Where to Stay in Honolulu (2020 • COOLEST Areas!)

JUMP TO:   In a Hurry?   |   Best Accommodation    |    Neighborhood Guide    |    First Time in Honolulu?

 
Not sure where to stay in Honolulu? This INSIDER GUIDE covers what to do in each neighborhood, and the top hotels & hostels by area!

Interested? PIN NOW, read later!

When you think of Honolulu, you immediately think of paradise: golden-sand beaches, crystal clear blue waters, swaying palm trees, coconut drinks and so much more.

Unfortunately, those dreams of a tropical holiday won’t come cheap and saving money in Honolulu can be a challenge. That’s why I wrote this guide for where to stay in Honolulu.

This article was written by travellers for travellers. It looks at the best places to stay in Honolulu. To make it easier for you, I’ve organised the neighbourhoods by interest and budget, so you can quickly identify which is the best area in Honolulu to stay in based on what you want to do.

So let’s jump right into it – here are the best areas to stay in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.

 

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Honolulu

  • Where to stay in Honolulu for your first time – Downtown
  • Where to stay in Honolulu on a budget – Waikiki
  • The best area to stay in Honolulu for nightlife – Waikiki
  • The coolest place to stay in Honolulu – Manoa
  • Best neighbourhood in Honolulu for families – Eastern Honolulu

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

Check Top AirbnbCheck Top Hotel

 
Downtown
Downtown Honolulu is a lively and bustling neighbourhood at the heart of the city. It is the historic and commercial centre and is home to the state capitol as well as a myriad of major tourist attractions and landmarks.
 
Places to Visit:
  • Explore the iconic Aloha Tower.
  • Swim, relax and enjoy the view at Ala Moana Beach Park.
  • Take a tour of the Hawaii State Capitol Building.

 

Where to Stay in Honolulu

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Honolulu.

 

Best Hostel in Honolulu: The BEACH Waikiki Boutique Hostel by IH

This is our favourite hostel in Honolulu because of its excellent location close to the beach, bars and the best clubs in Honolulu. They provide guests with air-conditioned rooms and comfortable common spaces. There’s also a free continental breakfast, free wifi, and free pizza nights on the rooftop lounge.

View on HostelWorld

 

Best Airbnb in Honolulu: Incredible but cheap condo

Take your shoes off! Apart from this typical Hawaiian tradition, there is nothing else that could go wrong if you book this Airbnb. Perfect for first-time travellers, you’ll have everything you need or want to see just moments away. As in most condos, you’ll have access to all onsite-amenities. Your apartment is exceptionally clean, with an amazing view of the city – no doubt that you’ll enjoy it.

If this apartment is booked, no worries! There are plenty more Airbnbs in Honolulu to check out.

View on Airbnb

 

Best Hotel in Honolulu: Ilima Hotel

The Ilima Hotel wins our vote for the best hotel in Waikiki. This three-star hotel has a range of amenities, including free wifi and a rooftop terrace. There’s also an outdoor pool, a sauna and a gym for guests to enjoy. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, and well-equipped for an excellent stay.

View on Booking.com

 

Honolulu Neighbourhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Honolulu

tbbn-table__image

Downtown

  • Downtown Honolulu is a lively and bustling neighbourhood at the heart of the city. It is the historic and commercial centre and is home to the state capitol as well as a myriad of major tourist attractions and landmarks.
Check Top AirbnbCheck Top Hotel
tbbn-table__image

Waikiki

  • Waikiki is one of the most famous neighbourhoods in Hawaii. It is the touristic centre of the state and attracts surfers and sunbathers thanks to its white-sand beaches and shimmering turquoise waters.
Check Top HostelCheck Top AirbnbCheck Top Hotel
tbbn-table__image

Waikiki

  • Waikiki is also our number one pick for where to stay in Honolulu for nightlife. Dotted throughout this seaside ‘hood are a vast array of bars and clubs that cater to travellers of all ages and styles.
Check Top HostelCheck Top AirbnbCheck Top Hotel
tbbn-table__image

Manoa

  • If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, the quiet and serene neighbourhood of Manoa is for you! This residential neighbourhood is located in the foothills north of downtown.
Check Top HostelCheck Top AirbnbCheck Top Hotel
tbbn-table__image

Eastern Honolulu

  • Eastern Honolulu is a large district situated east of the city centre. Unlike other areas of the city, Eastern Honolulu is often overlooked by travellers but this residential neighbourhood has so much to offer visitors.
Check Top HostelCheck Top AirbnbCheck Top Hotel

 

Honolulu is a faced paced and dynamic city on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. It is the largest city and the capital of Hawaii and is known for its perfect white sand beaches and its laid-back atmosphere and charm.

