Where to Stay in Hawaii: Top Picks for Your Dream Vacation


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Aloha! Hawaii, the tropical paradise of the United States, attracts millions of visitors every year, thanks to its breathtaking landscapes, pristine beaches, and vibrant culture. Deciding on where to stay in Hawaii can be a challenge, as each island offers its unique blend of beauty and adventure. This article aims to make your Hawaiian vacation planning a breeze by discussing the best places to stay across the various islands, tailored to your preferences and budget.

Rich in natural diversity, Hawaii comprises six main islands: Maui, the Big Island, O’ahu, Kaua’i, Lanai, and Molokai. Each island caters to different tastes and experiences, from the bustling nightlife of Honolulu on O’ahu to the serene beauty of untouched nature on Kaua’i. So whether you’re a first-timer or a returning visitor, Hawaii promises to offer something new and exciting for everyone.

One interesting fact about Hawaii that you might not know is that it’s the only state in the US that grows its own coffee! As you explore the different islands, make sure to take a break and enjoy a cup of locally-grown Hawaiian coffee. Now that you’re caffeinated and ready to go, let’s dive into the best places to stay in Hawaii and make your dream vacation a reality.

Island Overview


Oahu, also known as the “Heart of Hawai’i”, is a great destination for first-time visitors. Home to Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, and Hanauma Bay, it offers a perfect blend of city life, beach vibes, and natural beauty. Surfing enthusiasts will love the famous North Shore, while history buffs can explore Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.

Fun Fact: Oahu is called the “Gathering Place,” reflecting its role as a cultural and social hub for the Hawaiian Islands.

Things to do: Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, hike up Diamond Head Crater, and shop for souvenirs at the Ala Moana Center or swap meet at Aloha Stadium.


Maui, known for its lush landscapes and picturesque towns, is an ideal choice for those seeking tranquility and outdoor adventures. Experience the Road to Hana, a breathtaking drive that takes you past waterfalls, black sand beaches, and bamboo forests. Don’t forget to explore Haleakalā National Park, where you can watch the sunrise at the summit of an ancient volcanic crater.

Interesting Story: The island was named after the demigod Māui, who according to Hawaiian mythology, pulled the Hawaiian Islands from the ocean using a fishhook.

Things to do: Snorkel with sea turtles at Molokini Crater, attend a traditional luau, and whale watch during the winter months.


Kauai, or the “Garden Island”, is perfect for nature lovers and adventure seekers. With its lush landscapes, hidden beaches, and the dramatic cliffs of the Nā Pali Coast, Kauai offers up stunning scenery and outdoor activities. Venture into Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” and immerse yourself in the beauty of its colorful landscapes.

Fun Fact: Kauai is geologically the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands, dating back over 5 million years.

Things to do: Kayak the Wailua River, explore the Nā Pali Coast by boat or helicopter, and unwind on the pristine sands of Poipu Beach.

Hawaii Island

Hawaii Island, or Big Island, is the largest island and offers a diverse range of environments to explore. From the snow-capped peaks of Mauna Kea to the active Kīlauea volcano, the island has something for everyone. Those on a budget will appreciate Big Island’s more affordable accommodations.

Interesting Story: The island is continually growing in size due to the ongoing volcanic activity, with the most recent eruption occurring in 2018.

Things to do: Visit Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, stargaze from the summit of Mauna Kea, and swim with manta rays off the Kona Coast.

Accommodation Types

Hawaii offers a variety of accommodation options to cater to all types of travelers. In this section, we’ll discuss some popular lodging choices, including hotels and resorts, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, and hostels and budget options.

Hotels and Resorts

The most common type of accommodation in Hawaii is hotels and resorts. These establishments range from luxurious five-star properties to budget-friendly inns. Many resorts and hotels in Hawaii provide a variety of amenities such as on-site restaurants, bars, pools, and beach access (source). Popular areas for resort destinations on the Big Island include the Kohala Coast and Kona area.

Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals are another great option for visitors who prefer the comforts of a home away from home. You can find condos, houses, and villas available for short-term rentals, allowing you to have a more private and personalized experience. Many of these rentals come with fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, and multiple bedrooms, making them ideal for families or groups.

Bed and Breakfasts

For a more intimate stay, consider a bed and breakfast. These establishments often provide a cozier atmosphere and personalized attention from the hosts. Staying at a bed and breakfast is a great way to experience Hawaii’s local culture and hospitality, as many are located in residential neighborhoods or small towns.

Hostels and Budget Options

Budget-conscious travelers can find affordable accommodation in Hawaii in the form of hostels, motels, and budget hotels. The Big Island is known for offering some of the state’s most affordable options, including the Hilo Bay Hostel. These establishments typically have shared bathroom facilities and common rooms where you can socialize with other travelers.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Big Island of Hawaii is home to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes? Make sure to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to witness this awe-inspiring natural wonder!

Things to do: While in Hawaii, don’t miss out on activities like surfing, snorkeling, hiking, and attending a traditional luau to fully immerse yourself in the island’s culture and natural beauty.

Popular Destinations

Hawaii offers an abundance of breathtaking destinations for travelers. In this section, we’ll explore some of the top choices for visitors who are planning a trip to the Aloha State.

Waikiki Beach

Located on the South Shore of Oahu, Waikiki Beach is an iconic destination that attracts millions of visitors each year. It offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, shopping, and dining options. The beach is known for its soft, golden sand and clear, turquoise water.

