Tried, tested and reviewed: Where to stay in Oahu with kids

Hawaii is the perfect location for a family getaway, with gorgeous beach, delicious eats, shopping galore, and turtles… the most beautiful turtles. With so many options and things to do, and also accomodations, it’s often a hard task figuring out where to stay on Oahu.

Hawaii feels like home when you’re there. It has this amazing calming vibe, great food, beautiful culture, stunning beaches, and the people are the nicest people ever. It has everything I look for when thinking about a getaway, and I don’t think I could ever see it all. Each time I visit I feel like I’m still only scratching the surface.

Having visited a few times now, I’ve been lucky enough to stay at a few hotels and try them out with my family… so now I can bring you this blog post with my favourite places to stay when visiting Oahu, Hawaii, and of course why I like them especially when it comes to accommodating kids.

Where to stay in Oahu with kids

Best all-rounder: Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

Aulani is a Disney resort and spa and is away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, located in Ko’Olina {around a 40 minute drive from Waikiki to be more specific}. When it comes to resorts, Aulani is truly an experience. It’s only five years old, but it looks like it’s been there forever because it’s created to respect the history of Hawaii and to also celebrate the Hawaiian culture. Aulani has a mix of hotel rooms and suites, as well as villas which are great for families. There are two restaurants, three lounges, and lots of little takeaway eateries so you can eat something by the pool. Speaking of pools, there is something for everyone including slides, waterparks, an adult-only pool, and best of all a lazy river so that you can laze your way around the resort. There’s also the most {MOST!} amazing day spa which I can’t rave enough about. It’s a total experience that I will dream about forever.

The kids love it because of all the options for playing in the pools and slides, and also for the Disney characters that can be spotted around the resort. The beach area is also really safe, and doesn’t have big surf so it suits smaller kids. Also, there’s a really cool kids club called Aunty’s Beach House which is amazing.

TIP: A stay at Aulani leaves you feeling super chilled. We like to spend some of our time in Waikiki, so we can experience the hustle and bustle, and then finish with some time at Aulani so we finish our holiday feeling truly relaxed.

Best Boutique Hotel: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa

Moana Surfrider is located in Waikiki, right on the main street, with the beach on the other side of the hotel. It’s right where everything is happening. Moana Surfrider is known as the First Lady of Waikiki because it’s a landmark and has been there since 1901. It’s a boutique hotel, and is super stylish. I could go on and on about all the things I love, so indulge me for a moment. I love the location, because it’s right in the middle of everything, but also right on the water. I love the history of the hotel, it feels super grand and beautiful. I love the rocking chairs out the front, so you can sit and watch the world go buy. I love the huge tree out the back, and the opportunity for dining and drinks. I love the day spa, it’s stunning. I love that there are loads of sun lounges to rent on the beach, so you can be shaded and still enjoy the water. I love the front reception area, as it has loads of lounges so you can chill out. I love that the rooms are room-y, so we have space to move around.

The pool is small, so my kids wouldn’t pick it as their top favourite but I really felt it was more than enough. It was never overcrowded, but it is harder to nab a chair by the pool. While inflatables aren’t allowed in the pool, you can by an inflatable at an ABC store and the friendly staff will help you blow it up so you can take it to the beach.

TIP: Rent a cabana by the pool for the day, overlooking the beach. They’ve got shade so you can camp out there all day and also order food. If you book after 12 noon you get a big discount too.

Best Trendy & Celeb-friendly: The Modern Honolulu

The Modern is located just out of Waikiki in Honolulu, but still in walking distance of the heart of Waikiki. Instead of being on the beach, it’s on the harbour… which is a calmer spot to swim and have fun. We stayed at the Modern last year and it was a really nice change from being in the bustle of Waikiki. It’s super trendy, with the rooms being styled immaculately. It has a really great vibe, and lounging by the pool makes you feel like you should be on the set of a movie or something. When I walked out of my room on our first night staying, I ran into actor Kevin Hart and his wife, and apparently The Rock was also staying too {which kinda gives you an idea of just how trendy it is}.

The rooms are spacious, and beautifully designed. The staff are gorgeous, and it all feels so chic. At night the bookshelf in the reception area opens up into a secret room and becomes the bar. How much cooler can it really get?

TIP: The food is really good at the Modern so be sure to check out the restaurants. Nearby Hilton has fireworks on Fridays at 7pm, so spot them from your balcony or take a walk down the beach to check them out.

Best family-friendly: Sheraton Waikiki

If my family had to vote which hotel they loved best in Waikiki the Sheraton would win {I’d probably pick Moana Surfrider personally and be totally outvoted}. It’s got great pools, yummy food, shops, and is built in a curve shape so most rooms have views. There’s a pool overlooking the ocean for adults, and you will most likely spot a turtle swimming around if you look carefully. You can spend time watching the surfers, or just taking in the beautiful view.

There’s also huge pools for the kids, with more deck chairs so you’ll never have to fight over one. There are slides, lifeguards, and so much room. I love that this hotel is so spacious and that you can walk 100m and you’re in the ocean, and then can quickly shower and jump back into the pool. It’s everything you could ever want, and also located right next to loads of eateries and shops.

I don’t mean to name drop, but the time we stayed at Sheraton we shared the same roof as then President Obama… and if it gets Obama’s tick of approval you know it’s good.

TIP: Get a room with a view. You won’t regret it when you’re sitting outside watching the sunset. It’s magic.

Best Hawaiian Iconic: The Royal Hawaiian

Well, The Royal Hawaiian definitely has my heart and feels very special to stay at. From checking in at reception to checking out your room, you’ll feel like you’re on set of a beautiful movie. The pink everywhere is stunning, and the rooms are deliciously decorated.

The Royal Hawaiian itself only has a small round pool, but the perk is that included in your stay is access to the sister pool at the Sheraton next door. You can come and go as you please and make the most of the kid-friendly swimming area there, or spend your time in the ocean instead.

TIP: Take a seat in the restaurant on the beach at The Royal Hawaiian, order a Mai Tai and watch the world pass you by. It really is paradise.

Best & Fairest: Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki

Located a street back from the beach, but still not far at all, is The Embassy Suites. It’s a little quieter than the other hotels, but just as beautiful. Our room had a lounge room, two balconies, and views of the ocean, so really felt like a treat. Hubby loved this as one of his favourite hotels, because he likes having the luxury of having a living area and bigger bathroom. If you have a big family, it’s quite a good option. I checked out some of the bigger rooms there too, and they’re really spacious.

The pool is long and accommodates loads of families, and the buffet is very popular too. Best of all they do happy house with complimentary drinks and snacks for guests each night. It’s a real winner!

TIP: Head downstairs to the Yard House for a lunch. They’ve got a huuuuuge list of beers to try, and some of the yummiest food in Waikiki.

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4 thoughts on “Tried, tested and reviewed: Where to stay in Oahu with kids”

  1. I so wanted to go to Aulani but seeing as we’re coming straight from Disneyland, the price tag was just a bit too much to bear! The Moana and the Royal Hawaiian have always been on my wish list (but out of my budget.) On honeymoon we had a wonderful stay at the Hyatt Regency which is brilliantly located right opposite the beach. We’re going back for a return visit next month – can’t wait!

  2. Just wondering, if all the accommodation are high-rises? I have always wondered about Hawaii as a holiday destination but the flight-times from oz, plus my vertigo, tend to make me think again. I don’t do tall buildings! lol. But agree the island itself looks very beautiful and catered to tourists.

  3. We’ve been to Oahu twice in the past year and it’s our favourite holiday destination. We stay at Hyatt Place in Waikiki. It’s a block back from the beach which is nice (and a little quieter), close to the zoo, the bus stops right on the corner, it includes breakfast and is quite economical for a family compared with some of the other hotels.

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