Deciding where to stay in Oahu is quite the challenge given the different accommodations, restaurants, and activities available for you to pick. The beautiful Oahu is the most visited out of the eight major islands in Hawaii, the Honolulu International Airport, and Waikiki, a tourist hub and beachfront neighborhood in Honolulu.
In this blog post, we will go over different areas to help you decide where to stay in Oahu.
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Where to Stay in Oahu #1: Waikiki
Waikiki’s bustling neighborhood is a busy beachfront neighborhood where luxury hotels in Honolulu, restaurants, and luxury shopping dot the area. Waikiki’s famous strip has the quintessential beach vibe, and where much of the tourists in Oahu hangout. Many high rises, designer boutique shops, five-star restaurants, and popular bars on Oahu are on this strip.
Whether you are a luxury traveler, group or family, couple, or budget traveler, Waikiki has everything for every traveler.
Beyond your luxury hotel, this vacation destination offers a jungle of hotels and restaurants that stretches for miles. Waikiki Beach is one of the most active and arguably the most exciting and vibrant destinations in Hawaii. Still, some might find the constant noise, activity, and the sheer volume of tourists somewhat overwhelming.
Luxury Hotels in Waikiki:
Espacio The Jewel of Waikiki – Espacio The Jewel of Waikiki is directly in-front of Waikiki Beach with a lounge that offers a sweeping view of the Pacific rooftop infinity pool, a full-service spa, and luxury dining at Mugen restaurant.
Each elegant suite at Espacio The Jewel of Waikiki has Italian marble details and accents from Morocco, a private entrance, modern kitchen with Thermador and Miele appliances, and a hot tub on a private balcony. The suite also features a Smart TV with an iPad that controls room temperatures, lighting, and room service.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach Hotel – If you are wondering where to stay in Oahu that combines beach and luxury hotels, look no further than the Ritz.
The Ritz-Carlton Residences is only a few steps away from Luxury Row shopping. This glamorous hotel and residences offer chic studios with stunning scenery of Waikiki Beach. The resort amenities at the Ritz Carlton include a stunning, elevated infinity pool with private cabanas overlooking Waikiki.
The resort’s signature restaurant, BLT, serves American and modern-inspired cuisine throughout the day. The menu at BLT changes daily because they locally sourced ingredients, usually coming from Honolulu’s farmer’s markets.
Guests at the Ritz Carlton can also look forward to Dean & DeLuca, one of the world’s most beloved and iconic gourmet markets with more than 25 locations worldwide, debuting its first Hawaii location at the resort. The acclaimed Sushi Sho is also opening its first location outside of Japan at the resort, led by Keiji Nakazawa, Tokyo’s most influential sushi chef, famed for his mastery of the techniques of the ancient Edo sushi masters.
Waikiki International Marketplace Shopping Center is 200 m from The Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki, while Waikiki Beach Area is only 11km from the Honolulu airport, and 300 m from the property.
Imperial Hawaii Resort at Waikiki – The Imperial Hawaii Resort at Waikiki is just a short distance away from Waikiki Beach and offers easy access to a variety of area attractions. This beautiful hotel in Oahu features spacious accommodations along with a variety of modern and thoughtful amenities.
All suites include kitchens or kitchenettes with a flat-screen TV, a refrigerator, a microwave, a toaster, and a coffee machine.
The guests at this Oahu hotel have access to the 24-hour service staff, an ATM, beach towels and rentals, a business center, a mini-market, a fitness center and a sauna, laundry facilities, and an outdoor swimming pool.
The Imperial Hawaii Resort at Waikiki is surrounded by numerous shopping centers, restaurants, and entertainment options. The hotel also offers sports equipment rentals, including golf and tennis, for nearby recreational activities.
Restaurants in Waikiki
Marugame Udon – If you are wondering where to stay in Oahu near popular restaurants, consider picking a place near Marugame Udon.
The Marugame Udon location in Oahu offers cold udon and, of course, hot broth udon. They have beef, chicken, and meatless udon. This restaurant is wildly popular, so expect to see a line that wraps around the restaurant during peak hours.
I ordered the cold beef udon with a couple of fried tempura shrimp and fried pumpkin.
The noodles are made fresh and right in front of you. At one point, the line stalled because they ran out of noodles, but the wait time was not too long for the even more fresh batches.
The entrée I ordered was perfect. Even though the broth was cold, it was so flavorful. The portions are generous as well. I ordered the small bowl and could barely finish it with the amount of beef that was in it. You also have the option to add an egg if needed. As for the tempura, it could’ve been more crunchy. These are left out under a warmer on the counter as you are moving along the line. So you grab what you want.