The city is situated along the southeast coast of Oahu. It covers an area of 177 square kilometres and is divided into a total of 35 neighbourhoods. This guide will highlight the “must-sees” in Honolulu’s best neighbourhoods.

Downtown is a large neighbourhood located in the centre of the city. It is the historic heart and commercial capital of Honolulu and is home to the state capitol building. Packed with a variety of things to see, do and eat, Downtown is the best neighbourhood to stay in Honolulu if you’re visiting for the first time.

Travel along the coast and you’ll arrive in Waikiki. The most famous neighbourhood in the city, Waikiki is the tourist centre of Oahu. It’s home to the world-famous Waikiki Beach and boasts an excellent selection of bars, clubs and restaurants.

Waikiki is also one of the best places to stay in Honolulu if you’re on a budget because it’s where you’ll find the highest concentration of hostels on the island.

Eastern Honolulu is a large district on Honolulu’s southeastern coast. It’s our best recommendation for where to stay in Honolulu with kids because it has great natural features, lovely beaches, and plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained.

And finally, set north of the city centre is Manoa. One of the coolest places to stay in Honolulu, Manoa is a great neighbourhood to stay in if you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle and to enjoy a relaxing vacation surrounded by nature.

The Best Travel Backpack?!

Pssssst! Not picked the perfect travel backpack yet? The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! Our favourite carry on backpack is the Nomatic Travel Bag.

Read our full review!

 

Honolulu’s Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in

Now, let’s take a look, in more detail, at the best places in Honolulu to stay.

 

#1 Downtown – Where to Stay in Honolulu for Your First Time

Downtown Honolulu is a lively and bustling neighbourhood at the heart of the city. It is the historic and commercial centre and is home to the state capitol as well as a myriad of major tourist attractions and landmarks. It offers everything from history and culture to nightlife, shopping and dining, which is why Downtown is our number one choice for where to stay in Honolulu for your first time.

Culture vultures will love exploring the walkable streets of Downtown Honolulu. Here you’ll find several excellent museums as well as world-class art galleries and cultural institutions, which host works from renowned artists and masters to local legends and up-and-coming talent.

Downtown, Honolulu

 

Things to See and Do in Downtown

– Browse a fantastic collection of works at the Hawaii State Art Museum.

– Explore the iconic Aloha Tower.

– Marvel at Iolani Palace, the former official residence of Hawaii’s monarchs.

– Sample dishes from Honolulu’s best food trucks at Eat the Street.

– See great works of art at The ARTS at Mark’s Garage.

– Shop until you drop at the Ala Moana Center, the world’s largest open-air shopping mall.

– Snack and shop your way through the Honolulu Night Market.

– Swim, relax and enjoy the view at Ala Moana Beach Park.

– Take a tour of the Hawaii State Capitol Building.

– Visit the Kawaiahao Church, the oldest church in Honolulu.

 

Best Hotel in Downtown: Pagoda Hotel

This hotel is situated in Downtown Honolulu. It is a short walk from popular tourist attractions and historic landmarks. This charming hostel has spacious rooms with modern amenities. There’s also a variety of on-site features, like an outdoor pool, a day spa and a fitness centre.

View on Booking.com

 

Best Airbnb in Downtown: Incredible but cheap condo

Take your shoes off! Apart from this typical Hawaiian tradition, there is nothing else that could go wrong if you book this Airbnb. Perfect for first-time travellers, you’ll have everything you need or want to see just moments away. As in most condos, you’ll have access to all onsite-amenities. Your apartment is exceptionally clean, with an amazing view of the city – no doubt that you’ll enjoy it.

View on Airbnb

 

Best Hotel in Downtown: Ala Moana Hotel

The Ala Moana Hotel is ideally located in Downtown, the best neighbourhood to stay in Honolulu for sightseeing. This four-star hotel has modern rooms with air conditioning, private bathrooms and contemporary features. It’s also close to top attractions, restaurants, shops and the beach.

View on Booking.com

 

Best Hotel in Downtown: Aston at the Executive Centre Hotel

Located in Downtown Honolulu, this luxurious four-star hotel is one of the best places in Honolulu to stay for sightseeing and exploring. It allows for easy access to top tourist attractions, like the Hawaii State Capitol, and there are plenty of shops, restaurants and bars nearby.

View on Booking.com

 

#2 Waikiki – Where to Stay in Honolulu on a Budget

Waikiki is one of the most famous places to stay in Hawaii. It is the touristic centre of the state and attracts surfers and sunbathers thanks to its white-sand beaches and shimmering turquoise waters. You’ll also find a great selection of restaurants, shops and bars, as well as plenty of things to see and do.

Located near the centre of the city, Waikiki is our top recommendation for where to stay in Honolulu for one night, or if you’re on a budget because it boasts the highest concentration of hostels on the island. From lively and social to laid-back and relaxed, no matter what your style, there’s a perfect hostel for you in Waikiki.

Waikiki, Honolulu

 

Things to See and Do in Waikiki

– Dine on delicious barbecue at Me B-B-Q.

– Excite your senses with fresh, spicy and flavourful food at Oahu Mexican Grill (OMG).

– Get up close and personal with your favourite sea creatures at the Waikiki Aquarium.

– Hike up the Diamond Head Crater and enjoy the view.

– Hit up all of Waikiki’s most famous spots by walking the Waikiki Historic Trail.

– Indulge at Marukame Udon Waikiki.

– Learn to play the ukulele at the Royal Hawaiian Center.

– Satisfy your sweet tooth at Volcano Shakes & Sandwiches.

– See your favourite animals, birds and reptiles at the Honolulu Zoo.

– Take a stroll through lush Kapiolani Park.

 

Best Hostel in Waikiki: Seaside Hawaiian Hostel Waikiki

This excellent family-run hostel is conveniently located in Waikiki. It’s close to the beach, bars, restaurants, shops and more. This charming hostel offers a small and intimate environment with a free continental breakfast, cheap surfboard rentals and outdoor movie nights. Guests can also make use of the full kitchen.

View on HostelWorld

 

Best Airbnb in Waikiki: Cosy but comfy studio

Want to see the beach but don’t want to completely ruin your bank account? Perfect, check out this place! Located around 3min from the beach, this studio is ideally situated. It’s a bit small but definitely comfy and more than you’d expect for the price you’re paying. Cool bonus: there are a lot of food trucks around that serve unique food creations as well as tasty vegan restaurants.

View on Airbnb

 

Best Hotel in Waikiki: Kuhio Banyan Hotel

Located in central Waikiki, this is an excellent option for Honolulu accommodation if you’re on a budget. It offers comfortable and air-conditioned rooms with spotless beds. Rooms are also outfitted with refrigerators, kitchenware and a microwave. This hotel is also just steps from the best nightlife, dining and sightseeing in the city.

View on Booking.com

 

Best Hotel in Waikiki: Pearl Hotel Waikiki

Pearl Hotel Waikiki offers good value accommodation at the heart of Waikiki, the best area in Honolulu to stay in. It has air-conditioned rooms with a myriad of features. Guests can also enjoy free wifi and an on-site sports bar.

View on Booking.com

 

#3 Waikiki – Where to Stay in Honolulu for Nightlife

Waikiki is also our number one pick for where to stay in Honolulu for nightlife. Dotted throughout this seaside ‘hood are a vast array of bars and clubs that cater to travellers of all ages and styles. From oceanside wine bars to thriving and thumping clubs, you’ll be spoiled for choice in world-famous Waikiki.

Without a doubt, one of the neighbourhood’s most famous attractions is stunning Waikiki Beach. And, there’s no better place to rest and relax before (or after) a night on the town than the golden sands of Waikiki Beach. Here you can soak up some rays, head for a swim, or simply enjoy the views from Hawaii’s most famous beach.

Waikiki, Honolulu

 

Things to See and Do in Waikiki

– Drink cheap and delicious Mai Tai’s at Arnold’s Tiki Bar.

– Eat amazing Mexican food at Buho Cocina y Cantina.

– Enjoy a delicious start to your day at Lu Lu’s Waikiki.

