the best places to stay in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii (my own recommendations!)
As a frequent traveler to Hawaii and especially the island of Oahu, I’ve stayed in many different hotels over the years and nearly every hotel in Waikiki. I’ve been visiting the Hawaiian Islands regularly for over twenty years, so I’m offering some up-to-date hotel advice for 2023.
This guide to the best 23 hotels in Waikiki will give you the best, most accurate, and up-to-date information about the top best hotels in Waikiki, Hawaii (and around the island of Oahu). AND all of the photos in this post were personally taken by me within the last year!
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So, if you’re seeking the best hotels in Waikiki, Hawaii, and travel tips — this is the post for you!
Quick Guide: Where to Stay in Waikiki, Hawaii
Where to stay in Waikiki, Hawaii? Choosing a hotel in Waikiki can be a challenge! This quick guide will help you choose a hotel quickly, as you plan your dream Hawaiian vacation. You can see at a glance the best places to stay in Waikiki:
📍Best Spot for Couples in Waikiki: The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort
📍Best Spot for Families in Waikiki: Hilton Hawaiian Village and Waikiki Beach resort
📍Best Spot for Luxury Travelers in Waikiki: Halekulani resort
📍Best Spot for Budget Travelers in Waikiki: The Shoreline Hotel
23 Best Places to Stay in Waikiki, Hawaii
I have personally stayed in many hotels across the Hawaiian islands, and I genuinely appreciate Hawaii and love learning about the culture and the history of the people who live there. As a travel writer, I often write about Hawaii for USA Today and other websites and outlets, and I’ve also contributed to several Hawaii guidebooks (for the islands of Oahu and Kauai).
This guide to hotels in Waikiki will give you the most recent (2023) information about the top hotels in Waikiki, Hawaii and you’ll see my own personal photos here as well.
When you visit Hawaii, you definitely want to stay at a hotel on the beach (or very close to) the beach. The good news is that Waikiki is home to many beachfront hotels that face the Pacific Ocean, so you’re always steps from the sand. And of course, these hotels and resorts offer tremendous views of those world-famous Waikiki waves and Diamond Head state monument.
I highly recommend these resorts below — and be sure to read my “Pro Tips” after each hotel description!
The Hilton Hawaiian Village has everything you could want for a vacation. This sprawling resort (HHV for short) has multiple high-rise towers, five swimming pools, tropical gardens, a number of restaurants and cafes (at all price points) and even a luau on the property. It is on the beach, and it also has a private lagoon with beach chairs and toys available.
You’ll see many shops here selling gifts, beach gear, art, jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs. You will not need to go far to find just about anything!
Although this is a massive resort, and it’s good for families, for couples especially, I recommend staying at the Al’i tower, because it has a separate front desk and lobby for check-in, which was way less crowded than the “main” check-in area and offers more personalized service. I’ve recently stayed at this tower and was thrilled to learn it also has its own swimming pool (not crowded — ever), a pool bar for drinks (with a TV if you want to watch the big game), and light bites with views of the beach. Ask for a room with a lanai facing the ocean so you can enjoy beautiful sunsets (and spectacular fireworks on Friday nights)!
Pro Tip: Hilton Hawaiian Village is large and can feel very busy at times. But overall, with all the amenities and conveniences, it’s a great choice for Waikiki.
Halekulani On the Beach at Waikiki is a posh upscale resort — a five-star oasis from the moment you enter the hotel. The Halekulani is tranquil with minimalist, classic décor throughout. Their legendary restaurant, House Without A Key, has just been renovated in 2022, and features a new menu and Hawaiian music every night at sunset. The other onsite dining experiences, Orchids and the award-winning La Mer, are not to be missed, as the executive chef from Italy oversees the exceptional menus throughout the hotel. Their swimming pool area is a peaceful retreat and features a beautiful mosaic-tiled cattleya orchid at the bottom of the pool — made from over a million tiles!
Guest rooms at the Halekulani Waikiki have been recently refurbished and feature modern amenities within a classic setting. I’ve stayed here a number of times and love the oceanfront rooms facing the beach for spectacular views, day and night! For a nightcap, sip a cocktail while enjoying live jazz music at Lewers Lounge, tucked away in the back of the property.
Pro tip: For a less extravagant, yet still exclusive, top-notch experience, stay at the Halepuna hotel across the street. It’s the sister property to the Halekulani and opened just a few years ago.
