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Waikiki beach hotels for a dose of sun all year round

From a jumbo 280,000-gallon lobby aquarium to a traditional Hawaiian luau experience, culture meets contemporary at eight of the best Waikiki Beach hotels.

With pleasant year-round weather, you’re spoilt for choice on when to visit the idyllic Waikiki Beach and its environs. Winters in Hawaii are best for dolphin and whale watching while the Hawaiian summer months are best for picturesque sunsets over Waikiki Bay or exploring the island’s burgeoning farm-to-table scene.

No matter the time of year, here are eight of the best Waikiki beach hotels to suit any type of laid-back, island vacation.

A period stay at Waikiki Beach's first hotel

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Primely located along Waikiki Beach, the Moana Surfrider is more than just a beachfront hotel. Built in 1901, this stalwart property was one of the first hotels in Waikiki, then a calm backwater on Oahu. Today, the luxe 749-room hotel, aptly nicknamed the First Lady of Waikiki, offers a private beach area along the world-famous Waikiki Bay.

Casual rooms feature calming, neutral tones and have either ocean or promenade views. Upgraded rooms and suites located in the property’s newer Tower wing add balconies.

When it comes to dining, the property’s six restaurants and bars have you covered. But what’s most impressive are the afternoon tea ceremonies—a local favourite. Savour scones and finger sandwiches while sipping on freshly brewed tea at Veranda at the Beachhouse, overlooking the property’s century-old banyan tree that was originally planted in 1904.

Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach

Honolulu
8.1 Very good (12916 reviews)

A Waikiki Beach hotel with a storied Hollywood past

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Referred to as the Pink Palace of the Pacific, the Royal Hawaiian is one of Waikiki’s most luxurious offerings. Beloved by celebrities since it first opened in February 1927, the property has made appearances in plenty of Hollywood films. Its most recent being during the sixth season premiere of Mad Men where the Spanish-Moorish architecture of the hotel’s pink façade made a prominent feature.

Rooms range from plush quarters with richly coloured, brocade wallpaper in the historic wing, to contemporary rooms with colourful artwork and oceanfront balconies in the newer, Mailani tower. All offer high-end linens and feature bathroom amenities by local-brand Malie Organics.

The hotel pays homage to the sacred grounds upon which its foundation rests with a traditional Hawaiian gathering called ‘Aha’aina. This oceanfront celebration involves dining on a sumptuous Hawaiian feast coupled with the soothing sounds of mele (song) and the ancient art of hula.

For history buffs, a bi-weekly tour of the property takes you through its storied past right back to the beginning when wealthy guests—who were only able to arrive in passenger ships by then hotel-owner, Matson Navigation Co.—and their Rolls-Royces vacationed along the tropical Waikiki shoreline.

Hotel The Royal Hawaiian Resort

Top rated
Honolulu
9.0 Excellent (8258 reviews)

Laidback island vibes at a harbourfront hotel

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Overlooking the Ala Wai Boat Harbor, the Hotel Prince Waikiki offers guests a laid-back vibe away from the hustle of the Waikiki strip. Relaxed rooms and suites feature earth-toned walls of traditional Naio flower art that seem to perfectly complement the view of the azure-blue waters of the Pacific Ocean outside floor-to-ceiling windows.

Golfing enthusiasts can hop on the hotel’s complimentary shuttle and head for a day of sunshine and golf at the Hawaii Prince Golf Club. Designed by famed golfer, Arnold Palmer, and golf course architect, Ed Seay, the 27-hole championship golf course is set on 270 acres of verdant land on Oahu’s leeward coast.

Gourmands will particularly enjoy dining at 100 Sails Restaurant & Bar, one of the property’s four on-site culinary offerings. Chef de cuisine, Mark Miura, hosts a quarterly dinner series, Off the Eaten Path, which highlights the creativity, innovation, and spirit of the restaurant by focusing on modern interpretations of fresh island cuisine. Diners can feast on inventive dishes like the ahi sashimi scrape and miso foie gras, along with the leche flan Japanese-style cheesecake.

Hotel Prince Waikiki

Top rated
Honolulu
8.8 Excellent (4599 reviews)

Soak up the Oahu sun at an Instagrammer's dream pool

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Mid-century design reigns supreme at the Surfjack Hotel, a contemporary property located 11 minutes by foot from Waikiki Beach.

Check-in to any one of the hotel’s 112-rooms for a vintage, beachy-vibe with surf prints adorning the room walls and comfy beds with colourful, Hawaiian-print fabric headboards. All offer private lanais or balconies with city views, while suites add more space and sofabeds, perfect for family travel.

A significant draw for both locals and visitors is the hotel’s outdoor pool, complete with an Instagram-friendly “Wish You Were Here!”-inscribed mosaic floor by Matthew Tapia, a local lettering artist. The on-site restaurant, Mahina and Sun’s, by renowned local chef and restaurateur Ed Kenney, offers island favourites like the marlin poke with pickled mushrooms and a plate of fresh Kualoa Ranch oysters, all made using locally sourced ingredients and sustainable seafood.

Hotel Surfjack

Top rated
Honolulu
8.8 Excellent (1139 reviews)

A Waikiki beachfront hotel with french fine dining

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Starting as a quaint five-cottage property in 1907, the Halekulani has slowly evolved into one of the island’s best and understatedly elegant hotels. Conveniently located along Waikiki Beach, the 453-room resort features airy rooms with balconies overlooking the lush green courtyard or the calming Pacific Ocean.

Indulge at La Mer, the property’s on-site fine dining restaurant known for its locally sourced ingredients. Southern French-influenced dishes worth ordering include the poached lobster with squid-ink gnocchi, and the roasted scallop with cuttlefish leaf and a buttery, orange-scented caviar sauce.

Relax in the 82-foot long heated outdoor pool overlooking Waikiki Bay, which comes complete with 1.2-million glass-tiled pool floor in the shape of a Cattleya orchid. Or, book a traditional Polynesian massage at SpaHalekulani, the property’s 5,500-square-foot luxe spa.

Halekulani

Top rated
Honolulu
9.4 Excellent (5676 reviews)

A family-friendly Waikiki Beach accommodation

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One of Hilton’s largest resorts and certainly the biggest in Honolulu, the Hilton Hawaiian Village sits on a sprawling 22-acre property that is the perfect home away from home for families. Chic rooms feature balconies, some of which offer panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, while suites add extra room and comfortable sofabeds.

A saltwater lagoon, named after surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, features five acres of tranquil blue waters perfect for swimming and stand-up paddle-boarding. And, with five swimming pools, 20 restaurants and bars, and a robust on-site kids program, there’s something on offer for every member of the family to enjoy.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

Honolulu
8.1 Very good (43686 reviews)

Off-the-strip contemporary Waikiki Beach hotel

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Even though The Laylow is located off the main Waikiki strip—it’s only a six-minute walk from Waikiki Beach—this contemporary property still has a lot to offer. Namely, the menu by Executive Chef Bryan Byard at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Hideout. Expect fresh ingredients from the farm and ocean showcased in a unique Pacific Rim menu—the Kauai prawns & lump crab cakes, kalua pig egg rolls, and wonton poke tacos are not to be missed.

Midcentury modern rooms feature bright pops of colour and accented walls with Instagram-famous monstera wallpaper. The major draw, however, are the cabana rooms which directly open up to the property’s saltwater pool.

The Laylow, Autograph Collection

Top rated
Honolulu
8.5 Excellent (1652 reviews)

Experience Iron Chef dining

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Set across the street from Waikiki Beach, the ‘Alohilani Resort is a plush property featuring chic rooms and suites with private balconies. Upgraded lodgings add spacious living rooms with comfortable sofabeds.

Step into the massive lobby and get greeted by a 280,000-gallon aquarium showcasing a variety of native Hawaiian reef fish. Daily feedings in the morning and afternoon offer a unique look at the flora and fauna that exist in the ocean world.

The two on-site restaurants feature Asian cuisine by award-winning Iron Chef, Masaharu Morimoto. His signature restaurant, Morimoto Asia, features upscale Japanese fare with dishes like hamachi tacos, lobster tempura sushi, and garlic shrimp on offer.

'Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach

Honolulu
8.2 Very good (8498 reviews)

Feature image courtesy of Ris & Ry / Unsplash