Edited by: Chris Dong
& Keri Stooksbury
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I recently had a 12-hour layover in Honolulu, arriving from Los Angeles and transiting to United’s famed Island Hopper service the next morning.
That layover from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. was enough time that I wanted to go out of the airport and sleep in a bed (not in the airport), but not enough time that it was worth the effort — or cost — to go into Waikiki. That’s especially the case when you factor in the time getting off the plane, out of the airport, back to the airport, security, etc.
Instead, I booked the cheapest hotel across from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL). Welcome to the Pacific Marina Inn, where “cheapest” still means you’ll pay $140+ per night, though that pales in comparison to hotels in the touristy areas of Waikiki.
I originally found the property on Hotels.com, but booking directly at pacificmarinainn.com will save you a few dollars. Here’s what staying at the hotel in early September 2023 was like, in case you’re looking for an affordable stay near the airport during a future connection.
The airport had a free shuttle available 24 hours a day. It departed the hotel every half hour or whenever 6 or more passengers were waiting.
To get the shuttle on arrival in Honolulu, call the hotel at 808-836-1131 to tell them your location at the airport. The employee will tell you how to find the nearest pickup spot outside and an estimated wait time.
The shuttle was clean and efficient, with a friendly employee taking me from the airport to the hotel’s front desk in 5 minutes. At pick-up, I was the only passenger. Returning to the airport in the morning, the 15-person shuttle was completely packed, making 2 stops before I got out at the United check-in desk.
For those with a car, there was abundant free parking on both sides of the motel.
The Pacific Marina Inn had a pool located in the center of the property. There were multiple lounge chairs spread around the pool, too.
There was a bar, restaurant, and gift shop, all circling the central courtyard that had a fire pit at night. The bar also had karaoke, which could be a positive for some (and negative for others).
The Lagoon Chinese Restaurant had a menu in the window, so you could check it out before getting a table. Note that it was open from breakfast through dinner but was closed on Mondays (as of the time of publication).
Adjacent to the lobby, there was a snack shop selling everything from cups of noodles and microwavable burritos to chips, drinks, alcohol, ice cream, and hot coffee. Payments could be made in cash or by card. Mobile wallet was accepted as well.
Rooms had both a minifridge and microwave, so eating in a restaurant wasn’t necessary.
And if you want something beyond what’s offered on the property, ordering delivery from an app like Uber Eats was simple, as the motel was easy for drivers to find.
My driver actually arrived with 3 orders for different guests.
The main reason to consider the Pacific Marina Inn is probably the location. Price is another strong reason.
While it’s probably further than you want to walk with a large suitcase, the hotel is very close to the airport terminal and is the cheapest option in the area. Rooms were simple but weren’t lacking any necessities.
The hotel had numerous Wi-Fi extenders around the property.
I received a code at check-in and was told which network to join based on my room. Speeds were superb: 75 Mbps downloads and more than 72 Mbps uploads.
As soon as I checked in, I got an automated text message that I could use for requests. This surprised me; I didn’t use it, but it could be a useful feature.
Since it’s not part of a rewards program, you may think you can’t redeem points for a stay here. That’s not necessarily true. If you have cards like the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Card or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you can redeem your card’s rewards for travel purchases at hotels that aren’t part of a rewards program.
This is a motel-style property (exterior walkways, enter the room from an exterior door), so the entrances to some rooms faced the runway. If you’re a light sleeper, ask for a room that doesn’t face this direction.
While these rooms aren’t immediately next to the runway, the low height of the sheds between the property and the runway meant there was nothing to stop the noise. That was especially true for rooms on the second floor with odd numbers from 301 to 315. That’s where I slept; I’m a pretty heavy sleeper and didn’t wake up, but the noise could be problematic for others.
The Pacific Marina Inn could use a facelift in many regards. Cracks in the uneven walkways meant water dripping from the window A/C units in each room tended to accumulate, creating small puddles on the walkways. Watch out that you don’t slip on these.
While the rooms were dated and lacked certain modern amenities, the obvious wear and tear seemed like a bigger issue to me. The stains on the blinds in my room provided an unappealing example. And the A/C units were loud enough that you may need to turn them off to fall asleep at night.
Yes, the clocks in the room had a few charging points, but the rooms overall could use updated features and a fresh coat of paint. It wasn’t dirty, but “worn” is the most accurate description.
At check-in, guests pay a destination fee of $17.69 (after tax). What does this include? I tried to inquire and was told it covered things like the shuttle, coffee in the lobby, Wi-Fi, “and other stuff.”
Breakfast wasn’t included in this fee or the nightly rate, and I couldn’t get any further explanation of why guests were charged this fee.
The Pacific Marina Inn provided a decent night’s sleep at a cost much lower than many other properties around Honolulu. It was conveniently located near the airport, had food and beverage options on-site, and provided a free shuttle to and from the airport.
However, I got what I paid for. The rooms have seen better days, some faced a busy runway (creating a noisy experience), and the destination fee was suspect.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive stay near the Honolulu airport before an early flight, you may stumble on the Pacific Marina Inn. Knowing its positives and negatives can help you decide if this is the right property to meet your needs.
The information regarding the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
Make sure to check prices for your specific dates, but on many nights of the year the cheapest hotel will be the Pacific Marina Inn.
Yes, it does. The shuttle is available 24 hours a day and is complimentary for hotel guests.
Complimentary parking is available on both sides of the hotel, available on a first-come, first-serve basis for hotel guests. There is no gate or security guard in the parking lot, however.
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Ryan has been on a quest to visit every country in the world and plans to hit his final country in 2023. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.
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