Planning a Disney Cruise can be overwhelming: deciding where to go, what ship to sail on, the length of cruise, when to go, and what excursions to partake in can be enough to make you reevaluate your sailing dreams. Take a deep breath and evaluate these six important considerations when deciding on the right cruise for you:

The Disney Magic.

Ports of Call and Cruise Itineraries

First, consider the cruise ports of call and overall itinerary. There are many different destination options, from Mexico and the Caribbean to Alaska, Europe, Transatlantic, and more. For some people, visiting Disney’s private Bahamian island Castaway Cay is a must-do. For others, the destinations don’t really matter at all. Do you have an ideal cruise locale? Do you want to visit new places? Do you want to do a combo land and sea vacation, where you can experience a Disney cruise and a Walt Disney World vacation? Also worth noting: some itineraries are rare, so if there is a specific cruise itinerary you have your heart set on, book it as soon as you can.

Disney’s private Castaway Cay in the Bahamas.

Departure Ports

Next, ask yourself where do you want to cruise from? Disney has a mix of 13 U.S. and international departure ports including:

Do departure ports matter to you? For some travelers, choosing a departure point close to home is a must, as it will save them money on airfare. Departure ports can also provide an extra level of vacation fun. Always wanted to visit The Big Apple? How about combining a long weekend in New York with a Disney cruise? Two vacations in one! Keep in mind that some ships only depart from certain ports during specific times of the year, which may factor into when you can book your cruise.

Ideal Cruise Dates

Speaking of booking dates, when is your ideal cruise time? Are you looking to travel over the summer when the kids are out of school? Are you looking to escape the cold winter with a Caribbean cruise? Do you have a specific time of year when you can or cannot take time off? Dreaming about celebrating Christmas or Halloween on the high seas? Interested in immersing yourself in a Star Wars– or Marvel–themed cruise? Tip: holiday- and specialty-themed cruises only sail certain dates and on specific itineraries, so keep that in mind.

Consider all the Disney Cruise Line itineraries before deciding which is best for you.

Cruise Length

How long do you want your cruise vacation to last? Disney Cruise Lines offer a wide variety of cruise lengths ranging from 2-Night cruises all the way to 14-Night Cruises. When thinking about cruise length, also take into consideration how many at sea days vs. in port days a particular sailing has.

Ship Preference

Do you have a preferred ship you would like to cruise on? Currently Disney has four ships in its fleet: The Magic, The Wonder, The Dream, and The Fantasy. While some ships have overlapping amenities, entertainment, and dining options, there are also some offerings that are ship-specific. Do any of the ship-specific amenities appeal to you?

Enjoy brunch at Palo on any of the Disney Cruise Line ships.

Are excursions, or port adventures in Disney-speak, important to you? Do you want to experience a certain activity in a specific location? If so, it is important that you research the excursions in each port before deciding on a final itinerary.

Knowing what you and your travel party’s preferences are will help you narrow down which Disney Cruise is right for you.

Fire up your Instagram feed. As you scroll past the usual mix of French bulldogs, street tacos, and duck-faced influencers, you’ll likely see your friends living their best life out on the road. Maybe they’re in Iceland, somewhere on the Ring Road or in the Blue Lagoon. (With about a hundred other people, no doubt.) Or maybe they’re in oh-so-trendy Tulum, wading knee-deep in beachside margaritas. (I see you, Becky.)

In a world where Paris and New York City are perennial traveler favorites — not to mention Thailand, Greece, and even Portugal — it’s easy to follow the crowd (or the hashtag). These places are popular for a reason — good food, stunning views, lovable locals, a bevy of beaches — but who’s to stop you from seeking these things elsewhere?

Bullocks to the tried-and-true path, we say. We’ve tapped our network of far-flung travel experts to hit us with their favorite unsung destinations, highlighting why now is the peak time to book an adventurous getaway. There may no longer be such a thing as “an undiscovered hidden gem” (barf), but these spots — the lush remote islands off Panama, Poland’s fast-evolving urban center, the stark panorama of Jordan’s deserts — are the next best thing. — Joseph Hernandez

Head here to be awestruck by the floating forests of the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, the towering peak of Cotopaxi, the sprawling indigenous market of Otavalo, and the colorful architecture of Quito. A compact country of diverse landscapes, Ecuador is ideal for folks with FOMO: You won’t miss out on, well… anything. Swim in the Amazon basin, watch blue-footed boobies, and munch on empanadas to your heart’s content.

Everyone expects this to be the Galapagos — and if you have the cash, definitely go — but they’re almost their own entity. To get a true taste of Ecuador, head to a smaller city like Cuenca, or even a tiny town like Loja, where you can take in the beauty of an Ecuadorian central plaza, tour historic structures from pre-colonial times, and hike the surrounding countryside. — Naomi Tomky

South Africa

Where prismatic landscapes and wildlife make you feel like a kid again
Far-flung South Africa will certainly help you rack up airline miles. But it’s worth the journey to catch a glimpse of a lion pride on the prowl, elephants uprooting ancient timber, or a rhino reveling in his afternoon mud bath — here, storybooks and Disney movies come to life, making you feel like a wide-eyed kid again. Game lodges are widespread; just read the online reviews, and contact the lodge directly to ask about conservation policies. The most famous are north in Kruger or Pilanesberg, but there are also private reserves like Gondwana and Sanbona in the south. Safaris cost hundreds of dollars a night, but you can find deals in the off-season and on sites like BushBreaks.

Beyond the bush, there are the emerald fields of the Cape Winelands, the red dunes of the Kalahari Desert, the white-sand beaches and rocky coasts cruised by whales. Leave enough time to wander cities like Pretoria, blooming with purple jacaranda, or Cape Town, with posh harbors and street art. No matter where you roam, you’ll find English widely spoken and a pleasant exchange rate.

As much as South Africa delights the inner child, its painful racial history is one that every adult should take time to understand — museums and monuments show the trauma of apartheid, but the “rainbow nation” outpours with hope. South Africans, and their cultures and backgrounds, are just as diverse as the scenery. Prepared to be fascinated by their stories. — Barbara Woolsey

New tourism initiatives complement warm, Old World hospitality
You might have to squint to find Georgia on a map, but don’t be fooled by its tiny geographical footprint. Everything here is dazzlingly over-the-top, from the epically cheesy khachapuri to the whirlwind folk dances to the Alps-shaming Caucasus mountains that tower over the landscape.

A spate of geopolitical conflicts in the ‘90s and aughts scuppered the country’s once-thriving tourism industry, but in the last decade, Georgia has redefined itself, cracking down on crime, paving roads, building new airports, and promoting itself abroad. The most dangerous thing in Georgia these days? Chacha, the zillion-proof moonshine that locals will foist on you in the outdoor markets.

Come for the hiking — there’s a new Transcaucasian Trail that winds through some of the highest settlements in Europe — and stay for the food, an East-meets-West smorgasbord of slurpable soup dumplings, herb-centric salads, and walnut-thickened stews. Wherever you are in Georgia, expect Old World hospitality at every turn — and a steady stream of wine, a beverage that Georgians’ Stone Age ancestors arguably invented. And don’t forget to pile into a 4×4 and zoom up to Gergeti Trinity Church, a mossy candlelit chapel that was built above the cloudline in the 14th century. It sits in the shadow of Mount Kazbek, Europe’s fifth-highest peak and the mountain to which Prometheus is said to have been chained after stealing fire from the gods. — Benjamin Kemper

Skopje, the once-humdrum capital of the former Yugoslav republic, is now spiked with giant statues and monumental faux-classical buildings. It sort of feels like North Macedonia managed to five-finger Caesars Palace in Vegas and drop it in the center of town. All told, there are around 50 new statues, including the 100-foot sculptures of Alexander the Great and his father, Phillip. Marble triumphal arches and sculpture-lined bridges compete for attention with the ancient Turkish bazaar — one of the oldest and largest marketplaces in the Balkan region and home to teashops, mosques, and modern museums.


This 30-room-and-villa property—an imposing colonial mansion with a courtyard and a stone fountain—is serious about doling out a luxury experience. Check-in was done in-room with assistance from a British Butler Institute–trained butler. The suites, too, are handsomely appointed; floors were polished wood, the furniture sleek black bamboo, while antique maps and antiques added a touch of mystery and adventure. It’s Brad Pitt meets Indiana Jones. The beds are comfortable, and staff members are doting. You don’t get this level of luxe anywhere else in Bintan…or even nearby Singapore.

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Set on the Thu Bon River, this 93-room, colonial-style resort offers full immersion in Hoi An—you’re less than a kilometer from its historic quarter, and a promenade takes you toward cafes, teahouses, and shrines within the UNESCO Heritage site. Rooms are crisp and contemporary—cool palates and clean lines—and offer a lovely counterpoint to the amazing lushness of the grounds and surrounding landscape. If you really want to take advantage of the relaxation possibilities, book a 90-minute Vietnamese four-hand massage (yes, that’s two therapists to your one person) at the spa; because two really is better than one, right?

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The lobby of this intimate resort is a 100-year-old carved wooden house incorporating Malay, Chinese, and colonial influences and stocked with funky antiques; dining is in a soaring pavilion by the pool, presided over by sculptures of Hindu deities. (Tugu Hotels’ founder and designer has amassed quite the collection of fine Indonesian antiquities.) Spacious bungalows nestle around shaded walkways and brilliant tropical gardens, giving the place the tranquil atmosphere of a secluded compound, with hand-hewn furniture and copper tubs in the outdoor bathrooms. The feeling of isolation is maximized by Tugu’s surroundings—farming villages and virgin wilderness—with the only other modern note an adjacent 18-hole golf course.

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Wend your way to Bali’s less-explored and truly rural east coast; just after the almost-hidden sign for Amankila has nudged you to turn off the road, the dramatic watery horizon comes into view. With greenery stretching for miles below and the island of Nusa Penida in the distance, this is the paradise travelers dream of—a world away from traffic-clogged, built-up Seminyak and Nusa Dua. The panorama is as special as when Amankila first opened in 1992. One of the original Aman resorts, whose name means “peaceful hill,” remains as charming as ever.

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Rosewood’s first wellness resort is single-handedly turning backpacker haven Phuket into a serious luxury destination among discerning travelers. From the drive-up alone, you know this place is special. The design is breezy and the whole resort is spaced out; freestanding bungalows go up and down the hillside, while pools, the spa, and bars and restaurants are scattered throughout. The set-up lets the property breathe—you never feel like you’re sharing space with many others, even when the resort is full. And the Andaman Sea is visible from just about everywhere.

With a library, three pools, cooking classes, and a handful of upscale shops on-site, the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai has a laundry list of extras—but it also offers spectacular scenery and a supreme sense of tranquility. The resort sits smack in the middle of rolling rice fields, the seeds of which you can learn to plant; or, opt for a nature walk instead, and head up the hills that surround the classic Lanna villas, with their steeply pitched roofs and teak floors. A team of 40 full-time gardeners—and some trusty water buffalo—work to maintain an organic farm and landscaped gardens on the resort’s grounds.

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Arriving by boat on the vast Inle Lake, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether you’d stumbled on a Benedictine abbey: The 95-room Sanctum Inle Resort, far from a traditionally appointed Burmese hotel, is a complex of arcaded cloisters, manicured lawns, and Mediterranean-style tiled roofs. Of course, inside, there are nods to its heritage—plenty of teak furniture and local fabrics—to bring you right back to Myanmar. The Cloister Bar, which opens onto an outdoor deck, offers Myanmar-brewed beers, along with two premium local vintages, perfect for sipping while you watch the sunset. Don’t miss the Sanctuary Spa, either: The 30-minute Tamarind Skin Exfoliation is as cleansing as it is fragrant.

Entering the COMO Shambala Estate is like stepping into some kind of enchanted forest, with moss-covered stone walls centered around a cascading series of hand-cut grass terraces that slope down from a crystalline pool. The whole property sits on a promontory above two rivers, the Ayung and the Os—an auspicious position, according to Balinese tradition. More a residential retreat than a hotel, a three-night minimum stay is required for the kind of health transformation COMO aims to induce, and privacy is paramount—no wonder many celebrities come here for extended immersions. Guests looking for transformation can join one of four targeted holistic wellness programs offered by the spa: Cleanse, Be Active, Ayurvedic, and Bespoke. It’s a quiet and seriously spiritual place.

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The view from Anantara’s Seminyak Bali Resort, which unfurls out towards the Indian Ocean, could easily be the best part about this 60-room, all-suite haven—but, somehow, there’s plenty else to eclipse it. We could start with its infinity edge swimming pool, or rooftop lounge; there’s also its sleek, contemporary design, full of sharp, 90-degree angles, plus nearly each suite’s two-person balcony Jacuzzis, to consider. Once you’ve spent the day lounging on a beanbag, beachside, it’ll be hard to shift into dining room mode. But you can forget the slacks, if you like: the resort offers al fresco private dining, with sunset meals tailored to your taste.

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Nihi Sumba Island, an all-villa resort sitting on 560 acres on an island east of Bali, accommodates both adventure and solitude. Once you’ve taken the 50-minute flight from Bali to Tambolaka, it’s another hour and a half on land before you reach Sumba Island’s rugged terrain and gloriously empty beaches. As if it couldn’t get close enough to Castaway, the resort also offers a Robinson Crusoe-style, three-villa treehouse in addition to its 27 villas. The thatched-roof cottages don’t feel out of place in the brush—though the addition of a private butler and plunge pool is a tad idiosyncratic. Round out your stay with the (very active) to-do list on the island: Catching a wave on Occy’s Left, and horseback riding over at Sandalwood.

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Seminyak is built-up and noisy, and Katamama is a welcome antidote to the more traditional resorts and guesthouses in this area. Owner Ronald Akili’s appreciation of the Jengki, a post-war modernist design movement, was a big factor in the stylings here. The Indonesian hotelier and restaurateur’s collection of midcentury-modern furniture includes Hans J. Wegner chairs and Paul McCobb tables, all of which feature in some of the hotel’s suites. Smooth teak furniture and other handicrafts, custom-made from local materials by local makers, further the hotel’s mission to revive and preserve the fading arts of the Indonesian archipelago.

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A slick, 240-room beachside complex, Alila Seminyak is where the cool kids come to play when they hit Bali. Its low-key, albeit high-luxe design—think clean lines, minimalist furniture, and a buzzy rooftop watering hole—helps it to fit right in with its surroundings. (The nearby neighborhood of Petitenget caters to a similar demographic, home to a cluster of top-line boutiques and trendy cafés). Start your day with one of the resort’s daily, early-morning yoga classes or a session at the 24-hour gym, then hang back by one of the five pools until it’s time to hit the seafood-driven Seasalt restaurant; don’t leave without trying the grilled sand lobster, served with pickled beetroot and wasabi gel.

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High above Phang Nga Bay, Como’s property has a near-panoramic vista of the glittering waters below. But the real beauty here is that there isn’t much to do beyond taking a dip in the phenomenal infinity pool, followed by a nap. The decor, by noted designer Paola Navone, is simple and open, and the 106 modern, airy rooms, suites, and villas are decorated in a palette of whites and deep blues. Our two favorite indulgences were the spa and, no joke, the laundry service. Is there anything better than getting your clothes back impeccably folded into beautiful rattan boxes? It’s details like these that elevate this property from just another hotel with a view into something more memorable.

