Waikiki Banyan: Exploring Possibilities in a Popular Condominium Complex

The Waikiki Banyan is an iconic 38-story condominium complex situated just a block and a half from Waikiki Beach. Its enduring appeal is owed to a flexible rental structure and excellent location on Waikiki’s popular east side. In this article, we’ll delve into the property’s attributes in detail to uncover what makes it distinct from others in the Waikiki region.

water feature in reception area to waikiki banyan

Notably one of Waikiki’s largest condominium complexes since its development in 1979, the Banyan features two distinct towers connected at its base by an open air reception lounge. Koa wood finishing and a quiet waterfall fill the ground floor with the essence of old Hawai’i. The complex is mindful of adding modern updates where needed, such as on the 6th floor recreation deck and pool areas that were remodeled in 2022.

With a total of 876 units, the complex buzzes with a high level of energy. It attracts a diverse set of visitors, from short term vacationers to remote workers booking longer stays. Owner occupancy is approximately ten percent, so buyers can expect the strong majority of units to be in use as short term rentals at any given time.

Waikiki Banyan is located a mere block and a half from Waikiki Beach on what might be deemed the ‘quieter’ side of the neighborhood. Its position near Kapiolani Regional Park, the shoreline, and nearby freeways ensure recreation is always within easy reach. Visitors also love the proximity to abundant shopping and dining options along Kuhio Avenue.

front of waikiki banyan condo building

Tower 1, or “Makai Tower” rests closer to Kuhio Avenue and Waikiki Beach. This tower offers views of Diamond Head, Koko Head, and the ocean, especially for higher level units. Tower 2, or “Mauka Tower,” resides closer to Ala Wai Boulevard with scenic views of the Ko’olau mountains.

It is paramount to consider the opportunities or restrictions of a particular complex in regards to current vacation rental laws and facts, which can be discovered in our Hawaii Vacation Rental Property Statement of Facts & Trends report. Thankfully, the Waikiki Banyan boasts an upfront advantage in its rental permitting structure. The Banyan is located in the Waikiki Special Design District which places it outside of the resort zone. However, the complex is one of only two buildings outside of the normal resort zone that is permitted for nightly rentals.

This means all owners are granted Nonconforming Use Certificates (NUCs) with the right to operate nightly rentals. NUCs also provide ongoing security against future regulatory changes. In contrast, complexes located in this zone without permitting are restricted from short-term rentals. The second building with NUC permitting is the Waikiki Sunset, also under Aqua-Aston ownership.

The Banyan’s design makes it ideal for nightly rentals. All units are one bedroom, one bathroom floor plans with spacious private balconies. There are two square footage options, 533 and 594 square feet respectively. Bedroom and living areas are separated. For those considering marketing their unit as a hotel room through the Aqua-Aston, these floor plans are considered quite spacious by hotel standards.

Whether there is a preference to maintain a unit’s original look or add renovations, owners have an immense amount of flexibility in decor and design. All units benefit from the abundance of natural light through the large windows and glass balcony doors. And depending on a unit’s orientation, there are captivating views of the mountains, city, Diamond Head, Koko Head, or the ocean.

Each unit features a full kitchen, a point of differentiation from most inventory in the resort zone. Vacationers are drawn to the flexibility that full kitchens provide to make their stay in Waikiki both affordable and convenient. Air conditioning is separate to each unit, and the Banyan has accounted for this in their allocation of maintenance fees. A breakdown of fees is provided at a later point in this article.

Laundry facilities are coin operated and stationed conveniently on each floor. Select property management companies also offer laundry services to clients. It should also be noted the complex is pet friendly.

level 6 pool deck at waikiki banyan

Owners love the complex’s attractive units, and beyond their rooms, they also enjoy the added benefit of well-maintained common spaces. The property boasts the largest recreational deck in Waikiki located on the 6th floor. After a full remodel in 2022 it now features a large pool, two jet spas, two tennis courts, numerous grills, ample seating, and a playground. The deck offers beautiful partial views of the city and Diamond Head in the distance. It’s become a popular destination for residents and visitors to spend a restful afternoon.

