Affordable Hawaii Summer Vacation

This summer is going to be different than last.  Here’s what to expect and our suggestions.

As you know, we’re frugal travelers, as are most of our visitors. Therefore, traveling well while saving money is at the top of the list for vacation planning.

1. Airfares are going to be higher.

Certain markets and occasional sales will be the exception.  Otherwise, all indications are for relatively high airfares this summer.

Here are two examples:

  • LA to Honolulu is priced at $550 to $600+ during the summer. That is about $100-$150 below normal and is a good value.
  • San Francisco and Oakland on the other hand, are priced much higher, with most dates at the traditional $700 or higher. If you look at nearby airports, however, flying out of Sacramento on some dates can save you as much as $150, and flying out of San Jose can save you as much as $300!

Inter-island airfares are high and going higher.  If you can flying directly from the mainland to your destination, so much the better.  Use inter-island flights sparingly to save money.


  • Consider buying air now, or in the very near future.
  • Don’t forget to check alternative airports.
  • Find and reserve workable car and hotel that can cancelled, before buying air.

2.  Accommodations are going to be cheaper.

There is a glut of hotels, condos and vacation rentals in Hawaii.  Since lodging is typically the largest vacation expense, you should be able to make up for your increased air cost here. Book accommodations that can be changed if you aren’t able to find exactly what you want in the beginning.  Then keep watching for deals.  Don’t forget about trying Priceline or negotiating with the hotel directly.  Both of these work great in Hawaii.

3.  Consider a package.

While I don’t usually like packages, sometimes to Hawaii they just make sense.  This may be true over the summer when airfares are at their peak.  An example I’ve used before is Pleasant Holidays.  They buy bulk seats on United and put those together with a variety of accommodation and car rental choices.  Sometimes (but not always), this is the cheapest way to go.

Suggestion:  Check pricing for air, accommodation and car separately before purchasing a package from anyone.  Make sure it is truly a good deal and that the accommodation is what you want.

4.  Car rentals can be tricky, so watch out.

Here in Hawaii we had a difficult car rental situation over the holidays and it may rear its head again this summer.  Rental car companies have reduced inventories in line with fewer visitors.  Therefore, peak rental periods can result in either no availability or extraordinarily high pricing ($600/week for a compact).

Suggestion:  Rent the car just prior to booking the air.  That way you’ll know in advance if there’s going to be a problem.  Then keep checking right up to the rental to see if you can find a better deal.  Here are more in depth car rental suggestions.


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6 thoughts on “Affordable Hawaii Summer Vacation”

  1. Just a few words regards benefits of private Hawaii vacation homes versus a hotel room in Hawaii, since James was wondering about it…

    It’s very helpful to know the Hawaiian Island and the area on the island where you want to stay, otherwise you might get overwhelmed by the task. With that in mind, a specific search in vrbo is a great option, as Ginger mentions.

    Hawaii visitors may choose a private vacation rental in Hawaii because it comes with a fully equipped kitchen – going out for each meal can cost you big in Hawaii – and with other big amenities like Wifi, BBQ, boogie boards, snorkel gear etc., all things you need to pay extra at a hotel. Quite a number of owners have washer/dryer in or outside their units, and no extra fee is charged.

    All Hawaii vacation rental owners offer special weekly and monthly rates. No Hawaii hotel offers you that. Upcoming slow season months April and May allow you to negotiate big discounts with private rental owners.

    Last but not least. Yes, Jeff is right about cleaning fees. About 50% of Hawaii rental owners do charge these days a one time cleaning fee but honestly, those fees are nothing compared to resort fees at Hawaii hotels.

    But remember there is no place like Hawaii! Wishing everybody special moments in Paradise.

  2. I have rented homes for years and were always delighted with them. Yes, a cleaning fee for most but still cheaper and we stayed in beautiful places. I use and Often you can negotiate for a lower price. All they can say is no. I always go by the reviews by other renters and so far had great places. Ginger

  3. Pua, How do your vacation rental homes compare, pricewise, to the 4 star resort deals in the latest post? Is it a better deal for a week? Is there a difference in prices between licensed and un-licensed vacation rental homes?

    1. Hi James,

      Good question. Ancillary fees are an issue with condos and vacation rentals too. In that case it is often cleaning fees.

      Aloha, Jeff

  4. Affordable Hawaii Summer Vacation might be in the picture of Hawaii tourism for 2010. It’s hard at this point to make any predictions where we are going whether it’s with Hawaii real estate or Hawaii vacation.

    I am not a professional for air line round trips to Hawaii, even though my belief is that the ticket prices will totally depend on the recovery of the rest of the economy.

    In order to be able to afford a Hawaii vacation this summer, affordable or not, people need to have jobs. If the rush to Hawaii for summer vacation does not happen, airlines will come up with very special deals for flying to Hawaii. They have to find incentives to fill their planes. So, one never knows whether it’s the best option to buy air fares to Hawaii NOW.

    One thing I myself are quite certain about though is that private Hawaii vacation rentals will still be offered at great discount rates this spring and summer 2010. So don’t jump on your first offer but please, be considerate and make sure when you make your accommodation reservation with a private host that this is the place where you want to be. Check out all your options before your book. Mahalo!

    Aloha Pua
    Best Hawaii Vacation Blog

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