People Don’t Know How To Travel Smart To Hawaii

Hawaii: Not for Champagne Taste on Beer Budget

You can’t expect to stay at an oceanfront Hawaii hotel and pay pre-pandemic prices. Or fly lie-flat first class for just a few hundred dollars more. But while Hawaii is fast becoming a costly destination to visit and visitors can easily get caught and complain about it, there is still the possibility to avoid exorbitant costs. As island residents who live here and focus on Hawaii travel 24/7, we say that from our own experiences. This comes all of us are reinventing ourselves regarding future travel.

Hawaii vacations are here to stay, and doing them on a more moderate budget honestly is too. We love finding ways to save across the range of Hawaii travel costs, including airfare of course, as well as accommodations, food, car rentals, and activities.

Our post title today came from our reader, Charles H., who said he stays at Hawaii accommodations with “a full-sized kitchen and laundry in each unit.” According to Charles, “We’ve been traveling to Hawaii since 1999 and ditched hotels with no kitchen. We love looking around the island for fresh local foods and then learning how to cook them. We have saved thousands of $ by buying local groceries and using one of the many outdoor grills…people don’t know how to travel smart.” And that’s just one excellent idea. He also said, “Tourists need to stop going to Hawaii with champagne tastes on a beer budget. Go to Florida instead.”

But we’ll say that if you are more on a beer budget, there are still some ways to kick the champagne expense.

Travel smart – Hawaii airfare.

Take advantage of Southwest Hawaii and its competition.

Whether you like it or not, SWA has caused robust competition with Hawaiian and other airlines. So, if you can fly from cities where that competition is present, you’re set to find airfares that are as cheap as ever before: from $100 to $150, depending on the day, and $39 interisland airfares for some dates as well. Remember that airfare sales come and go. Jump into the fun of planning a trip to Hawaii as soon as you find a deal.

Travel smart – when to come.

Travel during the off-season.

We said it for years, and this tip still rocks. Come to Hawaii in fall and winter, except over holidays, and experience somewhat to very much lower costs across the board. That’s also true from January until the beginning of June (except for Spring Break).

Travel smart – when not to come.

Don’t come during summer or over holidays and expect any price relief. Period.

Plan far ahead (up to eleven months out) for holidays and mid-summer, or wait for low Hawaii airfare deals in the off-seasons listed above and book within the last thirty to sixty days.

Travel smart – how to book.

Book airfare, accommodations, and car rental at the very same time.

Don’t get stuck with airfare when you can’t find accommodations that work for you. To avoid that, buy accommodations, airline tickets, and your car rental simultaneously. Be smart about this. If you want to purchase changeable components, then buy those. Also, consider packaged deals, as many of you have recommended Costco Travel (although it’s not something we have found personally helpful thus far).

Travel smart – where to find value accommodations.

Hawaii hotel deals – shop, shop, shop.

Which “shell” is the best Hawaii accommodation deal hidden under? We can’t tell you, and it is a moving target. The more you research, the better your chances of arriving at a good deal. Compare total prices, including all taxes and fees, since those can amount to 50% at times. Vacation rentals can be great deals and include kitchens, but they often have the highest fees. You can also Google for budget hotels on the island you wish to stay. Some people recommend Costco Travel too.

Travel smart – food in Hawaii.

Hawaii restaurants are in turmoil. But many still have discounted menus on certain days of the week or for early dining. Another place to look for discounts and freebies for Hawaii restaurants is on Yelp. Don’t forget it’s almost always cheaper to eat out at lunch rather than at dinner, and it may be easier to find a spot.

Check restaurant websites and Yelp for eating out too.

Are you managing to keep Hawaii vacations within your budget?

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13 thoughts on “Hawaii: Not for Champagne Taste on Beer Budget”

  1. One cost a lot of people overlook is the price of parking in Waikiki. Hotels use inducing room rates but if you rent a car you could find yourself paying hundreds to park it at your hotel. I recently booked a 9 day trip. It ended up cheaper to stay in a one bedroom condo at Turtle Bay with free parking than to book a room and parking in Waikiki.

  2. Do away with the “Resort Fees”. You are fooling no one. It feels sleazy, because it is. Free wifi is a global thing for hotels now

  3. Hawaii on a budget. My hint: As your article recommends, firstly always off season. Then Costco Travel at least 4 months in advance. But, decouple the Air if you are a SWA member with points. Costco for room and car or shuttle. Then SWA flight on points. The Costco cancelation policy is much kinder this way. You can cancel the air with no penalty and no cash out of pocket.

  4. Im from the Big Island. I had to leave 16 years ago due to.the highest cost of living in America. Whenever I go back to visit, I stay with friends since accomodations in Hawaii are crazy expensive I cant afford. Eating out is beyond my budget. Its a shame that many local families and Hawaiians are priced out of their native homes and land too.

  5. Hawaii is playing with fire in terms of lodging & vehicle rates. The high cost of dining is understandable, but daunting. Taxes on visitors are obscene. If every visitor was able to receive a clear breakdown of what they are paying in taxes, fees & surcharges, a huge percentage would cancel. Hawaii legislators clearly prefer to tax visitors rather than residents. If you don’t believe it, just look at how low property taxes are in Hawaii compared to virtually every other state. Hoteliers seem oblivious to rate increases, in terms of percentage of increase to the frequent Hawaii visitor. The next two years will cause great consternation. Advance bookings are lagging badly, groups are gone, and the Japanese & Downunder markets have vanished.

    1. That is absolutely right on. Even with all my booking “tricks” my wife and I are just about at our last Hawaii trip forever.

  6. There are many ways to save money and visit Hawaii. Those don’t include staying at the Halekulani for $1,000 a night. HA charges $8,000 per person for First Class seating traveling round trip from BOS to HNL, that was $5,000 just a few months ago. If the airlines and hotels are incentivized by customer demand to jack up their prices, they will continue to do so. And many of the islands are getting in on the money train, charging to visit so many locations that were free to visitors last year. Other forums are chock full of comments about how folks living in the islands just love to spot the celebrities visiting their multi-million-dollar Maui and Kauai estates. Hawaii is morphing into the Palm Beach/Bel Air/Tribeca of the Pacific.

  7. Aloha, dare I say a travel agent could help with finding these deals and perhaps lessen the burden for those who are not so internet savvy?
    My own experience with, especially senior travelers, is that internet savvy is not a strong suit and it is vital for your excellent suggestions on travel. Shoulder months and planned ahead and I recommend your blog to people I talk to are all necessary if you need to be very budget minded. You can’t complain about expensive Hawaii if you’re shopping the Grand Hyatt here on Kaua’i. Kapaa offers great more budget friendly accommodations and nearby groceries and eating places. Anywhere near the Coconut Marketplace seems ideal to me.

  8. Thank You BOH as the suggestions and Advice may help others find a more reasonable and sensible solution to a Hawaiian Vacation. With the price increases coming at Tourists from every conceivable direction many have chosen Not to return, others have decided to go once and never return. If the Hawaiian Business Model doesn’t change and provide some real relief the Negative Impact will certainly change the experience for everyone including the Taxpayers of Hawaii.

  9. Aloha Guys! 🙂
    I agree with Charles H. We tried a condo at the Mauna Lani for the first time in June 2022 when the prices for the Mauna Kea increased by 100% from our stay in Dec. 2021. We loved our condo with over 1600 sqft for two people, a Viking grill on the lanai, and sunset views every night. We visited Costco, the farmers market, and the fish monger to dine on BI ribeyes, Hamakua mushrooms, Kampachi, and our favorite wines for a fraction of the cost we would have paid at a resort. We also had meals at many local restaurants-Support Hawaii small business owners! Book in advance. Booked for Feb, July, and Sept 2023. Mauna Lani condo from 6/29 – 7/6 is $1936. The best priced condos go quick!

  10. Oahu vaca for Nov 29 thru Dec 3.
    I used Alaska airlines & Alaska credit card’s companian fair. Seats & fees/taxes were $568 for 2 people.
    I booked a condo at Ilikai for $149 a nite

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