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Facing the tranquil, atoll-studded Sulu Sea, are 42 beachfront, treetop, and hillside-studded casitas, modeled after indigenous bahay kubo dwellings. Access here is very James Bond-style: private planes whisk you to the resort, and villas are centered around swimming pools but you’ll never consciously realize when the indoor ends and the outdoors begin. The trick here is to do nothing, but stylishly: villas come with their own private chef and butler, and while you may not actually brush shoulders with the likes of Bill Gates, Tom Cruise, or Beyoncé, you’ll know that you are as much as a star as these regulars. Take in a traditional Hilot massage, which alternates hot and cold with banana leaves and cold-pressed coconut oil, to rebalance areas of tension; or channel your inner Julia Child by picking vegetables from the organic garden for the chef at the Clubhouse Restaurant to prepare.

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Anantara has upped the ante in this posh town on the Mae Ping River. The 84 sleek rooms, protected from urban noise by two sets of thick doors, have sweeping floor-to-ceiling views of Thai river life. (There are also 24 ‘serviced suites’ just across the road, which are optimal for families or extended stays.) Daybeds indoors and out are a relaxing pleasure, as are teak chaises by the riverfront pool. The hotel wraps around the open-air restaurant, where an East-meets-West menu is served all day long—think, a breakfast buffet, loaded with fruits and juices, and later, flavorful plates of Kashmir chili and Indian spice-marinated chicken. A wrought iron staircase twists up to the rooftop bar. If you’re looking to spice up your staid vacation itinerary, activities worth booking include a Muay Thai kickboxing class and a sunset river cruise.

The party-happy sands of Chaweng are just over the ridgeline to the north of Banyan Tree’s private, palm-lined bay, part of a hidden valley on the eastern shore of Koh Samui. In a feat of engineering and architecture, the villas dramatically ascend the hillsides on stilts, clinging to the slopes. The golf cart–driving chauffeurs mean it when they tell you to hold on. Each of the 88 villas has a sizable swimming pool outside and earth tones inside. No razzle-dazzle here. The real magic is in thoughtful details—a built-in head cushion in the bathtub, perfectly focused reading lights, and a rain-style showerhead. Best of all, the resort delivers a real sense of place, particularly in the restaurants’ authentic Thai dishes, the confident masseurs in the spa, and, of course, this being Thailand, a genuinely hospitable staff.

In no small feat, this Relais & Chateaux property has managed to combine the luxury of a lodge on the African savannah with the wildness of Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park; it’s romantic, faux-rustic, and dramatically set between the churning coast and dense parkland. The architecture of the property is also designed in the shape of a leopard’s paw, in reference to Yala’s most renowned sighting (the park has one of the highest densities of leopard in the world). You’re likely to get to bed early here, but this is a blessing in disguise, as you’ll have real time to enjoy the fabulous beds and creature comforts of the room—organic Ophir bath products, soft and luxurious towels and a bed that makes you want to sleep in each morning.

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The handsome and distinguished Legian Bali, a classic five-star hotel, gets repeat guests galore. Kerry Hill’s architecture might seem a little hard-edged and dated when you very first arrive past the high gates, but step inside and you’ll be taken with the elegant teak antiques, parquet floors, and captivating art. With a prime beachfront position, a show-stopping split-level swimming pool, and rolling gardens with tropical flowers, the grounds are all-out incredible. The 67 suites, grand as ever, follow suit with huge marble bathrooms with his-and-hers sinks, tubs and showers, and Acqua di Parma toiletries.

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It can be tough to navigate Bali when you’re bringing the family along; resorts trend toward pleasing couples, with two-person Jacuzzis, and sunset dinners on the beach given top billing. But at Mulia Resort, sister to the cloistered Mulia and Mulia Villas, it’s a different sort of vacation. You’re practically drowning in choice, so there’s sure to be something for everyone: Along with nine restaurants and bars, and 526 rooms and suites, the resort has four swimming pools, including a kids’ pool and cabanas. Other leisure activities are similarly balanced; while you and yours settle in at the spa, the resort’s Mulia Kidz club will keep the rest of the brood entertained.

If you’re thinking of booking a stay at Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort but you’re not quite sold, we’ll try to make it an easy decision for you. With 72 spacious suites and villas—many with ocean views and jacuzzis, we might add—and a luxe, open-air concept that lets you make the most of that ocean breeze, the terraced resort won’t leave anyone feeling shortchanged. If you want to add a little adrenaline to your beach vacation, this is just the place to do it—Uluwatu’s beach is known for its epic surf breaks, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice (or show off) your skills.

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Two-and-a-half hours south of Bangkok, the Anantara Hua Hin Resort, set in a sleepy seaside town once frequented by Thai royals as their summer playground, still looks the regal part. Rooms have hand-crafted wooden armoires, silk accents, and the occasional private terrace that overlooks either the tropical gardens or the Gulf of Thailand. The roughly 14-acre garden dreamt up by architect and landscape designer Bill Bensley is designed to resemble an ancient Thai village, and water features like lagoons and lotus ponds fill the property. There are plenty of restaurants and lounges to choose from, too: Readers recommend Rim Nam for Thai and fusion cuisines, and Issara Café for leisurely breakfasts; for a dining experience that’s a little less conventional, there’s Spice Spoons, to school you in the art of perfectly balanced curries.

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When the Four Seasons opened its tropical resort in Langkawi in 2006, most of its clients hadn’t even heard of the 99-island archipelago off Malaysia; the 91-room property in the Andaman Sea is a testament to the luxury group’s ability to open in both well-known destinations and to gamble on the barely discovered. Set out like a traditional Malay village, albeit one with far grander accommodations, the design borrows generously from the surrounding Indian, Balinese and Middle Eastern cultures. While palatial beachfront villas come with their own spa rooms and private plunge pools, even the pavilion rooms feel like mini-fiefdoms.

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On Koh Kood, which is still pristine, Soneva Kiri is among the most exciting resorts in Southeast Asia. Guests land on a private airstrip on neighboring speck Koh Mai Si and then arrive via motor launch to a jetty jutting into a pretty cove. The resort sprawls over the island’s northern tip, and butlers shepherd guests over the manicured grounds by electric cart. Virtuously constructed from sustainable eucalyptus logs, native bamboo, and treated pine, the 36 villas—some fronting a gorgeous private beach, others up on the hillside—are actually multi-structured complexes spacious enough for an entire family. Chef Khun Benz spearheads the resort dining—including inside a bamboo “Treepod” served by a waiter on zipline—which matches dishes with a dizzyingly long wine list. Another pleasant surprise is the Cinema Paradiso, an open-air movie theater with dinner service.

The design credentials are incredible at this collection of three villas and a penthouse, back on Phuket at Natai Beach. No matter where you stay, you’ll have a butler, driver, chef, spa therapist, and housekeeper to attend to your every need. American chef Tim Butler heads up two restaurants: Iniala Dining, which dishes up Mediterranean-inflected meals and whose menu rotates daily, and Esenzi, which focuses on sustainably sourced seafood. The resort is also only a 20-minute drive from Phuket’s airport (with multiple, daily flights from across all of Asia).

The most luxurious of El Nido Resorts’ four Palawan archipelago properties, with 42 villas laid out along a white-sand cove facing the emerald Bacuit Bay on the South China Sea. An hour-and-a-quarter-long charter flight southwest from Manila brings you to a one-runway airport where you’re welcomed by a group of singing ladies. Your luxurious hideaway (a quick boat trip from the airport) is a launchpad to the island biosphere gloriously featured in The Bourne Legacy. With scuba courses and access to plentiful dive sites, as well as boat tours of mangroves and secret lagoons, you could spend all your time exploring, but the resort makes it equally tempting to stay put. There is a reef for snorkeling, a fleet of kayaks for guests’ use, and a seemingly endless choice of lounging options.