Across the narrow street from the Halekulani hotel is the Halepuna – the Halekulani’s sister property that may not be beachfront, but it offers the same upscale service and some of the fabulous amenities. The Halepuna also has a unique art collection throughout the lobby and in some public spaces. The Halepuna’s rooftop infinity pool is lovely, with a jacuzzi, plenty of lounge chairs, views of the ocean, and a full bar so you can sip on those tropical hand-crafted cocktails while sunbathing.
Rooms are new, modern and bright, with small lanai. The upper floors have views of the beach! The Halepuna has a new restaurant, the Halekulani Bakery that just re-opened in December 2022, and it features a robust selection of fresh baked goods and a small dining menu as well.
Pro tip: Guests who stay at the Halepuna can sign for their food and beverages at the Halekulani, just a few steps away.
Overlooking the marina, the Prince Hotel offers guests an incredible view all day, and especially at sunset. Guestrooms are spacious and modern with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the water. Away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, about a 15 minute walk to everything, the Prince hotel is situated near the Ala Moana Center, Ala Moana Beach Park and the trendy Kaka’ako neighborhood. The hotel offers two great restaurants, 1000 Sails and Katsumidori Sushi Tokyo, as well as a large lobby with a coffee shop and several stores. The pool is a great spot to relax, with a bar and an abundance of lounge chairs and cabanas.
Pro Tip: Opt to stay in a Prince Club Room with access to the (very cool) lounge – it’s indoor-outdoor and offers breakfast, and food options throughout the day, including dinner.
Often called the “Pink palace of the Pacific,” the Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, is the second-oldest hotel in Hawaii and known for its elegance, beauty and history. Opened in 1927, it’s situated in the center of Waikiki, with many fabulous rooms with lanai that face the beach. This resort is home to the world-famous beachfront Mai Tai bar, considered the best spot in Waikiki for a cocktail at sunset, and the Azure restaurant offers exceptional cuisine and lovely tables that are steps from the sand. For a great breakfast, the Surf Lanai opens early. The Royal Hawaiian center is steps away and offers a fabulous selection of shops, many showcasing locally-made Hawaiian products and small islander-owned businesses.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the fantastic (and free!) historical tour of the Royal Hawaiian resort, given by a Hawaiian cultural expert. Check out the hotel’s schedule for tour times.
Built in 1901, the gorgeous and stately Moana Surfrider is the oldest hotel in Hawaii and known as the “First Lady of Waikiki.” Just off the sand, the lovely courtyard outside is home to the restaurant, the Beachhouse, and it’s a fantastic spot for a cocktail or dinner. You can also enjoy afternoon tea here on the weekends. Don’t be surprised to see a bride and groom or two as you walk through the lobby, as it’s a favorite spot for elegant beachfront weddings.
Rooms and suites at this hotel are a variety of sizes, and the pool is a few steps from the ocean. And be sure to sign up for the free historical tour when you arrive – it’s not to be missed!
Pro Tip: Enjoy a break sitting in the white rocking chairs on the front porch of the Moana Surfrider resort and people-watch, and be sure to have a drink or snack under the beautiful banyan tree in the courtyard.
For panoramic views of Waikiki beach and Diamond Head monument, you can’t beat the Sheraton Waikiki. This hotel was recently renovated in 2021 and all the rooms have been redesigned and updated – so everything feels brand new. This hotel is massive, with lots of shopping and a convenience store right in the lobby. Although it feels busy, but you can find several places to sit, relax and enjoy the beautiful oceanfront vistas.
Families love the Sheraton Waikiki especially because of the sprawling main pool deck that features a water slide, and adults flock to the infinity pool, the only one overlooking the beach in Waikiki. When you’re ready to eat, you have plenty of choices here – including the outdoor Edge of Waikiki for lunch and the stylish RumFire for dinner.
Pro Tip: Choose an oceanfront room facing Diamond Head for the best views!
Featuring its famous pointed A-frame entrance that welcomes guests into the open-air lobby, the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach has been a unique landmark on Waikiki beach since the 1950s. It’s been recently renovated in 2021 so the rooms are all new inside — spacious and contemporary, many with lanai overlooking the ocean. The décor is neutral with splashes of seafoam green. The main lobby is spacious, with plenty of seating, and a well-known restaurant, Kani Ka Pila Grille is very popular and features casual cuisine and nightly Hawaiian music.
