If you go
Finding the perfect beach rental: I used HomeAway.com and its partner, VRBO.com. They’re very similar, but I prefer VRBO’s filter setup for ease of use — so you can easily specify a beachfront location, the maximum rent you want to pay, and include amenities such as an outdoor grill, internet access, etc.
Beware that both sites include a booking service fee that isn’t clearly listed, and almost all rentals add cleaning fees (sometimes substantial) on top of the listed rental price. The service fee is, on average, about 6 percent of the rental amount, excluding refundable deposits or taxes. When you book and pay through these two websites, you get protection of your full rental payment against listing fraud, phishing, “significant” misrepresentation and more.
I always feel most comfortable if the property owner or manager responds quickly to queries. I like to speak to them by phone so I get a clear feeling that they are who they say they are.
I’ve had better luck with VRBO and HomeAway rentals than with Airbnb. With Airbnb, I’ve seen more misrepresentation by landlords — such as the Kauai rental that claimed to be a peaceful riverside walk from the ocean but turned out to require hiking the narrow shoulder of a busy highway. With any online offering, carefully inspect photos and read reviews (recent reviews are best). Try to get a street address so you can go to Google Street View and see the neighborhood. If anything feels fishy, ask the landlord for references and make more calls.
If you don’t find what you want on the first look, try alternate dates or revise your filters. On the North Shore of Oahu, you rarely need air conditioning; just open windows and let the trade winds blow through. And maybe, for this week of reconnecting with family or friends, you don’t need the internet. (Unplug, you might like it.)
More about Oahu’s North Shore: The laid-back town of Haleiwa (“hawlay-EE-va”) is the focal point of Oahu’s North Shore community. It’s about 40 minutes, via Interstate H2 and Hawaii 99, from Honolulu International Airport. Or take the less direct, slower and much more scenic Hawaii 83 (Kamehameha Highway) along the island’s windward shore through Kaneohe and Kahuku (allow 90 minutes or more).
Art walk: Every second Saturday, 3-7 p.m., is Art Walk evening in Haleiwa. Galleries and shops stay open late and you can meet local artists. See gonorthshore.org/ haleiwa-art-walk.
Historic walking tour: Take a 90-minute walking tour of historic Haleiwa. Tour by appointment (at least 48 hours notice needed): $10. Visit Haleiwa Shingon Mission, Lili’uokalani Church, Waialua Court House and more. See gonorthshore.org/history-and-tours.
More information: gonorthshore.org