It might be a cluster of lava-spewing rocks in the middle of the biggest ocean on Earth, but everyone knows Hawaii. It’s super famous – and a pretty amazing place to visit. From lush jungles and even lusher coastlines to long, languorous beaches and jagged volcanic landscapes, it’s a destination for chill-seekers as much as adventure-heads.
That in mind, let’s be clear – Hawaii is a chain of islands with unparalleled natural beauty and the added caveat of some very pricey accommodation to match.
That is exactly why I wrote this guide to the best hostels in Hawaii 2020! This guide is your key to exploring the gorgeous Hawaiian Islands on a budget…
And there’s a lot to explore: multi-coloured sands (ever heard of a green-sand beach?), a slew of national parks, and the Hawaiian culture itself. And for added excitement it’s all spread across different islands – channel your inner 19th-century explorer and go for it.
Obviously, Hawaii attracts a lot of different visitors. There are luxury resorts, boutique hotels, all sorts of guesthouses and homestays, but the humble hostel is something you wouldn’t really expect in Hawaii, right? Well, actually there’s a fair few of ’em. So we’re gonna guide you through some of the best hostels in Hawaii – how’s that sound?
So…? Where ya gonna stay? Let’s find out…
Quick Answer: The Best Hostels in Hawaii
- The Best Hostel in Honolulu – THE BEACH Waikiki Boutique Hostel by IH
- The Best Hostel in Haleiwa (Oahu) – Kalani Hawaii Private Lodging
- The Best Hostel in Hilo (Big Island) – The Big Island Boutique Hostel
- The Best Hostel in Kailua-Kona (Big Island) – My Hawaii Hostel
- The Best Hostel in Maui – The Lahaiana Beach House
Table of Contents
The 12 Best Hostels in Hawaii
The best hostels in Hawaii are compiled in an orderly fashion below. Because we’re nice like that. Because we shudder to think of all the time googling and researching you’ll have to do just to turn up at a place that… isn’t that great. So we’ve got you covered.
These are the best hostels in Hawaii, sure, but we’ve also got the best hostels for couples, for digital nomads, for partying – even if you’re travelling solo. We. Got. You.
Honolulu is the capital of the state of Hawaii and it’s pretty buzzy because of that.
Of course with a city comes things like high-end resorts, shopping malls, fancy restaurants – you name it, it’s here (probably). Heard of Waikiki? This neighborhood’s where it’s at.
Beaches galore shimmer as the city embraces the sea in a wide curve of gold and blue… There’s also a WWII memorial here dedicated to Pearl Harbor.
Overall Best Hostel in Honolulu – THE BEACH Waikiki Boutique Hostel by IH
Price – Privates from $85 – Dorms from $38
Yikes. This place is pretty pricey but we’re backpacking in Hawaii, not Southeast Asia. Also, we’d like to point out that, although it’s the overall best hostel in Honolulu, the ’boutique’ side of things doesn’t exactly make an appearance here. It’s closer to basic, we’d say – more homely than design-y. That said, the outside areas (especially outside the private rooms) look like they’ve been renovated recently and it does look pretty cool TBF. Speaking of outside areas, there’s an outdoor kitchen you can use as well as an outdoor terrace. It’s all about the outdoors in Hawaii; you can rent watersports equipment here and some of it is free for use; the staff – who are very welcoming and very friendly – also take guests out on various tours. The beach is literally so close to this youth hostel in Hawaii (and so is Honolulu Zoo if you’re interested) so for the location, the decent rooms, and the legendary staff, this place is hands-down the best hostel in Honolulu 2020.
Best Cheap Hostel in Honolulu – Seaside Hawaiian Hostel Waikiki
Prices – Dorms from $26
For the price, the location (really only a few blocks from the beach), and general good vibe of this recommended hostel in Honolulu, you can excuse its lack of design flair. It’s an adequate place to stay, let’s put it that way – it’s a Honolulu backpackers hostel after all. But, yeah, for that price, we’re saying it’s the best cheap hostel in Honolulu. It’s situated in what seems like it used to be a hotel, so the dorms here are ‘apartment style’ – which is fine, just saying. The staff are friendly and easygoing, and there are some really nice chilled areas to hang out and chat to your fellow guests. However, the common areas are off-limits after 11pm which is a bit rubbish. But, you know, in general, for a budget hostel in Hawaii, this place is great. There’s even a free breakfast; it’s only toast and jam with tea and coffee (sometimes free waffles for a treat), with eggs and muffins available at extra cost (.35c and $1), but it’s a godsend since Waikiki is so flippin’ expensive. Get your fill before you hit the beach!
On the opposite side of Oahu to Honolulu is Haleiwa, and its on this northern coast where much of the surfing magic that Hawaii is known for happens.
There are famous surf reef breaks, like the Banzai Pipeline, to be tackled in this area, as well as world-renowned Sunset Beach.
International surfing competitions take place here between October and March. Otherwise, the beaches near Haleiwa are seriously picture-perfect travel magazine paradise.
Overall Best Hostel in Haleiwa – Kalani Hawaii Private Lodging
Price – Privates from $178 – Dorms from $69
Oh. Wow. This is easily one of the top hostels in Oahu, let alone the overall best hostel in Haleiwa – it’s really that good. Location-wise it’s not IN Haleiwa, which is a 15 min drive away on the Kamehameha Highway, but it is right near the literally beautiful Sunset Beach (feat. the infamous Banzai Pipeline) – and between there and Haleiwa you’ve got Shark’s Cove, Laniakea Beach, Waimea Bay Beach Park for big break surfing and Three Tables Beach. Needless to say that the selection of spots for beach chilling and watersports (gotta try surfing, right?) is literally astonishing. Inside this top hostel in Haleiwa it’s all warm and homely, lots of nice wood furniture and touches that make it feel more homestay than hostel – if a little bit too cosy (especially when it’s at full capacity); but outside, wow, it’s just paradise. The deck is such a beautifully chill place to hang out and have a BBQ – and don’t get us started on the views. W-o-w. Also wow: it’s expensive. But if you got the cash this is a sick, sick place to be.
Best Hostel for Solo Travellers in Haleiwa – Backpackers Haleiwa
Price – Privates from $86 – Dorms from $34
So if you were looking for a Hawaii backpackers hostel in Haleiwa, well, here’s the one: Backpackers Haleiwa. The clue’s in the name. Actually located somewhere halfway between Sunset Beach and Haleiwa itself, this is a great spot to getting to a load of different attractions (beach-based, as you’d expect) in each direction. As for what’s right nearby? It’s a few steps from chill Three Tables Beach and the more exciting Waimea Bay Beach Park – which isn’t all about big breaks but also spotting wildlife in the bay itself. That’s the bonus of the location here. Also, a bonus is the layout of the dorms – each one is its own cabin complete with bathroom facilities and kitchen, so the close-quarters living helps you to get to know people. Which you’ll do anyway: there’s a laid-back, hippy-ish vibe in the air here, but not too much – just enough so that you slowly sink into the life of beachside chill. Easily our best hostel for solo travellers, if not for the amiable atmosphere, then for the ace location. Free snorkel gear is always a plus, too.
Best Hostel with a Private Room in Haleiwa – Sharks Cove Rentals
Price – Privates from $70 – Dorms from $40
With actually not a badly priced (nor badly laid-out) private room on offer, we’d go for Sharks Cove Rentals in terms of the best hostel with a private room in Haleiwa. Even for a budget hostel in Hawaii, it’s a pretty decent price overall. But we go on value for money and you’ll be pleased to know that, yes, you get a lot of that here. Free bicycle rentals, free parking, free snorkel gear. And you’ll want snorkel stuff because this Haleiwa is just across from Shark’s Cove (which is the informal name for the Pupukea Marine Preserve) – in the summer months this place is 10/10 for sealife: tropical fish, turtles, all sorts of marine critters. As for the hostel itself, it’s not the cleanest or coolest, but the staff are super friendly and super helpful, which always helps – and remember: it’s Hawaii, you’re not gonna be spending all that much time inside, are you? But for privacy, location, everything, the private rooms here are worth it.
A bit of a hidden gem, Hilo is all about nature and, boy, is it beautiful. First and foremost it’s pretty well known for the Wailuku River State Park, where you’ll find the famous Rainbow Falls (named because of the effects of its mist).
Elsewhere there are gardens galore in the form of the stunning Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, and Japanese-style Liliuokalani Park and Gardens. Here is where you’ll find Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to a luscious rainforest and actual volcanoes.
Overall Best Hostel in Hilo – The Big Island Boutique Hostel
Price – Privates from $95 – Dorms from $50
Whilst this place is PRICEY, it is a really, really cute and colourful Hawaii backpackers hostel. And for that we really, really like it. Sometimes hostels that call themselves ’boutique hostels’ aren’t very boutique, but this one is pretty cool in a cutesy kinda way. The dorms come in various types, from regular wooden bunks to bunks that are like, irregularly spaced on the wall with no frame and ladders sorta suspended in mid-air. They’re P funky. The place is really lovely, the staff are really nice (the owner especially), but it’s a bit quiet – if you were looking for a party it’s not here since Hilo is a bit of a quiet destination in itself. But it’s definitely our pick for the overall best hostel in Hilo. Everything’s brand new here, and you can feel it. Hopefully, it stays that way! Oh, and BTW, there’s free tea and coffee all day.
Best Hostel for Solo Travellers in Hilo – Hilo Bay Hostel
Prices – Privates from $113 – Dorms from $45
As far as a Hawaii backpackers hostel goes, this one is really cool. We mean, well, it’s so cool that it might just be the coolest hostel in Hawaii. That’s not because it’s all ultra-minimalist and all Insta-friendly and design-magazine-ish. Actually far from it. This awesome hostel is set in a really, really old building that’s all wooden and stuff, with lots of antique touches and furniture and wood panelled, making you feel like you’re in a Hawaii of the past. It might feel a bit spooky-movie-esque to some, but once you get past that you can appreciate how sick this place is. The owner is lovely, the common areas are ace – meaning you can meet people and get to know ’em super easily – and the location is downtown Hilo, which is perfect for stepping out for a bite to eat or a lil’ explore. This recommended hostel in Hawaii is deffo our pick for the best hostel for solo travellers in Hilo – maybe everyone makes friends easily here because there really IS a spooky vibe… Seriously though: Very Sick Building. And the beds are like 5-star comfy.
The centre of commerce and tourism on the west side of Hawaii (that’s actually what the ‘Big Island’ is called), Kailua-Kona is a captivating cocktail of history and, um, the sea.
It’s home to Hawaii’s first Christian church (1800), ancient rock art at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, and the former residence of King Kamehameha I – founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Aaaand then there’s coral at Kamakahonu Beach and great kayaking to be had at Keauhou Bay. It’s all here!
Overall Best Hostel in Kailua-Kona – My Hawaii Hostel
Price – Dorms from $40
My Hawaii Hostel is one of the best decorated hostels that we’ve ever seen! Possibly the best hostel in Hawaii, possibly the coolest hostel in Hawaii. Just for how well decorated it is, honestly whoever did all this has a great eye – it’s all bright colours (but not too garish), muted tones, pale wood bunks, design-oriented living with an emphasis on homely-meets-minimalist. Can you tell that we like the interiors? So yeah, apart from looking a lot, LOT, nicer than some of the basic hotels in Hawaii, this overall best hostel in Kailua-Kona also has a greatly well-equipped kitchen, a cosy little common room, an outside terrace for BBQs, and super comfy beds. And, of course, staff will recommend some cool stuff to do, i.e. snorkelling/diving. You’ll wanna do that. The only downside is the location, since its slightly out of town, but there’s a bus-stop right nearby.
Best Hostel a Private Room in Kailua-Kona – Kona Beach Hostel
Prices – Privates from $90 – Dorms from $40
Cute! That’s how we’d describe this, the best hostel with a private room in Kailua-Kona. As you might expect, the private rooms are indeed cute and you’ll feel like you’re staying in a cutesy seaside homestay or B&B more than a Kailua-Kona backpackers hostel. The price is a little, hmm, pricey, but relative to basically all other accommodation in Hawaii, it’s a steal. So yeah, the wooden beachside cottage feel of the place definitely sells this place in terms of how charming it is, but don’t be expecting an overly social vibe – there’s no real common room inside, just an outdoors area. But since this is Big Island and you’re most likely gonna be driving around in a rental car all day checking out the amazing sights, well, you won’t have much time for socialising all that much. Location-wise Kona Beach Hostel is just outside of town, but it’s easy to drive there or catch the bus; there’s also a nice little beach just across the road from this awesome youth hostel in Hawaii.
