The U.S. state of Hawaii is a fascinating place evoking mystery and intrigue with travellers and locals alike. A place that is everyone’s picture of paradise, this island attracts people from all over the world.
An isolated volcanic archipelago in the Central Pacific, Hawaii has an incredibly diverse natural beauty that can only be admired. From rugged landscapes of cliffs, waterfalls and tropical foliage to sugary beaches complete with gold, red, black and green sands, this captivating island can seduce travellers from its aesthetics alone. Add to this the fact that Hawaii has a warm tropical climate, active volcanoes and kaleidoscopic coral reefs, and there’s no surprise that people don’t ever want to leave.
A place that attracts tourists and surfers and is a biologist’s and volcanologist’s paradise, Hawaii is so much more than just a tourist destination. Full of the friendliest locals who are fiercely proud of their culture, you can learn a lot about the island’s history and charm from the citizens themselves. Spend your days soaking in the island vibes, admiring the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, joining in with the boisterous local festivities, filling the hours with endless adventures, or chilling out at the beach listening to a soft ukulele being played in the distance; whatever your preference for entertainment, you can be sure you’ll find it here.
Hawaii consists of seven islands, all with their own unique charms, traditions and landscapes, yet each of them beckons every type of traveller. For first-time visitors, it can be difficult to choose which island you want to use as your base, so this is where we come in. To help you find the best place to stay in a place that is the closest you’ll get to physical paradise, here are our recommendations on where to stay in Hawaii and a list of Hawaii packing ideas for your trip.
We will cover off all types of Hawaii accommodation options from Hostels to luxury Hawaii hotels as well as how to decide where to stay in Hawaii, the best Hawaii hotels, best places in Hawaii to visit, the best places to stay in Hawaii, hotels near Hawaii attractions, Hawaii neighborhood guide and many more.
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Table of Contents
The Big Island – Where to stay in Hawaii to see active volcanoes
Best for: culture, adventure, wildlife
You may think that Hawaii itself (known as the Big Island) is the most visited island but surprisingly, you’d be wrong! Although less visited than the islands of O’ahu and Maui, the Big Island has a lot to offer and it definitely worth a stay there. The largest but youngest isle, the Big Island attracts many by being home to Earth’s most active volcano: Kilauea. Hasaii Big Island is also the best places to stay in Hawaii for families.
With the towering volcano being the highlight of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, this island is heaven for hikers as it boasts twisting lava flows, icy waterfall pools, stretching emerald valleys, and lush rainforests. With this stunning natural beauty, it’s no surprise that the island is also home to a wide range of wildlife from dolphins and humpback whales to countless species of fish and sea turtles!
If you want to experience gorgeous beaches and natural beauty with a healthy dose of adventure and cultural traditions that are always participatory, a stay on the Big Island is a must.
Where to stay in Hawaii Big Island
Maui – Best island to stay in Hawaii for first time
Best for: beaches, adventure, and food
The second largest island in Hawaii and the place to hang loose, Maui takes one of our top spots for one of the best places to stay in the Aloha state. Offering something for everybody, especially for the beach bums, the island is rife with aquatic life, gorgeous beaches with the softest sand, and stunning natural beauty that earns it the nickname “the Valley Isle.”
As you can imagine, from these highlights on the island, Maui is heaven to divers, surfers, hikers and general outdoor enthusiasts! For the best places to stay in Maui, it completely depends on what you’re looking for.
For upscale accommodation options and affordable stays, head for the South of the island. To be in the middle of all the action, the West is the most popular place to be, probably because it has some of the best beaches in Hawaii (and maybe even the world!).
To get away from the crowds and off the beaten track, the East is far less touristy and will give you just the right amount of isolation. Being one of the most popular islands, Maui is always a good choice for first-time visitors and when you taste the food at one of the many chef-driven restaurants, you won’t regret it! Maui is one of the best places to stay in Hawaii on a budget.
