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Where to stay in Hawaii as a first time visitor

A Pacific sunrise over the Mokulua islands on the windward side of Oahu Hawaii.

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.

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.

SUNSET BEACH HAWAII USA: Surfer competing at the 2017 Vans World Cup of Surfing competition at Sunset Beach on Oahu's scenic North Shore. This is the second of three surfing competitions and Conner Coffin took first place.

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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

Cheapest Hostels in “Big Island” Hawaii:
Hilo Bay Hostel
Wild Ginger Inn Hotel & Hostel
Shaka Shak Studios

Budget Hotels in “Big Island” Hawaii:
Volcano Hale
Uncle Billy’s Kona Bay Hotel

Mid-Range Hotels in “Big Island” Hawaii:
Volcano House
Chalet Kilauea
Wyndham Mauna Loa Village
Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
Lava Lodge at Volcano Village

Family Friendly Hotels in “Big Island” Hawaii:
Wyndham Kona Hawaiian Resort
Royal Kona Coast Resort
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Kings’ Land by Hilton Grand Vacations
Hilo Seaside Hotel

Luxury Hotels in “Big Island” Hawaii:
Volcano Mist Cottage
Holualoa Inn
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay
Hawaii Island Retreat at Ahu Pohaku Ho`omaluhia

Helicopter cockpit flies in Kilauea Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii, United States by sunset, with pilot arm and control board inside the cabin.

Maui – Best island to visit 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

Cheapest Hostels in Maui Hawaii:
The Lahaina Beach House
Moped City Maui Bed & Wheels
Northshore Hostel Maui

Budget Hotels in Maui Hawaii:
Peace Of Maui
Kihei Resort
Maui Garden Oasis
Maui Seaside Hotel
Days Inn Maui Oceanfront

Mid-Range Hotels in Maui Hawaii:
Maui Beach Vacation Club
Kohea Kai Resort Maui
Maui Vista Resort
Lumeria Maui Retreat
The Kula Lodge

Family Friendly Hotels in Maui Hawaii:
Nona Lani Cottages
Maui Coast Hotel
Kihei Kai Nani
Kamaole Sands
Aston at the Maui Banyan

Luxury Hotels in Maui Hawaii:
Andaz Maui At Wailea Resort
Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
Ho’olei at Grand Wailea
Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui

Beautiful tropical beach on Maui island, Hawaii

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:
Hotel Lanai

Family Friendly Hotels in Lanai Hawaii:
Four Seasons Resort Lana’i, The Lodge at Koele

Luxury Hotels in Lanai Hawaii:
Four Seasons Resort Lanai

Hawaii nature travel destination. Na Pali coast on Kauai island. Helicopter aerial view of Na Pali Coast mountain landscape in Kauai island, Hawaii, USA.

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

Cheapest Hostels in Oahu Hawaii:
Waikiki Beachside Hostel
Backpackers Vacation Inn and Plantation Village
The Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel

Budget Hotels in Oahu Hawaii:
Pagoda Hotel
Hawaiian Monarch Hotel
Holiday Surf Hotel
Kuhio Banyan Club
Stay Hotel Waikiki

Mid-Range Hotels in Oahu Hawaii:
Best Western The Plaza Hotel
Paradise Bay Resort Hawaii
Hampton Inn & Suites Oahu/Kapolei
Aston at the Executive Centre Hotel
Manoa Valley Inn

Family Friendly Hotels in Oahu Hawaii:
Ala Moana Hotel
Prince Waikiki
The Modern Honolulu
Waikiki Marina Resort at the Ilikai
Ramada Plaza Waikiki

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
Sheraton Waikiki

Aerial view of CCL Building bunker at the top of Stairway to Heaven or Haiku Stairs with mountains, coastline and 's Hat island in the background in Honolulu, Hawaii viewed from a helicopter

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

Budget Hotels in Kauai Hawaii:
Tip Top Motel
The West Inn Kauai
Mokihana

Mid-Range Hotels in Kauai Hawaii:
Garden Island Inn Hotel
Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club
Aston at Poipu Beach Kai
Poipu Shores Resort
Kauai Shores Hotel

Family Friendly Hotels in Kauai Hawaii:
Banyan Harbor Resort
Kiahuna Plantation Resort
Kauai Beach Resort
The Kauai Inn
Castle Kaha Lani
Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay

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

Aerial landscape view of spectacular Na Pali coast Kauai Hawaii USA

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

Mid-Range Hotels in Molokai Hawaii:
Castle Molokai Shores Resort
Hotel Molokai
Ke Nani Kai
MVP Kepuhi Beach Resort

Aerial view of Molokai island coastline and lush hills

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Where to stay in Hawaii as a first time visitor

Where to stay in Hawaii as a first time visitor

Where to stay in Hawaii as a first time visitor




Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious!With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!