Where to Stay in Hawaii: Best Area & Hotel Travel Guide

Where to Stay in Hawaii by Best Areas & Hotels

Here’s my insider guide to where to stay in Hawaii. Congratulations on your decision to visit this remote and beautiful collection of islands. There’s so much to see and do here that you’re sure to have a fantastic time. This guide will give you all the info that you need to make an informed choice in selecting a place to stay that suits your needs perfectly. 

Where to Stay in Hawaii: Tips & Info

Hawaii is a collection of islands in the mid-pacific that comprise the USA’s only non-continental state. They are a fascinating collection of diverse islands, each of which has something unique to offer to visitors.

Oahu is Hawaii’s most populous island and is the location of the capital Honolulu and the famous Waikiki Beach. Waikiki is the most popular tourist spot in Hawaii and is a lovely beach with excellent hotels and plenty of visitor attractions. 

Oahu’s North shore is the destination of choice for surfers, with some of the world’s largest breakers to challenge even the best board riders.

Big Island is (unsurprisingly) Hawaii’s largest island, and here you’ll find the active volcanoes of Kilauea and Mauna Loa in the fascinating Volcanoes National Park.

Maui is Hawaii’s second-largest island and is mainly a destination for beach-loving tourists. A visit here can be as active or passive as you like. You can just chill on the beach at some great hotels or enjoy fabulous diving, surfing and all kinds of other energetic activities.

Kauai is a stunning and relatively undeveloped Island that is the first choice for nature lovers. The island is covered with jungle-clad mountain peaks and is the perfect place for intrepid explorers. If you’re looking for a relaxing tourist holiday, then Kauai offers that too. Kauai is a great place to explore one of the most beautiful and unspoiled Islands on earth.

Molokai and Lanai are two smaller islands close to Maui that are relatively undeveloped. These are great places to go to get away from the crowds, and enjoy a chilled out local-style atmosphere, with of course some great beaches.

Where to Stay in Hawaii – 7 Best Areas to Stay in Hawaii 

So here I’ll take you through the seven best places to stay in Hawaii. I’ll tell you all about each of the islands, and suggest some of the best places to visit while you’re there.

Where to Stay in Hawaii – 7 Best Areas to Stay in Hawaii

  1. Waikiki/Honolulu
  2. Oahu North Shore
  3. Hilo – Big Island (Hawaii)
  4. Kailua-Kona
  5. Maui
  6. Molokai
  7. Kauai

Where to Stay in Hawaii Map

Where to Stay in Hawaii Map
Where to Stay in Hawaii Map

To see more detail of where to stay in Hawaii map, go to google map;

1. Waikiki/Honolulu – Where to Stay in Hawaii for Shopping, Dining, Nightlife

Where to Stay in Hawaii: Waikiki/Honolulu

Honolulu is Hawaii’s capital, and it’s a cosmopolitan and lively city with the world-famous Waikiki Beach on its doorstep. 

If you’re looking for great dining and nightlife, then you’ll find Hawaii’s most extensive collection of classy restaurants, beach bars, and nightclubs here.

Waikiki is an area of Honolulu that is exclusively devoted to tourism. It comprises a long strip of hotels and development alongside the beautiful Waikiki Beach. If you like a thriving, lively tourist scene, then this is an excellent place to stay. But Honolulu isn’t just about the beach; it’s a modern American city, full of shopping malls and lots to see and do. 

Honolulu has museums commemorating the Pearl Harbor bombings that brought the USA into world war II. You can visit The Battleship Missouri Memorial, The USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

Diamond Head is an exciting place to visit; just a few minutes’ drive East of Waikiki. It is a perfectly preserved dormant volcano complete with a steep-sided cone and central crater. There are great views of Honolulu and Waikiki from the top.

Honolulu is probably the best place to stay if you want to get out and explore other parts of Oahu. There are lots of local tour companies that will be happy to take you to explore other points of interest on the Oahu, like the surfer’s paradise of the north shore and the hiking and wildlife attractions of the island’s interior.

You Should Stay in this Area If:

  • You want a busy city
  • You want the best tourist facilities
  •  For pretty Waikiki Beach
  •  For shopping, dining, and nightlife

2. Oahu North Shore – Where to Stay in Hawaii for Surfing

Where to Stay in Hawaii:  Oahu North Shore

The beaches of Oahu’s North shore are beautiful, but you probably won’t be wanting to swim there. Huge waves batter the north coast of the island and that’s why it’s one of the world’s most famous surfing destinations.

If you’re visiting the North shore for surfing, you’ll find the largest waves during the winter months. At this time of year, the North shore has frequent international surfing competitions particularly at famous surf spots like Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay, and Sunset Beach. But you can visit these beaches any time and you’re sure to see intrepid surfers risking life and limb to catch the perfect curl.

During the summer months, the surf is not as heavy, and there are even some sheltered bays where you can snorkel.

The largest town on the North shore is inland Haleiwa, but there are more tourist-friendly resorts at Turtle Bay and Kahuku. These places have some decent hotels for most budgets and also apartment rentals. 

There are some excellent restaurants around here, and also some notable shrimp shacks and sheds. Shrimp Shacks are a Hawaiian takeaway food institution that you really must try on your visit to the islands. These are cheap and very cheerful purveyors of delicious fresh shrimps, surrounded by folding tables and chairs. Don’t be deceived by the rustic setup though, for the food is of the highest quality. The most popular trucks include Giovanni’s and Romy’s, but you’ll find plenty of others, each with their own take on the classic spicey and garlicky shrimp plate.

You Should Stay in this Area If:

  • You’re a surfer.
  • You’re not a surfer, but you want to watch surfers.
  •  You want a relaxed beachfront community.
  •  You want to try Hawaii’s famous shrimp shacks.

3. Hilo – Big Island (Hawaii) -Best Area for Trekking

Where to Stay in Hawaii: Hilo - Big Island (Hawaii)

Hilo is a city on the eastern coast of Hawaii’s Big Island that is an attractive beachside community with a dark history. Tsunamis have struck Hilo on several occasions, the most recent of which was back in 1960. Those disasters are well in the past, and Hilo is now the big island’s largest town. Hilo has an international airport so it’s easy to get to. Hilo is the closest city to the Hawaii volcanoes national park. 

The Volcanoes National Park is the big island’s most fascinating tourist sight. Here you can explore the enormous active volcanoes of Kilauea and Mauna Loa. the places that you can visit and the things that you can do are subject to the level of volcanic activity, particularly of Kilauea. But you can see hollowed-out lava tubes, go up to the active volcanic crater, or a personal favorite is walking at sunset across a blackened lava flow to watch the pyrotechnics as hot lava drops into the ocean forming clouds of steam.

The scenery around Hilo on Big Island’s east coast is lush and green, in contrast to the more arid west side. Here there are tropical forests and lush mountain vegetation. It’s a great place for walking and trekking. The highest point on Big Island is Mauna Kea. This peak rises over 3,000 m above sea level. The top of the mountain is home to several astronomical observatories that are situated here because of the clear skies. If you climb Mauna Kea, you can say you’ve been up the tallest mountain on earth. Of course, Mount Everest is higher above sea level but measured from the ocean floor the vast mountain that makes up big island and is topped by Mauna Loa is the tallest on earth.

You’ll find excellent accommodation at all price ranges in Hilo. The Volcanoes National Park brings travelers of all budgets and is very popular with independent travelers and backpackers. This means that there’s a good selection of hostels, as well as higher-end hotels. Hilo has some good restaurants but doesn’t have the liveliest nightlife scene, although you will find a few bars scattered around town.

You Should Stay in this Area If:

  • You want to explore the volcanoes national park.
  • You want wilderness adventures.
  •  You want to climb the world’s highest mountain (read above).
  • You are traveling on a budget.
  •  You want an attractive, low-key coastal city.

