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Choosing the best places to stay in Honolulu depends on why you’re here - if you want to see the museums and the harbour then stay around the Downtown area, while Waikiki is the place to be if you’re here for those perfect, white beaches.
Honolulu is Hawaii’s biggest city, which is probably why it’s also one of the Hawaiian destinations which feels most Hawaiian. Sure, there are tourists here but also a lot of lucky locals who live in paradise city.
Most people will start their Hawaiian holiday here and it’s worth spending at least a couple of days in this busy tropical capital. As well as having a number of Hawaii’s best museums and the U.S.’s only royal palace, Honolulu also has a great foodie scene and lively nightlife. It’s certainly not lacking in natural beauty, or perfect beaches - Waikiki Beach is probably the most famous tourist attraction in Hawaii.
Even though Waikiki is popular, it’s as big as it is beautiful, with the spectacular backdrop of Diamond Head, the ancient volcanic crater at one end and a fringe of hotels and resorts at the other. You can get your classic Hawaiian adventures here - learn to surf or body board if you can’t already, or go out in an outrigger canoe. It’s not so busy that it’s unpleasant.
If you’re here for the beaches then you’ll also want to head to eastern Honolulu where there are several excellent options, one of the most picturesque being Hanauma Bay which is in a flooded volcanic crater now open to the sea and lined with a coral reef.
Some of Honolulu’s other highlights include the markets in Chinatown, the Bishop Museum, the Hawaii State Art Museum, the Aquarium and the USS Arizona Memorial. You might also want to attend a luau and explore the island’s old volcanic peaks and gullies. Some of which are now spectacularly flooded, making them amazing diving and snorkelling sites.
Honolulu is also known for its sunshine. The lush mountains which surround the city tend to catch all the passing cloud and rainfall, so the city itself gets hardly any.
What not to miss:
- Unwind on the picture perfect white sand beaches of Waikiki.
- Do as the locals and rise early to surf the waves.
- Snorkel from Hanauma Bay, a nature reserve and marine park.
- Head out of the city and hike in the surrounding mountains.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Honolulu should tick all the boxes whether you're here for the city or the beach.
Best places to stay in Honolulu
For a city hotel
- If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Honolulu for a city-style break then The Modern is a great choice. It’s a contemporary high rise hotel with luxurious decor and wonderful sea views. There are also a handful of restaurants, four bars, two spas and a nightclub.
For the beach
- The Halekulani is a five star hotel on famous Waikiki Beach overlooking Diamond Head. There are around 450 rooms which are comfortable and well equipped, several highly recommended restaurants and extraordinary views.
For an apartment or villa
- If you've decided that a self catering property would be more suitable for your holiday, then we recommend you visit our online booking partner Booking.com where they have a wide selection for all tastes and budgets.
Fly to Honolulu International Airport which is well serviced across the USA and internationally.
Best time to visit - Honolulu is a year round destination with consistently warm days. The rainy season comes between November and March although showers rarely last more than a few hours before the sun reappears.
- If you plan to hire a car, we recommend you visit our online partner Holiday Autos for the best prices.
Still not sure?
Best Hotels in Honolulu
Halekulani 453 rooms from $530Honolulu (Hawaii)
Five star luxury in an unbeatable location on Waikiki Beach, overlooking Diamond Head. Rooms are contemporary, large and well equipped. Award winning restaurants on site offer a variety of cuisines & all feature locally sourced produce. Ideal for an active beach break, with city benefits too!Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Sailing - Can be booked nearby.Views - Great views from hotelSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
The Modern 353 rooms from $360Honolulu (Hawaii)
High rise resort and contemporary luxury inside. Rooms are light, fully equipped with some offering sea views. Handful of restaurants, four bars, two spas and a nightclub when the day of relaxing is over. The perfect destination for a city breaks in the heart of Hawaii's capital.Local markets - Farmers markets showcase freshly baked goods, home grown fruit and veg and local cuisines.Fishing - Go deep sea fishing.Lively - Hip and happening.House party feel - Be prepared to meet people.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith