Though Oahu is the most populated of the Hawaiian Islands, there are only four major hotel resort areas:
- Waikiki Beach – dozens of hotels ranging from basic economy to mid-range to luxury accommodations.
- 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. The North Shore is our top pick on Oahu for a relaxing vacation.
- Ko Olina in the southwest Oahu - resort community with a mix of condos and hotels. The JW Marriott Ihilani is popular here and a new Disney resort, Aulani has recently opened in 2011. The manmade lagoons at KoOlina offer a relatively sheltered area for kids to swim and play.
- Kahala Resort on southeast Oahu – offers oceanfront luxury in the Kahala community of Honolulu.
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.
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. 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. (See what our readers think of Waikiki Beach.)
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 Waikiki
- Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort
- Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
- Aston Waikiki Circle
Want to stay where there’s a great pool in Waikiki? See our list of the Waikiki hotels with the best pools.
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