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Cheap Hawaii Vacations: 20 Strategies

Below are twenty ways to save money and enjoy cheap Hawaii vacations. You’ll have a blast while you’re at it.

1. Consider a Hawaii package. Both Pleasant Holidays and Hawaiian Airlines have excellent value packages. We found all inclusive offers with air, hotel and car starting at just over $600.

2. Tourist cards can save a bundle. See our Go Oahu experience here. We had an unforgettable time trying this, and saved $246 (for two people) in just one day.

3. Travel at off times of year. Also fly mid-week. See our guide for best time to visit Hawaii which has specific dates.

4. Minimize restaurants. Pack your own food for travel days and when in Hawaii. See our recently published 19 ways to save money on food in Hawaii.

5. Mix it up with high and low cost Hawaii vacation elements to reduce your average cost. That means at hotels, restaurants, in activities, and even airline upgrades. When you splurge one day, consider having a lower cost day too. When we’ve upgraded to first class one way – that’s what I remember, not the economy flight in the other direction.

6. Avoid checked baggage fees. See our tips and tricks.

7. Sign up for our emails to score more Hawaii deals.

8. Check nearby airports when making flight plans. The cost difference, for example, between flying from Sacramento and Oakland can save a family hundreds of dollars.

9. Limit island hopping because of the time it takes. Or consider the NCL all-island Hawaii cruise. Stay tuned for our cruise update with NCL. It was fabulous.

10. Reduce or eliminate car rental costs when possible. See 10 ways to score a Hawaii discount car rental.

11. Consider Uber vs. taxi in Honolulu. We did this recently and saved nearly 50% over the cost of a cab. The Bus is far cheaper if that works for you. If it’s your first time with Uber, you may receive a discount on your first ride.

12. Swap your house with someone in Hawaii. We recently swapped our Kauai home with a couple who live in Manhattan.

13. Did you get the best deal? Call the hotel or provider to ask. Remember to check your car reservation closer to departure and see if a better rate is available.

14. Try a vacation rental instead of a hotel. Or pick a hotel room with a kitchenette to save money on meals.

15. Try these Brita water filter bottles instead of bottled water. We like them.

16. Look for activity discounts on each vendor’s website. Often you’ll save when you book in advance.

17. Check for online restaurant discounts, early-bird specials and coupons.

18. Honolulu Museum of Art free days are the 3rd Sunday of each month.

19. Check Yelp for both reviews and discounts.

20. Please add to the list in the comments below. Mahalo for your kokua.

7 thoughts on “Cheap Hawaii Vacations: 20 Strategies”

  1. COSTCO! We saved hundred on our last trip with our Costco membership. The least expensive car rental plus a free upgrade. The gas prices can’t be beat. The cheapest beer and wine. Cheap lunch options at the food court. Pick up some sushi and poke for an inexpensive and gourmet picnic lunch. Picked up a heat and serve dinner along with a salad to prepare at our rental in Hana to avoid expensive and limited restaurant options. Great snack options for your daily adventures: jerky, trail mix, etc.

    Love the water bottle idea. I have no issues with tap water, but I’ll definitely give those a try on future trips to Latin America!

  2. My husband and I are in our 20s traveling for our 1st anniversary next May! We are looking for advice on hotels/condos, when to buy flights, and what to do while we are there. We are traveling to Maui and leaving from Nashville, Tennessee, Atlanta, Georgia, or Knoxville, Tennessee- depending on price differences. Thank you!

  3. I agree with Dianne. Rent a car and drive off the main roads. One of the best beaches in Kauai is on a dirt road out of Poipu.
    Buy a pineapple and some apple bananas and eat them on the beach. What a great way to spend the afternoon. If you are on Kauai bring a bottle of wine and toast the sunset on Ke’e beach ( end of the road). There are so many things to do that are free.

  4. Have been to Hawaiian islands over a dozen times and your idea of a budget trip is not my idea of budget. first class tickets? On a budget? Really? Payfor all that touristy stuff? No thanks. The islands offer so many free activities for the cost of transportation only. Swimming snorkeling hiking and relaxing is what we are there for. Exploring new beaches and mountain trails. all fee except for a few state parks like hananuma bay which is worth it if you are snorkeling for the first times. Get an inexpensive condo and have breakfast and pack a picnic lunch and have more space to spread out. Island hopping is expensive and wastes a day of your time packing waiting at the airport and unpacking again. Pick one island each time you go and relax and explore and get to know it. Skip the lua…there is free Polynesian entertainment on most islands. Right on the beach at Waikiki. That will give you money to go to at least two decent dinners or some drinks at a tiki bar. We are fond of Dukes for a splurge. Get a good guidebook and check on other free stuff. Shop at a farmer’s market. Eat at the shrimp trucks on north Oahu. The more money you save not loading up your schedule doing expensive tourist stuff the sooner you can afford to be back relaxing on the beach.

    1. Diane,

      You are right on the money with your comments. Thank you for sharing how to truly save and enjoy the islands.


    2. My first recommendation is to plan and buy airfare early, signing up for alerts and getting te lowest price possible. Then, skip the hotels entirely (unless you simply can’t manage to live without maid service) and rent a condo on Home Away or another similar website. You can spread out more, they come fully furnished (including the kitchen) and you can cook in if you want, and they usually come with WI-FI and a decent TV package as well. Our last trip we got 10 days in a one bedroom condo for $750 total (avg $75 per night including the cleaning fee) and you can find two bedroom condos near Waikiki or even Turtle Bay on the North Shore for $125-$145 per night. Also, eat where the locals eat and while it sounds odd, the cafeteria at the hospital on the west side of the island (a bit north of Disney’s Aulani resort) serves some amazing low cost Hawaiian food for lunch and a great low cost breakfast too (we got a full breakfast with coffee and milk for two for a total of $12). Check YELP and other sites for good food and low prices (we found several nice locals places doing that with wonderful food) but if you’re wealthy or willing to splurge on your credit cards to get pampered and looked after, then you don’t care about cheap deals and its likely none of this will interest you. However, if you’re john q public like me then that wants to have a good time but don’t want to break the bank, know that you can have a great time in Hawaii and not put yourself in debt for years afterwards.

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