As the capital city of Hawaii, Honolulu is everyone’s first taste of the island of Oahu. With a population of over 300,000, it’s quite different from the rest of Hawaii. While it still has a laid-back island vibe and aloha spirit, you can also expect towering skyscrapers, the hustle and bustle of a major city, a thriving culinary scene, and a happening nightlife.
Honolulu is best known for the world-famous Waikiki beach. But what many visitors don’t realize is that there is so much more to this city. If you choose to explore a bit further you’ll find cool local shops and restaurants scattered throughout the city – especially around Chinatown, Ala Moana, Kaka’ako and Kaimuki.
As an Oahu local myself, I am in Honolulu quite often – whether for shopping, catching some live music, or checking out new restaurants.
As one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Honolulu’s many neighborhoods are absolutely packed with cool Airbnbs. You can stay in the trendy district of Kaka’ako or in the luxurious, yet under-the-radar Kahala. Of course, if you don’t know the ins and outs of Honolulu it can be hard choosing just the right location in the city.
Luckily for you, I’ve found 12 of the best Airbnbs in Honolulu – all conveniently located in the city’s best neighborhoods – to make planning your Hawaiian holiday a breeze!
Note: If you’re still deciding where to stay on the island make sure you check out my list of the best Airbnbs on Oahu.
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Top 10 Things To Do in Honolulu
- Hike to the top of Diamond Head, one of Hawaii’s most famous landmarks. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the summit has amazing views of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean.
- Relax on the famous Waikiki Beach. You can’t come to Honolulu without visiting this iconic beach!
- Take on the challenging 1,000 steep steps of the Koko Crater Trail. During World War II, this hike was once a railroad track built for the military. Today, it’s a difficult trail that will reward you with gorgeous views of the southeastern tip of Oahu.
- Say hello to the animals at the Honolulu Zoo. In addition to elephants, lions, and tigers, visitors to the zoo can see native Hawaiian species such as nene geese, kolea, and Hawaiian short-eared owls.
- Explore Honolulu’s Chinatown. While there, you can buy exotic fresh fruits from the markets and grab a meal in one of the many delicious restaurants. Lucky Belly and The Pig and the Lady are a couple of my favorites!
- Visit Iolani Palace, the only palace in the United States. It was once home to King David Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarchs of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
- Snorkel at Hanauma Bay where you can see schools of colorful fish, sea turtles, and even humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the official state fish of Hawaii.
- Marvel at the street art in Kaka’ako. Every February, artists from around the island and around the world flock to Kaka’ako to paint new murals as part of the festival known as Pow! Wow! Hawaii.
- Peruse the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market. Simply known as the KCC Farmers Market, this weekly event is the most popular farmers market on the island and is filled with tasty treats!
- Do a little shopping at the Ala Moana Shopping Center, the largest open-air outdoor mall in the world. With over 500 shops and dining options, the Ala Moana Shopping Center can keep you busy for hours.
Why Stay in an Airbnb in Honolulu
The hotels in downtown Honolulu primarily cater to business travelers. If you’re headed to Honolulu for leisure, you’ll either find yourself at one of these corporate-focused hotels or on the shores of Waikiki Beach. So if you’re hoping to find a fun, exciting place to stay in the heart of downtown Honolulu, an Airbnb may be your best option.
The different Airbnbs in Honolulu are simply amazing. Stay on a yacht in trendy Kaka’ako or in a luxury villa in lavish Kahala. You’ll be able to find a vacation rental that suits your travel preferences. Then, there are all of the extra amenities that Airbnbs offer. Private pools, state-of-the-art sound systems, and loads of beach gear are just the start.
Airbnbs are also a much better value than hotels in Hawaii, especially in Honolulu, where hotel rates can be quite high. Plus, if you’re traveling with friends or family, you’ll need multiple hotel rooms, whereas with an Airbnb, you can split the price of a single large vacation rental.
Finally, one of the greatest perks of staying in an Airbnb in Honolulu is the fact that you can connect with a local before your flight even lands. Many Airbnb hosts are very friendly and love to share local tips! And these tips are true gems in Hawaii, so be sure to make use of them! Find out about tucked away beaches, fantastic restaurants, and even under-the-radar events.
The 12 Best Airbnbs in Honolulu
Best Honolulu Airbnbs for Couples and Solo Travelers
As you can see from its numerous 5-star reviews, the Laule’a Loft is one of the most popular Airbnbs in Honolulu! This modern studio includes a comfortable queen bed, a well-equipped kitchen, a small dining area, and a balcony with breathtaking views of Diamond Head.
This compact Honolulu Airbnb is perfect for a solo traveler or a couple visiting Honolulu that wants to save some money. It’s one of the best value accommodations on the island of Oahu!
And just about all of the reviews rave about the host’s thoughtfulness. She provides everything you need from local goodies upon your arrival to a fresh pineapple in the fridge and coffee for your entire stay!
As for the location, Maunalani Heights is a rather quiet residential suburb of Honolulu. But you can easily make the short drive down to the foodie district of Kaimuki, the historic yet luxurious area of Kahala, or the visitor-filled area of Waikiki.
Most of the vacation rentals in Honolulu are apartments or condominiums, so this cozy cottage in Kaimuki is truly a rare find!
This Honolulu Airbnb will definitely feel like your home away from home from the moment you walk through the front door. You can snuggle up in your ocean-inspired bed, prepare a meal in the stocked kitchen, and get some fresh air out on the patio.
My favorite thing about this Airbnb, however, is the location. Kaimuki is the foodie hub of Honolulu and if you love to eat then this is definitely the spot for you!
Devour a delicious fusion brunch from Koko Head Café, try some fabulous desserts from Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery, munch down on a fantastic sandwich from EARL, and cool down with a scoop of tropical ice cream from Via Gelato. As an added bonus, you’ll also be just a few blocks away from the KCC Farmers Market!
This lovely Ala Moana condo includes both an ocean-inspired interior and breathtaking views of the ocean. With a wave-patterned carpet and a blue and white color palette, you’ll never forget how close you are to the beach.
This vacation rental features one plush king bed, a small seating area, an ocean view dining area, and a well-appointed kitchenette. And since this apartment is a part of the Ala Moana Hotel, you’ll also have access to all of the property’s amenities – swim in the sun-warmed pool, get a workout in at the fitness center, and relax in the wonderful sauna.
As for the location, this vacation rental is right beside the Ala Moana Shopping Center which is actually full of great bars and restaurants. You’ll also be within walking distance of Ala Moana Beach Park, the Hawaii Convention Center, and Waikiki Beach.
Best Honolulu Airbnbs for Small Groups and Families
One of the coolest Airbnbs in Honolulu is definitely the Ho’okipa Yacht! Not only is it docked in trendy Kaka’ako, but did I mention that it’s a luxury 57-foot yacht?
While staying aboard this floating vacation home, you’ll feel like a millionaire. It includes three welcoming bedrooms, a comfortable indoor seating area with a flat-screen TV and Playstation 4, a wet bar, a small kitchen, and a lovely outdoor seating area. And, of course, there are unparalleled ocean views throughout.
Rather than keeping the boat at the dock the whole time, you can book a charter with the crew for an extra charge. That way, you’ll be able to get the full experience of living onboard a boat. The crew will take you to all of the best marinas around Oahu. You can cruise past Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. You may even get to see whales and dolphins on your journey!
When the boat is in port, it’s docked at Kewalo Basin Harbor in Kaka’ako – the hip, trendy district of Honolulu. Take a few Instagram-worthy pictures with the hundreds of amazing street art murals, wander around the boutique shops of South Shore Market, and experience the excitement of the Honolulu night market.
If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a house that’s been completely remodeled, this modern near downtown Honolulu is a great choice. With a transformation reminiscent of Fixer Upper, Flip or Flop, or Property Brothers, this vacation rental is a fantastic place to stay!
This remodeled triplex unit has marble-esque counter tops, modern lighting fixtures, hardwood floors, and luxury Miele appliances. And it also has two comfortable queen beds, a well-appointed kitchen, a handy laundry closet, and a cozy living area.
This unit is located in the Punchbowl neighborhood of downtown Honolulu. This means that you can easily make your way to Chinatown, Foster Botanical Garden, the Honolulu Museum of Art, and Iolani Palace.
With embroidered pillows, a cute sign reminding you to remove your shoes (as per Hawaiian custom), and a collection of beautiful shells hanging on the wall, this adorable Ala Moana apartment is quite inviting.
This Honolulu Airbnb includes a spacious living area, a well-appointed kitchen, and two cozy bedrooms. And as for the sleeping arrangements, this home includes one king bed, one queen bed, and one sleeper sofa. The decor is simple, comfortable, and clean so you can make yourself right at home.
With a location right behind Ala Moana Shopping Center, you’ll have easy access to both downtown Honolulu and Waikiki. While in Honolulu, wander around Chinatown, stop by Iolani Palace, and hike the Koko Crater Trail. And while in Waikiki, lounge on Waikiki Beach, shop on Kalakaua Avenue, and see the Friday night fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Another lovely Honolulu Airbnb, this renovated 1950s Hawaiian-style cottage embraces the island-style architecture and design including wood-paneled walls and mid-century Hawaiian koa furniture.
The two inviting bedrooms, welcoming living area, well-stocked kitchen, and small dining area all embrace the Hawaiian style of design. And then there’s the grassy backyard, hot water outdoor shower, and sunny outdoor dining area for you to enjoy as well. You’ll want to spend all afternoon in the darling private backyard!
This vacation home is located in the historic town of Manoa. If you’re hoping to visit the University of Hawaii at Manoa, you’ll be within walking distance of the campus. You’ll also be quite close to Manoa Falls, Ala Moana Shopping Center, Leonard’s Bakery, and Waikiki.
Best Honolulu Airbnbs for Large Groups and Events
The Kahala Grand Splendor is definitely one of the most unique Airbnbs in Honolulu! With natural stone walls, a trendy flat roof, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls, it certainly is an eye-catching piece of architecture.
