Extremes of Airbnb in Hawaii
It strikes me as ironic that my best and worst AirBNB experiences to date were the 2 places I stayed on my recent trip to Hawaii. I’ve used Airbnb several times closer to home, and it’s been… well uneventful. But this trip was different.
I had 2 different stays. One was renting a room in Megan’s house just south of Kailua-Kona on The Big Island. The other was renting a room in a shared apartment where the host was living nearby in the Waikiki Beach area. Both had good reviews on Airbnb, both were great places in terms of the accommodation, but there were some serious differences.
Airbnb in Kailua-Kona, The Big Island
The stay with Megan was one of the best holiday accommodation experiences I’ve ever had. Megan was so welcoming, with open hugs and a calm and friendly nature. She had 3 rooms she was letting out through Airbnb, and another room where a friend of hers was staying. She’d decked out the house with comfortable furniture, artwork that she or other guests had made, made breakfast for all the guests, had a “creation station” full of craft things so people could relax and make jewellery or paint, and she had bikes and snorkeling/beach gear available to use. The location was amazing, with Turtle Beach at the end of the street, and other beaches a short bike ride away. Megan is also a yoga instructor and offered free yoga classes on the mornings she was teaching, which were held on a deck of a café in town overlooking the ocean. I mean, this is the goldmine of all airbnb’s! My stay here was so relaxing and really helped me to slow down a bit from the usual pace I go at. I would highly recommend a stay with Megan if you are ever in Kailua-Kona.
Airbnb in Waikiki Beach, Oahu
The stay in Waikiki was a whole different experience. I had thought from the reviews that there was a gay couple (or just 2 guy friends) who had an apartment and I was letting a room in their apartment. But it wasn’t quite that.
Jaime was the host and had rented 2 apartments in the buildings next to each other. He was living in one of them (let’s call it the level 1 apartment), with a boarder Eric, and letting the remaining room out through Airbnb. Then the apartment next door (let’s call it the level 20 apartment), he was letting 2 rooms through Airbnb. I had let one of the rooms in the level 20 apartment. It was a great location with an amazing view, and the apartment itself was comfortable enough.
However, my first impression was absolutely terrible, but it wasn’t the apartment that was bad. Eric (Jaime’s boarder), collected me from the airport for a fee, and drove me back to the apartment. It was clear he was high on something. Then closer to the apartment, he wound my window down, lent across me, and started hurling racist abuse out the window at people walking down the street. And I mean, this was stuff I have never heard come out of someone’s mouth (and I’ve heard a lot). I was so shocked. I just wanted to get out of the car. At that point, I had decided to call Airbnb and tell them there’s no way I’m staying with this guy. But then we got to the apartment, and Eric explained that I was sharing with a guy, Charles, who was also from Melbourne Australia. Then Eric left me alone. Phew! So I decided to stay and see what would pan out.
Jaime, the host, on the other hand was absolutely lovely. I met him a couple of days later after coincidentally meeting some girls (Shanae & Kristi) who were letting the room in his level 1 apartment. Jaime offered to take all three of us for a drive around the south and east coast of Oahu, and show us some of his favourite spots. There was no funny business, and he simply showed us his favourite beaches and was very generous with his time. It was such a great afternoon, and a part of Oahu I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see without a car. But before we left for this drive, we all witnessed Eric completely lose it at Jaime, yell and carry on about stuff that made no sense, and throw things at him. We were pretty keen to get out of there. It just cemented my feelings about Eric.
A few days later, when Charles checked out, I was the only one left in the level 20 apartment. Eric came up in the morning to change the sheets and mentioned he might stay there that night because it’s cooler. Alarm bells went off for me! There’s no way I trusted this guy to stay with him alone. I decided I would stay out until after dinner when Jaime returned from work, and speak to Jaime about the fact that I didn’t feel comfortable with Eric staying there.
So I did just that, I went out for a surfing lesson, then met the sweetest couple (Sid and Cristy) on the beach watching the sunset, and found myself a place for dinner. Sid and Cristy were so lovely and without knowing the situation that was unfolding, they gave me their numbers and offered assistance if I ever needed anything while I was in town.
It never got as far as going to speak to Jaime. When I having dinner, Jaime called me to say things had escalated with Eric. Eric had gotten violent, and the police had been called. They had thrown him out of Jaime’s level 1 apartment and Eric had let himself into the level 20 apartment and was staying there. Crazy shit! Jaime was okay after the incident, but pretty shaken up himself. He advised against going back to the apartment where my luggage and passport were. Of course, there was no way I was going to walk myself into that situation.
It’s funny how things like this can make you feel so vulnerable. I guess I had already been a bit anxious about it, but as soon as it was real, I just burst into tears. Initially, I felt completely alone, but things have a way of working out. Having just met the loveliest couple, I at least felt I had someone on my side. I contacted Sid and Cristy just to let them know, and they offered assistance and a place to stay. It was a huge comfort to know that I had them there as a backup, so if I couldn’t work things out, I wouldn’t be completely stranded. On top of that, Jaime was the loveliest host I could wish for in the circumstance. He picked me up and stayed with me until I was all safe and sound. We called Airbnb together, who very quickly refunded the rest of my stay. He helped me find a hotel, drove me to a store to pick up some basic supplies (charger and toothbrush), and made sure I checked into my hotel.
I checked into a hotel and felt safe, but still very stressed about not having my passport and luggage since my flight was in 24 hours. But Jaime was lovely and assured me that it would be okay. And he was right. Eric was evicted from the level 20 apartment the next morning and Jaime picked me up to go and collect my things. All the drama was over in less than 24 hours, and I decided to not let it ruin my holiday, so I spent the last day doing a bunch of fun stuff.
I’m a bit torn about the experience. On one side, I probably should have listened to my instincts on day 1, phoned Airbnb, and found somewhere else to stay. But if I had done that, I would not have made the connections with Jaime, Kristi & Shanae, and Sid & Cristy that I did. It’s funny how some of the best friendships come along so unexpectedly at times when you most need them.