The Banyan resides within two blocks of numerous acclaimed restaurants, bars, and eateries along Kalakaua Avenue and the heart of Waikiki. The complex also houses its own coffee shop, Banyan Breeze, and a small convenience store for necessities.

Parking is self service and complimentary for residents. It should be noted that stalls are guaranteed, so there is never a need to search for street parking. This sets the Banyan apart again, as complimentary parking is typically a feature found within apartment buildings. In some cases it is possible to pass this privilege on from residents to short-term renters.

arrow over waikiki banyan building with diamond head in background

A benefit to this side of Waikiki is quick access to nearby attractions like Honolulu Zoo and Honolulu Aquarium beside Kapiolani Regional Park. The shaded greens of the large park extend up to the beach, with paved walkways along the ocean leading into Waikiki. This region has become a popular gathering space for the community, whether to enjoy live music, set up a picnic, or play beach volleyball.

And while Waikiki Beach may get most of the glory, adjacent Kuhio and Kaimana Beaches are both excellent for snorkeling and sunbathing. For the adventurous, nearby surf schools and rental shops cater to all skill levels who wish to take advantage of the waves.

waikiki beach

Whether living in or visiting Waikiki, it’s valuable to have convenient access to the region’s many attractions. The Banyan is close to the vibrant shops and restaurants along Kalakaua Avenue and Luxury Row. It is also a short distance from the world’s largest open air shopping center, Ala Moana.

For day trips, navigating from the Banyan to the rest of Honolulu is quite simple. The east end of Waikiki presents the most direct route to the H1 Freeway entrance via Kapahulu Avenue.

A final element owners love is the autonomy to select property management that suits different owners’ lifestyles. Options include renting through Aqua-Aston’s hotel pool, using outside property management, and self management through Airbnb or VRBO.

The Aqua-Aston is a well organized hotel pool that welcomes any unit to join their program. The company prefers that each unit accommodates up to four guests with adequate bedding and seating. Outside of these parameters there are no specific design or renovation requirements.

The upside to this hotel pool is the level of access owners have to their unit almost year-round. When planning a visit to the area it is possible to request that the Aqua-Aston move any booked guests to a different room to accommodate an owner’s stay. This is indeed unique to the complex and can be difficult to find elsewhere.

Off-site property management companies also operate within the Banyan. Both Aqua-Aston and selective management companies will cover transient and hotel taxes for owners out of their rental income. Given the ease of this process, working with a company offering this feature may prove especially attractive to international buyers.

Finally, self management presents an opportunity to list a unit on AirBnB or VRBO. Interested parties should be aware that self management is inherently higher touch and requires some level of direct interaction with tenants.

Regardless of property management selection, buyers have an advantage when it comes to maintenance fees, as electricity is included. This serves to protect owners in the event a tenant forgets to turn off the air conditioning as they head out for the day to explore. Standard room maintenance is under the Aqua-Aston management umbrella to provide for basic maintenance needs and added peace of mind.

As uncovered in this article, there are numerous reasons Waikiki Banyan ranks at the top of our list for attractive rental properties. For a comprehensive view of this list and the Waikiki real estate market we recommend reading our Oahu overview article.

For those interested in exploring the abundant possibilities of a Waikiki property acquisition, we recommend working with the most qualified professionals attuned to Hawaii’s unique landscape. Hawai’i Life welcomes interested parties to connect with us and discuss the possibilities. Inquire to learn more about active and potential units for sale at Waikiki Banyan.

We have a unique team of Realtors who specialize in working with those focused on second home and vacation rental investments. Knowledgeable experts in this field with vast experience in this segment of the real estate market. Our team has decades of experience with access to critical data points that investors need. A commitment in providing clients with the necessary support to ensure well-informed choices.

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