There’s no doubt that Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. While too much of a good thing can be overrated, we don’t think that rings true for this haven.
There’s so much beauty you will be spoilt for choice, making it nearly impossible for you to know where to stay in Hawaii.
Comprised of multiple islands that each have plenty to offer, Hawaii is a paradise of tropical beaches with clear blue waters, mountains, active volcanos, warm waterfalls, some of the best surfing in the world, and diving.
Each island has a completely different vibe, list of things to do, even weather! Read on to discover the best places to stay in Hawaii.
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Best Holiday Villa in Hawai’i: Naupaka Breeze
This huge, clean and open-plan villa in the north of O’ahu sleeps up to 14 guests – hopefully that’s enough for your group! The back of the villa looks right over rugged, wave-battered cliffs. If you’ve never fallen asleep to the sounds of waves, trust me that it’s one of the best kinds of sleep.
You will get the true island experience; though the villa is only moments away from shops and restaurants, you wouldn’t know that from the sea view out the back. Instead of suburban fences, you have pristine beach just a couple minutes’ walk from the villa.
Best Hostel in Hawaii: Seaside Hawaiian Hostel Waikiki
An intimate and friendly hostel near the pulsating heart of Waikiki, Seaside Hawaiian Hostel Waikiki has mixed and female-only dorms. There are lockers (you’ll need your own padlock) and Wi-Fi is available in common areas.
Shared spaces include bathrooms, a kitchen, a common room, and a terrace. There’s a free breakfast each morning, and you can borrow snorkeling equipment and boogie boards or rent a surfboard to try and harness the power of the sea.
Other perks include a BBQ, laundry facilities, luggage storage, cable TV, and housekeeping.
There are plenty more places for backpackers around the islands – be sure to check out these other amazing hostels in Hawaii!
Best Hotel in Hawaii: Sheraton Waikiki
The Sheraton Waikiki is just a couple of minutes’ stroll from the beach. There are three terrific restaurants within the hotel as well as a food market. Book a range of spa treatments, work out in the gym, cool down in the swimming pool, zoom down the water slide, join a yoga class, take a personal training session, and relax in the hot tub.
Each room is ensuite with a balcony, desk, TV, and video games. Parents are sure to appreciate the child-minding services.
Best Beach House in Hawaii: Rustic Hawaiian Home
This small sand-side home is built in a traditional Hawaiian style. It lacks luxury but it’s heaven for vacationers who enjoy outdoor eating and waking up to the sunrise. Every perfect day will start with morning cup of coffee in the backyard with soft early light over the ocean. In a word: bliss.
The house sleeps 6; perfect for a family or group of friends. It’s on the north shore of O’ahu, near Waimea Bay and a few popular surf schools.
Rustic Hawaiian Home is one of our favourites in Hawaii but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Maui is the island most often associated with Hawaii, with postcard-worthy views, world-class beaches, and plenty to do by day and by night. Fairly peaceful and relatively undeveloped, enjoy a little slice of paradise and see why so many people flock to Hawaii year after year. It’s our top recommendation for where to stay in Hawaii for first-timers.
Hawaii the Big Island
Big Island is, as the name suggests, Hawaii’s largest island. It is officially called the island of Hawaii. The volcanic island offers some of the state’s cheapest accommodation, making it our pick for one of the best places to stay in Hawaii on a budget.
The liveliest of Hawaii’s islands, O’ahu is our recommendation for both families and nightlife lovers. There are many places to enjoy by day and by night, with something to suit people of all ages and with all kinds of interests.
Although everywhere in Hawaii is pretty cool, Kaua’i just pips everywhere else to the post for our choice for Hawaii’s coolest locale. Wild and undeveloped, it has something of an air of ruggedness and mystery that can be difficult to find in places that are more in the spotlight.
O’ahu isn’t only recommended for where to stay in Hawaii for families, but it’s also one of the best places to stay in Hawaii for people who wish to stay for a longer period of time with accommodations available for a month or longer.
Hawaii may be a US state, but it is unlike anywhere else within the nation. There are eight tropical islands within Hawaii, 5 of which you can choose from when you are looking for your dream beach vacation spot.
The first four in our list are the most popular tourist destinations in Hawaii, but don’t disregard the smaller islands too quickly, they are equally as magnificent.
O’ahu is home to the state capital, and is an energetic and vibrant island. As well as a plethora of sleeping, dining, drinking, and shopping options, it also has great beaches, cultural sites, and a range of activities to suit all tastes. Honolulu (the capital) has Hawaii’s largest population, and more of a city feel. It is surrounded by many of Hawaii’s most luxurious villas for those looking for peace and quiet. O’ahu is the easiest island to get around via public transport, and has the largest hostel scene. It’s also Hawaii’s most expensive island.
Maui offers a much more laid-back appeal, and is perfect for people who prefer to spend their days lazing on beautiful beaches. It is known for having the most variety of all the beaches in Hawaii. It is one of the most popular islands, and attracts many couples and honeymooners. If you’re seeking luxurious bliss, Lana’i is ideal.
Kaua’i’s ancient landscapes suit fans of the great outdoors, it is just as known for its lush mountains as its beaches.
The Big Island of Hawaii, not to be confused with Hawaii the name of the state, is the largest island in this archipelago. It is a geothermal wonderland, and home to 4 out of the 5 major climate zones in the world, and 8 out of 13 of the sub-zones! It is famous for having the most active volcano in the world, Kilauea volcano.
Moloka’i offers a taste of rural and traditional life.
Hawaii is filled with so much beauty and history, it is so much more than just a tourist destination.
The USA is blisteringly beautiful. It’s also blisteringly expensive! Visitng two national parks in day can run you $70+ in entry fees.
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Hawaii’s 5 Best Islands to Stay on
Whether you’re seeking memorable immersions in nature, a thriving night scene, dazzling beaches, family fun, romantic idylls, or something else, Hawaii offers it all. Here are the places to consider when planning your trip to Hawaii.
Maui is the island most often associated with Hawaii, with postcard-worthy views, world-class beaches, and plenty to do by day and by night. Fairly peaceful and relatively undeveloped, enjoy a little slice of paradise and natural beauty. It’ll be easy to see why so many people flock to Maui year after year.
Since it’s a sin to visit the state without staying at least one night on this island, these are the best places to stay in Maui for a memorable stay.
Beautiful Condo on Maui: Oceanfront Condo
Modern, clean and right on the ocean – seriously, the views from the living area remind me of being on a cruise ship: it’s like living on top of the water!
This home can sleep up to 9 guests, but realistically fits 6 comfortably. This way, everybody can enjoy the patio at once.
The condominium has all the vacation fixings: a shared outdoor swimming pool and grill station. The owner has also left you boogie boards and other beach toys for the kids.
Cozy Hostel in Lahaina: Hakuna Matata Hostel
Located in the old capital of Lahaina, Hakuna Matata Hostel is a chilled-out spot. There are mixed and female-only dorms as well as private rooms. You can mingle with other travelers in the indoor and outdoor common areas, and make your own meals in the shared kitchen.
There’s tons of equipment that you can use to enhance your stay, and the facilities here are top class. Ultimately, Hakuna Matata stands above the rest of the hostels in Maui.
Incredible Resort on Maui: Montage Kapalua Bay
Close to the beach, this stunning luxury hotel boasts a spa, fitness center, tennis courts, swimming pool, and restaurant. Lavish suites are available to suit different group sizes, all with everything you need to feel right at home.
The bathrooms are elegant and stylish with a spa bath. There’s no need to worry about coming back sandy thanks to the washing machine and dryer in each suite.
Top Things to do on Maui
- Go snorkeling off Keawakapu Beach to see the many submerged antique cars in the artificial reef, or snorkel at Coral Garden and Turtle Town to be awed by the underwater world.
- Take a whale-watching trip.
- Gaze down on the island from above with a helicopter tour.
- Learn more about local art and history at the Bailey House Museum.
- Watch a performance at Maui Cultural Center.
- Take a walking tour of the fragrant Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm.
- Drive the scenic road to Hana.
- Book tickets to see the award-winning show of Ulalena at Maui Theater.
- Sample local spirits and learn more about distilling processes at Hali’imaile Distilling Company.
- Get an adrenaline rush with a ziplining adventure.
- Hike the now-dormant Haleakala Volcano and watch the sunrise from the crater.
The Big Island – Where to Stay in Hawaii on a Budget
Big Island is, as the name suggests, Hawaii’s largest island. The volcanic land offers some of the state’s cheapest accommodation, making it an amazing place to stay in Hawaii on a budget.
Not only does the Big Island have affordable accommodation, but it also has incredible tree houses, which guarantee a unique stay. Take a look at some of the best treehouses in Hawaii, you’ll be surprised to find that a number of them are budget-friendly!
