Where to Stay on Oahu
Before you go online to book a place to stay, consider when you’ll be visiting. The high season, when hotels are full and rates are at their peak, is mid-December to March. The secondary high season, when rates are high but rooms are somewhat easier to come by, is June to September. The low seasons—when you can expect fewer tourists and better deals—are April to June and September to mid-December. (For more on Hawaii’s travel seasons, see “When to Go”.) No matter when you travel, you can often get a good rate at many of Waikiki’s hotels by booking a package.
For a description of each neighborhood, see “The Island in Brief”. It can help you decide where you’d like to base yourself.
Remember that hotel and room taxes of 14.962% will be added to your bill (Oahu has a .546% additional tax that the other islands do not have). And don’t forget about parking charges—at up to $30 a day in Waikiki, they can add up quickly.
Note that more and more hotels charge a mandatory daily “resort fee” or “amenity fee,” usually somewhere between $25 and $30, which can increase the room rates by 20%. Hotels say these charges cover amenities, some of which you may not need (such as movie rentals, a welcome drink, a color photograph of you on the property—drinking that welcome drink, perhaps?) and some which are awfully handy (such as Internet access and parking). We have listed resort charges next to the room rates in the reviews.
Affordable parking in Waikiki
It is possible to find affordable parking in Waikiki if you know where to look. I’ve divided up the parking into free or metered parking and carry-a-big-wallet parking.
FREE OR METERED PARKING:
* All side streets in Waikiki. Some have time limits, make sure to check the posted signs.
* Ala Wai Boulevard along the Ala Wai Canal
* Kalākaua Avenue along Kapiʻolani Park
* Waikiki Zoo
BEST OF THE NOT-SO-AFFORDABLE PARKING:
* International Marketplace, 2330 Kalakaua Ave. (Parking entrance at Kuhio Ave. and Walina St. First hour free with validation, $2 per hour for the next 3 hours)
* Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, 2201 Kalakaua Ave. (First hour free with validation, $2 per hour for the next 2 hours)
* Waikiki Beach Marriott, 2552 Kalakaua Ave. (entrance on Ohua Ave.; free if you eat here, $8 per hour if you don’t)
* Waikiki Shopping Plaza, 2270 Kalakaua Ave. ($5 per hour, $7 flat-rate weekends 6:30am–6pm and evenings 6pm–midnight).
Vacation Rentals—Oahu has few true bed-and-breakfast inns. Instead, if you’re looking for a non-hotel experience, your best bet is a vacation rental. You can rent direct from owners via VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and Airbnb.com. On these sites, you’ll find a range of offerings, from $80-a-night studios to unique, off-the-beaten-path lodgings, like a Portlock cottage near Hanauma Bay on the water (listed on vrbo.com) or a North Shore treehouse (listed on Airbnb.com). Make sure to read the reviews before booking so you have a general idea of what you’re getting into. Note that for VRBO, unless you purchase VRBO’s Vacation Protection Services, most places won’t provide a refund if a rental is not what you expected. Airbnb.com gives renters more peace of mind; it withholds payment until check-in so renters can make sure the listing is as advertised. But I’ve booked places on both sites, basing my picks on reviews, and I’ve found the hosts friendly and listings accurate.
All the hotels listed are located between the ocean and Kalakaua Avenue, and between Ala Wai Terrace in the Ewa (western) direction and Olohana Street and Fort DeRussy Park in the Diamond Head (eastern) direction.
All the hotels listed are between Fort DeRussy in the Ewa (western) direction and Kaiulani Street in the Diamond Head (eastern) direction.
Affordable Waikiki: Aqua Hotels
Inexpensive accommodations are few and far between on Oahu, and especially in Waikiki . . . at least places you’d actually want to stay in. But a good bet is the Aqua chain (www.aquaresorts.com), whose inexpensive to moderately priced properties (from $119 a night) are managed by a Hawaii-based company. Hotels vary in quality (with furnishings ranging from dated tropical to bright and modern), but they are generally clean, well maintained, and regularly updated.
Some of the Oahu standouts in the Aqua portfolio include the Aqua Waikiki Pearl, 415 Nahua St. (808/954-7425), right in the middle of Waikiki and about a 10-minute walk to the beach. It has spacious room options, and I was able to find a 450-square-foot room for $125 online. The Aqua Oasis, 320 Lewers St. (808/441-7781) is just that—a cheery property with a lush courtyard and lounge area as well as clean rooms with city views and plumeria accents. Rates here start at $150. Rooms in the Luana Waikiki, 2045 Kalakaua Ave. (808/955-6000), which Aqua acquired from Outrigger in 2014, start at $159. It offers a pool and suites with a kitchen. Best of the midrange Aqua hotels is the Park Shore Waikiki, 2586 Kalākaua Ave. (808/954-7426), which offers views of Diamond Head and the ocean, starting at just $160 a night.
You’ll find all these hotels between Ala Wai Boulevard and the ocean, and between Kaiulani Street and world-famous Diamond Head itself.
Ko Olina is growing as the luxury hotel hub of the Leeward coast. The Aulani opened in 2011, the Four Seasons in late 2016, and an Atlantis resort will be complete by 2019. The new resorts are in sharp contrast to the rest of the coast, which is Oahu’s poorest.