General Excise Tax State of Hawaii

Good news: Hawaii doesn’t have a sales tax, but it does impose the general excise tax (GET) “at every level of transaction on goods and services… .”

The GET is 4% throughout most of Hawaii and 4.5% on Oahu, but the state allows a business to charge their customers a maximum of 4.712% to help recoup some of their total GET.

Our general excise tax will be going up in 2019.

Please see the below link for the State Website for more information about this.

The new General Excise Rate for the County of Hawaii is 4.25%. They have added on a surcharge of 0.25%.

The max pass-on rate for the County of Hawaii has increased from 4.1666% to 4.4386%.

The Transient Accommodation tax has not changed.

If you have any questions about buying or selling in Hawaii be sure to give us a call at First Island Realty: (808) 930-3610 or email

About Bill 108 – Hawaii County

In brief: About Bill 108 – Regulations on Short Term Vacation Rentals in Hawaii

This post is made in the hope to help you understand the current issue and pending regulation you need to be aware of if you plan on buying a home and using it as a vacation rental.

One of the main problems on our island and in many seaside communities across the United States is a lack of affordable housing. This is an issue impacting all the islands and in Kailua Kona, we estimate 20-25 renters applying for every one available rental which in turn pushes the housing cost up.

Our islands have traditionally been a second home market and many homes are turned into vacation rentals through various property management companies including third parties such VRBO and Airbnb. This is not a new phenomenon; however, it does remove the opportunity for people living locally to find a place to live.

Many residential neighborhoods have strict home owners associations in place to avoid short term rentals and in addition, for those who live in those subdivisions, the traffic brought by short term renters as well as the noise created by vacationers do disturb the peaceful life style many seek when living and retiring to Hawaii.

As a full service real estate company, First Island Realty understands our client’s desires to purchase a home now, rent it out, and retire into it later. Let us help you find a property which can truly be a vacation rental if that is what you seek!

Recently, Bill 108 has been introduced to regulate home sharing and vacation rentals in Hawaii County Council. Bill 108 will significantly change how home sharing works on Hawaii . Bill 108 has been in the works for over a year and this is Hawaii County Council’s first attempt to regulate the increasingly popular Airbnb, VRBO, and other short-term rentals. The county is the only one in the state not regulating such rentals.

This link will take you to the county site to view the latest draft of this bill:

First Island Realty will keep you apprised of the final outcome of this bill when it passes. Make sure you call us if you are looking to invest in a long term or vacation rental home in Hawaii and we will share all the update info available to us prior to making your purchase.

Laure McElwee, Broker/Owner
First island Realty

New Listing: 76-6298 Haku Pl – $696,000

This is an amazing opportunity to own a spacious residence with spectacular ocean views of the Kona coastline and Kailua Bay on a quiet cul de sac. The home is set on the original developer’s premier lot in Kilohana. A lovely courtyard welcomes you upon arrival and provides privacy, security, and a zen feeling.

The spacious main room features a vaulted open beam ceiling, travertine floors throughout with an open floor plan and lots of light. An enclosed lanai also provides additional living space. From every angle of this home, you can see the ocean. Then step out of the enclosed lanai onto another amazing open space to take in the view. Barbecue in the evenings or simply enjoy a glass of wine with friends while watching the sunset. The updated kitchen is fully appointed with a pass through window onto the lanai to allow for enjoyable entertainment.

The master bedroom features new floors to match the rest of the house, a walk-in closet, and opens onto the lanai with the same spectacular views of the ocean and a recently remodeled bathroom awaits you. Tucked outside the master bedroom on the south side find an inviting hot tub ready for your enjoyment. The home has 2 additional bedrooms as well as another fully equipped second bathroom. A separate laundry room on the opposite side of the kitchen with small home office provides additional space. A large 2 car garage is attached with additional parking in the driveway. Please note a new septic tank and new roof were installed in 2015.

The yard is easy-to-maintain and has a fully automated irrigation system. Coast down the hill to some amazing surf breaks and beaches. Kilohana is a highly-desired neighborhood about a 10-minute drive from shopping and downtown Kailua-Kona. Some furniture are negotiable outside of the sale.

Please contact us today! or call (808) 217-0429 for more info.

Alii Lani price reduction now $345,000

75-6081 Alii Drive, #AA201

Amazing upstairs unit with some ocean views at Alii Lani sold turnkey. From the moment you walk in, experience the free flowing open space, high ceilings and bright interior. The unit is decorated in a lovely Hawaiian style design with quality furniture and sold with everything one may need in down to the silverware.

The lovely lanai is inviting and provides an intimate setting for an evening cocktail; during Iron Man, you will have the best seat in the house to enjoy the race.

Alii Lani has two separate resort-style pool areas with spas, pavilions, and BBQ Facilities. Small pets allowed on the property. Alii Lani has the lowest 3-Bedroom maintenance fees in Kona. Ideally located close to restaurants, shopping, deli, beach, ocean activities & open-air markets. Kona Shuttle Bus runs in front of the complex on regular schedule along Alii Drive between Keauhou and Kona Town. Extremely EZ to See!

Please contact us today! or call (808) 217-0429 for more info.

Reef-Safe Sunscreen!

Here in Hawaii, we love our reef and our reef fish! (Snorkeling wouldn’t be the same without them!)

