I was hosted by The Surfjack. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Wondering where to stay in Waikiki, Oahu?
If you asked me even just a couple years ago, I wouldn’t actually know what to tell you (though the unmistakable pink Royal Hawaiian is a landmark in its own right!). Frankly, unless it was pink, most of Waikiki’s hotels felt pretty unremarkable to me growing up.
Slowly but surely, though, Waikiki has been undergoing a transformation.
What I once considered a somewhat outdated and kitschy tourist-centric neighborhood is becoming a hub of creativity that I actually find myself wanting to return to each time I travel to Oahu, just to see what’s fresh and new.
In the last few years alone, I’ve seen a small but mighty few Waikiki hotels experience a renaissance, successfully highlighting Oahu’s vibrant contemporary culture while paying homage to Waikiki’s mid-century heyday. One of them, The Surfjack (which just opened in 2016 and is still very much a new kid on the block), feels fresh and fun with its playful design and welcoming vibe.
If you’re wondering where to stay in Waikiki, and whether this hotel is for you, keep reading for my full Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club review!
Waikiki is Oahu’s main hub of tourism, famous for its iconic beachfront, high-rise hotels, uninterrupted sunsets, and stunning view of Diamond Head.
Lots of people are quick to cast off Waikiki for its popularity and “pre-packaged aloha” feel, but what you might not know is that Waikiki actually was an incredibly significant spot for Hawaiian royalty to reside, recreate, and surf. That’s right – Waikiki is a royal beachfront, and a cornerstone of Hawaiian history!
The cool thing about this neighborhood is that, no matter which Waikiki hotel you stay in, you’re no more than a 10-15 minute walk from the ocean. The Surfjack is located off of Kuhio Ave, on Lewers Street. Named after Prince Kuhio, Kuhio Street is known for its restaurants, bars, and convenience stores. When it comes to where to stay in Waikiki, know that you’ll typically find cheaper eats and cheaper shopping on this street than you will on Kalakaua Avenue (the main road that runs through Waikiki), which can be super convenient! On the flip side, you may also find a bit more of a party crowd on this street, but in general it’s just part of the buzzy Waikiki experience.
If you’re renting a car while you’re on Oahu, The Surfjack offers complimentary parking at an offsite parking lot just a couple blocks up the road, which is a huge bonus in Waikiki as some Waikiki hotels can charge $30+ per night per vehicle.
The Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club Property
What instantly impressed me about The Surfjack property was that, unlike so many of Waikiki’s hotels where you need to enter through a ginormous lobby, pass by countless shops, or ascend up an escalator just to find the check-in counter, the front desk staff at The Surfjack is literally right there, at ground level, ready to welcome you as soon as you step foot onto the property. It may not seem like much to you, but to me, this instantly chilled me out and made me feel at home in the concrete jungle of Waikiki.
In the spirit of a true swim club, The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club will ensure that you’re poolside pretty much anywhere you go. Decked out with the nostalgic postcard phrase “Wish You Were Here!,” The Surfjack’s pool has constantly been referred to as one of Waikiki’s most Instagrammable, and it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re gazing at it from your room’s lanai (patio) up above, lounging on the deck with a cocktail in hand, or cannon-balling straight into the water, you can’t deny the small-ish but mighty pool’s fun, quirky allure.
Pro Tip: The Surfjack’s pool is made even better by nightly “adult swim” adults-only pool sessions from 6 – 9 pm, which are accompanied by live music!
In addition to the pool, The Surfjack’s lobby is also home to a coffee shop, a boutique shop, an onsite restaurant and bar, and plenty of colorful nooks to lounge around in. No matter where you look, from the staff uniforms, to the room keys, to the art, to the daily hotel activity briefings posted up in the elevators, it’s obvious this place is confident in its character and frankly, must’ve been a lot of fun to bring to life.
The Surfjack RoomsImage Credit: The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club describes itself as a retro-inspired, art-driven boutique hotel, and that is as apparent in the rooms as it is in the lobby. The rooms at the Surfjack hotel are more colorful and punchy than your standard Waikiki hotel, which makes it memorable.
The Surfjack’s whole vibe was designed in collaboration with interior design teams The Vanguard Theory and Studio Collective, and creative team Wall to Wall Studios. The aesthetic is meant to be one that honors Oahu’s storied history, its people, its voyager roots, its surf culture, and its modern identity, all in one.
Each of the Surfjack’s 112 vintage-inspired rooms (or, bungalows, as they’re called on the Surfjack site), are well designed with touches of laidback aloha. When considering where to stay in Waikiki, know that the Surfjack has tons of room options for big and small groups.
The Surfjack Room Options:
- One Room Bungalows (up to 2 people, cheapest option)
- One Bedroom Suite (up to 4 people)
- Two Bedroom Suite (up to 6 people)
- Three Bedroom Suite (up to 8 people)
- One-Room Bungalow Penthouse (up to 4 people)
- One Bedroom Suite Penthouse (up to 4 people)
The rooms for larger groups are likely limited and you may need to book way in advance, but it’s a great deal. If you’re unfamiliar with Waikiki hotels, know that finding a hotel accommodation for a group of 6 – 8 isn’t easy, so this could be a good perk if your friends and family are tagging along!
Now, like I mentioned earlier, The Surfjack Waikiki is a surprisingly affordable hotel. The one-bedroom options start around $115/night. I actually stayed in a penthouse, which starts at $400 a night and is still a pretty good price considering your location and the space you’re getting in return.
For reference, most Waikiki hotels generally range from $200 – $500 per night!
The Society6 Suite Penthouse [NEW FOR 2021]
Want a special, one-of-a-kind Waikiki hotel stay? In 2021, the Surfjack introduced a special penthouse room exclusively designed in partnership with Society6 (an artist-driven online marketplace), which I got to stay in while I was on Oahu!
The Society6 Suite, which is one of a kind, is a penthouse room on the top floor of the hotel that you can’t even access with the hotel’s regular elevators. To get here, you need to take the elevator up to the 9th floor and then walk up a lime green stairwell (which, I think, adds to the experience, to be honest!).
In the suite, you’ll find some of Society6’s artists’ original works, including Oahu-based artists, that were carefully curated to match the laidback spirit of Hawaii’s modern aloha. The wall art is retro, tropical, fun, and gives off a sense of surfer-infused boho-chic, which really fits with the entire aesthetic of the hotel as a whole.
And, if you like what you can see, you can actually buy any of the art or decor in the suite in an exclusive Surfjack Collection on Society6.com. It’s a pretty cool souvenir idea, because you won’t find pieces like this wandering around Waikiki!
Pro Tip: Promo code SURFJACK25 will snag you 25% off on Society6.com.
The Society6 Suite also comes with one of the largest lanais (patios) I’ve ever seen in Waikiki. While ocean views are minimal, you really get tons of outdoor space for a high-rise, which feels luxe.
How to Book the Society6 Suite Penthouse?
While you can book any of the Surfjack’s other hotel rooms on their website or on Booking.com, you’ll need to email [email protected], or call the hotel at (808) 923-8882, with your desired travel dates in order to book this room – the Society6 Suite – in particular.
Food & Drink at The Surfjack
The Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club has an onsite restaurant called Mahina & Sun’s, which is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (at the time of writing, dinner is only available Thursday – Sunday). I only got to eat here for breakfast, but the avocado toast was super. tasty. Not your average avo toast, at all!
Every day, from 12 – 9:15 pm, you can also get Lanai Happy Hour and some of the cheapest drink specials I’ve ever come across at a bar in Waikiki. A perfect way to enjoy the ‘Mahina Lounge,’ which is the Surfjack’s live music series that they host by the pool each evening.
There’s also an onsite coffee shop that makes a delicious iced dirty chai.
Want to venture off the hotel property? Within the immediate area surrounding The Surfjack hotel, you’re actually a quick walk from some of my favorite places to eat in Waikiki. Marugame Udon (worth the wait!), Hideout at The Laylow, Basalt, Pa’ia Fish Market, and Kalo Hawaiian Food are all within 10 minutes on foot!
Tips to Know Before You Go
Outside of 2021’s awful rental car shortage, renting a car in Hawaii is generally very easy (though it might not be cheap). Fortunately, the Surfjack includes overnight parking which is a HUGE Waikiki hotel perk.
No car? Uber and Lyft are common, and easily accessible, on Oahu. If you want to get around Waikiki and do some sight-seeing along the way, you can use the Waikiki Trolley. The Waikiki Trolley is a hop on, hop off trolley for $5 – $25 per day, depending on where you want to go (options include Ala Moana Center, downtown Honolulu, and Oahu’s south shore).
You can also try Oahu’s bus system, which is literally called The Bus! It’s a very reliable and cheap public transportation service that gets you all over the island, like from Waikiki to the North Shore (which I write about here!), without needing to drive or deal with traffic.
- WHAT TO DO IN THE AREA
- Try a surfing lesson! Waikiki has one of the best beaches with calm, rolling waves for surfing newbies.
- Visit Diamond Head.
- Shop at Ala Moana Center.
- Explore downtown Honolulu, Iolani Palace, and Chinatown.
- Catch a jazz show at the Blue Note Hawaii.
- Watch the Hilton’s Friday night fireworks show on the beach.
The Surfjack Waikiki is a pet-friendly hotel! At the time of writing, I learned that two dogs of any size are welcome to stay with you at the hotel for no additional fee (say what?). Though I didn’t investigate myself, I’ve read that pet-friendly amenities like complimentary dog walking and pup play dates are available for guests. I saw lots of guests with cute dogs during my stay so I can attest to the fact that this is a popular perk especially for local guests who don’t want to leave their pets behind!
Ready to pack your bags? Book your stay at The Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club here.
Book Activities In Or Near This Hotel Here:
Read This Next:
- The Ultimate Local Guide to North Shore Oahu (plus 20-Page Self-Drive + Bus Guide!)
- My Review of Camp Olowalu: Glamping in Maui