sunset over Kokohead from the Kahala Hotel
· · · ·

The Kahala Hotel on Oahu: Luxury with Aloha

View from an open window facing the Pacific Ocean with palm trees

Nestled along the picturesque shores of Oahu, about a 20 minute drive from the Honolulu Airport, The Kahala Hotel offers a luxurious retreat for travelers seeking both a laid back vacation and a luxury hotel experience.   The Kahala is one of my favorite places to stay while on Oahu.    Located in a quiet neighborhood location just down the street from the quaint Kahala Mall, it is ideal for travelling families, newlyweds, and solo travelers as well.   Since 1967, due to the secluded nature of the resort and the amenities,  the resort quickly became famous with the Hollywood crowd, presidents, Japanese royalty and high-society crowd on Oahu.  It still feels like a place that is extra special and makes a vacation even that much better.

Scoring the Kahala Hotel (Learn More About Our Scoring Method)










Overall Score
View of the Hills from Kahala Hotel

How Did we Score the Kahala Hotel?

Read more: The Kahala Hotel on Oahu: Luxury with Aloha

Location of the Resort

Score: A

Situated on Oahu’s southeastern coast, The Kahala Hotel boasts a prime location between Waikiki and the famous Hanauma Bay.  It is sandwiched between the Waialae Golf Course and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. It is located on a pristine white sand beach, and is a adjacent to the local Kahala beach.  The grounds are stunning including a well manicured lawn, dolphin lagoon, and an outdoor pool and hot tub.   While Waikiki is only a short drive away, it feels like a totally different part of the island. It is such a serene setting which allows you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Hawaii. Plus, its proximity to popular attractions like Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay means you’re never far from adventure.

View of the palm trees in front of the Kahala Hotel

Amenities of the Kahala Hotel

Score: B+

Spend your days lounging by the swimming pool, indulging in rejuvenating and innovative spa treatments, or just relax and enjoy the beach. The location isn’t ideal for paddleboarding or surfing (although they do rent equipment if you want to give it a try).  The fitness center has great equipment and the women’s and men’s locker rooms have steam rooms and a shared private hot tub.   The main pool and hot tub are fairly small but nice enough.      There are multiple great restaurants on site, including  famous Italian food that the locals like to go to for special events.  We loved the breakfast buffet at Plumeria Beach House.  Where else can you get fish and rice, Portuguese sausage, malasadas, and lilkoi pancakes?  They also have Japanese favorites (soba), some Chinese dishes and of course, the standard breakfast buffet items.  Plus, the coffee is incredible.   

Probably my least favorite thing about the Kahala Hotel, and this may be controversial, are the bottlenose dolphins.   Dolphin Quest, part of Sea Life Park, has a group of resident dolphins that live at the Kahala Resort.  It is enjoyable to wake up and walk by the dolphin lagoon to see them swimming and playing and I do appreciate the education that they provide. As a marine biologist (in my day job),  I just have issues with dolphins in captivity.    I know many people will enjoy the dolphins and will hopefully learn about how special these creatures are.  The Kahala Resort does work with the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and from what I have heard they do an excellent job of education about the dolphins.  

Dolphin Lagoon at Kahala Hotel
dolphin swimming in lagoon at Kahala Hotel

Rooms and Bathrooms of the Kahala Hotel

Score: B+

Both time, we were given an ocean view room.  My favorite was to open the sliding glass doors and let the fresh ocean air come in. The rooms are quite large and comfortable and feel cozy.   But, the beds felt slightly small, especially for a room so large (550 square feet!). The rooms are slightly dated as well but I kind of liked that as part of the charm. While we didn’t spend much time in the room, when we did want to relax in the room, the placement of the TV and the size was awkward.

As for the bathrooms, we loved them. They all feature the famous Japanese Toto Washlets, separate sinks and a deep soaking tub and a lovely shower.  I loved the nightly turn down service and felt the housekeeping staff did a great job.  

sunset over Kokohead from the Kahala Hotel

Service at the Kahala Hotel

Score: A++

The Kahala Hotel is owned by a Japanese company and has traditionally been a hotel that caters to Japanese travelers.  You can feel this in the service. The staff is so attentive and kind and they go out of their way to make the stay amazing.  I loved that they remembered us between stays (almost three months apart) and really loved to chat with the staff.  They are fun and kind people; you can definitely feel the Aloha spirit. 

Overall Value of the Kahala Resort

Score: A-

The Kahala Hotel is not for budget travelers. Like Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s north shore, a stay at the Kahala will be a considerable investment. However, what you receive in return is an unparalleled experience that justifies the expense. From the moment you step into the open air hotel lobby and are greeted by the front desk staff,  you notice the attention to detail and service that is top notch.  

I have always used points and miles to book the Kahala Resort. Check out my post on the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program for details.  Using these programs can make the luxury resort experience even more attainable.  Not to mention, they offer early check-in, late check-out time and a resort credit.  I used mine at the Kahala spa for the best massage.

Breakfast Plate filled with waffles, sausage, fish and rice
beautiful young woman on the lawn of the Kahala hotel
white plumeria

Overall Impression of the Kahala Hotel

Score: A

The Kahala Hotel  is my favorite hotel on Oahu and I would recommend it for anyone that prefers a quieter pace.  Just writing this review makes me want to go back as soon as possible.

Due to its location on a more secluded beach, a car or using a ride share (Uber or Lyft) would be necessary if you want to explore the rest of the island (and trust me, you do!)   For me, staying away from the craziness of Waikiki is worth the price tag.  And, the service, the amenities (especially the breakfast) and the spa are world class.  

In addition, the Kahala Hotel has formed the Kahala Initiative for Sustainability, Culture and the Arts are regularly holds events on property to teach about Hawaiian history or culture.  To me, this is very important as they understand that sustainability is important and take care to minimize waste and impacts on the environment.  If you do stay there, be sure to check out their offerings before you go.  

Have you stayed at the Kahala Hotel? Let me know your thoughts!

For More Details

5000 Kahala Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *