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How to save money on a Hawaii vacation
First thing’s first: visiting Hawaii isn’t cheap. With that in mind, it is possible to save money on a Hawaii vacation.
I get emails all the time asking how to go to Hawaii for $1500-2000 for two people. Honestly, there’s no way to do that without some serious sacrifice.
If you’re looking to have a nice vacation in Hawaii, it’s likely going to cost $4000-$5000 for two people for one week.
Yes, you can do it cheaper. Personally, I don’t want to cook ramen in a pot outside of my tent in Hawaii. If you do, that’s definitely a cheaper way, but this post isn’t for you.
This post is not about travel hacking using your credit card points or how to have a miserable (but cheap!) vacation. You can find posts about those things elsewhere. This post is full of practical tips and realistic ways to save money on a Hawaii vacation – while still enjoying yourself!
7 ways to save money on a Hawaii vacation
Here are 7 practical tips for saving money on your Hawaii vacation while still enjoying yourself. You might also want to check out 20 things to never do in Hawaii before you go.
1. Don’t travel to Hawaii during the high season
If you want to save money on a Hawaii vacation, don’t travel during the high season. More visitors to the islands mean fewer accommodations and possible price increases.
Flights generally cost more during high season, and affordable accommodations can be hard to find.
The best times to visit the islands tend to be in March-May and September-October. June-August and the holiday season are the most popular times to visit Hawaii. My #1 tip for saving money? Travel outside of these times, if possible.
You’ll also find many visitors from December-March looking to get away from the cold or see the whales that also visit Hawaii during this time. It’s not as busy from February-March, but still typically busier than April or May.
April, May, September, and October are the slower months between the busy seasons and the “shoulder season.”
Of course, there are tourists in Hawaii year-round, but you’re the most likely to find great deals on flights and lodging during the shoulder season months.
There is one exception.
Important note: The Ironman is held in Kona on the Big Island every October. Unless you plan on competing in the Ironman, you’ll be better off to book your vacation on another island during the week of the race.
One more thing, the weather in Hawaii is always beautiful. I’m asked about this a lot, and there’s truly never a “bad” time to visit Hawaii.
Check out my post about the worst time to visit Hawaii to learn more about the weather in Hawaii and when to avoid crowds.
2. Be flexible on your Hawaii vacation dates (and possibly locations)
Are you flexible on your travel dates? This can be a huge money saver. Sometimes just changing a day or two can make all the difference. It is generally best to fly on weekdays if at all possible.
It can be scary, but most of the time, it saves money to wait to book your flights. This can be scary since there is no guarantee, but flights are often priced the best around 4-8 weeks from your travel dates.
I do not recommend waiting this long to book your accommodations, as it’s almost always cheaper to book accommodations months in advance.
Sometimes you can save quite a bit simply by visiting a different island. Often flights (or accommodations) are cheaper on one island or even part of an island. It’s worth checking your dates on different islands to see what you can find.
If you haven’t decided where you’d like to go yet, make sure to check out the best island in Hawaii.
3. Stay in a vacation rental
If you’re the kind of traveler who doesn’t mind making your own bed and washing your own clothes, a vacation rental can be a great way to save money on a Hawaii vacation.
It’s not for everyone, but vacation rentals can be an affordable option for those looking to save on their vacations.
In a vacation rental condo with a kitchen, you can cook some of your own meals. Not only is this a great way to save money, but it’s also a fantastic option for those with dietary restrictions, like me!
There’s a full kitchen behind me in our Airbnb condo in Kona.
Vacation rental condos often have “extras” such as toiletries, beach gear, common kitchen items, and more. Many vacation rentals also have a washer and dryer, saving money since you don’t have to pack as much. Less luggage = fewer bag fees!
Of course, vacation rentals aren’t just a budget option. You can also find rentals that cost just as much or even more than a 5-star resort. There are vacation rentals for every budget, but it’s possible to stay in a nice oceanfront vacation rental for less than a comparable resort.
4. Plan your splurges
You’re going to spend money on a Hawaii vacation; there is no way around it. One way to make sure that you stay within budget is to plan your splurges.
Want to plan a dinner at a nice restaurant like Mamas Fish House? Do you research first, because not all pricey restaurants are worth it? Don’t worry, though, Mama’s is totally worth it! Not all resort restaurants are, however, so it pays to do your research.
When you do find the perfect restaurant to splurge, cook the rest of your meals for the day yourself or book a tour for the day that includes food (like a Molokini Crater snorkel tour) so that you don’t have to worry about the rest of your meals.
5. Take advantage of Happy Hour
You can save quite a bit by finding the best happy hours in town! Not only will you save on drinks, but you can often get appetizers and even meals during happy hour at a reduced rate.
I have a blog post about the best happy hours in Kona, on the Big Island. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more Happy Hour posts for the other islands.
I mentioned it earlier, but cooking some of your own meals is a great way to save money. Even if you aren’t staying in a condo with a kitchen, you can get creative with your meals depending on what your resort or hotel offers for meal preparation (microwaves, grills, etc.)
At the very least, pick up your favorite coffee creamer and make coffee in your resort, condo, or hotel room.
Combine this with hitting the best happy hours, and you’ll save quite a bit!
6. Travel as a group
This isn’t always possible, but traveling as a group can be a great way to save money on a Hawaii vacation.
Even traveling with another couple and splitting a condo and rental car can result in huge savings. You might want to avoid this route if it’s your honeymoon, anniversary, or if you’re traveling with smaller children.
This strategy won’t work for everyone, but it’s worth checking out if you have the option to split the cost of a suite, home, or condo with someone else.
7. Get a rental car
It might seem counterproductive to say to spend more money up front by getting a car, but hear me out. You really need a rental car in Hawaii. You can read more about why you need a rental car in Hawaii here.
The short version is that most of Hawaii does not have good public transportation, and getting around by Uber or Lyft (if available) will really add up. You can do so much more on your own (and avoid expensive tours) if you have a rental car.
Now, you’re probably wondering how to save money on a rental car. I highly recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. Renting a car in Hawaii can be expensive, but they have the best deals around!
How to save money on a Hawaii vacation
I hope you enjoyed these tips for how to save money on your next Hawaii vacation. If you have anything to share, please add it in the comments below! You might also enjoy some of my other Hawaii travel tips:
- The best pineapple farms to visit in Hawaii
- Maui vs. Kauai
- Is Hawaii safe?
- What is Hawaii like right now?
- 50 things to do in Maui
- What is the best luau in Hawaii?
- How to survive the flight to Hawaii
- 25 things to do on Kauai
- 25 things to do in Haleiwa
Although I am a Hawaii Travel Agent, I am only taking on a few clients for 2021. You can contact me if you’d like more information. I would recommend starting with my Hawaii travel guide if you plan to DIY your vacation!
The best way to get Hawaii travel tips and the most current travel information is to sign up for my email list. I send out one weekly email with the latest news, travel deals, and more. Sign up below.
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