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10 Ways to Save Money on Hawaii Travel

Posted by Max Augustine on 12/11/2015

Cheapest Island to Vacation:

The best way to start saving money going to Hawaii is by first deciding which island to go to. Overall the cheapest island to vacation on is Oahu. One might think that it being the most developed and highest populated island in the archipelago, then it must be most expensive right? Well no, for many reasons. More accommodation options leads to more competition so the prices for staying in Oahu result in being less than the other islands. 

Waikiki Beach | courtesy of

One can get to most of the fun activities on the island via bus or walking and thus not needing to rent a car to get around saves money. The cost of renting a car extends past what you pay the rental company but also includes parking fees which can be very expensive (as well as places to park can be scarce). Renting a bicycle on the other hand is cost effective and a great way to see the island and get 

HNL reef runway – Image courtesy of Tailwind

How to Get There:

Of the ways to get to Hawaii the best and most economical way is to fly. One could get to Hawaii via a cruise ship, but that takes about five days (from the US) one way and is most certainly not inexpensive. Flying it is. Looking for the best deal to save the most money can be done easiest online. Most travel websites have access to roughly the same prices so by in large, it is about which one you prefer. However, when I looked at, they had the lowest cost round trip that I could find from London to Honolulu, Hawaii. These prices vary greatly depending on where you are coming from. If coming from Manchester, Edinburgh, or further north, be prepared to see higher prices than those flying out from London. Another reason Oahu is the least expensive island to visit is because it has the largest airport and the lowest cost to fly to.

Image courtesy of

Where to Stay:

This is the part that most folks think is the most expensive of the bunch. When looking at hotels online, at least any hotel that is anywhere close to the beach or other fun activities, the prices seem sky high. But hotels are not the only way to stay while on vacation on Hawaii, furthermore one does not have to sacrifice location in order to save money. There are many lower cost budget hotel options that can provide a cost effective stay, but not many will have a full kitchen or washer and dryer. Vacation rentals can be rented cheaply and are available all over the island. You can get a condo in Waikiki rented for a week as low as the cost of staying in most hotels, but staying at a vacation rental has other advantages. Most, if not all, have a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and just more space than can be found in a budget hotel. That means you can make some meals for yourself as well as wash your clothes for less than at a hotel. Sure staying at a hotel or resort many of these things will be taken care of for you, but you pay the premium for that.

Screenshot of a video courtesy of

When to Travel:

Timing is everything, and this is not more true when planning a trip to Hawaii. The best time to go to Hawaii is during the low season (there are two) which is usually from the mid-April to early June and late August to mid-November. This can fluctuate depending on the source or who you ask but in general going in either May or October will find the best prices all around. Plan flights either well in advance or last minute to find the best deals and try to get a mid-week flight. The last minute part may not make sense but one can find pretty good deals on short notice if they are willing to take overnight/red eye flights that make at least one layover.

found in google search | originally from

What to Pack:

Travel light. Taking only a carry-on bag or suitcase can save money because the more you bring, the more it will cost you to check your bags in at the airport. Also with the time you wait to get your luggage after landing you could be catching the bus to take you into town. If you decide to walk, having everything in a single backpack will make getting to your accommodation that much easier…and cheaper. One pair of shoes, one pair of flip flops, 3 pairs of underwear and socks, one pair of shorts (preferably ones that can be used for both swimming and normal use), one pair of jeans, and two t-shirts is easily enough to get one by.

If your accommodation has a washer and dryer available, then packing such a small amount of clothes is totally doable. I can fit all of that into a single backpack along with my toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, floss, and a comb easily with room to spare. Just make sure that the toothpaste is travel size or otherwise in a container that is 3.4 ounces (100.55 ml) or less because the TSA will make life not fun if you do not. As per, the rule is 100 ml or less so again, travel size is best. Same rules apply for makeup except that all of it must fit inside a one quart plastic bag. The travel size items not only save you that headache, but also make it easier to travel light. If you are having trouble fitting all that into one bag, try laying your clothes flat and then rolling them together as well as putting all your toiletries into a single bag that is one quart or less.

A loco moco plate lunch, with fried saimin and macaroni salad | Image courtesy of wikipedia

Eating Out:

Eating out in Hawaii can be pricey if you eat either in a hotel’s restaurant or one that is located close to the beach. The generally fancier the place looks, the higher the cost per plate will be. One does not need to go to such places to find great food that will not break your wallet. Because we are looking at Oahu, one of the best places to go to get authentic Hawaiian food for a good price is Helena’s Hawaiian Food located in a neighborhood in Kalihi. Also there are good food trucks on the side of the road that can make some really tasty food at a decent price.

Eating In:

Another way to get good food for a low price is to go to one of the local markets that are usually in walking distance of most accommodations. Outdoor style farmer’s markets can yield some of the best prices for food both prepared and not. If you head towards the famous North Beach, hit up Waialua People’s Market. A small market of primarily produce, it is ideal for finding the lowest price local produce. Asking the locals about recipes can also make preparing your own meals a lot easier.

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands exhibit in the Waikiki Aquarium | Image courtesy of

Activities that are Cheap:

Now we get to the fun stuff. One of the many thing to do while on Oahu is to go to the Waikiki Aquarium. £7.89 ($12) is as high as their ticket prices go and if you have kids with you, they get in either cheap or free (for lil ones 3 and under). Another fun place to go is the Honolulu Zoo, with 42 acres filled with 905 different animals from the tropics, there is a lot to see for £9.20 ($14) or less. For the history buff, one cannot go to Honolulu without going to the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. This currently will run you £29.29 ($39.99) but for those inclined, it is a must see.

Waimanalo, Oahu – Image courtesy of Globe Trotting

Activities that are Free:

More fun stuff. And these are more fun because they are free. Oahu is home to many gorgeous beaches with stunning views of the ocean. Whether watching the sunset on Waikiki Beach or snorkeling off Kahe Point Beach Park, you pretty much cannot go wrong. And, if you remembered to pack your sunscreen, just layout and soak up the sun. If you head to the North Shore of the Oahu, you can watch surfers catch some wicked waves or partake in the surfing yourself. Note that you may have to rent a board for that last bit but that part is not expensive. For those who like more outdoor activities, there is hiking a plenty all over the island. The Kuliouou Ridge Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes going from green forest to mountain summit overlooking the Kuliouou valley. At about 5 miles it is not too long but is still long enough to be worth the time. No trip to Hawaii would be complete without some Hawaiian culture. The Kuhio Beach Hula Show is an excellent way to cap off the end of a vacation. It takes place on the Kuhio Beach Mound near the statue of the famous Duke Kahanamoku and is free to the public.

hawaii_what_to_doImage courtesy of