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 neighborhoods 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.

Where to Stay in Honolulu

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Honolulu, from incredible Airbnbs to Hawaii’s top hostels.

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Incredible but cheap condo | Best Airbnb in Honolulu

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.

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

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.

Ilima Hotel | Best Hotel in Honolulu

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.

If those accommodations aren’t what you’re looking for, we also have a full guide of our favourite VRBOs in Honolulu and VRBOs in Oahu.

Honolulu Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Honolulu

FIRST TIME IN HONOLULU
Downtown, Honolulu
FIRST TIME IN HONOLULU

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.

ON A BUDGET
Waikiki, Honolulu
ON A BUDGET

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.

NIGHTLIFE
Waikiki, Honolulu
NIGHTLIFE

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.

FOR FAMILIES
Eastern Honolulu, Honolulu
FOR FAMILIES

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.

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 neighborhoods. This guide will highlight the “must-sees” in Honolulu’s best neighborhoods.

Downtown is a large neighborhood 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 neighborhood 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 neighborhood 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. It is also home to many of the best villas in Honolulu for those wanting a more luxurious vacation.

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. Honolulu vacation rentals are perfect for families!

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

Honolulu’s Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

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

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

Downtown Honolulu is a lively and bustling neighborhood 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- though do keep in mind that it’s a bit expensive.

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

  1. Browse a fantastic collection of works at the Hawaii State Art Museum.
  2. Explore the iconic Aloha Tower.
  3. Marvel at Iolani Palace, the former official residence of Hawaii’s monarchs.
  4. Sample dishes from Honolulu’s best food trucks at Eat the Street.
  5. See great works of art at The ARTS at Mark’s Garage.
  6. Shop until you drop at the Ala Moana Center, the world’s largest open-air shopping mall.
  7. Snack and shop your way through the Honolulu Night Market.
  8. Swim, relax and enjoy the view at Ala Moana Beach Park.
  9. Take a tour of the Hawaii State Capitol Building.
  10. Visit the Kawaiahao Church, the oldest church in Honolulu.

Incredible but cheap condo | Best Airbnb in Downtown

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.

Pagoda Hotel | Best Hotel in Downtown

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.

Ala Moana Hotel | Best Hotel in Downtown

The Ala Moana Hotel is ideally located in Downtown, the best neighborhood 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.

Aston at the Executive Centre Hotel | Best Hotel in Downtown

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.

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#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

  1. Dine on delicious barbecue at Me B-B-Q.
  2. Excite your senses with fresh, spicy and flavourful food at Oahu Mexican Grill (OMG).
  3. Get up close and personal with your favourite sea creatures at the Waikiki Aquarium.
  4. Hike up the Diamond Head Crater and enjoy the view.
  5. Hit up all of Waikiki’s most famous spots by walking the Waikiki Historic Trail.
  6. Indulge at Marukame Udon Waikiki.
  7. Learn to play the ukulele at the Royal Hawaiian Center.
  8. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Volcano Shakes & Sandwiches.
  9. See your favourite animals, birds and reptiles at the Honolulu Zoo.
  10. Take a stroll through lush Kapiolani Park.

Cosy but comfy studio | Best Airbnb in Waikiki

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.

Seaside Hawaiian Hostel Waikiki | Best Hostel in 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.

Kuhio Banyan Hotel | Best Hotel in Waikiki

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.

Pearl Hotel Waikiki | Best Hotel in 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.

#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 neighborhood’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

  1. Drink cheap and delicious Mai Tai’s at Arnold’s Tiki Bar.
  2. Eat amazing Mexican food at Buho Cocina y Cantina.
  3. Enjoy a delicious start to your day at Lu Lu’s Waikiki.
  4. Feast on American BBQ at Da Smokehouse.
  5. Grab a pint at the Honolulu Tavern.
  6. Indulge in a drink or two at the Irish Rose Saloon.
  7. Listen to live music at Cuckoo Coconuts.
  8. Party the night away well above the streets at SKY Waikiki, Hawaii’s only Rooftop Bar, Restaurant & Nightclub.
  9. Sip cocktails and enjoy the view at Top of Waikiki.
  10. Watch the sunset as you party on the beach at RumFire.

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

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.

Ilima Hotel | Best Hotel in Waikiki

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.

Hotel LaCroix Waikiki | Best Hotel in 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.

Super central apartment | Best Airbnb in Waikiki

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.

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#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 neighborhood of Manoa is for you!

This residential neighborhood 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 neighborhood 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

Things to See and Do in Manoa

  1. Cool down with a cone from Waiola Shave Ice.
  2. Enjoy a sweet treat from Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream.
  3. Explore Pu’u Ualaka’a Park and take in sweeping views of the city.
  4. Go on a walking tour of the former neighborhood of US President Barack Obama.
  5. Hike through the jungle to the Manoa Falls.
  6. Indulge in local delicacies at Alan Wong’s Restaurant.
  7. Shop for local produce at the Manoa Marketplace Farmer’s Market.
  8. Take a tour of Queen Emma’s Summer Palace.
  9. Trek to the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout and enjoy panoramic views of the island.
  10. Visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
  11. Wander through the Lyon Arboretum.

Manoa Valley Inn | Best Bes & Breakfast in Manoa

The Manoa Valley Inn is situated in central Manoa, the best neighborhood 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.

Compact but cute studio | Best Airbnb in Manoa

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.

Hostelling International Honolulu | Best Hostel in Manoa

This charming hostel is ideally located in Manoa, the best neighborhood 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.

Studio in Paradise | Best Hotel in Manoa

Studio in Paradise is a comfortable and charming property in the Manoa neighborhood. This is the best neighborhood 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.

#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 neighborhood 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 neighborhood 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

  1. Be amazed by the Halona Blowhole, an intriguing natural attraction.
  2. Dine on delicious Mediterranean and Greek fare at Olive Tree Café.
  3. Enjoy the cool ocean views from Lanai Lookout.
  4. Excite your sense with flavourful Mexican at Cha-Cha-Cha Salsaria.
  5. Go snorkelling at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.
  6. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha.
  7. See your favourite aquatic animals, like dolphin’s, penguins and sea lions at Sea Life Park.
  8. Shop until you drop at the Kahala Mall.
  9. Swim, splash and play at on the sandy shores of Makapu’u Beach.
  10. Watch the surfers hang ten at Sandy Beach.

The Kahala Hotel & Resort | Best Hotel in Eastern Honolulu

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.

Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head | Best Hotel in Eastern Honolulu

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.

Most amazing family house | Best Airbnb in Eastern Honolulu

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.

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

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.

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FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Honolulu

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Honolulu and where to stay.

What To Pack For Honolulu

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

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Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

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Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Honolulu

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

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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 neighborhood 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 neighborhood 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.

Looking for more info on travelling to Honolulu and USA?

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