Maui – it was famous long before the Moana character, possibly the most famous of the Hawaiian islands… well, apart from actual Hawaii itself. It is BEAUTIFUL.
Luxury resorts sit up against stretches of heavenly beaches (30 miles of ’em) and azure seas, whilst inland there’s the Haleakala National Park centred around Maui’s highest peak, Haleakala. Maui is also Hawaii’s most expensive island, so be prepared for higher prices in general.
Elsewhere you can road trip on the utterly scenic Hana Highway, or you can explore the 122 acres of volcanic landscape and black sand of Wai’anapanapa State Park. Whatever you do, staying at a hostel is a massively cheaper way to see this otherwise luxury island. Once you’ve booked your hostel in Maui, read our Maui itinerary to plan your trip.
Overall Best Hostel in Maui – The Lahaiana Beach House
Price – Privates from $160 – Dorms from $70
For the overall best hostel in Maui we invite you to divert your attention to The Lahaiana Beach House. As it says in the name, it’s a beach house or was a beach house, or just looks like a beach house, so it has this mildly weathered and homely feel to it, making you feel welcome as soon as you step through the door. The welcome atmosphere is down to the owner of this Maui backpackers hostel, who cultivates a nice vibe by just being an incredibly nice and helpful person. It’s clean, it’s serene, it’s very comfortable and it attracts some lovely guests too, making it pretty easy to find a friendly face to go exploring the island with. Activities like surfboard and paddle boarding, surf lessons, boat tours, whale tours, and even luaus, are in a 5 min walking distance. It’s just across the road from a beach otherwise this top hostel in Maui would have a pretty stupid name, wouldn’t it? Highly recommend. Pricey though.
Best Party Hostel in Maui – Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel
Prices – Privates from $130 – Dorms from $47
Wow, now, seriously, if you’re looking for one of the most sociable and top hostels in Hawaii let alone in Maui – here’s the place. It’s called Banana Bungalow, and it is THE most fun Hawaii backpackers hostel. The staff do a great job of cultivating a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, but aside from that it’s really the FREE TOURS that help bring everyone together. Huh, what, free tours? On Maui? Yes, free tours, and yes on Maui. (They also offer free airport and beach shuttles). The tours include hiking the Iao Valley rainforest, going snorkelling, windsurfing at Ho’okipa, basically beaches beaches beaches when it isn’t hiking and road trips. Oh, and, um, yeah, the good vibes probably have something to do with the free keg parties and happy hours. All of this adds up to what is easily the best party hostel in Maui. Good fun vibe. And it’s only for backpackers (you gotta have a foreign passport), so you could say this is the only true Maui backpackers hostel.
Best Hostel with a Private Room in Maui – Hakuna Matata Hostel
Prices – Privates from $126 – Dorms from $58
The private rooms at Hakuna Matata are pretty stunning, we have to say; wood panels, beautifully made beds, cabana-style furniture, all with a cool and chilled colour scheme that suits the sea, these rooms look great and are also super comfortable. Boasting one of the best locations on Lahaiana Beach, it’s so easy to sink into a chilled Maui lifestyle with the sea and sand so near to you. Bicycles, kayaks, surfboards, and various other beach equipment is FREE to use at this hostel, which makes being on the beach so much better than just sitting on it – which is pretty nice as is. And if you don’t fancy being ON the beach at any point in time for whatever reason, there’s a V nice view of the sea from the backyard gardens of this recommended hostel in Hawaii, where you can sit and chill in peace. Even whilst staying in a private room, you’re bound to meet and make friends with other guests here, as the vibe is social and friendly without straying near the realm of partying. But those rooms though, little slices of beachside cottage heaven, honestly. Side note: isn’t Hakuna Matata a Swahili phrase…?
What to Pack for your Hawaii Hostel
Here’s some gear our editors take hostelling.
