When planning our Valentine’s 2019 trip to exclusively Hawaii, we realized it was tough to find the best hotels in Oahu, let alone Hawaii.
There are so many lists of the top 12 best hotels in Oahu, 7 best resorts for spas in Hawaii, etc, and many such guides are just full of nice pics but lacking real advice how do you get to the bottom line and choose?
That’s where we hope to help. After choosing Oahu for its beauty, activities, golf, spas, surfing, and not to mention we were flying in there, we found two amazing properties that we’ll share here.
We paid the bills and rented the car, while also visiting as many neighboring resorts as we could to get the full picture.
So check out this list of the 2 best hotels in Oahu according to us and our unforgettable week, and let us know any questions!
Overview of Our Favorite Oahu Hotels
After looking at several reviews and visiting these hotels ourselves we have come to a couple of conclusions.
Both the Moana Surf Rider and Turtle Bay Resort are hands down the best resort to stay at in Oahu, Hawaii. Depending on what you are looking for one might be a better for you than the other. These are great choices for romantic get aways, starting a new romance, weddings, friendcations and even families. Depending on what you are looking for.
Of course, you may get personal reviews from friends who’ve galavanted the islands, which is always helpful! Let us know what you hear!
As we said above we tried to see as many properties as we could (all hotels in Waikiki are open concept, so you can really just walk into the pool, bar, visitors centers, etc).]
In no particular order here is what we recommend taking advantage of when visiting these destinations.
#1) Moana Surfrider
Located in the heart of downtown Waikiki on historic Kalakaua ave, there is always something fun going on at the Moana Surfrider. We picked it out because of the old fashioned, luxurious vibes and were not disappointed! The whole hotel exudes wealth from the 1800s and 1900s, like old post cards, menus, and cool relics around the rooms, even the elevators were cool! Of course, it’s up to date with free Wifi, tons of food, business center, and an amazing staff that always seems to know what activity you should do and when. This last point is huge – the activities here are never ending! We spent two nights there, doing free Yoga and a couple live concerts, but there was also surf lessons and plenty more.
The surfing outdoors is very easy looking. The beach is shallow for a longgg ways and you’ll see riders just padding out maybe 100 yards and surfing in on low waves. Very calm spot to learn, plus you can rent boards a few feet away. That said, we didn’t get to try surfing because we had to drive up north! Next time…
- Sunrise Yoga
- Live concerts around 6pm at the pool bar
- Museum on second floor of the property’s history
- Gym is beautiful and free in itself
- Lei making classes
- Hawaiian cooking class
- Photo Shoot with on site photographers (1 FREE Printed Photo in front of famous Banyan Tree!)
- Do surfing here-best waves for all levels of surfers. Board rentals a block down the beach where you can rent stand up paddle boards and surf boards. The hotel offers complementary surf lessons every morning. No need to sign up, just show up.
- Moana Surfrider Poolside Cafe/Bar – Live music twice a night, amazing poker nachos, plus they serve ANY drink out of a PINEAPPLE for about $25 extra!
- Duke’s – Always packed and fairly rude though, so either go during off times or just head upstairs and grab the bar menu with some AMAZING fish and chips!
- Yard House – If you like sports bars and upper tier bar grub, this place is for YOU. Huuuuuge sports bar in a wealthy section of Waikiki with endless drinks and LONGGG lasting happy hour)
- Honolulu Cookie Company – Endless free cookie samples, plus gift packages for purchase. They have cookie deals too if you spend enough, ask about it.
- Liquor, beer, and signature drinks – Go to Walgreens or ABC 123 Stores!
OPTIONAL (For the daring or long stays)
- Fendi/Prada/Gucci store and anywhere else you want to blow your money. While you’re at it pickup a new Tesla 🙂
#2) Turtle Bay Resort
Turtle Bay is a place for new love and/or re-kindled romances.
It’s hard not to fall in love with the beauty of the resort, the people who work there, and your own personal romance.
Eat, sleep, and breath romance at Turtle Bay, with comfy/classy outdoor beach house at evening horse back rides along the trails and beach.
- MUST GO: Polynesian Cultural center for their luau. Plan on getting there at least an hour prior to the show to walk around and experience all of the incredible sights/tours it has to offer. Best luow in Hawaii.
- Explore movie scene stops (Pirates of the Caribbean, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Mike & Dave, Jurassic Park) Ask the staff if you can’t find spots, everyone has a story!
- Beach Bootcamp workouts, Pilates, Vinyasa (in general, they have amazing knowledgeable trainers willing to help guests!)
- Relax at their Nalu Kenetic Spa. They will make you feel like a celebrity as soon as you walk in. (I recommend getting the HydraFacial! My facial specialist was so sweet and she has even done celebrities facials like Zac Efron!)
- Golf golf golf, they have 2 courses the better one is design by Arnold Palmer and plenty of afternoon deals. ‘Nuff said.
- Pool and beach time always a must.
- Lei making class
- Ukulele lessons
- Movie rentals (hey, old school but reminiscent of the BlockBuster days and we found some good ones for quiet nights)
- Roy’s Beach House – The best dinners at Turtle Bay. You’ll pay half the price of the fanciest place (Pa’akai) but get the same amazing lamb, seafood, apps etc.
- Breakfast brunch at Kula Grille – The best breakfast, goes until 11am so kind of brunch. Get a to go box for the buffet!
- Lei Lei’s – Our second best dinner spot. Just casual, where the staff loves going, you can get amazing stuff seafood and crab entrees here.
- Liquor, beer, and signature drinks – Get your beer, wine and booze at the poolside shop! Much to our disappointment, we found this haven on the last day. The beer and wine is half the price of bar. If you’re looking to save on money just stock up here (the ladies are super nice) and make your own drinks, then roam the resort like a baller. There are short happy hours at Kula and the lobby bar, none at Lei Leis though, so you may find it hard to happy hour it up especially if you’re out and about all day.
OPTIONAL (For the daring)
- I would not recommend surfing here. They have stand up paddle boarding and surfing about a mile away on Kawela Bay, but it is for the more experienced surfers. There are choppy waves, and huge coral surrounding you as you try to paddle out ward. It is more stressful than it is relaxing.
- Helicopter Ride
- Sunset Horse back riding on beach
For our conclusion we thought it only right to mention both of our favorite moments. For James it was hitting 9 holes on the Arnold Palmer course, then dining at Roys after. What an evening. For Christa, it was climbing coco head and doing yoga poses on top. However you can make equally as good memories at each resort so we recommend just doing what we did and going to both! They both hold a place in our hearts and serve different purposes when visiting Oahu. So we recommend both to get the full Oahu experience!
Well, that’s all folks! Until next time, keep on sending us your letters! Xoxo Christa + James