A standard hotel room in Waikiki usually costs around $200 a night, with rates skyrocketing in winter and early spring. But whether you’re pinching pennies or eager to splurge on a corner suite, the beach is never far away. Here, a gaggle of in-the-know locals tip us off to their favorite places to bed down in Honolulu and beyond, from tropical boutique hotels to stately legacy resorts.
Outdoor Junkiez (from $17)“Many people wouldn’t think of camping on Oahu, but why not? There are plenty of great hikes and places to park your ride, hang a hammock, and have a picnic and a nap. There are a few choice campgrounds on the island, including Malaekahana State Park or Kahana Bay. Rent a van or camping equipment from Outdoor Junkiez and just stock up at a store in town before setting out.” —Roberta Oaks, owner and designer behind Roberta Oaks
Aston at the Executive Centre Hotel (from $179)“A room at the Aston is less than $200 a night and you’ll be right downtown, near all the nightlife of Chinatown and a lot of live music venues for jazz and indie rock. The building is part-residential, part-hotel and it has the Hukilau restaurant in the lobby, which serves the best ahi nachos on the island. It’s also great for people traveling for work because it’s close to the downtown offices; there’s a Longs Drugs pharmacy on the ground floor, where you could pick up a toothbrush if you forgot to pack one; and there are restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops all within walking distance. The hotel even has a special rate package for Biki bike rentals, which you can ride to Chinatown in three minutes.” —Amanda Frazier, singer/songwriter in Amanda Frazier and the Keepers
Queen Kapiolani Hotel (from $132)“This property has been around for many decades; the late-’60s façade is covered with breadfruit leaves, known as ulu in Hawaiian. The large lobby has massive chandeliers and a huge portrait of our Queen Kapiolani, who was married to King Kalakaua. The pool has great views of Diamond Head and is located a block away from Waikiki Beach. A 15-minute walk and you’re at Kaimana Beach; that’s where the beautiful, in-shape locals like to tan! It’s next to the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial, an outdoor swimming complex where [the widely recognized father of surfing] Duke Kahanamoku trained for the Olympics. He was the first Hawaiian to win medals there.” —Mark Pei, co-owner of Hound & Quail, a vintage-furniture shop in Chinatown
Hotel Renew (from $169)“This is a gem for the traveler who just wants a no-frills place to stay, with a comfortable bed and a chill atmosphere, less than a block away from Waikiki Beach. Guests are welcomed with a complimentary glass of pineapple juice and a cool lemon-scented towel at check-in. There is a small bar located in the lobby for grabbing a drink on your way out for dinner. Bonus: This hotel is pet-friendly!” —Nicole Iglesias, owner of Notted Nest, a macrame-accessories shop
Paradise Bay Resort (from $163)“This hotel is in Kaneohe, outside Honolulu and near Kualoa Ranch on the east side of Oahu. It’s in a residential area, so it feels like you’re going to a friend’s house and then all of a sudden you’re at this cool little hotel. Rooms come with a kitchen or kitchenette, and some of the bungalows are right on the river that leads into Kaneohe Bay. They have a buffet dinner and fire-dancing performances, plus live Hawaiian music a few times a week.” —Kamea Hadar, artist and founder of Pow! Wow!, an international art festival
Seaside Hawaiian Hostel (from $30)“This is a nice hostel on Seaside Avenue in Waikiki. It’s best suited to backpackers in their 20s, with dorms, a hammock in the courtyard, and a small dog that sits on the front desk and belongs to the woman who works behind it.” —Carter Churchfield, a tour guide for Honolulu Exposed, a walking tour in Chinatown focused on the red-light district circa WWII