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So infused with traditional Goan design is the graceful, tile-roofed architecture, so massive and gnarled are the mango trees growing in its courtyards and gardens, that it’s not initially obvious that the Alila is, in fact, relatively new (it opened in 2010). The public rooms and corridors, open-sided and high-ceilinged, draw in the lush surroundings, which are cooled by reflecting pools and fountains. Dramatic lighting makes the outdoor setting, which includes an infinity pool with partially submerged recliners overlooking rice paddies and bamboo stands, even more magical at night. The 118 rooms and suites are furnished simply yet elegantly, enlivened by earth and jewel-colored headboards; the bathroom, enclosed by a lattice screen, has a tub, a walk-in shower, and a walk-in closet. The open-kitchen Vivo serves multiethnic cuisine at all meals; Spice Studio, a purely Indian menu in the evening.

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The 219-room seaside Mulia & Mulia Villas in the southeastern tourist enclave of Nusa Dua is one of our readers’ favorite resorts in Asia for a reason: The Indian Ocean is just steps away. The 20-room spa is well-equipped to cure whatever ails you, from a Finnish wood sauna to a steam room, not to mention Bali’s first (and presently, only) Ice Fountain room, set to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Within the spa, there are also both hot and cold water pools for you to alternate between—and the shock to your system is one way to get that circulation going, if you’d rather not hit the fitness center. Alternately, spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon over brunch at Soleil, a Mediterranean spot infused with Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Thai flavors, where you can indulge in a generous spread of meats, grilled seafood, and an epic dessert buffet.

Though just 30 minutes from the Danang airport, InterContinental’s flagship Vietnam property feels much farther away from the “real world.” From the hills of the Son Tra Peninsula nature reserve down to the sandy shores of the East Sea, the resort—which opened in 2012—has become one of the top picks in the country for relaxing getaways. While families tend to rule the resort, it’s also a hit with couples and groups of friends, particularly those interested in cuisine and wellness. Adults can have their fun around the grown-ups-only infinity pool (there’s a garden pool for all ages), at daily activities like tai chi classes, and at the award-winning Harnn Heritage Spa, where the treatments range from holistic therapies to luxe mani-pedis created by French celebrity pedicurist Bastien Gonzalez. From the ocean- or mountain-view rooms and suites to the penthouses and the multi-bedroom villas, it’s the perfect pick for some beachside R&R while in Vietnam.

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Because Bali is a tropical island, there’s a misperception that it’s all about beaches. Yet there’s little more dramatic than the magical tableau of Ubud’s jungle scenes. At COMO Uma Ubud, coconut palms and banyan trees frame 46 rooms, suites, and villas, all designed by Koichiro Ikebuchi to offer an intimate, hyperlocal experience. At the heart of the resort is an 82-foot jade-green pool with rooms and eating areas staggered across the snug plot. Clever planning, fresh interior design, private courtyards, and infinity-edge plunge pools make the property feel modern—yet totally at home in Ubud.

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Set in the so-called “Valley of the Kings,” a short drive from the cultural hub of Ubud, this collection of luxuriously appointed villas will make you feel like you are one of the Balinese royals that give the region its name. It begins as soon as you enter: The-two tiered entryway to this resort is equal parts lobby and porch, and the design of the space is almost as grand as the views it offers guests. The open-air area is covered by a thatched roof and has lounge chairs for resting before going out, or simply for looking out over the palm tree grove and pool area at any time of day. Each villa offers views over the gorge below that will make it hard to leave your private balé. At the Lembah Spa, there’s—you guessed it—more views, paired with top-notch treatments that combine Western and local traditional techniques.



Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare

You might know them better as the Cliffs of Insanity from The Princess Bride, but this seaside wonder is actually located just south of Galway. Stretching for five miles along the Atlantic coast, the 400-foot-high cliffs offer one of Ireland’s, shall we say, most views.

Cobh, Co. Cork

Cobh redefines charming with its rows of candy-colored homes along the water and towering cathedral standing sentry over the harbor. This town is particularly popular with cruise-lovers—about 60 ships stop there every year. In fact, Cobh was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic, and a commemorate museum stands in the city today.



Glendalough, Co. Wicklow

Glendalough is a seventh-century monastery that’s a popular Catholic pilgrimage destination. Ireland has a complicated, fascinating religious history, and the era during which Glendalough flourished is an important one: Saint Patrick had begun converting the Irish to Catholicism from paganism in the fifth century, and 200 years later, Ireland had become known as a place of spiritual enlightenment. —Eimear Lynch

Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry

Although the boat ride out to Skellig Michael from the coast of County Kerry can be a rocky one, its well worth the effort. The craggy, emerald-green island houses the remains of a sixth-century monastery, which you can explore after ascending a chillingly steep 600-step climb. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a brooding Luke Skywalker once you reach the top.



Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary

One of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions is also one of the most beautiful—a group of medieval buildings (some dating back to the 12th century) situated on an outcrop of limestone. Don’t miss the Romanesque Cormac’s Chapel, or the Hall of the Vicars, which houses several Celtic relics like the original Cross of St. Patrick. Oh, and the views over the Golden Vale aren’t too shabby either.

Galway, Co. Galway

Galway is in a prime location on Ireland’s west coast, close to the Aran Islands and Connemara region. But the town itself is so charming, you might find yourself sticking close to the cobblestoned streets and ancient architecture for at least a day or two. During the day, make time to snap some photos of the Spanish Arch and the Claddagh, an area by Galway Bay where you’ll find rows of colorful buildings and swans floating by.



Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry

You could spend an entire day exploring the 41-square-mile Killarney National Park, from the towering Torc Waterfall to the 15th-century Ross Castle. One of the park’s greatest treasures is its population of wild red deer, which have lived in Ireland since the last Ice Age but now only survive in Killarney. Above all else, the park is most famous for its reflective lakes, which cover nearly a quarter of the entire reserve.

Kylemore Abbey, Co. Galway

Mountain and valley, lake and streams, all combine to make Connemara one of the loveliest regions in Ireland. See: Kylemore Abbey, in the heart of the Connemara mountains. This impressive structure was built in 1868 as one of the great neo-Gothic castles of the period. It is now a Benedictine abbey run by nuns, and the church and gardens have been completely restored.



Fanad Head Lighthouse, Co. Donegal

Built in 1818 to help guide ships (and sailors) safely to shore, the lighthouse—voted one of the most beautiful in the world—remains on its rocky outcrop between Lough Swilly and Mulroy Bay. It has 79 steps, sits approximately 120 feet above sea level, and is considered an essential stop on the Wild Atlantic Way. The rugged stretch of coastline is regularly visited by whales, porpoises, and dolphins, and its northerly location means little light pollution (and lots of stars) at night. It now serves as a visitor’s center with accommodation. —Katherine LaGrave

Kinsale, Co. Cork

You’ll probably never get tired of Ireland’s fifty shades of green, but if you do find yourself wanting some diversity in your Instagram feed, head directly to the town of Kinsale. The historical fishing town is known for its winding roads lined with pubs and galleries, tucked behind facades of bright purple, cerulean, and hot pink.



Achill Island, Co. Mayo

The largest island off the Irish coast, Achill is home to some of the most dramatic spots along the Wild Atlantic Way. Here you’ll find sheep scattered along roads and cliff tops, white sand beaches, peat bogs, and the Great Western Greenway—a 26-mile bike trail that takes you all around the island.

Bunratty Castle, Co. Clare

Originally built in 1425, Bunratty Castle is one of the country’s finest, most well-preserved medieval castles. The building is open to the public, where folks can enjoy the rooms stocked with 15th-century furnishings and artwork, plus stroll through the surrounding gardens and village. It gets better: The site hosts medieval banquets every evening, complete with live Irish music and honey mead.



Coral Beach, Carraroe, Co. Galway

As its name suggests, this beach outside of Galway is known for its scattering of coral (wear shoes). It’s outfitted perfectly for visitors, with bathroom facilities and a lifeguard on duty. The surrounding rock pools and calm Atlantic waters are great for snorkeling and swimming, and as an added bonus, the beach tends to be far less crowded than some of Galway’s other popular sandy hangouts.

The Long Room, Trinity College, Co. Dublin

Dublin’s Trinity College—the oldest university in Ireland—has no shortage of beautiful buildings and green lawns, but the main attraction is the Old Library’s Long Room. The vast hall holds 200,000 books and 14 marble busts under its barrel-vaulted ceiling—with the intricately illustrated Book of Kells being the centerpiece of a bibliophilic dream.



Benbulben Mountain, Co. Sligo

Formed hundreds of millions of years ago, this limestone formation hovers over Sligo like something from a fantasy novel. Benbulben’s paved trails make it a popular destination for hikers and climbers, but the peak is perhaps best known for its literary associations. Irish poet W. B. Yeats drew inspiration from the mountain and its surrounding landscapes, most notably in his 1938 poem “Under Ben Bulben.”

Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry

Pointing into the Atlantic Ocean like a nagging finger, the Dingle Peninsula is an incredible stretch of natural beauty: seaside cliffs, sheep-strewn fields, and Crayola-green hills. A short ferry ride away are the Blasket Islands, which once hosted a thriving community of Irish writers, but were abandoned in the 1950s after young residents emigrated en masse. Today, the on-site heritage museum—and remote, empty landscapes—are lovely yet somber reminders of a community lost.



Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Co. Dublin

Dublin’s famed cathedral was built on sacred ground (St. Patrick himself is said to have performed baptisms here). The largest church in Ireland, it’s also one of it’s most gorgeous. Behind the towering stone exterior, you’ll find Gothic archways, and a staggering amount of color, in the form of stained glass windows, medieval flags, and a vibrantly tiled floor that was practically made for Instagram’s #ihavethisthingwithfloors hashtag.

Inishowen, Co. Donegal

Inishowen is Ireland’s largest peninsula, occupying over 218,500 acres off the northern coast of the country. Due to its location, the peninsula is the best place in the country to view the Northern Lights; head to places like Dunree or Malin Head (the most northerly tip of Ireland) between November and February for increased visibility. Even if you don’t have luck spotting the aurora borealis, Inishowen’s unspoiled landscapes are fantastic road trip material—it is the last (or first) stop on the Wild Atlantic Way, after all.



Aran Islands, Co. Galway

Three windswept isles—Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer—off the west coast of Ireland all have a rugged, bleak beauty to match the sinister 2,000-year-old ruins of Dún Aenghus, a Celtic fortress clinging to a cliff top as if declaring this to be the actual edge of the world. —David Jefferys

Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny

Kilkenny began with an early sixth-century ecclesiastical foundation and was granted city status in 1609. It remains the smallest city in Ireland—and one of the prettiest, with its medieval buildings and narrow lanes lined with colorful shops. Black Abbey and Kilkenny Castle are particular stand-outs.



The Cass Scenic Railroad is the same line built in 1901 to haul lumber to the mill in Cass. The locomotives are the same Shay locomotives used in Cass during that time, and in the rainforests of British Columbia for more than a half-century. Many of the passenger cars are old logging flat cars that have been refurbished.

Cass is the home to the world’s largest fleet of geared Shay locomotives. Six Shays and two Climax locomotives reside here. The legendary turn-of-the-century class C-80 Shay, #5 has been toiling up Cheat Mountain for nearly 100 years, making it one of the oldest engines in continuous service on its original line, and the second oldest Shay in existence.Reserve Now!

Trip Summary

Bald Knob – Approximately 22-mile, 4.5 hr. Round – trip Excursion

At an elevation of 4,842 feet, Bald Knob is the third highest point in West Virginia. Located 11 miles up the mountain from Cass, the Bald Knob overlook offers spectacular views (on a clear day) into two states and into the valley below, home to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The train will also makes a stop at Whittaker Station for a 30 minute layover. A “King of the Road” hobo lunch will be provided to enjoy with your ride as well.

  Regular Rates Weekend Fall Rates
Fall weekend rates begin Friday-Sept. 20
Age Group Cost Cost
Adult (12–64) $61.00 $66.00
Senior (65+) $59.00 $64.00
Child (4–11) $51.00 $56.00
Child (3 & under) Free Free
Group $57.00 $62.00

* Rates, times, and dates are subject to change. Fall rates include Friday, Saturday, and Sunday excursions in mid-September through late October.

Overnight Caboose at Bald Knob

Looking for an outdoor adventure unlike anything else? Leave the hotels or cabins behind and enjoy an overnight stay in a rustic caboose at the top of Bald Knob. Recommended only for the adventurous type! For current pricing and a full schedule, call 304.636.9477.

Per Night Cost
1st night up to 5 people (3 adults & 2 children) $199.00 (Plus the Bald Knob ticket price)
Each additional night $179.00

Advance paid reservations by phone are required for Caboose rental.

Boarding Location

Cass Depot
Cass, WV 24927
38°23’50.6”N 79°54’51.2”W

Call Monday – Friday – 9AM – 5PM

Group Seating: Every effort will be made to seat groups as close together as possible on the train. Please let us know your needs prior to boarding.

Boarding: Cass boarding area is located at the Cass depot at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park in Cass, WV.

Important Info: If you have a reservation, your eTicket will be scanned as you board the train. You may also purchase tickets at the ticket window. If you forget your eTicket, we can print them for you.As the Cass cars are open air, you may want to bring a jacket during cooler weather as the temperature can vary as you climb in to the higher elevations. Also, as these are steam engine trains, if anyone in your party is sensitive to loud noise, you may want to bring ear plugs on the day of your excursion.

Cancellation Policy: If cancellations are made within 48 hours prior to boarding, there will be no refund. If notice of cancellation is made before 48 hours before departure, a 10% cancellation will be charged to any refund. You may reschedule at any time with no charges for a trip in the 2017 season. Gift certificates can be issued for the full amount of the reservation at any time.

Note 1: The words ‘condotel’ and ‘condo hotel’ will be used interchangeably.
Note 2: The word ‘short-term vacation rental’ refers to rentals from just 1 day – like a hotel – for the purposes of this post.
Note 3: If you are interested in seeing condo hotels for sale, visit our Waikiki Condo Hotels for Sale page.

This is THE ultimate guide to short-term vacation rental condos in Honolulu, which allow for rentals from just 1 day, just like a hotel (also referred to as transient vacation units). The vast majority of these condos are in Waikiki and are popular among investors as well as 2nd home buyers looking to generate income when not vacationing in Hawaii.

This overview highlights close to everything you should know about short-term vacation rental condos in Honolulu, followed by a comprehensive list of all the condo buildings that allow short-term vacation rentals. If you are interested in seeing condos for sale – including condos that do not allow for short-term vacation rentals – check out our Waikiki condos for sale page or our Honolulu condos for sale page.

Requirements to Run a Short-Term Vacation Rental Business
1 – and only 1 – of these 3 criteria must be met for an owner to legally be allowed to run a short-term vacation rental business in Waikiki:
1) Parcel is zoned ‘Resort Hotel’,
2) owner holds a valid nonconforming use certificate (NUC), or
3) property has a current active hotel operation and the property is also exempt from requiring owners to hold a valid NUC (exempt buildings are determined by the Department of Planning & Permitting. This branch has an unofficial document created by their staff around year 1990, which highlights buildings that are exempt – we have reviewed this document. The document has not been used for enforcement purposes, but if there was a complaint or inquiry about any particular property, they would use it as a resource for their investigation).

Note: If a condo association changes their rules, as to the minimum number of days unit owners are allowed to rent out their unit, then such association rental rules will override the possible rights to run a short-term vacation rental business, as outlined in point 1-3 above.
Example: If the association of a condo changes their house rules to require minimum rentals of 30 days, then an owner of a unit that fulfill criteria 1, 2 or 3 from the above would not be allowed to run a short-term vacation rental business.

Hotel Definition: Building that contains lodging and/or dwelling  units offering transient accommodations, and a lobby, clerk’s desk or counter with 24 hour clerk service, and facilities for registration and keeping of records relating to hotel guests.

Unit Classification (for real property tax purposes)
Each unit, within a building, will, for tax purposes, be classified as either ‘Residential’ or ‘Hotel & Resort. An owner running a short-term vacation rental business is required to update the Real Property Assessment Division of such short-term rental activities if the unit isn’t currently classified as Hotel & Resort, so the Real Property Assessment Division can properly classify  the unit as “Hotel & Resort”. This used to be done with a form called the “Declaration Regarding Condominium Use”, which is obsolete since July 2017. Currently (July 2017) there are no clear guidelines as to forms to fill out to reclassify from Residential to Hotel & Resort. We suggest calling Honolulu’s Real Property Assessment Division – (808) 768-3799 – and telling them about your plans.
If the unit is already classified as “Hotel & Resort” – upon taking ownership – the owner does not have to fill out Petition to Dedicate Property for Residential Use, if the owner plans to run short-term vacation rentals.

According to the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu Section 8.7.1(h),  if an owner holds a valid NUC then the property shall be classified based on the underlying zoning. In other words, an owner of a condo in Waikiki on a parcel zoned “Apartment” with a valid NUC, can keep the “Residential” classification, thus paying the much preferred “Residential” or “Residential A” tax rate – learn more about taxes here.

If an owner of a unit classified as “Hotel & Resort” does not run short-term vacation rentals, then the owner can file for a petition to get re-classified to ‘Residential’ status by filing the Petition to Dedicate Property for Residential Use prior to September 1st of a given year. If granted, such dedication is good for 5 years. December 15th is the date the notice of property assessed value is mailed out to owners and that will serve as the approval or disapproved of the petition for dedication. If approved, the “Residential” or “Residential A” tax rate will take effect starting the following fiscal year (July 1st of the following year). To the contrary, if a property is classified as “Residential” and the owner wants to re-classify to “Hotel & Resort”, which would allow the owner to run short-term vacation rentals, there would be penalties for the owner. Learn details about the petition, possible penalties & more right here.

Taxes (Honolulu County)
Property Taxes
A unit classified as ‘Hotel & Resort’ is taxed 1.29% of assessed value, whereas a unit classified as ‘Residential’ is taxed at either:
1) The “Residential” tax rate (0.35% of assessed value), which applies to properties where the owner who can claim the homeowners exemption (owner’s primary residence) – irrespective of the assessed value – and also applies to properties where the owner cannot claim the home exemption (not the owner’s primary residence) if the assessed value is less than $1,000,000,
2) The “Residential A” tax rate (0.45% of first $1,000,000 in assessed value and 0.9% of any assessed value above $1,000,000), which applies to properties where the assessed is greater than $1,000,000 and the owner  cannot claim the home exemption (not owner’s primary residence).

On October 1st of a given year, the tax office determines the unit’s classification, which applies for the following fiscal year. Example: October 1st, 2017 the classification is determined for fiscal year 2018 (July 1st 2018 – June 30th 2019).

Rental Income Taxes
All short-term rental income is subject 2 separate tax components:
a) GET – general excise tax – of 4.5% (applies to all rentals).
b) TAT – transient accommodation tax – of 10.25% (applies to all rentals less than 180 days).

Waikiki Business Improvement District (annual charge)
This association levies an annual fee on all units classified as “Hotel & Resort” in Waikiki only and will show on the property tax bill.
PS! You may have seen the Aloha Ambassadors in yellow shirts walking around Waikiki. They represent an example of what the funds are used for.

The calculation various each year, but here is a recent example:
District 1: $0.46 / $1,000 of assessed value – Kuhio Ave, Kalakaua Ave and all streets in between.
District 2: $0.1533 / $1,000 of assessed value – Streets towards the ocean side of Kalakaua Ave, but before Ala Moana Blvd area.
District 3: $0.115 / $1,000 of assessed value – Ala Moana Blvd area.

Nonconforming Use Certificate (NUC)
AN NUC  is a certificate, which allows an owner to run a short-term vacation rental business, despite a parcel not being zoned ‘Resort Hotel’. Up until year 1986 the Department of Planning & Permitting in Honolulu would issue NUC’s. When the department ceased to issue these certificates, a number of owners who had previously been issued such certificates had them grandfathered in. Owners have since been able to keep their certificate, subject  to ongoing renewal every even numbered calendar year. Should an owner be late in filing for a renewal with the Code Compliance Branch, the certificate is lost for good. As of writing, there are around 600 nonconforming certificates issued for a small group of buildings across Waikiki and about 100 certificates for properties outside Waikiki (mainly on Oahu’s North Shore and Kailua). See this comprehensive list of residential properties holding nonconforming use certificates in Waikiki and across Oahu.

Some banks will typically lend on condo hotel units if the unit has a full kitchen. Requirements to be considered a full kitchen varies a bit among lenders, but it is common that lenders require a full size refrigerator, a sink and a 4 burner built-in cooktop with oven.  Some lenders may be OK with just 2 burner built-in cooktop and other lenders may require a freezer with its own door.

Most banks will not lend on a property if it lacks a full kitchen (called a lodging unit), though there are sometimes exceptions, such as Finance Factors, which, will consider lending on lodging units (as of year 2017).

Local banks in Hawaii frequently change their appetite for lending on short-term vacation rental condos and their willingness to lend also depend on the property in question. In many cases, there is at least 1 local bank prepared to lend, subject to the unit having a full kitchen. Large mainland banks are typically not willing to lend on short-term vacation rental condos, though some less traditional lenders may on occasion lend, such as Guaranteed Rate or First Foundation.

Banks typically required the cash down payment be 30% or more and the overall loan terms may not be as attractive as terms offered by conventional financing. Therefore, if you need financing, it may be worthwhile to speak with a lender early in the process and establish a) can you get a loan on building(s) of interest to you and b) what are the expected loan terms.

Property Management
Hotel Operation, 3rd Party Rental Agency or Owner Managed
Hotel Operator
Pros: Strong marketing presence and name recognition, potentially making it easier to charge a higher daily rental rate and keep a higher occupancy rate. Very familiar with managing rentals in building.
Cons: Typically charges a higher management fee (~50% on gross rental income is common) and an owner is subject to the hotel operator’s requirements, such as keeping unit up to a certain standard, which may on occasions require remodel / upgrade work at the owner’s expense, potential longer lock-in periods (an owner may not easily be able to pull out of a contract with the hotel operator).

3rd Party Rental Agency
Pros: Typically charges a lower management fee (~20 – 25% is common) and may be more flexible on the unit’s standard and overall less restrictions.
Cons: Marketing efforts may not have as great a reach, potentially making it difficult get top $ rental income and leading to a lower occupancy rate.

It is not always clear-cut whether a hotel operator or 3rd party rental agency offer the most attractive setup for an owner. Therefore, each unit and / or building needs to be analyzed on a case by case basis. A few buildings also have restrictions on usage of 3rd party rental agencies.

Owner Managed Rentals
If an owner’s primary residence is on Oahu, the owner may manage his / her rentals, without using a licensed rental agency (subject to each condo’s governing documents). If an owner lives on another Hawaii island, the US mainland or in another country, the owner is not allowed to be the point of contact for the rentals. However, the owner may, in such case, designate a person who lives on Oahu, to act as the on-island agent. The owner is also required to designate a person to be the point of contact for emergencies and support with collection of taxes.  These roles can be managed by the same person and he / she does not have to be a licensed real estate agent.

Illegal Vacation Rentals – Fines & Enforcement
The Department of Planning & Permitting’s Rules Relating to Administration of Codes spells out that daily fines for running an illegal vacation rental range from $50 – $1,000 per day  – see details here (look for §20-3.3 i).