The line moves fast, so don’t expect it to be a long wait to get to the counter.
Roy’s Waikiki – Roy’s Waikiki is a popular restaurant that many consider when deciding where to stay in Oahu.
We ordered braised short rib tacos with avocado crème as our choice for an appetizer, which set the tone for the rest of our meals. The tacos come in pairs, but you may consider ordering more depending on your group size. Any taco connoisseur would give big ratings for the tacos here at Roy’s. The shell was crispy to perfection; the meat was so juicy and tender, while the avocado cream is the perfect addition to enhance the taste.
For the entées, try the garlic buttered filet mignon, “Chinese Style” steamed opah or the slow-braised honey mustard grilled beef short ribs.
What to Do Near Waikiki
- Hanauma Bay Snorkeling tour
- Hike Diamond Hike Crater
- Manoa Falls waterfall Hike
- Pali Lookout Sunset Viewpoint
- Sunset Sailing
- Nightclubs and bars
Where to Stay in Oahu #2: Kailua
Kailua was once the sleep community on Windward Side of Oahu and is popularly known for its photogenic beaches. Along with Lanika, the beaches here are world-renowned, attracting thousands of visitors yearly with its warm aquamarine waters and golden sands.
But the appeal of Kailua goes beyond its stretches of sand and dramatic cliffs of the Koolau Mountains. Some of the island’s best boutiques and restaurants are in this beach town. Besides, there are historic sites, hiking trails, surf spots, and the farmer’s market. Kailua is also where you can find the largest wetland in Oahu, four of the state’s endemic and endangered waterbirds. The rich and famous also vacations here, Hollywood stars like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Jessica Simpson, and President Barack Obama.
Things to Do Near Kailua:
- Lanika Beach
- Kailua Beach Park
- Na Mokolua
- Pillbox Hike
There are no hotel towers, no sprawling resorts, no giant shopping malls. Instead, you’ll find friendly coffee shops, homey bed-and-breakfasts, family-run restaurants, and shops where the owners will greet you.
Hotels in Kailua
Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa – The beautiful Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa is an excellent hotel if you are thinking of where to stay on Oahu. Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa is right along the outcropping of volcanic rock in Keauhou Bay, where guests can enjoy relaxing spa services and other activities.
The stunning Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay offers a beautiful outdoor pool with a backdrop of lush tropical landscape. Guests at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa have access to a fitness center, a full-service spa, tennis courts, beach volleyball courts, and the Crystal Blue lounge.
Aston Kona By The Sea – If you are wondering where to stay on Oahu that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, Aston Kona By The Sea is for you. The beautiful luxury hotel in Oahu features an oceanfront outdoor pool and spacious suites with a fully equipped kitchen. The Kaloko-Honokohau Historical Park is 8.9 km away.
Aston Kona By The Sea’s furnished suites offer bright lights and tropical décor. Each suite has private bedrooms, a spacious living room, and two bathrooms. Additional amenities like flat-screen cable TVs, a private balcony, and washer and dryer are also part of the perks.
Guests at this Oahu hotel can relax outdoors in the hot tub or use the barbecue facilities. Aston Kona by the Sea provides free onsite concierge services and parking for guests’ convenience.
Aston Kona By The Sea is only a 20-minute drive from International Airport, and only a 10-minute drive from the Kona Coast Shopping Center and the Kona Country and Golf Club.
Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona – This beautiful hotel in Oahu features two restaurants onsite, Honu’s on the Beach Restaurant and Billfish Bar, which is open for breakfast and dinner. Apart from a restaurant, guests at The Courtyard have direct access to an airconditioned mall on the ground floor. The Courtyard by Marriott King can also arrange tours and activities in and around the hotel.
Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona offers modern rooms with a balcony, flat-screen TV, and a refrigerator and coffee machine with Kona coffee. The decor of the rooms has an island and nature vibes.
King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach is conveniently located within 1 minutes’ walk from an underwater tour, Atlantis Adventures Kona, and within a five-minute walk of the Hulihe`e Palace Museum.
Restaurants in Kailua
Kalapawai Café & Deli – A coffeehouse by morning, lunch for midday, and dinner in the evening.
They serve breakfast items like muffins, sandwiches, and coffee. In the afternoon, they have sandwiches that are fresh and delicious. And in the evening, they have a large selection of pizza, seafood, steak, and other items.
We loved the gluten-free crab and artichoke dip, gluten-free pizza (pepperoni, margarita, and cheese) and the seafood gumbo. The gluten-free chocolate pie was creamy and delicious, as well as their salted Carmel cookies and a banana walnut muffin.
