Guide to Visiting Hawaii on a Budget

A rainbow at Kauai beach
M Swiet Productions / Getty Images

From golf to scuba diving and from yoga to hiking, whatever your passion may be, you will find an outlet for it on the gorgeous islands of Hawaii. These islands are among the most distant places from another landmass in the world and going to Hawaii is a dream vacation for many, as it is far away from home for most, and can be a very expensive trip. 

With some planning and careful budgeting, you can make your Hawaiian dream come true. With these money-saving tips, you can spend time on one, or all, of the Hawaiian Islands.

Money-Saving Tips and Coupons

  • Invest in Hawaii Travel Guide: How to Travel to Hawaii Cheap. You will get invaluable information from this book about saving money.
  • Buy The Entertainment Book. It is sold all over the country. The prices change yearly but expect to pay about $35.00 for it, You will get that money back the first day or two you are in the islands. You can also buy their digital edition.
  • When you get off the plane at each island, grab every brochure available, as you will find they contain many coupons. Look for racks of these free publications in the baggage claim area. If you are renting a car make sure you take the brochures that they give you as well. Taking the time to get these brochures can save you lots of money.

    Save Money on Lodging

    • If you do not intend to explore these amazing islands, it might make sense to spend $300 a night on a resort that you never have to leave. But, Hawaii cries out, "Look at me!" If you avoid the fancy resorts, it is absolutely possible to spend less than $100 a night for lodging on every island, for various types of accommodations.
    • Don't be shy about asking for upgrades in hotels when you check-in. You will be surprised at how easy it is to get upgraded, but you won't know unless you ask. Ask and you may get a bigger and better room for the same price you were about to pay.
    • Websites like ​Priceline are great resources for frugal travelers. Check different websites to find the best deal when booking hotels in advance. Don't forget to check on family-owned bed & breakfasts and inns, as they will often have negotiable rates. If you have the time and patience, keep going back to various websites to see if prices have changed. 

    Frugal Choices for Clothing and Gear

    • Leave your luxury resort wear at home and bring clothes you will not mind throwing away if they get stained or ruined. A lot of Hawaii has very sticky, black sand and clay-colored mud and these substances do not come off of your clothes easily. If you bring clothes and footwear you don't care about, you won't have to replace them.
    • Bring your own snorkels, fins, and mask. One-time rentals are available at many beaches, however, if you go to three beaches in one day, you can spend $15.00. Do that for ten days and you've spent $150 you didn't need to spend. Surprisingly, these items don't take up much room in luggage.

      Shop Wisely

      • Many stores, especially the vendor-type shops, will give you a discount if you offer cash.
      • Everywhere you go you will see roll-up sand mats for 99 cents. These mats are better than towels or blankets because the sand shakes off of them easily, but it is not easy to carry the roll-up mats around if you are traveling between islands. Instead, spend a bit more ($2.49) and get a mat that folds into a square, then you can carry the mat from place to place and you can also take it home, rather than throwing it away. The best place to find these is at an ABC Store.
      • You will hear that buying your souvenirs at Walmart will save a lot of money, but Walmart is really only good for magnets and key chains. If you are looking for souvenir t-shirts and are going to Oahu, be sure to check out Crazy Shirts, a store with a great variety where you can even pick them out and they'll ship them home to you. If it is jewelry you want and you aren't afraid to bargain, shop the vendors and haggle, as many will strike a good deal. 

      Dine Within Your Budget

      • Dining out in Hawaii is a great way to break the bank, right? Think again. With a little searching, you can find cheap eats and drinks, even in paradise.
      • If you are planning to pack for a hike or picnic, you will find that even grocery store food is expensive in Hawaii. If you have room to take some food from home, like trail mix, energy bars, or crackers, it's a good idea to do so. 

      Using these tips, you can travel to Hawaii for three weeks on a two-week budget without sacrificing your enjoyment.