According to the Code Compliance Branch this is procedure:
Almost all inspections for illegal short term (less than 30 days) transient vacation rentals are complaint driven.  When the inspector conducts a site visit, he/she will attempt to gain access to the unit and interview the occupant.  If it is determined that non-permitted (illegal) transient vacation rental operations are being conducted, the inspector will immediately issue a Notice of Violation (NOV).  Typically, the inspector will allow 30 days to correct the violation without the referral for a Notice of Order (NOO), which imposes the civil fine.  However, if the violation is recurring, the inspector will immediately refer the NOV for an NOO with immediate imposition of civil fines (usually $1,000 initial fine and if not corrected, addition civil fine will be assessed at a rate of $1,000 per day until the violation is corrected.  Regarding the use of vacation rental websites proactively, the inspector will include the research of the website to add to the preponderance of evidence to support the enforcement action taken.  However, at the present time, the DPP does not surf the net to identify listings of vacation rentals (e.g. VRBO, AirB&B, etc.) to conduct neighborhood sweeps to identify properties where illegal vacation rentals are being conducted.”

For properties zoned apartment, an inspector from the Commercial, Multi-family Code Enforcement Branch will conduct any potential inspection and take enforcement action as appropriate.

Also Good to Know
1) Most units do not have a dedicated car parking stall. Oftentimes, there will be parking available for rent within the building or nearby.
2) Several units do not have washer & dryer in the unit, but instead typically have access to community laundry.
3) A few condo buildings on parcels zoned “Resort Hotel” have house rules in place requiring a minimum of 30 day rental or longer, such as Foster Tower, Crescent Park, Scania Towers. Therefore, don’t assume “Resort Hotel” zoning equals a guaranteed right to run a short-term vacation rental business.
4) Most buildings do not allow pets.
5) Rule of thumb: a) Buildings located on the ocean side of Kuhio Ave and all other buildings further towards the ocean and b) buildings located on the ocean side of Ala Moana Blvd are all zoned “Resort Hotel”.
6) On rare occasions will condos not allow owners to occupy their own unit full-time or they do not allow owners to claim the ‘Homeowner Exemption’.
7) If the declaration of a condo states short-term vacation rentals are allowed, that does not necessarily mean short-term vacation rentals are indeed allowed, if the City & County of Honolulu rules state otherwise.

Vacation Rental Condos in Waikiki

The following is a comprehensive list of all condos in Waikiki that allow for short-term vacation rentals. The list is divided into 5 categories, with buildings organized alphabetically:
A) Parcels zoned ‘Resort Hotel’ with a hotel operation.
B) Parcels zoned ‘Resort Hotel’ without a hotel operation.
C) Parcels zoned ‘Apartment’ with a hotel operation and the Department of Planning & Permitting does not require owners to hold valid NUC’s in order to run a legal short-term vacation rental business.
D) Parcels zoned ‘Apartment’ with a hotel operation and the Department of Planning & Permitting do require owners to hold a NUC in order to legally run a short-term vacation rental business.
E) Parcels zoned ‘Apartment’ without a hotel operation (mix of buildings where some owners hold an NUC and buildings where there appears to be a significant number of short-term vacation rentals, though apparently not legal).

A) Parcel Zoned “Resort Hotel’ (with hotel operation)

Size: Studio – 1BR, ~200 – 450sqf. Full kitchen: Only 8 x 1BR.
Hotel Operator: Aqua Bamboo Waikiki Hotel (Phone: 808-922-7777).
Tenure: Fee simple.
Comments: 8 x 1BR units with full kitchen. There are 5 other 1BR without full kitchen.

Size: Studio – 2BR, 500 – 1,00sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Hotel Operator: Aqua Ilikai Hotel & Luxury Suites (Phone: 808-954-7417).
Tenure: Fee simple.
Comments: 500sqf units were originally all 1BR, but most owners have pulled out the shoji doors to create a large studio with better / wider views. Several owners are marketing their unit on to find tenants.

Size: Studio – 1BR, ~300 – 680sqf+. Full Kitchen: Only 1BR.
Hotel Operator: Luana Waikiki Hotel (Phone: 808-955-6000).
Tenure: Fee simple.
Comments: 2 types of studios – ‘Studio Kitchenette’ with stove burner and microwave and the ‘Hotel Room’ without stove and microwave.

Size: Studio – 1BR, ~350 – 450sqf. Full Kitchen: Only 1BR.
Hotel Operator: Aqua Pacific Monarch Hotel (Phone: 808-923-9805).
Tenure: Fee simple with a few leasehold (expiry: 2044).
Comments: Rooftop pool with spectacular ocean views.

Size: 1BR – 2BR, ~500 – 700sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Hotel Operator: Regency on Beachwalk by Outrigger (Phone: 808-922-3871).
Tenure: Fee simple.
Comments: A stone throw away from Trump Tower.

Size: Studio – 3BR, ~500sqf to 3,000sqf+. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple.
Note: Tower 1 completed spring 2016 and Tower 2 expected completion spring 2017. Besides from Ritz-Carlton’s hotel operation, only a few select 3rd party rental agencies are allowed to manage vacation rental units.
As an owner, you will have access to complimentary parking when you stay in the unit (even if it is your full-time residence).

Size: Studio – 3BR, ~350 – 3,000sqf+. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Hotel Operator: Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk (Phone: 808-683-7777).
Tenure: Fee simple.
Note: Aside from Trump’s hotel operation, only a few select 3rd party rental agencies are allowed to manage vacation rental units. As an owner, you will have access complimentary parking when you stay in the unit (even if it is your full-time residence).

Size: 2BR, ~1,000 – 1,100sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Hotel Operator: Aston Waikiki Beach Tower (Phone: 808-926-6400).
Tenure: Mixed fee simple and leasehold (expiry year 2039).
Note: Aston offers 14 days of complimentary cleaning service per year, for units in their rental program. Several units – especially “02” and “03” units on higher floors – offer outstanding ocean and Diamond Head views.

Size: ~200 – 470sqf (studios). Full Kitchen: Some units.
Hotel Operator: Castle Resorts at the Waikiki Grand Hotel (Phone: 808-923-1814).
Tenure: Fee simple with a few leasehold (expiry year 2043).
Comments: Very few units come with parking stall and 1 bedroom.

Size: Studio – 2BR, ~350 – 1,200sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Hotel Operators: Castle (808-952-4500), Park (808-954-7426) & Outrigger (808-922-3871).
Tenure: Fee simple.
Comments: Pet friendly (verify). Only condo right on the ocean (white sandy beach) in Waikiki. There are 3 hotel operators in the building.

B) Parcel Zoned “Resort Hotel’ (no hotel operation)

Size: 1BR, ~365sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple.
Comments: Pet friendly (verify). 3 of the units come with parking. There is 1 studio on 1st floor without a full kitchen.

Size: Studio – 1BR, ~420 – 650sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple.
Comments: 1 of just 3 condos in Waikiki with beach access, without having to pass through a busy main street.

Size: Studio – 3BR, ~320 – 3,300sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Leasehold (expiry: 2052).
Comments: Just 8 units total. All other units in building are time-shares managed by the Imperial.

Size: Studio – 1BR, ~200 – 500sqf. Full Kitchen: No.
Tenure: Mixed fee simple and leasehold (expiry year 2033).
Comments: Pet friendly (verify). 2 buildings. “1” (2463 Kuhio Ave) is fee simple and “2” (2450 Prince Edward St) is leasehold.

Size: 1BR – 2BR, ~500sqf to ~670sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Leasehold (expiry year 2041).
Comments: About 30% of units come with 1 parking stalls. Community laundry on every floor.

Size: Studio, ~392sqf. Full Kitchen: Most units.
Tenure: Fee simple with a few leasehold (expiry: 2034).

Size: Studio, ~392sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple with a few leasehold (expiry: 2032).
Comments: Many units come with 1 parking stall.

C) Parcel Zoned ‘Apartment’ (with hotel operation & owners are exempt from having an NUC)

Size: Studio – 1BR, ~200 – 570sqf+. Full Kitchen: Only 1BR.
Tenure: Mix of fee simple and leasehold (expiry year 2054).
Comments: Hawaiian Monarch Hotel has 50 hotel rooms, which are all owned by Roberts Hawaii, with an office on the 2nd floor. They do not manage individually owned units. Despite this hotel operation’s self-imposed restrictions – not offering the hotel operation services to individual owners – the building is still exempt and owners are allowed to run short-term vacation rentals.

