The Family Voyage

Visiting Hawaii on a budget (2023): all the tricks and tips you need to know

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travel cheap hawaii

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Most people think that “Hawaii” and “budget” don’t belong in the same sentence. After all, it’s supposed to be a splurge to visit a gorgeous tropical paradise… right?

We’re here to tell you that traveling to Hawaii on a budget is possible and can be even more rewarding than what the brochures from expensive resorts show you. There are so many opportunities for how to do Hawaii on a budget in every category – from airfares to discount accommodations in Hawaii to saving money on activities. Keep reading for our best tips to save money on a trip to Hawaii.

And listen – please only share this post with people you really like, because I’m sharing all of our very best secrets for visiting Hawaii on a budget. It’s very long because I don’t want to leave anything out, so you may want to save or bookmark the post to come back to later!

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Finding the cheapest way to go to Hawaii

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Trying to plan a Hawaii vacation on a budget? Make sure you don’t blow it before your feet even touch the sand! If you’re traveling from mainland US to Hawaii, there’s a very good chance that you can score an awesome deal on your airfare to Hawaii and there are lots of ways to do it. Read on for insider tips on how to go to Hawaii on a budget.

First, be flexible about your dates and which island you visit – within reason. Since airfare and lodging are the two biggest components of your Hawaii trip cost, you’ll want to balance those two to minimize your costs. Second, weigh the many options you have for using cash or points to book those plane tickets. Here are just a few ways to save money on airfare to Hawaii:

Find the cheapest airfare for cash payment

Sometimes the simplest thing to do is pay cash for a plane ticket, and with the great deals you can often find from America’s west coast it just might make sense. The first place to start your search is on Skyscanner .

We love using Skyscanner to find flights because it allows us to reflect our total flexibility – we can allow nearby airports on both ends and search for whole months at a time to land the best rate. Even if you don’t end up paying cash, it’s always important to know the going rate for flights when evaluating whether or not an award redemption is worthwhile.

Look for special deals

travel cheap hawaii

In early 2019 Southwest launched their much-anticipated service to Hawaii. Introductory fares were as low as $49 each way from select airports and eligible for Companion Pass! Now fares have settled in higher, but still cheaper than plenty of mainline carriers. Southwest’s Companion Pass only requires that you pay taxes, so it can be a really great deal. The fastest way to earn your companion pass is by opening a Southwest credit card – even faster if you open a personal card and a business card.

The catch is that they don’t have an extensive route map if you live outside of the West Coast: currently they only offer non-stop service from California, Phoenix and Las Vegas to Hawaii, with the most extensive service to Oahu in Maui . Some US cities also get flights to Kauai and Big Island . There are also inter-island flights, but it’s definitely worth comparing prices versus local carrier Mokulele Airlines to find the cheapest option.

Still and all, the Companion Pass is such an amazing value that I recently opened two Southwest credit cards in anticipation of a return visit to Hawaii. I only have to pay $5.60 to bring another family member with me! See the latest Southwest credit card promotions to get your Companion Pass.

❗ Learn more: How to get the Southwest companion pass

Many frequent flyers have heard of Southwest’s Companion Pass that you can earn through credit card sign up bonuses , but did you know that Alaska Airlines offers a similar one too? Alaska’s is a little different (only one per year and generally $99 per companion ticket plus taxes, but the base fare is often waived in the first year with promotions) but Alaska Airlines has tons of flights to Hawaii ! You can earn one with the Alaska Airlines credit card .

And it’s not one of those gimmicks where you have to pay an exorbitant price for the first ticket in order to use a companion fare on the second one (as with some old Amex promotions), you can just buy any regular ticket on the website. Especially for west coasters who already have access to bargain plane tickets to the Aloha State, this might be one the cheapest way to travel to Hawaii.

Book with frequent flyer miles

travel cheap hawaii

Obviously the cheapest way to go to Hawaii is not to pay for it! When your friends ask you how to go do Hawaii on a budget, this is usually the first trick you’ll want to tell them about. “Free” is the cheapest way to get to Hawaii and one we’ve taken advantage of many times.

