3 Ways to Have a Luxurious Hawaii Vacation on the Cheap

Some people only dream of going to Hawaii because they think it will never fit the budget. Yes, Hawaii can be expensive, but there are some great ways to save money. Your accommodations, meals, and tours are arguably your biggest expenditures in Hawaii. So, I’ll share my best three tips for minimizing those money drainers while living in luxury.

1. Stay in a Condo

LanaiYou can really save a bundle by staying in a condo versus a hotel. I’ll give you an example. On the north shore of Kauai, there is a very nice oceanfront condo community called Puu Poa that is right next door to the 5-star Princeville Resort. The condos are all two bedroom and sleep 4 to 6 people. I have personally stayed in this one and it was very, very nice. The photo above is the view from the condo’s lanai.

To stay in a nice Puu Poa condo, you can expect to spend around $2,000 for a week, which works out to $286 per night including taxes. For comparison, I just checked the prices at the swank Princeville Resort and the least expensive room I could find was a mountain view room at a price of $473 per night including taxes. So, you can save $1,309 per week by staying in the oceanfront condo versus the mountain view room. Vacation Rental By Owner is a bit of a cumbersome site to use, but has the widest selection of rental condos and homes, plus it cuts out the expense of the middle man. Before you sign the rental contract, make sure you follow my tips for selecting a Hawaii vacation rental.

In addition to saving money by staying in a condo, you will have much more room. For example, the Puu Poa condo offers 2,000 square feet while the cheapest room at the Princeville Resort only had 547 square feet. The condo is also more family friendly in comparison, with two bedrooms and two baths and the hotel only has one king bed and one bath. Another huge advantage of staying in the condo is that a condo has a washer and dryer and kitchen, which leads me to my next point.

2. Have Some Meals in your Condo/Room and Eat Where the Locals Eat

Find the nearest Safeway or Foodland grocery stores and pick up your breakfast items, snacks, and picnic goodies. If you listen to my sound advice above and stay in a condo, you will have a full sized refrigerator, plenty of food storage, and the ability to cook. If you stay in a hotel, you’ll probably drop at least $20 per person for a breakfast buffet and for that price, you could have had breakfast for two to four people for weeks with just a few grocery store supplies.

Be creative and romantic and plan some sunset picnic dinners on the beach. (The photo on the left was taken during sunset picnic on Kauai’s Poipu Beach) You really can’t beat the view. I recently stayed at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu where most dinners for two cost over $100. (Ouch! Please don’t remind me that my credit card bill is coming!) I could have saved a ton by having some picnics on the beach.

It’s really not that much fun to have to prepare all your meals on your vacation, so do get out and find the local flavors. Your best bet is to eat where the locals eat. They know where to find the tastiest food and reasonable prices. Ask around and you will get more recommendations than what you’ll have time for. Here’s a recent post listing restaurants where the locals frequent.

3. Create Your Own Tours

I’m a huge fan of the show Lost, so on a recent trip to Oahu, I spent hours looking for sites where Lost is filmed. It was so much fun. I was able to do this at my own pace and without the company of 40 other people on a tour bus.

You can easily drop hundreds of dollars a day on tours, but you really don’t need to. There is so much beauty to see in Hawaii without paying a dime. Purchase a guide book and get a rental car and be your own tour guide. (Rental cars are really quite inexpensive in Hawaii. For a mid-sized car, we recently paid $150 for a week.) Here are some ideas for free or low cost tours to take:

  • Go hiking – each island has miles and miles of gorgeous hiking trails.
  • Go snorkeling – each island has some top snorkeling spots. You can either rent your snorkeling gear or purchase your on at a Wal-Mart on the island.
  • Drive around the islands and leisurely stop off at beaches and sites that catch your eye.

You’ll find many great free and budget friendly activities to do on each Hawaiian Island in this article.
Bonus Idea

Pick up the free brouchures in the airport as they have maps, coupons, and free sightseeing ideas.

So, I hope you can see that it is possible to have a great Hawaii vacation that won’t break the bank. I do hope you will take the opportunity to Go Visit Hawaii.

This post inspired by Daily Blog Tip’s blog writing contest.


Ohana Beach Rentals

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

33 comments

  1. Great suggestions! I just visited Oahu in May and rented a house with a bunch of fellow photographers. We stayed at a house we found on vrbo.com and it was great! Splitting the cost of the rental between us worked out to be about $550 each for a week. Beat that for Hawaii vacation budget-friendliness! Word of advice though, you may want to take care of the money arrangements ahead of time just to be safe (or in case you don’t completely trust the $pending habits of your rental buddies).

  2. $550 per person for a week- that’s awesome! Sign me up for that deal! Thanks, Sheri, for your comment and for the extra advice about the money arrangements.

  3. Very interesting. I’m not a big fan of hot weather and beach holidays in general (my mates call me Yeti, the Snowman). But in case I ever ran out of snow in the Alps, I’d love to pay a visit to Hawaii for a change. It’s got to be at least two or three long haul flights from London, so recharging my mp3 player would be a good start… :p :o)

  4. Jimbo – would you believe Hawaii has snow too?! There are tour companies that offer snowboarding trips on the Big Island. Here is one for example: http://www.bigislandfun.com/activities/snowboarding.htm So there goes that excuse. :-P

    You are right, it is a long haul from the UK. You could make the trip in 2 long haul flights. From London, you can fly into either Chicago or Dallas. You can then fly direct to Hawaii from there.

    So start recharing your mp3 player. :-)

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. Oh, yes. I think I remember Burton’s competition a few years ago. Though, because of the altitude, I’d recon Hawaiian snow is wet snow. Perfect for snowball fights, but sticky for skiers. Anyway, like you said, these are all excuses. ***adds Hawaii to to-go list*** :o)

  6. Ah, that’s more like it, Jimbo. :-) Feel free to contact me if you have questions when you start to plan your Hawaii holiday.

  7. Wow, I had no idea hotel rooms in Hawaii were so high. Now I’m really glad we have the time share! You’re right you do get a lot more room too.

  8. Hello there! I was thinking of going to Hawaii to learn to surf. Can you tell me what is the cheapest way to get to Hawaii from London? I’m possibly travelling in the May 2008 period or October 2008 period.
    Any advice or comments would be much appreciated.
    Cheers!

  9. Hi Harris,

    As you probably guessed, flying is definitely the cheapest way. Take a look at http://www.FareCompare.com to help you find the cheapest tickets.

    The months of May and October are ideal months to be traveling to Hawaii in terms of getting the best prices, having the better weather, and dealing with less crowds.

    Having lived in the UK for a while, I can tell you that Hawaii will be wonderful holiday.

    Best of luck with learning to surf. Aloha! Sheila

  10. Great ideas. A Hawaii vacation is pretty expensive and any way to cut the cost helps vacationers. Love the condo idea, most people don’t even think about it but it’s worth using the money save for something else especially if you don’t plan to spend much time in your room.
    -Sam

  11. Total Lodging 5 nights = $183/person Waikiki beginning of Nov
    Timing + Orbitz = :-D

    Highly recommend Wizard Publishing’s Oahu Revealed (great pictures and recommendations)

  12. We are planning to go to Maui and Big island in October. Can anyone please tell me where to look for good hotel deals and cheap local flight deals from island to island.

    Thanks in advance.

  13. I will travel to Oahu in January for 3 months. Could you give me some advice for renting a 3 bedroom house.

  14. Great tips! You should definitely spend more time on having fun than reaching into your wallet. Traveling with friends can also save a lot of money as you can split the expenses. Just make sure it’s drama-free. :)

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