5 Best Hawaii Vacation Money Saving Tips

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Hawaii can be expensive, but we’ve found some smart ways to save money on our vacations. As you read these five tips, you’ll soon see that these tricks can really add up over the course of your stay.

Here are my top Hawaii vacation money saving tips:

1. Avoid the hotel breakfast buffets. I’d say the average resort breakfast buffet costs $25 per person in Hawaii. I’ve seen them cost as much as $32 per person. So, you can see that a couple could easily drop $350 just on breakfast for a week’s vacation. Now I’m not saying to starve yourself, but look for more cost effective and creative ways to get your breakfast. Consider these alternatives.

  • Many resorts have a coffee shop with fruit and pastries. Check to see if your resort does.
  • Ask if the hotel restaurant serves an ala carte breakfast menu.
  • Pick up some breakfast items at the grocery store. (If you are staying in a hotel, store them in zip lock bags to keep any unwanted visitors out.)
  • Eat where the locals eat. They know where to find the best restaurants at the best prices.

2. Rent the smallest car to suit your needs. Not only will the car rental cost less, but you’ll also save money on gas, which is good for your wallet and the environment. We’ve rented convertibles and Jeeps in Hawaii and they were kind of fun, but not really worth the extra money. We’ve had just as much fun in the economy cars as the fancier cars.

3. Use self-parking and avoid using valet services. Valets can be a convenience, especially at your resort check-in, but depending on the number of times you use the service, tips can add up. After our rental car was damaged by the Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch and Crab valet service in Honolulu last year, we’ve vowed to avoid valets where at all possible. That valet service ended up costing us an additional $250 that we didn’t bargain for. (Oh and by the way the food wasn’t even worth the stop!)

4. For tours you really want to do, research and book them a couple weeks before you go to the island. Several of the better tour operators will offer 5 – 10% discounts by booking at least two weeks before your tour. So if you do a little research to find out who is best, also research how to get the best pricing. I like to do the researching before I go anyway so that I’m not wasting time finding tours while I’m on vacation.

5. Look for coupons online and in brochures. Before you go to Hawaii, peruse some of these free Hawaii coupons.  Consider if purchasing the Hawaii Entertainment coupon book if it will benefit you.  The consensus from Go Visit Hawaii readers is that this coupon book pays for itself if you are going to Oahu. You’ll find oodles of brochures in the airport. In these free magazines, you may find coupons for a free appetizer or some other freebie with purchase. Be aware that if you see a deal that’s too good to be true, there’s probably a timeshare presentation behind it.

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Here are some other money saving tips I’ve written about:

So, these are my best frugal vacation tips for Hawaii. What are yours? Please share your ideas in the comments.

13 comments
  1. Ahh, you’ve had the Dollar bug infested cars too eh? They’ve switched over to the Commander as their main SUV now too and it is HORRIBLE on gas mileage (moreso than any other SUV) so I’d recommend anyone other than Dollar.

  2. I only did Dollar because they had 10% off for AMEX customers… oh well.

    BTW, you should submit this post (and any money saving posts) to the FestivalofFrugality.com

  3. @ Angie – oh yeah we did have a Dollar roach mobile! (Actually we’ve also had an Alamo roach mobile as well in Kauai). Have you seen this post? https://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/03/30/dear-dollar-rent-a-car-please-clean-and-fumigate-your-cars/ I’ve got another upcoming post with a quote that will freak you out.
    @ Jim – Dang – I didn’t know we could get another 10% off with AMEX. Tisk! Thanks for the tip on the FoF.com. I’ll go check it out now.

  4. With many airlines now charging a fee to check in a second bag of luggage, shop online for your Hawaiian souvenirs. More and more of our customers are telling us that they are buying from us because they didn’t want to shop for gifts & hassle with packing them while on vacation.

  5. That’s a good idea! We have a shipping budget when we go and stock up on stuff there like certain foods like Aloha Shoyu, Sam Choy dressings, Hawaiian Salt, etc. (Things with a little more weight to them) The cost to combine them all and ship them from there via UPS or FedEx is much less than if you buy online for some reason. Just make sure you wrap anything glass in the big bubble wrap. Honolulu’s mail facility seems to think any box headed to the mainland is a soccer ball. *rolling eyes*

  6. I try really hard not to check any luggage at all. I was a bad girl this last time and checked one piece, and once again I regretted breaking my packing light rule. Shamey on me!

    Now I’m thinking I may stock up on coconut syrup next time and have it shipped home. That stuff is deliciously evil.

  7. Great tips, Sheila — and this was a good submission to the Carnival of Aloha. I love your “eat where the locals eat” tip. That applies everywhere, not just to Hawaii. ;-}

  8. Too many visitors plan their vacation and don’t even consider activity options until the arrive in the islands. They’re missing all sorts of opportunities to save money. By planning ahead and booking online, you can save big bucks.With the tips that you have shared is very useful to some travelers.

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