Best Area to Stay on Oahu

Are you thinking about booking a trip to Oahu? Keep scrolling to find out the best areas to stay on Oahu plus our top picks for hotels and resorts.

Heading to Oahu for your next family vacation but confused about where to stay?

Oahu is one of the best islands to go to for tourists. It is full of many historic landmarks, and plenty of fun activities and adventures for everyone to enjoy. 

Because it has so many fun things all over the island, it is hard to figure out where to stay on Oahu

Here is your ultimate guide on some of the best places to stay in Oahu, Hawaii for all situations whether you plan to visit with your family or on your own. 

This guide will include cheap places to stay on Oahu Hawaii as well as luxurious resorts. It will go over some of the best towns to stay in Oahu so you can make the best decision and get the most out of your vacation to Hawaii. 

Keep scrolling for my full guide of the best areas to stay on Oahu!

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Oahu Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

Where to Stay in Oahu Hawaii FAQs

What part of Oahu should you stay on?

This all depends on what you want to see and do during your vacation. If you want to explore many of the tourist parts of Hawaii, stay in Waikiki. If you want a less crowded place, stay at the North Shore or Ko Olina.

What should I avoid in Oahu?

If you don’t like to be in crowded places, try to avoid Waikiki. If you hate driving and waiting in traffic for a long time, avoid the North Shore. Avoid spending all your time in one city. There are so many great places to stay on Oahu, Hawaii; go and see them all!

Is it better to stay on the North Shore or Waikiki? 

The North Shore and Waikiki are two completely different areas of Oahu. If you want to explore the countryside, the North Shore is better. If you want to be in the city, Waikiki is better for you. Both of these are some of the best places to stay on Oahu, so it all depends on what you want to do during your trip.

Best Areas to Stay in Oahu

It is hard to say which part is the best area of Oahu to stay in, so I have included my top four places, each with pros and cons. 

Here you will learn exactly where to stay on Oahu to fit all your needs and what you want to do during your vacation! 

Waikiki 

Waikiki is one of the most popular places, making it one of the best places to stay in Oahu, Hawaii. You are close to the airport, in town, and you never have to drive too far to eat or grab something from the store. 

Image of Waikiki beach and buildings with Diamond Head in the background.
Waikiki Beach on Oahu.

There are plenty of fun things to do around Waikiki, including snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, Sea Life Park, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, and the famous Waikiki Beach

You’ll find countless places to stay in Waikiki, both budget-friendly and luxurious options. 

The best area to stay in Waikiki is close to Waikiki Beach, so you can enjoy relaxing at the beach all day and easily grab some delicious food whenever you are hungry. 

Staying in Waikiki Pros 

Because this is a place where most of the tourists go, you’ll find anything and everything you’ll need during your vacation. It has plenty of accommodations for couples, families, and friends who want and need a relaxing trip. 

Image of a night market in Waikiki Oahu
Duke’s Marketplace in Waikiki.

One of the biggest pros that make this the best area to stay in Oahu is that you have easy access to stores, restaurants, and everything else. It is incredibly convenient, and you have lots of choices right in this town. And things are open late.

Staying in Waikiki Cons

That being said, there is a ton of traffic in Waikiki. Even though everything is close, you will experience longer wait times due to all the cars traveling from the North Shore to town and stopping for all the tourists crossing the streets. 

Image of Waikiki and Honolulu buildings
Waikiki is BUSY.

It is busy all the time, even at night. If the hustle and hectic lifestyle are not for you, Waikiki is not the best place to stay on Oahu for you. 

Best Resorts

There are plenty of luxurious resorts in Waikiki. Moana Surfrider, Hilton Hawaiian Village, and Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach are some of the unique places to stay in Oahu. They are incredible spas, and delicious restaurants, and they are all close to the famous Waikiki Beach. 

