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Hawaii, known for its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant culture, is a dream destination for many travelers. With its diverse islands offering unique experiences, finding the perfect region on each island to stay in will make all the difference in the world.
Whether you’re seeking luxury, mid-range, budget-friendly options, or the convenience of vacation rentals, I’ve got you covered. Here’s my guide to the best places to stay in Hawaii, island by island.
You can read all my individual hotel reviews with photos, sarcastic remarks, and unique tips if you want the nitty gritty on each location. I’ll link to them in the sections below also.
Oahu, often referred to as “The Gathering Place,” is the most populous island in Hawaii and home to the state capital, Honolulu. This vibrant island offers a perfect blend of stunning natural beauty and urban amenities. From world-renowned Waikiki Beach to historical landmarks like Pearl Harbor, Oahu has something for everyone.
Regions On Oahu To Stay At
Waikiki, located on the southern shore of Oahu, is one of the most iconic and popular destinations in Hawaii. Known for its stunning beachfront, vibrant nightlife, and abundance of shops and restaurants, Waikiki offers a dynamic and bustling atmosphere. The area is home to world-renowned Waikiki Beach, where visitors can enjoy swimming, surfing, and sunbathing.
Waikiki is also famous for its luxury hotels and resorts, offering top-notch amenities, oceanfront views, and easy access to a wide range of entertainment options. With its central location, staying in Waikiki provides convenient access to Oahu’s main attractions, such as Pearl Harbor (read my complete guide), Diamond Head State Monument, and the Ala Moana Center. If you’re looking for a lively and energetic vacation with plenty of amenities and entertainment, Waikiki is the place to be.
Ko Olina, located on the southwestern coast of Oahu, offers a more secluded and luxurious experience compared to Waikiki. This resort community is known for its pristine lagoons, beautiful beaches, and upscale accommodations.
Ko Olina boasts a serene and relaxing atmosphere, making it ideal for travelers seeking a peaceful and tranquil getaway. The area is home to several high-end resorts, such as the Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, and the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina, which offer luxurious amenities, spa treatments, and stunning ocean views. Ko Olina is also renowned for its championship golf courses and picturesque marina.
If you’re looking for a luxurious and laid-back vacation away from the crowds, Ko Olina provides a perfect escape.
The North Shore of Oahu is a world-famous destination for surfers and nature enthusiasts.
Known for its legendary waves, including the Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach, the North Shore attracts surfers from around the globe, especially during the winter months when the waves are at their peak. In addition to its surfing fame, the North Shore offers a more laid-back and rural atmosphere compared to the bustling urban areas of Oahu.
Visitors can explore charming beach towns like Haleiwa, known for its quaint shops and restaurants. The area is also rich in natural beauty, with picturesque beaches, scenic hikes, and stunning coastal landscapes.
The North Shore is perfect for those seeking a relaxed and authentic Hawaiian experience, surrounded by beautiful nature and vibrant surf culture.
Each region on Oahu offers a distinct experience and appeals to different types of travelers. Whether you’re looking for a lively beachfront atmosphere in Waikiki, a luxurious and serene retreat in Ko Olina, or a surf-centric and nature-focused getaway on the North Shore, Oahu has something to offer for everyone’s vacation preferences.
Places To Stay On Oahu
Luxury Hotels: Oahu boasts luxurious beachfront resorts like the iconic Royal Hawaiian and Halekulani. These properties offer impeccable service, breathtaking views, and top-notch amenities. See the full list of the best luxury hotels to stay at on Oahu.
Mid-Range Hotels: For a balance between comfort and affordability, mid-range hotels such as the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa and the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort are excellent choices. They offer comfortable accommodations, convenient locations, and access to stunning beaches. See my full list of the best family hotels on Oahu.
Budget Hotels: If you’re on a budget, Oahu offers affordable options like the Queen Kapiolani Hotel and the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. While they may not have all the bells and whistles, these hotels provide comfortable rooms and a great base for exploring the island.
VRBO: Oahu has a wide range of vacation rentals available through platforms like VRBO. From cozy condos to beachfront villas, these rentals offer flexibility and the opportunity to experience Oahu like a local. Use the search box below to find something that fits your needs.
Things To Do On Oahu
The list of things to do on Oahu is extensive and you can read up on those when you have time. Here is a list of 3 things I think you should consider when planning.
