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Save on Hawaii Travel Even as Demand Soars

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Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

When deciding where to travel, Hawaii checks all the boxes for many tourists. The islands’ lush, tropical landscape provides a contrast from two years of mostly staying at home. It’s a far-off getaway that doesn't require a passport, and there’s no shortage of luxury.

Within the first two weeks of Hawaii's announcement to lift travel restrictions, Expedia says it saw a nearly 30% increase in searches for spring and summer trips to Hawaii’s major ports. Domestic travelers no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter Hawaii as of March 26, 2022.

Demand in some of the top destinations in Hawaii is outpacing pre-pandemic levels. Expedia says it’s already seeing six times more bookings for hotels on Hawaii’s Big Island for September 2022 than it did in September 2019. Oahu — which Expedia says is one of the most popular destinations — is seeing double digit-percentage increases in demand this summer versus 2019.

But while Hawaii might have a laid-back, low-stress vibe, the rules of supply and demand still apply. Couple that with rising travel costs everywhere due to rapid inflation , and a trip to Hawaii this year likely won’t be cheap.

However, you can still save money on a Hawaiian vacation. Here’s how to travel to Hawaii on a budget.

Save on airfare to Hawaii

If you’ve accumulated a stash of points and miles, flights to Hawaii can prove a good way to spend them. There are many ways to book cheap Hawaii flights with points and miles , especially if you’re willing to transfer miles between partner airlines. Among the biggest airlines flying to Hawaii are Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

If you can earn a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass and you’d like to save on flights to Hawaii, this is an excellent opportunity to use it. The pass is essentially a buy-one-get-one deal on your Southwest flight, where you book a flight with cash or points, and you can book another at no cost aside from taxes and fees (typically just $5.60 per one-way trip).

If you can’t choose just one island, island-hopping in Hawaii is fairly convenient, as most flights between islands take less than an hour. The key when island-hopping: flexibility. Most of the best interisland deals are for flights through Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, so consider placing Oahu in the middle of your itinerary to take advantage of its interisland availability.

Be flexible on dates, too. Southwest has plenty of interisland airfares for just $45 — but if you’re married to a specific flight time or book last-minute, realize that some flights cost more than $200.

Use hotel points or free night certificates to save on lodging

Most of the major hotel brands have a strong presence in Hawaii, which can be handy if you have hotel points or free night certificates.

Hilton is an especially big player in Hawaii , and its lodging runs the gamut from affordable to opulent. If you have a Hilton free night certificate , which can be earned through certain Hilton credit cards , head to Maui. There you’ll find the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. One of Hilton’s most grandiose resorts, the Grand Wailea hosts a 2,000-foot-long pool complete with waterfalls and slides. Standard nightly room rates can easily run more than $1,500, but free night certificates can cover it.

If you’re traveling as a family or with a group, consider booking a vacation rental through a service like Airbnb or Vrbo . They are sometimes cheaper than hotels and typically don’t require you to pay resort fees, which are otherwise common. They also often have driveways and kitchens, so you can avoid expensive hotel parking and the cost of dining out.

Other ways to visit Hawaii on a budget

Dine out strategically.

Speaking of dining out, it can certainly be part of the Hawaiian experience. But it can also eat up a huge chunk of your budget. Understand when you’re paying for mediocre food but a stellar view. If you’re up for adventure, head to a convenience store for fresh poke and Spam musubi, then find a beach (there’s no shortage of them) for a free, oceanfront dinner view.

Sidestep the paid luau

As far as entertainment, you can certainly pay hundreds of dollars for your group to experience a luau. While the array of entertainment and buffet food can be worth it for some travelers, there are plenty of free ways to watch hula, hear Hawaiian music and learn about the culture. Many major malls in Hawaii, such as Waikiki’s Royal Hawaiian Center mall, offer free shows and classes in lei making, hula, ukulele, lauhala weaving and more. On the Big Island, free coffee farm tours are abundant.

Some hotels also make their entertainment available to the public. Head to Marriott’s Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa to watch the nightly lele kawa (cliff jumping).

plan trip to hawaii cheap

(Photo courtesy of Sheraton Maui Resort)

Swap ticketed activities for cheaper counterparts

Some major, ticketed tourist attractions offer some components of their tours for free. At the Maui Tropical Plantation, you might pay $25 for a tram tour, but you can still explore a good chunk of the grounds, including its market, craft studios and cafe, at no cost. On Oahu, Dole Plantation tours start at $7.75 per person, but purchasing a ticket might not be necessary. Admission to the grounds is free, and there you can typically find no-cost activities like pineapple-cutting and chocolate-making demonstrations, as well as a fish feeding pond.

The bottom line

Travel to Hawaii was always popular — and all signs point to its popularity growing. According to a February 2022 NerdWallet survey , 28% of Americans who say the way they travel has chanced since the beginning of the pandemic say they have stopped going on international trips and only travel domestically. Meanwhile, 16% only travel to destinations that don’t require COVID-19 testing or proof of vaccination. For tourists from the continental U.S., Hawaii checks both of those boxes, and a lot more. The Aloha State might be one of the best places to travel to this year — just have a plan for how you’ll pay for it.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee:   Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards:  Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card  

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

1x-5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

1.5%-6.5% Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

$300 Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

plan trip to hawaii cheap

How to Plan a Budget Hawaii Vacation

Woman snorkeling through a group of orange fish in Maui, Hawaii, USA

Hawaii and saving money? It’s a combo you don’t see every day, but we promise it exists. It’s possible to visit this world of tropical wonder on the cheap!

The United States is teeming with beautiful vacation spots from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Options like the sweeping mountain views of Gatlinburg, Tennessee , or the abundance of magical fun at Walt Disney World in Orlando make it hard to choose where to vacation. Still, Hawaii  constantly rises above the rest as an all-time favorite destination. It may seem like one of the priciest locations of the choices, but it is possible to plan a budget Hawaii vacation.

What sets this stunning location apart from other places? You’ll find sparkling teal water, breezy palm trees, and the freshest coastal cuisine when traveling to Hawaii.

Start each morning with a glowing sunrise and end with a flaming sunset. Snorkel or hike through the breathtaking nature landscapes for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of tropical amazement. 

We’re about to tell you all of our money-saving secrets, so read on to start planning your dreamy budget Hawaii vacation today!

a stunning, expansive ocean and a mountain

Visit Hawaii in the Off-Season

First, planning when to vacation in Hawaii could be just as essential to save money as planning what to do once you get there.

The peak seasons take place in both summer and winter. So naturally, these mean higher prices all around, from transportation to hotels and everything in between.

Related Post: Which is the Least Expensive Hawaiian Island to Visit?

Make the most of the low seasons by visiting in spring or fall. Rumor has it that there’s also a quick decrease in pricing after the holiday travelers finally wrap things up for the last two weeks of January. Catch it quickly, though, as prices rise again in February for another peak winter season.

Pro Tip: Visiting in the low season allows you to avoid bigger crowds, too! A thinned-out beach means more sand and surf all to yourself. 

Makena Secret Beach Maui Hawaii

Book in Advance

Additionally, a little planning ahead can go a long way. The further in advance you book, the better deals you will come across. Often, hotels and activities will also honor any new deals that launch after you make your reservation. 

Related Post: Hawaii for First Time Visitors: 8 Tips to Know Before You Go

Moreover, booking in advance guarantees availability on popular tours and attractions. Activities fill up well in advance, so it’s in your best interest to snag your spot as early as possible!

Now that you know to book in advance, which activities should you even book? Tripster offers so many ideas!

For example, add a luau like one of these to your itinerary:

  • The Waikiki Luau (Oahu) is located within walking distance of many hotels in one of Hawaii’s most popular tourist spots.
  • For an interactive luau experience, the Experience Nutridge Luau (Oahu) consists of activities like helping build an imu (underground oven) and walking through a rainforest. 
  • Load up on delicious cultural food when you enjoy the all-you-can-eat Polynesian buffet at the Voyagers of the Pacific Luau (Big Island).

Three hula dancers in bright red and yellow costumes dancing on stage at Chiefs Luau in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Shop Around for Airline Deals

When traveling to Hawaii , airline tickets will take a large portion of your budget. This is why it’s so important to take your time when finding and booking flights to Hawaii.

When skimming the internet for the best airline deals, two things to consider are the airport you fly out of and the airline (or airlines) you fly with. These two factors can create a lot of price variation.

Naturally, flying out of the Midwest or East Coast areas will generally be more expensive. But, on the other hand, flying out of West Coast airports tends to be easier on the wallet. 

Sometimes, it may be cheaper to book a flight to a city closer to Hawaii on one airline and finish the rest of your trip from that city to Hawaii on a different airline. For example, let’s say you live in Nashville and decide to book two sets of round trip tickets:

  • Nashville to Los Angeles (and back) via Southwest
  • Los Angeles to Honolulu (and back) via American Airlines

Creating a flight concoction of your own like this may be the cheapest way to go, but do your research before buying those tickets! If you decide to take this route, be mindful of airport layouts and takeoff times, so you are sure to have enough time to switch flights. 

Related Post: 12 Most Romantic Restaurants in Hawaii

Pro Tip: Be flexible about when you fly. If you’re fine with an earlier, later, or oddly timed flight, you’re likely to find a better deal.

Visit Oahu for Your Hawaii Vacation

Each Hawaiian Island has its own appeal. However, Oahu may be the best for those looking to spend as little as possible. Why? This island contains most of Hawaii’s population and is a teeming tourist’s delight.

An abundance of tours, attractions, and activities means the admission costs are competitive. So, you’re more likely to find better prices overall.

In addition, Oahu is home to some must-see Hawaiian sights and locations. You’ll find Pearl Harbor on this island, as well as Waikiki Beach. Moreover, North Shore is a well-known surf town that hosts many surfing competitions each year. Hang ten!

Decide If You Need to Island Hop

If you’re already flying from the contiguous United States to Hawaii, you may be tempted to travel between the different islands while you’re there. While this is a great way to immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture, it’s not usually easy on the budget.

Related Post: 31 Unforgettable Romantic Things to Do in Hawaii for Couples

While inexpensive compared to your flight from the mainland, Inter-island flights can add up quickly. Meanwhile, you’ll also have to pay for additional hotel stays and activities.

Planting yourself on one island for the entire duration of your trip will be less stressful and still give you a chance to get a breathtaking taste of Hawaii. Plus, forgoing a visit to every single island on your trip will provide you with a reason to go back. 

Use this list as a starting point to sort through what a few of the different islands have to offer so you can make a decision:

  • Oahu: This is the busiest island, based on the number of locals and the number of tourists. If you like a touristy beach scene, this is the island for you. It has a great combination of beautiful beaches and gorgeous hiking trails.
  • Maui: Maui is not as busy as Oahu, and therefore more conducive to lazy, uninterrupted days on the beach. This island lays claim to Hawaii’s most famous scenic drive, the Road to Hana. 
  • The Big Island: This island is a superb place to explore. Catch sight of one of the sizzling active volcanoes! There are some great snorkeling spots here, too.

Photo Alert: If visiting the Big Island, don’t miss out on snapping a photo of one of the rare black sand beaches or the even rarer green sand beach! This photo will stir up some serious camera roll envy.

Reserve a Hotel Away From the Beach

Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches, but it’s so much more than that. The sparkling waves and sand are exquisite, no doubt. However, there are also captivating views of luscious greenery at every turn. The whole state is bursting with vibrant flora and fauna.

Related Post: The Ultimate Hawaii Packing List: What to Bring and What to Skip

One of the ways to save some dough while on your trip is to book hotel accommodations that aren’t right on the beach. More affordable options exist just beyond the shore, and it will only take a quick walk or ride to get you there.

Pro Tip: Walking to and from the beach could either sound like an adventure or a pain, depending on how lazy you like to be on your beach days. However, walking comes with its advantages. For instance, you’ll be able to dry off on your walk, so you won’t have to enter your hotel room sopping wet!

Additionally, consider booking one of the beautiful vacation rentals throughout the island of your choice.   

Tripster offers discounted hotel rates at these great stays:

  • The Modern Honolulu (Oahu)
  • Volcano Forest Inn (Big Island)

Do Not Book Activities Through a Hotel

Upon arrival, the hotel front desk associate will likely point you to the concierge desk. Here you can book activities and tours throughout the island. However, keep in mind that this might not be the best route if you are trying to stick to a budget. 

While concierge services are certainly convenient, they are not always cheap. In addition, concierges often receive a commission, which can incentivize them to recommend more expensive activities.

Instead of concierge services, browse Tripster for some of the best and beachiest ways to spend your time in paradise on earth. We have kept your moolah in mind, too! Book activities such as one of these exciting tours:

  • Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours (Multiple islands)
  • Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour (Oahu)
  • Wailua River Kayak Tour (Kauai)
  • Hana Helicopter & Limo Half-Day Tour (Maui)
  • Big Island Circle Tour (Big Island)
  • And many more !

Skip the Rental Car

It’s no secret that car rentals tend to rack up expenses. Between the daily cost of the actual car, rental insurance, gas, and parking fees, renting a car in Hawaii can be an unnecessary financial burden.

Save yourself the worries and get around Hawaii without a car! Although Hawaii is full of wild natural landscapes, that doesn’t mean it lacks modern amenities such as public transportation. The main tourist islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island have convenient bus systems.

Pro Tip: Taking the bus is one of the most budget-friendly ways to get around! Moreover, you’ll save yourself the trouble of traffic, parking, and getting gas.

In addition, ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft are also available to navigate the island.

If you want to travel beyond where public transportation can take you, we recommend renting a car for a single day. You can strategically plan to cross the activities off your list that are further away from your hotel on this one day without the giant bill that would come with renting a car for an entire week. 

Related Post: 12 Most Underrated Places in Hawaii Totally Worth Visiting

Pro Tip : A cheaper way to rent a car for a day is to use a car-sharing service such as Turo . Services like these allow you to rent directly from individuals rather than rental companies and will likely save you some serious dough!

Lava flowing on the Big Island Hawaii

Shopping locally may help you stick to your Hawaii vacation budget, whether for meals or souvenirs. Chain restaurants and retailers increase their prices in areas of high tourism.

In addition, you’re in Hawaii, so why would you waste your money on Cheesecake Factory meals and Coach bags which are commonplace in the contiguous states? Instead, take the opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture and cuisine at (more likely) a better price. As a bonus, you’ll help the local economy!

Pro Tip: If you really want to deter yourself from overspending in Hawaii, consider leaving your credit card at home and only bringing cash instead! This will allow you to tangibly see how much you are draining your bank account, rather than easy swipes that may seem inconsequential at the time. 

A sandy trail through some palm trees with a mountain in the background at sunset with clouds in the sky in Oahu, Hawaii

Consider Eating In

This depends on the amenities your lodging of choice has to offer. If you happen to have a kitchenette, take advantage! Eating in is an opportunity to spare some significant cash. Food adds up quickly!

Consider making breakfast in your room, such as eggs paired with fruit. Then, pack an easy sandwich lunch for the beach. Stash away plenty of snacks in your beach bag or hiking backpack to munch on throughout the day. Then, splurge on delicious local Hawaiian eats for dinner!

This may initially seem like an insignificant change to make, but the little savings really do add up.

Related Post: 5 of the Best Luaus in Hawaii

Check out the free and inexpensive activities in hawaii.

How does free sound to your budget-savvy ears? Hawaii may be known for extravagant tropical luxury, but it’s also brimming with inexpensive and even free things to do . 

Go hiking, explore historic landmarks, and even gaze in awe at a fireworks show without losing a dime on your budget Hawaii vacation. There are free activities galore in this seaside wonderland.

One of our favorite free ways to fill the Hawaiian hours is to visit a state park. On the Big Island alone, there are multiple state parks, including:

  • Lava Tree State Park
  • Wailuku River State Park
  • Alaska Falls State Park (does have a small entrance fee)

Close up of a sea turtle swimming over the reef in blue green water near Oahu, Hawaii, USA

How Will You Save While on Your Budget Hawaii Vacation?

With our handy savings tips, you’ll be saving money in Hawaii (and lounging on the beach!) in no time. Visiting Hawaii on a budget is simple if you follow our advice and take the extra steps to find additional savings.

Let Tripster serve as your travel agent! We’re here to offer you deals and guidance to help you plan the most budget-friendly Hawaii vacation ever.

Have Any Tips to Add to our Budget Hawaii Vacation Guide?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Written by Michaela Satterfield

Michaela is a journalist who views every story she writes as an adventure, leading her to explore new places and meet new people....

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Travel to Hawaii on a Budget

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Traveling to Hawaii on a Budget

Traveling to Hawaii on a budget is something that sounds impossible. If you know where to look and how to book, then traveling to Hawaii on a budget is no problem for the savvy penny pincher. Some primary considerations have many possibilities to save money on the trip.

Some of the more popular budget items include:  

  • Taking a cruise
  • Finding cheap flights
  • Finding the perfect lodging 
  • Discounts on activities
  • Food savings

Regardless of the way you arrive on the Island; Transportation is your second largest expense. Deciding how to get to the Island can make or break your entire trip. A Cruise gives you many benefits, but if you plan on staying on one Island, then the flight options may be the better choice. Here is how you travel to Hawaii on a budget and still have the time of your life!

— article continued below —

Visiting Hawaii soon? Be sure to grab a copy of one of our updated Hawaii Visitor Guides .

~ Trusted by Millions of Hawaii Visitors Annually ~

Taking a Cruise

Taking a cruise is far cheaper overall than flying into the islands and booking a hotel stay. Not only do you get the already paid for food from the cruise ship, but you also get to see all the islands. If you do not mind spending longer at sea than on land, maybe a cruise is a better option. 

Most cruises also do not visit every Island in Hawaii but will put the most popular islands on the schedule.  Make sure to check the stops and times with the cruise line to ensure that you have enough time at each Island. Most cruise ships will stop at each Island for a day , sometimes two days. If you know where you are going, one day is plenty of time to see one or two landmarks and grab a few meals. 

Typically, a cruise will cost anywhere from $500 to upwards of $5000 depending on several different factors, including the time of year, cruise line, cruise theme, departure port, etc. A Typical cruise to Hawaii can be anywhere from seven days to 14 days. 

The most significant benefit of booking a cruise is the savings from expensive hotel restaurants and taking advantage of the free cruise ship restaurants. Some of the other advantages include:

  • No planning pack a bag and show up.
  • No or little added lodging costs
  • No or little added food cost
  • Professional staff to help with directions and all the “hot spots.”

Visit our Hawaii Reopening What You Need to Know article for the latest on cruising the Hawaiian islands during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Flying to Hawaii

If air is more your arrival style and you want to spend your days relaxing at the beach and hanging out with the locals, you are probably looking forward to flying over there. Most flights from the West Coast are anywhere from 5-7 hours, and airports in different locations will fly you over to a western airport that makes the flight regularly. 

When flying to Hawaii, you most likely will be planning everything yourself, including booking your hotel and your activities. Knowing how to find the lowest airfare to the islands is important before you book your flight(s). Some activities can be fully booked at high traveled times of the year. It is recommended that you book your activities when you book your stay. 

Booking through a travel agent or an online aggregator can significantly help arrange everything from rental cars to hotel stays.  You get discounts from different groups at different rates. A rental car may be one price on one site and another price on another site. The best way to get the most discounts is to use multiple sites to find the cheapest option combinations.  

Airlines, Hotels, and Rental car companies all share the same ups and down in tourist/travelers simultaneously, so the best time to save the most is when there are very few people. March-April and September-October is the consensus for the best time to purchase airline tickets. When you book between 21 and 120 days in advance during the offseason, you typically get the best rates.

There are several different options for finding the correct lodging for your trip outside of a cruise ship or a hotel stay.  

Shared hotel stays usually run anywhere from $30-$150 a night, depending on the hostel and options you chose. In some cases, as with the Polynesian hostel, you are closer to the beach than the hotels are! You do not have to worry about your safety either; you can view reviews left from other patrons well in advance at hostel world . 

You could rent anything from a Dodge Grand caravan for two people up to a full class A  motorhome. It gives you a place to sleep, prepare food, and travel to and from destinations, all for around $100 per day. If you combine this with our next option, camping, you will save quite a chunk of change while maintaining water and food access.

plan trip to hawaii cheap

Camping in Hawaii is probably one of the most rewarding experiences you could have. Campsites range from $5.00 a night up to $150 a night for full cabins.  There are campgrounds everywhere in Hawaii; it is safe to say that you would be able to find a spot without reserving it first.  Some campgrounds even have showers and other fine amenities such as a convenience store or fish and tackle spots. We can not recommend camping in Haleakala National Park on Maui enough.

Airbnb and Other Home-Share Programs

Airbnb and other home-share programs are beneficial in finding a shared space to rent for the trip. You can rent a room or an entire house to yourself. The only thing to look out for here is the legitimacy of the Poster. Airbnb is regulated in Hawaii, and these establishments must hold a license to rent the home to you.

Save on Activities!

Many local tour companies have some discounts on their tours, all you need to do is ask them when you contact them to book.  We suggest booking through local companies since most of the island's residents are more than happy to show you Aloha and what the local culture is all about. Also, check with them on what the current mask-wearing and social distancing rules are.

Here a few fun activities you can book early in Hawaii: 

  • Whale Watching
  • Sandbar turtle tour
  • BYOB dinner and cruise
  • Helicopter Ride
  • Deep-Sea Fishing
  • Snorkeling 

Save on food!

To save the most money on your trip when it comes to food, we suggest getting a place with a kitchen and buying your food at the local grocery stores and farmers' markets. If you decide to go the Airbnb route, Costco, Target, and Walmart with price match will help get you through the trip. Most items are slightly more expensive than the mainland, but not overzealously priced. 

Groupon is wonderful for restaurant deals if you buy in advance of where you are going to stay.  Most restaurants want the added business, especially during the slower months of tourism. Aside from Groupon, hotels will have coupons for popular restaurants if you are staying in a hotel. 

Doing a mix of both strategies will save you the most money! $3.00 sandwiches from Walmart Deli for Lunch, $29.99 meal from Groupon, and a bowl of oats or breakfast you took your average cost down from $40 per person/meal to about $12 per person.  Another popular item on the menu is a plate lunch. It is a plate of one meat, one salad, and some rice for around $8.00 a plate.

Just remember to carry plenty of snacks with you on the go, and maybe even a picnic lunch for those out and about all day excursions, such as the Road to Hana on Maui.

Hawaii is a fun place to visit, and even though it can be expensive, there are ways to travel to Hawaii on a budget and still have the time of your life.  There is no imaginable way to do everything in one trip to Hawaii; pre-planning will save you a lot of money on the trip.  

Taking a cruise is fun and rewarding, but there are other ways to save money; camping, glamping with an RV, or an Airbnb are all great options. The perfect package is usually one that you create yourself, a morning of zip lining followed by an afternoon of whale watching and a dinner cruise; they do not make packages like that for a reasonable price.

2024 Hawaii Budget Calculator

Estimate the cost of your hawaii vacation.

Aloha, guest readers can calculate five (5) trip cost estimates for Hawaii each day. Rates included within this calculator are based on projected 2024 rates aggregated from current OTA pricing. Rates will be updated regularly.

HawaiiGuide Premium members can submit unlimited trip estimates each day.

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Calculator overview.

This calculator is designed to provide both a comprehensive and regularly updated budget estimate for planning a trip to Hawaii. Currently, rates are applicable for 2024. Generally, these rates should provide a good estimate for any time period between 2024 and early 2025.

This budget tool considers all of the following:

  • Hawaii Flight Costs including airfare from various destinations, baggage fees, etc.
  • Hawaii Accommodation Costs including different lodging types, Hawaii's now roughly 18% accommodation tax, parking fees (if applicable), which island you're staying on, etc.
  • Hawaii Vehicle Rental Costs including various types of vehicles, fuel costs, and number of miles driven daily.
  • Additional Costs including dining + gratuity, visitor fees to parks, etc., and Hawaii Tours and Activity costs.

Hawaii Flight Costs

First, consider your flight costs to Hawaii. Select your departure location, update the number of travelers (if applicable), and check whether you expect to pay baggage fees, below.

Hawaii Accommodation Costs

Next, let us know which island you'll be visiting (select the primary island if you're visiting more than one), select a lodging type/classification, update the number of nights (default is set to a week), update the number or rooms (if applicable), and check whether you expect to pay parking fees (common in more densely populated areas on Oahu and/or Maui).

Statewide Rate : 18%

Hawaii Car Rental Costs

Now, let's consider your vehicle rental costs (if applicable). If you're not renting a car, select 'No Car,' but for most visitors, we highly recommend a rental. Update the number of days (which will default to +1 day more than you selected in accommodation nights) and choose an estimate for your mileage each day. If you're not sure, we recommend you leave the default option selected.

If you select 'No Car' this will be zeroed out by default!

Other Hawaii Costs

Finally, consider a few last potential costs and fees for your trip. There's dining (we've included gratuity in the estimates), and we've selected all three meal options by default. Then, there are potential fees for parks and other attractions, which are a relatively new factor to now consider when estimating a Hawaii budget; select the applicable options below. Finally, select the amount, if any, you expect to spend on Hawaii Tours and/or commercial Activities. Be sure to update the number of people dining and people the fees/tours apply to if applicable; these numbers will default to the same number of people you selected previously for this trip estimate.

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Final Question

If you're visiting another island, please let us know below. This will not affect the estimate or rate you're provided. This is for research and calculator improvement purposes only. Mahalo!

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10 ways to see Hawaii on a budget

Catherine Toth Fox

Nov 11, 2023 • 9 min read

People hiking - happy hiker couple trekking as part of healthy lifestyle outdoors activity. Young multiracial couple walking in nature in Iao Valley State Park, Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii, USA.

Hawaii is expensive, but these budget tips can make your money go a bit further © Getty Images / iStockphoto

There’s a saying in Hawaii : there’s a cost to paradise. Among the US states, Hawaii had the highest cost of living in 2022, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. The median price of a single-family home on Oʻahu is more than $1 million. And gas costs around $5 a gallon.

There are, however, plenty of low-cost (and even free) ways to enjoy the best of the islands  –  pristine beaches , local flavors, stunning natural beauty  – which will allow you to stay for longer and experience more. This guide to daily costs in Hawaii, along with top tips for budget travelers, can help you save your dollars.

As of Nov 1, 2023, all areas of Maui (except Lahaina) affected by the devastating wildfires in August are open for tourism. Respectful travel is encouraged to support Hawaii’s local businesses that rely so heavily on tourism.

Two men who just got married in Hawaii in June 2019, on an adventure day together.

Plan a fall or spring vacation

Hawaii is a year-round destination, and that’s good news for budget travelers. You can find deals on airfare and accommodations during the slower shoulder months  – September and October, January and February, April and May – avoiding peak travel times like summer, winter and spring break.

Be smart about island-hopping...

Why fly all the way to Hawaii and stay on one island? If you’re set on seeing more than one island on your vacation, you should take advantage of cheaper options on interisland airfares.

Southwest Airlines offers one-way rates that are sometimes as low as $39 with no-frills service and no assigned seating. Mokulele Airlines operates Cessna 208EX Grand Caravans that seat up to nine passengers and fly into smaller airports, offering round-trip fares for less than $200 per person.

Planning tip: If you’re on Maui and want to visit Lanaʻi , you can book a ride on the Expeditions Maui-Lanaʻi Passenger Ferry , but be aware this business was severely impacted by the wildfires and is still rebuilding. Tickets start at $30 one way and take about an hour. Bonus: if you’re traveling between islands from January to April, you may see humpback whales along the way.

Three Strong Men Juggling Fire in Hawaii: Fire Dancers

...Or simply stay on one island

Island-hopping can be pricey – you’re paying for additional airfares and accommodations, and if you’re not on Oʻahu , you’ll likely have to rent a car, the price of which fluctuates with demand. 

By staying on one island , you can really explore everything it has to offer. Oʻahu is bustling, with tons of restaurants, shopping, beaches, museums and hiking trails. Maui is just as vibrant, with more country charm and quaint towns like Hana and Makawao.

Kauaʻi is the most laid-back of all the islands, with verdant landscapes, breathtaking beaches and a quieter pace. Hawaiʻi Island, aka the Big Island , boasts active volcanoes, rolling ranchland and old-Hawaii charm.

Keep your car-rental period short

While opting out of renting a car during your entire vacation may be the most cost-effective, it’s also very limiting – even on Oʻahu, which boasts a great public bus system. You’ll want to get out of resort areas and venture into different neighborhoods, find hole-in-the-wall eateries and experience the islands the way locals do.

Instead of renting a car for the duration of your stay, consider a car hire for just a few days, optimally keeping your costs under $100.

A red car follows a hilly cliff road with the sea to one side

Use local ridesharing services and rentals

All of the main islands have ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, with O‘ahu featuring the best coverage. But there are new local services as well.

In June 2021,  Holoholo , a new rideshare company, launched on Oʻahu, Maui, Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi Island and Lanaʻi with a wider selection of rides – hybrid, electric and luxury vehicles, rides with vaccinated drivers and drivers pre-approved to enter US military bases and options for those requiring additional mobility assistance.

Fares are based on distance and calculated up front, and rides can be scheduled in advance. Turo also recently entered the Hawaii market, offering the more affordable option of renting vehicles directly from local owners.

Hui Care Share is a round-trip, station-based car-share program on Oʻahu only, where you can book a vehicle by the hour or day, now or in the future. The service includes 170 vehicles parked at 65 stations throughout urban Honolulu  – downtown, Waikiki , Kakaʻako, Ala Moana, Mānoa, Kaimukī – and Ko Olina. The best part? Gas, insurance and roadside assistance are all included.

Take public transportation

You can also ditch the cars entirely – no worries about parking! – by using public transportation.

On Oʻahu, there's TheBus , a public bus service with a fleet of 542 buses providing daily services on 101 routes across the island. Adult fares are $3 (one way), to be paid in cash upon boarding, with discounts for seniors aged 65 and up and youth ages 6 to 17. TheBus conveniently stops at some of the island’s most popular visitor destinations, including Waikiki, Ala Moana Center, Bishop Museum , Kualoa Ranch, Polynesian Cultural Center , Pearl Harbor , Waimea Valley and Hanauma Bay.

Maui also operates a public bus system  with service in various parts of the islands, from Kaʻanapali to Upcountry .

Get around by bike

Another option is to ride around Oʻahu on a bike using the island’s only bikeshare program, Biki , which has 1300 bikes at more than 130 self-service Biki Stops throughout Honolulu.

It’s a great option for short jaunts to the beach or to grab lunch nearby. Rides cost $4.50 per bike for a single ride for up to 30 minutes, $12 for unlimited rides within 24 hours or $30 for 300 minutes to use in any increment for one year (the best option to use over an entire vacation stay).

Two hikers walk away from the camera on a hiking trail across a crater, a large dusty expanse

There are fees for some of Hawaii's beaches, hiking trails and gardens

Enjoy the best parts of Hawaii – its beaches, gardens, parks and hiking trails  – without spending much.

Most beaches in Hawaii are free and accessible year-round. Some – like Hanauma Bay on Oʻahu and Hāʻena State Park on Kauaʻi – require reservations with a small fee for visitors. Pristine nature reserve Hanauma Bay has an online reservation system , limiting the number of visitors to fewer than 800 a day. It costs $25 per person to enter (free for Hawaii residents and children aged 12 and under) and another $3 for parking ($1 for residents).

To visit Hāʻena State Park  – which includes Kēʻē Beach and the start of the Kalalau Trail along the famed Nāpali Coast – you’ll need to secure a reservation and pay a $5 entry fee and $10 for parking (free for residents).

While state-run hiking trails are normally free to access, some have small fees. For non-residents, it costs $5 to hike to the top of Diamond Head (Lēʻahi in Hawaiian) on Oʻahu, plus $10 for parking (both payable by credit card only), or to visit the popular ʻIao Valley State Monument on Maui. Reserve your place in advance online .

Most botanical gardens charge a nominal entrance fee, though some, including the popular city-run Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden on Oʻahu, are free to explore.

Eat affordable local dishes: bento boxes and poke bowls 

While each island boasts upscale farm-to-table restaurants that will break your food budget, Hawaii is also known for its homestyle local cuisine. Plate lunches, bento (Japanese box meals) and poke bowls (cubed ahi, raw and seasoned, and served atop rice) are plentiful – and affordable.

Get loaded plates of teriyaki beef, shoyu chicken or hamburger steak and gravy at popular drive-ins, such as  Rainbow Drive-In on Oʻahu, Hawaiian Style Cafe on Hawaii Island and Tin Roof on Maui.

Seek out okazu-ya (Japanese deli-type eateries), which serve à la carte portions of local favorites – shoyu pork, chow fun noodles, shrimp tempura and  musubi (rice balls). Some popular ones are Kawamoto Store on Hawaiʻi Island, Fukuya Deli on Oʻahu, Honokowai Okazuya & Deli on Maui and Po’s Kitchen on Kauaʻi. And poke bowls are everywhere – affordable and filling meals you can grab even from convenience stores.

Planning tip: If your short-term rental has a kitchen, you may want to save money by cooking in. Hit up one of the many farmers markets run by the Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau Federation or FarmLovers Markets . You can meet local farmers, buy fresh and local produce and even pick up artisan-made gifts, such as jams, hot sauces, cookies, vinegars and honey. Many serve prepared foods too.

Find free and low-cost activities and tours

You can still immerse yourself in Hawaii and its rich culture without a pricey lūʻau or helicopter tour through free (or cheap) classes around town .

Many hotels and malls offer free entertainment and classes in cultural practices, such as lei-making , ukulele-playing and hula. The Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki offers all that, plus lauhala-weaving and free Hawaiian entertainment.  Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel  by Outrigger on Maui provides complimentary cultural classes to its guests at its Hale Hoʻokipa; learn to hula, make tapa cloth, restring kukui-nut leis, speak short words and phrases in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) and even find your way around with pānānā , or traditional navigational techniques.

On Oʻahu you can rent surfboards at stands along Waikiki Beach for about $20, or pay a little more for a lesson from a beach attendant. You can also rent surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, boogieboards with fins, snorkel gear and more from Surf in the City Waikiki .

Opt for self-guided tours to save some money. Hōlualoa Kona Coffee Company on Hawaiʻi Island offers free coffee-roasting tours and samplings for a small fee. Stroll the grounds of the state’s largest coffee grower, Kauaʻi Coffee Co , at your leisure to learn about coffee and its history in the islands.

For about $35 you can go on a walking tour of Oʻahu’s historic Chinatown district with the Hawaiʻi Heritage Center , where you learn about the rich history of the neighborhood, Chinese immigration to Hawaii and architecture. The fee includes gallery entry, visits to sites with cultural and historical significance, and food from neighborhood shops and restaurants.

Planning tip: Download the Shaka Guide app for self-guided GPS audio tours of popular attractions across the islands. Featured tours include Road to Hana on Maui, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on Hawaiʻi Island and Waimea Canyon on Kauaʻi. Each tour costs $20 and works offline.

A guide to daily costs in Hawaii

Hostel room: $40 to $150 a night Basic room for two: $150 to $300 a night Self-catering apartment (including Airbnb): $80 (for a private room) to $6000 a night (where President Obama stayed in Kailua) Public transport ticket: Adult fares on TheBus on Oʻahu are $3 (one way), with discounts for seniors aged 65 and up and youth aged 6 to 17. Coffee: $2.25 (hot coffee at Starbucks) to $12.50 (Kona Estate coffee brewed fresh, using the Chemex pour-over brewer at Honolulu Coffee) Sandwich: $7 (Andy’s Sandwiches & Smoothies) to $13 (at Sprout Sandwich Shop) Dinner for two: $50 to $500 Beer/pint at the bar: $7 to $12

This article was first published April 2016 and updated November 2023

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Home » Travel Tips » Hawaii on a Budget: 20 Tips for a Cheap Hawaii Vacation

Hawaii on a Budget: 20 Tips for a Cheap Hawaii Vacation

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At first glance, it doesn’t seem like you can visit Hawaii on a budget. Depending on where you’re coming from, flights can be crazy expensive, the resort hotels charge hundreds of dollars for a single night, and there’s so many fun activities to do – all I see are dollar signs piling up!

But you don’t have to worry about how to go to Hawaii for cheap, because traveling to Hawaii on a budget is possible.  I know, because I’ve been to Maui on a budget and it was one of the best vacations of my life.

How to Travel to Hawaii for Cheap: Hawaii on a Budget

If you’re dreaming about a tropical beach vacation in Hawaii, stop dreaming and get to planning! Follow my advice to learn some of the best tips to plan a cheap Hawaii family or honeymoon vacation that will save you a ton of money.

You’ll be able to to plan a trip to Hawaii on a budget for your dream, affordable and budget friendly Hawaii vacation trip that won’t break the bank!

1. Pick the Right Time to Travel to Visit Hawaii on a Budget

2. pick the right island for your hawaii vacation, 3. try travel hacking , 4. don’t stay at a resort for a budget hawaii vacation, 5. hit up the grocery store , 6. save money on a rental car , 7. don’t pay for rental car insurance , 8. go snorkeling on your own , 9. go hiking for a beautiful budget hawaii vacation, 10. plan your splurges , 11. create a travel budget in advance, 12. check out groupon for local deals, 13. use discounted gift cards , 14. check for cash back rewards before you buy, 15. bring a reusable water bottle , 16. buy discounted tickets through costco , 17. check for aaa discounts , 18. skip the souvenirs for hawaii on a budget, 19. bring cash to use during your budget hawaii vacation, 20. find happy hour specials , ready to plan a trip to visit hawaii on a budget, pin this for later.

As we get closer to December and the weather starts getting colder and colder, nothing sounds better than sitting on a beach in Hawaii with a Mai Tai in hand. Don’t you agree? He’s the thing, so does everyone else! Prices on plane tickets to Hawaii SKYROCKET during the cold winter months and during the summer holiday when everyone’s on vacation. 

Here’s a cheap Hawaii vacation tip: you can save some money (and beat the crowds while you’re at it) if you plan your Hawaii vacation for the shoulder-season.

The Hawaii shoulder season generally runs from February-May and again from late August to early October. It you’re trying to find cheap flights to travel to Hawaii on a budget, these are the months you’ll be wanting to look at.

Finding cheap flights to Hawaii doesn’t have to be difficult, by the way! I recommend you play around with the calendar feature in google flights to find the cheapest dates to fly. Once you find them, book directly with the airline.

Not all Hawaiian islands are created equal when it comes to how much money you’ll shell out when visiting them.  While I would love to spend my entire holiday on the secluded island of Lanai, it would cost a pretty penny since there aren’t many hotels or condos. 

So if you want to save money, pick a more populated island – this is absolutely key to doing Hawaii on a budget!

Oahu, Maui and the Big Island are all great. They’re more populated and have more visitors, meaning you’re much more likely to find deals on flights and hotels/condos. You can always get cheap inter-island flights if you want to island hop while you’re there!

Tip : Oahu is one of the easiest islands to visit on a budget in Hawaii. Looking for things to do while you’re there? Use this Oahu itinerary to take the stress out of your trip planning!

To recap this cheap Hawaii vacation tip: a good way to save some money on your Hawaii trip is to be flexible with which island you’ll go to.

Use google flights again and play with the destination location/calendar setting to see what the cheapest island for you to visit actually is. 

Have you seen those posts that talk about people scoring free flights and hotels to Hawaii? Do you struggle to believe them? I know I totally did. That’s until I started learning about how to leverage credit card rewards to get free flights to Hawaii. Needless to say, I was hooked! 

I decided to try travel hacking out for myself and spent a grand total of $11.20 for a round trip flight flight to Maui, talk about a steal!

 If you’re curious about how it’s possible to score free flights and hotel nights in the Hawaiian islands, check out this post for a detailed step-by-step guide to travel hacking your way to a dream tropical vacation.  Read through it completely for a full understanding of how to travel to Hawaii for super cheap while on a budget!

I’m the first to admit, I love a good resort hotel. The convenience, location and amenities that they provide are just so luxurious. But this is a post about budget Hawaii travel, so I’m going to recommend that you avoid resort hotels if you can.

UNLESS you’re getting them for super cheap or with points through travel hacking. In fact, using points is my favorite way for a couple to travel to Hawaii. Wouldn’t it be great to honeymoon in Hawaii on a budget, anyone?

Why should you avoid resorts? Because quite honestly, they’re overpriced. I don’t know about you, but I’m not tryingt to spend $400 PER NIGHT on a room alone.

Not to mention all the hidden fees, like the infamous additional resort fee, charges for parking, and so many other things I’m likely to splurge on if I stay at a resort. 

Instead, rent a house or a condo. Not only is it often cheaper, but you will have more space to spread out, access to a kitchen (hello saving money on food!), and it may even come with umbrellas, beach toys and a cooler (perfect for those beach trips). 

This is by far my favorite tip for to do Hawaii family vacations on a budget because the money saving potential is so huge!

Making a trip to the grocery store is an absolute must for saving money on your Hawaii vacation. Think about all the expenses that start adding up when you don’t access to a kitchen: buying snacks at gas stations, eating all of your meals out, paying for expensive alcoholic drinks, and so much more. 

One of the first things I do when I travel anywhere is to make a trip to the grocery store. Consider it a holy grail Hawaii vacation tip.

In Maui, for example, we visited the local grocery store to buy snacks for our road trips and beach adventures (nuts, chips, etc.) We also bought our favorite beer and ciders so we didn’t have to pay $10 for a beer. 

Having groceries available also allows you to cook one of your meals at your condo. I like easy breakfast options like a carton of eggs and orange juice.

Or plan to make one of your dinners at home with easy frozen meals. Pizza after a long day out in the sun sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

While I would love to tell you that you don’t need a car for your Hawaii trip, chances are you most likely do. There are so many great, cheap activities to do in Hawaii, including going to the beach, going for a hike, or doing a beautiful drive that require a car. 

To save money when renting a car, make sure that you do some comparison shopping by using a third party site like Kayak or Expedia . Make sure though that you’re not booking a non-refundable car.

I like to book refundable rentals so I can monitor the price – once there’s a price drop, I’ll cancel my original reservation and rebook it at the lower rate!

Speaking of rental cars, a great way for you to save money is by saying no to the rental car insurance that they try to sell you. Since I have a credit card that comes with rental car insurance coverage, Im able to save some cash by skipping this expense.

Double check the terms of your credit cards to see if they have any perks like this. Finally, make sure you fully understand all the terms so you’re able to make an informed decision.

There are a TON of great snorkeling spots in Hawaii . You can book some amazing snorkeling tours, but the truth is you don’t really need to.

If you bring your own snorkeling set, you can find your own snorkeling spots without having to pay the high price of tours. I have this snorkeling set and love it.

It works great, is pretty affordable, wasn’t bulky, and most importantly allowed us to snorkel at the beach without having to rent a snorkeling set (which probably would have been as expensive in the long run as buying our own!)

Note : If you plan to snorkel in Hawaii, or get in the water for that matter, make sure you buy reef safe sunscreen . Not only is it required by state law, it’ll help ensure that the coral reefs stay beautiful and are able to be enjoyed for years to come.

I love visiting beautiful places because of their natural beauty. The beaches, mountains, and tropical lushness of Hawaii are all reasons why I’m constantly dreaming of my next Hawaii trip. Also, it helps that enjoying this natural splendor is often FREE.

An excellent (free) way to see more of the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands is to go for a hike. There’s great hiking to be found in almost any island you visit, with trails perfect for beginners.

If you do plan a hike, make sure you bring a reusable water bottle , sturdy shoes , and plenty of sunscreen. It gets hot in Hawaii, so be prepared!

Planning your splurges can seem like a counterintuitive way to save money in Hawaii. Here’s the thing though, if you sit down and decide that you’re going to allow yourself to buy a helicopter tour, it won’t show up later as a budget busting expense.

By planning for what you’ll splurge in advance, you won’t feel deprived when you have to say no to some other, unexpected potential splurges.

For example, I allowed myself to splurge on a trip to Molokini on my trip to Maui. Because of that, I wasn’t tempted to book a ton of other snorkeling tours and was able to go snorkeling on my own.

Had I not planned this in advance, I would have felt deprived and could have possibly overspent when a “cheap” tour option came up!

Having a budget for anything and everything is SO IMPORTANT. Creating a budget is the very first thing I do when I’m planning a trip anywhere, specially to Hawaii.

I will admit, it takes some work and planning to do this, but having a set budget in advance will allow you to not have to worry about how you’re paying for things when you’re on vacation.

No more overspending, or going into debt, because everything’s already been budgeted and saved for.

 If you haven’t used Groupon before, you’re missing out. There’s so many deals to be had for cheap, it’s a great place to start your search if you’re looking for cheap things to do in Hawaii.

You can find discounts on snorkeling tours, parasailing adventures, and much more. A great way to maximize your savings is to buy your groupon through an app like Ibotta or Rakuten – often you’ll find cash back deals when you buy the groupon through their portal. Talk about stacking savings!

Discounted gift cards are a little secret that a lot of people don’t take advantage of. Nowadays, you can find gift cards for things like plane tickets or hotels selling through discount gift card sites like Raise.com.

When you’re booking your Hawaii trip, look for discounted gift cards that you can use for the thing you’re already planning on buying. Are you buying plane tickets through Southwest? Search for a gift card. Buying a cute swimsuit through Amazon? Look for a gift card!

Bonus points if you buy your discounted gift card then buy your items through a cash back portal like Rakuten or Ibotta . Gotta stack those savings!

The very first thing I do before I press buy on anything is to search for any cash back offers. I know that I can get cash back for buying something I was already planning on by simply checking for credit card cash back offers (Chase offers these right in their app).

Additionally, I always always always check Rakuten , Ibotta and Swagbucks. Chances are, someone’s going to have a cash back offer I can take advantage of.

Are you noticing a theme? When you’re looking to save some money, you have to maximize your savings potential, and stacking promotions is a great way to do so.

Buying bottled water is not only terrible for the environment, it also costs a pretty penny.

Have you ever been at the airport and forced to buy an overpriced $5 bottle of water? Or have you been on a road trip only to stop at a gas station and buy yet another bottle of water? Yeah, I hate that!

A great way to save some money on that is to bring a reusable water bottle. You can bring an (empty) water bottle through TSA and fill it up at a water fountain once you clear security.

Same thing if you’re going hiking or to the beach. Bring your own water bottle and save some money.

There’s a ton of reasons why I love Costco, one of them being for the discounted tickets you can buy through them.

One of the splurges I planned on my last Hawaii trip was a romantic Maui helicopter tour (which would be a perfect thing to do on a Hawaii honeymoon vacation!). I was able to save some money on that by buying it through Costco. They offer discounted Hawaii helicopter tour tickets , snorkeling tours , and several other options.

Moral of the story? Don’t pay full price for things when you can avoid it.

If you have a AAA membership, chances are that there are Hawaii travel discounts already available to you.

You can often use your AAA membership to save an extra 10%-15% on car rentals, hotel stays, and much more.

Check out the AAA travel page when you start to plan your Hawaii trip to see how you can save some money by being a AAA member.

P.S. They also have experienced travel agents that can help you book your vacation and get you some cool perks like free breakfast or extra tours included for free.

I know, I know. It’s fun to buy souvenirs. But you know what, those souvenirs are often cheap, overpriced, and you probably won’t use them much once you get back home.

Not to mention, they can take up valuable real estate in your luggage, possibly causing you to spend even more money trying to get them home.

When I travel, the only souvenir I buy are postcards. They’re cheap, thoughtful, and I can mail them directly from where I’m at.

So do yourself a favor and try to avoid souvenirs. Your wallets will thank you.

Do you know what I hate with a passion? Paying for ATM fees. I absolutely detest it. But what can you do when you’re in a different state (or country) and don’t have access to your banks’ ATM?

Avoid the situation by bringing some cash with you for your next Hawaii trip. You’ll save money on potential ATM fees, and be likely to spend less. A sneaky benefit of using cash is that it makes it harder for us to spend money, so give it a try.

I love a good happy hour, and Hawaii has plenty of them. If you’re planning to go out to eat for dinner, try to plan it so it happens when restaurants are having happy hours.

This way you’ll be able to enjoy a nice evening meal out, but still save money by not paying the high dinner prices. Check yelp and follow local Hawaiian restaurants on social media to see when they run their specials.

So there you have it! I hope you’re able to use some of the above tips to save some money on your next Hawaii trip. By now you should have seen that with a little bit of planning, you’ll be able to make that Hawaiian tropical vacation a little bit more affordable than you initially though.

Recommended reading : check out this amazing resource for the ultimate guide to save money traveling, no matter where you’re going!

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Love these tips – they can be applied to so many trips too!

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A Broken Backpack

Complete Guide: How To Visit Hawaii On A Budget

by Melissa Giroux | Last updated Feb 24, 2023 | North America , Travel Tips , United States

Traveling to Hawaii might be a dream for many of us. We’ve all seen the photos – dreaming of these beaches and epic volcanoes in the background.

So, you found a cool flight deal to get to Hawaii and wondering if you can actually afford it? Traveling Hawaii on a budget isn’t super easy, but it’s not impossible.

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If you’ve been wondering if Hawaii is expensive – keep reading.

In this post, I’ll be covering different aspects when it comes to budget travel in Hawaii so you can have a rough idea of what to expect cost-wise.

I’ll give you some budget tips too and alternatives that could be more budget-friendly.


Finding Cheap Flights To Hawaii

Finding cheap flights to Hawaii isn’t that hard. With websites such as Skyscanner , Google Flights, or even Secret Flying, it’s easy to find great deals.

If you’re coming from Asia, you should be able to find great deals with AirAsia and if you’re coming from Canada, WestJet normally has great deals too. 

To give you an idea, I was flying from Japan and then I was heading to Canada, which was the perfect stop for a break between long flights.