The scary news is that currently, 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter coral reefs every year, according to the National Park Service.

Outrageous, right? Well we have GREAT NEWS! Did you know that our beautiful, laid back state is actually the first in the USA to step up with legislation to protect our reef? We’re so thankful to Gov. Ige for banning the sale of sunscreen containing coral-harming chemicals!

The new law will go into effect January 1, 2021 and will protect our reef from these toxic chemicals! But you don’t have to wait till 2021 to do your part!

We know how important sunscreen is. We don’t want you to go without and ruin your vacation by getting sunburned on the first day! (We’ve seen it happen and we’re here to help you avoid that!) There are already a whole host of reef-safe sunscreens available! We could tell you the list of ingredients to avoid, but that makes sunscreen shopping a bit of a headache. And we don’t want to waste your time. We want you out there enjoying nature, so here’s a super quick tip to help you out! Just look for the words “REEF SAFE” on the product and you’re good to go! And here is a short list of our top five favorite reef-safe sunscreens!

Alba Botanicals

I like to try a different brand each time, just to see what’s out there. This one is my current favorite! Why? Well, first of all, because they sell it at Costco! This product smells so good too, so good that I would almost use it as perfume! I love the spray for all over application (less fuss when applying sunscreen on kids) and I also love that the Costco pack comes with the little tube of cream – nice to not have to tote around a huge tube. The cream rubs in super easily and isn’t greasy. Oh.. and did I mention, it smells GREAT!

All Good

All Good Sunscreen All good is a great brand that’s been in the game for a while. There are several different products to choose from. (The coconut stick smells so good!) My favorite is this sunscreen butter. Rich and creamy, I love it for my face, chest, and shoulders (the areas I get the most sun!) Some of the products take a bit of time to rub in, but they really protect well and are worth the little extra application time in my opinion! The best part is that each purchase of All Good products directly supports environmental restoration and education projects through their partnership with 1% For the Planet!


Badger Balm Another great company. They sell lots of different products – from rose face care to sleep balm to reef safe sunscreen! They have a sunscreen for kids that’s tangerine and vanilla scented and boy is it heavenly! Another great thing about this company’s products is that they are certified organic! So you can feel extra good about what you’re putting on your skin!

Raw Elements

This awesome all natural brand comes with lots of choices for children and adults. If it isn’t found in nature, it’s not in their sunscreen. That’s a huge selling point for people wanting to live in alignment with nature as much as possible! They even have completely plastic free products! They sell everything from lip balms to tinted sunscreen! Great options!


I can’t say enough good things about this awesome company created by a scientist/water adventurer. I’ve actually gotten to meet her and hear all about the *intense* scientific testing they do! They go a step beyond and make sure that their products aren’t just reef safe but also they do long term testing on reef fish to make sure it’s safe in the long run for them too! They make a ton of really great products. I LOVE their sun and sting relief gel.. in case of sunburn or jellyfish sting! They also have shampoos, conditioners, and lotions that are reef safe so you can rest assured that you’re not harming the reef or reef fish with anything you put on your body! I highly recommend checking this company out!

We here at First Island Realty take our adventures seriously! Have fun out there! Drink plenty of water and don’t forget your reef-safe sunscreen!

E Komo Mai

Welcome to our website. Get to know the Big Island of Hawaii; check out our listings and the entire Big Island MLS. When you are ready to take the next step, we are here to assist you. First Island Realty is the real estate company of choice for the discerning buyer or seller. The relationship between a home buyer or seller and their agent is based on trust, shared goals, and understanding. We strive to continually improve and to do this, we listen and take your needs and wants into consideration.

About Hawaii

The island that gives Hawaii its name is one of the most spectacular and geographically diverse places in the world, with 11 of earth’s 13 climates. Snow-capped mountains, great surfing, an active volcano, and cascading waterfalls make the Big Island a paradise for those wishing to explore some of Mother Nature’s finest work. Travel into another world under the sea where caves and coral reefs are home to colorful tropical fish and more than a few surprises. There aren’t many places where you can witness lava flowing directly from a volcano like you can at Kilauea. Travel into space by heading up Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest mountain at nearly 14,000 feet, and home to the largest telescopes in the world.

About Our Market

Home to some of the most exceptional real estate in the world, the Big Island real estate market is far more than just a vacation or retirement hot spot – it is a diverse and dynamic market offering some of the finest resort properties, land on which to build, ranch estates, oceanfront luxury homes and golf course properties.

Ideal for both primary homes and seasonal residences, as well as for income producing rental properties, Big Island real estate continues to draw new residents year after year. In fact, the Big Island is home to more than 200,000 full-time residents, with an average daily visitor population approaching more than 22,000 people.

The Big Island is also drawing more attention as visitors realize the many benefits of owning property here in Hawaii and are looking to purchase their own piece of paradise.

Living on the Big Island affords residents endless opportunities for recreational pursuits including a myriad of water sports, hiking and biking trails, horseback riding and more. Furthermore, with a number of exclusive and unparalleled resort properties located primarily along the Kohala and north Kona coastline, world-class amenities such as spa and fitness facilities, championship golf courses and full concierge services are available to property owners.

Thinking of purchasing on the Big Island of Hawaii, give us a call at (808)930-3610 today!

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