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 Hawaii, 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, which will tell you all about the best destinations on the islands.
Where to Stay in Hawaii
Hawaii is known for many things. The nightclubs in Honolulu are amazing, there are plenty of national parks and hiking trails that you can visit all over the islands, and there are even a few historical spots and museums that you can go to, like the Iolani Palace or the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
However, despite the specific interesting attractions that you can visit, the most common reason why people come to Hawaii is to enjoy the gorgeous beaches and take a relaxing swim in tropical waters.
Regardless of where you go and which city you stay in, you’ll likely have a beach that’s within walking distance. That’s why we’d recommend choosing where to stay in Hawaii based on the attractions you might be interested in rather than the beach.
Hawaii has a lot of it. Regardless of where you stay, you’ll find unadulterated natural beauty, like the Ho’olalaea Waterfall in Kapaa, as well as more festive locations, like the Te Au Moana Luau in Wailea.
What we’re trying to say is that you’ll have fun regardless of where you go, so let’s help you pick a destination and get packing!
Hawaii’s 5 Best Areas
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:
- Honolulu: The place to be if you want to spend the night partying
- Wailea: The ideal fitness vacation destination with plenty of sports courts and outdoor activities
- Kapaa: The perfect rural retreat to enjoy the scenery
- Waikoloa: Home of Mauna Kea and a diverse destination with a little bit of everything for everyone
- Lahaina: One of the best places to go if you’re a history buff
Hawaii’s Best Areas and 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.
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.
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
- Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha is a great place to get some dessert.
- Leonard’s Bakery is the shop to go to if you’re in the mood for some pastries.
- Duke’s Waikiki is a small beachfront shop where you can grab a quick drink.
Honolulu Budget Hotels
- Pagoda Hotel has rooms that come with a microwave and mini-fridge, as well as an outdoor swimming pool.
- Pearl Hotel Waikiki is just a short five-minute walk away from the beach, and all of the rooms come with a TV and a microwave.
Honolulu Mid-Range Hotels
- White Sands Hotel has a pool-side bar where you can get yourself a nice cool cocktail, and there’s also an on-site cafe that you can visit.
- Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel has an open-air tiki bar and grill that has a pretty exotic menu, an on-site restaurant, and a pool-side bar.
Honolulu Luxury Hotels
- Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa has a satellite TV and free wifi in every room, a breakfast and dinner buffet at the on-site restaurant, and a bar that can make you a nice cocktail if you want to just chill by the outdoor pool.
- Sheraton Waikiki has four on-site restaurants where you can find both breakfast and dinner buffets. Additionally, there are two outdoor pools and a garden with child-care services where guests can just enjoy their evening.
Read Next: Where to Stay in Oahu in 2022
While Wailea 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
- DUO Steak & Seafood is probably the best place to eat in the city if you’re a BBQ fan.
- Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante is a bit pricey, but the food is definitely worth it.
- Matteo’s Osteria provides you with a menu that’s just full of Italian dishes.
Wailea Budget Hotels
- Days Inn provides a cable TV and AC unit in every room, as well as access to a fitness center, barbecue facilities, and a launderette.
- Residence Inn has rooms that come with a flat-screen TV and free toiletries, as well as a breakfast buffet and evening refreshments at the pool-side bar.
Wailea Mid-Range Hotels
- AC Hotel offers all of the guests a choice between a continental or à la carte breakfast in the morning, as well as an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center.
- Marriott is located right next to the beach, and all of the rooms come with a TV that has cable, satellite, and pay-per-view options, an AC unit, and even a coffee machine.
Wailea Luxury Hotels
- A Waldorf Astoria Resort has rooms that come with a giant soaking tub and a terrace with a view, while the resort itself has five restaurants, a spa, three golf courses, and even a water park that guests can use.
- Relais & Châteaux provides you with an outdoor swimming pool, as well as lounge chairs on the beach that are reserved for hotel guests and that come with beach service that includes free bottled water.
Read Next: Where to Stay in Maui in 2022
Kapaa 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.
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
- Wailua Shave Ice is the place to go if you want a nice frozen treat.
- Sleeping Giant Grill has a pretty varied menu with a lot of local and exotic dishes.
- Coconut’s Fish Cafe is just a small eatery where you can just grab a quick bite.
Kapaa Budget Hotels
- Hotel Coral Reef offers light breakfast refreshments each morning, as well as a lagoon-style swimming pool that guests can use.
- Kauai Shores Hotel has an outdoor pool that the guests can use, a reception desk that’s open 24/7, and free wifi.
