How to travel Hawaii on a shoestring budget

Advice

Ideal temperatures year-round, incredible scenery and beautiful beaches with world-class waves – the islands have something for everyone. It’s no secret that Hawaii is an expensive destination, but on our recent trip we found out the real magic happens away from the big resorts; so keep reading for our top tips on how to experience the aloha spirit with our Hawaii budget tips!

Choosing an island

With 8 major islands and over 130 other smaller ones to choose from it goes without saying, good luck choosing. Each island offers its own taste of that sweet Hawaii life and with that could come a different price tag.

Island hopping is expensive and can only really be done by plane, so we recommend picking just one or two and planning your route before you go. Most flights will fly in and out of Honolulu so O’ahu is a great place to start, but flights from O’ahu to Kaua’i alone will set you back upwards of $180+ in the summer.

Pick out the islands you’re dreaming of visiting, but do your research and find the lesser known spots with all the same goodies as the big boys. You’ll save on hotels, transport, food and more while still getting the same drop-dead views.

A man with a backpack on a cliff staring at two small islands in the ocean

Time of year

When isn’t the right time to visit Hawaii? Seriously though, the great thing about Hawaii is that its blessed with being in the Pacific – so you’re guaranteed amazing weather pretty much all year round. Save some $$ by visiting in low season: Jan-Feb or mid-September to mid-December are your best bets.

two legs with sneakers hanging off a clilff over looking a lush Hawaiian mountain

Choose accommodation wisely

Forget the 5-star honeymoon resorts, there are plenty of cheap accommodation options available too. Stay clear of the popular parts of the islands as prices will rocket when you can find much cheaper, budget friendly places a short drive/bus ride away.

If travelling solo, hostels are a great option but they are still slightly more expensive than your average dorm bed and generally need to be booked a few days in advance in popular locations such as Waikiki and North Shore. If travelling in a group, Airbnb can be amazing value and offer the most authentic island experiences while coach surfing is also commonly used and gives you great opportunities to meet and hang out with locals.

Or, get back to nature and spend your trip camping! There is nothing quite like falling asleep under the stars and waking up on the beach to incredible sunrises.

A girl laying on an orange hammock staring at a large waterfall

Getting around the islands

Rent a car! It is so easy to rent a car and getting around these amazing islands is super easy with some pretty spectacular views along the way. It might seem like a big cost to begin with, but hiring a car gives you so much freedom to explore where you want to on the islands. But, just be aware, if you’re under 25, most car rental places have an underage driving fee, so don’t forget to factor that into your budget.

Girl sitting on top of a car overlooking a mountainous coast and ocean

Food

Make like Jamie Oliver and start cooking. Head to Walmart of Costco for cheap food (plus Walmart is a whole experience in itself) that you can wrangle up. Even just taking a packed lunch can save you a significant amount of dough…

While exploring, never pass up on the on the local food trucks. Serving all types of food from Mexican, fusion or classic Hawaiian, this is where you will most often find the best (and cheapest) food. Winner!

Making the most of your time

While it can be hard to resist spending your entire travel budget in just a few days, pace yourself (and your dollar) with free activities.

• First up is hiking, duh! One firm fave is the Awa’awapuhi Trail. Hello jaw-dropping drop offs and viewpoints across the Na-Pali coast. A total of 6.2 miles, this is one of the trickier climbs, particularly on the way back down. But fear not, the trail is well sign posted so you won’t be calling for help.

• If you’re not a hiker, hit the water with some budget friendly snorkeling. You can find local places where you can rent equipment for as little as $15 for 5 whole days! Not to excite you or anything, but you can swim with dolphins… FOR FREE! Just always make sure you swim in areas appropriate for your ability, look out for lifeguards (oi oi, not for that reason) and always keep an eye on the sea conditions.

• Last but certainly not least, the beaches. From hidden coves in Hanalei to world famous surf shores like turtle bay, you’ll find a bum-worthy beach on every corner. Head to Waikiki beach on a Friday for a free firework show around 7:45pm. Bring some snacks and beer, and you got yourself a killer evening.

Man walking with bag towards lush mountainous Hawaiian landscape

So there you have it, some easy breezy tips about travelling to Hawaii on a budget. So, if you’re dreaming of a South Pacific adventure, then come this way

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