Things to do:

  • Surfing lessons
  • Stand-up paddleboarding
  • Catamaran sailing
  • Shopping and dining at Waikiki Beach Walk

Maui’s Kaanapali Beach

Kaanapali Beach, found on the island of Maui, is a popular destination for first-time visitors to Hawaii, as well as seasoned travelers. This beautiful, three-mile-long stretch of sand offers ample opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling.

Things to do:

  • Snorkeling at Black Rock
  • Whalers Village shopping and dining
  • Sunset cliff diving ceremony
  • Stroll along the Kaanapali Beachwalk

Kauai’s Poipu Beach

Located on the southern coast of Kauai, Poipu Beach is a favorite among nature lovers. The area boasts lush tropical gardens, remarkable sea cliffs, and sparkling, clear waters that are perfect for snorkeling and swimming.

Things to do:

  • Visit Spouting Horn blowhole
  • Explore the Allerton and McBryde Gardens
  • Snorkeling and swimming
  • Hiking the nearby Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail

Hawaii Island’s Kona Coast

The Kona Coast, situated on Hawaii’s Big Island, is renowned for its sunny weather, pristine beaches, and unique volcanic landscapes. The area is famous for Kona coffee, which is cultivated in the region’s fertile volcanic soil.

Things to do:

  • Coffee plantation tours
  • Snorkeling and scuba diving
  • Visit Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
  • Stargazing at the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station

Fun Fact: The Kona Coast is home to the Ironman World Championship, an annual triathlon event that attracts athletes from around the world.

With these fantastic destinations in mind, your trip to Hawaii is sure to be an unforgettable experience. Enjoy exploring the unique beauty and vibrant culture that each location has to offer.

Unique Stays


Hawaii offers various eco-lodges for the environmentally conscious traveler. These accommodations not only minimize their impact on the environment but also immerse you in the natural beauty of the islands. One beautiful example is the Unique Log House Retreat in Makawao, where guests can stay in a stunning log house located in a jungle-garden-organic farm setting.

Fun Fact: Staying at an eco-lodge lets you enjoy a guilt-free vacation, knowing that your stay contributes to preserving the delicate ecosystem of the Hawaiian Islands.

Boutique Hotels

For travelers looking for a more personalized and intimate experience, boutique hotels are an excellent option. These accommodations typically offer a unique charm and stylish design that set them apart from larger hotels. Hawaii features various boutique hotels that provide not only an exceptional level of service but also a distinctive atmosphere, making your stay truly unforgettable.

Interesting Story: Many boutique hotels you’ll find in Hawaii add a local touch to their offerings, integrating aspects of Hawaiian culture and art into their design, so you can feel wholly immersed in the local life.

Historic Inns

If you’re a history enthusiast or simply appreciate a unique sense of place, consider staying at one of Hawaii’s historic inns. These accommodations often have rich stories to tell and will transport you back in time with their vintage charm. For instance, at Waimea Plantation Cottages, you can experience Hawaii’s past and enjoy a respite from the everyday world.

Things to do: While staying at a historic inn, don’t forget to explore nearby historic sites, like Pearl Harbor, to learn more about Hawaii’s fascinating history and heritage.

Throughout your Hawaiian vacation, these unique stays will add a touch of authenticity and enrich your overall experience while exploring the beautiful islands. Remember to respect the local customs and environment, and, most importantly, enjoy your time in paradise!

Traveler Types

Hawaii has something for everyone, catering to various types of travelers. This section presents some options to stay for different traveler types, such as Family Friendly, Romantic Getaways, Solo Travelers, and Adventure Seekers.

Family Friendly

If you’re planning a family vacation to Hawaii, there are a variety of accommodations suited to cater to families’ needs. Some family-friendly hotels on Big Island include Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort. These resorts often offer kid-friendly activities, spacious rooms, and easy access to local attractions.

Things to do with kids

  • Visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  • Explore the famous beaches like Waikiki Beach and the North Shore
  • Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center

Romantic Getaways

For a romantic Hawaiian getaway, consider staying on the island of Lanai, recommended for couples. This small island offers secluded beaches and luxury resorts, perfect for spending quality time with your partner.

Couple’s favorite activities

  • Relax at Hulopoe Bay
  • Watch the sunset at Sweetheart Rock
  • Enjoy a couples massage at a luxury resort spa

Solo Travelers

Traveling solo offers a chance to explore Hawaii at your own pace. Some budget-friendly options for solo travelers include Hilo Bay Hostel on Big Island or consider staying in Oahu, where there are plenty of sights to see.

Solo traveler activities

  • Surfing or stand-up paddleboarding lessons
  • Take a hike to Diamond Head or Manoa Falls
  • Join a group tour to explore the islands

Adventure Seekers

For adventure seekers, Kauai is an excellent choice, known for its outdoor activities and natural beauty. Stay in a cabin or a budget-friendly hotel and prepare to explore the island’s diverse landscapes.

Exciting adventures to embark on

  • Hike the Napali Coast’s Kalalau Trail
  • Kayak up the beautiful Wailua River
  • Take a helicopter tour over Waimea Canyon

Fun Fact

Hawaii is the only U.S. state to grow coffee, cultivating world-renowned Kona coffee. Enjoy a cup while exploring the beautiful islands!

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