4. Kailua-Kona – Where to Stay in Hawaii with Families

Where to Stay in Hawaii: Kailua-Kona

Kailua Kona is more frequently known just as Kona. It is a town over on the west coast of Hawaii’s Big Island and is the administrative center of this region.

This side of the island has calmer waters and if you are a keen snorkeler, you can enjoy some great snorkeling off the beaches. The last time I visited I was lucky enough to snorkel with two turtles just a few meters off Kona’s central beach.

Unfortunately, the explorer Captain Cook‘s last trip to Kona didn’t go very well. He was attacked and killed at Kealakekua Bay, just south of Kona, while attempting to kidnap the leader of Hawaii. Kealakekua Bay is a national park these days and is an excellent place for snorkeling, diving and sea kayaking.

Kona is a very tourist-friendly city and there are lots of hotels designed for package tourists. The town also has several malls, markets and shopping plazas, so it’s great for shopping. Kona is one of the most American feeling towns on the big island, and if you’re looking for the convenience of fast food joints and the like, this is a good place to stay. These good hotels, infrastructure, and facilities mean that Kona is a great place for families to stay.

Kona is a super place to stay if you’re into action sports. You can take surfing lessons here and there are many dive schools where you can learn to dive or go for fun dives, experiencing Hawaii’s wonderful marine ecology. 

Helicopter tours aren’t cheap but they are the best way to see the geological marvels of the big island. From a helicopter, you can take in the true scale and grandeur of this living volcano Island, and it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

You Should Stay in this Area If:

  • You are traveling with family.
  • You want good swimming and snorkeling from the shore.
  •  If you’re looking for a tourist resort town with excellent facilities.
  •  You want to explore Hawaii by helicopter.

5. Maui – Best Area for Family, Honeymoon

Where to Stay in Hawaii: Maui

Maui is the second biggest Hawaiian island, bigger even than the much more populous Oahu. Maui is a top-rated beach holiday destination. It has excellent tourist infrastructure and some great hotels and resorts. Maui doesn’t have any major cities like Honolulu, and it’s a wonderfully laid back and relaxed Island.

Maui is a popular destination for Beach marriages, and many resorts here specialize in arranging tropical nuptials. So it’s a great place for honeymooners, and resorts have excellent honeymoon suites and facilities for newlyweds.

Maui is a mountainous Island like most of the Hawaii chain. No trip to the island is complete without a trip without a visit to Haleakala, a dormant volcano and national park. Rising to over 3,000 m, this huge mountain offers spectacular views of the island.

Maui’s largest is Lahaina, on the west coast. This is the most developed side of the island and the area with the best tourist facilities. Maui’s South coast is also very popular with tourists, and if you stay here, you can expect large resorts with great facilities and lots of restaurants, bars and shopping malls.

If you’re looking for a less touristy and more authentic Hawaiian experience, then stay away from the coast in the center of Maui or over on the Eastern side of the island.

You Should Stay in this Area If:

  • You’re traveling with family.
  • You’re on your honeymoon.
  •  You want great beaches.
  •  You want excellent hotels and good tourist infrastructure.

6. Molokai – Best Area to Experience Local Life

Where to Stay in Hawaii: Molokai

Molokai is one of the least visited of the Hawaiian Islands, and it is the place to go if you want an authentic Hawaiian experience away from the tourist crowds.

The largest community in Molokai is Kaunakakai.

There aren’t many places in the world you can visit where a leper colony is one of the main tourist highlights, but amazingly that’s the case on Molokai. For many years Molokai was used exclusively as a colony for lepers after a significant outbreak in the late 19th century. The colony still exists, and you can visit by arranging with local tour agents. The colony is in an attractive but remote location on the island’s northern shore.