– Feast on American BBQ at Da Smokehouse.

– Grab a pint at the Honolulu Tavern.

– Indulge in a drink or two at the Irish Rose Saloon.

– Listen to live music at Cuckoo Coconuts.

– Party the night away well above the streets at SKY Waikiki, Hawaii’s only Rooftop Bar, Restaurant & Nightclub.

– Sip cocktails and enjoy the view at Top of Waikiki.

– Watch the sunset as you party on the beach at RumFire.

 

Best Hostel in Waikiki: The BEACH Waikiki Boutique Hostel by IH

This is our favourite hostel in Honolulu because of its excellent location close to the beach, bars and the best clubs in Honolulu. They provide guests with air-conditioned rooms and comfortable common spaces. There’s also a free continental breakfast, free wifi, and free pizza nights on the rooftop lounge.

View on HostelWorld

 

Best Airbnb in Waikiki: Super central apartment

Every night owl needs a great place to stay! If you want to have crazy nights out, this Airbnb is the right one to spend the next hangover day. You’re only a couple of moments from the beach and amazing bars. The apartment is clean and pretty quiet. It comes with Netflix, a super comfortable bed and a brand new AC – perfect for the headache days.

View on Airbnb

 

Best Hotel in Waikiki: Ilima Hotel

The Ilima Hotel wins our vote for the best hotel in Waikiki. This three-star property has a range of amenities, including free wifi and a rooftop terrace. There’s also an outdoor pool, sauna and gym for guests to enjoy. Rooms are spacious, comfortable and well-equipped for an excellent stay.

View on Booking.com

 

Best Hotel in Waikiki: Hotel LaCroix Waikiki

This bright, airy and colourful hotel is centrally located in Waikiki, the best area in Honolulu to stay for nightlife, dining, drinking and partying. It is close to the city’s most popular bars and a variety of great restaurants. This hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, a modern gym, and an on-site restaurant.

View on Booking.com

 

Universal Travel AdapterOne of the best investments you can make is a worldwide travel adapter that will work anywhere! The one featured here is tough, reliable and a solid buy – Don’t leave home without one.

GET IT HERE

 

#4 Manoa – Coolest Place to Stay in Honolulu

If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, the quiet and serene neighbourhood of Manoa is for you!

This residential neighbourhood is located in the foothills north of downtown. It’s famous for its lush tropical scenery, as well as its charming bungalows, 1960s walk-ups, and a myriad of small and local businesses. Manoa is an excellent place to soak in Hawaiian culture, which is why it’s our pick for the coolest place to stay in Honolulu.

Manoa is also the best neighbourhood to stay in Honolulu if you’re a nature lover or outdoor enthusiast. The nearby Koolau Mountains are the perfect playground for anyone who loves to be outside.

 

Manoa Honolulu

Source: Boiko Viktor (Shutterstock)

 

Things to See and Do in Manoa

– Cool down with a cone from Waiola Shave Ice.

– Enjoy a sweet treat from Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream.

– Explore Pu’u Ualaka’a Park and take in sweeping views of the city.

– Go on a walking tour of the former neighbourhood of US President Barack Obama.

– Hike through the jungle to the Manoa Falls.

– Indulge in local delicacies at Alan Wong’s Restaurant.

– Shop for local produce at the Manoa Marketplace Farmer’s Market.

– Take a tour of Queen Emma’s Summer Palace.

– Trek to the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout and enjoy panoramic views of the island.

– Visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

– Wander through the Lyon Arboretum.

 

Best Hostel in Manoa: Hostelling International Honolulu

This charming hostel is ideally located in Manoa, the best neighbourhood to stay in Honolulu for a quiet and relaxing vacation. It has 10 spacious rooms that are outfitted with a variety of amenities. There’s also a sun deck, a library and a swimming pool on-site.

View on Booking.com

 

Best Airbnb in Manoa: Compact but cute studio

Looking for adventures during the day but a comfortable home for the night? This Airbnb is exactly what you want. The cute studio is on the 2nd floor of a family house, has a private entrance and is equipped with all the amenities you need after a long day outside. Staying here means you can enjoy the benefits of the city while it still feels like you’re out in nature.

