Accommodation on the Big Island

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You will spend almost half of the time of your vacation in Hawaii in your chosen accommodation. This means that your choice of lodging will have a large impact on your vacation. However,  almost no-one gives the choice where they want to spend their nights serious thought. You should.

One of the best pieces of advice we can give about planning your trip to Hawaii is to decide what kind of accommodation is the best for you.

In this article we outline the pro’s and con’s of all your options, and we hope that we can make a positive contribution to your vacation on Hawai’i! Should you rent a room in a hotel, spend your vacation in a luxurious resort, or get your own vacation rental? Tl;dr (literally, “Too long; didn’t read”): we are a HUGE fan of using vacation rentals

Below we list some factors that may be relevant for your choice. The two most popular options are hotels and vacation rentals. There is also the option of spending your nights in a resort or in a bed and breakfast.

If you are looking for specific accommodation options on the Big Island, you can have a look at the following pages:

Note that on the Big Island, apartments, condominiums and homes are eligible to operate as short-term rentals if they are located in areas zoned for such use and/or they have obtained the required authorization(s) from the State of Hawaii and/or the relevant County. We recommended that you confirm with the owner or manager that the property is operating in compliance with all applicable laws before booking.

Comparison between hotels and vacation rentals in Hawaii

We compare the benefits of staying in a hotel versus staying in a vacation rental based on the following points:

  • Cost (which one is better value)
  • Size (where do you have more space)
  • Privacy (where will you be disturbed less by strangers)
  • Dining (what are your options for dining)
  • Cleaning (who is responsible for cleaning your place)

We discuss each option below for the hotel and vacation rental option, and grade it on a scale between – and ++.

Which one is better value?

Renting a vacation rental for two people or a hotel room both cost you anywhere between $80 and $200. For the same price, vacation rentals give you more space and luxury. If you are with larger groups (say, a family), you really start to notice how good a deal a vacation rental is. There are also no ‘hidden’ costs with your vacation rental. No parking fee, Internet fee, towel fee, bottled water fee and the likes. Besides, if you would like to spend your money on other things, ordering take-out and buying your drinks in the supermarket can easily save you tens of dollars! [Summary: Vacation rental +, Hotel ±]

Where do you get more space?

Vacation rentals are on average about 4-5 times larger than a hotel room. Many vacation rentals have their own kitchen, bathroom, bedroom(s) and entertainment area, garden, and garden with sometimes even your own, private hot-tub!

[Summary: Vacation rental ++, Hotel -]

Which one is more private?

Vacation rentals offer more privacy. Inside, you won’t hear your neighbours through the thin walls of your room. The same goes for the outside spaces. Especially in the more rural areas outside the cities, vacation rentals often include a secluded garden.

[Summary: Vacation rental +, Hotel -]

What are your dinner options?

Hotels often offer the convenience of a buffet for breakfast and a restaurant for dinner. Vacation rentals have their own dining area with kitchen and refrigerator, in which you prepare your own food. You can also order take-out and have a romantic dinner in your backyard, have breakfast in your bathrobe, and plunder your fridge for a midnight snack if you wake up hungry.

[Summary: Vacation rental +, Hotel +]

Who cleans your place and what does it cost?

In a hotel you can leave your room in a state of chaos, and return to a beautifully cleaned room every day of your stay. In a vacation rental do not have the luxury of your in-house cleaning service. However, since you have lots more space available in your rental, it won’t clog up that quickly. Hotels don’t charge a cleaning fee to prepare your room for the next occupant after your stay. Vacation rentals often do charge a cleaning fee to clean the house. This fee generally is between $30 to $100.

[Summary: Vacation rental ±, Hotel ++]

Resorts in Hawaii

Staying in a resort is the most luxurious accommodation option on the Big Island and takes almost all the chores of planning your vacation out of your hands. We recommend staying in a resort if you want an ultimately relaxing vacation and don’t mind paying the premium for it.

Find out more about resorts on the Kona coast.

Bed and Breakfasts in Hawaii

Bed and Breakfasts are a wonderful way to get to know the island. Their setting is more intimate that that of the resorts or hotels. They offer some of the advantages of vacation rentals, such as atmosphere and the feeling of being a local, and offer more convenience because of the included breakfasts. They lack however the large spaces and privacy of vacation rentals.