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How to save on a Hawaii Vacation
Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth and it can be very expensive. I hate to break it to you but there isn’t really a “cheap Hawaii vacation” without using some serious credit card points or camping.
Nothing against either of those things, but the majority of us don’t want to do either. Not to worry, there are many ways to save on a Hawaii vacation.
The best way to plan a budget Hawaii vacation is to be realistic about the costs, plan in advance, and enjoy some of the many free activities in Hawaii.
Let’s talk about some of the best ways to save on a Hawaii vacation.
Book your Hawaii trip in advance
The best tip for how to save on a Hawaii vacation is to book your trip in advance. Specifically your hotel and rental car. Travel suppliers and resorts tend to offer advance purchase rates.
This travel lingo simply means that the prices are much lower than the “rack rate” (regular rate) and usually better than any other specials that the hotel may be running. The best prices are generally found when you book as far in advance as possible.
I’ll talk about it next, you might want to wait to book your flight rather than including it in the package. If you want convenience, book your entire trip far in advance. If you want to save as much as possible, book everything but the flights.
How to save on airfare to Hawaii
The very first part of booking a Hawaii vacation usually includes booking the flights. Flights to Hawaii from the mainland and other countries are always going to be fairly expensive, it’s one of the most remote destinations in the world!
The best tip that I can give when it comes to saving on airfare is timing. I have found that flights booked at 5-6 weeks out generally have the lowest fares. You can sign up for alerts on Google Flights to see if the price goes up or down. Longer flights with more stops might be cheaper, but that isn’t always true.
If you live in a major city, or on the west coast, you may be able to get a direct flight. If you live in a smaller area or on the east coast, you may have at least one stop. There are non-stop flights from some east coast destinations, but not many.
Try to weigh the price of a shorter flight into your considerations. A shorter flight might mean more time in Hawaii and less stress overall. I find that a more direct flight is worth spending a little extra money on.
It tends to be less expensive to fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday, but this isn’t always the case. Lastly, check out how to survive the flight to Hawaii and fight jet lag once you arrive.
How to save on a rental car in Hawaii
Make sure to compare the cost of a package versus car rentals only. No matter what you do, book your car early. Rental cars can and do sell out during busy times.
If you do not book your car as part of a package, I recommend renting a car from Hotwire.com.
I don’t recommend Hotwire for hotels in Hawaii but I do recommend them for cars. The prices can’t be beaten. You won’t know what you’re getting until you book with Hotwire, but you can always upgrade later if you don’t like it. Use this link to get $10 Off $150 Hot Rate Rental Cars.
I recommend renting a car no matter what island you’re on. Getting around Honolulu is fairly easy using public transportation or walking, but you don’t want to miss out on the North Shore just because you don’t have a car. Check out why you need a rental car in Hawaii to learn more.
On The Big Island, having a car is very important since there are so many things to do and they are moderately spread out. I recommend a Jeep, as it’s just more fun overall and will allow you to access areas where you otherwise couldn’t go. I would also recommend a 4-wheel drive on Kauai.
On Maui, any type of rental car is okay. Even on the “long way” back from the Road to Hana, driving a car is just fine. You can read more about my recommendations for things to do in Maui.
How to save on a resort or hotel in Hawaii
The first tip applies here, book as far in advance as possible. Resorts tend to have better rates at least 6 months out. If a resort isn’t for you, I also love the idea of staying in a vacation rental in Hawaii.
Make sure to factor in things like resort fees, parking, wifi, and other fees when decided whether to stay at a resort, hotel, or a vacation rental condo. Many of the resorts have items that you can borrow, rent, or purchase that will make your stay easier.
Many condos will also have convenience items for your use. We have stayed in vacation rentals with boogie boards, snorkels, coolers, and beach chairs. Rentals on these items aren’t expensive, but they can add up and it may be worth it to try to find a rental that includes these amenities.
If you prefer to stay in a condo, check out Airbnb and make sure to use my link and get $55 off your first stay! You can find a room, or a full home, on just about any budget. I have seen rooms (on the Big Island) for around $25 for shared space and up to thousands of dollars per night for a luxury home.
Most rentals, resorts, and hotels have higher rates in the summer and during holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. If you book early, this won’t be as much of an issue. If you aren’t able to book early, you’ll likely look at higher prices (particularly on flights) during the busy months.
The temperature in Hawaii doesn’t fluctuate much, so don’t worry about there being a bad time to visit Hawaii. I wrote an entire post about that, so check the worst time to go to Hawaii.
Also, if you’re looking to travel to the Big Island in October, check for the Kona Ironman dates.
You might also enjoy 10 things to know before you go to Hawaii
How to save on food in Hawaii
Hawaii does not have any all-inclusive resorts. However, some resorts do have dinner or breakfast options. The number one way to save money on food is to stay in a rental that is equipped with a kitchen. This can be found in some hotels and resorts as well as the vacation rental condos.
If you do stay at a resort, you can save money and experience more of the island by leaving for some of the meals. Resort restaurants are always more expensive, although it’s worth the splurge for a special occasion!
Most restaurants will also have a happy hour, with specials on both drinks and appetizers. Check out the best Happy Hours in Kona to learn about Happy Hour specials on the Big Island.
7. How to save money on tours in Hawaii
I always recommend booking your adventures through Viator. Viator has a “best price” guarantee, so they will match it if you find a better price.
Most things on Viator also offer free cancellation up until 24 hours prior to the tour. Also, Viator isn’t just for “tours” but for surf lessons, cooking classes, and all kinds of other activities.
Look for package deals
I touched on packages earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again. You can save a little when you book a package. I recommend bundling your resort or hotel and your rental car.
If you are booking a package yourself, just do your homework to make sure that the package deal is actually a deal. Sometimes companies inflate prices to make it looks like you’re getting a great deal, but when you do the math you realize that it’s not. I have seen it work both ways, so it is worth comparison shopping.
How to save on a Hawaii vacation
I hope this blog post helps you save on a Hawaii vacation! Please comment below and let me know where you’re going, or if you have any questions that I can answer.
If you have any of your own tips or tricks on how to save on a Hawaii vacation, please share them!
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