Pro tip: A new restaurant is scheduled to open here very soon – right on the beach with amazing views of Waikiki and Diamond Head!
Not to be confused with the Outrigger Reef hotel (see description above), the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort is in the middle of Waikiki. So if you want to be in the center of it all — choose the Outrigger Hotel, as it’s perched on the beach and just next door to the beautiful and historic Royal Hawaiian resort.
The rooms are various sizes and many have ocean views with a lanai. The Outrigger also has a small exhibit area of legendary surf memorabilia just off the lobby. It’s also home to the famous Dukes bar and restaurant, which you won’t want to miss. It’s often busy, and they have live music frequently. If you’re lucky, you can score a seat at the bar, and order food from there.
Pro Tip: The Outrigger has a great, airy lounge located just above the beach level, for club-level guests that offers plenty of unobstructed ocean views and excellent food for breakfast and dinner.
Best Hotels near the beach in Waikiki & across the street
Just a few steps from the beach with awesome views and amenities, the Alohilani greets guests with its jaw-dropping, two-story floor-to-ceiling aquarium in the center of the lobby. This hotel was recently refurbished and feels very modern and new, and the rooms have contemporary decor and lanai — many with ocean views.
Their expansive swimming pool deck is spacious, with an abundance of lounge chairs and cabanas (and ocean views, too)! For food lovers, two Morimoto restaurants are located in this hotel, and since this hotel is so centrally-located, many other restaurants are nearby. The Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach is across the street from the world-famous Kuhio beach and the Duke Kahanamoku statue, and it’s an easy walk to just about everything in Waikiki.
Pro Tip: The Alohilani has an awesome indoor-outdoor and spacious club, the Longboard lounge, so ask for access to this when you arrive!
Located close to the zoo and aquarium, the Queen Kapiolani hotel is situated on a quiet end of Waikiki. It features an expansive lobby with splashes of bright colors and tropical-inspired murals. This mid-century modern landmark offers amazing views of Diamond Head State Monument, and rooms with a variety of layouts and sizes (some have lanai and kitchenettes), so be sure to ask for a room that overlooks this stunning landmark.
The Queen Kapiolani is also home to several shops and cafes in the lobby, a large workout facility, and the Deck Bar and Grill, a fun, lively outdoor restaurant that’s popular with locals and visitors alike, and frequently features live music. It also offers stellar views of Diamond Head, too, so you can enjoy this magnificant vista as you relax by the pool!
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the Queen Kapiolani’s fascinating art collection. Read more details about this hotel in my article.
The Beachcomber by Outrigger is in the center of Waikiki, just across the street from the Royal Hawaiian Center and next door to the city’s busy International Marketplace. This high-rise features almost five hundred rooms of different sizes, many with beach views. There’s a fun pool right off the main lobby with plenty of seating, and steps away is the famous Maui Brewing, an ideal indoor-outdoor spot for lunch or dinner, with a casual menu and live music here often. If you’re seeking a fun hotel in middle of everything, this is the spot for you!
Pro Tip: This hotel has a fun, lively coffee shop with delicious food at the top of the escalators in the main lobby. It’s called Hawaii Aroma Café.
The Ritz Carlton Waikiki is luxury at its finest. Although this property is a few blocks away from the beach, they make up for it in many ways. The rooms and suites vary in size, and some have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as gourmet kitchens with luxury appliances – including a washer and dryer. The stunning swimming pool area features several pools – all facing the ocean so and you can see all the way to the waves. There are no buildings in front of this hotel, so you have an unobstructed beach view!
The Ritz Carlton Waikiki also features several excellent restaurants – all with indoor-outdoor seating.
Pro Tip: The Ritz Carlton Waikiki also offer guests free chairs and towels for the beach at the valet area – an excellent perk so you don’t need to bring your own!
Across the street from Waikiki Beach and in the center of the action, the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa is a great choice for a place to stay. It’s just across the street from the famous “Duke” statue, which is Kuhio beach, and the busiest in Waikiki.
It’s also located on a historical spot — exactly where Queen Lili‘uokalani’s summer home was located many years ago.
This hotel is massive and luxurious with a number of differently configured suites and rooms (most with balconies – lanai). Sizes and views vary, so be sure to ask questions. There’s a huge, new pool deck, spa and plenty of shopping at this hotel. Depending on where your room is located, it can be a bit of a walk to the beach, even though it’s technically across the street!
Pro Tip: The rooftop pool at the Marriott Waikiki Beach has just been renovated and features a sprawling sun deck, ocean views, cabanas, kids’ splash pad — and a great outdoor restaurant, Queensbreak. The restaurant is located in the back of the pool deck and features live music and excellent food day and night. If you aren’t staying here, you can check out the pool deck if you’re dining at Queensbreak!
With over 1,000 rooms and suites, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort is a landmark destination just steps away from the main beach in Waikiki, Kuhio.
Every room at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort has a lanai, which is an excellent perk! The rooms and suites have been newly redesigned and are modern with minimalist decor. It’s important to note that there are many sizes, configurations and views, so be sure to do your research before booking. Of course, Ocean View is always best, but this property has plenty of beautiful view options.
Pro Tip: This hotel has several in-house restaurants, including SHOR and SWIM (beach bar), but you can walk to many others.
16. Twin Fin Waikiki
The Twin Fin Waikiki is an oceanfront destination and formerly named the Aston Waikiki Beach hotel. This new property re-opened in early 2023 after a major renovation.
Everything is brand new in all the rooms — the design, furniture and amenities. This hotel has a Waikiki surf theme and is situated just across the street from the beach, so it’s a very easy walk to the waves. There’s also shops, restaurants and activities steps away. The rooms are perfectly sized for couples and families, as they offer one, two and three-bedroom options. Be sure to ask about availability.
Pro Tip: Twin Fin Waikiki is home to the famous Tiki’s Bar and Grill, a fun Waikiki restaurant with a menu that has “something for everyone.” It’s indoor-outdoor and overlooks the beach with great views — especially at sunset! There’s live music here on most nights, and it gets crowded on weekends.
Just a few steps away from the beach. yet in the middle of the action, the Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach is an under-the-radar hotel with a lot to offer. It’s essential to know that, as the name states, all rooms here are suites with kitchenettes, so you’re getting a larger space no matter which room size you choose. Of course, prices vary, depending on the views and sizes of the actual suites.
Extra perks here include a gorgeous pool deck, free (hot) breakfast, and laundry facilities for guests (a big plus)! There’s also tons of restaurants, bars, and shops just outside the door.
Pro Tip: Live entertainment several nights a week at the Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Pakini bar.
For an ultra-luxurious experience, look no further than the Espacaio: The Jewel of Waikiki. I have personally toured this property and it’s certainly a memorable and exceptional place to stay. This is an extremely high-end, customized experience in a luxury hotel setting. This hotel is fairly new (built about three years ago) and has only nine super-premium suites. There are modern, multi-room apartments that feel brand new and feature several bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, and a massive lanai with jaw-dropping ocean views.
These sprawling apartment-style suites feel more like homes and are ideal for families who desire luxury — all the way. Everything is customized from start to finish, ensuring your visit in Hawaii is truly a one-of-a-kind and luxurious experience.
If you stay here, you’ll want to dine at the incredible Mugen restaurant! It’s a small restaurant and reservations are required. (I dined here when it first opened and it’s truly an experience)!
Pro Tip: This property offers the use of luxury cars, too.
Colorful and playful, the Shoreline Hotel in Waikiki is made for a fun and carefree Hawaiian vacation!
The Shoreline Hotel Waikiki is definitely a walk from the beach, but it has a lot to offer for visitors. From the moment you step into the lobby, you feel like you’re on vacation. The colorful rooms and suites are modern and splashy, the rooftop pool feels like a private oasis (with great city views), and there’s free coffee and sparkling water for guests in the lobby. It’s a small hotel, so you won’t be dealing with large lobbies and big crowds.
You’re also in the middle of the action with plenty of shopping, bars, and restaurants just outside the front door.
Pro Tip: Check out the amenities here, as they offer guests credit to the adjacent restaurant.
Located on the Ala Wai canal in Waikiki and several blocks away from the beach, the Coconut Waikiki Hotel is a quiet destination that’s a great budget-friendly choice. This hotel is especially good for families as the rooms are spacious and available in large suites and “double-doubles.”
This hotel has a heated swimming pool, beach towels, and barbecue grills for guests (and an outdoor patio for dining).