Size: Studio – 1BR, ~280 – 570sqf. Full Kitchen: Some studios, all 1BR.
Hotel Operator: Aqua Skyline at Island Colony (Phone: 808-954-7411).
Tenure: Fee simple with a few leasehold (expiry: 2044).
Comments: Bylaws only allow owners who place their unit in the hotel operation to run short-term vacation rental (otherwise minimum 30 day rental).
There are 2 kinds of studios; 1) “Studio” type, which allows a full kitchen and 2) “Lodging” type, which do not allow a full kitchen.

Size: Studio – 1BR, ~220 – 750sqf+. Full Kitchen: Only 1BR.
Hotel Operator: Aqua Palms Waikiki (Phone: 808-954-7424).
Tenure: Fee simple.
Note: Some units come with a parking stall. Building’s governing documents do not allow owners to claim the Homeowner Exemption. In other words, an owner may live in a unit full-time, but will be subject to the “Hotel & Resort” classification (substantially higher tax rate).

Royal Garden at Waikiki

Size: Studio – 3BR, ~310 – 1,780sqf. Full Kitchen: Only 1 -3BR.
Hotel Operator: Wyndham Vacation Resorts Royal Garden (Phone: (808) 943-0202). Note: Only managing time-share units.
Tenure: Fee simple.
Comments: Mostly studios, with just a few select 1, 2 and 3BR units. 140 units are time-shares run by Wyndham Vacation Resorts Royal Garden and about 68 units are individually owned condo units.

D) Parcel Zoned ‘Apartment’ (with hotel operation & owners are not exempt from having nonconforming use certificates)
Note: Owners in this category, who do not hold a valid NUC, are not allowed to run a short-term vacation rental business, despite the fact there is a hotel operation in the building.

Size: 1BR, ~530 – 600sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Hotel Operator: Aston at Waikiki Banyan (Phone: 808-922-0555).
Tenure: Fee simple with a few leasehold (expiry year 2035).
Comments: Almost every unit comes with a parking stall. 2 towers with shared amenities.

Size: 1-2BR, ~530 – 600sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Hotel Operator: Aston Waikiki Sunset (Phone: 808-922-0511).
Tenure: Mixed fee simple and leasehold (expiry year 2036).
Comments: Almost every unit comes with a parking stall.

E) Parcel Zoned ‘Apartment” (no hotel operation and no exemption from NUC’s)
Note: This category includes a mix of buildings where a) at least 5 unit owners hold an NUC or b) there simply appears to be a significant number of short-term vacation rentals, even though not allowed. It will be highlighted if there are some NUC’s in a given building. 

Size: Studio – 1BR, ~430 – 720sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple with a few leasehold (expiry: 2051).
Comments: Every unit comes with 1 parking stall and some units even 2! Less than 40 unit owners hold a valid NUC.

Diamond Head Beach Hotel

Size: Studio – 2BR, ~350 – 1,300sqf. Full Kitchen: Some units.
Tenure: Leasehold (expiry: 2032).
Zoning: Apartment.
Comments: Not really part of Waikiki, just the Waikiki zip code. No hotel operation (only a property manager with an office in building).

Size: Studio – 2BR, 360 – 720sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple.
Comments: All units come with at least 1 parking stall.

Size: Studio – 1BR, 460 – 630sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple.
Comments: All units come with at least 1 parking stall.  Less than 20 unit owners hold a valid NUC.

Inn On The Park

Size: Studios, 250 – 320sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Leasehold (expiry 2035).
Comments: Building is exempt from NUC’s. However, since there is no active hotel operation, short-term vacation rentals are not allowed.

Size: 1BR, ~430sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple with a few leasehold (expiry: 2035).
Comments: House Rules calls for a minimum of 30 day rental terms, although property is zoned Hotel Resort. About 30% of units come with 1 parking stall.

Size: 1BR – 2BR, ~450sqf – ~974sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Fee simple.
Comments: Very few units come with a parking stall. Zoned Hotel Resort,  however, part of the House Rules read “The minimum rental period is three months for persons occupying under the terms of a rental contract.” We interpret it that no rentals less than 3 months are allowed, although wording is ambiguous.

Size: 1BR – 3BR, ~400 – 2,400sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Tenure: Mainly leasehold (expiry year 2041) with some fee simple.
Comments: All units come with at least 1 parking stall. Some units are time share and there are a total of 3 time share management companies in the building. Less than 70 unit owners hold a valid NUC.

Waikiki Marina Condominium

Waikiki Marina

Size: Studio, ~360 – 390sqf. Full Kitchen: Yes.
Hotel Operator: The Equus (Phone: 808-949-0061).
Tenure: Mostly fee simple with a few leasehold (expiry 2048).
Comments: Almost every unit has a parking stall.  Less than 60 unit owners hold a valid NUC. There is a hotel operator in the neighboring building, which will manager rentals in the building, but only do short-term vacation rentals if the owner holds an NUC.

Size:  1BR, ~590sqf to ~690sqf.
Tenure: Mostly fee simple with a few leasehold units.

2 More “Outsiders”
Across Honolulu city – aside from Waikiki – there are just 2 condo buildings that allow for short-term vacation rentals:

Size: Studio -2BR, ~250 – 1,900sqf. Full Kitchen: Only 1 & 2BR.
Hotel Operator: Mantra runs the operation, though the name of the operation is listed as Ala Moana Hotel (808-955-4811), without the Mantra name.
Tenure: Fee simple.
Zoning: “Business Mixed Use” and all units are classified as “Hotel & Resort”.
Comments: Great building. Owners are not allowed to occupy full-time. High maintenance fees.

Size: Studio – 2BR, ~370 – 1,200sqf. Full Kitchen: Most units.
Hotel Operator: Aston at the Executive Centre Hotel Hawaii (Phone: 808-539-3000).
Tenure: Mainly leasehold (expiry: 2053) with some fee simple. Fee is offered on all units.
Zoning: “BMX-4” which is a type of business mixed use zoning that allows for commercial, residential and short-term vacation rentals.
Comments: Predominantly 1BR units. Great rooftop amenities deck. Some units are townhouse style. Located in Honolulu’s Downtown business district.

Final Interesting Note
Bill 79: If a building is located on a parcel that is not zoned “Hotel Resort” and used to have a hotel operation, which  ceased to exist, then, by law, owners would not have been allowed to conduct short-term rentals (less than 30 days) since the hotel operation ceased.  Bill 79 would allow those owners who have been conducting short-term vacation rentals outside the law continuously, since hotel operations ceased, and thus legitimize their operations and allow such owners to continue, if the bill is passed in its currently written format (June 2016).

Condo owners who may be able to obtain the right to run short-term vacation rental business if Bill 79 becomes a law, could include owners of units in: Ala Wai Terrace, Colony Surf, Hawaiian Crown, Inn On The Park, The Windsor, 441 Lewers St, Waikiki Park Heights and Waikiki Townhouse. However, several of these buildings have house rules in place requiring a minimum of 30 day rentals, which means even if Bill 79 became a law, many owners would not be allowed to run short-term vacation rentals. Additionally, based on Bill 79’s current wording, an owner carries the burden of proof to show the owner has continuously been running a short-term vacation rental business prior to the hotel operation ceased until present. Proof  may include tax records, show documentation that each year since the hotel operation ceased it has been a transient accommodation (short-term rental less than 30 days) for at least 35 days per calendar year and there has not been 12 consecutive months without short-term rentals (as the amended Bill 79 is currently written).
Note: This is currently (July 2016) a proposed bill, being considered by the City Council and not a law.

Disclaimer: The information in this article 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. Also, keep in mind; rules, regulations, tax rates, tax laws, zoning laws, governing documents in condo buildings etc are subject to change.