Where to Stay in Hawaii in 2022?

Knowing where to stay in Hawaii if you plan to visit this archipelago is essential.

The Hawaiian Islands are world-renowned for being some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. Still, Hawaii’s role in popular culture can sometimes obscure the great ecological and cultural diversity of Hawaii.

But before you consider the different islands you want to visit, you need to know a few basic things about Hawaii.

The first is that this paradise comes at a high price. About one-fifth of Hawaii’s economy is based on tourism, which means there’s a constant influx of visitors.

And because the weather is so stable most of the year, it also means that the influx doesn’t change much with the seasons.

If you’re visiting Hawaii, you can expect a lot of tourists, and you’ll have to pay a little extra for almost everything.

No matter which islands you include in your itinerary, you’ll probably want to rent a car. While most major cities have public transportation and shuttles to major attractions, Hawaii is not comparable to the all-inclusive resort islands.

Exploration is half the reason you come to Hawaii, and the ability to explore the area at your own pace is worth the price of a rental car for most tourists.

To explore the archipelago, you’ll need to embark on an island trip, which requires more careful planning.

Booking flights, accommodations, and car rentals in advance will be more important than most other vacation destinations.

But there’s a reason people return to Hawaii year after year. It’s a beautiful tropical state that cares about its tourists, and beaches are almost everywhere.

A unique Hawaiian law ensures that all island beaches are open to the public, and the diversity of beach areas is as varied as it is impressive. Be careful, as many beaches are difficult to access and dangerous to swim on.

Read on to learn more about the best parts of Hawaii.

Where to stay in Hawaii: The Top Areas

Maui – Our Top Pick!

Maui is the most beautiful place on the islands. Although Maui is the second largest island in the archipelago, it pales in comparison to the size of the main island. However, there are enough activities to keep you busy for a week or more.

If there’s one destination, you must see while on Maui, it’s the Hana Highway. It runs along most of Maui’s coastline and offers some of the most picturesque views of the jungle and beaches you’ll find on the island.

From the road, you can see vast stretches of wild vegetation, breathtaking waterfalls, and jagged rocks, and you should spend at least a day exploring the coastal road.

This is the main artery of the island and offers many opportunities to explore the small resorts and roadside sights.

You should also take time to visit the Garden of Eden. Although the name is pompous, it’s hard to argue with it after seeing it with your own eyes.

Although there is an entrance fee, it is well worth it. The 26 acres of carefully tended gardens showcase the unique flora of Maui and the islands in general.

While expensive resorts dominate the lodging options here, there are also inexpensive hostels, condominiums, and bed & breakfasts if you’re willing to make an effort.

The most important question you need to ask yourself is which area you want to live in. The towns you stay in can also significantly influence your spending.

Kahului is the busiest center on the island, although it would not attract attention as a metropolis in many other parts of the world. It has a population of less than 30,000, but it’s the place to go if you want a break from nature.

Kahului is home to some of the major shopping centers, restaurant districts, and bars. Visitors looking to shop or enjoy the local nightlife will find it all in Kahului.

Lahaina could not offer a more blatant counterpoint to Kahului. The town has a beach atmosphere and a sense of extravagance not found anywhere else on the island.

Restaurants and stores line the beach, and there are many quirky little establishments to explore.

The other two population centers are Kihei and the interior.

Kihei is conveniently located on the island’s south coast and is one of the island’s main tourist centers.

The upper part of the country is mainly made up of beautiful landscapes and a collection of small towns and villages. There are few facilities here, but it is an excellent place to camp if you want to explore nature.

For those who want to explore as many islands as possible, it’s best to chain the exploration of Maui and Lanai.

The two islands are close, and there are year-round ferry connections to and from the islands.

It makes sense to spend most of the time on Maui and use Lanai as a weekend or day trip, or vice versa. But the various activities on both islands also mean you could spend all your time there.

Hawaii Island

Even if you were to combine the other seven Hawaiian Islands into one land mass, it still wouldn’t have the dimensions of the Big Island.

Hawaii is the island to visit if you want to enjoy the most diversity without visiting multiple islands.

While television portrays the main island as an endless coastline, there’s much more to discover if you dig a little deeper. There is a reason why the main island of Hawaii is also known as “Discovery Island.”

If you want to use the main island as a starting point for your trip, two main areas come into play.

The west side of Hawaii is dominated by the Kona area, also known as the Kailua-Kona area.

Kona offers a very close visit to the Hawaii you’ve seen on TV and in the movies. Because much of the area is volcanic in origin, the soil is particularly rich and lush.

Kona has some of the most stunning beaches in the Hawaiian Islands.

However, much of the interior is no longer so pristine. The volcanic fields are impressive but don’t offer the scenic view many Hawaiian travelers seek.

