It was an interesting time and I learned a couple of things. The first is this. If you plan on moving to Hawaii find a place to stay for at least two weeks rather than the one I took. Also, you should use several different sites. I ended up using ApartmentList.com, Zillow.com, and Honolulu.CraigsList.com.
Everything I looked at and almost everything I found was owned at the unit level. I saw one complex in Waikiki where the apartments were all owned by one group and rented out from an onsite leasing office. Everything else was individual units owned by someone and rented out sometimes through a management company.
There’s a lot of variation between different managing agents. Some want a big application fee, some don’t care about that. There is variation on what is meant by Furnished and Partially Furnished. The one partially furnished place I had included a stove and refrigerator and called that partially furnished though I’d call that unfurnished, at least as far as an apartment is concerned. The place I ended up is fully furnished and includes plenty of kitchen appliances, like a rice cooker, and even had the cleaning supplies the prior renter had left, which was quite convenient when I went to do laundry on Saturday. Another thing that matters is the personal rapport with the managing agent. They’ve got plenty of leeway to make demands and when then they can pick and choose regardless of what they say while showing the unit. The one thing all of them require is a showing. You can’t even get serious about talking to anyone until after you’ve seen the unit. Another thing most of the places liked was personal recommendations from folks already in the Islands.
Overall you might want to consider it more like buying a condo than it is like picking an apartment complex in Chicago or Indy, though the turnaround is faster since you don’t have to get financing.