Cheap Places to Stay in Waikiki

Waikiki has some affordable places because it is a popular tourist place. If you are on a budget, try Coconut Waikiki Hotel or Luana Waikiki Hotel & Suites

Best Places for Families in Waikiki

Waikiki has plenty of family-friendly hotels. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Moana Surfrider, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, and the Hilton Hawaiian Village all have kid activities and are great places for families. 

The Hilton Hawaiian Village is probably the best place to stay in Waikiki for families.  

Honolulu 

Honolulu is another one of the best places to stay in Oahu, Hawaii. It is the heart of the island and has everything you need. 

Image of a 3 level outdoor mall in Honolulu Hawaii.
Ala Moana Center in Honolulu.

You have easy access to Pearl Harbor, the airport, Ala Moana Center, Waikiki, Honolulu Zoo, Sea Life Park, and plenty of other great activities in Honolulu. 

If you love exploring the cultural part of the island, Honolulu is the best place to stay in Oahu for you. You can go to many fun museums to learn more about Hawaii and the culture here.  

Staying in Honolulu Pros 

If you don’t like rushing to the airport, Honolulu is the best area to stay on Oahu. The airport is in Honolulu, so you won’t have to worry about missing your flight! 

Royal Seal on a gate to Iolani Palace on Oahu
Royal Seal on a gate to Iolani Palace. Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

There are plenty of accommodations in this city, especially for families. Honolulu is also rich in cultural artifacts in the museum and even while driving around. You’ll be able to see Pearl Harbor, the Bishop Museum, and Iolani Palace

Many tours offer free transportation if you stay in Honolulu, so if you want to save money and not rent a car, this is the best area to stay on Oahu. 

Staying in Honolulu Cons

Like Waikiki, there is tons of traffic in Honolulu. It is the main town on Oahu, so it does get really crowded, and you won’t see as much greenery and plant life as you do on the North Shore. 

Image of traffic on a freeway on Oahu.
There’s tons of traffic getting in and out of Honolulu.

If you would rather see luscious green mountains out your window when you wake up, Honolulu is probably not the best side of Oahu to stay on for you. 

Best Resorts in Honolulu

Ala Moana is the best area to stay in Honolulu. The Kahala Hotel & Resort and Hilton Grand Vacations Club are both great resorts in Honolulu. 

Cheap Places to Stay in Honolulu

Honolulu has some of the cheapest places to stay on Oahu because it is a big town with plenty of hotels. If you are on a tight budget, check out The Ala Moana Honolulu by Mantra, Pacific Marina Inn, or Best Western The Plaza Hotel. 

Best Places for Families in Honolulu

The best place to stay in Honolulu for families is The Alohilani Resort. It has an awesome kid’s club and other great family activities. 

North Shore

If you are wondering where to stay on Oahu besides Waikiki, go to the North Shore. The North Shore is one of the best places to stay in Oahu with kids because it has so many fun adventures that kids of all ages will enjoy. 

Best things to do in haleiwa oahu, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Road sign for the town of Haleiwa famed as a surfing mecca on the North Shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, USA
Haleiwa sign in North Shore Oahu.

You’ll find the Dole Plantation, The Polynesian Cultural Center, Haleiwa, Kualoa Ranch, and an awesome zipline tour. 

Sharks Cove, Waimea Bay, Turtle Bay, and Laniakea Beach are also beautiful areas to visit along the North Shore. 

It is the countryside of Oahu where you will see breathtaking green mountains and beautiful beaches. 

Staying in North Shore Oahu Pros 

Because it is on the farm side of the island, it is super chill and laid back. People are friendly and love taking their time to connect with you out here. 

Image of a man surfing a wave in Hawaii
Check out the surfers in North Shore!

It usually is not very crowded unless you are in Haleiwa. The North Shore is a great place to relax and not worry about other tourists. 

If you love surfing, this is the best location to stay in Oahu because it gets pretty awesome waves, especially during the wintertime. 

Staying in North Shore Oahu Cons

The North Shore is further away from town, so it does offer less entertainment, especially during the night. It only has a few stores and other accommodations, which makes it hard when you want to grab something quick. 

The North Shore of Oahu is easiest explored by car
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

There is still traffic on this side of the island, so you have to plan longer times in the car than you normally would in Waikiki. 

There are really strong currents in winter which some people love while others don’t. 

Best Resorts in North Shore Oahu

Turtle Bay and Courtyard By Marriott are the two best resorts on the North Shore. They are both luxury options that offer solitude and awesome amenities. 

Cheap Places to Stay in North Shore Oahu

Because it is the countryside, you won’t find as many options to stay in, especially cheaper options. If you want to stay on the North Shore, finding an Airbnb or VRBO is usually a lot cheaper. 

Best Places for Families

Turtle Bay is the best place to stay in the North Shore for families as it offers many great family-friendly activities and is close to the PCC and many food trucks

Ko Olina

Ko Olina is on the west side and is one of the best places to stay in Oahu HI if you are looking for solitude and no crowds. 

Image of a lagoon in Ko Olina Oahu
Ko Olina Lagoon on Oahu.

There are amazing lagoons to explore on this side of the island and the famous Disney Resort. If you are looking for a place to stay in Oahu, Hawaii that has luxury options, Ko Olina is the best place for you!

Staying in Ko Olina Pros 

It is a much quieter city than Honolulu or Waikiki. There are not as many tourists at all at Ko Olina, which is very nice and refreshing. 

Image of hotels and lagoons in Ko Olina Oahu
Ko Olina has lots of luxury resorts.

It is not the countryside, so you can still get to Honolulu quickly and easily. You won’t be too far away from stores and accommodations here. 

One of the biggest pros is that Ko Olina has a lot of luxury resorts. It provides a nice, peaceful place for people to stay. 

Staying in Ko Olina Cons

Ko Olina is not cheap at all. It is very expensive due to the luxury resorts. If you are on a budget, this is not the best area to stay on Oahu for you. 

It also is not as green as the North Shore. It doesn’t get as much rain, which most people enjoy, but it does mean it is more dry and brown. 

Best Resorts in Ko Olina

The Four Seasons, Marriott, Aulani Disney Resort, and the Beach Villas are all luxurious resorts in Ko Olina. No matter which resort you stay at, you will be in heaven! 

Cheap Places to Stay in Ko Olina

There are not too many cheap places in Ko Olina. You might find some Airbnb or VRBO with more budget-friendly options than the resorts. You can also try the Hampton Inn & Suites in Kapolei, close by. 

Best Places for Families in Ko Olina

The Disney Aulani Resort is another one of the best places to stay in Oahu with family, especially little kids. It is full of fun kid activities that the entire family can enjoy. 

Tips for Choosing the Best Areas to Stay in Oahu

While you’re planning your family vacation to Oahu, I have a few tips for you. Keep these things in mind when looking for the best areas to stay in Oahu.

  • Think about what kind of accommodations you’re looking for, and that will give you an idea of the best part of Oahu to stay in. Think about whether you want the amenities of hotels and resorts or the privacy of condos and villas.
  • If you don’t want to rent a car, it’s best to stay in Honolulu or Waikiki. Then, you can rent an airport shuttle to and from, which is cheaper than a taxi or car service will be.
  • To get the most out of your trip, I suggest planning to take 5 to 7 days. You can take a 3-day trip to Oahu, but it may not give you the experience you’re looking for. Especially with smaller children, I recommend taking a day to settle in. This time frame will also allow you to plan a variety of experiences, from planned outings and shopping trips to low-key beach days.

Where to Stay on Oahu Wrap Up

There is no one best part of Oahu to stay in because it all depends on your situation! Waikiki, Honolulu, North Shore, and Ko Olina are some of the best places to stay in Oahu Hawaii for a nice, relaxing vacation. Choose any of these cities, and you will have a blast!

Looking for more Oahu Travel Resources? Find out how many days on Oahu you need, the best things to do on Oahu at night, where to eat on Oahu with kids, how to get around Oahu without a car, and where to find parking in Waikiki.