Top Tips for Hosting a Hawaii Airbnb

Host an Airbnb

Do you dream of offering a hospitable traveling experience to Hawaii visitors? Perhaps you want to share the aloha of our islands or even offset the costs of a mortgage. Thousands of Hawaii residents on all islands – Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island, Molokai, and Lanai – host Airbnb guests. But starting an Airbnb in Hawaii is not an easy, straightforward endeavor. The following are the top ten tips to consider when contemplating becoming an Airbnb host.

#1. Travel and experience Airbnb as a guest. Use the platform. See the sites. Meet the hosts. Live in the spaces. Experiencing Airbnb as a guest is one of the best ways to prepare for hosting an Airbnb. While traveling and staying in Airbnb homes, note what you liked about the space, the host, and the overall experience.

#2. Find a place with the right space. First consider your own needs and wants, especially if you will be living in part of the house or apartment. Then consider your vision for your Airbnb. What type of Airbnb do you want to host – a room with shared space or a separate place? How many guests do you want to host? Where do you want to host – in a popular tourist destination like Waikiki or in a residential area like Pearl City? After determining what you would like in your ideal Airbnb, search for the perfect place or remake an existing space.

#3. Know the laws. On Oahu, short-term rentals like Airbnb can only be legally operated in “resort” zones, mainly found in Waikiki, or with a “nonconforming use certification” outside of a resort zone. But no “nonconforming use certifications” have been issued by the City and County of Honolulu since the late 1980s, making it technically illegal, according to current county zoning laws, to host an Airbnb on most of Oahu.

Neighborhoods and apartment buildings may have other laws regulating short-term rentals like Airbnb. Read applicable leases, HOA rules, co-op or condo board rules to determine the local laws governing Airbnb hosts.

#4. Pay the Hawaii taxes. Despite the technical illegality of hosting an Airbnb in most areas of Hawaii, if you do decide to join the thousands of others hosting in Hawaii, you will need to pay state taxes. To legally pay the Hawaii state taxes for an Airbnb, obtain a “Certification of Registration,” giving you a tax identification number and enabling you to pay the Transient Accommodations Tax and General Excise Tax (GET).

#5. Be friendly with the neighbors. As an island resident, it is common to have neighbors become a part of your ‘ohana. As an Airbnb host, having friendly relations with neighbors continues to be important. Assure your guests do not impede on neighbors’ lifestyles. Do you need to provide parking? Do you enact a curfew? How should your guests interact with neighbors? Establishing friendly relationships with neighbors cultivates the aloha spirit in the community while also assuring your neighbors do not report your Airbnb home to the authorities.

#6. Create a comfortable escape. Decorate your space in a clean, comfortable scheme. Add items to reflect the relaxing nature of our islands. Also add furniture: beds, tables, couches, and more. Preparing and furnishing the space is an additional, upfront cost that needs to be considered as an Airbnb host.

#7. Add amenities and safety items. What amenities will your Airbnb include – a hairdryer, laundry machine, an iron, Internet? Your Airbnb could also include luxury and comfort items such as Tempur-Pedic mattresses and stainless-steel appliances. Also assure you have health and safety items like a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher. 

#8. Take great photos. Once your place is furnished and decorated, give it a thorough cleaning and stage it with flowers, pillows, pictures, and other decorative items. Then take wide-angle photographs that will visually attract travelers to reserve your space.

#9. Create an Airbnb account. Setting up an Airbnb account is a user-friendly process. Once your place is ready for guests, click the button to “Become a host.” Airbnb has a seamless step-by-step process to set up an Airbnb listing online and will ask you questions about your space, the amenities, the check-in process, availability, pricing, the neighborhood, and more.

#10. Welcome guests from around the world. Once your Airbnb post is active, get ready to welcome Airbnb guests from around the world! Enjoy sharing your Hawaii home and earning the extra revenue.

BONUS #11. Do not depend on Airbnb to pay the mortgage. Since Airbnb is technically illegal in Hawaii, and various legislation has been proposed at the county and state levels to change the laws, do not depend on Airbnb to pay your mortgage. Have an alternative plan for your space, such as a long-term rental, if Airbnb doesn’t work for you.

Hosting an Airbnb in Hawaii is a way to share aloha and the local lifestyle with visitors while also economically utilizing extra living space. But there are several steps to take and aspects to consider before welcoming travelers from around the world into your space.