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.
|❤️ Best Area first timers||Maui|
|💸 Best Luxury Hotel||Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea|
|👪 Best Hotel for For Families||Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay|
|🏨 Best Mid-Range Hotel||Kohea Kai Resort Maui|
|🛏️ Best Budget Hotel||Holiday Surf Hotel|
|✨ Best Hostel||The Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel|
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. You can also check out vacation rentals in Hawai with cozycozy.
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 2023, 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. Wondering which island to stay in Hawaii? This guide will help break it down for you.
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Where to stay on The Big Island Hawaii- 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. The Big Island is also a great spot if you’re wondering where to stay in Hawaii with family.
Why Stay in Hawaii Big Island
If you are visiting Hawaii and want to go enjoy a really adventurous vacation, Hawaii Big Island will be heaven for you. Although other areas in Hawaii also offer adventurous activities and excursions, the Big Island compares nothing to those.
The Big Island of Hawaii has vibrant landscapes, captivating culture and lots of sightseeing spots to offer. In fact, it is home to to the world’s active volcano, Kilauea. The volcano already had 61 historical eruptions and is still active up to this day.
The Big Island is also where you’ll find black lava beaches, hiking trails, petroglyph fields and museums. With everything going on – from active volcanoes, black beaches and jungles to museums and galleries, you’ll definitely enjoy your stay at Hawaii’s Big Island.
Things to do in Hawaii Big Island
- Visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The Big Island of Hawaii is most known for the different active volcanoes in the area, that including the largest one Kilauea. Which is why, if you are staying here, it is a must that you visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Or take a Volcano Tour in Hawaii.
At the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you will be able to see the impact of a large scale volcanic eruption in the island. Way before the latest eruption of Kilauea, tourists can even observe molten lava flowing from the volcano.
You can also hike the Kilauea Iki Crater if you wish to. Lots of travelers, both locals, and foreigners, consider this hike as the best excursion in the island. So, it’s definitely a miss if you don’t get to do it.
- See Turtles at the Black Sand Beach
One of the Big Island’s most famous black sand beaches is the Punalu’u beach. Aside from the black sand and pebbles on the shore, this is also where you can see several green sea turtles (Honu).
While visiting the beach, do not forget that these turtles are in their natural habitat so just watch them from afar. Aside from seeing the turtles, you can still definitely enjoy the scenery here, and maybe check out other black-sand beaches as well.
- Explore and trek the Kaumana Caves
After visiting beaches and exploring the volcanoes in the Big Island, you should also experience trekking to the famous Kaumana Cave. The Kaumana Cave stretches for kilometers below the earth and was formed by a lava tube.
Lava tubes are what happens when during a volcanic eruption, lava coming from underground comes out in random places. So, when you trek inside this cave and explore the area, imagine what it looked like when lava rushing through it during a volcanic eruption.
There are different tours that can bring you to Kaumana Caves, but if you’re going to explore it on your own, make sure to carry with you lamps or flashlights because the inside can get really dark.
Where to stay in Hawaii Big Island
Budget Hotels in “Big Island” Hawaii:
Where to stay in Maui – Best island to stay in Hawaii for first time
Best for: beaches, adventure, and food
Wondering where to stay in Hawaii first time? 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.
Why Stay in Maui
As mentioned earlier, Maui (The Valley Isle), is the second largest Hawaiian island, home to wold-famous beaches and sightseeing destinations.
For centuries, lots of visitors from around the world are intrigued to what Maui has in store for them. Aside from it being the second largest island, it is also named after the legendary demi-god Maui, home to sugar industries and whaling and ranching.
As first-time visitors, Maui is where you’ll mostly experience what Hawaii has for you. From driving along the coast of beaches, swimming with turtles to trying out traditional Hawaiian dishes and learning about the island’s indigenous people – all these you can do just within Maui.
All these are definitely enough reason why you should be staying in Maui during a trip to Hawaii, especially if it’s your first time.
Things to do in Maui
- Attend a Luau
One of Hawaii’s famous traditions is having a Luau, which is why attending one is definitely a must (especially when you are in Maui). They have a popular authentic Luau on the island that you can attend to called Old Lahaina Luau.
There you can immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture as you enjoy a feast of Hawaiian cuisine, watch live music and dance performances, and learn about the island’s history and traditions.
When you book a ticket, this will already include dinner, open bar and performances that you will surely enjoy throughout the night.
- Walk through the Kapalua Coastal Trail
One of the most famous trails in Maui is the Kapalua Coastal Trail. This is a 4kms point-to-point trail that starts at the Kapalua Beach, heading to the north at D.T. Flemings Beach.
This short walk is actually an underrated activity in Maui. During the trail, you will be walking between sidewalks, rocky and sandy trails so it’s easy to get by with a pair of flip flops. But if you feel like wearing your boots to feel more safe!
Some sights you will be passing through include Kapalua Beach, Kapalua tide-pools and the Oneloa Bay.
- Visit the Dragon’s Teeth
Located in West Maui, the Dragon’s Teeth is a unique geological formation that was created by ancient lava flows. The jagged rocks resemble dragon’s teeth and make for a striking photo opportunity.
