Tips for Picking a Big Island Vacation Rental

Big Island Guide Travel Guide

While renting a vacation condo, villa, or entire house is a great way to save money on your Big Island accommodations, no two rentals are the same. There’s plenty of amazing, well-maintained rentals available on the island, but there’s also a few sour apples that don’t quite live up to the idyllic Hawaiian vacation setting. Even some units within the same property have their ups and downs, leading to disappointment for travelers who have done their due diligence before making their reservation. To help guide non-residents through the vacation rental process so they can avoid a poor experience, we’ve constructed this guide to hopefully alleviate some of the misconceptions that come with renting a Big Island vacation home

The first thing to note is that nature plays a pretty major role in every aspect of life on the islands. The big resorts do major preventative measures to keep the pests, humidity and salty air from impacting your stay. If you want a more pristine environment, you may be better off staying at a higher end resort, because few vacation rentals are maintained at that level.  That’s not to say that rentals won’t be nice or well maintained but, often times, not to the same degree so it’s good to know that upfront.

Where to Look
VRBO and Airbnb are major rental avenues for both guests and property owners for a good reason: they have the largest exposure by far. But there are a few red flags to watch for:

Few or Old Photos
A picture is worth a thousand words – that is unless it’s a single angle of a kitchen or bedroom. Don’t bother booking a rental that skimps on the photos, no matter where they’re located or what rental site they’re using. A major plus are accommodations that offer a virtual or video walkthrough of the property, showing the rooms from many angles and demonstrating the views achieved by the location.

Unresponsive Owners/Managers
If you’re a potential guest/customer, your hosts should be as responsive to your queries as necessary. Delayed responses, unclear answers, or misleading statements should tell you everything you need to know about their property, no matter how stunning the photos associated may be.

Questionable Payments/Deposits
This is true of any rental, lease, or B&B anywhere – if the host is asking for a wire transfer to secure the property, it’s likely a phishing scam. Look for trusted payment methods like PayPal to secure your rental and avoid those who don’t.

Read the Reviews – All of Them
It’s natural to explore reviews of anything you purchase these days, whether it’s that new TV you’ve been saving for or a car mechanic in your neighborhood. But vacation rentals are different: high-traffic properties (and especially those managed by vacation rental companies) invest a lot in reputation management, ensuring good reviews are prominently featured and that bad ones are combatted and removed. When investigating a Big Island vacation rental, consider the reviews in between the typical extremes of 5 or 1 stars – the 2-4 star range tends to be the most honest and thoughtful while also the least featured.

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