There’s plenty to enjoy here, from beaches and nature to culture and history. It is also home to the state’s only World Heritage Site and one of the USA’s most exciting National Parks – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Consequently, Big Island is home to most of Hawaii’s eco-friendly accommodations.
Best Hostel on Big Island: The Big Island Boutique Hostel
A beautiful place to stay in Hilo, The Big Island Boutique Hostel is safe, secure, clean, and friendly. The hostel and rooms are accessed by code pads, and there are lockers to keep your belongings safe.
There are mixed and female-only dorms, and private rooms for two. There’s a basic kitchen for some DIY meal prep, as well as a bar and cool common room. A book exchange, clothes swap, free Wi-Fi, luggage storage, and parking add to the fun and convenience.
Best Hotel on Big Island: Volcano Eco Retreat
Volcano Eco Retreat is a luscious, tropical haven. With separated bungalow style suites, hot tubs, activities and magnificent landscapes, it is a beautiful place to stay with your loved ones.
Escape the Big Island crowds and enjoy basking in the natural beauty. Eco-friendly, with breakfast included and free bicycle usage, it has everything you need for a peaceful retreat.
Best Treehouse on the Big Island: Mokuna Tree House
Eco-friendly, scenic and comfortable, Mokuna Tree House is one of the best treehouses in Hawaii. With a clean modern style, and magnificent tropical surroundings, it is a stunning setting for a romantic getaway or off-the-grid stay.
Made with natural materials and away from the crowds of the island, if you are looking to disconnect, this is where to go!
Mokuna Tree House is one of our favourites in Hawaii but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Best Vacation Rental: Luxury Cabin
Volcano Village has the most unique places to stay on the Big Island (and maybe all of Hawaii). This cozy cottage is close to town and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but the property feels secluded and private.
This cottage-cabin hybrid boasts the luxuries that a stay at a fancy resort don’t – outdoor sauna (from Finland), large jacuzzi, and FOUR indoor fireplaces! I don’t know how many fireplaces you need for a three-bedroom vacation rental in Hawaii, but four seems like enough.
Luxury Cabin is one of our favourites in Hawaii but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Check out Big Island vacation rentals for more epic inspo!
Top Things to Do on the Big Island
- Experience the magic and wonder of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on a guided tour, with its hiking trails, ancient petroglyphs, rainforest, desert, craters that send plumes of smoke into the air, beaches, and a lava lake.
- Stargaze at Mauna Kea, an unforgettable experience on any Hawaiian vacation.
- Marvel at the natural splendor of the Waipi’o Valley.
- Feast your eyes on the towering ‘Akaka Falls.
- See an abundance of colorful marine life with a spot of snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay.
- Admire the island’s scenery by horseback.
- Descend into fascinating lava tubes.
- Tour Hulihe’e Palace, a former royal palace on the sea.
- Hike to Kilauea Iki crater and watch glowing lava at sunset.
- Go night swimming with manta rays.
The liveliest of Hawaii’s islands, staying on O’ahu is the best for both families and nightlife lovers. There are many places to enjoy by day and night, with something to suit people of all ages and with all kinds of interests. The North Shore is one of the best surfing spots in all of Hawaii, and the famous Diamond Head is also on O’ahu.
It’s also one of the best places to stay in Hawaii for people who wish to stay for a longer period with affordable accommodations available for a month or longer.
Best Hostel on O’ahu: Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel
A fun and friendly O’ahu hostel close to Waikiki Beach, Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel is a top spot to meet other people and explore. There are tours and shuttle services throughout the week, and you can join in with free pizza nights on the terrace.
Breakfast is also free! Catch up with your washing, surf the free Wi-Fi, and cut costs further by making your own basic meals in the kitchen. This is one of the best hostels in Oahu.
Best Hotel on O’ahu: OHANA Waikiki Malia
Stylish and comfortable, this family-friendly hotel has a selection of ensuite rooms and suites. Enjoy the outdoor swimming pool and fitness center, and satisfy your hunger in the restaurant.
Best Airbnb on O’ahu: Luana Waikiki
This quaint studio has everything you need for a relaxing stay including a kitchenette, air-conditioning and comfortable furnishings.
For up to 4 guests, it is ideally located in a quiet neighborhood. Enjoy the shared outdoor swimming pool, breezy balcony, and peaceful setting for a memorable stay.
Luana Waikiki is one of our favourites in Hawaii but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
There are also so many epic VRBOs in Oahu!
Top Things to do on Oahu
- Pay your respects at the Arizona Memorial, a place that remembers those who lost their lives during the Second World War.
