Hawaii is loved around the globe for its aloha spirit, stunning beaches, and jaw-dropping volcanic landscape. Most people dream of visiting this slice of Pacific heaven at least once in their lives, but the cost is usually a concern. We won’t sugarcoat it. Hawaii is pricey. Its secluded location and limited island resources mean that many things are imported from far far away. In fact, Honolulu is considered to be in the top 20 most expensive cities in the world. However, just because it can be expensive doesn’t mean there aren’t loopholes. There are plenty of ways to save a few bucks while in the tropical paradise. Here are our best tips for a cheap Hawaii vacation.
1. Visit in Late Winter or Early Fall
Finding the cheapest flights to Hawaii from the mainland US and elsewhere can be pretty tricky. However, you’re definitely better off searching for flights in Hawaii’s offseason which is around early fall to late winter. Thanks to the island chain’s year-round sunny days, you won’t have to worry about the weather, either. December is usually loaded with [rice bumps due to families traveling for a Christmas vacay in Hawaii. So, we suggest checking for flights in late January or February.
2. Book a Midrange Hotel in Advance
One of if not the most expensive things about traveling in Hawaii is the accommodation. With so many luxury resorts finding an affordable place to sleep can seem daunting. However, if you look far enough in advance (minimum four months), you can find plenty of reasonably priced 3-star hotels for under $200 a night. We recommend checking out Castle Molokai Shores, an oceanfront resort on Molokaʻi. They are currently offering a one-bedroom ocean-view suite for $98-$125.
3. Prioritize DIY Activities
While having a travel agent detail a full itinerary for you may seem tempting; it’s really not necessary. Planning ahead and mapping out exactly what you want to do can go a long way. And thanks to Hawaii’s natural beauty, you have tons of hiking trails and outdoor activities at your fingertips. We suggest picking a few hiking trails to fill your afternoons. Alternatively, you can rent a bike and see the island via peddle. Additionally, scope out some of the best beaches in your area with a bit of research and plan a DIY picnic or sunset dinner.
4. Eat Like a Local
Hawaii is home to a plethora of world-class steak houses and fine dining eateries. Save those for one special night and spend the rest of the time eating like a local. Opt for small seafood joints and load up on fresh poke bowls and Lomi salmon. Hawaiian food is fresh and loaded with local tropical ingredients that are well worth chowing down on vs their import counterparts. Plan ahead by deciding what you’ll eat on which day and what your budget will be.
5. Stay on Oahu
Oahu is home to the capital, Honolulu and is the cheapest of all the islands. Thanks to an abundance of hotels, tours and activities, there’s a fair amount of competition that keeps prices fair for tourists. For just a dollar you can hike the famous volcanic Diamond Head. The island is also notoriously home to free hula shows, more affordable hotels and of course, the famous dole plantation.
6. Take Cultural Classes
Speaking of Oahu, the island is home to the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki. They offer a huge range of cultural classes and shows at no cost. Ever wanted to learn how to dance the hula? How about the ukulele or making your own leis? Monday through Saturday you can find all sorts of cultural classes for free. Not only do they cost nothing, but they are also a great experience to take home with you.
7. Take Public Transport
This one should be a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. A car may be tempting so that you have the islands at your fingertips; however, the bus is loads more affordable. The costs of gas, parking and reserved space at the hotel adds up to a pretty penny and fast. Getting around Oahu by bus shouldn’t set you back more than $3, and Maui has daily bus passes for as little as $4.