We recommend targeting at least 2 cents per mile, but sometimes it makes sense to redeem for as little as 1.5 cents per mile if you really don’t want to spend the money out of pocket (after all, if you’re buying four plane tickets to pretty much anywhere you’re looking at a minimum of a thousand dollars). While many airlines now offer dynamic (= more expensive) point redemptions, here are the major airline baseline award redemptions for from the continental US to Hawaii as of October 2022 (economy class for us, folks):

American Airlines – 45,000 peak; 40,000 off-peak

United Airlines – 45,000

Delta Airlines – 45,000

Alaska Airlines – 40,000

British Airways – 26,000 from west coast , 51,500 from east coast (operated by AA)

From the chart above, it’s clear where the value in frequent flyer tickets to Hawaii lies. Alaska Airlines and sometimes British Airways can offer far better value than the mainline US carriers. British Airways offers a distance-based award chart, so passengers coming from the west coast only need 26,000 miles for a round trip, while east coasters would need a whopping 51,500 miles!

Ok, so how can you earn enough British Airways Avios points as an American? Simple: open up a Chase Sapphire Preferred , Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Ink Business Preferred card and once your sign-up bonus hits, do an instant transfer to your Executive Club account! Then redeem here through your account BA account. As of August 2023, the Sapphire Preferred sign up bonus is 60,000 points as is the Chase Sapphire Reserve sign up bonus , while small business owners get a 100,000 point sign up bonus with the Ink Business Preferred. That’s almost enough to get a family to Hawaii and back from the West Coast. You can also follow our lead and get both personal and business cards for each adult in the family cards to really juice up your award travel options.

Southwest’s frequent flyer redemption is fare-based so it varies a ton, but you can combine it with your Companion Pass discussed above to get two tickets to Hawaii for just the miles you’d need for one ticket. If you can find an affordable time of year using their low fare calendar, it’s a dynamite option to fly to Hawaii for cheap. Apply for a Southwest credit card here to start earning your Companion Pass. If you also have the Chase cards I mentioned above, know that you can transfer those Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest as well if you’re a little short.

If you’re in a city with lots of United flights, the most straightforward option might be to grab a United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card . The usual fee is $95 per year (though sometimes the first year fee is waived) and it comes with 50,000 bonus miles – enough to cover your ticket. We love that it includes free checked baggage when you use the card, even if you’re just covering taxes on an award ticket redemption, and you’ll get two passes to the United Club lounge. We carry this card and use it whenever we’re booking United flights.

Redeem Chase Ultimate Reward Points

Wondering how to go to Hawaii on the cheap? The final way to save money on plane tickets to Hawaii is actually how we picked up three of our four tickets on one trip to Hawaii. Since we’ve accumulated a ton of Chase Ultimate Rewards points through our Sapphire Preferred , Sapphire Reserve and Ink Business Preferred cards, we’ve sometimes taken advantage of their flexibility to buy our tickets.

One of our favorite features of Ultimate Rewards points is that you can redeem them for almost any travel expense through the portal; your redemption rate is 1-1.25 cents per point with most Chase cards and 1.5 cents per point if you have the Sapphire Reserve card (even if the points were earned on a different Chase card and transferred or pooled).

In our case tickets on Alaska were $445 each if purchased with cash, so we redeemed almost exactly 30,000 points for each. Ultimate Rewards points do not transfer to Alaska Airlines, but by purchasing through the portal we had no out of pocket expense – not even taxes. Pretty sweet!

Want to plan the ultimate Hawaii vacation? Click here for step-by-step Hawaii travel planning help!

Save money by going carry-on only!  Check out our full (but minimalist) women’s packing list for Hawaii .

travel cheap hawaii

Hopefully we’ve gotten you to Hawaii without putting too big of a dent in your wallet. The other huge chunk of the cost of a Hawaii vacation is accommodation. If you really want to plan a budget trip to Hawaii, consider a home exchange.