Filled with a soft gray and blue color palate, open spaces, and contemporary light fixtures, the interior design of the home is noteworthy as well. The home has five inviting bedrooms, an open first floor with a living room and dining area, and a luxurious kitchen. It also boasts many exciting amenities, such as a turquoise pool, a bubbling hot tub, a deep porcelain bathtub, and a Sonos sound system.
The Kahala Grand Splendor is situated in the hidden area of Kahala. Located just behind Diamond Head, this location is near the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market and the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design.
With three-story floor-to-ceiling glass windows, elaborate guard dog sculptures, and even a koi pond, this sumptuous Honolulu estate looks like it came straight out of Netflix’s Extraordinary Homes.
This Asian-inspired home includes Buddha statues, Chinese character art pieces, and jade green touches. It also has four beautifully decorated bedrooms, a luxury kitchen with Sub-Zero appliances, a couple of welcoming living room areas, a rustic wood dining table, and an ocean view balcony.
And there are quite a few unique touches that will make your Hawaiian holiday extra memorable – a telescope for stargazing, farm-fresh organic eggs from a chicken coop on the property, a Bose surround sound system, a deep porcelain bathtub with a bath tray, and a spacious greenery-adorned outdoor shower. You’ll be tempted to spend as much time as possible in this luxurious mansion!
When you’re ready to venture out from this magnificent vacation rental, this estate is conveniently located right in the heart of downtown Honolulu. Dine at one of the many tasty restaurants in Chinatown, check out the views near Aloha Tower, learn about Hawaiian history at Iolani Palace, and peruse the artwork at the Hawaii State Art Museum.
The lavish Park Lane is one of the newest buildings to grace the Honolulu skyline. Business moguls like Mark Zuckerberg and Lee Kun-hee (the richest man in South Korea) own suites in this luxurious building. And a stay in the Park Lane Ocean Resort Suite will give you your own taste of the billionaire life.
You might be asking yourself, what made this resort catch the eye of so many of the world’s wealthiest people? There are two main reasons: the luxurious interior and the prime location.
The interior of this home seamlessly integrates elegant and cozy features. You can wake up in one of the two plush king beds before heading out to the spectacular outdoor area with lots of comfortable furniture that is perfect for relaxing with a cup of coffee. The living area is filled with attractive and modern decor that is so soft and plush you’ll want to spend evenings inside perusing Netflix.
As for the location, it’s situated right on top of the Ala Moana Shopping Center. You’ll be just an elevator ride away from some of the best shops and restaurants in town. As an added bonus, Ala Moana Beach Park, Waikiki, and Kaka’ako are all within walking distance.
This magnificent, Hawaiian-style home is undoubtedly one of the best Airbnbs in Honolulu! Named after the large, beloved banyan tree that sits in the driveway, the Banyan House is definitely a place that you won’t soon forget.
Amidst the open layout and hardwood found inside this elegant home, you’ll find eight gorgeous bedrooms, several inviting seating areas, a rustic wood dining table, a full luxury kitchen, a functional office, and a well-equipped gym. There’s even a grand piano, a game room, and a saltwater fish tank!
But the fun doesn’t stop there – head to the backyard for even more excitement! While there, you can take a nap in the cozy hammock, dine on a meal on the sunny patio, soak in the sun on the grassy lawn, swim as much as you like in the breathtaking pool, and stare up at the stars from the bubbling hot tub.
Situated in lavish Kahala, this vacation rental has the best of both worlds. While you can easily make the short drive into Waikiki or downtown Honolulu, you can also escape the hustle and bustle of the city by staying closer to the estate. Relax on the hidden beach cove just outside of the property, buy a few snacks at the KCC Farmers Market, and hike to the top of Diamond Head.
The Diamond Head Beach Estate is, without a doubt, one of the most unique Honolulu Airbnbs, both inside and out.
The inside of this estate includes floor-to-ceiling glass windows, wooden slat-lined walls, and blonde-wood floors. It also has three beautiful bedrooms, contemporary furniture, and an open kitchen, dining, and living area. And just wait until you see the terrace!
The outside of this house includes a dining area with bright red chairs, a bubbling hot tub, and an infinity pool that seems to defy gravity and offers sweeping 180° views of the Pacific Ocean!
As you’ve likely gathered from all the lavish homes, Kahala is the most luxurious part of Honolulu. So it should be no surprise that this Diamond Head Beachside Estate is also located in Kahala. This oceanfront vacation rental is just a short walk from Cromwell’s Beach and the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture and Design.
That’s it – 12 of the best Airbnbs in Honolulu! Do you have a favorite vacation rental in Honolulu? Let us know in the comments below.
* All vacation rental photos courtesy of Airbnb.
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Sarah Etinas – About the Author:
Sarah is a travel writer based on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii. When she’s not enjoying the stunning beaches and hikes of her home island, she’s going on exciting adventures all around the world. A few of her most thrilling adventures have included snowshoeing in the Swiss Alps, kayaking through a river of jellyfish in the Caribbean, and sleeping in a sandstorm in the Sahara Desert.