Updated: May 21, 2015
Ko Olina Beach Villas Resort:One of the most popular new resort areas on Oahu is Ko Olina. With the JW Marriott and the new Disney Aulani as the big name resorts, smaller accommodations like the Ko Olina Beach Villas are gaining recognition. The Beach Villas at Ko Olina were built back in 2008 and include luxury amenities within the 2 and 3 bedroom villas. There are 2 buildings, the Ocean Tower and Beach Tower. We stayed on the 10th floor of the Ocean Tower in December 2011 for one week. Our 2 bedroom villa featured a beautiful view from the penthouse lanai overlooking the resort and the ocean. Although the Beach Tower is closer to the ocean, the views from our place were still amazing. We could look down directly onto the gorgeous heated lap pool and the sunsets were truly amazing. We rented with an owner from VRBO.com and paid roughly $400/night. This was our first time renting a condo in Oahu and we knew there would be some trade-offs compared to staying at the mega resorts like the Disney Aulani. The one thing that attracted us to this region were the 4 manmade lagoons (lagoon #2 is right in front of the resort) which offer great snorkeling opportunities and white sand beaches for our kids to play on. The lagoons were created in such a way that waves are not an issue and the water is calm and warm for swimming.
The resort is located about 30 minutes from Honolulu Airport and it's an easy drive once you get on the H1 freeway. You will exit at the Ko Olina exit from the highway and come to an entrance booth/gate. You are not required to stop at this gate and there are 2 lanes - take the right lane and continue past the entrance to the Ko Olina resorts. You'll pass the JW Marriot on your right followed by the Disney Aulani. The third resort is that of the Beach Villas at Ko Olina. The owner who rented us our villa had us contact them when we arrived at the airport so that they could meet us at the main entrance to the resort and hand us our villa keys and get us situated. There is covered parking (that is what we had), although many of the spots I saw were not covered. There are several sets of elevators - depending on your room #. Your room key is required in the elevator to get to certain floors (P1 Parking, penthouse levels, etc.). We stayed during the off week right after Thanksgiving so the resort was quiet and we never saw a single person on the elevator we used. Overall, the villas are spectacular and each one has a unique floor plan. The 2 bedroom unit we rented had a huge lanai that overlooked the pools and looked out towards the ocean. The kitchens are very nice with high end appliances. The kitchen table seated 6 and next to that was a computer desk with fax machine/printer. In the same room was the flat screen TV with couch and 2 chairs for tv viewing. Down the hallway was the master bedroom with huge bathroom. The shower was clean and quite large. The soaking tub overlooked the bedroom - if you chose to open the wooden blinds. Off the hallway to the left was the 2nd bedroom with 2 twin beds (great for kids) and the owner said you could connect the beds to get another room with a king size bed. Both bedrooms overlooked the Ko Olina golf course which is across the main street. The rooms were quiet, although the wind could be heard trying to get through the closed window. With strong winds it is not advised to open the windows while the blinds are down or else it will ruin them. The second bathroom had a full shower (no tub) and a good sized sink area. Another bonus was the stacked washer and dryer located just between the 2 bedrooms. Although they were smaller than what you find on the mainland, they did the trick when we wanted to wash some clothes on the trip. You can view the website for the resort online at http://www.koolinabeachvillasresort.com/. There are no restaurants or food sources at the actual resort, but there are a few smaller markets just down the road at Ko Olina Station (across from the Aulani Disney). We shopped at the Safeway in Kapolei - about 5-10 minutes down the road. We ate breakfast and lunch at the villa most of the days and then ventured out at night to get dinner at the JW Marriot or the Marriott Beach Club - along the beach pathway. The pool area has several Wolf BBQ's - great for grilling.
Beach Villas at Ko Olina Map - Resort:The resort is not that big, but the surrounding area is growing, so having a general overview (or map) is helpful. There is an interactive map online at http://www.koolina.com/explore/interactive-map or you can view our photo below. There are the two main buildings (Beach and Ocean Towers), then you have the large, heated pool that sits at the base of the Ocean Tower, and the other non-heated pool down by the Beach Tower. In between are koi ponds, pathways, barbeque grills, and the main lobby. Much of the parking is underground and requires a key card to get into. I did find that going from the resort to the walkway along the ocean and the beach areas was a bit of a hassle as you need to remember to have your villa key at all times. The gate at the end of the property that leads to the beach requires a quick scan of the card to get out or in. If your children wanted to play on the beach while you sit at the pool, they would need to take a room key or you have to constantly watch the gate to see if they want back in. We found it took us about 3 minutes from the time we left the 10th floor villa to reach the beach area. The concierge at the lobby was helpful when asked questions about restaurants or tours. Check with them if you have any questions. Also, they were able to print out our boarding passes which was convenient.
Renting a Villa in Ko Olina:There are several ways you can secure a villa at the Beach Villas of Ko Olina. We started our search online at VRBO.com and went into the Oahu section and then into the "west oahu" area. You will find dozens of Ko Olina rentals and be sure you know which one you are getting into. Most show photos of the units and describe location - like floor # and building (Ocean or Beach Towers). The main website (list above) also lets you book villas online and then they place you in whatever is available. I would only recommend this way of securing a reservation if they can guarantee you a particular floor or view. No sense in paying all that money if they can't tell you exactly what villa you are renting. TripAdvisor had some reviews of people who rented through the main website and then got to the resort only to be a bit disappointed. A few were upgraded to better villas and views, but only after they complained. When you go through VRBO, you are assured of knowing which particular villas you are renting well in advance. The higher the floor the better the views for the most part. The weather is just about perfect year round, so the lanai should come in handy for morning breakfast or an evening drink. Some units get a somewhat blocked view as the Beach Tower gets in the way (see our photos of samples). Our unit was dead center in the Ocean Tower and our views from the 10th floor were great, but not perfect. Some units have side views that go towards the Disney Aulani or the Marriott Beach Club Villas. We paid roughly $400/night to get our 2 bedroom villa. We contacted about 10 owners and quite a few got back to us after we had already booked and said they would have negotiated on the rate they were charging. If you go during "dead weeks" (like the week after Thanksgiving), then chances are you can bargain a bit or ask for a lower rate. The unit we stayed in had no bookings for the weeks after our visit all the way to Christmas, so I know they don't get much business during certain times of the year. This is good for renters as we can get better deals or discounts. The lowest rates I saw were about $300/night for the lower level villas. The noise was minimal around the "quiet pool" so those units wouldn't be a bad choice if a view is not that important. Checking in for us was easy as the owners (they live nearby) were waiting for us to show us around. A similar villa at the Disney Aulani rents for roughly $1000/night - or you can rent their small hotel rooms for $350-$400/night.
Beach Villas at Ko Olina Pools:The two sets of pools at Ko Olina Beach Villas are distinctly different. The heated, lap pool near the Ocean Tower is long and narrow with a beautiful design on the bottom of the pool done with tiles. They have several lounge chairs that sit half in the water making it easy to cool off while sitting in the sun. It's meant to be a "quiet" adult pool, although children are allowed in it. During our stay we noticed staff having to talk with guests about noise levels. Our children swam in this pool half the time since it was warm compared to the other pool. There is a good sized hot tob located next to the lap pool which is perfect for relaxing in the evening. As you walk across the grounds closer to the ocean and lagoon #2, you come to the second pool complex with waterways that lead under bridges and a sand, bottom pool as well. Kids will have a fun time down here, but the water can be a bit chilly. There were plenty of pool chairs available and the day we had lunch down here we sat at one of the many tables. The pool complex gets lots of sun after about 11AM. Again, the resort should consider heating the pool to keep the kids out of the "adult/quiet" pool area. The BBQ's were a nice touch and we were able to use them to grill hot dogs one day. There are 2 hot tubs in the lower pool section - one was under repair when we visited. Before you leave the premises and go to the beach, you will find the Nanea Hale beach bar which is open to guests of the resort. They serve drinks but no food (too bad). We have included a video of the pool area down below as well.
Lagoon #2 at Ko Olina Beach Villas:One of the main reasons we chose this resort is due to the lagoons (4 of them) that are located along the 1.5 mile pathway between all the Ko Olina resorts. Lagoon #2 was the one we frequently most and we had a terrific time. My kids, ages 6 and 10, were able to snorkel along with me and my wife to see colorful fish and some sea turtles. The kids used their boogie boards to keep afloat and when I spotted fish or a turtle, I would help them look down through the water. We spent hours on the beach and in the lagoon since the water was calm and quite warm. I did some swimming and snorkeling at lagoon 1 and lagoon 3, but preferred our lagoon best. Another benefit is that Ko Olina is not that crowded, so we could swim or have the lagoon almost all to ourselves in the morning or afternoon hours. When the kids saw how crowded Waikiki beach is, they couldn't help but say how thankful they were to be able to swim in the quiet lagoons of Ko Olina.
|Incredible kitchens with top end appliances and easy access for food or drinks while sitting on your lanai.
|Chairs on lanai which overlooked the main pool and had great views of the ocean.
|Looking towards the ocean with the Beach Tower in sight.
|View towards the left side of the Ocean Tower.
|View from our 10th floor penthouse villas towards the right side of the Ocean Tower.
|View from resort towards Lagoon #2..
|Barbeque Grills by the pools - there were 2 sets of these Wolf BBQ's..