Sometimes, visitors to Hawaii simply click onto Travelocity, pick a hotel, stay in Waikiki and drink mai-tais, and fly home. Happy, safe, with 178 photos of the quintessential Hawaiian vacation. However, other travelers, whether they are here on their second, third, or fourth trip, or just feel a bit more adventurous, look for something a bit off the beaten track. They are looking for a more “true” Hawaiian vacation. They are looking for a vacation rental.
There are obviously other reasons to book a vacation rental than just being adventurous. You may be staying with a bigger group of friends or family, and honestly, booking 4 hotel rooms can actually be more expensive than just booking one vacation home. A vacation home is often in a more rural part of town (Hauula, Kahuku, Sunset, Haleiwa, etc), and gives you a more relaxed, less commercialized vacation. A vacation home can be a good choice if you stay for a longer period of time, like two or three weeks. Shoot, President Obama stays in a vacation rental during the holidays. And if it’s good enough for the Commander in Chief, it’s good enough for anyone!
But where do you find these vacation homes? VRBO.
VRBO stands for Vacation Rental By Owner, and is a free website you can use to find homes for rent not only in Hawaii, but all over the world. I’ve used it to find ski cabins in Whistler, and you get to communicate directly with the owners (or sometimes with their property managers, if the owner doesn’t directly manage the place). Founded in 1995, VRBO.com has over 500,000 active listings and over 12 million online visitors per month.
When you first click onto VRBO.com, you simply plug in your desired location (usually a city or municipality), and your travel dates (if you have them). Then you get to see all the listings at a glance, almost like a mix between craigslist and expedia. There are star ratings, reviews, and average nightly rates at first glance. Clicking onto a single post will show you more details, including info on the owners so you can get to know the people you’ll be renting from a little bit.
Most listings have lots of photos, a very detailed writeup on the property, and a location map so you get an idea of where it is in proximity to other things (nearest town, airport, shopping, groceries, etc). Some even list whether or not you can have events on property (weddings, corporate retreats, etc).
All in all, VRBO is THE quintessential first stop when looking for a vacation home. There literally is something in there for everyone. Check it out the next time you take a vaction. You just may find the perfect home.