December 2, 2023

Travel Hawaii

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Hawaii Vacation Rentals No Longer The “Cheap” Alternative

Hawaii Vacation Rentals No Longer The “Cheap” Alternative

Hawaii vacation rentals have long been considered the cheaper alternative to Hawaii hotels. So is that still true? We dug further into current rates by island, which we will share with you. The results are mixed and may be a surprise.

There are about two-thirds million Hawaii vacation rentals. In July, the average daily rental rate statewide was $301 before taxes and fees. But that doesn’t begin to tell the whole story, and here’s why.

A 7-night Hawaii vacation rental stay may, in total, cost the equivalent of 10-12 nights.

Vacation rentals have significant extra fees to be added, like highly variable cleaning and service charges. On a weekly rental, we found that additional cost, including all taxes, was equivalent to between 3 and 5 extra nights. So a $301 nightly rate may cost $3,612 for a one-week stay.

Are Hawaii Vacation Rentals still a good deal?

Commenter Pat said, “I don’t understand what all the bellyaching is about when there are thousands of short-term rentals available at reasonable prices. Also, I don’t understand why BOH doesn’t talk about them anywhere in the article.”

BOH: We no longer see very reasonable rates for Hawaii vacation rentals. Even a low teaser rate tends to come out to be quite expensive.

Kay added, “Consider using short-term vacation rentals on the Big Island. A 3 bdrm unit in Mauna Lani Resort will rent for 300-400 per night.”

BOH: We checked, and the cheapest three-bedroom Mauna Lani unit during the low season dates of December 4-11 was $362 per night, which became $4,344 for a 7-night stay. That’s not too shabby for a larger group traveling together. But for just two people in a 1-bedroom located at Mauna Lani, the price starts at $296/night. That’s about $3,552/week, including all taxes and fees.

How cheap do Hawaii vacation rentals go?

As for the cheapest Hawaii vacation rentals, for the most part, they start at about $120 per night, plus fees. Even that lowest price rental will cost you close to $1,500 per week when all fees are included.

We checked for the cheapest rentals on all islands during that low season week of December 4-11. And those low-price rentals will mean giving up a lot. Honestly, we wouldn’t get near those with the lowest prices with a 10-foot pole. Mostly because of poor location, amenities, and photos.

Maui vacation rentals.

Maui has the state’s largest supply of vacation rentals, with more than 229,000. The average daily rate in July was $352, yielding a 7-night price of approximately $4,224. The cheapest rental we found (that wasn’t some form of camping) was $2,339, after including taxes and fees.

Honolulu vacation rentals.

There were more than 181,000 vacation rentals and an average daily rate of $226. That would yield an approximately 7-night total of $2,712. The cheapest rental we found was $1,213, after including all taxes and fees.

Big Island vacation rentals.

With 174,000 units, the average daily rate was $256. The approximately 7-night total is $5,028. The cheapest rental we found was $708, after including all taxes and fees.

Kauai vacation rentals.

Kauai had just 85,000 vacation rentals that operated with an average daily rate of $404. The approximately 7-night total is $4,848. The cheapest rental we found was $1,812, after including all taxes and fees.

Pros and cons of Hawaii vacation rentals include:

1. High prices are exacerbated by extreme taxes, plus other charges like cleaning and service fees. Last year, HB862 created additional taxes. As a result, Hawaii now has the highest combined accommodation tax in the US at about 18%. That tax is both on vacation rentals and hotels.

2. Availability. The best and most in-demand units can be sold out up to a year or more in advance. Tip: some vacation rentals can be booked up to 18 months ahead which is beneficial for summer and holidays.

3. Multiple bedrooms, a kitchen, and extra space compared to a hotel room make vacation rentals sharable in terms of cost with family and friends.

4. Having your own “home” for your stay in Hawaii lets you experience the islands far more like a local.



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