Finding Cheap Accommodation In Hawaii

The biggest challenge when it comes to backpacking Hawaii (or just keeping it budget-friendly) is the accommodation. Finding cheap accommodation in Hawaii is tough.

Accommodation in Hawaii is generally expensive. It’s hard to find something below $35. It also depends on the season – it can be higher or lower depending on the timing.

Usually, if you’re going to pay $35 for a dorm, or even a room, you would expect a better-looking room. Unfortunately, it is not the case in Hawaii.

Buildings are old, the market is high… there’s not much you can do about it. 

If you think you’re better off with Airbnb… well, you’re not – the cost is also expensive and the apartments available aren’t that special.

That said, you might have to increase your budget or lower your standards when it comes to Hawaii.

Hostels in Oahu:

  • Hostelling international Honolulu
  • Polynesian Hostel Beach Club
  • Waikiki Beachside Hostel

Mid-Range Hotels in Oahu:

  • East Side of Hanama Bay
  • Ramada Plaza
  • Ewa Hotel Waikiki

Luxury Hotels in Oahu:

  • Real Select Vacations
  • Hampton Inn & Suites
  • Hokulani Waikiki

Find more accommodation options in Oahu here .

Mid-Range Hotels in Kauai:

  • Hotel Coral Reef
  • Banyan Harbor
  • Kauai Shores Hotel

Luxury Hotels in Kauai:

  • Koa Kea Hotel
  • Marriott’s Waiohai
  • Koloa Landing Resort

Find more accommodation options in Kauai here .

Hostels in Maui:

  • The Northshore Hostel
  • Central Maui Hostel
  • Tiki Beach Hostel

Mid-Range Hotels in Maui:

  • What a wonderful world
  • Adventure in Paradise
  • Kahana Villa

Luxury Hotels in Maui:

  • Hyatt Residence Club
  • Hotel Wailea
  • Four Seasons Resort

Find more accommodation options in Maui here .

Hostels on the Big Island:

  • Camping Cabanas
  • Hilo Bay Hostel
  • The Big Island Hostel

Mid-Range Hotels on the Big Island:

  • Hilotown Hale
  • At the end of the road
  • Hilo Bay Oceanfront

Luxury Hotels on the Big Island:

  • Fairmont Orchid
  • Aston Kona by the Sea

Find more accommodation options in Big Island here .


Getting Around Hawaii On A Budget

Here are your options to get around Hawaii. You’ll find prices so that you can have an overview of the expenses related to transportation.

Getting Around Hawaii By Bus

The cheapest way to get around Hawaii is by bus. Whether you want to explore the island or simply reach your destination from the airport, buses are efficient and affordable. 

Fare for a one-way ticket: $2.75

Fare for a day pass: $5.50

Getting Around Hawaii By moped

The most fun way to get around is probably by moped or scooter. Although it’s quite expensive if I compare to Asia. 

I rented my moped for 24 hours for $40. Although, they insisted on the insurance and the overnight parking option, and I fell for it.

In total, it cost me a lot more than I expected. If you’re planning on renting a moped for a few days, then, you will receive discounted rates.

Getting Around Hawaii By Car

Another option to consider would be by rental car . It’s obviously expensive, but it’s a safe way to get around without having any limitations like on the mopeds where you need to avoid the highways.

Check prices and availability and book a car for your trip here .

Finding Cheap Restaurants In Hawaii

Eating in Hawaii on a budget was a bit challenging. Depending on where your accommodation is located, you might find supermarkets… or not.

I found it hard to find supermarkets in the Waikiki Beach area, which means I wasn’t able to cook my own food. 

My plan was to avoid expensive restaurants in Hawaii for a few reasons:

  • You have to tip
  • Tax is added to the bill
  • It’s pricey

After getting tired of options like Mcdonald’s, Subway, etc. I wanted to get a real meal, and it was honestly hard to find something good, and healthy without it being super expensive.

As a result, I decided to treat myself to pricey restaurants – and it wasn’t worth the price. I realized that I could eat out for about $10 and it would be better in terms of quality/price.

If you’re on a tight budget, your best bet is probably to head to Walmart to buy groceries or to stick to the specials at Mcdonald’s.

If you have a mid-range budget, then, you can splurge easily wherever you are. If you love American food, you’ll be happy. You can read more about cheap eats in Waikiki .

Finding Cheap Activities In Hawaii

It is quite hard to find cheap activities in Hawaii. Although, if you like hiking, you can hike in many places in Oahu for free. You might only need to pay for transport to get there.

Also, if you’re into beach bumming or surfing, you can do it for cheap – you can rent a surfboard on the beach or in your accommodation (if you’re lucky).

If you just want to start your surf career, then this surf lesson is definitely for you!

Other than that, here are some cool activities below $60.

  • Boat Trip from Waikiki – Check the price .
  • Ghosted tour – Check the price.
  • Sunset cruise – Check the price.
  • Traditional airport experience – Check the price.  

Find more budget activities in Hawaii here .


Real-Life Example – How Much I Spent In Hawaii In One Week

Well – I say one week but I was there for 7 nights, 8 days.

You should also know that I was traveling in Oahu so, this applies only to Oahu.

Is Hawaii expensive? Let’s see!

Total Spent on Flights | Budget Travel Hawaii

My flight from Osaka to Honolulu was $195.

My flight from Honolulu to Ottawa was $231.

The total was then $426.

Total Spent In Hawaii | Budget Travel Hawaii

I spent $822 which includes the following:

Accommodation, luggage storage at the hostel, food, moped rental, and activities.

This would be about $102 per day.

Total Spent In Hawaii + Flights

Big total for flights and the trip: $1248

Can you travel to Oahu on a budget? Well – I think it’s a tough one. 

It could have been cheaper if I had not rented a moped and if I had cooked my own meals.

To save money on accommodation, I could have decided to do couchsurfing instead. Overall, Oahu isn’t the most budget-friendly place.

What To Pack For Hawaii

These are some beach essentials and a few more items you should bring with you while visiting Hawaii.

  • Sunscreen and Aloe Vera
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Beach Towel
  • Universal adapter

Do You Need A Visa To Visit Hawaii?

If you need a visa to travel to Hawaii, you can sort it out here .


Travel Insurance In Hawaii

Make sure your travel insurance can cover you in Hawaii (United States). Better be safe than sorry! You can check the options on  SafetyWing .

Final Thoughts On Hawaii On A Budget

Finally, Hawaii is not the most budget-friendly destination, but you can save money if you wish to.

Take a look at our list of fun things to do in Honolulu and Waikiki at night .

Hawaii is a great honeymoon destination , too – you can do it on a budget, or you can splurge!

plan trip to hawaii cheap







plan trip to hawaii cheap

plan trip to hawaii cheap

105 Genius Tips for Hawaii on a Budget

I’ve visited hawaii more than 35 times and i’ve learned some amazing ways to experience hawaii on a budget scroll down to get my 105 ways to save money in hawaii and plan affordable hawaii vacations , this post about what to do in hawaii on a budget was written by hawaii travel expert marcie cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, i may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog..

I’ve been visiting Hawaii since I was 10 years old.

My grandma used to split her time between Kauai and Seattle and we were lucky enough to get to visit her in Hawaii.

We’d spend most of our school breaks in Hawaii. Since we were a family of four living on a teacher’s salary, we learned how to travel with family on a budget.

As I grew up and started paying for my own trips to Hawaii, I did tons of research on free and cheap things to do in Hawaii.

And now that I bring my own kids to the Hawaiian Islands, I’m discovering all kinds of kid-friendly Hawaii activities that won’t break the bank!

Is Hawaii expensive? Heck yeah! But, it doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive.

Throughout my 25 years of traveling to Hawaii, I’ve picked up a few budget tips to save money in Hawaii .

Well, I’m up to 105 Hawaii travel tips, so it’s more than a few! Use these tips to plan your next Hawaii family vacation on a budget .

Keep scrolling to find out how to travel to Hawaii cheap , where to find the best Hawaii vacation packages, and which is the cheapest Hawaiian island .

By the end, you should know exactly how to plan a trip to Hawaii on a budget.

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Hawaii Itineraries complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

plan trip to hawaii cheap

Hawaii on a Budget FAQs

The cheapest time to fly to Hawaii is during one of its shoulder seasons. These run after Spring Break (mid-April to June) and before Winter Break (September to mid-December.) That’s when you can book cheap trips to Hawaii for your family. And it’s a great time to visit Hawaii.

You’ll find the cheapest travel deals to Oahu. That’s because there are lots of direct flights and the largest array of hotel and vacation rental options. Plus, you’ll find the most competitive rates on activities, car rentals , and attractions. Therefore, Oahu is the cheapest island in Hawaii.

In order to score the best hotel deals in the Hawaiian Islands, you’ll probably want to visit Hawaii for at least a week. The ideal Hawaiian vacation is usually 10-14 days. That gives enough time to adjust to the time difference, relax, and be able to do all the activities on your list.

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Heading to Hawaii on a budget? You won't want to miss this incredible list of 105 ways to save money in Hawaii including how to find cheap airfare to Hawaii, cheap places to stay in Hawaii, free tours, activities and more.

105 Tips for Hawaii on a Budget

Hawaii on a budget: planning your trip, 1. do your research.

I had to kick off my list with my #1 piece of advice for saving money in Hawaii: Do your research!

Figure out exactly which island you want to visit, the cheapest time of year to go, where to stay in Hawaii, which activities are affordable, whether or not you’ll need to rent a car , etc.

Find out how to visit Oahu on a budget by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids Image of a calculator, pen, and notebook.

You’ll also want to research “ How much does a Hawaii vacation cost ?” so you won’t be surprised at how much others pay for typical family trips to Hawaii.

And make sure to factor in tipping in Hawaii .

Reading this blog post is a great sign that you are doing your research for your next vacation in Hawaii! You’ll want all these Hawaii budget travel tips!


While it’s tempting to want to visit multiple islands on your trip to Hawaii (especially if it’s your first trip to Hawaii ,) those inter-island flights can add up.

You’ll also probably pay higher rates for hotel rooms and car rentals if you are just using them a few days per island. That’s not how you do Hawaii on the cheap.

Instead, stay on one island and take advantage of free nights at hotels and cheaper car rental rates. This is my top tip for how to save money in Hawaii.


For a cheap Hawaii vacation, head to Oahu , Maui , Kauai , or the Big Island . These are the most populated Hawaiian islands and usually have lots of direct flights from the West Coast and tons of Hawaii packages.

Oahu is usually the cheapest island in Hawaii to visit.

Tips for a cheap Hawaii trip featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: The Most Beautiful Places To Visit In Oahu featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Oahu is full of beautiful places, like Diamond Head

There is also more competition for hotels, vacation rentals, car rentals , and activities, so prices tend to be cheaper than the less populated Hawaiian islands of Lanai and Molokai .

Plus, you can often find the right Hawaii vacation package to fit your budget.

Looking for cheap places to stay in Hawaii? Here are my top picks for Kauai , Maui , Oahu , and the Big Island !


Hawaii can be crazy expensive if you try to go during a school break. Airfare and hotel rooms can be twice as expensive (if not more) during this high season.

Summertime and the week of Christmas are peak seasons for Hawaii. That’s not how to travel to Hawaii on a budget.

Definitely avoid the last week of April. That’s “Golden Week” in Japan and the Hawaiian islands will be flooded with Japanese tourists and therefore the prices of everything skyrocket.

So, for cheap travel to Hawaii, head to Hawaii in late winter or early fall. These are my best budget tips to save you money.

We really like going in February . Our kids get mid-winter break and we can usually find reasonable airfare and lots of hotel/vacation rental options.

If you aren’t limited to school schedules, September and early October are also awesome times to visit Hawaii and find cheap airfare to Hawaii.


Are you getting sticker shock when looking at hotel rooms? An easy way to slash that price in half is to invite friends or family to join you for a cheap trip to Hawaii.

Tips for where to stay in Hawaii on a budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: 7 Cheap Places to Stay in Maui featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids | Find out affordable places to stay on Maui, like this budget-friendly Maui hotel

You can either share a hotel room (and split the cost) or go in on a larger Airbnb or VRBO, which tends to be cheaper than hotel rooms.

Traveling with more people also can save you money on food in Hawaii. You can head to Costco and get large cases of drinks, snacks, and Costco-sized ready-to-cook meals.

And you can rent a larger vehicle and split the cost when visiting Hawaii in a group.

If your group is large enough, you might also qualify for group discounts on tours.

This is one of our favorite ways to do family vacations on a budget.


While I have not mastered the art of credit card travel hacking, I’ve seen a lot of my friends do it successfully for vacations to Hawaii.

You earn points on your purchases that can be used toward airfare and hotel rooms at Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG.

Many credit cards also offer a lot of insurance options and have a ton of travel perks to visit Hawaii.


While we’re talking about insurance, I highly recommend getting travel insurance .

Now, it might seem counter-intuitive to purchase something you might not need in order to save money in Hawaii.

Find out whether or not you really need Hawaii travel insurance by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids. Image of some travel insurance paperwork on top of a map.

However, you have to think about how much money is at risk if you have to cancel your trip, change the dates, lose luggage, etc.

And if you are pregnant or have young children, it’s even more important that you get travel insurance in case there are medical reasons you need to cancel or postpone a trip.

Make sure to shop around for the right travel insurance for your family. We tend to use Allianz Insurance for both airfare and general travel insurance.

Hawaii on a Budget: How to Find Cheap Flights to Hawaii

8. use skyscanner for the best flight rates.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I only started using Skyscanner this year to look for cheap airfare.

You put in the search parameters and it will tell you the cheapest flights from all the top airlines.

You can also request a price alert to be notified when the price goes down for a cheap flight you are keeping your eye on.

It’s an easy way to plan a cheap vacation to Hawaii.


It’s no secret how airlines are trying to nickel and dime passengers. One of the most obvious ways is with the checked luggage fees.

Tips for what to take to Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Save money on luggage by using carry on luggage and skipping the checked bag fees

Before you book your flight, check to see what the checked baggage fees are for the airline and factor that into the price. What sound like cheap flights at first maybe actually cost you more due to the bag fees.

Then, figure out if you can fit your stuff in a carry-on suitcase. This is actually pretty easy for Hawaii, especially if you pack mostly swimsuits and warm weather clothing that doesn’t take up much space.

Find out the top things people always forget on their Hawaii packing list!

10. check costco for travel deals.

Being a Seattle mom, Costco is one of my favorite places. They have a really awesome travel department that has been having some killer Hawaii travel packages.

As long as you have a Costco card, you can visit the Costco Travel website and search for flights, hotels, and car rental packages. It makes it easy to visit Hawaii on a budget.

Costco seriously has some of the best Hawaii travel deals. including cheap flights to Hawaii.

My aunt used them recently and her car rental was completely free!


If you are flying from the West Coast, you might consider getting an Alaska Airlines Signature Visa credit card. They offer an annual companion fare deal where you just pay $99 plus tax on a second flight.

Image of Alaska Airlines airplane in Hawaii.

We almost always use our companion fare for flights to Hawaii, to save the most money. And since my husband and I each have a card, we use both companion fares for our kids and save a lot of money!

Another awesome feature of this credit card is that you and up to 6 of your guests get a free checked bag!

It’s such a great Hawaii travel deal all around! We use it almost exclusively when visiting Hawaii with our kids. It’s the easiest way to get cheap flights to Hawaii.


This year, Southwest launched a bunch of flights to Hawaii. They had some screaming Hawaii deals!

Image of Southwest Airlines flying over Oahu

Whether or not they continue to offer crazy flight deals, they do have a Companion Pass program.

To qualify, you either need to fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 points in a calendar year. They also have a credit card to help you accumulate points faster.

They also launched inter-island flights at a very reasonable rate.

Hawaii on a Budget: Packing Essentials

13. pack all the essentials.

When people complain about how much everything costs in Hawaii, they aren’t exaggerating. Since everything needs to be shipped in, it costs more.

Image of Open suitcase with clothes and personal things packed for traveling

They also don’t have as many big box stores as we do on the Mainland, so they don’t always have a large selection of items.

So, what to take to Hawaii?

I recommend packing all your essentials from home when visiting Hawaii. The prices will be cheaper than having to run out and buy items when you get there.

Find out what to pack on a Hawaii honeymoon or get my Kauai or Maui packing list !


While I don’t recommend buying travel essentials in Hawaii, it’s pretty common to buy stuff when you get there. I mean, everything is so cute!

plan trip to hawaii cheap

Now, we always bring this lightweight duffel bag with us. It folds up smaller than a poncho and it can easily fit inside your suitcase. Check out the latest prices and more details.

I always stuff our dirty clothes in it for the plane ride back. That way, I can bring it as a carry on and when they ask for bags to check for free at the gate (which ALWAYS seems to happen) I have no problem offering up my duffel of dirty clothes.


If you are traveling to Hawaii with a baby , I strongly urge you to pack your own baby food and diapers.

Baby food and formula are pretty expensive over there. I’ve seen food pouches for $3+ each!

Plus, the selection isn’t very good. If you have a picky baby or toddler , you’ll want to bring your own brands.

The same goes for pacifiers and loveys. Bring extras from home so you aren’t wasting a vacation day searching for one on the island.

Hawaii on a Budget: How to Find Cheap Hawaii Family Hotels

16. stay in the most affordable area of the island.

Before you book your Hawaii accommodation, check the rates for all the main cities/towns on the island. This is a good indicator of how to stay in Hawaii for cheap.

There are always the pricier areas to stay in and the more affordable areas and not choosing the right spot can make or break cheap Hawaii vacations.

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Stay in the more affordable places on the island for the cheapest places to stay in Hawaii

Kihei is a cheaper place to stay on Maui than Wailea or Kapalua. Kapaa is a cheaper place to stay on Kauai than Princeville or Poipu . And on Oahu, it’s always cheapest to stay outside of Waikiki .

Read my detailed guides on the cheapest places to stay on Maui , Kauai , Oahu , Molokai , Lanai , and the Big Island . It’s a great way to save money when visiting Hawaii.


When you start thinking about places to stay on your Hawaii trip, don’t just look at hotels. Kihei, for example, only has condos available.

Sometimes it’s cheaper to go through Airbnb or VRBO to find cheap Hawaii accommodations.

What’s great about Airbnb and VRBO is that most of the places offer free parking and it’s easier to find places with separate bedrooms (which is so handy when traveling to Hawaii with kids!)

If you’ve never used Airbnb, get $40 off with my link!


Another option for a cheap place to stay in Hawaii is to camp! You can either bring over your own camping stuff or buy it at Walmart in Hawaii.

Camping in Maui: Romantic couple is relaxing near a tent on the beach, hugging and looking at each other. Happy people in nature. Back Light.

The trick is to book your campsite before you head to Hawaii to ensure you have a spot. Otherwise, you’ll be paying an arm and a leg for last-minute accommodations.

And, it’s pretty trendy to rent a campervan in Hawaii, so you might look into that option when visiting Hawaii.

Check here for camping sites in Hawaii. And read my full guide to camping in Hawaii .


Hawaii is also home to several hostels throughout the Hawaiian islands. It’s one way to visit Hawaii without spending a fortune.

While I wouldn’t personally stay in a hostel with kids, it can be a great place to stay if you are backpacking in Hawaii with your partner or friends.

Check here for Hawaii hostel rates and availability.


If you really feel like bargaining and you are visiting Hawaii during the off-season, you can always try negotiating cheaper rates directly through condo owners.

There are a lot of condos that sit empty during low seasons. Many of these owners would rather offer a reduced rate than not make any money at all.

So, it might be worth emailing condo owners to see if they can offer a better rate.


If you want the perks for staying at a fancy hotel, but don’t want to pay fancy hotel prices, look into getting a hotel day pass.

You can get one for as cheap as $29/person. That allows you access to hang out at the pool and use their facilities.

It’s a great way to have the resort experience without the hefty hotel room rate.

Check here to find Hawaii resort day passes.


If you like the idea of camping in Hawaii but don’t want to set up a tent, you might look into renting a campervan in Hawaii.

Just picture enjoying an epic Hawaiian sunrise or sunse t while bundled in blankets in your Hawaii campervan.

It’s a fun way to explore the islands without paying for an expensive hotel room. Rates can be as low as $49/night.

Find your dream Hawaii Campervan here .


Lately, I’ve been hearing more and more about families couchsurfing when they travel. It’s a cool way to get a cultural experience by getting to know other families who live in Hawaii.

Of course, you’ll want to do your research and follow general safety tips if you go this route.

You can check out Hawaii couchsurfing options here .

Hawaii on a Budget: Transportation Tips

24. rental car vs. public transportation.

When people ask me whether or not they need to rent a car in Hawaii , my first thought is always “of course!”

I think a rental car is the best way to explore Hawaii with kids because you aren’t limited to public transportation or activity shuttles.

However, it really depends on what you are planning on doing.

What is the best way to visit Hawaii on a Budget? The Waikiki Trolley is an easy way to get around Waikiki on Oahu with kids

When we were staying in Waikiki beach a few years ago, we didn’t rent a car and instead relied on the Waikiki Trolley . It was an easy (and affordable) way to get us all over town. We even used it for a Costco run!

On Oahu, TheBus is a great Hawaii bus system that will take you all over the island for much cheaper than a rental car.

And on Kauai, there’s The Kauai Bus which has routes all over the island.


Another question I get a lot is about the cheapest way to get from the airport to your hotel in Hawaii. You’ll want to know the answer when visiting Hawaii.

For Oahu, there are lots of shuttles that can take you from the airport to Waikiki for as little as $18. Or you can grab an Uber or Lyft for around $23-30 to Waikiki beach. And if you really want to save money, you can take TheBus for $2.25.

On Maui, you can take a shuttle to the airport from Lahaina for about $35-50 or take an Uber for $50-60.

Be sure to find out if your hotel has a shuttle service. That’s helpful to know before you book a rental car in Hawaii.


If you do decide that you want to rent a car in Hawaii, figure out your itinerary so you know exactly how many days you’ll need to rent a car.

If you are staying in Waikiki, it might make sense to return the car every day to avoid paying overnight parking fees.

You’ll also want to do a price comparison to see if you’ll save money by keeping your rental car for your whole trip or returning it early.


While adventuring through Hawaii in a Jeep sounds exciting, it’s not the most budget-friendly car to rent in Hawaii!

Image of SUV parked at beach with surfboard in Maui, Hawaii.

Not only do they cost more to rent, but they also use up a ton of gas!

And since they are a popular vehicle to rent, they are usually pretty worn out and might not be the most comfortable ride. There are plenty of other rental cars to choose from.

Hawaii on a Budget: How to Save Money on Food

28. save money by cooking.

If you have a hotel with a kitchenette or have booked a condo or VRBO with a kitchen, you can save a lot of money by cooking.

The easiest way to do this is to stock up on easy breakfast items and ready-to-cook meals.

If you are staying somewhere with a poolside BBQ, grab some meat to cook up! This makes visiting Hawaii a lot more affordable.

Read more about cooking in Hawaii .


I’m a HUGE fan of Hawaiian food and a big part of our vacations is eating food we can’t find at home.

Eating out in Hawaii doesn’t have to be super expensive.

One of my favorite things to eat in Hawaii on a budget is musubi! You can find this local food at ABC stores, local grocery stores, gas stations, and even 7-Eleven.

The most popular is Spam musub i , but you can also find musubi made with mochiko chicken , egg, chicken adobo, kalua pork, etc.

Find out my favorite cheap eats on Oahu and where to eat in Waikiki on a budget !


If you are a fan of fresh fruits and vegetables, you’ll definitely want to hit up a farmers market in Hawaii.

If you want to travel to Hawaii cheap, check out these tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Hawaii farmers markets are a great place to get fresh produce at discount prices

We always grab some big papayas and lime for an easy breakfast.

And we never leave without picking up a sugarloaf pineapple. This is the low-acid variety of pineapple and they are always the sweetest!

Find out the best Hawaiian fruits you need to try in Hawaii!


Hawaii is known for its generous portions. One of the most popular types of local food in Hawaii is plate lunches. You can find them at food trucks, restaurants, and just about anywhere that sells food.

Choosing the right places to eat and make or break an affordable Hawaii vacation: Rainbow Drive In is one of the best places to eat on Oahu for families

These consist of an entree (or two) plus two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad.

Most places you go will give you plenty of food for two people to share a plate lunch.

When we go with our kids, I usually order extra scoops of rice and I can easily share my plate lunch with both my hungry boys. We love eating local food!

Find out what to order at Hawaiian restaurants!


One mistake I see a lot of tourists make is that they do their grocery shopping near their resort. They think they are saving money, but the items tend to have a higher price in tourist areas.

Instead, pick up your groceries where locals do. Hint: the cheapest places are near Walmart or Costco.

You’ll find a better selection of items and the prices will make your wallet happier. This is easiest to do with a Hawaii rental car, but you can also use public transportation.

Find out the best local grocery stores on Maui


If you shop at Safeway at home, you can definitely use your Safeway Club Card in Hawaii!

It’s even worth getting one just to use on your trip because you’ll save so much money on groceries.

We like to pick up large sub sandwiches, chips, and musubi to eat on the beach at these local grocery stores.

My mom is also a HUGE fan of their $5 Fridays!


One thing that I always try to explain to people planning their Hawaiian vacation is that Walmart in Hawaii isn’t like Walmart on the mainland. It’s kind of hard to describe.

You’ll find everyone shopping at Walmart in Hawaii. I’m talking about mayors, local celebrities, and regular families.

It’s one of the few chain stores available on the islands and chances are you’ll be able to pick up all your groceries, beach toys, sunscreen , flip flops, and even fresh flower leis.

Personally, Walmart is one of my favorite places to stock up on Hawaiian cookies, li hing mui candy, Hawaiian potato chips, Hawaiian Sun drinks, etc.

Note: Now some of the islands have a Target, which is always a great place to shop even if their prices are slightly higher than Walmart.


Another surprisingly affordable Hawaiian meal is poke bowls. Poke is raw fish chopped up and marinated and is usually put in a bowl over sushi rice or served with chips.

How to travel to hawaii for cheap? It can be easy to save a lot of money by cooking in Hawaii or picking up poke bowls

The cheapest place to get poke is at Costco or a local grocery store. You’ll find it in their deli department.

When we stay in condos that have a rice cooker, we make our own rice and get several tubs of different poke for a quick dinner. Then, the next day, we eat any remaining poke with chips for lunch.

Find out the best places to get poke on Oahu and Maui


I can’t go to Hawaii and not eat out. So, when we are trying to save money in Hawaii, we aim to eat out at lunchtime.

Usually, you’ll get slightly smaller portions for half the price of dinner.

You can also take advantage of the food spots that cater to workers, which are usually closed for dinner.


Another way to save money on food/drink in Hawaii is to bring your own reusable water bottle. We usually bring our Hydro Flask because it keeps water icy cold all day long.

Bottled water can add up quickly, especially if you are buying them at food trucks or when you are eating at restaurants.

If you forget to bring a reusable water bottle (and don’t want to buy one in Hawaii) you can get buy water bottles for everyone in your family and refill it during the trip. This is what we did growing up.

You can even put your water bottle in the freezer to keep it cold for part of the day.


Hawaii vacation costs can add up quickly, especially for families. An easy way to do a Hawaii vacation on the cheap is by looking for ways to cut costs on food.

Before your trip, start scouting out restaurants that offer discounted menus on certain days of the week. Some even have early bird menus.

Groupon sometimes offers awesome restaurant gift certificates at discounted rates. Yelp is another place to check for discounts on Hawaiian restaurants.


Most people don’t realize this, but Hawaii has been rocking the food truck scene for decades. They used to be called lunch wagons and they catered to workers.

Now, Hawaii has some of the best food trucks in the country.

Take advantage of the food trucks for a cheap Hawaiian vacation. Kauai has some of the best Hawaiian food trucks.

We love hitting up food trucks in Hawaii. The prices vary a lot, but we’ve found some that are pretty cheap.

If you are heading to the North Shore on Oahu, you probably want to hit up one of the shrimp trucks featuring local Hawaiian shrimp. These plates are usually in the $13-14 range and they are SO good!

Otherwise, you can find affordable lunch options across a variety of ethnic cuisines.

Hawaii on a Budget: Cheap or Free Things to do in Hawaii

40. free hula shows.

As a hula dancer for the past 25 years, I urge everyone to take advantage of the free hula shows offered all over the islands!

Don’t go to Hawaii and skip out on the culture!

Hawaii family vacations aren't complete without some hula dancing! See live hula shows at Ala Moana Center on Oahu

On Oahu, head to Ala Moana Mall, the Royal Hawaiian Center, or Kuhio Beach Park for free hula shows.

On Maui, you can see free hula shows at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Lahaina Cannery Mall, Maui Mall, Napili Kai Beach Resort, The Outlets of Maui, Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, and Whalers Village.

And on Kauai, head to the Coconut Marketplace, Poipu Shopping Village, or the National Tropical Botanical Garden.


In addition to lots of farmers markets, Hawaii also holds a lot of craft fairs for Hawaii-made products.

They also have free concerts, outdoor movies, and all kinds of special events.

With so many Hawaii activities costing a fortune, taking advantage of a few free activities is crucial when traveling to Hawaii on a budget.

Search for Hawaii events here .


If you happen to be in Hawaii during December, you’ll have lots of free holiday events to choose from.

Image of a giant Santa statue waving a shaka sign

Honolulu City Lights is a popular Oahu event including a huge parade, block party, tree lighting ceremony, food booths, children’s rides, a holiday concert, and Santa.

There are lots of Waikiki Christmas events and concerts, including the Christmas-themed “Rock a Hula” show.

And you can see Santa arriving on all the islands.

Read more about Christmas in Hawaii.


One of the most underrated free things to do in Hawaii is going for a hike! The scenery is insanely gorgeous!

The cheapest hawaiian vacations include lots of free activities, like hiking in Hawaii. Diamond Head is a kid-friendly Oahu hike

Hike to a Hawaiian waterfall, the top of a mountain, inside a crater, or see sweeping views of the coastline.

The only costs might include parking if you are hiking at a state park. It’s easiest to go hiking in Hawaii if you have a rental car.

Find out where to hike on Kauai, Oahu , Maui , and the Big Island.


Hawaii is filled with breathtaking waterfalls on each of the Hawaiian islands.

You can see a lot of them on the side of the road or at designated lookout points with parking lots.

Hawaiian family vacations aren't complete without seeing at least one Hawaiian waterfall, like Opaekaa Falls on Kauai

However, some of the most beautiful Hawaiian waterfalls are tucked away in the jungle and only accessible by helicopter or by hiking.

Check out the best waterfalls on Kauai , Maui , Oahu , and the Big Island .


Another cheap thing to do in Hawaii is go snorkeling . The only cost is the snorkel mask and fins. Find the best prices here.

Hawaiian waters feature stunning tropical fish and sea turtles that are amazing to see underwater!

Note: Be careful about full-face snorkel masks. There have been a lot of accidents involving them lately, so do your research.

Find out the best places to snorkel on Oahu , Kauai , Maui , and the Big Island.


In addition to amazing beaches, Hawaii also has some cool swimming holes you can play in.

On Maui, head to the O’heo Gulch (aka Seven Sacred Pools) to cool off. Just be sure to check to see if it’s open before you go (they close it if the weather is bad.)

Maunawili Falls on Oahu: Image of three trickling waterfalls going into a basin.

On Oahu, head to Maunawili Falls and swim in the base of a stunning waterfall.


Another fairly cheap thing to do in Hawaii is go surfing! I mean, what’s more iconic than surfing in Hawaii?

Image of a man surfing a wave in Hawaii

Your only cost is renting a surfboard. Many surf rental places offer daily and weekly rates.

Find out the best surfing spots on Kauai, Oahu , Maui , and the Big Island.


Of course, you can’t go to Hawaii and not check out the beaches! Well, I guess you can , but you definitely shouldn’t!

The beaches are one of the cheapest places to visit in Hawaii on a Budget. Kee Beach is a popular snorkeling Kauai beach at the end of the road on Kauai

Most beaches in Hawaii are completely free (the rest have a small parking fee.)

My favorite beaches on Oahu include Kailua Beach , Lanikai, and Waikiki. On Kauai, I love Poipu Beach, Haena, and Salt Ponds. And on Maui, I love Kapalua Bay and any beach in Kihei.


When you think of Hawaii, museums might not immediately pop into your head. But, Hawaii has some pretty cool museums!

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Bishop Museum is one of the top kid-friendly Oahu attractions for a budget family vacation.

If you already have a museum membership at home for a science museum, you are probably part of the ASTC Passport Program. We belong to the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

The ASTC Passport Program allows you free access to museums all over the world, as long as you can show that you are a member of a museum that is part of the program.

In Hawaii, you can visit the Bishop Museum , the Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture, Kauai Community Science Center, Maui Science Center, or ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii.


Yes, there are National Parks in Hawaii and they are unbelievable!

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids

One of the most famous is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. This park is home to both Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes.

Haleakala is another popular national park that is like no other in Hawaii. It kind of feels like you are walking around on Mars or something because of all the jagged rocks.

Read all about Hawaii National Parks


Since Hawaii is comprised of islands, there are lots of lighthouses.

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Kids will love running around Kilauea Lighthouse and looking for birds, one of the free things to do on Kauai for families

One of my favorite lighthouses is Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge on Kauai. It’s a great place to see Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, and humpback whales .

It’s just $5 to enter and kids 15 years old and younger are free.

Another great Hawaiian lighthouse is Makapuu Lighthouse on Oahu. It’s near Diamond Head and you’ll have to hike to get there. But the views make the hike totally worth it!


One of the most famous festivals in Hawaii is the Merrie Monarch hula festival . While tickets for the entire festival can be pricey, you can apply to just go for the Miss Aloha Hula night for $7.

There’s also the Aloha Festivals , offered on all the islands during the month of September.

And the Waikiki Spam Jam has been on my bucket list for years!


Hawaii is an awesome place to go birding. It’s another free activity to do, although you’ll want to have a good pair of binoculars . If you are staying in a condo or VRBO, check to see if there’s a pair you can borrow.

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: The Ultimate Guide to Birding on Kauai featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Find out the best places for birding on Kauai

Hawaii has birds that you can’t see anywhere else in the world.

They are full of color, make unique sounds, and are something that you will be in awe of when you get closer.

Find out where to go birding on Kauai .


My kids LOVE going to outdoor movies in Hawaii! A few hotels offer “dive in” movies out by their pool area.

But, you’ll also find outdoor movies at local churches and beach parks. Bring your own blankets and snacks and it makes a cheap evening activity.

You can find outdoor movies on almost every Hawaiian island.

Hawaii on a Budget: Cheap Things to do in Oahu

55. saving money in waikiki.

Things are usually pricey in Waikiki, but there are still ways to save money. A lot of the beachfront bars and restaurants offer free nightly entertainment without a drink minimum.

So, you can order some Hawaiian pupus (appetizers) and enjoy a light dinner and show for a fraction of the cost of a luau .

You can also take advantage of the Waikiki Trolley to shuttle you all over Waikiki, saving you the cost of a rental car, parking fees, or using Uber.


If you are planning on doing several activities on Oahu, you might consider buying the Go Oahu Card.

This card will get you free entry into the Polynesian Cultural Center , Pearl Harbor attractions, Kualoa Ranch , Iolani Palace, Wet ‘n’ Wild, and tons of classes and activities.

You can order them online through Costco.


If you love looking at Hawaii pictures on Instagram , you will for sure have seen Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden pop up in lots of photos.

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: HO'OMALUHIA BOTANICAL GARDEN is a popular photo spot on Oahu

It’s one of the most Instagrammable spots on Oahu. Plus it’s one of the best botanical gardens in Hawaii.

Note: Pay attention to signs to see where you are allowed to take photos. You can’t stand in the middle of the street, but you can get a similar shot standing in a parking lot.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden also offers catch-and-release fishing every weekend. That makes it a cheap thing to do on Oahu.


Something that still amazes me is that the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki does a full fireworks show every Friday and it’s completely free!

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: The Hilton Hawaiian Village has a free fireworks in Waikiki show every Friday

Stake out a spot on Waikiki beach to watch them or splurge and head to the Hilton Hawaiian Village to order a drink and get a front-row view of the fireworks.


While it may sound like hanging out at a shopping center isn’t really a budget-friendly option, Ala Moana Center offers a lot of free stuff.

First of all, they do incredible hula shows on their stage as well as other programming throughout the year.

You can also get free samples of items like those cute pineapple cookies from Honolulu Cookie Company!

And, they have a really awesome playground if your kids need a fun place to play.


Like Ala Moana Center, the Royal Hawaiian Center is a shopping mall that also features free entertainment and classes.

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: The Royal Hawaiian Center is a fun place to window shop and they have free cultural activities in Waikiki

Here is where you can join free classes on lei-making, hula dancing, and playing the ukulele.

Plus, you can always window shop.


When I was a kid, my favorite thing to do on Oahu was hit up the Aloha Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium.

I admit it’s not nearly as cool or as massive as it was back in the 90s, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still worth checking out.

It’s a great place to find Hawaiian souvenirs at a fraction of the price of souvenir shops. And you can always bargain!

If you are traveling with kids, you can give them cash and let them figure out how best to spend it.


Dole Plantation can be hit/miss depending on families. I’d say it’s mostly geared for families with younger kids.

Image of the exterior of Dole Plantation on Oahu.

It’s free to enter and they offer activities like a free pineapple-cutting demonstration.

But, for a fee, you can also join a Dole Plantation garden tour, explore a pineapple maze, or ride a little train.

And you’ll probably want to treat yourself to a Dole Whip !


Another iconic place on Oahu is Aloha Tower. It’s been around since 1926 and has gone through a lot of changes in the past few decades.

Head up to the 10th floor to enjoy amazing views of the harbor (and spot the cruise ships!) and Honolulu from their observation deck.

You can also visit the Observation Deck located on the 10th floor of Aloha Tower to find the perfect spot for beautiful views of the harbor on one side and the cityscape of Honolulu on the other. It’s totally free.


One of the most unique places to visit on Oahu is Waimea Valley .

Here, you can swim at the base of a waterfall, explore a botanical garden, and learn about the historical and cultural significance of Waimea Valley to the Hawaiian people.

Image of Waimea Falls on Oahu

And they have hands-on activities in Hawaii for kids! Check out our full guide to visiting Waimea Valley on Oahu .

If you are thinking about splurging for a luau, Toa Luau is located at Waimea Valley and their luau tickets include entrance fees for Waimea Valley. Find the best prices here.

You can check admission fees here .


Another unique Oahu tour is at the Manoa Chocolate factory. This is where you can learn about cacao farming and how chocolate is made.

There are plenty of opportunities to try yummy chocolate samples and find out more about Hawaii’s blossoming chocolate industry.

Note: The tour is only for kids ages 12 and older and adults.

However, all ages are welcome to just walk in for a chocolate tasting!

Learn more here .


Something cool about Hawaii is that you’ll see lots of farms throughout the island growing all kinds of fruit and vegetables and raising animals.

While visiting Oahu, you can head to Na Mea Kupono Lo’i Kalo , a taro farm that’s so much more!

Taro root has been the staple starch of the Hawaiian people for generations and generations. You’ll learn how to prepare, plant, and grow this important food on the farm tour.

Additionally, staff members share traditional crafts, songs , stories, and games.


Night Markets are all the rage these days and that’s because they are so awesome!

The Honolulu Night Market is a popular one and you’ll find local artists, designers, musicians , artisans, and chefs. It’s perfect for your Hawaii vacation.


The ukulele is such a huge part of Hawaiian culture nowadays. And one of the most famous ukulele makers is Kamaka Ukulele.

Man playing ukulele in Hawaii

Join a guided factory tour and learn about the Kamaka family and how they have been leaders in their industry for nearly a century.

Their tours are Tuesday-Friday at 10:30 am. Find out more here .

Want to buy a ukulele? Find out the best kids ukulele !


Oahu has a ton of cool tide pools that are perfect for kids who want to explore Hawaiian sea life.

Grab a pair of water shoes and head to Goat Island in Laie, Sandy Beach Tide Pools, or Makapuu Tide Pools for some free fun.


I’m a huge fan of learning the legends behind significant monuments when we travel.

Now, you probably would normally walk right past the Wizard Stones without realizing what they are. I know I have.

So, I suggest finding the Wizard Stones and reading the legend on where they come from and what powers they are said to possess.


One of my favorite moments in a luau is watching the torch lighting ceremony that usually kicks off the festivities.

If you are in Waikiki at sunset, you can see a FREE traditional torch lighting ceremony and hula performance on Waikiki beach by the Duke Kahanamoku statue.


How often will you have the opportunity to explore a real royal palace?

Iolani Palace was built in 1882 by King Kalakaua and it’s the only palace in the United States. It was home to Hawaii’s last reigning monarchs.

Royal Seal on a gate to Iolani Palace on Oahu

There’s a lot of history here, and I recommend reading Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen to really make the most of your experience.

I’ve been a few times and I’m always in awe of how it’s been restored, including finding original pieces all over the country.


If you want a super cool stop while driving around Oahu, you have to visit Pali Lookout.

Yes, there are gorgeous panoramic views of where Kamehameha had a major battle. However, it’s also one of the windiest spots in Hawaii.

I’m talking about having to hold onto things because it feels like you are going to blow away. It’s such a rush!


Oahu is a great place to meet local artists and admire their work. On the first Friday of every month, you can visit art galleries in downtown Honolulu at no charge.

Also, the Honolulu Museum of Art offers free admission on the 3rd Sunday of every month. Find out more here .


And if you are looking to shop on Oahu without paying full retail price, head to the Waikele Premium Outlets. It’s the only factory outlet on Oahu.

I’ve scored some great deals here on baby clothes and clothes for myself.

Be sure to get a shopping voucher from their website AND pick up the discount vouchers at the airport. If you choose to take a shuttle bus to the outlets, they will offer you another set of vouchers.

See all the stores here .


Most people think that you have to join a tour to see Pearl Harbor . That’s not true.

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: You can visit Pearl Harbor for free

In fact, you can see the USS Arizona Memorial for FREE. Well, as long as you get there early.

They give out 1,300 free tickets every day and they are usually all dispersed by mid-morning.

Find out more free things to do on Oahu .

Hawaii on a Budget: Kauai

77. see the grand canyon of the pacific.

Probably the most well-known of the attractions on Kauai is the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, or Waimea Canyon .

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Waimea Canyon is one of the best free things to do on Kauai and has awesome Kauai hikes and views

At 14 miles long, over a mile wide, and 3600 feet deep, Waimea Canyon and the state park that surrounds it has some of the most beautiful views on the island, and maybe in the world!

The entry is free, but be prepared to pay $5 to park if you would like to go for a hike or get closer to the lookout points.


One of my kids’ favorite things to do on Kauai is going on the Kilohana Plantation Railway at Kilohana Plantation.

It’s a 2.5 mile narrated tour in an open-air sugarcane train.

You’ll learn a bit about plantation days and see fruit, vegetables and lots of animals. In fact, you get to feed pigs!


Even if you aren’t a fan of the most-consumed drink in the world, you don’t want to miss the biggest coffee farm in the US.

Tips for Hawaii on a Budget featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Get a free cup of coffee at Kauai Coffee Plantation and take one of their free walking tours around the estate.

Kauai Coffee is headquartered on the southern coast of Kauai and has free walking tours every day at 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, and 4 pm.

Upon arrival to the “Estate,” you will be offered a free cup of Kauai Coffee.

Plan your visit and make sure you sign up for the scavenger hunt on Wednesday morning!

Every team that completes it will get a free bag of coffee, and it is a great way to get kids involved without actually giving them coffee! (My boys have enough energy already, thank you very much!)


If you have never experienced a Hindu Monastery, this site would be well worth a visit.

Located in Kapa’a, Kauai’s Hindu Monastery is open from 9 am to noon for visitors to explore, meditate and learn.

The inner gate and temple are only open to those wishing to join in on the 9 am service.

Be sure to consult the Plan Your Visit Guide to learn more about times, available areas, and recommended dress.


If you are foodies (like our family) you’ll want to set aside time to check out the Kauai Culinary Market at The Shops at Kukuiula.

Every Wednesday from 3:30 pm – 6 pm, guests can see live cooking demonstrations and take a look at locally grown food and treats.


Also located at Kilohana Plantation is the Koloa Rum Company. They offer free rum tastings!

They use local ingredients, including Hawaiian cane sugar, and they have several varieties.

It’s the first and only licensed distillery on Kauai. You don’t need reservations, but you will want to sign up when you get there. Tastings are for 16 people and they fill up fast.

Find out more free things to do on Kauai .

Things to do in Maui on a Budget

83. haleakala sunrise.

I know I’ve already mentioned Haleakala as a cool national park to visit. However, I feel like seeing the sunrise at Haleakala deserves its own listing.

Check out this honest Haleakala Sunrise Tour Review by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids. Image of the Haleakala Visitor's Center at sunrise.

You do need to make a reservation, but it only costs $1.50 and it’s worth every penny.

People claim that watching the sunrise at the summit of Haleakala is a spiritual experience and it’s totally worth waking up at 3 am to do.


No, I’m not talking about joining a tour where you can touch a turtle or anything (that’s illegal BTW.)

I’m talking about heading to Turtle Beach (formally named Maluaka Beach) and sharing the beach and ocean with all the sea turtles.

It’s a fun place to s norkel and you are almost guaranteed to see Hawaiian sea turtles.


Another special place on Maui is the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. They have self-guided or guided walking tours of the property where you can learn about the farm’s history and future plans.

It’s located on the slopes of Haleakala in Maui’s “upcountry,” which is one of the prettiest spots on Maui.


I’m not much of a hiker, but I try to hike to I’ao Needle every time I visit Maui. It’s a short walk through a botanical garden and it’s easy enough that my kids can do it.

Iao Needle on Maui

Remember to bring bug spray with you, though!

This area is where King Kamehameha conquered the Maui army in 1790 and Maui joined the Hawaiian kingdom.

Advance reservations to enter I’ao Valley State Monument are now available online . The parking fee is $10 per vehicle. The additional non-resident entrance fee is $5 per person with no charge for children under three years old.

It’s definitely one of my favorite things to do in Maui Hawaii on a budget.

Find out more free things to do on Maui.

Hawaii on a Budget: Big Island

87. see a volcano.

While you can definitely visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and pay the $25 entry fee, if money is really tight, you can do it for cheaper.

Just head to the lava fields in Kalapana in the late afternoon or early evening (since lava viewing is best after dark.)

From there, you can either rent a bike or walk about 4 miles to the active volcano viewing area.

I wouldn’t suggest doing this with small children or if you are super directionally challenged because you’ll be hiking on loose lava rock in the dark.

But, if you are a decent hiker and are up for an adventure, this is one for the books! It’s the ultimate Hawaii vacation experience.


Kona coffee is famous worldwide because it’s the perfect place to grow coffee. This 20 mile stretch of the Kona slopes is home to many coffee farms.

Find out the best Kona coffee farms and tours worth booking by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids. Image of a woman wearing a bandana picking Kona coffee cherries on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Greenwell Farms , Rooster Farms , Mountain Thunder , and Heavenly Hawaiian offer free tours.

And if you want to learn more about the history of Kona coffee, visit the Kona Living History Farm . They charge admission, but I’ve heard it’s an amazing place to visit.


One of the most unique things to see on the Big Island is a lava tree. Head to the Lava Tree State Park (located off Pahoa-Pohoiki Road) to see a forest of lava trees.

Basically, after a lava flow swept through the area, the trees were coated in thick lava.

Kids will geek out overseeing them (as will adults!)

Find out more free things to do on the Big Island.

Hawaii on a Budget: Other Ways to Save Money in Hawaii

90. buy an entertainment book.

Another great way to plan Hawaiian vacations on a budget is to buy an Entertainment book .

Most of these deals are for visiting Oahu and they cover things like surfing lessons, ziplining, luaus, tours, etc. These great deals change from year to year.

These often go on sale for even bigger savings.


While you might use Groupon and Living Social for great deals in your home city, you can also check for deals when you travel to Hawaii.

In the past, we’ve scored discounted meals, boat rides, and luau deals. I just checked and I’m also seeing spa deals, parasailing, and so many tours perfect for your vacation to Hawaii!

It’s an awesome place to find Hawaii family vacation deals!


Whether this is your first trip to Hawaii or your 20th, always pick up the visitors magazine.

They are full of coupons that will save you money on food, shopping, and activities.


If you are in the military, there are a lot of amazing military discounts in Hawaii .

A lot of the hotels offer military discounts and there’s actually a military hotel called the Hale Koa .

You can also get 50% off of Atlantis Submarine Tours, discounted rates at Polynesian Cultural Center , and discounts and special opportunities at Pearl Harbor.

There are tons of Hawaii vacation deals for members of the military.

Find out how to plan a military vacation to Hawaii !


The timeshare presentations in Hawaii offer some amazing perks. I’ve seen boat rides, hotel stays, luaus, etc.

When I was younger, I remember sitting through timeshare presentations for fancy meals and Hilo Hattie gift certificates.

As long as you go in knowing you won’t be buying a timeshare and you are okay sitting through a presentation, it’s a great deal.


In Waikiki, there is an ABC Store on almost every corner. They have them all over Oahu and the other islands, as well.

Image of an ABC Store in Hawaii

If you plan on doing a lot of shopping at ABC Stores, make sure to save your receipts. They offer free gifts if you spend $100 or more. Usually, it’s a mug or calendar or something like that.

ABC Stores are one of the top places tourists shop on Hawaii trips. You can get everything you need for your Hawaii vacation here.


If you are tight on cash and want to give back during your time in Hawaii, you might think about joining a volunteer program on your Hawaii vacation.

Workaway is a program where you do volunteer work in exchange for lodging and meals.

Habitat for Humanity has some awesome Hawaii build programs where volunteers can participate in cultural experiences.