Renting an apartment or a holiday home is an economical way to stay in Molokai. This island doesn’t have many resorts anyway, and a private rental allows you to cater for yourself. This is a particularly good option if you’re traveling as a family or a group.

Despite the lack of visitors, Molokai has some lovely beaches and beautiful scenery; it’s the perfect place to relax into traditional Hawaiian island life.

You Should Stay in this Area If:

  • You want to sample local Hawaiian island life.
  • You want a sleepy and laid-back charm.
  •  You’re a confident, independent traveler.

7. Kauai – Where to Stay in Hawaii for Outdoor Activities

Where to Stay in Hawaii: Kauai

If Oahu has the people and the popular destinations, and Big Island has volcanoes, then Kauai takes the crown as the most naturally beautiful of the Hawaiian islands. That’s why Kauai is called The Garden Isle.

Kauai is less visited than most of the other islands and is the westernmost island in the Hawaiian chain. It’s a beautiful green and mountainous place that is often compared to Jurassic Park.

The east coast of the Kauai is where the airport is and this is the most developed side of the island and the most convenient place to stay. Kapa’a is the largest town on the island and here, you’ll find the widest selection of hotels and best infrastructure. There are good places to stay for most budgets, and plenty of restaurants, shops and malls here, making it easier to get by on a budget.

One of the most impressive Kauai sights is the Na Pali Coast, a section of coastline on the island’s north shore with stunning cliffs that drop precipitously into the ocean. It’s best seen from the sea or by air, so a boat trip (or a helicopter if you have the money) is the best way to explore this natural highlight.

Visitors to Kauai looking for a beach holiday usually head to the south side of the island. The main town here is Poipu, a beautiful beach resort. The beaches here are great for snorkeling, diving and enjoying the pristine ocean life of the mid-pacific. The south coast is where you’ll find Kauai’s best high-end resorts. If budget isn’t an issue and you’re looking for a top-quality beach holiday with excellent facilities, then head to the South coast.

Kauai’s South coast also has spectacular botanical gardens in the Allerton and McBride National Tropical Botanic Gardens of the Pacific. Here you can see a fantastic collection of the stunning tropical flora and fauna of Hawaii.

You Should Stay in this Area If

  • You want spectacular scenery.
  • You’re a fan of Jurassic Park.
  • You want an active outdoor holiday.
  •  You want beautiful unspoiled beaches.

Where To Stay In Hawaii With Family?

If you and your family are looking for a relaxing beach holiday, then Hawaii’s best option is the island of Maui.

An alternative, if you’re interested in doing a little more than just visiting the beach, is the town of Kona on the west coast of Hawaii’s big island. This is also a popular Beach destination with some good hotels and infrastructure for families, but Big Island is also home to the volcanoes national park and has more to see and do for the active family.

Where To Stay In Hawaii Honeymoon?

The island of Maui specializes in beach weddings and honeymoon tourism. The resorts here have excellent facilities for newlyweds and you will be pampered and treated like royalty if you book a honeymoon package with a mid-to-upper-range Maui resort. There are beautiful beaches, lovely sunsets, and everything you could wish for on a romantic honeymoon.

Where To Stay In Hawaii Cheap/ On A Budget?

Despite its reputation as a famous Beach Resort, you can find some great value accommodation at Waikiki Beach on Oahu. There is a good selection of budget hostels and hotels in Waikiki, as well as more expensive places. There’s also plenty of cheap fast food stalls and budget shopping in the tourist strip of Waikiki and the malls of Honolulu.

A good budget alternative on Hawaii’s big island is Hilo, and this is the perfect base for exploring the volcanoes national park.

Where To Stay In Hawaii For A Month?

If you plan to stay in Hawaii for a month, then things can quickly get expensive. It’s a good idea to rent an apartment in Honolulu. Hawaii’s capital and largest town has plenty to see and do and is a great place to find budget accommodation for a more extended stay. Honolulu is also Hawaii’s communications center, and it’s easy to travel from here to other destinations and make the most of your month in Hawaii.

