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There’s hardly a beach more famous than Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawaii, a curved stretch of sand that sits in the shadow of Diamond Head volcanic cone. It’s been a popular vacation destination for decades, drawing sun worshippers and surfers alike to its shore. Sure, the beach can get incredibly crowded all year long, but that’s because it’s just that beautiful! One of the best ways to snag a spot on the sand is to stay in one of the beachfront hotels that reserve chairs for its guests — even some hotels a block or two off the beach offer this service. While inland Waikiki hotels are great in their own right (we’re looking at you, Surfjack), it’s hard to beat the properties that are just a hop, skip, and a jump to the water. Take a look at our picks for the best hotels on Waikiki Beach — or at least within a short walk of it — across all sorts of categories, from family-friendly to boutique.
Best Overall: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa
As the very first hotel built on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, the Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa, opened its doors in 1901 and has been enchanting guests ever since. Appropriately nicknamed “The First Lady of Waikiki,” the 793-room hotel couldn’t be more centrally located directly on Waikiki Beach, right off Kalakaua Avenue, and across the street from the shops and restaurants of the International Market Place.
If guests want to dine on site, there’s the fine-dining Beachhouse at the Moana, which serves breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea at Veranda at the Moana during the morning; the casual Beach Bar and Surfrider Cafe; and the wine bar, Vintage 1901, which also serves light bites. The Moana Lani spa is a huge draw here — it was the first beachfront spa to open on Waikiki Beach, after all. Post-massage, you can sit on the lanais attached to the locker rooms, dip into the water therapy areas, or relax in the saunas and steam rooms. As for rooms, you’ll find a range from standard kings to sprawling penthouse suites, all decorated with traditional yet updated Hawaiian elements, like natural woods.
Best Budget: Park Shore Waikiki
Located on the eastern side of Waikiki Beach, near the zoo and Kapiolani Park, the budget-friendly Park Shore Waikiki is quite a few steps up from the many hostels in town, but it won’t empty your wallet. Even better yet, the 227-room hotel is right across Kalakaua Avenue from the beach, meaning you won’t have to walk far to get to the sand (the hotel provides free beach chairs and towels, too). You’ll also get gorgeous views of Diamond Head, especially from the large pool, which is the centerpiece of the property, and if you’re lucky, you might even get one of those views from your room.
As a budget property, there aren’t that many amenities — no spa or fitness center, for instance — but the hotel does have free weekday yoga classes, three on-site restaurants serving Hawaiian, American, and Japanese cuisine, respectively, and a free shuttle that takes guests to the Ala Moana Shopping Center. Don’t miss the manager’s reception every Wednesday afternoon, where you can mingle with the staff and enjoy drinks and bites.
Best for Families: Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
If you want to go not just big, but really big with your family in Waikiki, there’s no place like the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. With some 3,000 rooms, it’s one of the largest hotels in the Hilton portfolio — and one of the largest properties in Honolulu — set on 22 beachfront acres filled with gorgeous gardens.
As you might imagine, its size means it has amenities galore, with a number geared specifically toward children. There are five main swimming pools, plus a kiddie pool, including one with the longest waterslide in Waikiki. After drumming up an appetite whilst swimming, guests have 20 restaurants and bars to choose from, many of which are kid-friendly. (There are plenty of ice cream spots, too.) If you’re looking for a formal kids’ program, there’s Camp Penguin, which, in addition to offering activities like arts and crafts and storytelling, will take children to off-site attractions like the Honolulu Zoo. For adults, there’s a beautiful spa and a number of fitness classes. In the evenings, the hotel hosts movie nights, luaus, and all sorts of activities for the whole family.