Pearl Harbor: Visit the historic Pearl Harbor National Memorial, which includes the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri Battleship, and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum. Pay tribute to the events of World War II and gain insight into Hawaii’s military history. See my complete guide to this amazing place and the tours you can take.
Explore the North Shore: Visit the world-renowned North Shore of Oahu, famous for its legendary surf breaks, laid-back vibe, and charming beach towns. Watch professional surfers tackle massive waves during the winter months, stroll through Haleiwa town’s boutiques and art galleries, and indulge in delicious local food at iconic eateries like Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck or Ted’s Bakery.
Diamond Head State Monument: Hike to the top of Diamond Head, an iconic volcanic crater offering panoramic views of Honolulu and the sparkling Pacific Ocean. The trail is relatively moderate and rewards visitors with stunning vistas. There are several walking tours and boat rides that take you around Diamond Head for a unique perspective.
Maui, known as the “Valley Isle,” is famous for its stunning landscapes, including the majestic Haleakala volcano and the scenic Road to Hana. With its beautiful beaches, charming towns, and luxurious resorts, Maui is a popular choice for travelers seeking a mix of relaxation and adventure.
Regions On Maui To Stay At
See my guide that covers the 15 best restaurants on Maui.
Wailea, located on the southwestern coast of Maui, is a resort area known for its luxurious accommodations, beautiful beaches, and world-class golf courses. This upscale destination offers pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and stunning sunsets. Wailea is home to several high-end resorts and hotels that provide exceptional amenities, spas, and fine dining experiences. Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the championship golf courses in the area, such as the Wailea Golf Club.
With its upscale atmosphere and breathtaking surroundings, Wailea is an ideal choice for those seeking a luxurious and relaxing vacation in Maui.
Kihei, located on the western coast of Maui, offers a more laid-back and affordable experience compared to its neighboring resort areas. This beach town provides a range of accommodations, from budget-friendly hotels to vacation rentals. Kihei boasts beautiful beaches, including Kamaole Beach Park, where visitors can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. The town is also known for its casual dining options, local shops, and lively nightlife scene.
Kihei’s central location makes it a convenient base for exploring other parts of Maui. If you’re looking for a more relaxed and affordable vacation with easy beach access and a local vibe, Kihei is a great choice.
Lahaina, located on the northwest coast of Maui, is a historic town with a rich cultural heritage. Once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Lahaina offers a blend of history, art, and entertainment. Visitors can explore Lahaina’s charming Front Street, lined with art galleries, boutique shops, and restaurants. The town is home to historical sites like the Old Lahaina Courthouse and the Lahaina Banyan Court Park, where the massive banyan tree stands as a symbol of the town’s history.
Lahaina also serves as a gateway to various ocean activities, including whale-watching tours and snorkeling excursions. For those interested in history, art, and a vibrant atmosphere, Lahaina is a captivating place to stay.
Kaanapali, located on the western coast of Maui, is a resort area renowned for its stunning beaches and world-class resorts. The highlight of Kaanapali is its three-mile stretch of golden sand beach, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. The area is home to several luxury hotels and resorts that offer a wide range of amenities, including spas, golf courses, and oceanfront dining. Kaanapali also features Whalers Village, a shopping center with a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. With its beautiful beaches, luxurious accommodations, and a vibrant atmosphere, Kaanapali is an excellent choice for those seeking a resort-style vacation in Maui.
Kapalua, located on the northwestern coast of Maui, is a secluded and picturesque destination known for its natural beauty and championship golf courses. This area offers pristine beaches, a rugged coastline, and lush greenery. Kapalua Bay Beach, consistently ranked as one of the top beaches in the world, is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Kapalua is also home to the Plantation Course, hosting the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions.
The area provides luxury accommodations, including the renowned Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, along with fine dining establishments and spa facilities. If you’re looking for a tranquil and upscale vacation surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, Kapalua is an ideal choice.
Hana, located on the eastern coast of Maui, offers a peaceful and off-the-beaten-path experience. This remote town is known for its untouched beauty, lush rainforests, and scenic drives. The Road to Hana, a famous coastal drive, takes visitors through breathtaking landscapes, including waterfalls, bamboo forests, and panoramic ocean views.
