Hotel Room vs. Vacation Rental (VRBO) when Staying on Oahu

Oahu, Hawaii


During our two vacations to Oahu we have stayed in a couple different places. Our first visit to the island we stayed a few nights in Waikiki at an Airbnb, then we stayed at a resort in Ko’Olina, and on our last trip we stayed the entire time in North Shore, Haleiwa. All were very different experiences, I’m gonna share the good and bad to all so you can see what fits your vacation needs best!

1. Waikiki / Vacation Rental Airbnb

On our very first visit to the island of the Oahu we decided to stay in the world famous Waikiki. Little did we know, Waikiki is the Los Angeles of Hawaii. It is insanely busy, traffic, packed with people, parking is outrageously priced, and not to mention expensive hotel prices. Now don’t get me wrong… you definitely need to visit Waikiki, the different shops, restaurants, the beach, I just don’t think we would ever stay here. Again don’t get me wrong there’s beautiful hotels, great beaches, we personally just prefer the island vibe of it all verses the hustle and bustle city parts. We found our vacation rental on airbnb, for a fairly decent price. It was a very spacious studio, with great ocean views, and view of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Lagoon. It is located in the Ilikai Hotel, and there are many other vacation rentals in this hotel. All have a very similar layout, look, some even owned by the same owner. Our room, had a good size kitchen (we love to cook in)! a balcony, and beach accessories. The hosts were great! The app, and the airbnb process was very convenient and easy. The bad part would definitely have to be the parking, the Ilikai Hotel ONLY has valet parking and it is $30 a day. If you think that’s crazy, that’s about the average price of parking in Waikiki. All in all a great room for a great price. I’m glad we got to experience Waikiki, I just don’t think i’d stay there in the future.

2. Ko’olina / Marriott Resort

The second part of our first trip (isn’t that confusing) we stayed at the Marriott Resort located in the beautiful and isolated Ko’olina. Marriott Resort Ko’olina is located right next to Disney Aulani, and its right down the road from some of our favorite spots to eat like Monkeypod! If you get a chance to check out Ko’olina I definitely recommend visiting the shops and restaurants around here! It’s such a nice area. The Marriott Resort and the location are to die for! There’s many different pools, an adult pool, jacuzzis, waterfalls, a day spa, restaurants and bars on site, free parking, a golf course, and a lagoon/beach for resort guests *only* and it’s perfect for snorkeling, sunbathing, swimming, standup paddle boarding you name it! We stayed in a one bedroom, with a kitchenette, bathroom, and a balcony with views of the pools and ocean. We loved staying here! We were able to go out and explore the island yet still come back and enjoy the resort amenities. The only part we didn’t like was the kitchenette. I know some people only eat out while on vacation, but this is one way Bala and I save money plus we prefer cooking in. So the fact that the room only had a microwave and mini fridge was difficult but we made it work and enjoyed our stay overall.

3. North Shore / Vacation Rental VRBO

On our last visit to the island we decided since we got a taste of the city parts of the island and we only had a day visit to north shore, that this time around we were gonna stay in North Shore the entire time. And let me tell you it was the best idea we’ve had yet! We stayed at a vacation rental through VRBOand it was located right on the beach. I can’t explain to you enough our love for this house! It was truly amazing. It was a one bedroom/studio, bathroom, full kitchen, living room, lanai with chairs, and stairs down to the beach. Our favorite part was relaxing on the deck listening to the waves, or sitting on the beach right outside and watching the sunset. The kitchen was also prepped with anything you might need we cooked/ate in almost every meal. And a big plus to this rental was all the fun stuff it came with! Two bikes, two foam surf boards, a boogie board, beach chairs, beach towels, and floaties. The owners were so nice! And they responded quickly if we had any questions or needed anything at all. If we ever return to the island we will definitely be staying here. Also FYI, we stayed in the one bedroom upstairs. But there is also a two bedroom downstairs, completely separate if you’re looking for more room (:




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