Pro Tip: This hotel has underground parking (for an additional fee). It’s not always easy to park in Waikiki, so this is a big plus!
21. Wayfinder Hotel
The Wayfinder Hotel in Waikiki is a new smaller property that’s situated several blocks away from the beach and located on the Ala Wai canal. This means that it’s several minutes’ walk to the world-famous Waikiki Beach and ideal for guests who are seeking a budget-friendly option at a new hotel.
This modern, newly-updated hotel has spacious, hip, yet basic rooms in different size options featuring a private lanai. The heated swimming pool area is a great place to hang out and enjoy some tropical cocktails in the afternoon or evening. The Wayfinder is also within walking distance to shops, bars, and plenty of restaurants. And if you’re into “brutalist” architecture, you’re in luck, as this hotel is one of the many Honolulu buildings featuring this very recognizable design. Note: Some guests say this hotel is still working out the kinks, so be sure to read the recent reviews before booking.
Pro Tip: This hotel also offers beach chairs and free beach towels.
The Hyatt Centric Waikiki is one of the newer, upscale, high-rise hotels in Waikiki that opened in 2020. This hotel has over 230 rooms and suites — and they are all are spacious and light-filled, with modern furnishings and amenities.
It’s a few minutes’ walk to the beach, but still centrally located in the heart of Waikiki (and there’s a Starbucks in the lobby) and it’s right in the middle of everything. The lovely, expansive lobby is on an upper floor with the hotel’s pool adjacent to it with great city and ocean views.
Pro Tip: Rooms don’t have outdoor lanai, but they DO have very large windows and awesome views. And this hotel is pet friendly!
23. Hotel Renew
This boutique, under-the-radar hotel is all about relaxation and finding your zen. It offers a quiet getaway a few steps from the beach.
I’ve stayed at this hidden gem on a solo trip, and it was a great experience. It feels like a safe, private residence — and the front desk staff is very helpful. The lobby is tiny, with a small coffee bar in the morning and cocktails in the evening, but it’s not a big gathering spot, so you won’t find crowds here or groups hanging out. The entrance is bit subdued, too — you may walk past this hotel and not even realize it’s there!
Rooms are comfortable and cozy with sleek, minimalist decor and upgraded bathrooms. This hotel also offers free beach towels and is pet friendly, too.
Pro Tip: Hotel Renew does not have a pool, but if you’re a beach person, that really doesn’t matter, as you’re super-close to the waves!
What’s the difference between Oahu, Honolulu, and Waikiki?
What’s the difference between Oahu, Honolulu, and Waikiki?
For starters, Oahu is an island. The island of Oahu is home to over one million people and about 400,000 of them live in the city of Honolulu, which is the state capital of Hawaii. Oahu is, by far, the busiest of the Hawaiian islands.
Waikiki is located on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. It’s a famous neighborhood in Honolulu, situated along Oahu’s southern shore and its world-famous beaches. You can see the majestic Diamond Head state monument from just about anywhere along Waikiki beach. Home to many high-rise hotels and resorts of all sizes, Waikiki is a central place to stay if you’re planning a vacation to Hawaii and want to experience Oahu.
Waikiki is also a busy place, as Honolulu has lots of tall buildings, businesses, restaurants, stores — and traffic. This means you have a wide selection of activities, cafes (from quick bites to upscale dining experiences), and sights to enjoy. There’s a lot of live music, bars, and plenty of fun nightlife – and you don’t need to go far to find it! It’s all just a short walk from your Waikiki hotel.
Travel Tips: All about Waikiki and Hawaii
What part of Waikiki is best?
Overall, Waikiki is a great place to visit in Hawaii if you love the beach, but also like to be close to casual and fine-dining restaurants, attractions, and nightlife. It’s also an excellent place to be if you don’t want to drive on your vacation.
What part of Waikiki is best? Anywhere on or near the beach in Waikiki is considered best. Waikiki is legendary for its gorgeous sandy beaches and turquoise ocean against the backdrop of the famous Diamond Head State Monument. It’s known for the best surf breaks in the world, with warm water, great weather year-round, and long, rolling waves.
Visitors don’t need to leave the beach to enjoy some fantastic activities. You can take surf lessons right on the beach from a Waikiki Beachboy (at multiple places), enjoy a traditional outrigger canoe ride, and take a cruise on a catamaran where you may spot turtles and other wildlife. Beachgoers can also rent a paddleboard (SUP), go snorkeling or take a dip in the aquamarine ocean.