Where To Stay In Hawaii First Time?

If this is your first trip to Hawaii, then why not stay on the Big Island? The Volcanoes National Park, and the stunning volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Kilauea, are astonishing sights and Hawaii’s main bucket list attractions.

But if you’re just looking for a beach holiday, then the famous Waikiki Beach area of Honolulu is an excellent choice.

Where To Stay In Hawaii On The Beach?

Hawaii is simply packed with good beaches, and you can find great stretches of sand on any one of the islands. Having said that, if you’re looking for a tourist resort with excellent facilities and good hotels, then you should head for Waikiki on Oahu, or the west and south coasts of Maui. If you’re looking for something a bit more exclusive, why not try the beautiful south coast of remote Kauai?

Where To Stay In Hawaii For Singles?

If you are a solo traveler wanting to meet fellow Travelers in a safe and secure environment, then you should consider traveling to Hilo. This big island city is well placed for exploring the fantastic Volcanoes National Park and has some good backpackers hostels.

Where To Stay In Hawaii In March?

March is the end of Hawaii’s winter season. The tropical location of the islands means that even in winter, you can expect daytime temperatures in the mid to upper 20’s Centigrade and by march, most of the winter rains have passed. It’s a great time of year to visit Hawaii and a perfect time to enjoy a beach break on the west coast of Maui or at the famous Waikiki Beach on Oahu.

Where To Stay Near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park?

Hawaii’s spectacular Volcanoes National Park is located on the Big Island. The town of Hilo is the best base from which to explore the splendors of the park. Hilo has an international airport nearby and is the big island’s largest town. You will find accommodation here for all budgets, and since the National Park is very popular with backpackers and independent travelers, there are lots of hostels and lower-priced accommodations

5 Star Places To Stay In Hawaii?

All of Hawaii’s islands have some spectacular five-star resorts where you can enjoy outstanding facilities. The islands with the most five star resorts are the most popular islands of Oahu and Maui. Maui’s West coast in particular, has some spectacular five-star hotels. The area around Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island is also a popular five-star destination. On quieter Kauai, you will find some fabulous five-star resorts on the island’s south coast.

Where To Stay In Hawaii In December?

December is Hawaii’s peak season, as visitors descend on the islands from colder and less temperate parts of the world to escape winter. So, if you visit in December, especially around Christmas and New Year, you’ll find that the islands are very busy and hotels can be fully booked. Maui has a considerable number of hotels and you’re sure to find a room here even at this busiest time of year. It’s a great time to visit and you’ll discover the island at its most lively and entertaining.

4 Night Stay In Hawaii?

If you have four nights to spend in Hawaii, then it’s a good idea to choose one Island and explore that as fully as possible. Oahu is a good candidate. Oahu is home to Hawaii’s major city Honolulu and the famous Waikiki Beach, so you can spend a couple of days relaxing by the sands, then explore Honolulu city with its museums and galleries. And since Oahu is quite a small island, it’s easy to arrange a day trip to visit the spectacular surfing beaches of Hawaii’s North Shore.

Where To Stay In Hawaii Without A Car?

Most visitors to Hawaii don’t rent a car, so no matter which island you choose to stay on, you will find that tour operators and travel companies abound. So, while a car gives you freedom, it’s easy to arrange to see all the sights by booking trips and tours. A convenient place to stay without a car is Honolulu or Waikiki Beach. This is Hawaii’s biggest community, and you will find everything on hand.

How To Stay In Hawaii For Free?

It might sound too good to be true but you can actually stay in Hawaii for nothing as long as you are prepared to lend a helping hand. The Hawaii tourist board operates a program known as Malama Hawaii. This program allows you to receive free accommodation at selected resorts and accommodations in return for assisting with public projects such as beach cleanups, tree planting and reef preservation work. So you can stay for free and do something to help preserve the fabulous ecology of Hawaii.

How Much To Stay In Hawaii For A Week?

