Hit the beach in Honolulu
The Hawaiian capital’s finest beach hotels have become symbols of O‘ahu’s reputation as a prime vacation spot, thanks to their positions right at the ocean.
The thought of vacationing in Honolulu prompts dreams of stepping straight from your lanai (porch) onto the beach. In fact, you often need to stand on tiptoe to catch a glimpse of the surf beyond rows of condos. These beachfront icons of Waikiki and the Gold Coast are safe bets, however, with ideal positions near the tideline and busy programs of water-based activities.
Lounge like Sinatra at The Kahala Hotel & Resort
This resort sits along the coast from Waikiki on the sands of Kāhala Beach, between a coral reef and the Wai’alae Country Club golf courses. A favorite getaway for American presidents and Hollywood celebrities alike, the former Kahala Hilton beautified its 800ft stretch of beach, adding more than 100 coconut palms and 18,000 yards of fine sand. Two manmade peninsulas protect the beach and shallows, and you can explore the bay by kayak or surfboard, or spot dolphins in the resort’s seawater lagoon.
Insider tip: For breathtaking views of the ocean, book your stay at one of the 1,250sq-ft-plus signature suites.
5000 Kahala Avenue, Waialae-Kahala; kahalaresort.com
Watch the surf from the Sheraton Waikiki
Running between Waikiki Beach and tiny Grays Beach, Sheraton’s boardwalk is an iconic coastal setting for the tower of 1,636 rooms and suites. Dine with an ocean view and a breezy Hawaiian ambiance in the open-air Pacific Rim-themed restaurant, RumFire, or enjoy cocktails and bites at the Edge of Waikiki pool bar.
Insider tip: The program of cultural activities includes classes for ukulele, lei-making, and hula dancing.
2255 Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki; marriott.com/hotels/travel/hnlws-sheraton-waikiki
Feel Honolulu’s relaxed spirit at Kaimana Beach Hotel
Overlooked by the volcano crater of Diamond Head (Lē‘ahi), the Kaimana mixes a creative spirit with its heritage of Hawaii’s 20th-century heyday, when the beach was known as Sans Souci (“without a care”). The Honolulu lifestyle fills this Gold Coast classic, from the penthouse suite with a wraparound lanai, to the morning yoga, fitness, and SUP sessions.
Insider tip: Hike to the summit of Diamond Head from the crater floor, via the switchbacks, staircase and illuminated tunnel that once formed part of O‘ahu’s coastal defense system.
2863 Kalakaua Avenue, Diamond Head-Kapahulu-St. Louis; kaimana.com
Gaze at gliding masts from Prince Waikiki
You’ll enjoy a serene view at this travel magazine favorite on the corner of the Ala Wai yacht harbor and canal, overlooking Magic Island. On the other side of the hotel’s two towers is Kahanamoku Beach, along with a saltwater infinity pool and the Naio Bliss spa. Choose between rooms with ocean or harbor outlooks, or upgrade to a 1,000sq-ft-plus suite with sweeping views down the coast.
Insider tip: Check the ‘activities and events’ page for a calendar of upcoming entertainment to plan your trip around, from live Hawaiian music at Hinana Bar to pop-up markets.
100 Holomoana Street, Waikiki; princewaikiki.com
Explore O‘ahu culture at the Halekulani
Halekulani’s rooms and suites on Waikiki Beach enjoy views of Diamond Head and the dazzling blue bay—where you can start your day with a complimentary surf or SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) introduction. Many of the guest rooms were upgraded before the hotel’s reopening in October 2021, with the installation of new wood panels, textured wall coverings, and expertly crafted furniture. The oval pool in front of the beach is a knockout, with a spectacular mosaic of the hotel’s logo—the Cattleya orchid—made up of 1.2 million glass tiles.
Insider tip: Facilities include fully accessible rooms and suites, seven restaurants and bars, a contemporary Hawaiian art collection, and complimentary access to Honolulu’s cultural institutions.
2199 Kalia Road, Waikiki; halekulani.com