Is Waikiki walkable?
Is Waikiki a walkable area? Yes! One of the best things about Waikiki is that it’s very walkable, so you can easily explore the area by strolling along the beach (in most places).
Keep in mind that Waikiki is busy! The nearby bustling streets are filled with high-end designer shops, restaurants, smaller boutiques and markets. If you do need a ride somewhere while you’re in Waikiki, there’s very easy access to taxis, rideshares, buses, and shuttles.
Are you planning to do a lot of exploring in Waikiki on your own? You’re in luck! The Shaka Guide is Hawaii’s highest-rated travel app. It’s a locally-produced audio tour made by residents for your mobile phone that provides an abundance of fun and fascinating information and tips about the area. You’ll learn history, fun facts, and all about surprising hidden gems, too! The Shaka Guide features exceptional tours of all the islands, so you can choose to download one specific island or several.
I really love this company because their audio guides are authentic, easy to use, and provide a great way to see the island. It will enhance your vacation in so many ways! I’ve used this app several times when in Hawaii and it’s fabulous!
Can I stay in Waikiki without a car?
Can I stay in Waikiki without a car? Yes, absolutely! You do not need a car in Waikiki and in fact, I’ve stayed there many times myself without a car.
Do you need a car in Waikiki? Here’s how to figure that out: You don’t need a car if Waikiki IF you’re only staying in Waikiki for a few days OR if you have no plans or interest in seeing the rest of the island on your own. When you’re not walking, you can use a taxi, or a rideshare service, the Waikiki trolly, or take a tour of the island with a service that picks you up and drops you off from your hotel (or close by).
There are also many hotels in Waikiki that are a block or two away from the beach, and most are a very easy walk to restaurants, bars, stores and that lovely stretch of sand.
If you’re looking for an awesome and easy tour of downtown Honolulu, you can download the locally-produced Shaka Guide audio guide to your mobile phone and enjoy a fun walking tour on your own!
How many days do you need in Waikiki?
How many days do you need in Waikiki? Well, that depends on your travel plans and how much time you have!
If you’re a first-time visitor and want to visit Oahu as well as another Hawaiian island, I recommend spending at least three nights on Oahu to see the main attractions: Pearl Harbor (which will take up most of a full day); hike Diamond Head (several hours to hike in the morning); and visit the North Shore (a full day) or just relax and enjoy Waikiki Beach (you can swim, surf or take lessons, and/or take an outrigger canoe ride.
Many Hawaii visitors love Oahu and stay in Waikiki for their entire vacation. It’s easy because you don’t need a car in Waikiki, but you can choose to rent a car for a day or two to explore the island.
There’s really no “correct” answer to how many days do you need in Waikiki, but for a first-time visitor who is also going to another island, I personally recommend three days to see and do as much as you can!
How much is Uber from the airport to Waikiki?
How much is Uber or Lyft from the HNL airport to Waikiki? The price actually depends on which hotel you are going to, and the time of day you are arriving.
Honolulu and Waikiki have a lot of traffic, especially at rush hour. So don’t be surprised to find the highway very crowded — similar to Los Angeles or New York.
As a general rule, from the HNL airport (Daniel K. Inouye International Airport) to Waikiki, you can get an Uber or Lyft for “about” $35 for the closest hotels (these hotels include the Outrigger Reef, the Ritz Carlton, and Prince Waikiki (and that surrounding area).
There are several other options from the airport to Waikiki. You can book a shuttle in advance or at the counter at the airport. It’s great for groups and makes it very easy to get around. The downside to the shuttle is that you must wait for the driver to drop off other passengers at their hotels before you reach your hotel.
Pro tip: The rideshare services (including Uber and Lyft) are not found on the same level as baggage claim at the Honolulu airport. If you choose to take a rideshare service, you will need to pick up your bags and then take the elevator (or escalator) upstairs to the exits and wait for your driver there. The taxis and shuttles ARE located on the ground floor.
My favorite tours from Waikiki:
Waikiki is an excellent choice for visitors who like to be in the middle of the action, with easy access to the beach, restaurants, cafes and nightlife. You can also find a multitude of great outdoor activities nearby – just steps away from your hotel. Also, just about any tour you decide to take will pick you up in Waikiki, so there’s no need for a car!