Hana is home to pristine beaches, such as Hamoa Beach and Red Sand Beach, which offer opportunities for swimming and relaxation.
Each region on Maui offers its own unique charm and attractions. Whether you prefer a luxurious beachfront experience in Wailea, a laid-back atmosphere in Kihei, a historic town vibe in Lahaina, a resort-style vacation in Kaanapali, a secluded getaway in Kapalua, or an off-the-grid adventure in Hana, Maui has a diverse range of options to cater to every traveler’s preferences.
Places To Stay On Maui
Luxury Hotels: Maui offers luxurious resorts like the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea and the Fairmont Kea Lani, where you can indulge in world-class amenities, spa treatments, and oceanfront views. I wrote an article about the best luxury hotels on Maui if you want to delve deeper.
Mid-Range Hotels: Mid-range options such as the Kaanapali Beach Hotel and the Napili Kai Beach Resort provide comfortable accommodations, family-friendly amenities, and convenient access to Maui’s stunning beaches.
Budget Hotels: Budget-conscious travelers will find affordable options like the Maui Seaside Hotel and the Plantation Inn. While these properties may be more modest, they offer clean rooms, friendly service, and a chance to save on accommodation expenses. Read my article on the best budget hotels on Maui.
VRBO: Maui has numerous vacation rentals available, allowing visitors to enjoy the privacy and convenience of a home away from home. Whether you’re looking for a cozy cottage or a spacious villa, VRBO offers a range of options.
Things To Do On Maui
The list of things to do on Maui is extensive and you can read up on those when you have time. Here is a list of 3 things I think you should consider when planning.
Road to Hana: Embark on a scenic drive along the famous Road to Hana, where you’ll encounter stunning waterfalls, lush rainforests, and breathtaking coastal views. Don’t miss attractions like the Seven Sacred Pools and the Wailua Overlook.
Haleakala National Park: Experience the awe-inspiring sunrise or sunset at Haleakala Summit, a volcanic crater reaching over 10,000 feet. Explore the park’s trails, unique flora, and otherworldly landscapes.
Snorkeling in Molokini: Take a boat excursion to Molokini Crater, a partially submerged volcanic crater known for its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life. Snorkelers can witness colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and even the occasional sea turtle.
Kauai, known as the “Garden Isle,” is a paradise for nature lovers. With its dramatic cliffs, lush rainforests, and pristine beaches, this island offers a serene and picturesque setting. Kauai is the perfect destination for those seeking a peaceful and rejuvenating vacation.
Regions On Kauai To Stay At
Lihue, located on the eastern coast of Kauai, is the island’s commercial and transportation hub. It is home to the main airport and offers a convenient central location for exploring the rest of Kauai. While Lihue is primarily a commercial area, it has a few attractions worth visiting, such as the scenic Wailua River and the historical Kilohana Plantation.
Lihue’s proximity to the airport makes it a practical choice for those seeking easy access to transportation and a central base for exploring the island.
Waimea, situated on the western side of Kauai, is a charming town with a rich history and stunning natural surroundings. Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon State Park offers breathtaking panoramic views of the deep red canyons, lush valleys, and cascading waterfalls. Visitors can explore the park through hiking trails and scenic drives. Waimea is also close to the popular Polihale State Park, known for its long, secluded beach and beautiful sunsets.
If you’re looking for a tranquil retreat surrounded by natural wonders and outdoor adventures, Waimea is an excellent choice.
Poipu, located on the southern coast of Kauai, is a popular resort area known for its beautiful beaches and sunny weather. Poipu Beach Park is one of the island’s most beloved beaches, offering crystal-clear waters, excellent snorkeling, and the chance to spot Hawaiian green sea turtles.
The area is home to luxurious resorts, championship golf courses, and a variety of dining and shopping options. Poipu provides a mix of relaxation and adventure, with opportunities for beach activities, whale watching (during the winter months), and exploring nearby attractions like Spouting Horn and Allerton Garden.
If you’re seeking a vibrant beach vacation with a range of amenities and activities, Poipu is a fantastic destination.
Wailua, situated on the eastern side of Kauai, is known for its lush landscapes, outdoor activities, and cultural sites. The Wailua River, the only navigable river in Hawaii, offers opportunities for kayaking and riverboat cruises to explore the scenic surroundings and visit attractions like the Fern Grotto.
Wailua is also home to the iconic Wailua Falls, a beautiful double-tiered waterfall easily accessible by car. The area is rich in Hawaiian history and culture, with the sacred heiau (temples) of Holoholoku and Poliahu nearby.
Wailua’s central location on the island makes it a convenient base for exploring both the north and south shores of Kauai.
Princeville, located on the northern shore of Kauai, is a resort community known for its dramatic cliffs, lush landscapes, and stunning ocean views. The area offers luxurious accommodations, including resorts and vacation rentals, often nestled along the cliffs overlooking Hanalei Bay and the iconic Napali Coast.
Visitors to Princeville can enjoy world-class golf courses, relax on beautiful beaches like Hanalei Bay and Anini Beach, and explore nearby attractions such as the Hanalei Valley Lookout and Queen’s Bath. Princeville is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering opportunities for hiking, snorkeling, surfing, and enjoying the natural beauty of Kauai’s north shore.
Each region on Kauai offers its own unique appeal and attractions. Whether you prefer a central location in Lihue, the natural wonders of Waimea, the beachfront resort experience in Poipu, the cultural and outdoor activities of Wailua, or the breathtaking views of Princeville, Kauai provides a range of options for a memorable vacation.
Places To Stay On Kauai
Luxury Hotels: Kauai features luxury resorts like the 1 Hotel Hanalei and the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, offering lavish accommodations, world-class dining, and breathtaking views. If you want to see more suggestions see my full list of luxury hotels for Kauai.
VRBO: Kauai’s vacation rental options range from cozy cottages to spacious beachfront properties. VRBO allows you to immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty while enjoying the comforts of a home away from home.
Things To Do On Kauai
The list of things to do on Kauai is extensive and you can read up on those when you have time. Here is a list of 3 things I think you should consider when planning.
Na Pali Coast: Witness the dramatic beauty of the Na Pali Coast by taking a boat tour or embarking on a challenging hiking trail (Kalalau Trail). Marvel at towering cliffs, secluded beaches, and cascading waterfalls along this breathtaking coastline.
Waimea Canyon State Park: Visit the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and take in the panoramic views of the colorful canyon walls, deep gorges, and lush valleys. Hike the various trails or simply enjoy the stunning vistas from the lookout points.
Wailua River and Fern Grotto: Take a boat or kayak tour along the enchanting Wailua River, where you can explore the lush tropical landscapes and visit the unique Fern Grotto, a natural amphitheater covered in ferns.
The Big Island of Hawaii, also known as Hawaii Island, is the largest and most diverse of the Hawaiian Islands. With its active volcanoes, stunning black sand beaches, and rich cultural heritage, the Big Island offers a unique and captivating experience.
Regions On The Big Island To Consider Staying At
Kohala, located on the northwest coast of the Big Island, is a region known for its stunning natural beauty and luxurious resorts. This area is home to some of the island’s most pristine beaches, including Hapuna Beach and Mauna Kea Beach, which are perfect for sunbathing, snorkeling, and water sports. Kohala is also known for its world-class golf courses, such as the Mauna Lani Golf Course and the Waikoloa Beach Course, offering breathtaking views and challenging play.
Additionally, the region is rich in cultural and historical sites, such as the Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, where visitors can learn about the island’s ancient Hawaiian heritage. Kohala is an ideal choice for travelers seeking a relaxing and luxurious vacation experience in a picturesque setting.
Hilo, located on the eastern side of the Big Island, offers a different experience with its lush rainforests, dramatic waterfalls, and unique cultural attractions. The town of Hilo itself is known for its quaint charm and historical significance, with attractions like the Hilo Farmers Market, where visitors can sample local produce and crafts.
Nature lovers will appreciate Hilo’s proximity to stunning natural wonders, including the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to the active Kilauea volcano, and the Akaka Falls State Park, featuring a breathtaking 442-foot waterfall. Hilo also offers opportunities for hiking, and exploring botanical gardens. For those looking to immerse themselves in nature and local culture, Hilo is a fantastic choice.
