Where to Stay in Hawaii: Hotels vs Vacation Rentals (What is best in Hawaii?)

The great debate between Jordan and Erica: Where is the best place to stay in Hawaii – hotels or vacation rentals? The debate gets heated.

We break down the pros and cons of Hawaii hotels and vacation rentals (Airbnb, Vrbo, timeshares, etc.) so you can have the best Hawaii vacation. Plus, gratuitous condo tour footage.

Watch for Oahu, Big Island, and Maui hotel and condo tours. We share all the best footage from our island-hopping trips and our favorite places from our home island of Maui.

Knowing where to stay is half the battle. Finish your Hawaii vacation planning with one download. Our Hawaiian island itineraries have everything you need for a dream vacation:

Need a hotel now? Here are our favorite Hawaii hotels (note, these are affiliate links which means we earn a few dollars at no cost to you when you click) Thanks for watching!
Westin Hapuna Beach (Big Island)
Sheraton Kona (Big Island)
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (Big Island)
Westin Maui (Maui)
Sheraton Kaanapali (Maui)
Royal Hawaiian (Oahu)
Sheraton Waikiki (Oahu)
Laylow (Oahu)
Marriott Ko Olina (Oahu)
Marriott Courtyard North Shore (Oahu)
Westin Princeville (Kauai)
Marriott Kauai Beach Club (Kauai)
Koloa Landing Resort (Kauai)

Check out our article Hotels vs Airbnb: What’s Best for Your Hawaii Vacation for details on how to save and if Airbnb or Vrbo has better vacation rentals:

Chapters: Hotels vs Vacation Rentals in Hawaii
01:47 1. Cost
04:55 2. Amenities
06:38 3. Space and Solitude
08:16 4. Location
09:34 5. Consistency
10:44 The winner is …

Note: the footage was shot before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, hence a lot of people around, hotels open, pools open, and other pre “new normal” stuff.

Thanks for watching,
Henry, Erica, Hattie, and Jordan

Music is from the fabulous Epidemic Sound. Sign up here for licensed music for YouTube, Instagram, or any content creation your heart creates:

Follow us on Instagram for behind the scenes content: @thehawaiivacationguide

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OUR CAMERA GEAR (keep it simple for your vacation!):
Underwater camera: GoPro HERO 8
Use your smartphone for video but keep it smooth with a gimbal: OSMO DJI
Don’t lose your GoPro, invest in a floaty
Floaty stick:
Floaty cover:
Vlogging camera (but use your phone for a family holiday):
DJI Mavic Min 2 with 4k camera (only fly in Hawaii if you know the FAA regulations):


The Best Hawaiian Island for First-Timers video –

Which Hawaiian Island Should You Visit –

The Best Time to Visit Hawaii –


  1. Part of why I love your channel is because I love that you compare so many things in regards to visiting Hawaii. I've learned that people have so many different preferences, but Hawaii has something for everyone. I was shocked when I was trying to help a friend pick a hotel location on Oahu…she WANTED the crowds and big city life! So, she got a place just past Honolulu over by Diamond Head. We love staying over in Ko Olina as it's so quiet over there! We've stayed at the Ko Online Beach Resort 3 times now and love it there! Very family friendly. Friends of mine are always shocked when I tell them we pay between $300-$400/night, but if you try to find a hotel big enough for the 6 of us, we'd have to book two rooms! That'll cost you WAY more that just $400, and you don't have the space or kitchen that a family unit will give you. We are all about renting from VRBO and finding family units. On Kauai, our favorite resort is the Koloa Landing, but now that it's all been remodeled we can't afford it! 🙁 Just so that others watching your videos know, andreading the comments, we stayed at the Waipouli Beach Resort over in Kapaa and LOVED it! Perfect for families! The units are very spacious, and the pools are amazing. Our kids were spoiled with their first pool slide, and now we can't go back. We've rented a unit at the Honua Kai Resort in Maui for August (HOPEFULLY!!!) and can't wait to explore that island.

    Ok, as you can see, I LOVE talking all things Hawaii, but I do have a few questions. Have you heard anything about car rentals once Hawaii is officially opened up for tourists in August (aka getting a negative covid test)? I've heard that car rental agencies still can't rent cars to visitors, and that worries me. Wouldn't they want to be able to start renting them out? Ok, another question, I've seen some live footage (from another fellow YouTuber!) of the Honua Kai, but only one hot tub was open. I'm also assuming that they'll reopen the pools once tourists can come? You've said before that pools are allowed to be (and are) open in Maui. I'm assuming that the Honua Kai just doesn't have theirs open as no one is staying there? Anyhoo, sorry for the long comment. Thanks for the fun comparison video. We're all about family friendly resorts with family units, so we're also on the VRBO side of the debate. I'd love to be able to rent a hotel for all 6 of us, but it's just too expensive. Maybe for our 20 year wedding anniversary next year, my husband and I can come alone! Take care and thanks again for all the updates.

  2. I got to stay at Halii Kai condos on the Big Island for my first trip. It was ✨🌺🌴😍🌴🌺✨
    (Translation: 😱😱😱😱😱)
    Favorite part of the trip (aside from hugging the stuffing out of family of course) was Swimming with the Manta Rays with the Ocean Encounters crew. Loved the name of the shop they had. Bite Me Sportfishing🤣

  3. You guys rock. Your videos are very helpful and I appreciate all your input. I would suggest that if you mention another video that you’ve made, you link it in the description box, not just the pop up links.

