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Where to Stay in Hawaii in 2024 | Best Islands & Hotels

Where to Stay in Hawaii in 2024 | Best Islands & Hotels

Where should you stay in Hawaii?

If vibrant nightlife is what you’re after, Honolulu on Oahu is the place to be. For those into outdoor activities and fitness, Wailea on Maui is a dream destination. If a peaceful, scenic rural retreat sounds appealing, then Kapaa on Kauai is perfect.

And for a mix of everything, including the stunning Mauna Kea, head to Waikoloa on the Big Island. Each spot boasts its own unique attractions and beautiful beaches, catering to all sorts of tastes and preferences.

The beach and the sea are probably the first things that come to mind whenever someone imagines an ideal vacation spot. And what’s the first place that anyone thinks of beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters?

That’s right — Hawaii. When planning a vacation to this storied paradise, you might just run into the problem of having too many great spots.

So, figuring out where to stay in Hawaii can be tricky sometimes. Well, it would be for anyone that didn’t stumble across our article. We’ll break down the best places to stay in Hawaii, why we love each one, a few things to do, and the best hotels in each. Let us be your guide!

The Best Parts of Hawaii to Stay in

Custom map of the Hawaiian islands in graphic form with the 7 islands labeled for a piece on where to stay in Hawaii

With the exception of the first city that we mention, the rest of the locations are relatively small and remote, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less exciting. In our opinion, the best places that you can visit in Hawaii are:

  1. Honolulu: The place to be if you want to spend the night partying
  2. Wailea: The ideal fitness vacation destination with plenty of sports courts and outdoor activities
  3. Kapaa: The perfect rural retreat to enjoy the scenery
  4. Waikoloa: Home of Mauna Kea and a diverse destination with a little bit of everything for everyone

Where to Stay in Hawaii: Best Areas & Hotels

Hawaii is a popular tourist destination — there’s no doubt about that. While we all know about the scenic qualities of the USA’s only archipelago state, not everyone might be aware of the fact that most accommodation options may just burn a hole in your pocket.

Don’t worry, though, as that’s precisely what we’ll try to tackle in our list, which includes a wide price range of hotels.

Nevertheless, we wanted to stress the fact that you should be prepared to spend a bit of money on the room, especially if you were hoping to spend your vacation in luxury. After all, it’s definitely worth it.

Our guide lists some of the better hotels in each area, and they’re divided by their overall price, but if you feel like they’re not as well equipped as you might have hoped or that they’re a bit more pricey than what you can afford, it’s easy to find an alternative.

1. Best Area for Nightlife: Honolulu

Gorgeous daytime view of Honolulu, one of our top picks for where to stay in Hawaii


  • Pros: Dynamic city life, historical landmarks (Pearl Harbor), diverse culinary scene, and extensive shopping.
  • Cons: Crowded urban environment, traffic congestion.
  • Average Hotel Room Cost: $150-$300 per night.

We’re starting out the list with the capital city itself. Located on the southern side of the island of Oahu, Honolulu is one of the best destinations for anyone planning a trip to Hawaii.

While there are plenty of beautiful beaches, the main draw of this particular location is primarily its entertainment venues and urban attractions.

This is definitely the place to go if you’re looking to visit some fun clubs, have a drink or two at a few bars, or have a night out on the town with your partner and enjoy one of the many exotic restaurants that can be found all over the place.

There are also plenty of natural attractions, like the 150-foot tall waterfall called Manoa Falls, located just northeast of downtown Honolulu.

You can also go to the Halona Blowhole, which is the name of a location where the waves that crash into the cliffs erupt into the air, framing a majestic rainbow—a sight to behold in our book!

It’s probably no surprise that the capital city is one of the most expensive destinations in Hawaii that you can visit.

There are plenty of smaller restaurants or hotels if you want to save a bit of money, but if you want to have some fun here, you should be prepared to empty your pocket. That said, it’ll be worth every penny.