Best places to stay in Maui
Lanai – Best places to stay in Hawaii for couples
Best for: remote island vibes
If you’re looking for a complete luxury escape, Lanai Island is full of exclusive resorts just waiting to indulge you. As the island isn’t frequented by tourists, Lana’i offers its visitors complete isolation from the crowds of the popular islands as well as a preserved and untouched beauty that is rarely seen at such a tourist destination.
Boasting breathtaking beaches with golden sand and crystal clear waters, the island offers a tranquil subtropical paradise perfect for relaxing and snorkelling at your leisure. Lana’i itself is also home to a charming vintage plantation town, a testimony to the island’s history when it was largely dominated by pineapple plantations, and the unique Garden of the Gods.
To experience rugged Hawaii and a sense of remoteness you can’t get anywhere else, Lana’i should be the island at the top of your list.
Best places to stay on Lanai
Mid-Range Hotels in Lanai Hawaii:
Family Friendly Hotels in Lanai Hawaii:
Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele
Luxury Hotels in Lanai Hawaii:
Four Seasons Resort Lanai
Oahu – Where to stay in Hawaii for foodies
Best for: food & culture, beaches
Known as “the Gathering Place,” the island of O’ahu is the most populous and developed island in Hawaii. Home to the state’s biggest city and capital, Honolulu, O’ahu is a place where you can experience the kinetic energy of the city and its multicultural way of living whilst also being just a stone’s throw away from breathtaking beaches with world-class surfing.
Offering island-city life with historical monuments such as Pearl Harbor’s WWII Memorials, you won’t be short of entertainment here as well as having endless options for accommodation and local food!
If you’re a foodie, you can indulge in local favourites from food trucks or island farmers markets or even opt for a fusion menu from one of the many Hawaiian star chefs on the island.
To escape the hustle and bustle of the city (although it can be quite addictive), you can drive just a short way out from the crowds and fall in love with O’ahu all over again. With miles of beaches and forest trails stretching as far as the eye can see, this island is the place to stay if you want a beach vacation with lots of things to do.
Best places to stay on Oahu Hawaii
Luxury Hotels in Oahu Hawaii:
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach
The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa
Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa
Kauai – Where to stay in Hawaii for nature lovers
Best for: beaches & landscapes
Hawaii’s gorgeous “Garden Isle,” Kaua’i is full of lush tropical landscapes, dramatic scenery, and picture-perfect beaches that would give some of the top beaches in Asia a run for their money. Another great island to escape from the bustle of the main islands, Kaua’i is the perfect place to stay if you want to surround yourself with peace and tranquillity and natural beauty that will fill your soul.
Explore the island and spend your days gazing at the towering sea cliffs, admiring the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’ or kayaking down Hawaii’s only navigable river. Visit the island’s extremes from sunny Po’ipu, the most consistently sunny area of the island, to Mount Waialeale, one of the rainiest spots in the world.
An island that is heaven to explorers, Kaua’i is the place to stay if you want small villages over resorts, local surf vibes rather than tourist schools, and stunning beaches and island spots that are free from crowds.
Best places to stay in Kauai Hawaii
Luxury Hotels in Kauai Hawaii:
Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection
Sheraton Kauai Resort
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
St. Regis Princeville Resort
Marriott’s Kaua’i Beach Club
Koa Kea Hotel & Resort
Molokai – Where to stay in Hawaii and live like the locals
Best for: history & culture, adventure
Life in Hawaii is lived outdoors and this rural way of living is palpable on the island of Moloka’i. An island where native Hawaiian traditions run strong, here you will experience the true preservation of land and culture. A place where the locals live off the land, you will find small, local villages with sleepy seafood restaurants and a few holiday rentals.
This is the largely part of the island’s charm though, as everything here from the food to the friendly locals is genuine hospitality rather than a paid for service. Experience the true aloha spirit whether you’re surfing, fishing, island hopping, picnicking or hiking in the natural park. If you want to escape the influence of tourism, experience the Hawaii that many never see on the local island of Moloka’i.
Best places to stay in Molokai
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