You’re vacationing in the birthplace of surfing. It’s only logical to stay in a hotel that conveys your affinity for the culture and lifestyle. That said, there is no longer a cookie-cutter version of what defines a surfer. The Spicoli-esque image was tossed out with the dishwater years ago. Without a pigeonhole how can we be sure that what’s good for one surfer is good for another? We can’t, which is why we’ve broken down the best Waikiki hotels for surfing by type. Find the one that suits you and book your reservation accordingly.
Top 5 Waikiki Beach Accommodations for Surfers of Varying of Tastes and Budgets
Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort | For the Cultured Surfer
Your relationship with surfing extends beyond the act of wave-riding. You appreciate the Hawaiian culture behind it, along with the personalities who have elevated it from pastime to sport and everything beyond and between. It’s this that makes the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort ideal for you, and on the second floor lobby of the hotel you’ll discover why. The property has an ongoing exhibit to honor the Beachboys of Waikiki, including one of the originals – Duke Kahanamoku. Behind the glass of their display cases are artifacts that include an original paipo (for prone surfing) and an iconic Ben Aipa “Stinger”. In 2020-21 The Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort also introduced its Surfers in Residence program which is hosted by South Shore surfing matriarch Tammy Moniz. On any given month you may find Tammy interviewing (in-person) the likes of Kelly Slater, Mark Cunningham, and other surprise guests.
The Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort has been named one of the most Hawaiian hotels on Oahu, and is also one of the best in “town” when it comes to surfing.
Moana Surfrider | For the Distinguished Surfer
Like the Outrigger, the Moana Surfrider pays homage to surfing’s place in Hawaiian culture. The resort has hosted local and visiting surfers since it opened its opulent doors in 1901 and has no intention of downplaying its role. Legacy is what differentiates the Moana Surfrider from the rest of the hotels on this list, and that comes with a price tag. This luxury property is for the distinguished surfer, one who is obliged to the lifestyle yet also appreciates the finer things in life. But don’t worry, you’ll never get a sense of pretension during your stay. Duke Kahanamoku’s aloha spirit is felt throughout, as is that of Tom Blake, a legendary waterman who invented the hollow (wooden) surfboard. In addition to their exhibit pieces is a modern recreation of a 1960s-style longboard and a 1980s-style shortboard by Eric Maurus of Inter-Island Surf Shop. Inter-Island is a small surf shop that was established in 1959 and can be still be found nearby on Kapahulu Avenue.
If you want rich surfing history with your $600/night room and $20 mai-tais then this is the hotel for you. View more on the Moana Surfrider.
SurfJack Hotel & Swim Club | For the Communal Surfer
Surfers tend to be a communal bunch, at least in the beginning of their life’s journey. If you are inclined to connect with like-minded souls but have no desire to shack-up in a hostel, then SurfJack is up your alley. The new boutique hotel on Lewers Street feels like a co-op, but does not opt out of style. The on-site cafe is a perfect place to caffeinate before getting barreled, while Mahina & Sun’s on the other side of the swimming pool is where everyone gathers for apres-surf cocktails and dining. There is also a communal lounge area where you can plop down with a surf mag or laptop to check tomorrow’s swell forecast. Be sure to look up and spy the vintage Ben Aipa, Dick Brewer, and Lightning Bolt boards that hang overhead. View more on the SurfJack Hotel & Swim Club.
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani | For the Sensible Surfer
Morning wave-check from Kaiulani
Not every property is required to have boards on exhibit to count as a top hotel for surfing, although the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani is the only one on this list without. So why does it make the cut? It’s the most convenient and cost efficient hotel for the sensible surfer. With rates hovering just above the $160/night mark (off-season) for a standard queen or double bed, it’s a budget friendly accommodation that refuses to sacrifice luxury. What really sets it apart however, is convenience. The hotel is located on the corner of Kalakaua and Kaiulani Avenue, which is kitty-corner to the main beach. Within a minute of leaving the lobby you can paddle out to one of Waikiki’s three primary surf spots – Canoes, Queens, and Pops. In addition, the hotel valet offers guests free board storage so that you don’t have to lug a log into the elevator and back up to your room. You’ll also enjoy close proximity to surf shops such as Local Motion and Stoke House should you need wax, a new set of fins, or the latest copy of FREE SURF magazine. View more on the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani.
Queen Kapiolani Hotel | For the Beginner Surfer
Located at the eastern end of Waikiki is the Queen Kapiolani Hotel. It’s near a surf spot known as Publics – a beginner-friendly break that doesn’t gather grumpy locals. The hotel has a good number of colorful vintage surfboards on display and is home to the Greenroom. The Greenroom is a vibrant gallery/shop with surf-themed art, literature, t-shirts, and accessories. Shop manager Tomo loves to “talk story” so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation when you have time between sessions. Lastly, the property has an on-site surf school for those who need to brush up on their wave-riding skills. View more on the Queen Kapiolani Hotel.
Do you have any questions about the best Waikiki hotels for surfing? Leave them in the comment section below and we’ll get right back to you!