- Visit the ill-fated Pearl Harbour.
- Soak up the harbor views from the top of Aloha Tower.
- Visit the replica Japanese temple in the Valley of the Temple.
- Admire the scenic views from the Diamond Head Walk.
- Snorkel with turtles.
- Sunbathe and swim at the famous Waikiki Beach, the picture-perfect Lanikai Beach, and the relaxed Kahanamoku Beach.
- Indulge in the traditional local dish of poke.
- Learn more about the Polynesian culture at the Bishop Museum.
- Get back to nature at Homaluhia Botanical Garden.
- Watch the fireworks from Hilton Hawaiian Village every Friday night.
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Although everywhere in Hawaii has incredible scenery and landscapes, Kaua’i is just outstanding. Wild and undeveloped, it has something of an air of ruggedness and mystery that can be difficult to find in places that are more in the spotlight – staying in Kaua’i is a truly unique experience!
With fabulous nature and picturesque beaches, it’s a perfect place for anyone who loves exploring. Break away from the crowds and discover why we think Kaua’i is so special.
Idyllic Vacation Home: Ka Makana
This vacation home is in a quiet corner of Hanalei – perfect for a family with a car who want a peaceful place to rest, recover and cook their own meals between outdoor excursions. The home is in the suburbs but once inside, it doesn’t feel that way: green foliage and volcano views come through the windows, reminding you that you’re on vacation and have a whole island to explore!
The home has three spacious bedrooms, all with decent views. The master takes the cake though, with a private porch and one of those cute basket swings!
Best Hotel on Kaua’i: The Kauai Inn
Lihue is a beautiful place to stay, and The Kauai Inn is a charming luxury hotel in the quaint town. Close to the beach and within easy reach of the airport, it has rooms that can accommodate two, three, or four guests.
Every tropical-themed room has a private bathroom, TV, microwave, fridge, and phone. Wi-Fi can be accessed in public areas. Free tea and coffee can be enjoyed in the pavilion, and there are BBQs for some alfresco cooking and dining.
The gorgeous gardens and inviting swimming pool provide even more reasons to book a stay here.
Best Way to Camp on Kauai: Jeep Camper
For the more adventurous few among you, resorts and villas may not be up your street – check out this Jeep Camper! You can rock up to any of Kauai’s beachfront camping sites and enjoy undisturbed starlight views from the car-top tent.
It has chairs, towels, all the cooking and sleeping equipment you need, all in a magnificent location! Just be sure to arrange your camping pass beforehand.
Jeep Camper is one of our favourites in Hawaii but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
You can find a lot more epic Kauai island accommodations in our VRBOs in Kauai post. For cheaper accommodation, you might want to consider a bed and breakfast in Kauai. Or if you want something more traditional, you can also find luxurious spots in our guide on the best villas in Kauai!
Top Things to do in Kaua’i
- Hike the stunning Waimea Canyon, complete with craggy gorges, soaring peaks, lush valleys, and interesting flora and fauna. Or take a sightseeing flight overhead.
- Join a kayaking adventure along the Wailua River.
- Take a tour of the fun Kilohana Plantation and try the locally produced rum.
- Spot numerous birds at Kilauea Lighthouse.
- Admire nature’s wonder at Limahuli Garden and Preserve.
- Explore the underwater world at Tunnels Beach.
- Be blown away by the majesty of the cascading Wailua Falls.
- Watch the sun go down from Hanalei Bay.
- Wait for the water to spray from Spouting Horn.
- Follow the quiet and scenic two-mile-long Maha’ulepu Coastal Trail.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Hawaii
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There’s one travel insurance provider The Broke Backpacker trusts for all his wildest shenanigans… World Nomads!
Click the button below to get a quote on your insurance or read our in-depth review of World Nomads’ coverage. And then… let the shenanigans begin. 😉
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Hawaii
You could spend months exploring just one of the Hawaii islands, let alone all of them! If you really can’t decide where to stay in Hawaii, we think Maui is perfect for first-timers and beach lovers alike.
Kauai island is great for hiking, and home to spectacular waters. If you’re worried about your travel costs, don’t be – Hawaii doesn’t have to be expensive! If you plan ahead and make the right choices, you can visit the islands and all of their hotspots even on a budget!
Oahu is the most convenient island for solo travelers, families, and groups alike. The Big Island is twice the size of Oahu and has plenty to see as well!
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong! All of the islands have beautiful beaches, and offer a slice of tropical paradise.
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