It’s always tricky to put a precise figure on the cost of staying in a destination because it all depends on where you stay and what you do. Having said that, Hawaii isn’t one of the world’s cheapest destinations, and it can be challenging but not impossible to stay here on a budget. If you are traveling to Hawaii as a regular tourist, then a benchmark figure including all of your accommodation and meals for one week would be somewhere in the region of $1,800 to $2,000.

But you can easily spend ten times that (or more!) if you want to stay at an exclusive five-star resort. Equally, if you are an experienced budget traveler staying in dorms and exploring places on foot, you can easily stay in Hawaii for much less than $1,000 a week.

How To Stay In Hawaii For A Month?

If you want to stay in Hawaii for a month and make your funds last as far as possible, then there are a few things that you can do. The first is to choose a budget backpacker hostel or, especially if you’re traveling as a group, rent an apartment. Staying somewhere like Honolulu is a good idea or Kona on Hawaii’s big island. Larger towns have lots of shopping malls, supermarkets, and budget fast food places that allow you to stretch out your funds.

The Hawaii Tourist Board also has a program called Malama Hawaii that provides free, yes, free accommodation in return for voluntary work. The program usually gives one or two nights free at your existing accommodation but it’s worth inquiring to see if you can’t stay for longer by offering more of your time and labor for free. Hawaii also has voluntary organizations such as animal care and environmental charities that provide free accommodation in return for helping them with their work. It’s a win-win really since you are making Hawaii a better place while extending your stay on these beautiful islands.

Where To Stay In Hawaii In November?

November is the beginning of Hawaii’s busier winter season so you can expect the islands to have quite a few visitors but not be full. The weather in November is pleasantly warm with temperatures in the high 20s centigrade, but you can expect some rainfall, particularly on the Northern and Eastern shores of the islands.

So if you want to avoid the rains, then just pick a place to stay on the east or southern coast of whichever island you choose.

A good choice is Kona on the west coast of Hawaii’s big island. This is a popular resort with excellent beaches and lots of hotels and tourist infrastructure. This coast of Big Island is much drier than the island’s east coast since much of the rain pours out of clouds as they rise over the vast mountains of the interior.

Where To Stay In Hawaii In February?

February in Hawaii is warm but can be wet. The rainier winter months are just beginning to draw to an end but the islands are at their greenest and most lush at this time of year. For this reason, why not visit the stunning Garden Island of Kauai? The jungle-clad peaks are spectacularly beautiful especially after a few months of nourishing rainfall. It’s the perfect time of year to explore the stunning coasts, beautiful beaches, and lush tropical gardens of the south coast of Kauai.

Where To Stay In Hawaii In October?

October is the end of the Hawaiian summer, and the weather is typically hot and dry. It’s not the most popular time of year for visitors so it’s a great time to enjoy bargain accommodation. Most hotels aren’t full and so you have a better chance of booking the best hotels than in the peak winter season. 

Since the weather is dry, it’s an excellent time to explore the marvels of The Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii’s Big Island. The best place from which to start your explorations is the town of Hilo on the green and lush eastern coast.

Where To Stay In Hawaii In January?

While the weather is still warm in January, it’s not uncommon for the Hawaiian Islands to experience frequent rain. If you want to avoid the rain, then a great idea is to stay on the leeward side of the island that you choose. The prevailing winds in Hawaii come from the northeast so if you stay on the southern or western side of the island, you will find that it is drier. If you want a good beach holiday while avoiding the rain as far as possible then stay on the west coast of Maui.

Conclusion

So I bet you can’t wait to visit Hawaii now that you know all about its marvels and delights. It’s a spectacular part of the world, and you now have all the info that you need to pick one or more Islands and plan your itinerary. I hope that you have a wonderful trip to this spectacular cluster of islands in the middle of the mighty Pacific ocean. Aloha!



About Author

I'm Linda Smith. I'm passionate about traveling and I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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