Though Oahu is the most populated of the Hawaiian Islands, there are only four major beach hotel resort areas:
- Waikiki Beach – dozens of hotels ranging from basic economy to mid-range to luxury accommodations. You don’t necessarily need a rental car if you stay in Waikiki Beach as you can use shuttles, taxis and public transportation. There’s great shopping and many restaurants within walking distance. We share a bit more about Waikiki Beach in the below notes.
- On the North Shore – there’s only one hotel, Turtle Bay Resort, which is an ocean front 4-star resort built on a peninsula and flanked by two beaches. Most of their rooms offer at least an ocean view. Room rates tend to be fairly reasonable for the level of room and views that they offer. The North Shore is our top pick on Oahu for a relaxing vacation. It’s more peaceful than other areas of Oahu, yet it is accessible/driveable to many great sightseeing spots on the island. The resort has several restaurants onsite, but here aren’t too many nearby restaurants outside of the resort, with the exception of the North Shore’s famous shrimp trucks, which are only about a 5 minute drive away. A scenic 20-minute drive to the iconic North Shore town of Haleiwa provides many other eateries.
- Ko Olina in the southwest Oahu – resort community with a mix of condos and hotels. The new Disney resort, Aulani has been very popular. The manmade lagoons at KoOlina offer a relatively sheltered area for kids to swim and play. There’s also a Marriott Vacation (timeshare) resort here plus vacation condos. Four Seasons Oahu, which is now in the former J.W. Marriott Ihilani property, opened in 2016. We like Ko Olina, but one of the very slight downsides is that we feel that we have to drive further to get to some of the best sightseeing spots on the north and east shores.
- Kahala Resort on southeast Oahu – offers oceanfront luxury in the Kahala community of Honolulu. They offer a shuttle service into Waikiki, which is less than 15 minutes away, for more dining and shopping options.
In addition to hotels, you can also find vacation rentals and bed and breakfast accommodations around the island. For solo travelers on a budget, you can find hostels on Oahu, too.
More about Waikiki
By far the most popular area to stay on Oahu is Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. This area hosts Hawaii’s most iconic beach, hotels to match any budget, excellent shopping, gourmet and casual dining and most any water sport your heart desires. The urban vibe blends with the aloha spirit which perpetuates the popularity. Waikiki Beach suits vacationers looking for an energetic environment where there’s a bit of nightlife. Waikiki Beach can be crowded at times. (See what our readers think of Waikiki Beach.) On the other hand, if you are looking for a quiet, calm environment for your Oahu vacation, we recommend that you stay on the North Shore, Ko Olina or Kahala resort areas.
Since Waikiki offers a huge selection of hotels to suit any budget, let’s look at it a bit closer. As you might expect, ocean front resorts tend to be more expensive while hotels a couple of blocks away from the beach are much more budget-friendly.
There are only eight Waikiki hotels in the heart of Waikiki that are on the beach. They are:
- Hilton Hawaiian Village
- Hale Koa (Military only)
- Outrigger Reef on the Beach
- Halekulani (Oahu’s top luxury resort)
- Sheraton Waikiki
- Royal Hawaiian
- Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach
- Moana Surfrider (Westin)
- I should also mention that New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel is oceanfront, though please note that this hotel is beach front, but not in the heart of Waikiki’s shops and restaurants. It’s close to Diamond Head.
Other hotels on Waikiki beach that have rooms with very good ocean views, but are directly across from the beach on Kalakaua Avenue are:
- Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort
- Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort
- Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
- Aston Waikiki Circle
- Higher rooms at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel
Waikiki hotels that we know of which have decent but more obstructive ocean/beach views:
- Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk
- Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber
- Higher rooms at Sheraton Princess Kaiulani
Want to stay where there’s a great pool in Waikiki? See our list of the Waikiki hotels with the best pools.
Traveling with a family? See our recommendations for the best family hotels in Hawaii.
For more Oahu accommodation insights and reviews, see this TripAdvisor link.
>> Go back to the main page of the Oahu Vacation Guide