You can also do a multi-day volunteer trip to Haleakala with Friends of Haleakala National Park .


One of the coolest programs I’ve come across is with the Humane Society. You pay a nominal donation and you can borrow a dog for the day.

Grab a furry friend and go for a memorable hike in Hawaii.

Find out more about this cool program on Kauai and on the Big Island .


Before you book anything, do a quick Google search to see if there are any coupons or discount codes.

There are a bunch of sites with Hawaii coupons. And you can also use the Honey extension to see if there are any additional coupon codes.


It’s easy to spend a lot of money on souvenirs without even realizing it. Buying a few items here and there throughout your Hawaii vacation really adds up.

And chances are, it’s stuff you either aren’t going to use or that will break immediately.

So, try to buy items that you will actually use. Maybe it’s a t-shirt you are absolutely in love with. Or a sticker for your luggage. Or any sort of food item that you will eat.

And if you really want to get a cutesy souvenir, head to a local thrift shop. Chances are, you’ll find exactly what you are looking for at a fraction of the price. This is one of my secret budget tips.

Find out about the best Hawaiian souvenirs that are worth it!


Something I’ve been obsessed with lately is Airbnb Experiences . Basically, people offer to “host” an experience like a tour, lei-making class , photography session, or another unique adventure.

The prices are super reasonable plus, you get to connect with a local.


TravelZoo is similar to Groupon or Living Social but it’s completely focused on travel.

It’s a great place to find hotel deals and Hawaii travel packages. Of course, check the dates before you book to make sure it works with your Hawaii vacation.


Yes, Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals sometimes include airfare to Hawaii and Hawaiian hotels and vacation rentals.

Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines have had some pretty amazing Black Friday airfare deals.

And I’ve even seen Hawaiian vacation packages for the Hilton Hawaiian Village .

Keeping an eye on these insane deals is your best bet for planning the cheapest Hawaiian vacation.


Another fun thing to do in Hawaii is checking out a surfing competition. These are free to attend. If you’re on Oahu, check out the amazing North Shore surfing competitions.

Bring your own binoculars, snacks, and beach blanket, and get ready for hours of entertainment.


If you want to be a baller on a budget, stay somewhere cheap and just walk around the fancy resorts.

You can even order a drink from the pool bar and walk around. This makes a pretty cheap date night. Plus it’s a fun thing to do on a budget Hawaii vacation.


One of my favorite free things to do in Hawaii is come up with my own tour of Instagrammable spots.

Basically, search Instagram for the island you are going to and start saving photos of places with cool backdrops.

Then, group them by location and come up with an itinerary of where to go on your Hawaii vacation.

For more fun, pick up fresh fruit or flowers and use them as photo props.

Find out the best Instagrammable Spots on Kauai .

How to Visit Hawaii on a Budget Tips Wrap Up

Now you know how to plan the best Hawaii vacations for a fraction of the cost. And you know what to bring to Hawaii to save money as well as the cheapest island to visit in Hawaii.

Whether you are planning a Hawaiian honeymoon , solo adventure, or a family trip to Hawaii, there’s no reason you need to break the bank for your Hawaii vacation.

Planning a trip to Hawaii on a budget ? Check out free things to do on Kauai , cheap eats on Oahu , and free things to do on the Big Island .

21 thoughts on “105 genius tips for hawaii on a budget”.

I grew up in Hawaii! I moved to Seattle for college and stayed, but as a former resident, you’re on point with all these tips! It’s financially rough just going back to visit friend and family or for a high school reunion, and the tips you gave are all things I do!

Yes, Hawaii can be so expensive, even if you are heading back to stay with friends/family! Glad you agree with these tips!

Wow, so many ways to save money! Great tips! Very helpful to share with my visitors/clients traveling with family and friends.

Things are always changing, Koloa Rum is no longer the only distillery on Kauai. We now have Hanalei Spirits, though they have not yet opened a tasting room. https://www.hanaleispirits.com/

Oh that’s good to know! Once Hanalei Spirits opens a tasting room, I’ll add it!

You’re so lucky to have spent so much time in Hawaii, I loved my visit last year. These are some great tips I probably could have used, but will definitely be going again so really helpful

I hope you get to go back soon! So many amazing places to see!

Wowzers this is a comprehensive post! I especially loved the tip about camping, i’ll definitely add this to my travel list. 🙂

Glad to help! I couldn’t believe how many I came up with so quickly!

Goodness Marcie you have soooo many good tips!

I feel like once we make it to Hawaii, most of the things I’d want to do (hiking in the epic scenery, swimming and finding waterfalls) would be relatively cheap. Still, I would have never thought of tips like checking travel deals at costco. That is really smart! 😀

Yes, many of the outdoor activities (like hiking) are free, which helps a bunch. But there are SO many more ways to save money (without feeling like you’re on a budget vacation.)

I have been lucky enough to visit Hawaii several times and definitely can confirm some of these tips for saving money. Hawaii is not cheap but as you have listed there are many ways to make it work! I think the biggest thing is the single island and getting away from touristy areas. That and eat poke at every meal which I don’t mind at all!

Poke is the BEST! Sticking to one island is the easiest way to save a lot of $$$

Wow! i didn’ know there were so many things you could do in Hawaii on a budget. Love this!

Yes! It doesn’t have to be super expensive!

Wow, what a great post. I’d love to visit Hawaii, but find it very overwhelming to work out which island to go, how long to stay etc. Coming from Europe, Hawaii is a long way away, so I feel I might go there once…. so very tempted to island hopping… but then the prices rocket very quickly. Really need to sit down and work it out properly.

If you’re able to go for a month or so, you’d really be able to island hop and experience so many amazing things! It’s definitely worth a trip, but it’s quite a long flight from Europe.

Thanks for all these suggestions! We’re taking our third trip (thanks to my husband’s employer) and this time visiting Kauai. The trip is scheduled for mid-September, and I’m already checking for places to stay, etc. We really like the “Revealed” guide books, there are many suggestions and inside tips that have helped in our past two visits (Big Island and Oahu/Maui). We take a couple reusable bags to use for shopping, and a small insulated bag to pack sandwiches and snacks in the car. We have had excellent Airbnb rentals in Honolulu and just outside Volcano National Park. Can’t wait for our next adventure!

How awesome that your husband’s employer enables you to visit Hawaii! What a great perk!


There are tons of condos on each island in Hawaii. You might check Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO to see if you can find something in your price range.

Aloha, I too was born and raised in Hawaii, on Oahu, before it was a state. Just by 3 years tho. I lived on Maui at Seabury Hall (all girls school at the time). I totally agree on the Haleakala sunrise! Spectacular AND COLD, especially if there is snow! Take all the blankets and comforters with you. But of course tell the hotel first. Also good eats at Kula Lodge for a good hearty breakfast. I recommend (since you are already half way to Hana), to drive over for a couple hours of beach napping and continue on around Maui back to your hotel. Very full day. Also a great idea for hiking/camping in the crater of Haleakala is fun. 3 cabins, and the terrains are all different. One is a rain wetland with the state birds flying in and flying out of a protective open top cage. The Big Island is big, you really do not want to be in a car the whole in Hawaii. If you could leave/arrive from Kona, leave/arrive from Hilo would probably be best that way you get to see a lot of island. I should of mentioned at the beginning….decide what KIND of a vacation you want. If you just want to DO NOTHING, sit by beach and read and never leave hotel, there are islands for that. If you want to go from 120mph to 10mph (that means as soon as you start your vacation you are in slo mo) but than you might need a “jump”, a wakeup before going back to work, visit Waikiki (on Oahu) last . If you want to start fast and end slow, hit Oahu first and definitely 1 more island. Next time you know what you want and where to stay. A few more suggestions…..Muumuus are EXPENSIVE. Try the local thrift shop, garage sale or Goodwill. Even Kohls or Walmart have GREAT Hawaiian items to buy!!! Everytime I went home my rental convertible looked liked the “Hawaiian Hillbillies” (Beverly Hillbillies). Some large department stores will even send your bought items to your home, no need to pack. You just have to remember what you bought and you didn’t forget anyone. Personally, I hit the ABC stores for magnets and t-shirts, get the free coffee mug (great for large hands, ours have lasted 25+years) and of course do not forget the chocolate macadamia nuts! But most important…..watch EVERY sunset for the “green flash ” and as equally important… to reflect how important it is to take a time out of the Hurry days and watch the beautiful colors in the sky with a smile knowing what a great day it was and there will be another one tomorrow. Mahalo.

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plan trip to hawaii cheap

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Your Hawaii Vacation

Aloha, ocean views, sandy shores, and sunny climes—you’re on the ultimate Hawaii travel package. Surfing in Maui, whale watching in Kauai: Epic family vacation activities are endless across the archipelago’s six main islands: Kauai , Oahu , Molokai , Lanai , Maui , and Hawaii Island AKA Big Island. On the best Hawaii vacation packages for couples , you absolutely must plan an adrenaline-pumping visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Big Island. Here, a pair of lava-bubbling active volcanoes make this the hottest vacation ever. And when you’ve done exploring the dramatic scenery, relax, unwind, and indulge at one of Hawaii's many luxury hotels.

Top destinations in Hawaii

Makiki - Lower Punchbowl - Tantalus showing landscape views, a sunset and a city



The Latest Hawaii Vacation Packages

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Where to stay in Hawaii

Waikiki featuring landscape views, a sunset and a city

Famous for Waikiki Beach, this district boasts six beaches and a skyline filled with high-rises and resort hotels. Surfing enthusiasts can enjoy the ideal surf break, while Kalākaua Avenue offers luxury shopping and Kūhiō Avenue features diverse dining and nightlife options.

Maluaka Beach featuring landscape views, tropical scenes and a beach

Indulge in Hawai’i’s high life with a stay in this beautiful coastal area known for its luxury accommodation and secluded beaches.

Poipu showing a beach, tropical scenes and landscape views

Boasting high-end hotels, resorts, and two main shopping centers, Poʻipū offers a luxurious stay. Explore attractions like Allerton Garden, Mahaulepu Beach, and Spouting Horn for a memorable experience.

Diamond Head which includes a city, landscape views and a sunset

Diamond Head - Kapahulu - St. Louis

While visiting Diamond Head - Kapahulu - St. Louis, you might make a stop by sights like Waikiki Beach and Honolulu Zoo.

Ala Moana Beach Park showing surfing, a coastal town and tropical scenes

Situated along Oʻahu's southern shores, this district boasts a vast stretch of reef-protected white sandy beaches and the world's largest open-air shopping center, Ala Moana Center. Enjoy shopping, dining, and relaxing at Ala Moana Beach Park.

Hawaii Beach Vacation Packages

Get your fill of sun, sea and sand with one of our Hawaii Beach Vacation Packages . Whichever stunning island you choose to base yourself, there’s no shortage of glorious shorelines to sprawl out on, from Kalapaki Beach in Lihue to Polihua Beach in Lanai . Picture-perfect stretches like Lanikai Beach in Kailua and Waikiki Beach in Honolulu are other perfect places to book your vacation package in Hawaii.

If you want to wake up to gorgeous ocean views and the sound of waves, consider beachfront accommodations such as Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel in Hilo . This seaside sanctuary features an oceanfront pool, a garden and a bar/lounge. Another waterfront option for your vacation in Hawaii is Wailea Beach Resort in Wailea . Five swimming pools, waterslides and a spa help make this place a popular pick. When searching for your dream property, use our ocean view filter to find stays that are just a saunter from the sand.

Romantic Vacation Packages in Hawaii

Follow Cupid's arrow to one of the world's top honeymoon destinations. From sunset strolls to sharing gourmet meals and luxurious spa experiences, Hawaii is a vacation destination made for love. There's plenty of it in the air at The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort on Hawaii Island. With couples spa treatments, an infinity pool and beachfront dining, it's the perfect setting for a honeymoon. Or add Hotel Wailea, Relais & Chateaux to your Hawaii vacation package. This adults-only retreat on Maui spoils lovebirds with in-suite spa treatments, poolside cabanas and treehouse dining.

Whether you’re saying I do, celebrating your honeymoon or simply sneaking away for some “us time,” you’ll find your perfect match among our Hawaii Romantic Vacation Packages . Don’t forget to add some romantic adventures to your vacation package to Hawaii. Activities that’ll set your heart aflutter include a Lover's Lane 75-Minute Couple's Package and Sunset Dinner Cruise .

Book a Luxury Vacation Package

Why not treat yourself to a little luxury during your vacation in Hawaii? Imagine world-class spa treatments, sipping cocktails by the pool and luxuriating in your room's deep soaking tub. Live large at The Royal Hawaiian , a 5-star escape in Waikiki that features outdoor pools, a private beach area and upscale bars and restaurants. The Kahala Hotel & Resort in Honolulu is another 5-star option. An oceanfront swimming pool, fine dining restaurants and spa tubs are some of the things that'll make you feel like a VIP. Browse our Hawaii Luxury Vacation Packages and take your escape to the next level.

Where to Stay in Hawaii

The sun-drenched Pacific islands that make up the 50th state of the United States are the perfect place to disconnect, relax and have fun. If you're putting together a vacation package to Hawaii, pack your tropical shirt and roll out your beach towel in one of these top areas:

  • Honolulu : Located on Oahu , Hawaii's capital and biggest city offers something for every type of traveler. From incredible beaches and water sports to historic landmarks and energetic nightlife, stay here when you want to experience it all.
  • Lahaina : If you're a beach worshipper, there are lots of beautiful sandy stretches to sprawl out on in this coastal town on Maui . Chill out by the shore or get active on the water during your vacation in Hawaii.
  • Kailua-Kona : This tropical escape on Hawaii Island (known as Big Island) offers rugged coastal scenery, outdoor adventures and excellent snorkeling. Check out the many oceanside restaurants if you like dining with a view.
  • Kapaa : With stunning beaches, majestic waterfalls and lush, green landscapes, this town on the island of Kauai is perfect for outdoor types and nature lovers.

Things to Do in Hawaii

Whether you're a culture vulture, beach lover or an adrenaline junkie, there are plenty of things to see and do when you're in Hawaii for a vacation:

  • Historical : Learn about key moments in Hawaii's past at the USS Arizona Memorial , Kauai Museum and the historical town of Hilo .
  • Water Sports : Take a break from topping up your tan to have fun on the water. Try jet skiing in Maunalua Bay and Surfing Lessons On Waikiki Beach .
  • Nature : Go hiking on your vacation in Hawaii at Haleakala National Park , be wowed by Rainbow Falls and get up close to animals at Honolulu Zoo .
  • Culture : Peruse a rich collection of works at the Honolulu Museum of Art . If you'd like to know more about Hawaii's culture, visit Bishop Museum and Hana Cultural Center .
  • Relaxation : Soothe the body and mind at the Hawaiian Rainforest Spa . Alternatively, hit the reset button and unwind at Mohalu by Spa Grande .

For more inspiration, check out our guide on What to Do in Hawaii . You'll find an extensive range of tours and experiences to add to your vacation package to Hawaii.

Hawaii Essential Information

Prepare for your hawaii vacation with our essential travel info, hawaii hotel deals.

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Adventure Vacations

Frequently asked questions, discover the most popular places to visit in hawaii, waikiki beach.

Pack your shorts or bikini and surf, swim, or just sit back under a palm tree and enjoy the Aloha spirit at Hawaii’s most famous beach.

Kaanapali Beach

As one of the highest-ranking luxury beaches in the U.S., this stunning stretch of sand with crystal-clear water is lined with high-end hotels and shops.

Ala Moana Center

You can enjoy some retail therapy with a trip to Ala Moana Center, a popular shopping spot in Honolulu. Discover the area's beautiful sunsets, or seek out its surfing spots.

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How To Travel To Hawaii Cheaply

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Save money on your next flight

Skyscanner is the world’s leading flight search engine, helping you find the cheapest flights to destinations all over the world.

Dreaming of a Hawaiian getaway but worried about the costs? With some planning and flexibility, you can visit these stunning islands without breaking the bank. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Book flights in the off-season, snag deals on hotels, rent a condo, and take advantage of free activities to keep your Hawaii vacation budget-friendly .

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide money-saving tips for flights, accommodations, activities, food, and transportation to help you plan an affordable Hawaiian vacation.

Find Cheap Flights to Hawaii

Fly in the off-season.

The peak tourism season for Hawaii runs from mid-December through mid-April. During this busy time, flight prices tend to be at their highest. If your schedule allows, consider traveling in the off-season of early spring (after Easter) and fall when airfare prices usually drop by 20-40%.

Even the summer months can have good flight deals before the crowds return for winter holidays.

Be flexible with dates and airports

Give flexible travel dates to maximize choice over cheap rates. Weekday departures tend to be less expensive than weekend dates. Bargain flights also often have inconvenient layovers. Be open-minded towards direct or connecting flights from alternative airports like Oakland, San Jose, LAX, or Long Beach to discover lower fares.

Researching alternate route options increases your chances of uncovering a flight deal. Some possibilities include:

  • Fly into a neighboring island first, then catch an inter-island flight.
  • Take an initial flight to the West Coast, followed by a flight to Hawaii from those airports.

Use flight deal alerts and sites

Utilize flight deal websites like Scott’s Cheap Flights , Secret Flying , and AirFareWatchdog which track airfare sales to Hawaii. You can set up custom alerts tailored to your home airport and travel dates so tempting deals get delivered right to your inbox.

Following flight deals sites on social media is another easy way to get notifications on Hawaii sales and mistake fares which must be booked quickly before they disappear!

Save on Accommodations

Book a condo rental.

One of the best ways to save money on accommodations when visiting Hawaii is to book a condo rental. Condo rentals often have full kitchens, allowing you to cook some of your own meals and save on dining out. Many also have separate bedrooms, giving you more space than a standard hotel room.

Sites like VRBO , Airbnb , and VacationRentals.com offer a wide selection of condo rentals across the Hawaiian Islands.

Check for hotel deals and packages

Even when not traveling during peak seasons, Hawaii hotel rates can be high. However, some deals and discounted packages can be found, especially if you’re flexible on locations and travel dates. Sites like Priceline and Expedia let you easily compare rates across hotels.

Additionally, many Hawaiian hotels offer special packages that bundle room nights with extras like dining credits, spa treatments, or activity discounts. Checking a hotel’s website directly can uncover exclusive packages not found on third-party booking sites.

Consider hostels and vacation rentals

For budget-focused travelers, hostels and vacation rentals provide very affordable Hawaii accommodation options. Hostels offer basic dorm-style lodging and shared bathrooms at a fraction of a typical hotel price. Hawaii hostel choices include Hostel World Hawaii on Oahu and Maui Hostel in Lahaina.

Vacation rental sites like HomeAway and FlipKey list privately-owned condos, cabins, and even treehouses for rent across the islands.

As shown above, significant savings on nightly rates can be achieved by opting for alternative accommodations like condo rentals, hostels, or vacation home rentals rather than standard hotels. Pair these affordable lodging options with cooking some of your own meals and you can travel to Hawaii without breaking the bank.

Take Advantage of Free Activities

One of the best ways to save money when visiting Hawaii is to take advantage of the countless free activities available. From hiking trails to beaches to cultural sites, you can immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture without emptying your wallet.

Go hiking and explore nature

Hawaii has an abundance of spectacular natural sights that can be explored for free by going on a hike. Popular trails like the Diamond Head State Monument Trail on Oahu offer amazing 360 degree views of the Honolulu skyline and ocean at no cost.

The 4-mile round trip hike takes under 2 hours for moderate hikers. On Maui, the Pipiwai Trail winds through a magical bamboo forest leading up to the 400 foot Waimoku Falls. Remember to wear sturdy shoes, bring water, and apply sunscreen before venturing out into mother nature.

Visit local beaches and parks

Beat the heat with a trip to one of Hawaii’s world-renowned beaches, many of which offer free access. Hanauma Bay on Oahu is a snorkeler’s paradise with an abundance of tropical fish and sea turtles swimming close to shore. Entrance into the nature preserve is only $1 per person.

Magic Sands Beach on Hawaii Island is known for its sand that appears and disappears into four distinct shades throughout the year. The South Point Cliff Divers perform daily cliff diving ceremonies off the southernmost point in the USA.

Pack a lunch, lay in the soft sand, and relax under swaying palms at Hawaii’s beaches and coastal parks free of charge.

Experience Hawaiian culture

In addition to natural sights, learning about Hawaiian history and cultural traditions won’t cost you anything during an island getaway. Attend a live ukulele performance at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound in Waikiki where hula dancers sway to Hawaiian melodies as the sun sets over the ocean.

The scene reenacts Queen Liliuokalani’s last walk as monarch in 1893. Pay respects to King Kamehameha I, who united the islands, at the King Kamehameha I Statue in downtown Honolulu. A favorite free activity for families is watching Samoan fire dancers twirl flaming batons atop outrigger canoes during nightly Polynesian revue shows in front of beachfront resorts.

Embrace aloha spirit by gaining an appreciation for native arts, music, and customs in Hawaii.

Use Public Transportation to Get Around

TheBus is an affordable and convenient way to get around the main islands of Hawaii once you arrive. The public bus system connects most major towns and destinations across Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island with fares starting at just $2.50 per ride .

Many hotels and resorts offer free shuttle services to the nearest bus stop too.

TheBus has an extensive route system that can take you to popular attractions like Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, and even hike trailheads. Buses generally run from early morning until late evening with schedules posted at each stop.

You can plan your trip using the online bus locator that provides routes and arrival times.

If you’ll be riding TheBus frequently, consider purchasing a 4-day pass for $35 or a monthly pass for $70. Kids ages 6-17 can ride for just $1. Not sure which bus to take or where to get off? Bus drivers are usually happy to help anytime.

While public transportation can meet most travel needs once in Hawaii, renting a car allows greater flexibility to explore more remote destinations at your own pace. Some ways to save money on rental cars in Hawaii include:

  • Reserve the smallest car that will accommodate passengers and luggage
  • Check for deals on compact cars which tend to have lower rates
  • Look for inclusion of unlimited mileage and insurance when comparing rental quotes
  • Avoid renting vehicles at airport locations which tack on additional fees

Rental car rates average around $50 per day for an economy car if booked in advance online. Some companies offer additional markdowns for rentals of 1 week or longer too. Just be sure to calculate in elevated fuel costs driving around the islands – gas prices are higher than the mainland.

With scenic routes begging to be driven in Hawaii, a rental car allows pulling over at your leisure to capture photos or take on spur-of-the-moment adventures. Just plan for potential traffic congestion in larger cities during busy tourist seasons.

Eat and Drink on a Budget

Grocery shop.

One of the best ways to save money on dining in Hawaii is by grocery shopping. Many resort areas have large grocery stores nearby where you can buy ingredients to prepare simple meals. Making your own meals even a few times instead of eating out for every meal can lead to huge savings.

Some affordable and common Hawaiian foods to buy are seasonal fruits, baked goods, rice, Spam, salads, and fish.

When choosing which grocery store to shop at, try to find one that is popular with locals rather than a smaller convenient store. The big retailers like Times , Foodland , and Don Quijote often have better prices. You may even find some awesome deals or local specialties you can’t resist trying!

Food trucks and casual dining

Instead of dining at fancy restaurants every night, opt to eat at lower cost venues like food trucks, drive-ins, or small cafés at least a few times during your trip. Hawaiian plate lunch at a casual spot can be extremely tasty, convenient, and easy on your wallet.

Plate lunches typically include proteins like hamburger patties, fried fish, or teriyaki chicken served alongside staples like macaroni salad, white rice, and sometimes kimchi.

Food trucks are found all over Hawaii, especially near beaches and busy areas. You’ll often spot locals flocking to their favorite mobile kitchens during lunch and dinner hours. Situated along the North Shore of Oahu, the town of Haleiwa has dozens of food trucks selling everything from fresh fruit bowls to tacos for great prices.

Happy hour specials

Enjoying discount dining at happy hours is a popular way for visitors to cut costs in Hawaii. Many restaurants offer special menu deals for a few hours before actual happy hour with heavily reduced or even free appetizers when you purchase a drink.

Quality happy hour deals on the Islands draw in both tourists and locals looking to take advantage of lower prices on drinks and pu-pus (Hawaiian for “appetizers”).

Some luxury resorts offer the best happy hour specials you’ll find with incredible sunset views to boot. Before your trip, research restaurants nearby your hotel that promote daily early evening dining deals.

Arrive early to grab a table and enjoy half-off starters and cocktails just in time for the sunset! 🍹 🏝

With strategic planning across flights, hotels, activities, food, and transportation, you can have an amazing Hawaiian getaway without overspending. Focus on traveling in the off-season, being flexible, taking advantage of deals, and enjoying Hawaii’s natural beauty and culture.

Have a relaxing and affordable island adventure!

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Jane Smith is a Hawaii resident and author born and raised on the island of Oahu. Her Hawaiian heritage shines through in her writing, infusing it with the Aloha spirit and local flavor.

Jane draws inspiration from the tropical island lifestyle - outrigger canoeing at sunrise, beach picnics, hiking to hidden waterfalls. Her works immerse readers in the beauty and culture of Hawaii.

