Among all condos on Oahu, the condos that allow for short-term vacation rentals – often referred to as condo hotels – are very popular. For an out-of-state or overseas owner, a condo hotel allows the owner to utilize while vacationing in Hawaii and otherwise rent out to other vacationers to maximize revenue.
Oahu has three resort neighborhoods – Ko Olina, Turtle Bay and Waikiki – and some of the condos in these neighborhoods – not all – are zoned Resort Hotel, which allows owners to run a short-term vacation rental business, assuming the condo association has not amended their rental rules.
In the following we will review the only Ko Olina condo that allows short-term rentals, the only two Turtle Bay condos that allow short-term rentals and three – out of the many – condos in Waikiki that allow for short-term vacation rentals.
Honolulu is energetic and exciting, but it sometimes leaves you forgetting you’re in Hawaii. It’s noisy, cramped, and there’s concrete everywhere you look. But if you go west, on the far side of Pearl Harbor, you soon find you can stretch out a little more and truly enjoy ocean and mountain views. For many, Ko Olina is the ideal Hawaii: oceanside living, white sand beach, championship golf course mauka (inland) of the condo, and Disney’s Aulani is your neighbor. It’s the Hawaii that feels like getting away from it all.
4-day-minimum length of short-term stay
Though the law allows for a one day minimum length of stay for locations zoned as Resort Hotel, the Ko Olina Beach Villas’ house rules increase that minimum length of stay to four days. This may not seem like much of a deal breaker, but it’s important to keep in mind when narrowing in on your purchase. It should be noted that the Beach Villas is the only property in the area that can be legally rented out as a short-term rental.
With a 2007 build date, the Ko Olina Beach Villas complex is fairly new and fitted with many attractive features and amenities. They include a heated pool, keiki (kids) pool, whirlpool, recreation area, grilling area, exercise room, conference room and a walking and jogging path. The property sits up against Honu Lagoon, which enjoys a white sand beach and calm blue waters.
Ko Olina Beach Villas really shines when it comes to unit size. Across two and three-bedroom offerings are many different layouts that include lanai space. Two-bedroom condos range from about 1,170 to 1,300 sq ft indoors, with an additional 178 to 480 sq ft of lanai space. Three-bedroom condos range from about 1,470 sq ft to 1,650 sq. ft. indoors, with a lanai space of about 200 to 260 sq ft. Ground-floor units enjoy a small yard! Additionally, each unit’s kitchen has been designed by Chef Roy Yamaguchi, and includes double door dishwashers, Sub-Zero refrigerators, wine fridges and many more touches of refinery.
The Ocean Villas at Turtle Bay is located in a resort neighborhood called Kuilima, located about an hour’s drive outside of Honolulu on Oahu’s world renowned North Shore. There’s a lot to like about the Ocean Villas’ remote, resort location. However, it’s important to remember that each winter crowds from around the world turn up to watch and take part in some of the biggest competitions the sport of surfing has to offer. During the other seasons, Turtle Bay is the perfect base to explore the surf town Haleiwa and some of the finest beaches on the Island, including Waimea Bay and Pipeline.
1-day-minimum length of short-term stay
Unlike the Ko Olina Beach Villas, the Ocean Villas at Turtle Bay have not amended their house rules to increase the minimum length of stay for short-term renters. Guests are allowed 1-day-minimum stays.
With a build date of 2005, the Ocean Villas have many complex amenities to keep you, or your guests, comfortable. They include a pool, hot tub, BBQ area, recreation area and security. And, of course, the beach options, whether just outside your front door or down the road, are plentiful.
The Ocean Villas don’t disappoint when it comes to unit selection. Property seekers can choose between studio, one-bedroom, three-bedroom and four-bedroom accommodations, with studio and one-bedrooms measuring about 670 sq ft, three-bedroom units of about 1,410 or 1,530 sq ft and four-bedroom units with about 2,200 sq ft to 2,390 sf ft.
Update 2.10.2020: New DPP declaratory ruling: B&Bs and TVUs are now allowed at Kuilima Estates East & West, pursuant to CO 19-18. That’s because Kuilima Estates is within 3,500 feet of a resort zone district of greater than 50 contiguous acres and was rezoned to A-1 Low-Density Apt District (Zone Change Application #71/2-33) as part of the rezoning of the Turtle Bay master planned resort.
Easily the most famous of the three resort neighborhoods on Oahu, Waikiki’s reputation precedes itself the world over. For decades, the tourist mecca on the Island’s southeastern shore has been the standard by which other beach destinations have followed. Within a 1.5-mile stretch, residents and visitors have available to them some of the best in dining, shopping, entertainment and outdoor activities the Islands have to offer. From Waikiki, the rest of metro Honolulu is easily explored by foot, bike, bus or car. Property seekers should understand that Waikiki is different from Ko Olina and Turtle Bay in that there are close to 30 different condo complexes that allow for short-term vacation rentals.
Because there are far more offerings for short-term rental properties in Waikiki, it’s best to read through our guide to Waikiki condotels to orient yourself. We have included three uniquely different complexes, which gives you a sense of the variety of Waikiki’s short-term rental condos.
One of the more famous buildings in Waikiki, the Ilikai is often recognized from the opening sequence of the original “Hawaii 5-0” series, in a scene showing Jack Lord standing on its penthouse lanai. The 1965-built condo received a massive renovation in 2014, and is fitted with amenities, such as two pools, gym, restaurant, valet, meeting rooms and security. Properties are available in a one-bedroom, 500 sq. ft. interior, 120 sq. ft. lanai floor plan, a two-bedroom, two-bath, 1000 sq. ft. interior and two 120 sq. ft. lanai floor plan, and a two-bedroom, two-bath, 1000 sq. ft. interior and single 240 sq. ft. lanai. There are also two and three-bedroom penthouse units with high ceilings and 2378 sq. ft. of interior space. Property seekers have been attracted to the Ilikai’s location and its historically strong return on investment.
The 1960-built Waikiki Shore has lots going for it, but it’s location in Waikiki takes the cake. The condo is next door to the 72-acre Fort Derussy Beach Park and it’s the only beachside condo in all of Waikiki. That means the property owners are literally a few steps from the sand, and a few more from the ocean. Waikiki Shore has a resident manager and security, but otherwise doesn’t have any noteworthy amenities. Units range from studios – about 350 sq ft – to one-bedroom – about 500 sq ft to 700 sq ft – to two-bedrooms with about 900 sq ft to 1,200 sq ft. Historically cash flow hasn’t been great for many units, though positive.
For property seekers who aren’t cash flow conscious and who are looking to make a luxury lifestyle purchase, Waikiki’s Trump Tower ticks most of the boxes. The complex, which was built in 2009, also operates as a five-star hotel. Amenities include a pool, spa, gym and business center and is located right behind Waikiki Shore. Units are available in studio through three-bedroom floor plans, most units ranging from about 400 sq ft to a little over 2,000 sq ft.
A Final Thought
With the rise of online vacation rental booking platforms, such as AirBnB and VRBO, the Resort Hotel classification is expected to keep owners safe from possible scrutinization imposed by our local government on short-term vacation rental properties.
Also, given the increasing demand for privately owned short-term rental properties, there are early plans to develop new condo hotels in Waikiki, Ko Olina and Ala Moana areas. It will be very interesting to follow these developments and see what projects may materialize.