Hawaii County Bed and Breakfast Guidelines

Section 25-4-7 of the Hawaii County Code outlines requirements for all Bed and Breakfast establishments on the Big Island.

In effect since only 1996, the rules allow their existence in almost any residential area. In a nutshell:

  • Up to 5 guest rooms are allowable on lots of 15,000 square feet or greater.
  • Room count may be adjusted for smaller lots.
  • Up to 10 guests can be housed at any time.
  • Guests may stay 30 days or less.
  • The specific county permit required is based on the underlying zoning.
  • Off-street parking must be provided.
  • Owners are expected to live in the Bed and Breakfast dwelling.
  • Only breakfast may be served.
  • A Bed and Breakfast permit “runs with the land” meaning that once it is in place, it passes to subsequent owners.

As REALTORS®, we sometimes advertise properties that possess unique qualities which we feel might make them desirable as transient accommodations. At times, neighbors become concerned about the impact such an operation might have on the neighborhood.

I have sold several Bed and Breakfast establishments over the years.

I was surprised to learn that a Bed and Breakfast creates less impact on a neighborhood than a typical family. This makes perfect sense if you think about it. As a parent, I know how much traffic my family creates. B&B guests typically make one trip to the property and leave in the morning. They do not normally return during the day.

Maybe B&Bs improve home values.

Because pride of ownership directly affects the innkeeper’s ability to make a living, property maintenance issues are normally non-existent. From my experience, the quality of most Bed and Breakfasts meets or exceeds our local hotels. Many reflect the gracious character and charm synonymous with Hilo.

What better experience for a visitor to take away from this wonderful place than the warmth of a Big Island family willing to share their home with Aloha! In my mind, there are certainly worse things that could happen to a neighborhood!

About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at denise@hawaiilife.com or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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February 22, 2018

You’ve got it wrong. Vacation Rentals in residential neighborhoods whether B&B (home owners live there too) or not take away from the feeling of a close knit neighborhood. I know, as I live on a street where 60% of the homes rent out typically several days at a time. It feels like a resort hotel community here not knowing who the strangers are that come and go every week. Having more cars around and less parking available and not being compensated for use of our private street (Maintenance of which is at at homeowners cost) by these strangers is another consideration you’re overlooking….. all for the benefit of my resident neighbors who shouldn’t own a home if they can’t afford it…and for the benefit (if they can enforce the codes) of the state who can collect short term vacation or B&B rental taxes. Nothing here that is benefiting the regular homeowner wishing to live in a nice neighborhood.


May 23, 2019

B&B and Hosted Vacation Rentals vs. Vacation Rentals vs. : I’ll take the B&B or hosted rental every time. We have several UN-HOSTED vacation rentals in our neighborhood and they are a nightmare! Loud parties, live bands, fireworks, lots of traffic and more. The hosted properties, where the owner lives on site, never seem to have these problems.

Karen Sipera

July 11, 2019

This will be a bit off the subject, but i was looking to find out what Hawaii defines as a bed and breakfast? On the mainland it always includes a daily room clean and a hot breakfast each morning..at Hawaiis Hidden Hideaway on Oahu, this did not happen we received 5 days worth of fruit snd muffins and coffee for us to make for the week…It is being falsely advertised since I know the difference …..we still had to get our breakfast, and clean, do you have specific requirements fkr the licensing or is this acceptable…just to let you know the location is amazing, and Janice is helpful with recommendations…

David Lynn Shafer

September 11, 2019

I’m a little concerned about the requirement of the owner of the short-term bed & breakfast to live on the property? How is that even possible for those of us who own condominiums that only have 2-bedrooms and our guests use both of them? With this requirement, if it is enforced, what happens to all of the B&Bs currently in operation throughout the Big Island and beyond?

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