An avid surfer since childhood, Jane often wakes early to catch waves along the North Shore. She also enjoys practicing Hawaiian crafts like lei-making, lauhala weaving, and kapa cloth printing.

When not writing or adventuring outdoors, you can find Jane sipping mai tais at the local tiki bar, listening to ukulele music at the night market, or cooking up a big pot of stew at home.

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We are proud to offer exclusive vacation packages, most with rates under $1,000. These packages include airfare, car rental, and hotel stay for six to eight days. Visiting different islands, or "island-hopping" as we call it, is highly recommended because each island has its own distinct "personality."

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Hawaii.com has handpicked the best vacation package deals. The all-inclusive vacation packages include airfare to Hawaii, car rental, and hotel stay for up to eight days or more. Please keep in mind that rates for some of these trip packages change weekly, so if you see a vacation deal at a price you like, you’ll definitely want to book it. We also offer deals on luaus, dinner cruises, golf, daily breakfast and more.

Getting The Best Vacation Package Deal

A cheap vacation package doesn’t need to feel, well, “cheap.” The hotels featured in these all-inclusive offers are three star hotels or better and many of them are beautiful beachfront properties but you save when you book air + flight.

Our Top 3 Must Stay at Hotels

We have three hotels that we highly recommend: Kaanapali Beach Hotel and Royal Lahaina Resort on Maui, and Royal Kona Resort on the Big Island. Both Royal Lahaina Resort and Royal Kona Resort offer “Best Price Guarantee” as well as a ton of options for creating your perfect vacation package. And Kaanapali Beach Hotel goes above and beyond to ensure that they provide the most value possible to visitors like you. Known as the “Most Hawaiian Hotel,” Kaanapali Beach Hotel keeps drawing its guests back with its authentic Hawaiian hospitality.

Looking for Luxury Hotels?

Looking for something a little more luxurious? No problem. Check out our lists of the best hotels by island. If money is not so much the issue, we recommend Montage Kapalua Bay on Maui and Mauna Kea Resort on the Big Island. Both of these 5 star resorts are cozied up to beaches that have been voted #1 Beach in America by Dr. Beach. In addition, Montage Kapalua Bay is Hawaii’s newest Forbes Five Star property. Another bonus? They both usually offer “get the 4th night free” specials.

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Good to know

Faqs - booking hawaii flights, i’m traveling to big island. which airport should i choose when booking flights to hawaii.

The best airport for passengers traveling to Big Island will probably depend on the reason for your trip. If you’re going mainly for the resorts and beaches on the West Kona side, then the best airport is Kona International Airport. If you’re going for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, then the best airport is Hilo International Airport.

I want to hike in Hawaii. Which island should I travel to?

Kauai, Big Island, Molokai, Oahu, and Maui are the best islands in Hawaii for hiking. Big Island, Oahu, and Maui are all served by major international airports with nonstop flights from the continent. Kauai and Molokai also have airports, but travelers from the States will need to travel to Honolulu (in Oahu) first, and then take an inter-island flight to their final destination.

How can I travel from the Honolulu airport to Waikiki beach?

Waikiki Beach is less than 20 min from the Honolulu Airport. You can travel by private shuttle ($18 per person on average), taxi ($30 per ride on average), or you can use a rideshare service ($23-30 per ride on average). If you’re planning on exploring the island beyond Waikiki, you can rent a car at the airport. You’ll find offices for Avis, Budget, Hertz, National, and Enterprise at the baggage claim area.

Which airports in Hawaii are closer to the beach?

The airports in Hawaii closest to the beach are Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu on Oahu island (13 min to Ala Moana Beach Park), Kona International Airport on Big Island (7 min to Wawaloli Beach Park), and Kahului Airport on Maui island (6 min to Kanaha Beach Park).

How long is the flight to Hawaii?

An average nonstop flight from the United States to Hawaii takes 7h 56m, covering a distance of 3396 miles. The most popular route is Los Angeles - Honolulu with an average flight time of 5h 35m.

What is the cheapest flight to Hawaii?

The cheapest ticket to Hawaii from the United States found in the last 72 hours was $46 one-way, and $176 round-trip. The most popular route is from Los Angeles to Honolulu and the cheapest round-trip airline ticket found on this route in the last 72 hours was $184.

Which airlines fly to Hawaii?

Korean Air, Hawaiian Airlines & United Airlines fly the most frequently from the United States to Hawaii.

What are the most popular destinations in Hawaii?

The next most popular destinations are Kahului (16%) and Lihue (11%). Searches for flights to Kailua-Kona (11%), to Hilo (2%) and to Kapalua (0.8%) are also popular.

How does KAYAK’s flight Price Forecast tool help me choose the right time to buy?

KAYAK’s flight Price Forecast tool uses historical data to determine whether the price for a given destination and date is likely to change within 7 days, so travelers know whether to wait or book now.

Top tips for finding cheap flights to Hawaii

  • Looking for cheap airfare to Hawaii? 25% of our users found tickets to Hawaii for the following prices or less: From Honolulu $69 one-way - $143 round-trip, from Los Angeles $137 one-way - $244 round-trip, from New York John F Kennedy Intl $298 one-way - $629 round-trip
  • Book at least 1 week before departure in order to get a below-average price.
  • High season is considered to be June and July. The cheapest month to fly from the United States is January.
  • Enter your preferred departure airport and travel dates into the search form above to unlock the latest Hawaii flight deals.
  • If you’re looking for beach- and family-friendly destinations when booking your flights to Hawaii, look for flights into the islands of Kauai, Big Island, Maui, and Oahu. They are served by Lihue Airport (LIH), Kona International Airport (KOA) and Hilo International Airport (ITO), Kahului Airport (OGG), and Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), respectively.
  • If you want to take your time exploring the islands, you can fly from the mainland into Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu on Oahu island, and then take domestic flights to the other islands. Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest are two of the companies that operate inter-island flights.
  • Most first-time travelers to Hawaii choose Maui as their destination, but keep in mind that there are fewer nonstop flights from the continental US landing at Maui’s Kahului Airport. Most flights from the mainland connect via the Honolulu airport on Oahu island.
  • If you’re planning to go on whale-watching tours, look for flights to Hawaii on the island of Kauai. Although practically every island is excellent for whale-watching activities, Kauai has a greater range of possible spotting locations.
  • For golfers, Hawaii means golf courses that are as gorgeous as they are high-quality. If you don’t know where to start, consider traveling to the airport of Oahu. With 37 golf clubs, it’s the island with the most golf courses in America’s 50th state.

Top 5 airlines flying to Hawaii

My tv was broken on the flight which is disappointing when you pay for a seat and expect a service

Always delays from Boston to Salt lake but this time was very long. Don’t understand while they board the passengers and then make them sit in the plane

There was no wheelchair or wheelchair escort at the gate..unacceptable

Delayed 4 hours because of maintenance issue they knew about all day. Get another plane. Time is precious!

no wifi and the aircraft was very old with tiny 4” screens.

Did not wait long for wheelchair and attendant to arrive after checking in. Wheeled down to plane Was greeted with a smile when entering the plane Choice of snacks was very limited to 2 items. Seats are uncomfortable. My butt was sore after the 1st hour of flying. Needs better cushioning at seats.

Did not wait long for wheelchair and attendant to arrive after checking in. Wheeled down to plane Was greeted with a smile when entering the plane Choice of snacks was very limited to 2 items.

One hour delayed departure resulted in problems with planned ground transportation at my destination.

Service for food to our seat was a bit slow. Snack choices were just pretzels or baked chips. My seat cushion was not attached. Other than Barbie, video choice were not very good or current.

No WiFi No TV Bag of chips I guess it could be worse.

Boarding was friendly and quick. While the plane model was older with no live tv, the entertainment was full of movies and tv shows. All food was available. Pilots were very communicative with status of the flight. Flight landed on time.

Amazing comfortable chairs great snacks super friendly staff pilots did excellent job. Smooth sailing all the way. Definitely be flying United more.

Easy boarding in group 2. Landed 1/2 hr early. Delicious cookie snack.

I was delighted that we were able to get on the 4:40 pm flight rather than our original booking at 6:55 pm!! Other than that, the flight was comfortable and landed early😊

Good. The wife was not working but then it got resolved.

Missed this flight due to delays from my previous flight

We waited too long to get water while the plane was on the Tarmac awaiting de-icing.

The flight from Ottawa to Chicago took a lot longer due to DC in Ottawa. We got to Chicago and went to our gate to catch our flight. We only had nine minutes I found that very stressful.

Flight was delayed by over an hour and gate checked bags took 15 minutes to be delivered to the jet bridge.

Got automatically assigned middle seats unless you fork out extra money for a seat assignment, not impressed.

It was right on time and crew were very courteous

Charlotte airport is miserable. For American I always have to connect from the end of terminal E to the end of terminal B and the stupid moving walkways are always broken. And the flights to all seem of least importance so they never leave on time in either direction.

Cut off carry ons, had to check, got on and there was plenty of bin space. Disappointing.

Nice clean modern plane no issues with the b flight

Being back games on the in-flight entertainment. Also your flight attendants need a break, raise, or overall attitude adjustment.

Flight attendants used to be nice to people. And any flight over 5 hours should have some kind of food other than tiny pretzels and one drink comped.

Great flight. Boarding was efficient and quick. On time departure and smooth flight. Flight arrived early at destination. Good experience.

I had purchased a ticket that allowed one check bag yet I was still charged for my bag! the lady at the ticket counter was rude and condescending.

Overall pleasant was delayed and caused transportation issue when landing

Literally the worst experience ever and I had my service dog with me. Flight was supposed to leave at 1:51 PM but the plane arrived late. They boarded us around 3 PM and kept us on the plane for an hour saying that due to weather conditions in Miami, we could not takeoff yet. After waiting for an hour, they deplaned. And then they will not give us our bags back that we could just leave and schedule for another flight. Every hour they kept updating saying we have to wait another hour without any explanation as to what was going on. Eventually, I went to customer service to change my ticket, but by the time I made it to the front of the line, they started boarding my flight again. And then when we got onto the flight, they said there were two flight attendants That were past their shift. They kept us on the plane for about another 40 minutes until they told us they had no other flight attendance and had to deplane again. Then I gave us hotel vouchers and told us we would be on a flight at 6 AM the next day. At this point it is about 9 PM. I get to the hotel with my dog, who hasn’t been able to go potty for about eight hours. When I arrived at the hotel, I got a text alert saying my flight has been canceled at 6 AM and they moved past to 5 AM, however the hotel shuttle doesn’t leave early enough to make it to the airport for 5 AM flight. So me and some other passengers got a cab after about three hours of sleep to get back to the airport. This was the worst experience ever.

Never made it to Atlanta due to the horrible policy of having to be at the gate 1 hour prior to departure. I was at the airport and the plane had not left Baltimore, but was not allowed to board.

Was not able to board the flight due to a horrible policy that I needed to be at the gate 1 hour before departure. I lost money on this and the connecting flight due to having to book on another airline. I was flying to Florida for my mother's cancer surgery in the afternoon.

Lack of accessable charging stations, very uncomfortable seats the savings are not worth it when nickled and dimed for amenities that are standard on other airlines

Small water and small chips 10 dollars is insane. Pluse almost 200 for a carry on and luggage also crazy. Otherwise was on time that's good

I was charged $99 for a carryon on the 4th out of 4 flights only. It was placed under the seat just like the other times. Ridiculous.

Overall good service and good flight. Flights were quick and early.

Never got on the plane! My 2pm flight became 4am so I had to book southwest!

Flight was delayed...not horribly late. Just before push back engine shut down for a quick replacement item that took about five minutes. After that, everything was smooth and the pilot was able to make up time in the air so that our arrival time was not too far off the original anticipated arrival time.

So bad. The check in process was laborious and the check in agent didn't seem to know how to manage the process efficiently and was confused about how to check in my son's sports equipment. The baggage fees were outrageous and so expensive. $90 for a carry on bag? And $200 additional for 2 check ins. The security lines were insanely long and the terminal was not very nice in the Spirit area. $5 for a water on board. It was my first and last time flying Spirit - I tried to save $ by flying them due to the accommodating schedule but I should have paid for Southwest, because it would've actually ended up less expensive due to the free bags with Southwest. There were no charging ports on the airplane, no wifi and really uncomfortable seating. The flight crew were great though, courteous and efficient in their boarding. Flight was delayed 1 hour, but we made up 15 minutes in flight.

Well those seats! Man! On a short flight tolerable but too stiff and lack of cushioning make a longer flight uncomfortable. Good leg room tho, but I’m only 5’3”….

Flying frontier reminded me of flying with my family in the 80’s in all of the worst ways possible. From poor customer service to little to no technology. The plane was dirty old and also stuck in the 80’s. From their seatbelts to not having anywhere to charge our phones the seats and the equipment I wasn’t sure if I was being punked or thrown back in time. Needless to say I don’t see myself flying frontier ever again.

4 hour delay because they used our aircraft to fly a different segment (per the captain)

Lost baggage on my connecting flight. 24 hours later, still no update on my bags.

They lost my baggage on my connection flight, it’s been 24 hours since I put my claim in and still no update on my bags.

As per ultra-low-cost-carrier model, you must adjust to a minimalist approach (or, pay-as-you-go mentality) when evaluating Frontier. That said, here's the pro/con of this trip. PROs Pricing. Incredibly cheap: $30 roundtrip(!!) PDX-PHX. Hard to complain. Schedule: Direct both ways. Pilot made up time and we got in 15-20 mins early each way. Aircraft. Frontier flies Airbus metal, and the aircraft are pretty new. Seating. Airline status-match got me upgraded 'Stretch' seating (their premium economy). *Excellent* legroom. The leather trimmed seats were adequately comfortable. Some of these upgraded seats have recline (this flight did not), and larger tray tables. Compared to standard Frontier economy, which has very tight seating, and ridiculously small tray tables, it was quite nice. Aircrew: The flight attendants on both legs were top tier. Experience, confidence, and customer service skills exceeded what I have seen on the legacy carriers. This is not always true with Frontier, but this team was exemplary. Food-for-sale. Frontier offers no complimentary snacks/bevs except ice water. Purchased a cheese pack and it was adequate and about as expensive as you'd see on a legacy carrier. CONs No power at seats. True on all Frontier flights, but a bummer nonetheless. Bring a battery. No inflight entertainment. Load your own offline before flying. No wifi available. Honestly, with Frontier's upsell model, it still surprises me they don't equip their planes for this and use it as a revenue stream. Heck, for a $30 rt flight, I'd probably have paid $10-15 each way for wifi + movies. Overall, you know going in about the CONs of the carrier model, so really the complaints are minor. I had a day trip to Phoenix for a $30 flight. Great value.

I had to cancel within 1hour of the reservation an they put you through hell to . no live customer service desk. I'm handy caped and they make it almost impossible to cancel. They are steeling my money. You should not have that airline on your site. Contact me and I will give you all info. Of what the are doing to me just notable treatment they are set up like that to take people

The flight was delayed and I had to cancel because I would have missed my connection and there were no other flights for the next two days. They also lost my bag!!

They didn’t bother to restock the plane before we left, so most items on the menu were not available.

they charge too much when you arrive in the air port

The flight was canceled, then delayed twice, we were moved gates twice. Short staff at the counter and check in. We waited for our flight 9 hours. Will never use Frontier ever again, or Spirit.

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The Best Time to Visit Hawaii for Low Prices and Beautiful Weather

These are the best times to visit Hawaii, according to your travel preferences.

plan trip to hawaii cheap

Elizabeth Rhodes is a special projects editor at Travel + Leisure , covering everything from luxury hotels to theme parks to must-pack travel products. Originally from South Carolina, Elizabeth moved to New York City from London, where she started her career as a travel blogger and writer.

plan trip to hawaii cheap

Hawaii is a perennially popular destination for many reasons. The Aloha State is home to an extraordinary culture, pristine landscapes, and idyllic beaches. If you're searching for the best time to visit Hawaii, we've got you covered. The islands are beautiful at any time of year, but individual preferences can dictate the best time to book your tropical vacation. To help you decide, you can think of the state's calendar in the following way.

  • High Seasons: June to July and the month of December
  • Shoulder Seasons: January to May and August to November

Whether you want to save a few bucks, find uncrowded attractions, or spot a majestic humpback whale, here are the best times to visit Hawaii.

Michela Buttignol/Travel+Leisure

Most Popular Times to Visit Hawaii

With an annual visitor count that regularly approaches 10 million, Hawaii is beloved throughout the year. However, some periods are busier than others. According to the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, the most popular months for tourists are almost always June, July, and December (in some configuration). July usually takes the top spot — as it did in 2022, when it drew more than 919,000 visitors to the islands.

This aligns with the fact that Hawaii is a popular destination for families during school breaks. Summer vacation attracts many travelers, and so does winter break, especially among visitors from cold climates who'd like to spend their holidays singing "Mele Kalikimaka" on a warm, sunny beach .

Spring is another time that can draw considerable crowds. In addition to bringing American spring breakers, spring also draws Japanese travelers celebrating the so-called Golden Week , a stretch in late April and early May when four holidays are celebrated over seven days.

Best Times to Visit Hawaii for Smaller Crowds

Since school breaks are the most popular times in Hawaii , the months when school is in session tend to draw the smallest crowds. February and September consistently rank near the bottom of the tourism board's list of busiest months — in 2022, they saw 630,000 and 703,000 visitors respectively — and the months surrounding them tend to be quiet, too.

Given the holidays that happen in the spring, though, fall is perhaps the best time to plan a trip if you're looking for a long stretch of uncrowded days. There are fun events to be found at this time of year, too, like the Aloha Festivals in September and October's Hawaii Food & Wine Festival.

Best Times to Visit Hawaii for Good Weather

The weather in Hawaii is consistently warm, with temperatures slightly lower in the winter months (November to April) than in the summer (May to October). Hawaii's average daily winter temperature at the beach is 78 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average daily summer temperature is 85 degrees, according to the Hawaiian Tourism Authority . Water temperatures are usually pleasant, too: they average around 74 degrees most of the year but inch up to around 80 degrees in the summer.

Rainfall is at its lowest in Hawaii from April through October, but even the wetter winter months aren't too bad. Rain is most common on the northeastern (or windward) sides of the Hawaiian islands, meaning sunseekers can stick to the leeward southwestern edges for the best chance of clear skies. Hawaiian rain showers are also famous for producing rainbows — so drizzly days have their perks.

The timing of severe weather can sometimes be hard to predict, since tropical storms and cyclones can happen year-round in the Pacific. But the Hawaii Department of Health warns that hurricane season officially runs from June through November.

Best Times to Visit Hawaii for Lower Prices

Hawaiian Airlines reports that traveling to the state is generally cheapest in the shoulder seasons of late spring and early fall — and they should know, considering they operate both nonstop flights to Hawaii from the United States, Asia, and the South Pacific, as well as inter-island flights that can get you from one Hawaiian island to another. For more savings, the airline suggests booking your flights so you're arriving and departing on weekdays, not weekends. Generally speaking, hotel rates soar in Hawaii during the Christmas and New Year holidays in late December and early January, and again during spring break and summer vacation dates. So, if you want to cut costs on both accommodations and airfare, avoid those times of the year.

Another way to visit without worrying about airfare and hotel costs is to hop aboard a Hawaiian cruise . Choose an itinerary that visits outside of the peak tourist seasons, and you'll have great odds of experiencing all that Hawaii has to offer without any exorbitant on-shore costs.

Best Times to Go Surfing in Hawaii

Visitors and locals can surf year-round on Hawaii's famous waves, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you're planning to hang ten . Waves are usually larger during the winter months, says the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, especially on the islands' north-facing shores, so conditions aren't ideal for beginners learning to surf.

If you want to watch the experts tackle some big waves, though, this can be a fun time to visit. Some of the world's greatest surf contests happen in Hawaii during the winter, like the Vans Triple Crown — held on Oahu's North Shore every year since 1983 — and the Eddie Aikau Invitational , held any winter when waves consistently reach 40 feet in height.

Best Times to Go Whale Watching in Hawaii

Humpback whales can be seen off the islands' coasts from December through May, so visitors who come to Hawaii with whale watching in mind will be in luck for much of the year. The peak of the season is generally considered to be January, February, and March — that's when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls on the public to help monitor whales and contribute to its annual Sanctuary Ocean Count .

Worst Times to Visit Hawaii

In an environment as beautiful as Hawaii, it's hard to call any season a "bad time" to visit. But if you want to avoid high prices and giant crowds at the islands' most popular destinations , you might consider skipping the busy months of June, July, and December.

No matter when you visit, bear in mind that Hawaii has a unique ecosystem and a vibrant Indigenous culture — both of which have sometimes been put at risk by overtourism. If you travel to the islands, do so responsibly by respecting the locals you meet, keeping a safe distance from wildlife, and patronizing Hawaiian-owned businesses when you can. Be sure, as well, to prepare adequately for any outdoor activities you want to try. There's never a good time to be stuck on a steep mountain trail or stranded in choppy waters!

Hawaii Vacation Guide Logo 6

Planning a Trip to Hawaii in 2024: 15 essential details

Hawaii trip planning

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase through my links we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read about our affiliate policies here .

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If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii in 2024, you’re in for a treat. With sparkling waters, stunning sand beaches, waterfalls, volcanoes, and more, Hawaii is an amazing vacation destination. After living in Hawaii for five years (and now making multiple trips back per year), we learned a thing or two about planning the perfect vacation.

Here are the best tips that you need to know to help you have an amazing trip, whether it’s your first time or your 50th:

Jump to some of our most helpful resources: – We’ll help you pick which island is right for you – Learn about the best time to visit Hawaii – Head over to our Where to Stay directory to find the perfect resort or vacation rental – Get all the details on the cost of a Hawaii Vacation for a family and the cost for two

Planning a Trip to Hawaii: What to know before your trip

1. can you visit maui in 2024.

The short answer is: Yes, you can visit Maui in 2024 and the island is welcoming visitors.

After the devastating Lahaina fire in August of 2023, many people cancelled their trips. Travel to the area was discouraged as the community, government, and nonprofits worked to stabilize the area.

While Lahaina is a culturally significant area and was a vibrant community, travel to the town is closed for the foreseeable future as it’s being rebuilt. However, the remainder of Maui is open and welcoming visitors. The other areas of the island were not damaged by the fire in Lahaina.

You can read more on our Maui Fire Update page .

2. What island should you visit?

The first and most important step in planning a trip to Hawaii is to pick the island or islands you want to visit. While the islands do share similarities, there are enough differences that it’s important to spend time deciding which island is right for you.

This video we made will help you pick the perfect island for your trip. But if you’re short on time, and can’t watch it just yet we have  a quick quiz to help you narrow down your options .

Head to Oahu if : you enjoy the nightlife, great food, and a cosmopolitan vacation. It’s also the  best island in Hawaii for hiking .

Fly to Maui if : beaches, snorkeling , and great resorts are your thing.  It’s also the best Hawaiian island for snorkeling .

Pack your bags for the Big Island if : volcanoes, adventure, and swimming with manta rays is on your bucket list.

Kick your feet up in Kauai if : you love jagged cliffs, lush landscapes, food trucks , and a quieter, slower pace.

3. What’s the best time of year to visit Hawaii?

There is truly no bad time to visit Hawaii, but there are some factors that make certain times of the year more optimal than others. When we think of the best time to visit Hawaii (or the worst ) we like to break down when to visit based on the best weather, the best cost, and the fewest crowds.

In general, we think that the best time to visit any Hawaiian island is during the shoulder season: September/October and April/May. 

Hawaii trip planning weather

Here’s how we came to that decision:

Hawaii is located in the tropics, which means that you will have warm weather year-round. But there are definitely months of higher rainfall. And if you want to have the best chance of avoiding rain on your trip, you shouldn’t visit during those months.

The chart below breaks down the average rainfall by month for each island. Note, rain varies on different sides of each island — we are showing average rainfall for one popular visitor destination on each island.

planning a trip to Hawaii

A trip to Hawaii is expensive. And coming during a peak time, like between Christmas and New Year, can make your trip even more expensive. If you want your travel dollars to go further and get better deals on accommodations and flights, the best time to visit is during May, September, October, and November. During these months you’ll find better deals on hotel rooms and vacation rental stays. Our full cost breakdown for a family of four to Oahu helps explain the costs.

If you want to know how we budget, book, and reduce the cost of our travel, check out our article on booking a trip to Hawaii .

Avoiding the crowds can mean the difference between getting on the boat tour that you’re excited about or staying on shore. Or finding parking at the beach that you want to visit.

Just like most vacation destinations, Hawaii has very clear busy periods and slower periods. The  Hawaii Tourism Authority does a great job of tracking visitor  arrivals to Hawaii and it’s clear that if you want to avoid crowds, February, April, May, September, and October are the months to visit.

That said, if you’re coming to Hawaii for something very specific, like whale watching, you’re going to be a little less flexible with your timing. Whale season runs from mid-December through mid-April, so showing up outside of those months would be a disappointment.

Related read:  This is the worst time to visit Hawaii  (we really try to avoid this period if possible!)

Hawaii Trip Planning

4. How long should your trip to Hawaii be?

Getting away for a vacation can be difficult, but you want to stay long enough to make it worth your while. Hawaii is not a quick trip, even from the west coast. Plan on a 5-hour plane ride and a few hour time difference. So heading to Hawaii for just a few days will make your trip feel rushed and exhausting.

We think that the minimum amount of time you should plan for a trip to Hawaii is one week. During that week you’ll be able to stay on one island and explore a few different areas. You can make the most of your time by using one of our step-by-step itineraries.

If you can, stay longer and see more. And if you plan to island hop , your trip needs to be much longer than one week.

If you know what island you’re planning to head to, you can dive into more of our advice with these articles:

  • How many days do you need on Oahu?
  • How many days do you need on Maui?
  • How many days do you need on Kauai?
  • How many days do you need on the Big Island?

5. Where should you stay? Hotel or vacation rental?

plan trip to hawaii cheap

Once you know what island you’re visiting, it’s time to book your accommodations. The first big decision comes down to booking a hotel or a vacation rental.

Stay in a hotel if you’re looking for a resort experience: big pools, great service, and daily housekeeping. Book a vacation rental if you are traveling with a group, want more space, and would prefer to have a kitchen instead of eating out every meal.

Still on the fence? You can  read our full breakdown of whether you should choose a hotel or vacation rental for your Hawaii vacation .

If you know what island you’re visiting, we have specific advice on where to stay on each island — locations, hotels, and vacation rentals. Check out our island-specific travel guides:

Oahu Travel Guide

Maui Travel Guide

Big Island Travel Guide

Kauai Travel Guide

Plus! We have a full Where to Stay directory to share our favorite picks for hotels and vacation rentals on each island.

6. Do you need a rental car?

To fully enjoy your vacation, you probably need to rent a car. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rent it for the entire duration of your stay, especially if you’re staying in Waikiki.

plan trip to hawaii cheap

If you’re planning a trip to Oahu and you’re staying in Waikiki, there may be days where your rental car is never used. There’s a lot to do within that 2-mile strip! You can save on expensive hotel parking fees by just renting a car on days that you want to explore the rest of the island. Rental car companies have offices in Waikiki which makes it convenient to pick up a car and take it out for the day.

There is also a car share company, Drive Hui, that is available in Waikiki.

On the other islands, it’s a bit trickier to go without a car. To see and explore, you’ll probably want to book one. We love using  Discount Hawaii Car Rental  to help us get the best price for a rental car on each island.

Set on not getting a car for your entire trip? Here are some  creative ways to visit Maui without a rental car and here is an itinerary for Oahu without a rental car .

7. How much does a trip to Hawaii cost?

Let’s be blunt: a trip to Hawaii is never cheap. There are definitely ways to save money, but it’s still an expensive destination to visit.

To help you get an idea of how much you should plan on spending (or how much you’ll need to save up), we calculated the cost for a family of 4. We estimate that an average trip cost for a family of four for 10 days is approximately $13,000. You can  read all about how we got that Hawaii trip cost estimate here . But remember this is an initial estimate. Your trip cost will vary based on when you go, what island you visit, and how you want to spend or save your money.

How does an (almost) free trip to Hawaii sound? With all our Hawaii travel, we’ve nailed down using points to book luxury vacations practically free. We started our sister site Booked With Points to show you how to use points and miles in Hawaii too!

Related reads:   What is the cheapest (and most expensive) island to visit? How Much Does a Trip to Hawaii Cost for Two People?

Hawaii trip planning Maui

8. How far in advance should you book your trip to Hawaii?

The travel tip we give over and over is: for the best vacation experience, book early. Don’t get disappointed with the lack of availability of rental cars, completely sold-out tours and luaus, and no restaurant reservation availability.

To avoid disappointment, book these things early:

Rental Cars

We recommend booking a rental car when you book a flight. That way you know you have something reserved for you and you won’t be stuck with a 2 door coupe for $500/day for your family of five.

Because it’s important to book your rental car early, we always use and recommend  Discount Hawaii Car Rental . They almost always have the best prices (seriously we’ve saved thousands with them), they book with national carriers, and you don’t have to pre-pay your reservation. So you’re welcome to check prices as often as possible and if you find that prices have dropped, you can cancel your reservation and just make a new one.

Right now we’re seeing some seriously low plane fares from the mainland to Hawaii so people are snatching up seats before looking at the rest of their trip. While plane tickets are cheap lodging is absolutely not. You may be able to find some deals here and there, but we recommend looking at (or even better, booking!) lodging when you book that flight.

Hawaii Trip Planning Tours and Activities

Tours and activities

If there is a specific tour or activity that you know you want to do, consider booking it a few months in advance. Luaus and popular tours book up very early, especially during the busier months.

We’ve put together  a list of our favorite tours on each island , to help you get started planning. It took us 18 months and a lot of testing out tours, but we have a list of tours for each island that we’re excited to share.

We have discounts with many of our favorite tour companies, find all our Hawaii Vacation Guide Coupon Codes here .

Entry tickets

There are a number of natural landmarks in Hawaii that require a ticketed entry. The state is trying to protect the natural resources and land by making sure that each spot doesn’t have too many visitors at one time. But with some advanced planning, you can secure your ticketed entry to some of these beautiful locations.

A few popular spots that require ticketed entry include:

  • Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve: tickets may be reserved two days in advance of your visit.  Book a Hanauma Bay reservation here .
  • Haleakala Sunrise Entry: bookings can be made 60 days in advance (with additional tickets being released two days prior to the date you want to visit).  Book sunrise reservations here . Also consider,  should you go to Haleakala for sunrise or sunset ?
  • Haena State Park: Plan your visit to this park on the north shore of Kauai and  book tickets 30 days in advance .

We lay out all the necessary reservation timelines in our island itineraries.  They make your planning so much easier .

“So excited. We have been  loving your itinerary !!! We would have paid triple the price for this. It’s so valuable!” – Sara C. 

Hawaii Trip Planning restaurants


If you are hoping to hit up the most popular restaurants in Hawaii, planning ahead is crucial. But how far in advance they accept reservations varies. For example, Mama’s Fish House on Maui accepts reservations 6 months in advance. But Merriman’s on Maui only accepts reservations 30 days in advance. Here are our favorite Wailea and Kihei restaurants , if you plan to go to Maui.

Don’t forget:  all of our island itineraries  have specific instructions on when and how to make reservations for restaurants, activities, and sights on your trip. 

Leaving Maui right now (literally about to board) and we LOVED your wayfinder itinerary. Always had great places to see and yummy food to eat wherever we went! Laura

plan trip to hawaii cheap

Oahu Wayfinder Itinerary

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Maui Wayfinder Itinerary

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Kauai Wayfinder Itinerary

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Cruising Hawaii Guide

9. how many islands should you visit on your trip to hawaii.

You’re making a big trip to Hawaii and you want to see as much as possible, but do you have enough time to visit more than one island?  We recommend that if you’re taking a one week trip, you stick to one island . There is a lot to see on each island and you could stay as busy as you’d like to for more than a week, easily. If your trip is 10+ days, you could add on a second island to visit, but know that you will be moving around a bit more and you probably won’t get to see everything on each island that you were hoping to see.

While the islands in Hawaii are close together and just a quick 30-45 minute flight, your island hopping travel day will still cut into your vacation. Between packing up, the airport process, and checking into accommodations on your new island, this can easily take up half a day of your vacation.

Of course, you can always ignore this sensible advice, like a few of our newsletter readers, and read up on visiting all 4 major Hawaiian islands in just 2 weeks .

Related read:  Get all the details you need to know about island hopping in Hawaii.  

Hawaii Trip Planning Maui

While you’re in Hawaii:

Once you’ve landed in Hawaii, congratulations! Soak up that sunshine and start living that epic vacation life. Here are some important details to know now that you’re on island time.

10. Understand the geography  

Geography on the islands is important because it will affect the weather you experience and what you do while on vacation. One big thing to understand about geography is that each island has a windward and a leeward side.

The windward side of each island faces the tradewinds. Here you’ll get more rain and wind, but you’ll also get lush landscapes (thanks to all of that rain!). The leeward side of each island is more protected from the wind and rain and you will have drier, sunnier weather. Most of the famously beautiful beaches you plan on visiting are located on the leeward side of the island.

For example, on Maui, the leeward side of the island includes some great beaches, like Wailea Beach and Ka’anapali Beach. The windward side of the island is home to the Road to Hana and a lot of beautiful waterfalls.

When you understand the island’s geography, you can better prepare for what to expect. If you’re looking for a lush, jungle experience, with waterfalls and greenery head east to the windward side. If you’re looking to beat the rain and get some sun, the west or leeward side is your best bet.

plan trip to hawaii cheap

11. Eat local

One of the treats about visiting a new place is the opportunity to try new, local foods that you might not eat back home. Eating local is one of nine ways to have an authentic Hawaiian experience .

There are a few things you should consider trying while you’re here:

  • Fresh, locally caught fish:  If you’re a seafood fan, don’t miss out on the fresh fish. You can enjoy it at either a restaurant or from a fish market. You’ll see options like Mahi Mahi, Ono, Opah, Ahi, and more.
  • Locally grown produce:  Enjoy dragon fruit, coconut, lilikoi, pineapples, locally produced honey and more. We love doing farm tours, but if that’s not part of your vacation itinerary, try a farm-to-table restaurant. You’ll get to sample some island flavors while supporting the agriculture industry here.
  • Traditional Hawaiian food:  You don’t need to go to a luau to sample some traditional Hawaiian dishes. Look for dishes like poi (taro that has been pounded into a paste), laulau (meat wrapped and cooked in taro leaves), kalua pig (slow-roasted pork cooked in an underground oven), and poke (diced, raw fish that is wonderfully flavored).
  • Shave ice:  Not shaved ice. You may think that this is like a snowcone, but it couldn’t be further from it. Soft fluffy ice shavings that are flavored with different syrups and creative flavor combinations. You might also have the add-on of fruit and ice cream. It’s so, so good.  Don’t forget to check out our  five favorite shave ice spots on Kauai . 

Sample straight from the ground.  Check out our favorite farm tours on Maui.  

Hawaii trip planning whale watching maui

12. See the can’t-miss sights

The beaches in Hawaii are incredible. But there’s a lot more to explore on each of the islands. And, some of these can’t-miss activities can only be done in Hawaii .

Some things you might want to add to your list include:

  • Night snorkeling or diving with Manta Rays on the Big Island
  • Seeing the sunrise or sunset from Haleakala Crater on Maui
  • Watching the big wave surfers on the north shore of Oahu
  • Viewing the stunning cliffs of the NaPali coast on Kauai
  • Hanging out with humpback whales during their annual migration to Hawaii

This was just a taste, but there is so much more. If you want to view the highlights of each island,  check out our cheat sheets .

Not only do these island cheat sheets highlight the top 4 can’t-miss sights and activities on each island, you’ll also get tips on where to stay, a map of the island with the main sights, towns, and airport locations, the top places for food on each island, and more.

They’re designed to make kicking off your trip planning even easier.  Grab them for free and start planning !

If you want a full bucket list of everything you can enjoy in Hawaii, check out our list of the best things to do in Hawaii , organized by island. There are definitely some unexpected ideas on this list!

13. Bring the right (reef-safe) sunscreen

Before you throw your favorite brand of sunscreen into your bag, stop. Hawaii has rules in place to help protect the reef and sea life that are so important. One of those rules is around the type of sunscreen you can use. Sunscreens containing chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate are no longer sold in Hawaii. These chemicals have been found to contribute to coral reef bleaching.

You can check out a  full list of our favorite reef-safe sunscreens  and make sure you’re only using legal sunscreen in Hawaii.

Hawaii trip planning snorkeling

14. Snorkel to see amazing sea-life

Living here, we love spending our days in the ocean. There is nothing like diving into the warm, tropical waters and being greeted by colorful fish, turtles, octopi, and more. But if it’s your first time snorkeling in Hawaii, there are some essential details you should know.

Understand safety risks

Snorkeling may look easy, but water conditions, physical conditions, and more come into play. It’s not always as safe as it looks —  drowning is the number one cause of visitor death in Hawaii . Before you go out,  review the safety tips  to make sure you’re doing what you can to keep yourself safe.

Use good gear

Hear me out on this one. You’ll find a number of blogs telling you to pick up a cheap set of fins and a mask from an ABC store or Target once you arrive. There are a few reasons we don’t suggest that.

First, safety. Well fitting gear (fins that stay on and a mask that doesn’t leak) is important to keep you safe.

Second, it’s a significantly more enjoyable experience to snorkel in gear that fits well and is easy to use. This was apparent when we were trying to teach our preschooler to snorkel. The cheap gear didn’t cut it but once we got him in a good mask, he was off!

Third, buying cheap gear just adds to the already full landfill here.

That’s not to say you need to shell out and buy expensive gear. If you plan to snorkel many times, even after this trip to Hawaii, it’s worth it to buy good snorkeling gear. We have  sets listed on our recommendations page .

Otherwise, renting snorkeling gear is a great option. The shop staff can help you find gear that is the right fit for you. And if you find that it doesn’t work right, pop in and switch it out for a different rental set.

Go to the best places

All snorkeling spots are not created equal. Some spots on the island naturally have a more vibrant reef and are home to more fish and sea life. Other spots may be more affected by ocean swells at various times of the year.

On our guide pages we list out the best snorkeling spots on each island. You’ll want to check these pages out before hopping in the water:

Oahu Travel Guide Maui Travel Guide Big Island Travel Guide Kauai Travel Guide

And if you’re looking for the  best snorkeling spots in Hawaii by month , we have you covered.

Hawaii trip planning turtles

Take a snorkeling tour

While we love snorkeling from the beach and we do it often, going on a snorkeling tour is a really special experience. On a good snorkeling tour, you’ll learn about the ocean, the sea life, and be taken to some cool spots that aren’t easily accessible from the beach. Plus, you’ll be able to see the islands from the water, giving you a different perspective and appreciation for their beauty.

We have a  full list of our favorite activity providers and tours on each island,  but here are a few that are incredibly special:

  • Molokini Sunrise Snorkel with Kai Kanani : beat the crowds to Molokini with this special sunrise snorkeling tour leaving directly from the beach in Makena/Wailea.
  • Beach loading snorkeling trip from Ka’anapali : if you’re staying in Ka’anapali, you can’t get more convenient than this tour!
  • Na Pali Coast Snorkeling with Holo Holo Charters : Cruise up the coast of Kaua’i and off the island of Niihau for a full day of snorkeling.
  • Power Raft snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay with Captain Zodiac : Head to Kealakekua Bay and the Captain Cook monument for the best snorkeling on the island.

Understand the rules protecting sea life

When you’re snorkeling and enjoying the crystal clear water, it’s important to keep in mind that you want to make as little impact on the sea life as possible. Stay at least 10 feet away from turtles while snorkeling. You’re required to stay at least 50 feet away from Monk Seals. And if you see spinner dolphins, you’ll need to give them 50 yards of space.

15. Learn about the culture of the islands

Hawaii is a unique US state for many reasons but one thing that is important to understand is that Hawaii had a long and rich history before becoming part of the US. Learning a little about the culture and the history will enhance your stay and give you a new appreciation for these amazing islands.

There are plenty of ways to learn more about Hawai’i while you’re here. Consider visiting museums. On Oahu, we love visiting the Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace.

You can also visit heritage sites like Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park on the Big Island. You can  find a list of heritage sites to visit on the Hawaii Tourism Authority website .

You can also learn about the local culture, land, sea, and wildlife by volunteering. See if one of these 12 Hawaii Volunteer Programs has volunteer days during your stay.

Make your trip planning so much easier

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, we’ve got you covered. Our island itineraries help you navigate the planning process and make your trip smooth once you’re on-island. Thousands of customers have loved them, whether they were planning for a trip that was a year away or a trip that was a day away.

“This is not a question but simply a “thank you”.  Our original European vacation plans fell through last minute.  So we had 2 weeks to plan something else…your Vacation Guide was a LIFE SAVER.  We had no idea how to begin planning, which island, where to stay, what to do.  Your honest reviews of the islands led us to Maui for 8 days….Mahalo!!.  You guys are awesome!!” – Eva M.

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plan trip to hawaii cheap

I'm the co-founder, with my husband Jordan, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We have lived on Maui and Oahu and continue to travel, experience, and learn about the Hawaiian Islands. We travel with our kids, Henry and Edith. I am a planner! I love to plan trips from the mainland and island-hopping adventures, excursion days, and everything in-between. I spend a lot of my time in Hawai'i on a SUP and my favorite time of year in Hawai'i is whale season!

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How To Plan A Trip To Hawaii For A Cheap Cost

Published: December 2, 2023

Modified: December 28, 2023

by Tiffani Wingo

  • Budget Travel
  • Travel Guide
  • Travel Tips



Planning a trip to Hawaii is a dream come true for many travelers. With its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant culture, it’s no wonder that Hawaii is a popular vacation destination. However, many people believe that a trip to Hawaii automatically comes with a hefty price tag. The truth is, with careful planning and smart choices, it’s possible to experience the wonders of Hawaii without breaking the bank.

In this article, we will explore various tips and strategies to help you plan a trip to Hawaii on a budget. From finding cheap flights to affordable accommodation options, saving money on transportation, and even enjoying delicious meals without splurging, we have got you covered. Additionally, we will provide insights on free or low-cost activities, saving on souvenirs and shopping, and planning a budget-friendly itinerary.

While it’s important to note that Hawaii is generally more expensive than other destinations, implementing these money-saving tips can make a significant difference in your overall travel expenses. So, let’s dive in and discover how you can enjoy the beauty of Hawaii without breaking the bank!

Finding Cheap Flights to Hawaii

One of the biggest expenses when planning a trip to Hawaii is airfare. However, with some research and flexibility, you can find affordable flights that fit your budget. Here are some tips for finding cheap flights to Hawaii:

  • Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates: Airfare prices can vary greatly depending on the time of year you plan to visit Hawaii. Consider traveling during the off-peak seasons, such as spring or fall, when prices tend to be lower. Additionally, being flexible with your travel dates and searching for flights on weekdays instead of weekends can also help you snag a better deal.
  • Use Flight Comparison Websites: Take advantage of flight comparison websites like Skyscanner, Kayak, or Google Flights to compare prices from different airlines. These platforms allow you to set up price alerts so you can be notified when fares drop, enabling you to book at the most affordable rate.
  • Consider Nearby Airports: If you have the flexibility to travel to different airports, consider flying into a nearby airport instead of the main hub. Sometimes, flying to a smaller airport on the neighboring island and then taking a short inter-island flight or ferry can be cheaper than a direct flight to a major airport.
  • Look for Airline Deals and Promotions: Many airlines offer special deals and promotions throughout the year, particularly during holiday seasons or off-peak travel periods. Keep an eye on airline websites and subscribe to their newsletters to stay updated about any ongoing discounts or flash sales.
  • Utilize Frequent Flyer Programs and Points: If you’re a frequent traveler, make sure to take advantage of any airline loyalty programs or credit cards that offer airline miles or points. Accumulating and redeeming these points can significantly reduce the cost of your flights to Hawaii.

Remember to book your flights in advance as prices tend to rise the closer it gets to your travel dates. By following these tips and being proactive in your search, you can find affordable flights to Hawaii and save a considerable amount of money.

Choosing Affordable Accommodation Options

When it comes to finding affordable accommodation in Hawaii, there are a variety of options to choose from. Here are some tips to help you stay within your budget:

  • Consider Renting a Vacation Home or Condo: Renting a vacation home or condo can often be more cost-effective than staying in a hotel, especially if you’re traveling with a group or staying for an extended period. Websites like Airbnb and VRBO offer a wide range of options to suit different budgets and preferences.
  • Look for Budget-Friendly Hotels: If you prefer staying in a hotel, look for budget-friendly options that offer basic amenities. While these accommodations may not have all the luxuries of a resort, they provide a comfortable and affordable place to rest after a day of exploring.
  • Consider Hostels or Shared Accommodations: For solo travelers or those who don’t mind sharing common spaces, hostels can be a great option. They offer budget-friendly rates and the opportunity to meet fellow travelers. Alternatively, you can also consider shared accommodations through platforms like Couchsurfing, where locals offer free or low-cost lodging.
  • Stay Outside of Popular Tourist Areas: Accommodation prices tend to be higher in popular tourist areas. Consider staying just outside these areas, where prices may be more affordable. You can still enjoy the attractions and beaches while saving on accommodation costs.
  • Look for Special Deals and Packages: Keep an eye out for special deals and packages offered by hotels and resorts. They often have promotions that include discounted rates, complimentary meals, or added amenities, making them more affordable and value-for-money.

Regardless of the type of accommodation you choose, make sure to read reviews and do thorough research to ensure it meets your expectations in terms of cleanliness, safety, and location. It’s also worth noting that booking in advance can often lead to better rates. By being strategic and open to different options, you can find affordable accommodation in Hawaii that suits your needs and budget.

Saving Money on Transportation within Hawaii

Transportation expenses can quickly add up when you’re exploring the beautiful islands of Hawaii. However, with some smart planning and cost-saving strategies, you can keep your transportation costs in check. Here are some tips to save money on transportation within Hawaii:

  • Utilize Public Transportation: Many of the major islands in Hawaii have public transportation systems that can be a cost-effective way to get around. Buses are available on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Island, offering convenient routes and affordable fares. Research the bus routes and schedules beforehand to plan your itinerary accordingly.
  • Rent a Car for Longer Periods: If you plan to explore multiple destinations or stay in Hawaii for an extended time, renting a car for a longer period can often save you money. Rental companies usually provide discounted rates for weekly or monthly rentals. Compare prices from different rental agencies and consider renting from off-airport locations for potential cost savings.
  • Share Rides with Other Travelers: If you’re traveling with a group or meeting fellow travelers, consider sharing rides to split the cost. Carpooling or using ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft can be a more economical option, especially for short distances or when public transportation isn’t available.
  • Consider Biking or Walking: Hawaii’s beautiful landscapes make it an ideal place for biking and walking. Take advantage of bike rentals and walking paths available in popular tourist areas. Not only will you save money on transportation, but you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy the scenery and stay active.
  • Look for Discounted Shuttle Services: Some tourist attractions and hotels offer shuttle services at discounted rates or even for free. Check with your accommodation or the places you plan to visit if they provide any transportation options. This can help you save on transportation costs and eliminate the need for renting a car.

Remember to factor in parking costs if you decide to rent a car, as parking fees can be high in popular tourist areas. Additionally, consider combining various transportation methods to optimize convenience and affordability. For example, you can take public transportation for longer distances and then use bike rentals or walk for shorter distances.

By exploring these transportation options and planning your itinerary strategically, you can save money on transportation while immersing yourself in the stunning beauty of Hawaii.

Eating on a Budget in Hawaii

Experiencing the local cuisine is an essential part of any trip, and Hawaii offers a diverse array of delicious dishes. While dining out in Hawaii can be expensive, there are ways to enjoy the local flavors without breaking the bank. Here are some tips for eating on a budget in Hawaii:

  • Make Use of Local Markets: Visit local farmers’ markets where you can find fresh produce, local snacks, and homemade treats at affordable prices. Not only will you support local vendors, but you’ll also have the opportunity to try unique Hawaiian flavors.
  • Explore Food Trucks and Food Stalls: Hawaii is known for its vibrant food truck scene. Look for food trucks and food stalls that offer local specialties like poke bowls, plate lunches, and shaved ice. These mobile eateries often provide generous portions at more reasonable prices compared to traditional restaurants.
  • Opt for Local, Hole-in-the-Wall Eateries: Venture beyond the touristy areas and seek out local, hole-in-the-wall eateries. These hidden gems often offer authentic and affordable Hawaiian food. Ask locals or do some research to find these local favorites.
  • Pack Your Own Snacks: Before heading out for a day of exploration, pack some snacks and water to keep you fueled throughout the day. This can save you from impulse purchases at convenience stores or expensive tourist spots.
  • Find Affordable Lunch Specials: Many restaurants in Hawaii offer lunch specials with lower prices while still serving delicious meals. Take advantage of these deals and enjoy a filling lunch at a more affordable rate.

Another tip is to prioritize your meals, splurging on one or two special dining experiences while opting for budget-friendly options for the rest of your meals. Additionally, consider cooking some of your meals if you have access to a kitchen in your accommodation. Buying groceries and preparing simple meals can be a more economical choice.

Lastly, don’t forget to try the local street food like malasadas, loco moco, or spam musubi. These affordable and flavorful snacks can be found at various food stalls or convenience stores throughout the islands.

By embracing these tips and exploring the local food scene, you can savor the flavors of Hawaii without straining your budget.

