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Thinking about heading to Aloha State for your next vacation? We don’t blame you — Hawaii is peaceful, welcoming, and absolutely lovely.
With many people going back to their yearly vacations after the worst of the pandemic, traveling to Hawaii is more popular than ever. This means that vacations in Hawaii can get expensive – but don’t lose hope yet. It’s still possible to score a few deals when you plan your Hawaiian vacation.
If you’re looking to save on a trip to Hawaii, read through and learn about our best budget travel suggestions.
Save on Lodging
Hotels in Hawaii are notoriously expensive. Many of these hotels are luxurious resorts with pristine beaches, pools, and cabanas available for their guests’ use. If you want the luxe Hawaii experience without the hefty price tag, there are a few ways to save on Hawaiian accommodation.
Try booking your hotel at least two months in advance. This helps you avoid a price surge as rooms fill up closer to your arrival date. You can also sign up with a particular hotel to learn about their promotions or package deals before you reserve your room.
Think carefully about how you’re going to spend your time. While a beachfront hotel may sound glamorous, it might be unnecessary based on your itinerary. Staying a few blocks away from the beach without a view, for example, may be much cheaper than a waterfront suite. If you are spending most of your time outside the hotel anyway, you might not notice the difference.
Planning your vacation during the week is another way to save. If you avoid weekends, you’ll avoid weekend prices.
Avoid the Peak Season
The peak season to visit Hawaii is in the winter, from December until February. When people are dealing with snow, cold weather, and the seasonal blues, all they want is a tropical vacation.
If you can wait for your vacation and plan just a bit outside of the peak dates, you’ll be able to save a ton on airfare and hotel reservations. We recommend visiting Hawaii between April and June, or between September and the first week of December. The end result will be less crowded and less expensive.
Pick One Island and Rent a Car
If you’ve decided to stick with one island (rather than island-hopping), you give yourself the chance to get to know it inside and out – much better than if you were going to head to a different island every few days. Consider renting a car so you’ll have the freedom to drive around without the need to navigate public transportation.
One of the best things about Hawaii is that the different islands provide different advantages for every traveler. There’s something for everyone here – are you a fan of shopping, dining out, going to bars, and classic tropical vacation vibes? Do you like a little military history mixed in with your Mai Tais?
If so, Oahu is the perfect choice for you – pick a hotel in Waikiki and be sure to book a tour of Pearl Harbor. It’s easy to explore all that Oahu has to offer when you have a car, as well. Save money by not renting an SUV or convertible. Find a sedan car rental in Honolulu and head out on the open road.
Or, do you like to make your vacation an adventure? Are you an avid hiker? Do you want to explore lava fields? Head to the Big Island and don’t forget to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Maui and Kauai are the perfect islands for a more secluded, resort experience. These islands have gorgeous beaches and natural landscapes. Maui’s beaches in particular are considered the best in Hawaii. Kauai is much less crowded, so this is the best pick for people who want a little more seclusion.
Plan Your Activities in Advance
One of the best ways to save money on a vacation to Hawaii is to plan all your activities in advance. If you give yourself time to research and plan, you can find the best places to book tickets, explore the best prices, and find unbeatable deals.
One of the most popular tourist activities in Hawaii is the luau. Luaus are traditional Hawaiian parties or feasts where entertainment – such as hula and music – is part of the experience. You can save tons of money when you book a luau at least a couple of weeks in advance. If you leave it until the last minute – prices can jump by a few hundred dollars.
Go Beach Hopping
Beach hopping is a gorgeous way to spend an afternoon in Hawaii – best of all, it’s free! If you’ve rented a car for this trip, beach hopping will be a no-brainer. You can spend the day driving to find the most popular beaches. Don’t forget to find the hidden spots, too.
Depending on which island you’ve chosen for your vacation, you can plan which beaches you’ll visit ahead of time. On Oahu, there are over 100 beaches to swim, explore, and sunbathe on. You can rent some snorkeling gear and take a look at Hawaii’s gorgeous biodiversity. Try to find Hawaii’s state fish – the brightly colored humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa – near the local coral reefs.
Instead of heading to that fancy steakhouse for dinner each night, check out some local eateries and give them a try. Sometimes, the most cost-effective way to eat during vacation is to dine like the locals. You might even discover some new favorites, as well.
One of Hawaii’s most famous snacks is spam musubi, which is the perfect representation of Hawaii’s diversity. Spam musubi consists of grilled spam and rice, all wrapped together in Japanese nori (dried seaweed). Not only is spam musubi delicious, but it’s also super inexpensive and available almost everywhere. You should also try Portuguese donuts – called malasadas – and the always-refreshing Hawaiian shaved ice.
Regardless of where you decide to eat, try something new and make the most of your vacation!
We hope this guide has helped you gain some insight into how to make your Hawaiian vacation a bit more affordable. Traveling and taking holidays are great ways to boost your productivity, and we think everyone should get the chance to take a break and explore a new destination. Enjoy yourself and avoid any stress with the knowledge that you’ve saved hundreds of dollars on your trip to Hawaii.