Where to Stay for Cheap Hotels on Oahu (And Where to Splurge!)

Hawaii Aloha Travel > Podcast > Where to Stay for Cheap Hotels on Oahu (And Where to Splurge!)

If you’re looking for cheap hotels in Oahu, you might automatically assume you should stay in Waikiki. While Waikiki is a fantastic place with a lot to offer travelers, I want you to know that there are a few different areas on Oahu where visitors like to stay.

You have options, and I want to make sure you know about all of them before you come to visit!

Depending on your needs, budget, and how you want to spend your time on Oahu, you might want to stay closer to the action in Waikiki, experience the laid-back vibes on the North Shore, or get away from it all in Ko Olina.

Ahead we’re sharing the best areas for cheap hotels on Oahu along with great options for other budgets and activities too. 

How will you know which part of Oahu should you stay on? Let me help you decide…


Waikiki is where most visitors to Oahu stay, and for good reasons. When I need a staycation, I love to go down to Waikiki for an evening or sometimes for an entire weekend. Everything is in one place, and there are many different hotels and resorts in all different price ranges. There are luxury resorts right on the beach and cheaper hotels a few blocks away. Views from some of these resorts are simply stunning, with the gorgeous ocean waters and Diamond Head in the distance.

I’d say if your #1 priority is to find cheap hotels in Oahu, the outskirts of Honolulu will be the best bet. However, some places right in Waikiki will have a nice balance between cost and comfort. 

Things to Do Near Cheap Hotels on Oahu

You will find high-end shopping and dining on Ala Moana Boulevard and inside Ala Moana Mall. The restaurants, bars, and nightlife cannot be beaten.

Of course, Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head are nearby. There are also many museums, including my personal favorites, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Bishop Museum, and Iolani Palace. Waikiki is also home to the Honolulu Zoo and Honolulu Aquarium.

Nearby Attractions

Waikiki offers decent access to the other parts of the island, making it a great option for people who want to explore all that Oahu has to offer. Depending on traffic, it could take between 35 minutes and an hour to get to the Dole Plantation, and about an hour to get to Haleiwa, the North Shore’s busiest town. From there, you can spend the day exploring the quiet and scenic North Shore.

Honolulu is a city with local community events like farmers markets and Eat the Street, a food truck rally that happens once a month. 

Almost every visitor to Oahu wants to visit Pearl Harbor, which is about a half hour from Waikiki, depending on traffic.

Pros of Waikiki

Waikiki has incredible sunsets. When I think about a Hawaiian vacation, I think about sipping Mai Tais while watching the sunset in Waikiki. Also, Waikiki is walkable. It’s located in the middle of a great city, so there is a lot to do here. You could spend weeks here and never get bored.

If you are a foodie, you will want to be in Waikiki. Some of the best restaurants and world-class chefs are in Waikiki. Waikiki also has the best nightlife of anywhere on the island. In fact, nightlife is pretty much nonexistent in the other areas that cater to visitors.

And, as I mentioned, lots of the cheap hotels on Oahu are located in and around Waikiki. 

Cons of Waikiki

There is a lot of traffic—all of the time. Parking can be difficult and expensive. Most hotels will charge a separate parking fee. If you don’t plan to leave Waikiki, you could get around without a car, but I highly recommend renting a car and getting out of Waikiki. Allow yourself more time to get around than you think that you will need.

Also, you will pay a higher price tag in Waikiki than you’re used to in the mainland, simply because it’s such a large tourist destination (of course, Hawaii Aloha Travel’s Travel Agents can help you get the best prices).

North Shore

Oahu’s fabled North Shore is known for the huge waves that draw surfers from all over the world, a more laid-back vibe, and local shops and farms. Think about it this way. Waikiki is the busiest, biggest city on Oahu, whereas the North Shore is one of the most rural areas on the island. They may only be an hour apart, but there is an entirely different vibe.

The North Shore is home to Haleiwa, a small town with restaurants, coffee and ice cream shops, boutiques selling local products, and art galleries featuring local artists.

The only real option for lodging on the North Shore is Turtle Bay Resort. That is both a good thing and a bad thing. Turtle Bay is a gorgeous resort that caters to families and couples, but it doesn’t leave you with options if you are looking for cheap hotels on Oahu.

Things to Do

If you stay at Turtle Bay Resort, there is a lot to do both at the resort and nearby. Turtle Bay Resort is home to one of the best golf resorts on the entire island. Visitors have been known to drive from all over to play here.

Turtle Bay also has a beautiful spa where you can get a seaside massage, and they offer many different excursions, including snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, outrigger canoeing, horseback riding, and more. Turtle Bay also has a number of excellent dining options. You could easily spend your entire vacation at Turtle Bay if you want to relax on the beach, drink by the pool, golf, and enjoy some water activities.

Nearby Attractions

Turtle Bay is a good location for exploring the North Shore. Going up to the North Shore is one of my favorite things to do in Hawaii. You can go to Kualoa Ranch, go snorkeling at Shark’s Cove, hike to Waimea Falls, tour the Dole Plantation, and see green sea turtles. Visit the surf shops or watch surfers in the winter months, eat at the famous shrimp trucks, dine on a farm, try shave ice, and visit the famous Ted’s Bakery. 

If you drive around the North Shore, chances are you will be able to find a beach that you can have all to yourself, or at least, a beach with not too many people. The beaches are gorgeous, set against the backdrop of the mountains. You can explore the towns, stop at a farm stand on the side of the road to get a coconut, and see where the day takes you. You can enjoy the pristine, quieter beaches, and watch the gorgeous sunsets on Sunset Beach.

Pros of the North Shore

The North Shore is quiet and laid back. There are fewer people here. Turtle Bay is a small, beautiful resort (but very expensive) and a great way to get away from everything. Plus, every room has either a partial or full ocean view. For a more affordable alternative, check out the Courtyard by Marriott, which is located right next to the Polynesian Cultural center.

Cons of the North Shore

You are at least an hour and fifteen minutes from Waikiki – it could be more depending on traffic. That means if you want to visit the attractions in Waikiki, it will be a long day for you. You are also far from Pearl Harbor. There is no nightlife on the North Shore.

Ko Olina

A bit off the beaten path, on the island’s western side, Ko Olina is a great place to stay for both families and couples. Families will love the quiet, secluded, laid-back vibe of Ko Olina. The Aulani Disney Resort is perfect for kids, and the pristine Ko Olina Lagoon is a great place for kids to play in the water.

For large families who need more than one hotel room, The Beach Villas at Ko Olina are perfect. And then there is The Four Seasons, which is ideal for couples looking to splurge who want some peace and quiet. I’d say that would make for a pretty awesome honeymoon.

If you are looking for cheap hotels on Oahu, turn back now. Ko Olina is a luxury resort community and everything here comes at a steep price. But if you’re willing to splurge for an extra magical stay, this area could be perfect for you. 

If you'd rather splurge than stay at cheap hotels in Oahu, book a room in Ko Olina
The Four Seasons and Aulani in Ko Olina are not cheap Oahu hotels, but they may be worth the splurge.

Things to Do

Because there are so many resorts in Ko Olina, many tour companies offer water activities. This area is also home to some of the island’s best luaus.

This is also where you go for the once-in-a-lifetime dolphin and snorkel tours.

The Ko Olina golf course is excellent and reasonably priced. If you want to treat yourself, the spa at the Aulani cannot be beaten. And, if you book just one treatment, you can spend the whole day in the spa garden with pools.

If you are looking for romance, look no further than the Four Seasons. Locals rave about the happy hour at Fish House. Another local favorite is Monkeypod restaurant (save room for the pie!).

Nearby Attractions

There is not too much to do super close to Ko Olina, but it’s just 30 minutes from Waikiki. You could easily spend a day or two exploring Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, and Honolulu, using Ko Olina as your base.

You can also take a driving tour of the Waianae coast and stop at its many gorgeous beaches along the way. 

Pros of Ko Olina

While more built up than the North Shore, Ko Olina is still less congested than Waikiki, giving you more privacy. It’s a nice balance between seclusion and proximity to Honolulu.  The resorts offer some amenities and dining options as well.

Cons of Ko Olina

There are fewer resorts to choose from than there are in Waikiki. If you are looking for more budget-friendly options, you might want to try Waikiki.

There are not as many activities to enjoy in Ko Olina as there are in Waikiki or the North Shore. While there is plenty to do at the hotels, you will have to drive if you want to get out of the resort area.

Finding Cheap Hotels on Oahu (Or Splurging on a Luxe Stay)

So, what do you think? Are you still unsure where to stay on Oahu? Don’t worry! Give our travel agents a call today, and we will work with you to design the best vacation for you!