Kono’s – Inexpensive and delicious food, Kono’s did not disappoint. We ordered the old school sandwich, kalua pig nachos, strawberry mint lemonade, and a strawberry milkshake. Everything was great- the lemonade was super refreshing, and the milkshake was thick and on-point. The pulled pork and guava barbeque sauce are amazing! The nachos were heaping, and I couldn’t even finish them.
Where to Stay in Oahu #3: Lanikai
If you have a picture in mind of where to stay on Oahu with the perfect Hawaiian beach, then Lanikai Beach fits that picture exactly. The beautiful Lanikai is on Windward East side of Oahu, on the neighborhood of Lanikai in Kailua.
Lanika is a little treasure with plenty of soft sand and perfect for a morning of peaceful jogging, relaxing or swimming. Tourists flock this little Oahu haven because it consistently ranks among the best beaches in the world. Lanika has two lovely offshore islands, soft white sand, and aquamarine waters, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists.
Lanikai is Hawaiian for “heavenly ocean,” which is an appropriate name for this scenic beach. Because of its stunning backdrop, many photographers come to this location for photoshoots with famous models and personalities. Locals and tourists also come to Lanikai for its stunning sunrise and full moonrise.
Kayaking is a popular activity when in Lanikai because the water is calm, which is an excellent way to experience this stunning beach in Oahu. Other activities that you can enjoy in Lanikai sailing, windsurfing, and swimming. There are patches of reefs on this beach, which is excellent for those who enjoy snorkeling.
Hotel Near Lanikai Beach
The Kahala Hotel and Resort – This luxury hotel has four restaurants and a full-service spa, located on a private beach in Oahu.
The Kahala Hotel and Resort offers stylish rooms with elegant decor that reflects the tropical Hawaiian vibe. Each room has a 40-inch flat-screen TV, an iPod docking station, and a large bathroom with deep soaking tubs and a separate shower.
Onsite activities include an intro to paddleboarding classes and free surfing lessons. The beautiful Kahala Hotel and Resort also offers yoga at CHI Fitness Centre, outrigger canoe tours, and a kid’s club.
Guests at Kahala Hotel have free access to the state-of-the-art fitness center, outdoor pool, and saunas. Kahala Spa also features ten private treatment rooms, beauty services, massages, and open-air relaxation space.
Restaurant Near Lanikai Beach
Buzz’s Original Steakhouse – This restaurant is one of the only sit-down restaurant near Kailua beach and the closest to Lanikai beach.
Everything on their menu is fantastic. Try the cold kombucha soup, perfectly cooked fried calamari, scampi salad, cooked to perfection shrimp on a lovely bed of fresh lettuce, seasoned lightly to provide the perfect lunch. Other items on their menu that looked amazing were the ham and cheese sandwich, a massive portion of ham on Portuguese sweet bread grilled and lightly dusted with powdered sugar, mozzarella salad with a delicious balsamic dressing, and finally the fresh ahi salad.
Where to Stay in Oahu #4: North Shore
The laid-back North Shore is a stretch of coast known for big waves and professional surfing contests at Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach. In the summer months, Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District has calm water, perfect for snorkeling among colorful coral and fish.
Hotels in North Shore
Turtle Bay Resort – This hotel in Oahu is 8 km of the beachfront in North Shore. If you are looking for where to stay on Oahu near golf courses, the Turtle Bay Resort offers two championship 18-hole golf courses designed by George Fazio and Arnold Palmer.
All suites at Turtle Bay resort offer stunning ocean views. Each suite comes with a TV, a coffee machine, and a refrigerator. The modern suites have casual Hawaiian decor and the perfect vibe for your Hawaiian vacation.
The restaurants at Turtle Bay Resort include Roy’s Beach House, which offers modern Hawaiian cuisine using local and organic ingredients. Another restaurant in this fancy Oahu hotel is The Point Bar & Grill, a poolside bar that offers cocktails and light bites. The beautiful hotel also has a restaurant that overlooks a golf course, Lei Lei’s Bar & Grill, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Finally, the Lobby Lounge at the Turtle Bay Resort provides grab-and-go breakfast options for guests in a hurry.
Turtle Bay Resort features Nalu Kinetic Spa, offering guests massage therapy, beauty services, and body treatments. Guests at this stunning hotel also have access to a fitness center, offering group exercises, yoga classes, and an option for personal training. Other activities on site are segway tours, horseback riding, snorkeling, helicopter tours, surfing, scuba, and stand up paddleboarding.
Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore – This beautiful hotel is not too far from North Shore, featuring a restaurant, outdoor pool, and a fitness center. There is also luggage storage on site.