If you are taking the Kapalua Coastal Trail, might as well visit this stunning area as well. Once you arrive there, you will also come across a giant circular maze, and may continue walking to the Makalua-puna Point.
Best places to stay in Maui
Where to stay in Lanai – Best places to stay in Hawaii for couples
Best for: remote island vibes
Wondering where to stay in Hawaii for couples? 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. If you’re wondering where to stay in Hawaii for honeymoon Lanai is VERY romantic!
Why Stay in Lanai
Lanai is one of Hawaii’s hidden gem – perfect for that couple getaway! The island is peaceful, secluded but still offers a range of activities and experiences that couples can enjoy during their stay.
Sitting nine miles off the coast of Maui, you will have to ride a ferry for a few minutes from Maui before you reach Lanai.
Accordingly, Lanai has a little number of residents compared to the other islands of Hawaii. It only has about 30 miles of paved rode, a few gas stations and has a landscape of a desert terrain and a beach coastline combined in one island.
But what makes Lanai special is, you can experience here what it’s like to live in an island, away from the bustling city. Although this does not mean they don’t have great hotels and accommodations here to.
In fact, hotels here are actually usually near the beach, giving that perfect ocean view. Additionally, the island’s lush landscapes also offer opportunities for hiking and exploring, and great restaurants that is perfect for a romantic dinner in the island.
Things to do in Lanai
- Visit the Shipwreck Beach
Have you ever imagined being part of a real-life Pirates of the Carribean scene? Well, you definitely need to visit this remote beach on the northwestern coast of Lanai.
It is home to the rusted remains of a World War II-era shipwreck, which you can check out closely. Aside from the rusted ship view, the beach itself is stunning running in a 6-mile-long beach, with miles of white sand and crystal clear water. Definitely, it’s the perfect spot for a peaceful picnic or a quiet stroll.
- Play Golf at the Manele Golf Course
The Manele Golf course is a championship golf course located on the cliffs above Hulopoe Bay, offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.
While it may be weird for visitors to play gold while in Hawaii, it is actually one of the most recommended activity to do especially in Lanai.
This is because, not only do you get the chance to practice your swings, but also have a look at the breathtaking course with lush greenery, ocean cliffs as a background.
The course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is considered one of the most beautiful and challenging courses in Hawaii.
- Check out the Poaiwa Petroglyphs
Another thing you can do to enjoy your stay in Lanai is to witness the Poaiwa Petroglyphs on the island. Petroglyphs is an ancient Hawaiian form of pictorial writing, and it is a must that you see one before leaving Hawaii.
For you to see the Poaiwa Petroglyphs, you have to drive to the Shipwreck beach first and then hike to the Poaiwa Valley.
Here you will see the petroglyphs carved on huge lava rocks, which are known to be recordings of historical events.
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
Where to stay in 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 Oahu 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.
Why Stay in Oahu Hawaii
If you are a foodie and is visiting Hawaii, you should definitely consider staying in Oahu. The town offers a diverse range of culinary experiences, from traditional Hawaiian dishes to international cuisines.
Oahu is also known to house several high-end restaurants, small local eateries and most especially famous local food trucks. Just among the places you can check out while staying in Oahu are Merriman’s Honolulu and Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha.
Additionally, Oahu is also famous for producing locally fresh ingredients such as tropical fruits (papaya, mangoes and pineapples). These are used in many local dishes and drinks, not only within Oahu but around Hawaii.
With all these, Oahu hosts many food festivals throughout the year, that many food lovers and culinary talents visit and join in.
But aside from all that, Oahu also have several destinations for you to visit, including beaches and mountains. Ultimately, Oahu is an ideal place to stay in, especially for food lovers.
Things to do in Oahu Hawaii
- Go on Food Trip around Town
Oahu is most known for producing locally fresh ingredients which they use in creating the best dishes.
Which means, Oahu is Hawaii’s melting pot of diverse cuisine. Here you can find traditional Hawaiian dishes as well as Japanese, Chinese, Korean and more.
You can explore the restaurants, local eateries and cafes on your one during your stay or maybe joining a food tour around town.
This way, you can sample a lot (if not all) of the best eats of Hawaii and even learn about its culinary history.
- Try the North Shore Shark Cage Dive
For adrenaline junkies, the North Shore Shark Cage Dive is a must-do activity. Imagine yourself getting up close to the Sharks while you enjoy the clear waters of Hawaii – definitely one for the books!
You will be getting inside a cage, which will be brought down underwater. This way, you can come face to face with Galapagos and Sandbar sharks in their natural habitat. You will be accommodated by professionals who will be guiding you before and during the activity.
- Join the Oahu Atlantis Submarine Adventure
Aside from the cliche swimming and snorkeling on beaches, why not go on a submarine adventure that you’ve only seen on TV?
This is perfect if you prefer to stay dry while exploring the ocean! The Oahu Atlantis Submarine Adventure goes on a 100 feet dive beneath the surface of the ocean.
During this activity, you will be exploring a colorful coral reef, which is home to a variety of tropical fish and sea creatures.
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
Where to stay in 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.