Kapaa Mid-Range Hotels
- Plantation Hale Suites gives you access to three outdoor pools and a hot tub, and all of the rooms come with a flat-screen TV and a blu-ray player.
- Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort has an outdoor pool and a garden that the guests can use, as well as a cable TV and free wifi in all of the rooms.
Kapaa Luxury Hotels
- Hilton Garden Inn has a restaurant and bar where you can go for your meals if you’re in the mood for some BBQ and where you can also just grab a cold drink after you’ve visited the fitness center.
- Aston Islander comes with an outdoor pool and BBQ facilities, and guests get a free drink on check-in before they’re shown to their rooms that come with free wifi, a microwave, and a Playstation 3 for a bit of entertainment.
Read Next: Where to Stay in Kauai in 2022
Waikoloa 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.
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
- Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar is the best place for some Asian food.
- Mai Grille by Chef Allen Hess is where you go if you’re in the mood for a burger.
- Lava Lava Beach Club is the place for you if you want to try some authentic Hawaiian dishes.
Waikoloa Budget Hotels
- Hilton Grand Vacations Club provides you with a cable TV and an AC unit in every room and an on-site restaurant.
- Hilton Waikoloa Village offers beautiful views of the Pacific ocean from all of the guest rooms, as well as a flat-screen TV and a coffee maker.
Waikoloa Mid-Range Hotels
- Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa comes with an outdoor pool, a children’s pool, and a hot tub, as well as a fitness and business center.
- Fairmont Orchid has an outdoor pool, a garden that guests and their pets can use, and rooms that come with cable TV.
Waikoloa Luxury Hotels
- The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort offers you a full-service spa option that you can use to relax after a hard day, a fitness center where you can work out, and even a children’s activity program for your kids so they don’t get bored sitting in their room.
- Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is connected to a top-notch golf course that guests can play on, it offers a complimentary breakfast each morning in the on-site restaurant, and the rooms also come with turn-down service and beach service as well.
Read Next: Where to Stay on the Big Island in 2022
Lahaina is a Hawaiian word that roughly translates to “cruel sun” or “relentless sun,” which is frankly just an incredible name. That same name belongs to a town on the west coast of Maui that once used to be a whaling town.
Because of this, the town is known for the Whaler’s Village Museum as well as several other historic locations. One of these locations is the Historic Trail which takes you through several interesting attractions.
These include the “stuck-in-irons house” that used to be a jail for rowdy sailors, the Baldwin Home, which used to be a protestant missionary house in the 18th century, as well as 60 other notable historic sites on the plaque-covered path that you can walk.
If you’re looking for something a bit more modern, then you can go to the Art Night event that’s regularly held at the Martin Lawrence gallery, or you can check out what they have on display at the Old Jail Gallery.
The biggest problem is that even though Lahaina isn’t exactly Honolulu, the prices in the restaurants and the hotels are pretty high.
You’ll still be able to find reasonably-priced rooms in this town, but you might want to bring a few hundred more with you if you want to sit down and have a fun night out on the town.
Things to Do
- Check out the Jodo temple if you want to see one of the largest Buddhist statues that you’ll be able to encounter outside of Japan.
- Go to the parks and enjoy the shade produced by the massive curved trunks of the Banyan Trees.
- Go on one of the many boat tours that will take you out past the coast where you’ll be able to see the massive humpback whales in all of their glory.
- Visit Ka’anapali Beach and see the crystal clear water and white sand for yourself to make sure if the title of “America’s Best Beach” is true.
Where to Eat
- Fleetwood’s on Front St. offers a fantastic view for nighttime dining.
- Pacific’o on the Beach is where you go if you want to grab some breakfast.
- Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice makes some great frozen treats.
Lahaina Budget Hotels
- MaKai Sunset Inn has free wifi throughout the location, complimentary parking spots for all of the guests, and a kitchen and dining area in all of the rooms.
- Napili Sunset Beach Front Resort comes with rooms that have cable TV and full kitchens, and you even get an outdoor BBQ facility that you can use.
Lahaina Mid-Range Hotels
- Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas provide the guests with access to two outdoor pools, a fitness center that’s always open, and a day spa.
- Royal Lahaina Resort has rooms that come with cable TV and free wifi, as well as an in-house restaurant where you can dine.
Lahaina Luxury Hotels
- Hyatt Regency Maui comes with a full-service spa that guests can use, five different in-house restaurants that they can eat in, an outdoor water park, and Private oceanfront aerobics classes.
- Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa comes with a large outdoor pool, three tennis courts where guests can play a few matches, and there are also resort activities that include hula dancing classes and scuba diving lessons.
Where Should You Stay in Hawaii? Final Thoughts
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.