Kona, located on the western coast of the Big Island, is a popular destination known for its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and vibrant nightlife. Kona’s beaches, such as Kailua Bay and Magic Sands Beach, offer opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing in the sun. The region is also famous for its coffee plantations, and visitors can take part in coffee farm tours to learn about the island’s renowned Kona coffee production. Kona is home to historical sites like the Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, where visitors can explore ancient Hawaiian sacred grounds and cultural artifacts.
Additionally, the town of Kailua-Kona offers a lively atmosphere with an array of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or a vibrant nightlife scene, Kona has something for everyone.
Each region on the Big Island offers its own unique attractions and experiences, from the luxurious beaches of Kohala to the natural wonders of Hilo and the lively atmosphere of Kona. Depending on your interests and preferences, choosing the right area to stay can greatly enhance your vacation on the Big Island.
Places To Stay On The Big Island
Budget Hotels: Budget-friendly hotels on the Big Island include the Kona Seaside Hotel and Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, providing affordable options for travelers without compromising on location or cleanliness.
VRBO: Vacation rentals on the Big Island range from cozy condos to expansive beachfront estates. VRBO allows visitors to experience the island’s diverse landscapes and local charm while enjoying the comforts of a private residence.
Things To Do On The Big Island
The list of things to do on the Big Island is extensive and you can read up on those when you have time. Here is a list of 3 things I think you should consider when planning.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Explore the diverse landscapes of the Big Island’s most famous national park, home to the active Kilauea volcano. Witness volcanic craters, lava fields, steam vents, and take a hike through the unique Thurston Lava Tube.
Mauna Kea Summit: Venture to the summit of Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in Hawaii. Experience breathtaking stargazing opportunities and observe the world-class observatories perched atop the mountain.
Akaka Falls State Park: Discover the beauty of Akaka Falls, a cascading waterfall plunging 442 feet into a lush gorge. Take a scenic walk through the park’s trails, surrounded by tropical vegetation and other picturesque waterfalls.
Lanai and Molokai, the lesser-known islands of Hawaii, offer a more off-the-beaten-path experience. These islands are perfect for those seeking tranquility, untouched natural beauty, and a glimpse into Hawaii’s rural lifestyle.
Places To Stay On Lanai & Molokai
Luxury Hotels: On Lanai, the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Lanai offers an exclusive retreat with stunning views and world-class amenities. Molokai, being more rustic, doesn’t have luxury resorts but offers charming bed and breakfasts like the Molokai Shores.
Mid-Range Hotels: Lanai offers mid-range options such as the Hotel Lanai, which provides a cozy and authentic Hawaiian experience. Molokai offers accommodations like the Castle Molokai Shores, which offer comfortable stays and access to the island’s unspoiled beauty.
Budget Hotels: Both Lanai and Molokai have limited budget hotel options, but Molokai offers more affordable choices like the Hotel Molokai, providing a relaxed and authentic atmosphere.
VRBO: Vacation rentals are a popular choice on Lanai and Molokai, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the islands’ unique culture and experience the serenity of their surroundings.
Whether you’re seeking luxury, mid-range, budget-friendly options, or the charm of vacation rentals, Hawaii’s diverse islands offer a wide range of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs. From Oahu’s vibrant city life to Maui’s enchanting landscapes, Kauai’s natural beauty, the Big Island’s volcanic wonders, and the hidden gems of Lanai and Molokai, each island provides a distinct and unforgettable experience. Choose your perfect place to stay and embark on a memorable Hawaiian adventure.
Things To Do On Lanai And Molokai
The list of things to do on the Lanai and Molokai is limited, read up on those when you have time. Here is a list of 3 things I think you should consider when planning.
Hulopoe Bay: Relax at Hulopoe Bay, a pristine crescent-shaped beach known for its clear waters, abundant marine life, and tide pools. Snorkel, swim, or simply bask in the sun on this beautiful shoreline.
Kalaupapa National Historical Park: Take a mule ride or hike down to the remote Kalaupapa Peninsula, once a leper colony. Learn about the history and resilience of the people who lived here and appreciate the stunning coastal views.
Munro Trail: Embark on a scenic hike along the Munro Trail, which traverses the heart of Lanai. Enjoy panoramic views of the island, lush forests, and potentially spot wildlife along the way.
Picking the right island and the right place to stay can be stressful so hopefully, this guide will help you make the best decision possible. Remember to take it a bit slower, breath, and enjoy wherever you spend your time in Hawaii.