View on Airbnb

 

Best Bes & Breakfast in Manoa: Manoa Valley Inn

The Manoa Valley Inn is situated in central Manoa, the best neighbourhood in Honolulu to stay in for hikers, trekkers and outdoor enthusiasts. This charming bed and breakfast has spacious rooms with private en-suites. The property also has free wifi, a sun deck and an outdoor swimming pool.

View on Booking.com

 

Best Hotel in Manoa: Studio in Paradise

Studio in Paradise is a comfortable and charming property in the Manoa neighbourhood. This is the best neighbourhood in Honolulu to stay in if you’re looking to escape the chaos of Waikiki. This cosy property offers on-site bike rentals and a variety of great features.

View on Booking.com

 

#5 Eastern Honolulu – Where to Stay in Honolulu for Families

Eastern Honolulu is a large district situated east of the city centre. Unlike other areas of the city, Eastern Honolulu is often overlooked by travellers but this residential neighbourhood has so much to offer visitors. From its unique natural attractions and popular watersports to its many restaurants, shops and markets, Eastern Honolulu is packed with plenty of things to see, eat and do.

This delightful neighbourhood also wins our vote for where to stay in Honolulu for families. Here you can enjoy everything from days at the beach to exciting snorkelling adventures, as well as shopping, dining, and outdoor adventures.

Eastern Honolulu, Honolulu

 

Things to See and Do in Eastern Honolulu

– Be amazed by the Halona Blowhole, an intriguing natural attraction.

– Dine on delicious Mediterranean and Greek fare at Olive Tree Café.

– Enjoy the cool ocean views from Lanai Lookout.

– Excite your sense with flavourful Mexican at Cha-Cha-Cha Salsaria.

– Go snorkelling at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

– Satisfy your sweet tooth at Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha.

– See your favourite aquatic animals, like dolphin’s, penguins and sea lions at Sea Life Park.

– Shop until you drop at the Kahala Mall.

– Swim, splash and play at on the sandy shores of Makapu’u Beach.

– Watch the surfers hang ten at Sandy Beach.

 

Best Hostel in Eastern Honolulu: East side of Hanama Bay Diamond Head

This charming property provides comfortable Honolulu accommodation. It has spacious rooms equipped with modern amenities and excellent features. This property is close to a number of incredible natural attractions and is in one of the best areas to stay in Honolulu for outdoor adventurers.

View on Booking.com

 

Best Airbnb in Eastern Honolulu: Most amazing family house

We normally don’t praise places too much, but this Airbnb has full-on earned it. Sunset and sunrise view, a saltwater pool, the most attentive host ever, exceptionally clean and in the best location ever – seriously, you can’t think of anything else you might need if you book this home. It’s ideal for big families too! Bring up to 6 people with you on your holiday.

View on Airbnb

 

Best Hotel in Eastern Honolulu: The Kahala Hotel & Resort

The Kahala Hotel & Resort is an exquisite five-star property with its own lagoon complete with dolphins. It has air-conditioned and well-equipped rooms that are perfect for travellers of all styles. This hotel has a swimming pool, a private beach, and a delicious in-house restaurant.

View on Booking.com

 

Best Hotel in Eastern Honolulu: Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head

The Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head is an excellent option for Honolulu accommodation. This three-star property has spacious rooms with private balconies and modern features. It is perfectly located near Waikiki, making it a great base for exploring the city.

View on Booking.com

 

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Honolulu

Honolulu is the perfect destination for a tropical vacation. This world-class city has white-sand beaches, swaying palm trees and lush jungles, as well as lively nightlife, delicious dining, and excellent shopping. With so much to see, do and eat, there’s no doubt about it, Honolulu is an excellent option any style of traveller.

In this Honolulu neighbourhood guide, we’ve looked at the best place to stay in the city. If you’re still not sure which is right for you, here’s a quick recap.

Waikiki is our pick for the best neighbourhood because it has a world-renowned beach, vibrant nightlife and mouthwatering dining. It’s also home to the best hostel The BEACH Waikiki Boutique Hostel by IH.

Another great option is the Ilima Hotel because it has spacious and comfortable rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, and a relaxing rooftop terrace.

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! 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 now, our favourite 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!

world nomads insurance banner

 

Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email [email protected] to find out how.

Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.


Need More Inspiration?

 

Liked this post? Pin below!

Not sure where to stay in Honolulu? This INSIDER GUIDE covers what to do in each neighborhood, and the top hotels & hostels by area!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *