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The best Waikiki beachfront hotels
Discovering the best oceanfront hotels in Oahu
We recently spent ten days on Oahu in order to discover our aloha. We took the test by watching a video on Hawaii that used facial recognition technology. In the end, we were paired with He’e, the octopus as our animal guide to the islands. He’e, recommended island activities catered specifically to us.
Full disclosure: I was born on Oahu and have strong family ties to the island. My husband, Chris and I try to make it back to Oahu at least two times a year. Depending on how crowded my grandma’s house is at the time, we’ll either stay at her home in Waipahu or spring for a hotel in Waikiki. There are obvious pros and cons to both. Grandma’s house means traditional home cooked meals and family game nights, but no air conditioned rooms. A hotel in Waikiki equates to paying an arm and a leg for parking but having a little more privacy and being in close proximity to the beach. There’s really no wrong choice.
Even though a stay at grandma’s house is always nice, we’ve managed to stay in Waikiki more times that we can count. After extensive research, we’ve finally come up with our list of favorite oceanfront Waikiki properties. Grab a Mai Tai, sit back, and relax as we take you on a tour of the best places to stay in Waikiki.
Lovingly referred to as “The First Lady of Waikiki”, the Moana Surfrider has been a prominent fixture on Waikiki’s shoreline for more than one hundred years. While situated in the heart of the action, this stately property still feels intimate and laid back. When approaching the Moana Surfrider, it’s easy to be transported back in time. Rocking chairs line the wraparound porch and the original intricate moulding beckons to even the most uninterested of guests.
Our room was located in the historic Banyan Wing and while it was on the smaller side, we were treated to an incredible view of Diamond Head Crater. Holden loved the plush bedding and looked ridiculously adorable in his tiny Westin baby robe (you bet we took it home with us). Of the three of us, the baby has the highest standards when it comes to hotels. The Moana Surfrider also received bonus points as Holden learned to crawl on our hotel room floor.
Holden is also obsessed with trees so it should come as no surprise that he was enamored with the towering Banyan tree located in the hotel courtyard. We would spend our lazy mornings and early evenings underneath the tree’s towering branches, watching the leaves rustle in the breeze. The iconic tree was planted in 1904 and was only seven feet tall at the time. Now, the statuesque tree stands more than seventy feet tall and is a prominent fixture at the Moana Surfrider. Even if you’re not staying at the Moana Surfrider, it’s worth a quick stop to check out the famous Moana banyan.
The Royal Hawaiian was the property that I was the most excited about. When I was younger, I would visit Waikiki beach and longingly gaze at the iconic pink of the Royal Hawaiian. Dubbed the “Pink Palace of the Pacific”, the Royal Hawaiian is another historic property on Waikiki’s shoreline. In fact, this year the Royal Hawaiian is celebrating its 90th anniversary.
Our room was located in the historic building. Our suite had a luxurious old school Hawaiian feel complete with modern amenities.We were situated on a corner and our view was absolutely beautiful. We had Diamond Head Crater to our right, Waikiki beach in front of us, and views of the pool to the right. One of my favorite activities was strolling down the hallways and running my hands along the intricately carved wooden doors to each room.
I would live at the Royal Hawaiian if they would let us. Like the Moana Surfrider, the Royal Hawaiian is situated in the middle of all the action yet feels quaint and quiet. It’s a great place for a romantic getaway and family vacation alike. To celebrate its 90th anniversary, the Royal Hawaiian is offering a special birthday package. Book today to experience the luxury of the Royal Hawaiian for yourself.
Not going to lie, I had no expectations for the Sheraton Waikiki. In comparison to the other two properties, it’s a relatively new hotel and one that I knew the least about. And while it lacks the history of the Moana Surfrider and the iconic pink of the Royal Hawaiian, it’s incredibly special in its own right. Especially with views like the one below.
The rooms aren’t too shabby either. In fact, our suite was bananas. We stayed in the Kai Suite and were blown away by the sheer amount of square footage. Our suite also featured not one, but two balconies. Just look at that ridiculous view of Diamond Head Crater from balcony number one.
The Sheraton Waikiki receives bonus points for being extremely family friendly. There are two pools on the property: one for the kiddos and one for adults. The “big kid” infinity pool was the epitome of serene with blowup floaties for anyone who dared. The kid-friendly pool featured a waterslide and varying degrees of depth. And unlike previous pool attempts, Holden didn’t hysterically cry when we entered the Sheraton Waikiki pool with him. That’s a major improvement.
The Sheraton Waikiki ended up stealing my heart. It’s a great place for families. Our giant suite was the perfect place to relax after a day spent exploring the island. I can guarantee that we’ll be back in the future.
If you have future plans for Hawaii, head over to discoveryouraloha.expedia.com and be paired with your Hawaii animal guide. Be sure to check our the Oahu hotels listed above. We highly recommend all three of them.
Where would you like to stay in Oahu?
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Chris and Tawny have had articles and videos published on USA TODAY TRAVEL, BBC Travel, Matador Network, as well as appeared as guest stars on TLC Asia's Fun Taiwan television series. When not on the road, you can find Chris and Tawny nestled in their home in Tacoma, Washington fueling up on coffee and cat cuddles while planning their future adventures. You can follow their travels on their blog, Instagram, and YouTube