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.
This list of the best areas to stay on Oahu Hawaii was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Heading to Oahu for your next family vacation but confused about where to stay?
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!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Oahu.
Popular Oahu Tours/Activities
- Kualoa Ranch UTV Tour (this is a fun adventure with the prettiest views)
- Full Pearl Harbor Tour (this is the BEST way to do everything at Pearl Harbor)
- Hawaii Bucket List Tour (you get to pick where you stop on this custom Oahu circle island tour)
- Toa Luau (this is my all-time favorite Oahu luau)
- CLIMB Works Ziplining (this is the longest zipline on Oahu)
- Book a Photo Shoot (this is a Hawaii souvenir you’ll treasure forever)
Favorite Oahu Resorts/Hotels
- Hilton Hawaiian Village (this is our favorite Waikiki resort because of the amazing pool area and nearby restaurants)
- Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa (this is a splurge that is totally worth it)
- Royal Hawaiian Hotel (this is a luxury resort in Waikiki that is pink and gorgeous)
Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.
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
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
They are incredible spas, and delicious restaurants, and they are all close to the famous Waikiki Beach.
Save Money with Points
Here are the best credit card offers for families who travel and want to use points to pay for airfare and hotels in Hawaii.
Cheap Places to Stay in Waikiki
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 is another one of the best places to stay in Oahu, Hawaii. It is the heart of the island and has everything you need.
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!
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.
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.
Book a Family Photo Shoot
Whenever we travel to Hawaii, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND it guarantees that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.
Best 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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!