Best for Romance: The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel
Technically a half-mile off Waikiki Beach, on the other side of the Waikiki Aquarium and Kapiolani Park, the intimate New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel sits on its own quiet stretch of sand. It feels worlds away from the chaos of Waikiki Beach proper, which makes for a great romantic retreat. The hotel’s 118 rooms range from ocean- or Diamond Head–view standard rooms to airy suites, all with beautifully updated decor that reflects the colors of the sea and lush Hawaiian landscape. There are three dining options here: the Hau Tree Lanai, an outdoor steak and seafood restaurant; the Miyako Japanese Restaurant; and the Sunset Lanai Lounge, a cocktail bar that serves light fare and has live entertainment in the evenings from Thursday to Sunday. Since it is more removed from Waikiki Beach, you’ll have to take a car into town, but if it’s a romantic getaway you’re looking for, the distance might suit you just fine.
Best for Luxury: Halekulani
Halekulani is a lesson in elegance. What started as a five-cottage property in 1917 has blossomed into 453-room luxury retreat along Waikiki Beach, with towers surrounding a lush central lawn and a tiled pool. The hotel doesn’t necessarily go for in-your-face wow factors but offers guests more understated, impeccable experience. Take, for instance, the hotel’s “seven shades of white,” which are used to decorate the hotel in a way that emphasizes the colors of the views over the interiors. There’s also an in-house florist dedicated to Ikebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers. For dining options, guests are treated to celebrated French cuisine at the fine-dining La Mer, more casual fare at House Without a Key, or an outdoor dining experience at Orchids. After dinner, drinks are served at Lewers Lounge, which also has live jazz every night. While there’s no direct beach access — the hotel sits on the water, but not a sandy beach — the pool scene is lovely and certainly makes up for it. For the cherry on top, get a relaxing Polynesian-inspired treatment at the SpaHalekulani.
Best for Nightlife: The Modern Honolulu
Waikiki Beach might not be Miami Beach when it comes to nightlife, but it still has a number of clubs catering to the out-all-night crowd, most notably Addiction at The Modern Honolulu. Set on the far western end of the beach — it actually sits on a marina rather than sand — the 353-room independent hotel is surprisingly zen-like in terms of its bar. Most spaces, including the rooms, are decorated in an all-white minimalist style with warm wood details spread throughout. There are some cheeky accents, though, like the broken surfboard sculpture behind the front desk.
Other than Addiction, guests can mingle at the Grove Restaurant and Bar, the Study Lounge — a speakeasy sneakily tucked away behind a bookshelf, and the Modern Player’s Club — a poolside bar that shows live sports on TV and has a daily happy hour. When guests have had enough of the partying, they can relax at the Lather Spa or retreat to their serene rooms.
Best for Business: Sheraton Waikiki
Though the majority of guests at the beachfront Sheraton Waikiki are there on proper vacations, the hotel does cater to business travelers, too. (With more than 1,600 rooms, the property has more than enough room for everyone.) It also has extensive ballroom space for meetings and conventions, and the Xerox Business Center which offers printing and shipping services. If your workday doesn’t allow you time for sit-down meals, there’s the grab-and-go Hapa’s Pizza and buffet-style Kai Market, though hopefully, you’ll have time to enjoy the other dining options, too, like the RumFire Waikiki restaurant, which turns into a nightlife spot on weekends. Since the hotel is also for vacations, of course, there are plenty of other amenities that make for the perfect between-meeting escape, including the beachfront infinity pool, the fitness center, and Spa Khakara. If you are here on business, though, be sure to book a Club-level room to get access to the Leahi Club Lounge, a 30th-floor spot that’s great for answering emails and clocking hours.
Best Hostel: The Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel
The name might be a little misleading since this fun hostel isn’t right on the beach, but it’s only a block and a half from it, which is close enough, in our opinion. For incredibly low rates, you can stay here in the shadow of Diamond Head on Waikiki Beach's east end. Plus, there are a ton of freebies, like Wi-Fi, a daily breakfast buffet, a weekly pizza night at the rooftop lounge, an area shuttle, walking tours, and beach equipment. There are several categories of shared rooms that range in size from four to six people — each has a private bathroom, a microwave, and a refrigerator — and start at well under $50 a night. There are also a number of private and semi-private accommodations, too, including a three-bedroom suite with a kitchenette that’s perfect for groups. Sure, the decor might not be as swanky as some of the top beach hotels in the area, but who’s spending that much time inside anyway? This is Hawaii, after all!