Check out this map to find (slightly) more budget-friendly options:

Vacation Rentals in Hawaii

Vacation rentals can be a great option in Hawaii, but it’s important to know what you’re getting in to. In June 2019, the mayor of Honolulu enacted strict limits on unhosted short-term vacation rentals on Oahu – essentially stifling the market for Airbnb on Oahu outside of designated tourist zones like Waikiki, Ko Olina and Turtle Bay. Newer restrictions are even tougher.

Other areas will still have some vacation rentals available, but limited in number and they have to be licensed. Likewise, other parts of Hawaii have limits on short-term rentals. Vacation rentals can be one of the best options for how to do Hawaii on the cheap, but check listings carefully!

If you find an awesome legal rental in Hawaii, that can be a great way to stay! You’ll be able to save money on groceries, parking and more while also enjoying a different kind of feel.

Here are some great options to consider for each island (though “cheap” is a relative term and varies somewhat by island):

  • Cheap vacation rentals on Oahu
  • Cheap vacation rentals on Maui
  • Cheap vacation rentals on the Big Island
  • Cheap vacation rentals on Kauai

Hotels in Hawaii

Would you rather just stay in a hotel in Hawaii? There are so many to choose from, even if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii on a budget!

The cheapest way to stay at a hotel in Hawaii is for free, obviously. We recently grabbed a World of Hyatt credit card so that we can use the sign-up bonus for an upcoming trip to Kauai and Maui! While there are tons of hotel loyalty programs out there, Hyatt has the most generous award chart and often requires only half as many points per night as competitors like Marriott and Hilton. In addition, award stays pay no resort fee and still count toward achieving elite status. We really love the Hyatt program!

If that all sounds great, I have even better news for you. The Chase Sapphire Preferred , Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Ink Business Preferred cards credit cards that our family uses can transfer their points to Hyatt as well! Obviously you need to use your credit cards responsibly and pay the balances every month, but if you’re strategic about your sign up bonuses you can land a mostly free trip to paradise by combining one of the airline programs I mentioned above with the Hyatt hotel program.

Another budget-friendly hotel option for Hawaii is to try to look for ones that offer a kitchen and laundry to avoid pricey meals out and laundry services. You’ll still get the resort amenities like beautiful pools, on-site restaurants and quality staffing. Check out these great options on each island:

Oahu : – Beach Villas at Ko Olina – Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club (also check here for deals ) >>> Check out this area-by-area guide to where to stay on Oahu

Maui : – Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas (this is where we stayed during our first trip to Hawaii with a baby and it was wonderful!) – Honua Kai resort

Kauai : – Plantation Hale Suites (***bargain alert!) – Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club – Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons – Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas – Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu We haven’t visited Kauai yet, but check out this detailed guide to the best of kid-friendly Kauai !

Big Island : – Inn At Kulaniapia – Orchid Tree B&B – Hilo Bay Oceanfront Bed & Breakfast – Kilauea Lodge & Restaurant – Hilton Waikoloa Village – Waikoloa Village vacation rentals (we stayed in one of these on our last visit and it was wonderful) – Mauna Lani Point Villas – The Islands At Mauna Lani – Mauna Lani Resort (I felt so pampered when I stayed here many years ago!) – Westin Hapuna Beach Resort – Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (we love the beach here, arguably one of the Big Island’s best)

Read more: Check out these simple hacks for saving more on your reservations!

If you or a loved one is a member of the US military, make sure to check out the Hale Koa Hotel on Waikiki Beach. As a “thank you” to service members, this fairly basic hotel offers a world-class location and comfortable amenities as prices that can be half or even a third of the price of surrounding resorts. Find more details here about this wonderful option for service members wondering how to visit Hawaii on a budget.

Home Exchange in Hawaii

There are so many reasons why we love home exchange, and a few that are extremely relevant to planning a Hawaii family vacation on a budget.

First, your cash expense to do a home exchange in Hawaii will be less than one night in a hotel .

Second, having a real home with a kitchen means you can avoid pricey restaurant meals – and they sure are pricey in Hawaii!

Third, being away from the main tourist areas means almost everything will be less expensive (not to mention less crowded) – groceries are cheaper, our long-term Home Exchange house on Oahu had its own parking and the house even came stocked with boogie boards and snorkel gear so that we didn’t have to rent.

Beyond the economics, doing a home exchange in Hawaii had other amazing benefits. Everyone had plenty of space to stretch out. We had our own laundry facilities. We hung out at “locals only” spots rather than the crowded tourist beaches. There was a second fridge for all our Costco supplies. Oh, and we even had enough space that both grandmas came to join us for a few weeks during our slow travel on Oahu! Want more tips for planning a multigenerational vacation ?

Camping in Hawaii and RV in Hawaii

Another option for the truly budget-minded is camping on Hawaii. Every island has some wonderful, gorgeous places to pitch your tent though the amenities vary tremendously by site. Check out this helpful roundup of where to camp on Kauai .

If you want to combine your accommodations and your transportation, consider renting an RV in Hawaii . There are tons of beautiful campgrounds on every island and you’ll save money overall compared with renting a car and a hotel room.

travel cheap hawaii

Renting a car in Hawaii seems, like many things, to be more expensive than on the mainland. In some places like Honolulu and Waikiki you can stay amidst the tourist throngs and get by without a car – walk to popular beaches, walk to mini marts, walk to tourist restaurants, and rely on hotel concierges to book activities on other parts of the island that include transportation. You can take buses to some places on Oahu, but they can be very time consuming.

Read more: 10 things you NEED to know before renting a car in Hawaii

If you are a solo traveler in Hawaii, it might make sense to go stay in one of the cities the car-free route since all of those small (or large) premia are only impacting one traveler. For couples or families, though, you’ll more than make up the cost of a rental car by saving money on pretty much everything else . You’ll also gain the freedom to explore beautiful, peaceful spots that most tourists don’t get to see. Moreover, in many parts of Hawaii you absolutely need a car to get around.

Bringing the kids? Save money on your rental by bringing your own travel car seats . Click to read all the best hacks.

We have a few favorites for finding deals on car rentals in Hawaii (and everywhere else). The most straightforward is good old . You can quickly search for the type of car you want across tons of providers of all sizes and reserve without any upfront payment . Nearly every reservation can be cancelled, so we often check back weekly leading up to our travels and rebook if we see a better rate.

A great local option is Discount Hawaii Car Rental . They work with all of the major Hawaii car rental companies and have Hawaii-based customer service in case an issue comes up. That can be especially helpful if you’re arriving when it’s late in the day on the mainland.

Another option to consider is joining AARP . The membership costs about as much as a Starbucks run but can save you up to 30% on rental car rates (in addition to discounts on some hotels)! Surprisingly, you don’t have to be a senior or retired to join AARP.

Our rental car ended up being by far the most expensive component of our 5 week trip to Hawaii. We needed a minivan for part of our trip, but it would have been the same price as renting one compact car for five weeks and a second compact car for a week and a half in the middle when we were joined by a few grandmas.

Though the minivan was pricey at $1600 for five weeks, it was handy to have for hauling around a big stack of boogie boards, beach towels and cases of food from Costco (more on that below). If you plan to shop at Costco and haul around lots of beach gear, you may want to consider sizing up from the smaller options. For reference, the quote we received for an intermediate car for 10 days was just shy of $500. Thanks to rental car shortages after the pandemic, rates may be significantly higher if you’re booking a shorter rental period.

What’s the best place to get gas in Hawaii? It’s often Costco. Seriously, folks. On average gas was 70 cents cheaper per gallon at Costco than at other local gas stations during our last visit. That’s more than $10 saved every time you fill up! That said, other local gas sellers have upped their game by lowering their prices so it’s worth peeking at Safeway and Sam’s Club prices when you drive by, as the Costco gas lines can be long. My favorite tip for comparing gas prices in Hawaii is that on the store detail page for each Costco warehouse you can expand the “Gas Station” section to see hours and the current price! (Note that Hawaii Kai does not have gas, but all other Costco warehouses in Hawaii do.)

