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Just How Dominant Are Waikiki and Honolulu When it Comes to Hawaii’s Hotel Scene?

December 4, 2013 at 2:33 PM | by | Comment (1)

When we think of visiting Hawaii, it is usually beaches and palm trees that come to mind, not crowds and concrete. But anyone who has visited the south side of Oahu knows that it is extremely different from the rest of the Hawaiian Islands in terms of its development. While any fool can surmise what we mean from the photo above, we decided to dig a little deeper and take a look at the numbers as it relates to the hotel scene.

Using the most recent numbers from the 2012 report, the Hawaiian Islands have 144 traditional hotels with a total of 43,151 rooms (not including B&Bs or hostels). The breakdown across the islands shows that Oahu has the most with 68 hotels and 26,186 rooms; Hawaii Island has 32 hotels with 6,785 rooms; Maui has 26 with 7,172 rooms; 15 and 2,660 for Kauai; and Lanai has 3 hotels with 348 rooms. According to the report, Molokai had no properties that qualified as a hotel.

The total number of units for the state of Hawaii, including hotels, B&Bs, hostels, rental condos and apartments, timeshares, and other rentable inventory is 74,650. Of that total, Oahu has 35,126 units; Maui has 19,659; Hawaii Island has 10,794; Kauai has 8,289; Molokai has 429; and Lanai has 353. This means that in terms of places to stay in Hawaii, Oahu and Maui harbor about 73% of them with 47% and 26%, respectively.

Taking a closer look at the biggest market, it is incredible to see just how dense the downtown area is on Oahu. Of the island’s 68 hotels, 53 are located across Waikiki and Honolulu – only five less than Maui and Hawaii Island combined. In terms of hotel rooms, Waikiki and Honolulu have 22,241 of the island’s 35,126 units. This means that 63% of Oahu’s total and 51.5% of the State’s total hotel rooms are packed within a few square miles. That’s pretty incredible.

While those figures certainly put the dominance of downtown Oahu’s lodging scene in perspective, one of the most surprising numbers is that Kauai has only 2,460 less units than Hawaii Island despite being almost eight times the size. This is due to a large number of what the study refers to as “Individual Vacation Units,” most likely in the form of private rental units.

So what can we learn from this? Well, for one, stay out of Waikiki and Honolulu if you don’t like crowds. The North Shore will be a better option for visitors to Oahu who are looking for a more rural experience, as it contains only two hotels with 636 total rooms. On the other side of the coin, we were surprised at the lack of hotels on Hawaii Island considering it is about seven times bigger than Oahu.

[Photos: Aloha Hawaii/Wiki]

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Today, most blogs and some traditional news outlets seem to think that facts and figures are extraneous. It's great to see someone presenting an opinion and backing that opinion with some numbers.

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