  4. Looking for suggestions where our family of 4 can stay in Maui in the winter for under $200/night. Even on Airbnb/Vrbo, small condos are $300/ night once you throw in taxes/fees.

  5. I canceled my 2 night at Grand Wailea and decided to go with a vacation rental. Wish me luck with the vacation rental 🤞

  6. Thank you so much for posting! We are a family of 5 headed to Hawaii (the big island) in the summer of 2022 for 1 week and found a beautiful beach front house for $4200 for thhe week. 2 bedroom suites to hold all of our children where so expensive. We found a rad little company called Hawaii Beach front vacation rentals. Awesome properties without all the additional fees.

  7. You both have been so helpful for me and my husband to book our Hawaiian honeymoon! I feel like I have my own experts in my corner, thank you for all your videos!

  8. Great video!! Our family will be traveling to Maui in a couple weeks, can you recommend kid friendly places to go?

  9. I have watched a couple of your videos and they are very informative so I subscribed. Bless you both.

  10. we plan to go oahu for the first time and spend 4th of july. would that good time to visit? Also what do you think of costco hawaii travel packages?

  11. We love the Marriott beach club in ko olina. Full kitchen, soaking tub, lagoon and beach. We did vacation rentals in Kailua for years, but the experience was very uneven. The beach club is also spacious and pretty quiet compared to the Disney resort.

  12. I am leaning towards vacation rental… shopping at the local market and stocking up my fridge😍😁

  13. I’m traveling to Oahu with my child. A cottage for rent in Hauula caught my attention. What are your opinion about Hauula area regarding Safety for single mom and a little girl ?

  14. Thank you! This was a helpful video as I just learned about Vrbo for rentals. Planning a trip currently. Will check out your article.

  15. Can you make a vid on the route for people to go if they want to live in hawaii? Like should we rent a condo or buy a condo, where should we stay (assuming honolulu has the most job opportunities)

  16. Condos work better for us as we can spend less money on the room and we don't have to go out for every meal. This allows us to stay a lot longer. Typically we prefer Kaanapali over Wailea area due to cost, and the condos down south aren't usually on the water.

  17. Staying 10 days in June. Current idea is to stay in a resort with all the fun amenities for the first 2 days to decompress, hang out at the pool/beach. Move to a vacation rental for the last 8 days!

  18. Love this, my fiance and I are planning our honeymoon and i was wondering what are some great vacation rentals at kaanapali?

  19. Wow amazing video. What the name of the small home that you guys booked thru Vrbo at Kailua… it had amazing views!

  20. Goodness gracious what a good looking family! Henry is SO cute!! Thanks for all the tips, super helpful!

  21. Thank for making this video. So far we decided to go to Maui at beginning of May and we're staying on vacation rental. All because your videos…
    Next stop… Rent a car.. maybe

  22. Very helpful, thank you guys. Planning a trip in April and watching your videos is helping decide where to stay. It’s pretty overwhelming!

  23. Normally hotels but we will be there in a few days (Oahu) and are doing a vacation rental and keeping to ourselves a bit more during the pandemic. We just need some warm sunshine. 🥰

  24. Looking for a vacation rental beach access near more local versus resorts. We are thinking more south Maui/ Kihei. Planning on mostly surfing/snorkeling/paddleboard/hiking. Any you guys like? Thanks !!

  25. Thank you both for taking the time to create these videos!!!! This has been so helpful as my fiance and I plan our honeymoon to Maui this June (2021) 🙂 I appreciate you guys! I am #teamvacationrental too btw, but once we have a kiddo maybe that will change!

  26. Hi Erica,
    I was listening and watching one of your videos and then jumped into your website. You reminded me about the Go Pass( I used it in San Francisco a couple years ago, a good experience). After reading your guide and making numbers, I decided to get the 5 days, which works for my family and me. I started calling places to make reservations, but to my surprise, they are asking me to pay again. Is this normal? I would appreciate a response to my question. Thank you very much for your time.

  27. Which island has the best beach? My wife and I are thinking about going to Hawaii for our anniversary next month.

  28. Aloha,

    I appreciate that your intention is to help people better plan their vacation. However, please understand that local people, especially Native Hawaiians, are getting displaced from our home because of Vacation Rentals. Mainland investors buy up properties solely for the purpose of renting them out short term. Local families are unable to find affordable rent or a place to rent/buy at all because of these investors.

    Please also note that our hospital space is very limited. We have a total of 244 ICU beds for the whole state (all islands – about 1.2 million people). This is not the time to be visiting us or making vacation plans while we are in a pandemic.

    In addition, most (but not all) tourists who come to our islands do not respect the land and the people. Unfortunately, our government thinks that tourism is the best course of action for our economy. We are simultaneously aiding our economy while destroying the very thing that supports our current economy. If you do decide to visit us, pick up your trash, wear reef-safe sunscreen only, read the signs in the area, do your research before visiting. Be aware that if you get in the ocean and run into trouble, someone has to risk their life to save you.

    I would also recommend that you do your research on how Hawai'i was acquired and is currently illegally occupied by the United States. You will then understand why some locals treat tourists the way that they do. Remember that you are on STOLEN land.

    For those considering using a vacation rental/AirBnB property, please also consider the Hawaiian people that you are displacing from our native home.


  29. I see it as who must cook… thus go out for dinner is better. Who feels need to clean up? It's not a vacation when you are living in just another house. If not hire a chef/maid. Hotels have security and guaranteed rooms. Some vacation condos are scams. It is safer at hotels with security and privacy… such as hidden cameras built in homes and condos.

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