibility of being robbed.

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