Always wanted to travel to Hawaii? Have you imagined yourself lounging on the beach or trying to surf? Few places host as much natural beauty or social appeal as the Hawaiian Islands, and none of the Islands have quite as much to offer as Oahu.
One of the best ways to experience Oahu is by renting a beach house. With the explosion of online platforms allowing companies and individuals alike to list and rent out their properties, the possibilities really have become endless. Here are 5 things to consider when choosing a vacation rental in Hawaii
Potential Rental Sites and Services
The explosion in the last five years of online property listings has given vacation renters a lot of options to choose from. Some sites, like Airbnb, offer peer to peer rentals around the globe that can help you get the “local experience.” Other listing websites are location/niche oriented, like this one dedicated only to Oahu Beach House Rentals.
For what they’re worth, locally run websites are typically more tightly managed and do some of the vetting work for you. But it’s still important to understand what you need or want when choosing a site to work with. Are you willing to put a little more work into vetting and finding a cheap new listing on Airbnb, or would you rather deal with a rental company with curated properties and (potentially) fewer headaches?
When on your Hawaiian vacation, try some of these local Hawaii dishes when you see them at a take out counter or cafe.
Take a Look at the Pictures
Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few rental sites or companies, take a look at your options using the photos that have been posted for each listing. Photos are key, and I’d hesitate to rent any property with less than two or three photos (especially in Hawaii).
With photos, you can see exactly what you’re getting. You can see whether the bathroom has a full tub or a half shower stall. You can check to see if that room that says it will sleep two has a full bed, or two twins. Plus, if you’re looking for a rental with a specific feature, such as a pool or ocean view, the photos will almost always give you a better picture (literally) of what you get.
Read the Reviews
Reviews are as important as pictures in narrowing down your list of potential rentals. Like with pictures, I’d be wary of any listing with few reviews. But quality can be as important as quantity. Renting a listing with three or four reviews that are accompanied by positive testimonials about previous renters’ experiences is typically more reassuring to me than a property with 20 or 30 five star reviews that mysteriously lack any detail.
Compare the Prices
Price is always an important consideration. And even though renting a vacation home doesn’t always end up being the cheapest option, it’s still important to make sure you’re getting a good deal. Typically, the three or four properties you’ve limited your search to after looking at pictures and inspecting will all be around the same price point.
If one or two are quite a bit cheaper than the others, it may help to ask, “why?” The answer is typically pretty obvious. Does one have less bedrooms or bathrooms? Does it give you access to a kitchen or work space? Is it located right on the beach instead of a mile or two away?
Considering differences in prices is a great way to figure out exactly what you’ll value in a rental. Do you need a full kitchen, or would you rather spend that extra $30 a night at local restaurants? If a rental is significantly cheaper, but you can’t figure out why, it may simply be that the owner is having trouble filling space, listed it last minute, or is new to the platform you’re using.
Ask About Other Amenities and Services
If, after considering everything above, you’re still having trouble deciding between two or three listings, there are a few other “tie-breaker” things you can consider. If you’ve begun planning your trip to Hawaii by finding a place to stay and are still looking for activities or opportunities to fill your time there, you may want to look into whether the places you’re considering booking offer any additional services or deals. It’s not uncommon for rentals, especially those listed with local tourism companies, to offer cool perks. Perhaps your rental comes with free transportation, recreational equipment, or breakfast.
It’s worth noting that these opportunities may not even be mentioned in a rental listing, but don’t be afraid to ask. Maybe the couple renting your Airbnb stores a pair of kayaks there that they’d be willing to let you use. And, as a bonus, these conversations with rental owners or managers can often end with some phenomenal, little known recommendations that you likely wouldn’t have run across otherwise. Best of all, beginning a friendly conversation like this with a rental’s lister can help alleviate any fear or doubt you have about a property (or conversely, help you rule it out), especially if this is the first time you’ve rented for a vacation.
So there you have it. Five tips to help you pick the best vacation rental in Oahu, Hawaii. Thankfully, these guidelines aren’t only applicable to Hawaii. I’ve used them successfully in some form or another around the world.
What do you think is my most useful piece of advice? Have I left something out that you think needs to be considered? Let me know in the comments section below!
Travel writer and owner of the blog. My work has been featured on Fodors, Eater.com, International Living, and Great Escape Publishing, among many others. My story? Nearly six years ago, I left my job at an Oklahoma City law firm and embarked on a journey around the world. At the time, I thought I would only be gone for 6 months, but the more I traveled, the longer my bucket list became. Flashpacker describes how I travel. Rather than traveling as the normal world wise backpacker and staying in hostel dorms, I prefer a more comfortable experience, and typically stay in private rooms, take Ubers instead of taxis, and now use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Foodie, on the other hand, describes one of the key reasons why I travel. I love to pick a central “base camp” and then explore the surrounding area, really immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people, and enjoying and exploring the food of an area is an essential part of this experience.