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An Investor’s Guide to Short-Term Rentals on Oahu

Oahu Legal Short Term Rental investment guide

For savvy real estate investors, owning short-term vacation rentals like B&Bs can be an appealing opportunity with potentially high-income returns. But like any large purchases in property, it’s important to stay up-to-date with local rules and regulations. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide for Oahu’s short-term vacation rentals. Plus, as a bonus, we’ve put together a list of attractive condominiums and condo/hotel buildings in Waikiki, Ku'ulima, and Ko’olina. 

What is a Short-Term Rental On Oahu?

Short-Term Rentals (STR) are residential dwellings, homes or condos that are advertised or rented with rental terms shorter than 30-consecutive days per tenant. While this means the stay must be shorter than 30 days, it doesn’t matter whether it’s weekly or daily. Most STRs are in the Waikiki resort area, but this does not mean that all residential buildings in Waikiki allow short-term rentals. Each building has association rules concerning STRs. Your Locations agent can explain these rules and find out whether the building qualifies for STR use.

Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) are a type of STR. However, they usually have an owner as the host residing in the same dwelling as the guest. 

Transient Vacation Rentals (TVRs) are another type of STR, but without the owner residing in the dwelling. These condos can be rented daily, just like a hotel.

Advantages of Short-Term Rentals

Higher-income: Plain and simple, STRs are able to generate more rental income, as opposed to long-term rentals or other properties that have limits and restrictions on how long and how often you can rent out the property. This is especially true in resort areas like Waikiki where the average hotel room rate a night was $241 per night in 2019. 

Flexibility: Owners of STRs have the additional luxury of being able to adjust rental prices as they see fit and react to the market. If inventory is filling up quickly, an owner can raise the rent to maximize profits. Also, the owner can better react to downturns in the market by adjusting the rental price to be competitive. 

Personal use: This is the number one reason why most buyers want to invest in an STR in Hawaii. It provides a flexible investment that can also be used for a family vacation, avoiding the cost of a hotel. 

Disadvantages of Short-Term Rentals

Inconsistent income: STRs produce less stable income than long-term because of the short occupancy. Because the same tenants occupy the property for longer periods of time, long-term rentals tend to produce stable rental income. In addition, there are no slow seasons in Hawaii since it has no “real” winter or slow season. It is busy throughout the year! 

Harder to manage: Whether you choose to manage the property yourself or hire a property manager, short-term rentals may require more hands-on time. You may need to advertise the property frequently, handle constant tenant turnover and make sure the property is ready to rent. Hiring a property manager for a vacation rental can cost 25% or more of the rental income. 

Waikiki-condos

How To Qualify For “Short-Term Rental” Status?

To be considered as a ‘Short-Term Rental’ a property MUST meet one of the following requirements:

Legal Short Term Rental Rules

1. The subject property must be in a ‘resort mixed-use’ (or ‘resort’ if outside of Waikiki) zoned area, and the HOA/building house rules do not restrict short-term vacation renting. ‘Resort districts’ are limited building 'zoning' areas on the island of Oahu that allow short-term rental, mainly limited to only some areas within Waikiki, Koolina, and Turtle Bay Resort (Kuulima).

Oahu Legal Vacation Rental Map

2. The individual property unit has a Non-conforming Use Certificate (NUC) that allows short-term renting of that individual property which is located outside a ‘resort mixed use’ or ‘resort’ zoned area. The City of Honolulu stopped issuing NUCs in 1990 so there are only about 800 NUC units across Oahu. Check with your Locations agent for a full list of NUCs on Oahu. 

3. The condo building that the subject property is located has been grandfathered in as a non-conforming hotel and is exempt from the NUC requirement above.

A List of Legal Waikiki Short-Term Rental Buildings


Bamboo

Bamboo

Built-in: 1968
Amenities: Pool, Concierge, Community Laundry, BBQ
Size: Studio to 1BR, ~200 to 450 sq ft. Full kitchen: Only for 8 x 1BR units
Hotel Operator: Aqua Bamboo Waikiki Hotel (Phone: 808-922-7777)
Tenure: Fee simple
Zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property Note:  Only (8) eight x 1BR units with full kitchen. International Market Place and shopping close by.
View Bamboo Building Details and Listings for sale

Ilikai Apartments

ilikai_1

Built-in: 1965
Amenities: 2 Pools, Whirlpool, Restaurant, Concierge, Patio/Deck, Security Guard, Gym
Size: Studio to 2BR, 500 to 1,000 sq ft. Full kitchen
Hotel Operator: Aqua Ilikai Hotel & Luxury Suites (Phone: 808-954-7417)
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property.
Note: The 500 sq ft units were originally all 1BR, but many owners have removed the shoji doors to create a large studio with improved wider views of the ocean.
View Ilikai Apartments Building Details and Listings for sale

Luana Waikiki

luana waikiki

Built-in: 1971
Amenities: Heated Pool, Exercise Room, BBQ, Recreation Area, Concierge, Restaurant
Size: Studio to 1BR, ~300 to 680+ sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Only 1BR.
Hotel Operator:  Luana Waikiki Hotel (Phone: 808-955-6000)
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
Note: 2 types of studios – ‘Studio Kitchenette’ with stove burner and microwave and the ‘Hotel Room’ without stove and microwave.
View Luana Waikiki Building Details and Listings for sale

Pacific Monarch 

pacific+monarch_1

Built-in: 1980
Amenities: Sauna, Pool, Whirlpool, Party Room, Security Guard
Size: 121 units on 32 floors, Studio – 1BR, ~350 to 450 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Only 1BR.
Hotel Operator: Aqua Pacific Monarch Hotel (Phone: 808-923-9805)
Tenure: Fee simple with a few leasehold (expire: 2044) zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
Note: Rooftop pool with spectacular ocean views. One-bedroom units have full kitchens.
View Pacific Monarch Bulding Details and Listings for sale

Regency at the Beachwalk

Regency Waikiki

Built-in: 1961
Amenities: Front Desk Service
Size: 48 units on 9 floors, 1BR to 2BR, ~500 to 700 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes.
Hotel Operator: Regency on Beachwalk by Outrigger (Phone: 808-922-3871)
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property 
View Regency at the Boardwalk Building Details and Listings for sale

Ritz-Carlton WAIKIKI

Ritz Carlton Waikiki

Built-in: Tower 1: Completed spring 2016, ~308 units, 1-3BR. Tower 2: Completed fall 2018, ~246 units
Amenities:  (Tower 1) Small Pool, Hot Tub, Fitness, Yoga Room, Spa, Business Center, Conference Room, Concierge Services & More. (Tower 2) Media Room, 2 Pools, Kids’ Lounge, 2 Party Rooms, Grocery Store & More.
Size:  Studio to 3BR, ~500 sq ft to 3,000+ sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes.
Hotel Operator:  Ritz-Carlton WAIKIKI (Phone:808-922-8111)
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property.
Note: Besides Ritz-Carlton’s hotel operation, only a few select 3rd party rental agencies are allowed to manage TVUs. No deeded parking stalls with units.
View Ritz-Carlton WAIKIKI Tower #1 Details
View Ritz-Carlton WAIKIKI Tower #2 Details

Trump Tower Waikiki

Trump Tower Waikiki

Built-in:2009
Amenities: 5 Star Luxury Hotel with Pool, Whirlpool, Party Room, Security Guard, Business Center
Size: 469 units on 38 floors, Studio – 3BR, ~350 to 3,000 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes.
Hotel Operator: Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk (Phone: 808-683-7777)
Tenure: Feesimple zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property 
View Trump Tower Building Details and Units for sale

Waikiki Beach Tower

Waikiki Beach Tower

Built in:1983
Amenities: Pool, Gym, BBQ, Yoga Room, Whirlpool, Lounge Room, Security Guard
Size: 144 units on 40 floors, 2BR, ~1,000 to 1,100 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes
Hotel Operator: Aston Waikiki Beach Tower (Phone: 808-926-6400)
Tenure: Mixed fee simple and leasehold (expiry year 2039) zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Waikiki Beach Tower Building Details and units for sale