Read Next: Where to Stay in Oahu in 2024

Things to Do

  • Go on a whale-watching cruise and relax on the pool-side deck by day while you enjoy a drink at the bar while looking up at the stars at night.
  • Visit the Bishop Museum and check out some of the interesting artifacts that they have on display, as well as the nautical-themed exhibits.
  • Visit the Iolani Palace and check out the residence that was the home of the Hawaiian monarchy in all of its splendor.
  • Grab your sneakers and get some fresh air while you hike up the trail to Manoa Falls.

Where to Eat

Luxury Hotel

Sheraton Waikiki

Photo collage of the Sheraton Waikiki, one of the best places to stay in Hawaii

Sheraton Waikiki is a beachfront hotel located in Honolulu, Hawaii. Renowned for its stunning ocean views and contemporary amenities, the hotel provides a tropical retreat with direct access to Waikiki Beach and is a popular choice for both leisure and business travelers in the vibrant and scenic surroundings of Hawaii.

Luxury Hotel
Neat view of the skyscrapers on the horizon towering over the still water of Waikiki Bay at the Hyatt Regency, one of the best places to stay in Hawaii

Hyatt Regency Waikiki

The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa is a premier hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii. Situated in the heart of Waikiki, it offers luxurious accommodations, stunning ocean views, and a range of amenities, making it a popular choice for travelers seeking a high-end experience in this tropical paradise.

Mid-Range Hotel

The Twin Fin Hotel

The Twin Fin Hotel is a well-known accommodation situated in the heart of Waikiki, Honolulu. Renowned for its beachfront location, vibrant atmosphere, and modern amenities, the hotel provides a comfortable and convenient stay for visitors looking to enjoy the beauty of Waikiki Beach and explore the attractions of Honolulu, Hawaii.

2. Best Area for Activities: Wailea

Dusk view of one of top picks for where to stay in Hawaii, Wailea in Maui

Shane Myers Photography/Shutterstock

  • Pros: Breathtaking beaches, luxurious resorts, high-end dining, and picturesque golf courses.
  • Cons: Higher overall cost, limited nightlife.
  • Average Hotel Room Cost: $300-$600 per night.

While Wailea (on Maui) might not be all too big, there are tons of tourists that pour in every day looking to spend some time on the beautiful beaches or visit one of the many sports courts that can be found just about everywhere in this location.

This city is the ideal destination for any sports enthusiast or pretty much anyone that’s looking to stay in shape while on vacation. There are tennis courts, golf courts, basketball courts, and a lot of beach volleyball courts as well.

Wailea also has beautiful beaches like Makena and Keawakapu, where you can enjoy the picturesque scenery and see sea turtles swimming.

Festivals like The Feast at Mokapu or the Te Au Moana Luau are organized quite frequently, and all you need to do is keep an eye out for a billboard or a flyer that tells you the exact date and time.

We’d recommend attending one of these events to see the hula dancers and maybe try some of the Huli chicken, the ʻopihi — an exotic limpet, and haupia — Hawaii’s signature dessert.

There are bars and restaurants in the city, but outside of the festivals, the party scene leaves a lot to be desired. If you want to go to the beach or play a few games of tennis or golf, then this is the place for you. Otherwise, there are better vacation locations to pick from.

Things to Do

  • Visit one of the spas that are located in this city and just spend a bit of time on the massage table or the sauna.
  • Get a helicopter tour of the city from above, or go on a whale-watching cruise if you want to see the beauty of this city from every possible angle.
  • Catch one of the yoga classes that are held all throughout the day, or maybe take a surfing lesson and try to pick up a new skill.
  • You can also head on over to the Haleakala National Park and snap a few pics as you hike up the trail.

Where to Eat

Luxury Hotel

Grand Wailea Resort Hotel

Photo collage of the exterior of one of the most opulent resorts on Maui, the Grand Wailea, a top pick for where to stay in Hawaii

The Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, is a luxury hotel located in Wailea, Maui, Hawaii. Renowned for its opulent accommodations, extensive amenities including a spa, pools, and exquisite dining options, the resort offers a lavish and tropical escape for those seeking a high-end experience in the scenic surroundings of Maui.

Luxury Hotel
Pool area at the Hotel Wailea, a top pick for the best places to stay in Hawaii

Hotel Wailea, Relais & Châteaux

Hotel Wailea, Relais & Châteaux, is a prestigious boutique hotel in Wailea, Maui, Hawaii. Known for its exclusive and intimate atmosphere, the property offers luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining, and personalized service, making it a top choice for those seeking a refined and secluded retreat in the beautiful surroundings of Maui.

Mid-Range Hotel
Lobby at one of our top picks for where to stay in Hawaii, the Wailea Beach Resort, a mid-range and action-packed hotel with lots to do for families

Wailea Beach Resort - Marriott

The Wailea Beach Resort, part of the Marriott portfolio, is a luxury hotel located in Wailea, Maui, Hawaii. Recognized for its upscale accommodations, oceanfront location, and extensive amenities, including pools, dining, and spa facilities, the resort provides a sophisticated and relaxing experience for guests seeking a premium stay in the enchanting setting of Maui.

3. Best Area for Nature: Kapaa (Kauai)

Sunny day on a beach in one of the best places to stay in Hawaii, Kapaa

Matthew Pipke/Shutterstock

  • Pros: Centrally located, affordable options, scenic landscapes, and a taste of local culture.
  • Cons: Limited luxury resorts, quieter nightlife.
  • Average Hotel Room Cost: $100-$300 per night.

Kapaa (on Kauai) is a pretty rare sight in Hawaii. What we mean by that is that the city isn’t all that small, but it actually provides you with reasonably priced hotels and attractions that you can visit even if you’re on a tight budget.

You still have the beautiful beaches that are a staple of almost every location in Hawaii, as well as the water sports, jet ski and kayak rentals, and other fun things that you can do.

But the main draw of Kapaa is the natural beauty that it has that almost feels rustic. Here you’ll find the famous Sleeping Giant mountain, as well as several hiking trails that take you all across it.

However, Kapaa isn’t completely off the beaten path either, as you’ll also be able to sit down and enjoy a meal at a lot of small eateries or visit some pretty interesting shops where local craftsmen make glass baubles that you can take back as a souvenir. 

The fact that the small and simple shops and the cheap hotel rooms are some of the biggest draws of this place should probably tell you that this isn’t the place to be if you’re looking to go to some nightclubs or bars.

There are still places like that here and there, but they’re nowhere near as prevalent as someplace like Honolulu.

Read Next: Where to Stay in Kauai in 2024

Things to Do

  • Check out the Hindu Monastery and just marvel at the old-school architecture and the many statues littered all around the place that represent certain figures of worship.
  • Visit the Smiths Tropical Paradise if you want to see some peacocks, or if you want to, check out the luau celebrations that are held regularly.
  • Grab a bottle of water and a hat for the sun, and go down the hiking trails to maybe see the famous Ho’olalaea Waterfall.
  • Go to one of the many glass shops in this area and pick out something that you might like from the products of the local craftsmen.

Where to Eat

Luxury Hotel

Aston Islander on the Beach

Photo collage of one of the best places to stay in Hawaii, the Aston Islander on the Beach in Kapaa

The Wailea Beach Resort, part of the Marriott portfolio, is a luxury hotel located in Wailea, Maui, Hawaii. Recognized for its upscale accommodations, oceanfront location, and extensive amenities, including pools, dining, and spa facilities, the resort provides a sophisticated and relaxing experience for guests seeking a premium stay in the enchanting setting of Maui.

Mid-Range Hotel
Exterior sunset view from a room looking toward the water of Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach, a top pick for where to stay in Hawaii

Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach

The Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort is a beachfront hotel situated on the eastern coast of Kauai, Hawaii. Celebrated for its oceanfront setting, modern amenities, and convenient access to popular attractions, the resort offers a comfortable and tropical retreat for visitors seeking an idyllic experience on the Garden Isle.

Mid-Range Hotel
Featured as one of the best places to stay in Hawaii, a pool and building at Plantation Hale Suites on Kapaa pictured in the day

Plantation Hale Suites

Plantation Hale Suites is a resort located in Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii. Recognized for its spacious suites and tropical landscaping, the property offers a comfortable and family-friendly accommodation option, providing guests with a relaxed atmosphere in the beautiful surroundings of Kauai's Coconut Coast.

4. Best Area to See Everything: Waikoloa

Secluded beach on one of our favorite places to stay in Hawaii, Waikoloa on the Big Island


  • Pros: Gorgeous beaches, world-class golf, historic attractions, and upscale accommodations.
  • Cons: Somewhat remote, fewer dining choices outside resorts.
  • Average Hotel Room Cost: $200-$500 per night.

Waikoloa (on the Big Island) offers a bit of everything. There are quite a few resorts that you can visit where you can just relax all day, and there are also a lot of historic sites and even ancient petroglyphs.

Such attractions are dotted all around the place for any history buffs that want to see some interesting exhibits and learn a bit more about the history of this place.

Nature lovers might be interested in the Anchialine ponds that house a large variety of sea life that you can go and observe. The outskirts of Waikoloa house several hiking trails and parks whose only befitting description is that of a true tropical paradise.

Waikoloa has quite a few shops and restaurants that you can visit if you’re in the mood for a shopping spree or if you just want a night out on the town.

And of course, there are also beautiful beaches here, which include the Hapuna Beach State Park, one of the biggest white beaches in Hawaii. While the beaches might be beautiful, they’re usually crowded.

Waikoloa is a relatively small town, so it doesn’t have quite as many beaches as other locations that we’ve mentioned, which means that the few beaches that you go to will likely be packed with tourists that got there before you.

Read Next: Where to Stay on the Big Island in 2024

Things to Do

  • Visit the Dolphin Quest park and see these majestic mammals on full display as they do flips through the air.
  • Go to the Genesis gallery and check out some of the interesting pieces of art that are on display there.
  • The 49 Black Sand Beach is an interesting sight since you might see sea turtles, the remains of old lava flows, and—you guessed it—black sand.
  • Visit the Petroglyph Preserve if you want to see a pretty interesting landmark and learn a bit more about Hawaiian history.

Where to Eat

Luxury Hotel

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a renowned luxury resort situated on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Celebrated for its iconic architecture, pristine white sand beach, and world-class amenities, including golf courses and fine dining, the hotel offers an upscale and tranquil escape in the breathtaking landscape of Hawaii.

Luxury Hotel

The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort

The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort is a premier hotel located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Known for its contemporary design, oceanfront setting, and upscale amenities, including a championship golf course, the resort provides a luxurious and rejuvenating experience for guests seeking a sophisticated retreat in the picturesque surroundings of Hawaii.

Mid-Range Hotel

Waikola Beach Marriott Resort

Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on Kohala Coast, Big Island, offers ocean views, spa, infinity pool, dining options, and recreational activities. Rooms feature amenities like a safe, TV, refrigerator, and coffee machine. Guests enjoy water sports, fitness, and business facilities, along with dining at Hawaii Calls Restaurant and Sunset Luau for a Polynesian show.

Save Big on Your Hawaii Trip

Smart travelers (aka you) know that the best way to save big on a trip to Hawaii is to shop around. As travel experts, we know a thing or two about saving money on a trip.

We suggest browsing both individual resort offers and also flight/resort packages on and to see what awesome deals are available. We’ve spent countless hours on these sites, and can confidently say that there are some smoking deals right now.

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While we tend to favor for individual hotel/resort bookings and Expedia for complete trip packages, that’s just our own opinion.

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So, Where Should You Stay in Hawaii?

🎉 Best Area for NightlifeHonolulu
⚽ Best for ActivitiesWailea
🌳 Best to Experience NatureKapaa
✅ Best Area to See EverythingWaikoloa

It’s no secret that Hawaii is a beautiful place, and there’s no shortage of beaches and resorts that you can visit and enjoy.

As you might have seen throughout the article, all of the locations that we’ve mentioned have spectacular beaches, so you’ll be able to have a bit of fun in the sun regardless of where you go.

We’d recommend focusing a bit more on the attractions that we’ve mentioned. If any of them sparked your interest, then you’ll probably want to go and check them out for yourself.

It’s pretty easy to find something fun to do and some beautiful sights regardless of which city you go to or which hotel you pick, so our recommendation would be to relax and just go with whatever spot feels like it might be the most interesting for you.