All of the things to do below are either located in Waikiki — or Waikiki is a meeting point.
Enjoy an idyllic cruise on a catamaran right from Waikiki beach — and then jump in the ocean to snorkel! This wonderful and fun cruise to turtle canyon will bring you to the best spot in Hawaii for sighting turtles and sea life. This tour also provides an educational and fun experience along the way. If you’re seeking a more romantic sunset experience atop the waves, see the “sunset catamaran cruise” below!
Most surfers agree that the best place to learn how to surf is Waikiki, Beach, known as the birthplace of surfing! With those legendary long, rolling waves and aloha spirit, you’re guaranteed to have a fabulous time riding the waves! I love surfing here, as the water is warm and the instructors here are all professionals and always find the best waves! It’s best to sign up in advance, as they book up fast! Surf’s up!
Paddling an outrigger canoe is a thrill — and you will have a blast riding these long, rolling waves in the middle of Waikiki. It’s one of the most fun activities you can have on the water, so don’t leave Hawaii without checking out this amazing experience! (Note: If you didn’t make a reservation, just walk up and ask the captain or a beach boy to see if you can hop on the next canoe ride.)
See the highlight (and some hidden gems) of Oahu in comfort. Let someone else do the driving and take you to the best sights. This tour has excellent reviews and includes lunch! Circle the entire island with visits to the Dole Pineapple experience, the Byodo-in Temple, gorgeous island sights and many more stops! Includes entrance fees, lunch and more!
A visit to Pearl Harbor on Oahu is a memorable experience and this tour is an ideal opportunity to visit with a small group. Pearl Harbor is not far from Waikiki, so it’s a convenient place to visit this incredibly moving landmark.
Enjoy a spectacular Hawaiian sunset from the Pacific Ocean overlooking the glistening coast of Waikiki and Diamond Head. You’ll love riding above the waves in this sturdy 40-foot catamaran with plenty of amenities. This is a must for your Hawaii vacation!
For couples, the sunset cruise is the best choice, because there are usually not many families and kids, as it’s more of a “happy hour” celebration. Then, you can go to dinner afterward!
Best Do-it-Yourself Audio Tours in Waikiki and Oahu
The best-kept secret Hawaii tour is actually the easiest and will make your Hawaii vacation even more memorable! The Shaka Guide is an incredible audio guide and an award-winning app that features a collection of fantastic and interesting audio tours all about Hawaii and throughout multiple Hawaiian islands. Best of all, this unique app was created by Hawaii locals who want to connect visitors with authentic Hawaii and foster a sense of community. This app offers everything — compelling stories, great music and plenty of fun trivia and fascinating, important historical facts.
It’s so easy to use! Just download this app to your mobile phone and use it when you’re exploring the islands. It’s a must-purchase for your Hawaii vacation because it will be available whenever you need it! You’ll love the tips and suggestions as you’re driving around Hawaii, as the app reveals some unexpected places.
When I used the Shaka Guide while visiting Kauai, we found secret beaches, locals who sold delicious homemade pastries off the side of the road, and spectacular views — just by turning off the main road for a minute or two.
There are plenty of Waikiki, Oahu, and Hawaii tours available, so you can download several tours for one island or multiple multiple islands, depending on your travel plans. Prices are discounted for new customers — in fact, walking tours start at just $4.99.
Ready to visit Oahu’s North Shore?
Ready to explore the entire island of Oahu?
Conclusion: Where to stay in Waikiki in 2023
Hawaii is a fantastic place for your next vacation — and Waikiki is the perfect destination for first-time or repeat visitors. If you’re still deciding on which island to visit, read my quick post about how to choose the best Hawaiian island for your vacation!
Waikiki is also a great vacation spot for couples because there are so many options for things to see and do. And you can do as much or as little as you like and still enjoy Hawaii to the fullest! Since Waikiki, Oahu is home to many hotels, each one has its own personality, amenities, and vibe. And remember — all of the hotels listed in this article are on the beach or very close to the beach.
It’s always a smart idea to research each hotel as you narrow down your choices. and call the hotel for any specific questions. Some hotels also offer cultural activities, special amenities, and discounts on local attractions, too! And if you’re still dreaming of catching some waves in Hawaii, check out my post featuring books about (and written by female surfers here)!