Waikiki Grand Hotel

Waikiki Grand Hotel

Built-in: 1963
Amenities: Restaurant, Bar, Concierge, Proximity to Kapiolani Park and Honolulu Zoo. LGBTQT-friendly destination
Size: 173 units on 9 floors, 200 to 470 sq ft (studios).  Full Kitchen: Some units.
Hotel Operator: Castle Resorts at the Waikiki Grand Hotel (Phone: 808-923-1814)
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
Note: Very few units come with a parking stall.
View Waikiki Grand Building Details and units for sale

Waikiki Shore

Waikiki Shore

Built-in: 1960
Amenities: Patio, Resident Manager, Security and Storage
Size: 168 units on 15 floors, Studio to 2BR, ~350 to 1,200 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes
Hotel Operator: Castle (808-952-4500), Park (808-954-7426) & Outrigger (808-922-3871)
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Waikiki Shore Building Details and Units for sale

2465 Kuhio At Waikiki

Kuhio Waikiki

Built-in: 1971
Amenities: Community Laundry, Exercise Room, Resident Manager, Sauna, Security Guard
Size: 91 units on 16 floors, 2BR, 876 to 989 sq ft. plus big lanais.  Full Kitchen: Yes
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with NO hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View 2464 Kuhio At Waikiki Building Details and units for sale

CABANA AT WAIKIKI

Cabana Waikiki

Built-in: 1967
Amenities: Secure Parking, Gated Access 
Size: 15 units on 4 floors, 1BR, ~365 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with NO hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Cabana At Waikiki Building Details and units for sale

Ilikai Marina

Ilikai Marina Waikiki

Built-in: 1968
Amenities: Security Guard, Resident Manager, ocean front condo with view of Friday night Waikiki fireworks
Size: 261 units on 18 floors, Studio and 1BR, 420 to 650 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with NO hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Ilikai Marina Building Details and Units for sale

Imperial Hawaii Resort

imp+waikiki+final

Built-in: 1967
Amenities: Community Laundry, Exercise Room, Meeting Room, Pool, Restaurant, Sauna, and Valet
Size: Studio to 3BR, 320 to 3,300 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes
Tenure: Leasehold (expiry: 2052). and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel NO operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property (hotel units are Timeshare)
View imperial Hawaii Resort Building Details and Units for sale

Kalakauan

Kalakauan

Built-in: 1966
Amenities: Community Laundry, Resident Manager.
Size: 63 units on 6 floors, 1BR at 430 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with NO hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Kalakauan Building Details and Units for sale

Kuhio Village I and II

Kuhio Village

Built-in: 1975
Amenities: Two blocks from beach, a store in lobby. 
Size: Two towers, Studio to 1BR, ~200 to 500 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: No.
Tenure: Mixed fee simple and leasehold (expiry year 2033) zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with NO hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Kuhio Village I Building Details and Units for sale
View Kuhio Village II Building Details and Units for sale

Marine Surf Waikiki

Marina Surf

Built-in: 1968
Amenities: Pool, Recreation Area, Security Guard, and Restaurants and shops are in lobby. All units come with one (1) parking stall, which is rare in Waikiki.
Size: 224 units on 24 floors, Studios at 392 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with NO hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Marine Surf Building Details and Units for sale

Niihau Apts

Niihau Apt Hotel Waikiki

Built-in: 1960
Amenities: Less than a block to Waikiki Beach
Size: 44 units on 11 floors, 1BR to 3BR,  452 to 1,205 sq ft.  Full kitchen: Yes
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Niihau Apt Building Details and Units for sale

Royal Aloha

Royal Aloha

Built-in: 1971
Amenities: Pool, BBQ, Recreation Area, Meeting Room, Security Guard, Resident Manager and community laundry on every floor.
Size: 143 units on 16 floors, 1BR to 2BR, ~500 to ~670 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with NO hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Royal Aloha Building Details and Units for sale

Seashore

Seashore Waikiki

Built-in: 1967
Amenities: less than half a block to Waikiki Beach
Size: Studio at 392 sq ft. Full Kitchen: Most units.
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with NO hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Seashore Building Details and units for sale

Tradewinds Plaza

Tradewinds Plaza Waikiki

Built-in: 1979
Amenities: Many of the units come with one parking stall
Size:  80 units, Studio at 392 sq ft. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with NO hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Tradwinds Plaza Building Details and Units for sale

Aloha Surf Hotel

Aloha+Surf+Hotel+final

Built-in: 1968
Amenities: Pool, Concierge, Exercise Room, BBQ, Restaurant downstairs
Size: 254 units on 15 floors. Studios from 180 to 390 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: No.
Hotel Operator:  Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki Hotel (Phone: 808-954-7410)
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Apartment' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Aloha Surf Building Details and Units for Sale

Hawaiian Monarch

Hawaiian+Monarch+final+1

Built-in: 1979
Amenities: Pool, Meeting Room, Security Guard, BBQ Area, Restaurant in lobby area. 
Size: 439 units on 44 floors, Studio to 1BR, ~200 to 570+ sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Only 1BR.
Hotel Operator: Roberts Hawaii (see notes)
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort Mixed Use' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property.
Note:  The ‘Hawaiian Monarch Hotel’ has 50 hotel rooms, all owned by Roberts Hawaii with an office on the 2nd floor. They do not manage or offer hotel services to individual unit owners – but the building does allow owners to rent their units as a STVR. It is also one of tallest STVR buildings in Waikiki
View Hawaiian Monarch Building Details and Units for Sale

Island Colony

island+colony+final

Built-in:1979
Amenities: Pool, Sauna, BBQ Area, Security Guard, Recreation Deck
Size: 745 units on 43 floors Studio to 1BR, 280 – 570 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Some studios, all 1BR.
Hotel Operator: Aqua Skyline at Island Colony (Phone: 808-954-7411)
Tenure: Fee simple and some leasehold (expires 2044) and zoned 'Apartment' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
Note: One of the tallest hotel/condos in Waikiki
View Island Colony Building Details and Units for Sale

Palms at Waikiki

palms+at+waikiki+final

Built-in: 1980
Amenities: Pool, Sun Deck, Exercise Room, Restaurant, Community Laundry, Concierge.
Size: 259 units on 12 floors with 745 units on 43 floors, Studio to 1BR, 280 to 570 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Some studios, all 1BR.
Hotel Operator: Aqua Palms Waikiki (Phone: 808-954-7424)
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Apartment' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property.
Note: One of the tallest condo/hotels in Waikiki.
View Palms at Waikiki Building Details and Units for Sale

Short-Term Vacation Rental Buildings Outside of Waikiki

Ocean Villas at Turtle Bay on the North Shore on Oahu

Turtle+bay+villas

Built-in: 2005
Amenities: Pool, BBQ, Hot Tub, Exercise Room, Recreation Area, Tennis Court, Security Guard.
Size: 57 units on 3 floors, Studio to 3BR, 673 to 1,535 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes
Tenure: Fee simple
Zoned: 'Resort-Hotel' with NO hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Ocean Villas at Turtle Bay Building Details and Units for Sale

Kuilima East and West at Turtle Bay

Kuilima+North+Shore

Built-in: 1973 (West) & 1975 (East)
Amenities: Pool, BBQ, Whirlpool, Recreation Area, Club House, Event  Room, Tennis Court, Security Guard, Gated Community.
Size: 368 Units on 2 Floors, Studio to 3BR, 280 to 570 sq ft. Full Kitchen: Yes
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort-Hotel' with NO hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Kuilima East Building Details and Units for Sale
View Kuilima West Building Details and Units for Sale

Ko Olina Beach Villas

Koolina+beach+vacation+rental+final

Built-in: 2007
Amenities: Heated Pool, Keiki Pool, Whirlpool, Recreation Area, BBQ, Exercise Room, Meeting Room, Security Guard, Walking/Jogging Path.
Size: 247 units on 16 floors, 2BR to 3BR, 1,170 to 1,650 sq ft.  Full Kitchen: Yes
Hotel Operator: Marriott Ko Olina Resort (Phone: 808-679-4700)
Tenure: Fee simple and zoned 'Resort-Hotel' with hotel operation = Legal Short-Term Rental property
View Ko Olina Beach Villas Building Details and Units for Sale

Disclaimer: The information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed, and should not be relied upon in deciding to purchase or sell. Always verify any and all information before making a decision to purchase or sell. Rules, regulations, tax rates, tax laws, zoning laws, condo governing documents, etc. are subject to change. Contact a LOCATIONS agent today for answers to all of your questions and concerns.