1. TRTL Travel Pillow: Long flights and bus rides are quite uncomfortable (most obvious statement of the day). Most travel pillows… Well, you know how they are. TRTL travel pillow is different. I mean, look at it! It’ll cuddle you to sleep every ride and it does a pretty damn good job of supporting your neck so you don’t get that stiffness or legendary popping when you stir.
2. Active Roots Water Bottle: Hostels are increasingly meeting backpackers’ demands for potable (drinkable) water. Now is better than ever to start traveling with a reusable water bottle! Aside from cutting down single-use plastic, The Active Roots stainless steel water bottle will also keep your favorite beverage hot or cold all day long and it’s sized perfectly to fit an entire bottle of wine. ‘Nuff said.
3. Padlock: Unless the thief literally spends hours to figure out the code (he won’t), this three-digit padlock is going to keep your stuff safe. It’s great for keeping the zipper of your backpack secured or your locker properly closed. This basic and very flexible padlock saves you from having your essentials stolen. Definitely a must-have for every backpacker!
4. Headphone Splitter: You’re the one with the Netflix account and your friend wants to watch too? But you don’t want to share headphones? And you’re good people who wouldn’t disturb your dorm mates? That’s not going to be a problem with this Headphone Splitter! Plug in two pairs of headphones at the same time, so both of you are able to listen to music or watch shows simultaneously. It comes in handy and won’t weigh you down.
5. Playing Cards: Name your ideal night: I’m for a few cheap beers and some card games. Oh, and you don’t even have to be drinking to enjoy a game – having cards with you traveling definitely helps out on those long airplane or beach days! Make sure to snag a waterproof deck to protect from the pool, ocean or Chang.
6. Active Roots Toiletry Bag: Keep your bath-and-beauty items organized and in the right place with this water-resistant bag. With large compartments, mesh and enclosed clear sections, you can fit everything you might need inside. Hang it up or let it stand on its own – this bag is a must-have for dorm-lifers.
For more advice, be sure to check out our dedicated Hawaii packing list!
Why you should travel to Hawaii
Well guys, the time has come to wrap up our journey: this is the end of my best hostels in Hawaii for 2020 list.
As you are fully aware by now, Hawaii is a very special part of the world, but a visit here is not without its costs.
Everywhere you turn it seems there is a place to stay, though most are clearly out any normal backpacker’s budget.
After reading this hostel guide, you are now in full possession of all of the best budget accommodation options to be found in Hawaii.
Where you stay def matters, so make sure you think about this while planning a trip to Hawaii.
Hopefully this guide has inspired you to seek out one of the best hostels from my list, so that you can seal the deal on a great trip without spending more cash than you have to.
All of the best hostels in Hawaii are now at your fingertips… the choice of where to book is up to you!
Still feeling unsure of where to stay? Got your eye on more than one spot? Let’s keep things simple.
Most backpackers will start their trip in Honolulu, so if you’re undecided, I recommend just booking my top overall pick for best hostel in Honolulu: THE BEACH Waikiki Boutique Hostel by IH. Happy travels!
Travel Safety Tips for Hawaii
And don’t forget to sort your travel insurance before heading to Hawaii! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads, our favorite travel insurance provider.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
More Epic Hostels in USA and North America
Hopefully by now you’ve found the perfect hostel for your upcoming trip to Hawaii.
Planning an epic trip all across USA or even North America itself?
Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
For more cool hostel guides around North America, check out:
- Best Hostels in San Diego
- Best Hostels in San Francisco
- Best Hostels in Las Vegas
- Best Hostels in Miami
Over to you
By now I hope our epic guide to the best hostels in Hawaii has helped you choose the perfect hostel for your adventure!
If you think we’ve missed anything or have any further thoughts, hit us up in the comments!
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going.
Need More Inspiration?
- Where to Stay in Maui Hawaii
- Is Hawaii Safe?
- Best Tree Houses in Hawaii
- The Best Places to Visit in Hawaii
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Noodle addict. City dweller. Aaron Radcliffe is the marketing ninja for The Broke Backpacker, founder of Nomads Nation and Co-Founder of Ditch Your Desk.