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The most difficult part of planning a Hawaiian vacation for me is deciding where to stay. While I love luxurious beach resorts as much as the next girl, most of my trips to Hawaii tend to be pretty active (especially Kauai!), and it just doesn’t make sense to pay an arm and a leg to stay at a fancy place when I’ll be spending most of my days hiking in Waimea Canyon or boating down the Napali Coast. But…sometimes I like a little more comfort than a budget hotel provides. Luckily, I’ve figured out the perfect way to save some cash and still get amazing amenities by staying in a condo or vacation rental!

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 Oahu 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 Kauai, 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.

So now that you know what you’re looking for…how do you find it?

I think the best place to find (and book) Kauai 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:

Kauai Condos Under $100/Night

One bedroom condo in Poipu starting at $100/night

Oceanfront condo in Kapaa with bikes included starting at $89/night

Kapaa studio with pool starting at $100/night

Kapaa oceanfront condo with pool starting at $99/night

Kapaa condo at Plantation Hale starting at $99/night

One bedroom condo in Princeville starting at $99/night

Studio in Princeville starting at $89/night

Colorful studio in Princeville starting at $97/night

Luxury condo in Princeville starting at $99/night during specials (otherwise $165/night)

Air conditioned studio apartment in Princeville starting at $89/night

RELATED: 15 Things to Do on Kauai

How to See the Napali Coast

Where to Eat on Kauai

As you can see, the cheapest areas to find condos on Kauai are Princeville (north shore), Kapa’a (East side), and Poipu (south side). Many of the properties listed above are very well reviewed by many people which means they’re “on the map” properties, so to snag dates (especially at these prices!), you may have to book pretty far out as there’s likely to be a lot of interest.

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 Hawaii itinerary? I’ve got just the thing for you!

Hawaii Bound! I’ve put together the BEST Hawaii itineraries you’ll find anywhere! These are the itineraries I use on my trips to Hawaii (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 each of the Hawaiian Islands.

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 Hawaii Bound, you’ll get 10-15 different DAILY itineraries for each of the four main islands (Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island).

These aren’t week long itineraries, but daily itineraries so you can pick and choose what works best for your trip. If you’re the go-go-go type, then pick 6 different daily itineraries and string them together into one adventure packed trip. If you’re staying at a nice beach resort and wanting to take advantage of the amenities, then pick 2-3 daily itineraries and spend the rest of the week chilling at the resort/beach. If you’re going on an island hopping extravaganza trip, use the daily itineraries to figure out how many days to spend on each island and what to do!

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 Hawaii Bound itinerary bundle.

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