Oahu appeals to vacationers with its sunny beaches, rich Polynesian culture, outdoor activities, and historic landmarks. The kind of activities you plan to take part in will help you decide where to stay. Whether you’re visiting for the surf breaks or the nightlife, here’s a handy guide to where to stay on Oahu.
You’ll find the widest range of accommodation options—with an emphasis on big, luxe resorts—in Waikiki, Oahu’s hub. As well as easy access to that famous stretch of beach, Waikiki appeals with its swath of restaurants, shops, and nightlife venues.
On the windward (eastern) side of the island, Kailua is a scenic area with plenty of natural attractions to explore, including Hanauma Bay and Lanikai Beach. Vacation-home rentals are most common.
Home of big-wave surfing and a charming “hang loose” vibe, North Shore offers a breezy, beachy stay best-suited to more casual travelers. There are a few resorts around here, but you’ll generally find more boutique-style lodging and vacation rentals—and a limited choice of restaurants and nightlife.
Those interested in water sports may be drawn to Koolina, on the leeward (western) side of Oahu. This area appeals with a wide range of accommodation options, plenty of activities along the coast, and proximity to Pearl Harbor.
If you really want to get away from it all, Waianae is a good choice. Here you’ll get to enjoy off-the-beaten-path beaches without the crowds typical of much of the rest of the island, and it’s also the best place to see the sunset. Surfers should make a beeline for Makaha Beach.