Exploring Free or Low-Cost Activities in Hawaii

While Hawaii offers countless activities and attractions, not all of them have to come with a hefty price tag. There are plenty of free or low-cost activities that allow you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and culture of the islands. Here are some ideas to help you explore Hawaii on a budget:

  • Visit Public Beaches: Hawaii is known for its stunning beaches, and the best part is that most of them are free to access. Spend a day relaxing on the sandy shores, swimming in the crystal-clear waters, or even trying your hand at snorkeling to discover the vibrant underwater world.
  • Go Hiking in State Parks: Hawaii boasts an abundance of scenic hiking trails that are free to explore. From the iconic Diamond Head State Monument in Oahu to the breathtaking Kalalau Trail in Kauai, there are options for hikers of all experience levels. Just make sure to bring water, sunscreen, and proper footwear.
  • Take a Scenic Drive: Embark on a scenic drive and soak in the beauty of Hawaii’s landscapes. Drive along the Road to Hana in Maui or the North Shore in Oahu to witness stunning coastal views, lush greenery, and iconic landmarks. Remember to pull over at designated viewpoints for photo opportunities!
  • Discover Cultural Sites: Many cultural sites and historical landmarks in Hawaii offer free or low-cost admission. Visit places like Pearl Harbor, the King Kamehameha Statue, or the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park to learn about the rich history and heritage of the islands.
  • Attend Local Events and Festivals: Keep an eye out for local events and festivals happening during your visit. From hula performances to music festivals and cultural celebrations, these events often offer free or affordable entry. Immerse yourself in the vibrant Hawaiian culture and enjoy the festivities.

Additionally, don’t forget to take advantage of the natural wonders that Hawaii has to offer. Watch the mesmerizing sunset, go stargazing, or simply enjoy a peaceful picnic in one of the picturesque parks scattered across the islands.

Remember to respect the environment and adhere to any rules or regulations in place when visiting these free or low-cost attractions. By exploring these affordable activities, you can fully experience the beauty and culture of Hawaii without straining your budget.

Tips for Saving on Souvenirs and Shopping

Bringing home souvenirs from your trip to Hawaii is a wonderful way to cherish the memories. However, shopping for souvenirs can quickly become expensive if you’re not careful. Here are some tips to help you save on souvenirs and shopping:

  • Shop at Local Markets and Artisan Fairs: Look for local markets and artisan fairs where you can find unique and handmade souvenirs at more affordable prices. These markets often feature local artists, craftsmen, and small businesses, giving you the opportunity to support the local community while purchasing one-of-a-kind items.
  • Avoid Touristy Areas: Souvenirs sold in popular tourist areas tend to be priced higher due to the high demand. Venture out to less crowded areas or explore local neighborhoods to find shops that offer more reasonable prices for souvenirs.
  • Comparison Shop: Before making a purchase, take the time to compare prices at different stores or vendors. It’s common for prices to vary, so doing a bit of research can help you find the best deals.
  • Skip the Mass-Produced Souvenirs: Instead of buying generic souvenirs found in every tourist shop, opt for items that are unique to Hawaii. Look for locally-made products such as handmade jewelry, traditional clothing like aloha shirts or muumuus, or Hawaiian-themed artwork.
  • Look for Sales or Discounts: Keep an eye out for sales or discounts at souvenir shops or boutiques. Some stores offer promotions, especially during the off-peak seasons or holidays. Sign up for newsletters or follow their social media accounts to stay updated on any ongoing deals.

Furthermore, consider practical and functional souvenirs that can be used in your daily life, such as reusable water bottles, coffee mugs, or beach towels. These items not only serve as great reminders of your Hawaiian adventure but also have practical value.

Lastly, don’t forget to budget accordingly for souvenirs and shopping expenses before your trip. Setting a spending limit can help you stay on track and prevent overspending.

By implementing these tips and being mindful of your choices, you can bring home meaningful souvenirs while keeping your expenses in check.

Planning a Budget-Friendly Itinerary in Hawaii

Planning a budget-friendly itinerary in Hawaii requires careful consideration of your expenses and a bit of strategic planning. Here are some tips to help you create a budget-friendly itinerary:

  • Prioritize Your Must-See Attractions: With so many incredible sights and activities in Hawaii, it can be tempting to try and do it all. However, this can quickly escalate your expenses. Prioritize the must-see attractions and activities that align with your interests and budget. This approach allows you to fully enjoy the experiences without feeling overwhelmed or overspending.
  • Take Advantage of Free and Low-Cost Activities: As mentioned earlier in this article, Hawaii offers a wealth of free or low-cost activities. Incorporate these into your itinerary to balance out any paid attractions. From visiting public beaches and hiking trails to attending local events and exploring cultural sites, these activities provide a budget-friendly way to experience the beauty and culture of the islands.
  • Plan for Self-Guided Explorations: Instead of booking expensive guided tours for every activity, consider planning self-guided explorations. Use travel guides, online resources, and local recommendations to create your own itinerary. Often, exploring on your own allows for a more flexible schedule and enables you to go at your own pace.
  • Pack Your Own Snacks and Water: One of the easiest ways to cut down on expenses is to pack your own snacks and water while you’re out and about. This eliminates the need for purchasing expensive snacks from convenience stores or tourist spots. Keep reusable water bottles handy and refill them at water fountains or public restrooms to stay hydrated without spending extra money.
  • Consider Discounted Attraction Passes: If you plan to visit multiple paid attractions, look into discounted attraction passes or packages. These can provide significant savings compared to purchasing tickets individually. Take the time to research and compare different options to find the one that best suits your itinerary and budget.

Additionally, factor in transportation costs in your budget. Plan your itinerary in a way that minimizes unnecessary travel between locations to save on transportation expenses.

Remember, a budget-friendly itinerary doesn’t mean missing out on the best of Hawaii. It simply requires thoughtful planning, prioritizing, and being conscious of your spending throughout your trip.

By incorporating these tips into your itinerary planning, you can have an amazing and memorable trip to Hawaii while keeping your expenses under control.

Planning a trip to Hawaii doesn’t have to drain your bank account. By implementing the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you can experience the beauty, culture, and adventure that Hawaii has to offer without breaking the bank.

From finding affordable flights and accommodation options to saving on transportation and dining, every aspect of your trip can be planned with cost-saving in mind. By being flexible, researching deals, and considering alternative options, you can make substantial savings that can be used for other memorable experiences during your trip.

Exploring free or low-cost activities, indulging in local cuisine, and shopping wisely for souvenirs are just a few ways to make the most of your budget while immersing yourself in the islands’ charm and allure. While it’s important to have a budget in mind, it’s equally vital to savor the moments, embrace the natural wonders, and connect with the local culture to make your trip truly unforgettable.

Remember, planning a budget-friendly trip to Hawaii requires a balance between smart spending and enjoying yourself. With some careful planning, research, and creativity, you can create an itinerary that fits your budget while maximizing your experience in this tropical paradise.

So go ahead and start planning your affordable adventure to Hawaii. Whether you’re strolling on the golden beaches, hiking through lush jungles, or immersing yourself in the rich local traditions, Hawaii has something to offer for every budget.


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How Much Does a 2024 Hawaii Trip Cost? (+ Budget Saving Tips)

W hat family doesn’t dream of a visit to Hawaii? The Hawaiian Islands hold incredible appeal and intrigue for families as a vacation destination. With spectacular beaches, incredible landscapes, and kid-friendly resorts, it seems easy enough to pack your bags and head across the Pacific for a Hawaii vacation. But how much does a Hawaii trip cost? We’ve crunched the numbers to come up with guidelines for a Hawaiian vacation budget.

Below is an outline of travel costs that families can use when visiting Hawaii for the first time . This includes the approximate cost of flights and accommodations, how much to pay when renting a car in Hawaii, what time of year to travel in order to save money, and how to plan for the cost of special experiences like a helicopter tour of Mauna Kea or surf lessons.

With the right planning, your family can determine how best to allocate your precious travel savings to design the Hawaii vacation package of your dreams. If you want to cut this budget down, check out these 105 tips for doing Hawaii on a budget . These are also some great tips for saving money to travel .

Hawaii Budget Assumptions

For calculating Hawaii trip costs, this post will outline pricing for two adults and two children between the ages of 6-11 , traveling from the east coast of the United States in the summer months , and spending 5 nights each on Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii , for a total of 10 nights, 11 days.

These islands were chosen because they offer the common introductory Hawaiian experiences: Oahu is home to Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and the North Shore, while the Big Island of Hawaii has a laid-back vibe perfect for relaxing, and is home to six of Hawaii’s nine national parks including the best options for volcano viewing and hiking. You can use this guide to pick the best Hawaiian island for your family.

I have organized the costs of a trip to Hawaii by airfare, car rental/transportation, accommodations, food, and activities , including tips and ideas for savings in each category. If you want to skip to the bottom line, a summer trip to Hawaii for a family of four for 10 nights costs approximately $16,690, or about $417.25 per person, per day. But read on to see how this breaks down and where you can save money.!

Cost of Airfare to Hawaii

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The biggest cost differentiator when purchasing flights is whether your family is flying from the west coast of the U.S. or somewhere else (midwest, east coast, etc.) Expect to pay around $865-1,300 per person traveling from one of the east coast hubs in the summer months, while flights from California may be $700-900 in the summer.

Honolulu on Oahu has more flight connections to and from mainland U.S. airports than any other Hawaiian airport, so that is typically the point of arrival or departure. To maximize your vacation time, be sure to price out flying into Oahu and out of the Big Island (Kona is the largest airport on the Big Island) or vice versa.

This will save you another inter-island flight back to your initial destination for your return flight. If you choose Maui as your second island, you can often find direct flights from Maui to many U.S. cities.

Another huge cost savings can be gained by flying mid-week if at all possible. Flights in and out of Hawaii jump up in price on Saturdays and Sundays since it is primarily a leisure travel destination, not a business location.

Flight prices are also dependent on the time of year. The festive period, Thanksgiving week, and popular spring break weeks will price out similarly to summer dates, if not more. January and February are typically the cheapest time to fly to Hawaii if you have the flexibility to get away then.

For inter-island flights (like connections between the Big Island and Oahu), Hawaiian Airlines and Mokulele are your best bets. Hawaiian Airlines will feel similar to a full-service airline, and importantly, you can use or earn points on most of the major U.S. airlines like Delta and United when booking flights on this airline because of their mutual affiliation.

Mokulele is a typical low-budget airline. Expect limited service and no frills, but it certainly works and there can be significant cost savings, given that it is a very short flight time.

Prices for an inter-island flight are usually under $60 per person for a one-way flight and most flights are less than one hour in length. Do take note of flight departure times, though. It’s always best to schedule these inter-island flights for mid-day, so that your family is in the air between check-out time at one hotel and check-in time at the next hotel. Early morning departures may be a little cheaper, but then you’re stuck filling several hours before you can check into your next accommodation.

Be aware that Southwest Airlines does offer direct flights from several California airports to all the major Hawaiian Islands. Remember that Southwest prices aren’t published on flight comparison sites, so you must book directly with the airline.

For this post, I assumed that families would spend $900 per person to get to and from Hawaii, and then another $60 per person on a one-way inter-island flight. You’d want to budget for an additional inter-island flight if you need to get back to your island of arrival for your return flight to the mainland U.S., however.

I’d highly recommend signing up for Going to get alerts on flight sales to your dream destinations.

Total airfare cost: $3,840

Cost of Accommodations in Hawaii

Basic rooms that sleep four at full-service luxury resorts, like Disney’s Aulani on Oahu or Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island, price out around $700 per night in the summer months. You can easily spend $1,000 a night or more for more spacious accommodation, like larger suites or condos with kitchens at these properties.

For budget travelers, even three-star hotels in Hawaii price out at around $250-400 per night in the summer months. Often these properties sacrifice beach access or beautiful locations and expect rooms to be quite basic. But most will have that sought-after amenity of a great pool so they certainly work for families who don’t require a lot of frills.

For those who veer away from resorts and toward quieter, self-catering accommodations, expect vacation rentals to range from $250-1,500 per night in the summer. Prices on the Big Island tend to be a little lower and a better value overall than Oahu.

Keep in mind that having a kitchen may bring down your food costs, especially if you choose to cook some meals yourself, or simply prepare basic breakfasts and sandwiches and keep drinks and snacks cold. Resorts are not known for inexpensive food, after all.

Also, take note of what’s included when booking resort vacation packages in Hawaii. Some include the cost of all the on-site amenities, while others do not. Complimentary breakfast is not always a given here, either. Other properties have a big markup when it comes to daily resort fees ($30 per person per day is not uncommon). Reading the fine print is important for this style of accommodation.

Another cost-saving strategy is to book early, especially for peak summer dates. Many of the popular resorts are fully booked for July and August by February. So booking accommodation in the fall for summer travel makes a lot of sense just so you have access to all the room category options. Plus, many properties offer pay-in-advance discounts, though you’ll definitely want to invest in travel insurance should you decide to take advantage of those lower rates.

See the 9 best Maui resorts for families and the 7 best Oahu hotels for families .

I used the $700 average nightly rate for a lower category room at full-service resorts as my price calculation for accommodation costs.

Total Accommodation Cost: $7,000 for 10 nights

Transportation costs in Hawaii

Of course, if you want to get off the property of the resort and explore some of the natural beauty of the Hawaiian islands, you are going to need a way to get around. The cost to rent a midsize SUV is typically around $400 for 5 days, including taxes and fees.

Be sure to book early if you’re traveling to Hawaii during busy periods; rental cars often sell out a few weeks prior to peak travel weeks. When calculating total transportation costs, I assumed families would rent a car on both Oahu and the Big Island for the duration of their trip, plus another $150 in gas and parking fees.

Check car rental prices on Kayak

While both islands have public transportation by way of bus routes, most families find this method of travel prohibitively time-consuming to get to the various spots that interest them. For families that envision not leaving the resort much, but still want a taste of both islands, you can book a driver to take you around for the day for around $600 per day.

If you opt not to rent a car, you’ll also need to account for airport transfers. Private transfers price out around $70-150 for one-way service to various accommodations within a reasonable drive of the airport.

Total Car Rental/Transportation Cost: $950

Food Costs in Hawaii

There’s no way around it: eating in Hawaii is expensive. Many families who don’t plan ahead and take this into account have serious sticker shock when they arrive. Remember, a lot of the food has traveled by boat for over a week to get to the Hawaiian Islands.

One great rule to keep in mind, both when grocery shopping and dining out, is to look for food that is sourced locally. Not only will it be cheaper, but it will taste fresher and reduce your carbon footprint. For example, stop at markets and roadside stands for produce. It’ll be a fraction of the cost of what fruits and vegetables cost at the grocery stores and it makes for a great cultural immersion experience.

This is another example of why renting a car ultimately often saves money: because resort mini-markets are very overpriced. If you can get to a big box store to stock up on snacks or simple meal ingredients, there will be cost savings. That said, even grocery shopping is expensive. If you’re on a very tight budget, consider doing a little research in advance. Most of Hawaii’s grocery store chains are affiliated with a mainland counterpart. You may be able to use your loyalty card from home for discounts.

Naturally, dining out is also pricey. Look for accommodations that provide complimentary breakfast; this will be a huge cost saver up front. Next, aim for more reasonably priced lunches, like roadside stands or packed picnic fixings while you’re out exploring. This way, lunch will cost about $12 per person, instead of $25, which you can expect to pay at resort restaurants. Then you can indulge in lovely dinners with a little less guilt about the price tag. Expect dinner to cost around $50 or more per person, younger children who order off a kid’s menu will be significantly less.

Given that, we can assume that families of four will spend around $250 per day on food costs.

Total Food Cost: $2,500

Tours and Activity Costs

Undoubtedly the top reason families love coming to Hawaii is the natural beauty: gorgeous views, incredible beaches, and diverse landscapes. Fortunately, this is all completely free to enjoy once you arrive.

It’s quite easy to spend days exploring the islands without spending a dime other than on food and gas. Add in a few days of leisurely enjoying resort amenities, and it means activities don’t have to break the bank compared to other travel expenses.

That said, a trip here is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so families tend to want to do and see it all while here. A favorite bucket list activity can include surf lessons, which can cost around $100-200 per person for an hour or two. You may also want to visit Pearl Harbor. See more suggestions on things to do in Oahu with kids .

Most of the national parks in Hawaii are free to enter, but the three that do charge entrance fees are around $30 per car. Check to see if your resort will host a luau dinner during your stay, or plan to arrange to attend one off-site one evening. The cost is around $120 per adult and kids are usually half off (but this includes dinner).

The big ticket item is usually a helicopter tour. Costs can differ drastically based on where you go, how long, and your departure point. Generally, a tour that originates in Hilo, the rainier side of the Big Island, is a cheaper location yet offers incredible views of the volcanoes that dot the island. The cost for this for a family of four is around $1556.

Total Activity Cost: $2,400

Of course, for a vacation this expensive, you want to make sure you purchase travel insurance .

Total Cost for a 10-day Trip to Hawaii

The total cost for a 10-day trip to Hawaii for a family of four is about $16,690. This assumes nice, four-star accommodations and a few splurges on activities and meals. Of course, you may also want to budget for some souvenirs from Hawaii , we were very tempted by some beautiful paintings when we visited!

As we discussed above, families can save money on more budget accommodations, vacation rentals, preparing their own meals, staying at a resort to use the pool and beach and not renting a car or doing other activities. For West Coast families, it is also easy to visit for just a week or even five days. But if you are traveling from the East Coast and taking a 10-hour flight, you probably want to stay at least 10 days.

One of the best ways to save is to use airline, hotel, or credit card points to offset some of those expenses. If it is going to be a trip of a lifetime, save those points to make it happen!

Let’s recap the Hawaii budget breakdown:

There are cheaper locations to travel to, especially if your family merely wants sunny weather and sandy beaches. But Hawaii is one of the most unique locations in the world, with its indigenous culture, lush landscapes and rugged mountains, and incredibly luxurious yet kid-friendly resorts.

It has a correspondingly hefty price tag, but families unanimously consider a trip here money well spent, and many return year after year. Here are some tips for planning a budget trip to Hawaii .


This guest post was written by Nicole Wiltrout. Nicole is a freelance writer and travel expert based in Indiana. She has traveled throughout North America and Europe with her children for the past nine years, including three years spent living abroad in England. She has written for a variety of websites and publications and is the author of “Dispatches from England,” available on Amazon, which chronicles her family’s time as expats. You can follow Nicole’s travels on  Arrows Sent Forth .

The post How Much Does a 2024 Hawaii Trip Cost? (+ Budget Saving Tips) appeared first on We3Travel .

Start here to figure out your Hawaii trip cost and get budget saving ideas to make a Hawaiian vacation more affordable.

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How to make a hawaii solo trip a dream vacation.

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Otherworldly landscape of Hawaii's Na Pali Coastline on the island of Kauai. Take a helicopter ride ... [+] to get an aerial view.

Hawaii may be a known destination for honeymoons and weddings. But, the Aloha State is also a fantastic getaway for solo travelers looking to connect with nature. While there’s plenty of solo adventures on the islands — surfing, snorkeling, hiking, to name a few — solo travelers to Hawaii also have their pick of group tours that could include everything from whale watching tours off the coast of Maui to ATVing on red dirt paths through Kauai’s lush green pastures.

Ahead, a solo trip guide to Hawaii, with tips on when to visit, where to stay, and what to do:

Why is Hawaii a Good Destination for Solo Travelers?

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle Basking in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Hawaii is a prime destination for solo travelers for many of the same reasons it’s great for couples and families — there’s all kinds of outdoors activities spread across the islands to fill up itineraries, from hiking to waterfalls to taking helicopter rides over Kaui’s rugged landscape where scenes of “Jurassic Park” were filmed.

But when it’s time to relax, top-notch spas that you can enjoy in solitude pushes the Hawaiian islands ahead of other solo travel destinations.

Some stand-out spas for solo travelers in Hawaii include Nala Spa at Turtle Bay on Oahu island ingredients are incorporated into treatments, like a body wrap with Hawaiian spirulina, green mineral clay, papaya leaves, and passion fruit. Or, book a post-surf stretch massage in an oceanside cabana so hearing the crescendo of North Shore waves can lull you into relaxation. Over on Maui, the Fairmont Kea Lani’s Willow Stream Spa has experiential showers, like ones inspired by morning mists and evening storms plus treatments such as Volcanic Foot Experience with a volcanic clay mask.

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Hawaii is also a great destination for solo travelers who want to travel with purpose.

Coming out of COVID, the tourism board has been encouraging travelers, whether as part of meetings and convention groups or those on a solo trip, to connect with the destination by volunteering. The ideas is that when you malama (or give back) you forge deeper connections with Hawaii’s land, people and culture.

Volunteer opportunities through the Mālama Hawaiʻi Program include beach clean-ups, planting native plants to help restore shorelines, and helping restore the Battleship Missouri Memorial. Many hotels will offer incentives to guests who volunteer while on the Hawaiian islands, like free nights or discounts at restaurants.

When is The Best Time to Visit The Islands?

You can surf year-round in Hawaii, but summer brings in the gentler waves that are great for ... [+] beginners while winter is reserved for experts.

Another perk to visiting Hawaii as a solo traveler is you can travel to the islands when the crowds empty out.

Since Hawaii is a popular destination with families, the islands tend to get busier when schools are out on breaks. According to the Hawai’i Tourism Authority’s figures, January and February are the least busiest months.

With a tropical climate, Hawaii is a year-round destination, so you’ve got some flexibility here. You can surf all year round on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island, though the waves tend to be calmer and more beginner friendly in the summer since storms churn out some big waves in the winter.

If you’re hoping to see migrating whales, the best whale watching happens between January and March, though the official season runs from mid-December to mid-May.

Of course, your solo trip to Hawaii might be tied to an event like the Honolulu Marathon in December, the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival that happens each October, or food festivals like the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival on Lahaina in June.

How Do You Get Around the Hawaiian Islands?

Stunning view into Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Kauai, Hawaii

If you want to see a few of the islands during your solo trip to Hawaii, you can island hop with Hawaiian Airlines, which offers about 170 daily flights between the islands.

If you’re looking to do a good deal of exploring while on an island, it’s best to have a rental car. Also, don’t rely too much on Uber UBER or Lyft. While you’ll have no problem catching one in Waikiki, you might not be able to get one in more remote destinations, like parts of Kauai, so it’s best to ask your hotel to help arrange airport transfers and other trips with a local cab company.

Many hotels also have shuttle services or beach cruisers you can borrow.

How Much Should You Budget for a Solo Trip To Hawaii?

Wide angle aerial view of the majestic Diamond Head volcanic crater towering over the suburbs of ... [+] Honolulu, Hawaii.

From snorkeling to hiking, many of the best things to do in Hawaii are free. However, hotels, dining out, and excursions can add up.

Here are the most recent average hotel nightly rates across the most-visited islands, according to Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism:

  • Hawaii: $400
  • Kauai: $421

Where Should You Visit in Hawaii as a Solo Traveler?

The beauty of solo travel is that you’re on your own timeline when traveling and you can customize an itinerary that you’ll love.

Some standout hotels include Prince Waikiki in Honolulu, which is close to attractions like the Honolulu Museum of Art, Waikiki Beach, and the Pearl Harbor Museum. The hotel has plenty to keep solo travelers engaged, like Cocokealohi Coconut Palm Hat Workshop and whale watching outings and sunset cruises on the Vida Mia Yacht, which was chartered by HOB for the filing of “White Lotus.”

On Kauai, Ko'a Kea Resort is the place to stay—no other hotel on the island puts you as close to the water as this luxury resort. Wake up with the sun for yoga on the manicured lawns, dip into a lava rock-encircled hot tub, or curl up with a book in a swing chair. The hotel has a partnership with Hoka Sports should you want to get out on the water for a surf lesson, but you can also book an ocean front cabana for a massage and feel the breeze of trade winds.

A solo surfer ventures out on the water in front of Ko'a Kea Resort on Kauai.

At Four Seasons Resort Lanai , enjoy a table for one and Japanese dishes at the cliffside Nobu Lanai, and snorkel in the reef that’s teeming with tropical fish and green sea turtles.

Here are some top thing to see and do solo travelers to Hawaii:

Aerial view of S-shaped road on the Road to Hana on Maui.

  • Join a tee time at one of Hawaii’s famed golf courses like Kailua’s Royal Hawaiian Golf Club, which has been described as playing on the set of Jurassic Park (minus the dinosaurs)
  • Drive the Road to Hana in Maui. It’s all eyes on the road as you navigate this serpentine-like terrain, but thankfully there’s plenty of scenic spots to pull off to take a swim in waterfall pools or shop at a farmers market. Several tour outfitters also take visitors out on Road to Hana excursions.
  • Choose from a dozen or so day hikes in Hawaii National Park that will show off some cool things created by Mother Nature, like crystals formed by volcanic gas, a volcanic crater, and a cave where a stream of lava flowed 500 years ago.
  • Take a helicopter ride In Kauai with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, and get an aerial view of Waimea Canyon, which is nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and see the rugged Na Pali Coast.
  • Visit the Kānepuʻu Preserve on Lānaʻi where you can walk along a self-guided interpretive trail with illustrated signs to help you identify dozens of Hawaiian plants.

Brittany Anas

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