Between sun-kissed beaches, lush rainforests and vibrant coral reefs, Oahu makes for one of the best vacation spots for any kind of traveler. But resort fees can cast a shadow on your vacation budget.
Luckily, Oahu is home to hidden gems of hotels that offer exceptional stays (and incredible resort amenities) without the added sting of extra charges. Here are the best Oahu hotels without resort fees, plus other ways to avoid them on your next Hawaii vacation.
1. Halekulani, On the Beach at Waikiki
Folks seeking a luxury experience without resort fees might consider Halekulani, On the Beach at Waikiki. The 453-room property spans five oceanfront acres on Waikiki Beach and includes a pool, spa, fitness center and three restaurants.
One particularly convenient perk is the hospitality lounge. Besides refreshments and workstations, the lounge offers showers and lockers which guests can use outside of check-in or checkout time. That’s helpful in situations such as having a late flight and wanting to take a post-beach shower before jetting off.
The hotel’s star is the iconic poolside restaurant called House Without a Key, where you might sip on the resort’s signature Mai Tai while watching a hula dancer sway to live music.
2. Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani
Another option for Waikiki hotels without resort fees is the Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani, the sibling hotel of Halekulani, which offers 284 rooms and four suites.
The upscale boutique hotel sits one block inland from Halekulani so you won’t get the beachfront advantage. Though, the consolation prize is pretty solid. The hotel’s eighth-floor pool deck has an infinity lap-style swimming pool, hot tub, poolside bar and cabanas with ocean views. There’s also a fitness center, hospitality lounge and open-air lanai garden.
3. Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
Not only are there no resort fees at The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, but there are very few fees period. Parking is free for your first car. If you’re traveling with a dog, there are also no pet fees, (which is a rarity among the sea of pet-friendly hotels that may charge $100 plus in fees per stay — and sometimes, per night).
All guests get access to solid amenities, including an onsite pool with cabanas and free morning coffee and sunscreen. There are also complimentary beach chair, towel and tote rentals.
What’s the drawback amidst all that good stuff? Other Honolulu hotels without resort fees are closer to Waikiki Beach. Here, expect a 10- or 15-minute walk.
The Ala Moana Hotel has a premier location next to the Ala Moana Center, which is the world’s largest open-air shopping mall. Also included in your resort fee-free stay is access to the pool, fitness center, steam room and sauna.
The hotel is part of Accor Hotels’ Accor Live Limitless rewards program, making it possible to book stays using points. Accor Hotels includes some well-known, luxury travel brands such as Sofitel and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.
5. Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
A Disney vacation is hardly synonymous with budget-friendly, but take solace in the fact that Disney is one of the few top-tier hotel brands that don’t charge resort fees. That extends to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, which is in the master-planned tourist region of Ko Olina Resort Community & Marina.
The resort offers much of what the brand is famous for, like meet-and-greets with Disney characters. Given Aulani’s wide range of amenities — including a complimentary kids club, pool parties, ukulele and hula classes, guided nature tours, outdoor movie nights, and live musical performances — it wouldn’t be difficult to spend your entire Hawaii vacation on-property.
Though there’s no resort fee, know that Aulani isn’t cheap. A NerdWallet analysis of more than 75 cruise rates, 200 ticket prices and 550 hotel room rates at Disney resorts in 2023 found that while cruises tend to be the cheapest type of Disney vacation, Aulani stays are the most expensive. With the understanding that prices can vary based on the type of room booked, NerdWallet estimates that a three-night stay for two adults at Aulani would cost from $3,300 on the low end to $5,000 on the high end.
Other ways to avoid resort fees on Oahu
Even if you book an Oahu hotel that charges resort fees, there’s a chance you can escape them. Here are some tips to avoid mandatory resort fees:
Book on points (sometimes)
Some hotel loyalty programs — including Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt — waive resort fees on award stays. One of the best ways to quickly rack up points in these programs is through spending on their branded credit cards, which typically offer a boatload of points in one go through their introductory offers, plus ongoing points through regular spending.
World of Hyatt Credit Card
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
4x points on Hyatt purchases, including participating restaurants and spas. Properties under the Hyatt umbrella include the Park Hyatt, Miraval, Andaz and Hyatt Place.
2x points on dining at restaurants, airline tickets purchased through the airline, fitness club and gym memberships, and local transit and commuting.
1x point on all other purchases.
14x points on Hilton purchases.
7x points on flights booked with airlines or through AmEx Travel.
7x points on rental cars booked with select rental car companies.
7x points on dining at U.S. restaurants.
3x points on all other purchases.
Hold elite status
Holding top tiers of elite status in hotel rewards programs could mean waived resort fees. For example, World of Hyatt waives fees for people with Hyatt Globalist status, whether you paid with points or cash.
This tip doesn’t require a premium credit card or fancy status. Don’t underestimate the power of a friendly request at check-in to waive your resort fees.
This strategy works best if you can make a strong case. Maybe you checked in late at night for a one-night stay when the pool had closed anyway, or you need to check out before the free coffee is even brewed.
(Top photo by Sally French)
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for: