It’s costing a bit more to travel to the Big Island this summer, and some are worried the Hawaii tourism industry may suffer as a result. But the good news for Kailua-Kona travelers is that many Kona condo rental prices are down, as owners seek to fill their calendars. And there’s an easy way to make this year’s trip to the Big Island less expensive than the last one.
The big expenses associated with any Hawaiian vacation of course are airfare and lodging. The former you can’t do much about, beyond shopping around for the best deal. But when it comes to choosing your hotel, resort or vacation rental property, a wide range of options exists.
No one wants to travel to Kailua-Kona and stay in a dump just to save a few bucks. But in a top-of-the-line resort like the Outrigger Kanaloa at Kona, you can save hundreds of dollars simply by skipping the higher priced oceanfront listings and choosing a garden or fairway view unit instead.
Now I know, for some, that’s hard to imagine. Oceanfront is what many people want when they come to Hawaii—the closer to the water the better! I know because I used to be one of those oceanfront addicts myself! But if affordability is an issue—and even if it’s not—there are good reasons to consider an non-oceanfront rental.
First a few caveats. Of course there are complexes where “garden-side” is really “street-side”. You don’t want that. There are also complexes where the living room is oceanfront and the bedroom is perfectly positioned for traffic noise—watch out for those. But at Kanaloa and other high-end places you’re not sandwiched in between the street and the shoreline, and the same high quality extends throughout the grounds.
A cost comparison
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Outrigger’s “Best Available” rate for a two-bedroom oceanfront unit at Kanaloa for seven nights in July is $345/night, compared to $259/night for a 2BR fairway-view unit. That’s a difference of $600 for the week, not including taxes.
Private owner rentals are less expensive overall but a similar price difference exists. Two-bedroom oceanfront listings at Kanaloa on VRBO average from $250-$300/night during the summer, which may or may not include air conditioning. My two-bedroom Kona condo, situated about 100 yards inland, is $165/night with AC included.
The $100 day or more you can save just by adjusting your location within the complex can more than offset the current round of airfare inflation.
Enjoy the savings
What many regular oceanfront renters don’t know until they experience it for themselves is how enjoyable and relaxing a garden or fairway unit can be.
Staying in a luxury condo a stone’s throw from the shoreline, but not right where the waves are crashing, has an appeal all it’s own. Birds are singing. Geckos are darting through the flowers. Sun and clouds are coloring the hills.
To me, it all feels just as Hawaiian as that view from the oceanfront lanai. The sea is still right there when you want it, but you might start to enjoy the peace and quiet of coming home to the garden side.
So what to choose? As the owner of a fairway-front unit I’m clearly biased. And don’t get me wrong, there are some spectacular oceanfront condos at Kanaloa and elsewhere in Kona that are great if you can afford the premium rates. But if you’re worried about the cost of Hawaii travel this year—consider a garden or fairway unit.
–Condo update. I have some new discount offers listed for my Kanaloa at Kona 1002 unit. I’m also in touch with a network of other owners of great Kanaloa condo units, so if my place is booked send an email anyway and I’ll forward you inquiry on to them.