Why Stay in Kauai Hawaii
Kauai, as mentioned earlier, is also known as Hawaii’s “Garden Isle”; this makes Kauai a great place to stay in for nature lovers visiting the island. With its natural beauty and dramatic stunning landscapes, you’ll surely find almost everything a nature lover will enjoy.
Although Kauai is less developed compared to other islands, this makes it more charming for hikers, adventure seekers and beach lovers. This is because the island boasts of beaches, waterfalls, mountains and forests.
There are activities like kayaking, snorkeling, surfing and scuba diving, which are all a must in Kauai. On top of all that, Kauai is also home to rich heritage and historical sites, as well as restaurants that offer local cuisine.
While you can do all these things in other major islands, Kauai has lesser crowds allowing you to get that local vibe while enjoying tourist things.
So, if you’re looking forward to enjoying outdoor experiences and adventure, and be one with nature during your vacation in Hawaii, you should definitely stay in Kauai.
Things to do in Kauai Hawaii
- Go Bird watching at Koke’e State Park
Koke’e State Park is one of Kauai’s most famous tourist destination. It spreads more than 4,000 acres on a plateau and is covered in forest, wild flowers and hiking trails. Now, if you are a nature lover who is staying in Kauai, then this will definitely be a haven for you.
When in the area, take a leisurely hike through the park’s lush forest, keeping an eye out for rare and exotic bird species such as the ‘I’iwi, the ‘Apapane, and the Nene, Hawaii’s state bird.
The park can be accessed by a well-paved road, going through a relatively steep trail. You can visit the place either via by car or hiking.
- Paddle Board at Anini Beach
When staying in Kauai, you should also experience paddle boarding on of of the island’s most famous beach – Anini Beach.
Anini Beach is one of Kauai’s best-kept secrets, offering calm waters which is perfect for paddle boarding.
The beach can easily be accessed, which leaves no worries when going on your own. Once you arrive at the island, you can rent a paddleboard from one of the local shops and explore the reef-protected bay.
Plus, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles, dolphins, and other marine life for additional experience.
- Visit the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail
The Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is a scenic coastal 6km hike that offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline, sand dunes, and ancient Hawaiian cultural sites.
Now if you are staying at Kauai to experience the nature all to yourself (away from the crowd), then you should not miss out on visiting Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail. Here, you can take a guided tour or explore on your own, learning about the history and ecology of the area.
Top 4 favorites accommodation options for Kauai
- Budget: The West Inn Kauai
- Mid- Range: Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club
- Family: Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay
- Luxury: Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection
Best places to stay in Kauai Hawaii
Where to stay in 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 Molokai.
Why Stay in Molokai
While most of the islands in Hawaii is all about the tourist experience, Molokai is rather the island to offer what it’s like to live like a local – and yes, it is the least visited island in Hawaii.
Nestled between Maui and Oahu, Molokai is the 5th largest island in Hawaii offering authentic Hawaiian experience to visitors. So, if you’re up to learning more about Hawaii’s practices, culture and tradition, you should consider staying in Molokai.
Molokai is charming in its on way – even being underdeveloped its part of its charm. Only a little number of residents are living here, and they actually have a tight knit community. So, if you visit the island,there’s a big possibility that they would know you’re a tourist.
That’s just one of Molokai’s charm. With welcoming locals, you will definitely find your way through the island and explore it while making friends with everyone you meet.
Molokai is actually the birthplace of luau (although there is no commercial luau here). Instead, you get to experience it with locals or maybe learn about it from them. Overall, Molokai is all about ecotourism, culture and authentic Hawaiian vacation experiences.
Things to do in Molokai
- Go on a Helicopter Ride tour
One thing that you should not miss out when in Hawaii (especially Molokai) is to go on a Helicopter Ride tour.
This is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of Molokai. During this thrilling adventure, you will be taken high above the island’s stunning landscapes, including towering sea cliffs, lush valleys, and pristine beaches.
Plus, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of some of the island’s most famous landmarks, such as the Kalaupapa Peninsula and the Halawa Valley. Although it might be quite pricey, but it’s definitely worth your money!
- Relax at Papohaku Beach
Since Molokai is uncrowded, you can definitely enjoy the beaches all to yourself when staying here. You don’t have to worry about crowded and touristy beaches, because most of the tine, the locals are the only ones enjoying the beach here.
So if you’re looking for a place to unwind and soak up the sun, look no further than Papohaku Beach. This long, sandy beach is one of the largest in Hawaii and offers plenty of space for lounging, swimming, and beachcombing.
The water here is crystal clear and perfect for swimming, while the beach’s soft sand is ideal for a relaxing stroll – perfect for that tranquil vacay!
- Join the Ka Hula Piko Celebration
Of course, you should not miss out on one of the locals celebrations as well. Ka Hula Piko is one of the annual festivals in Molokai, where locals share their culture by giving lectures as well as singing Hawaiian songs and dancing.
You can join the Ka Hula Piko Celebration at Ka’ana where it takes place. This is the actual birthplace of the Hula, located on the Molokai Ranch Property.
Although, make sure you check how you can register first for the celebration as waivers will be asked to be signed. You also have to drive to the venue on your own so consider that as well.