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Beware of Hawaii’s Vacation Rentals: What No One Tells You About Staying with Kids

Are you heading to Hawaii this year and are thinking about staying in a vacation rental? Find out what no one tells you about Hawaii vacation rentals!
This list of tips for Hawaii vacation rentals was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

Hey there, fellow parent adventurers!

As a mom of two energetic boys and someone who’s whisked her family off to Hawaii more than 40 times (yes, you read that right!), I’ve gathered a treasure trove of do’s and don’ts about staying in vacation rentals across these beautiful islands.

Let’s jump into the nitty-gritty of choosing the right place to call home in paradise and how to sidestep those sneaky pitfalls that no one seems to talk about.

The Allure of Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals in Hawaii sound like a dream come true, right? You get more space than a hotel room, the convenience of a kitchen, and sometimes even your private slice of Hawaiian bliss.

And while they can indeed be the perfect basecamp for family adventures, there are a few “gotchas” that you’ll want to watch out for.

What No One Tells You About Hawaii Vacation Rentals

Many Require Stays of at Least 30 Days in Waikiki

Because of the housing shortage, Hawaii is really cracking down on short-term rentals (like condos and vacation homes).

Image of a lanai in front of a beach at sunset
Read the fine print for any Honolulu vacation rental agreement.

So it’s really important to read the fine print to make sure you aren’t trying to rent a place that requires at least 30 days (which is common in Waikiki).

Hawaii also just passed a law to limit short-term rentals beyond Waikiki, too. So, just keep that in mind as you plan. It’s now up to each county in Hawaii to decide if they want to keep short-term rentals.

Pictures Can Be Deceiving

We’ve all seen those glossy photos that make a rental look like it’s straight out of a magazine. But here’s the kicker – sometimes, those pictures are taken in such a way to hide less appealing aspects.

That ocean view? It might require you to hang off the balcony and squint past a parking lot. Ask me how I know 🙂

Expert Tip: Always read reviews from previous guests, and don’t hesitate to ask the host for more photos or details about the property.

The Location Isn’t Always Ideal

You might stumble upon a rental that seems like a steal, but once you arrive, you realize why.

Maybe it’s under the flight path of the local airport, in a shady part of town, or perhaps it’s a tad too cozy with the neighbors.

Expert Tip: Use Google Maps to check the surrounding area and ask the host about any potential noise or privacy issues.

Hidden Fees Galore

Ah, the dreaded cleaning fee, service fee, and sometimes even a “resort” fee – these extras can quickly turn a budget-friendly option into a wallet-draining experience.

Expert Tip: Always calculate the total cost before booking and compare it with other accommodations to ensure you’re getting a good deal.

Not All Rentals Are Kid-Friendly

Some places are decked out with fine china and decor straight from a museum – not exactly what you’d call child-proof. Or the condo is right out of the 1980s with glass tables and shelves.

Expert Tip: Look for listings that specifically mention they’re kid-friendly, or ask the host if they have any kid-specific amenities like high chairs or safety gates.

Making the Right Choice About Where to Stay in Hawaii

So, how do you ensure you’re picking the right vacation rental for your family’s Hawaiian adventure? Here are a few tried-and-true strategies:

Define Your Must-Haves

Before you start browsing, make a list of what’s non-negotiable for your family.

Interior of light kitchen with stylish island table
We always like having a full kitchen.

Do you need a crib? Is a kitchen essential? How about laundry facilities? Keep these priorities in mind as you search.

Location, Location, Location

Think about what kind of vacation you’re after. Do you want to be steps away from the beach, or would you prefer the cooler climes of upcountry regions? Your destination will significantly affect your daily activities and overall experience.

Safety First

Especially when traveling with little ones, check that the rental is in a safe area and that the property itself doesn’t pose any hazards. Ground-floor units or rentals with fenced yards can offer peace of mind.

Read Between the Lines

Reviews are your best friend. Look for comments from other families who have stayed there. They’ll often share insights you won’t find in the listing description.

My Personal Lessons Learned

We’ve stayed in a lot of vacation rentals in Hawaii with mixed results. Through trial and error, I’ve picked up a few golden rules:

Always Have a Backup Plan

Once, we arrived at a rental that was… let’s just say, not as advertised. Since then, I’ve learned to have a list of potential backups, just in case.

Engage With Your Host

A responsive and helpful host can make all the difference. Before booking, reach out with any questions. Their attitude and promptness in replying can give you a good sense of what to expect during your stay.

Pack Smart

Even the most well-stocked vacation rental might not have everything you need for a comfortable stay with kids. I’ve started bringing a small kit with essentials like a nightlight, a few plastic dishes, and a foldable step stool.

Embrace Flexibility

Not everything will go according to plan, and that’s okay! Sometimes, the unexpected moments lead to the best memories.

Hawaii Vacation Rental Tips Wrap-Up

Vacation rentals in Hawaii offer families a wonderful opportunity to experience the islands in a more personal, intimate way.

With a bit of research, some smart planning, and a dash of flexibility, you can find that perfect spot to come home to after a day of adventures.

Remember, the goal isn’t just to survive your stay – it’s to create a comfortable, memorable base where your family can relax.

Looking for more Hawaii accommodation guides? Check out 12 Kihei Condo Rentals on Maui Worth Booking, Hawaii Vacation Condo vs Hotel: the Pros and Cons, and 7 Huge Mistakes Families Make at Hawaii Resorts and How to Avoid Them!