Bonus tips for choosing a Hawaii vacation condo or villa

Condo lanai (patio) at Puu Poa on Kauai

We’ve written several articles with advice for renting a condo or villa in Hawaii. Some of those articles are:

Still, we have a few more useful tidbits of Hawaii condo rental advice that we’ve not fully discussed yet. We’re full of it…advice, that is.

Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas

Air conditioning

Every time we’ve stayed in a condo or hotel that doesn’t have air conditioning, we really, really missed having air conditioning. Unless we have no choice, we will always select an air-conditioned condo. It’s just so much more comfortable — especially when arriving back to your condo in the heat of the afternoon after a day at the beach or a hike or some other fun Hawaii adventure.

Air-conditioned condos can make sleeping conditions more comfortable and secure, too. Yes, security is a big consideration when selecting a condo without air conditioning. We were once assigned to a ground floor (first floor) condo that didn’t have air conditioning. Sliding-glass doors with screens were the only source of air flow. The screens offered very little security. Anyone could have easily cut through the screen. So at night we would have to choose between being secure with the sliding-glass doors locked or having the doors open to allow air flow. Did we want to be safe, private and secure or did we want to be somewhat comfortable with some airflow? That’s not an easy choice! Note that we’d also have to open all the blinds and curtains to allow airflow. Open blinds and curtains eliminates all privacy when you’re on the ground floor.Β  When you go on vacation, do you really want to have to choose between comfort, privacy and safety? We don’t think so!

There are times and places where air conditioning is not needed in Hawaii. For example, accommodations in the higher elevations tend to be cooler and air conditioning is not necessary.

Air conditioning can be a controversial subject in Hawaii. Some people argue that it’s unnecessary. Perhaps it is a personal choice. In all our experiences without air conditioning at beach condos, we were uncomfortably hot multiple times during those stays.

A second floor bedroom in a Poipu Kauai condo. Note that this condo doesn’t have air conditioning. The lower windows open and a ceiling fan are all that keep the room as comfortable as possible.

Ground level vs upper level

You should consider whether you prefer a ground level condo or upper level condo and choose accordingly.

Advantages of a ground floor condo

  • You can usually walk out onto a lawn or beach directly from the lanai (patio.)
  • You usually don’t have to carry heavy bags/items up stairs

Advantages of an upper level condo

  • You have a nice vantage point for ocean and garden views. This can be particularly useful for slightly better whale watching during humpback whale season.
  • A tad more privacy and security as people can’t walk directly outside and look into your windows and lanai.

While we are on this topic, it is useful to note that there is a difference between US English and British English when it comes to numbering floors. The ground level floor in the US is considered to be the first floor. The first floor in the UK is the equivalent to the second floor in the US.

A lovely oceanview from a second floor condo in Kauai.

Proximity to restaurants and grocery stores

When you stay in a hotel, you normally have quick access to onsite restaurants. When you stay in a condo, that’s not the usual case. You’ll either need to plan to purchase groceries to prepare your own meals or go out for meals. Either way, you should make sure that grocery stores and restaurants are within convenient driving distance. For the most part, condos are located in convenient areas for restaurants, but a few are quite remote. See our article on using Google Maps to estimate the distance from your perspective accommodations to restaurants and grocery stores.

You may have plans to cook every meal in a condo or villa. If so, kudos to you! When we rent a vacation condo, we like having breakfast in our condo. We normally grab a lunch when we’re out and about. During the evenings, it’s really nice to enjoy dinner at a restaurant serving Hawaii regional cuisine.

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