From a practical standpoint, you’ll probably spend at least some time in the Kailua-Kona area. It’s home to Hawaii’s largest airport, so you’ll probably make at least one stopover in Kona.

We recommend that you stay for at least a while, no matter your budget. Kona is home to some of the Pacific’s largest and most extravagant resorts. It also offers more affordable condominiums.

But real estate comes with a hefty price tag in Kona. Fortunately, there are plenty of guesthouses and hostels if you take the time to look for them.

Travelers with a lot more money will want to turn their attention to the Gold Coast.

This aptly named stretch of coast has the most beautiful beaches, the most decadent resorts, and the most expensive accommodations.

Visitors looking for a less touristy area should head to the island’s west side. The Hilo area is less popular with tourists because of its rainier climate, but it still has plenty to offer intrepid explorers.

The main attraction here is the rainforest, not the beaches. There are beautiful sections of rainforest and fantastic hidden waterfalls, for which you don’t have to go too far from the big cities.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is huge, and visitors with plenty of time should take a few days to explore. Lush, dense rainforests surround the park’s two active volcanoes.

If you visit the Hilo area, you will find your best accommodations in Hilo. It is one of the best places in Hawaii to get an authentic sense of Hawaiian life without the tourists crowding here.

It is not the most cosmopolitan town on the islands, but it has a laid-back sense of community and a tropical bohemian feel.

If your want to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, stay in Volcano Town. Its proximity makes it an ideal location for a wilderness adventure.

You’ll probably want to spend the most time on the main island of all the islands. A week on the island allows you only to scratch the surface of what it offers, and you could spend two or three weeks there without running out of activities.

If it’s your first time in Hawaii, you can comfortably spend all your time there without feeling like you’ve missed out. However, if you want to explore a bit more, we recommend focusing on the main island at the beginning or end of your trip.

It’s a convenient hub to explore the rest of the archipelago during your stay in Hawaii.

Oahu

If you’re tired of walking on volcanoes and lounging on the beach, Oahu is the island to visit, and Waikiki is the crown jewel of Oahu. Waikiki is Hawaii’s best argument for being a world-class city.

There are hundreds of restaurants offering food from around the world. The city’s nightlife is also very rich.

From live music to high-end cocktail bars to casual beach restaurants, there is no shortage of opportunities to explore the city.

There’s no shortage of shopping opportunities either. Waikiki’s waterfront is lined with cute boutiques and other businesses, but it also lends itself well to sunbathing and people-watching.

In Oahu you can get by without a rental car or tour guide. Oahu offers decent public transportation, but it’s also easy to get around on foot or by bike.

The island of Oahu consists of much more than Waikiki Town, but the popularity of the town offers adventurers some great advantages.

There’s never a shortage of excursions to nearby destinations, and usually it’s as easy as a walk around the block to join in.

If the hectic city life is too much for you, you can camp in three other major communities. Connoisseurs often leave Waikiki out and make a detour to Diamond Head instead.

Not only will you find cheaper accommodations for your stay in Hawaii, but you can also easily reach the Diamond Head Trail, a popular natural attractions on the island.

Fortunately, the city itself is not too far away. A 20-minute walk from Diamond Head will take you to Waikiki.

Oahu’s offerings are rounded out by the North Shore and the West Side. The North Shore is home to the island’s most popular beach. An hour north of Waikiki, it has a relaxed atmosphere with all the flair you’d expect from a beach resort.

In summer, the beaches are some of the best for surfing and snorkeling, and the beach food stands are worth a visit. The west side of the island is less known, but just as beautiful as the north side.

The water here is one of the clearest and brightest in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also one of the best places to see sea turtles in the wild.

If you’re looking for accommodations in Hawaii that offer both culture and nature, Oahu should be on your itinerary.

Sweetheart Rock might have one of the most beautiful sunrises in the world, with a sky rich in shades of pink, blue and purple.

Plus, it solidifies the island’s reputation as one of the most romantic spots in the Hawaiian Islands. It’s the perfect choice for a wedding or honeymoon.

Lanai

Lanai is only nine miles off the coast of Maui, but it sometimes feels like an island lost in time. It is not only the smallest island in the Hawaiian archipelago but also the most isolated.

It’s one of the least popular destinations in the archipelago, which allows you to soak up more of the local atmosphere and still have plenty to discover despite its small size. And just because it’s small doesn’t mean it’s not accessible.

Both the main island and Maui airports offer direct flights to Lanai, and if you don’t want to fly, you can also take a ferry from Maui.

Lanai has a reputation as an island for the well-to-do who can afford both luxury and privacy.

The island has a touch of exclusivity that attracts, and 98% of the island is owned by a single investor: Oracle founder Larry Ellison. The remaining 2% are private residences, meaning that almost all Hawaii accommodations are expensive resorts.

You should expect to pay at least $150 per night and nearly $200 to get to the island. Your options are also limited. In keeping with Lanai’s reputation for isolation, there are only three hotels on the island.

Lanai is truly an island of two worlds. Owner Larry Ellis has emphasized his intentions to create a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, which means that much of the island is untouched by serious development.

Most of the amenities are located on the resort site, as the only major population center doesn’t even have traffic lights.

Spas and golf courses dominate here, and the monopoly of resorts means that you can spend a lot of money on just about anything, even compared to the generally high prices of the other Hawaiian islands.

But the real attraction of Lanai is its natural beauty. ATV tours are common here and provide an up-close look at the rugged and enchanting landscape of Lanai’s interior.

Thanks to its direct location on the beach, there is always a great view and a pleasant beach breeze to feel comfortable.

The Lanai Cat Sanctuary is also worth mentioning. This sanctuary is home to hundreds of domestic cats rescued from the wild and animal shelters.

The luxury shopping opportunities are too numerous to list, but Luxury Row and the International Market Place stand out.

Kauai

Kauai Hawaii villa

If you’re looking for adventure, Kauai is the perfect place for your Hawaii vacation. Known as the Garden Island, it is one of the most unspoiled islands in the archipelago and a great way to escape civilization and get in touch with nature.

Most of the island is covered with vegetation and the pristine white beaches turn into high but accessible mountains. If you’ve ever dreamed of an outdoor adventure in Hawaii, you’ll probably find it somewhere on Kauai.

The north of the island offers modern, luxurious accommodations for cosmopolitan travelers, while central and southern Kauai are the place to be if you want to get further away from civilization.

Tourists congregate mostly in Hanalei Bay. It’s a beautiful town, ideally located on the island’s coast, stretching two miles along the coast. It has also become a major stop for cruise ships and a mecca for tourists visiting Hawaii’s sights.

If you want to take full advantage of this coastline, there are plenty of resorts that will meet your expectations. But there are also chain hotels and smaller accommodations, and everything is close enough to the beach for you to enjoy the beauty of the place.

But Hanalei Bay is only a tiny part of the island, which is 98% protected. Kauai’s beaches are generally beautiful, but Poipu Beach and Tunnels Beach are the highlights and make this island magical.

However, if there is one sight that could best be featured on the cover of a tourist brochure, it would be the Kalalau Trail. It’s certainly one of the most challenging trails in the Hawaiian Islands, but also one of the most satisfying.

This 22-mile loop winds through cliffs and hills. It’s a strenuous trail that you should be well prepared for before you set out, but this higher barrier to entry means you have access to some beautiful and truly secluded beaches.

Kauai is less accessible than the other Hawaiian islands.

While a rental car is recommended anywhere in Hawaii, it’s a practical necessity if you’re traveling to Kauai and want to explore more than Hanalei Bay or the other main tourist destinations have to offer.

Molokai

Molokai is the least visited island by tourists, and there are several reasons for that. Tour guides don’t mention many of Molokai’s sights, and the island of Molokai is only irregularly served by cruise ships.

In total, about 7,500 people live on the island. But that’s how the natives like it. While other islands have geared their economies toward tourism, Molokai has stubbornly resisted.

This means that finding Hawaii accommodations on the island of Molokai can be a bit more difficult than on other islands. There are very few hotels on Molokai and getting to the island can be a challenge.

The only centrally located airport on the island offers direct flights from Honolulu and Maui, and public transportation is limited. There are also twice-daily ferries to and from Molokai.

A rental car is recommended for any trip to the Hawaiian Islands, but having your own car is a practical necessity on Molokai, unless you have a host family.

If you are planning a visit to Molokai, take a little extra time to make sure that accommodations and transportation are arranged for your departure.

Molokai residents may be wary of tourism, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t friendly. It just takes a little effort to get them to open up to you.

Many of the island’s farms offer visitors a free overnight stay in exchange for a day’s work. For some visitors, this may seem like the opposite of a vacation, but it’s a complete experience that is a valid option even for those on a tighter budget.

Meeting the locals is also the best way to discover what there is to do on the island. Many of Molokai’s most interesting sites are not visited regularly, but a friendly relationship with the locals can introduce you to sites that few tourists will ever see.

Molokai is a destination that really only reveals itself after some effort. The local people are as much an attraction as the natural beauty.

The fact that Molokai stubbornly resists being labeled a tourist destination means that it caters more to a niche audience. But there are a few places worth visiting.

Kalaupapa National Park is the most popular: a huge piece of wilderness.

Halawa Valley has some beautiful waterfalls in the archipelago – a fact that has undoubtedly contributed to the high density of sacred sites in this area.