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Are you struggling finding the perfect place to stay on the Big Island? Picking just the right spot is usually one of the hardest parts for me when I’m planning a trip. I love staying at fancy beach resorts (pretty much more than anything!), but it just doesn’t always make sense to pay so much money when I’ll be spending most of my days hiking in Hawaii Volcano National Park or visiting amazing colored sand beaches.
So I’ve got the perfect solution for you…you can save a bundle and still get amazing amenities by staying in a condo or vacation rental on the Big Island!
Hawaii has a great variety of accommodation options, which makes it the perfect place to try out a vacation rental. Since Hawaii is a major vacation destination, there are of course MANY condos to choose from but besides condos, Hawaii has a ton of “ohanas.” Ohana means family (any Lilo and Stitch fans out there???) and in Hawaii the term is applied to separate living units located on the same property as the main house. Many homes in Hawaii are divided up into multiple spaces (each with its own private entrance, bathroom, kitchenette, etc.) while some have a guest cottage on the property. Because so many homes are configured this way, it’s easy to find a private apartment or cottage on the same property with a local host.
There are several ways you’ll save money on a trip to the Big Island by staying in a condo or vacation rental. The biggest way you’ll save money is that it’s soooo much cheaper than staying at a resort or hotel. On many islands you can find condos or ohanas either right on or just a block or two from the beach. Plus, resorts can get expensive really fast if you have more than two adults staying in a room. Rental units are perfect for larger parties who can rent an entire house or multi bedroom condo and split the cost. Another big benefit that rentals offer is the full kitchen (or kitchenette depending on what you book). Having a place to cook some meals and a fridge to store snacks and drinks can really save you a lot.
What should you look for in a vacation rental?
Before you start looking around for specific condos or rentals, it’s best to have a general idea of where you want to stay. If you’re not very familiar with the Big Island, you should read this post to get the lay of the is(land) and decide which area you’d most like to stay.
Consider what you need. What’s important to you? Are you looking for a specific location near a certain beach or resort area? Do you need a full kitchen? Reliable Wi-Fi? A full house or just studio? Be clear about what you want before you start searching.
Read reviews. Before you even consider staying at a property, you should read up on what people who have stayed there have to say. Remember, you’ll only hear the good points from the host but reviews usually give a much more honest story. And when I’m weeding through listings, I also put a lot of weight into the photographs provided. If the photos look professional, it probably means that the owner runs their vacation rental in a professional manner and that is a indication that it’s a good place to stay.
Ask plenty of questions. When you’re seriously considering staying at a specific property, you should correspond with the owner and ask them any questions you may have.
Count the extra costs. Be sure to factor in any security deposits, cleaning fees, and booking fees.
Know the cancellation policy. Each property and owner may have different terms so know what they are before you commit.
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So now that you know what you’re looking for…how do you find it?
I think the best place to find (and book) Big Island vacation rentals is Vrbo. They’ve been around forever and are probably the most reputable booking platform online (with owners and vacationers alike), which means that you’ll find more quality properties listed on Vrbo than anywhere else online. I used to book more often with Airbnb, but I’ve begun to find that they often don’t have what I’m looking for (especially when I want to book a condo/unit within a resort property).
Vrbo has an enormous amount of traditional vacation rental listings (condos in resort areas), but they also have so many options that are more “off the beaten path” in local areas. But overall, you’re going to find properties listed by owners who take their rental business very seriously and are committed to providing you the best accommodations possible.
How does it work? By doing a simple search by island (or specific area), you’ll be able to find a wide (price and type) range of accommodation. You can refine your search to fit certain criteria (part of the island, price, style, etc.) before you start weeding through specific properties.
The number of search results you’ll find by island can be extremely overwhelming, so I would suggest putting as many filters as possible (especially price and number of bedrooms) and then viewing the results on a map so you can get an idea for where everything is located.
I know what people are looking for specifically varies greatly, but I often get asked for the best (i.e. cheapest) beachfront condos, so I’ve rounded up a few specific properties that I like the looks of:
Big Island Condos Under $100/Night
Compared to the other islands, you can find a TON of rentals on the Big Island under $100/night. If you’re looking on the Kona side of the island, you’ll find the best deals in Kailua-Kona and south (prices on the Kohala Coast are more), but other than that it’s possible to find budget friendly properties all over the island.
These rates are also STARTING rates, meaning that’s the cheapest rate you’ll find during the slow season (usually late August through September and end of January through February) so if you’re putting in dates for high season (holidays and summer months), the rates may be higher.
Also, I feel like I should mention that if you can up your budget to the $180/night range you will find a LOT more options for condos and vacation rentals (and some may even be two bedrooms so if you’re traveling with others and splitting the cost you may still come out around $100/night).
Feeling a little overwhelmed with trying to plan the perfect Big Island itinerary? I’ve got just the thing for you!
Big Island Bound! I’ve put together the BEST Big Island itineraries you’ll find anywhere! These are the itineraries I use on my trips to the Big Island (plus a few tweaks because hindsight is 20/20 right?) and they’re perfect for first time and repeat visitors who want to see the very best of the Big Island.
Check it out here.
I’ve included everything from the best snorkeling spots, beaches, and excursions and it’s all broken down by each part of the island so you won’t waste any time backtracking.
So what exactly do you get? With Big Island Bound, you’ll get FOUR six day itineraries: 1) classic Big Island itinerary, 2) Big Island honeymoon itinerary, 3) Big Island for adventure seekers itinerary, and 4) Big Island foodie itinerary. I’m not just talking about a bullet point list of to dos. Each itinerary comes with 10-15 pages of commentary explaining why I recommend doing certain things (plus various options to suit your interests). Each itinerary also comes with its own Google Map (broken down by day). You’ll also get an itinerary template that you can use to make your own, along with extensive tips on creating your own itinerary, a huge list of things to do on the Big Island, and directions for making your own Google Maps.
This is basically vacation in a box, friend! Just add a bit of salt water and you’re in for the trip of a lifetime!
Click here to grab the Big Island Bound itinerary bundle.
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