Not sure which island to pick? Find the best Hawaiian island for your family vacation.

If you prefer simplicity in your travel arrangements, one option to consider for Hawaii vacations on a budget is a package deal. That’s how we went on our first Hawaii vacation!

Before booking a package deal, you need to carefully consider the value of everything that’s included to make sure it’s actually the cheapest way to vacation in Hawaii for the dates you want. We booked ours as a Black Friday special, so it was deeply discounted.

Here are some great places to look for discount Hawaii vacation packages:

  • Expedia (that’s where we booked ours)
  • TravelZoo (we’ve gotten great deals for other destinations)
  • Costco Travel

travel cheap hawaii

If you’re planning a budget Hawaii vacation, you’ll need to think carefully about how and where you’ll eat. Many items have to be transported to Hawaii by ship, so food prices in Hawaii can be anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars more than on the mainland. Having a plan for food is one of the keys to how to travel to Hawaii on a budget.

Of course the best way to save money on food in Hawaii is to book a vacation rental with a kitchen and prepare food yourself. But even if you plan to make all your meals at your home away from home, you’ll have to be judicious in you grocery purchases. But we’ve done some scouting for you and have a few suggestions to help you through since grocery prices in Hawaii can be quite daunting.

First, let’s discuss Costco. If you already have a membership and you’ll be visiting Hawaii with a few other people, Costco in Hawaii can be a great value ! Prices are nearly the same as at Costco on the mainland, and prices are much cheaper than local grocery stores for items like dairy, eggs and meat. There are seven Costco locations in Hawaii, including four on Oahu.

In addition to food and pantry staples, you’ll find some beach gear, Hawaiian shirts and other handy items. While you’re there, grab a meal at Costco – it doesn’t require membership and the whole family can eat for less than $10! It’s not a nutritious choice to make every day, but if you’re going to Costco in Hawaii once every week or two it’s a great way to save a little money without cooking at home.

Pro tip: If you don’t have a Costco membership but know someone who does, have them buy you some Costco Cash cards (gift cards). You can use these without a membership!

All that said, before you dive in on a Costco membership for your cheap trip to Hawaii consider whether or not you’ll actually make it through a 20 pound bag of rice during your vacation. And where will you store all that food? What should you do if you’ll only be in Hawaii for a short time or you aren’t bringing an entire football team? Head to Target!

That’s right, the big red bullseye of value has made it to paradise! You’ll find locations on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island and the stores are full of all your favorites from the mainland – plus some local specialties in the “Aloha Shop”. Since Target carries groceries – both house brand and national brands, it might just be the best place to do your grocery shopping in Hawaii. Similarly, if you prefer to shop at Walmart you’ll find tons of stores on Oahu and one or two on the other islands.

You may notice that prices in those stores are a little higher than what you’d find on the mainland, but fear not: both stores offer price match guarantees . Just pull up the item you want on your phone from the store’s website – or another major website – and they’ll give you the lower price right there at the register! I saved 20% on our sunscreen that way. Target will definitely be your friend when you travel to Hawaii on the cheap.

Another local option is Foodland. We found many items there that were only a little more expensive than at our local grocery stores on the mainland, though some things (like dairy and eggs) were much more expensive than we found at Costco. Sign up for their Maika’i card for extra discounts and make sure to check out the poke counter in the back of the store – we got an inside tip that many locals hit Foodland for their own poke fixes.

travel cheap hawaii

One of the great things about a vacation in Hawaii is that there are so many amazing things to do for free that take full advantage of what makes the Aloha State special. You can relax on the beach, hike to a waterfall , go on a scenic drive and even attend a hula performance – all for free! It’s one of the best places to travel to without a passport if you’re American.

We’ve had plenty of days in Hawaii when we didn’t spend a dime (except on shave ice, but that’s a different story). But what about big ticket paid activities? Can you still do them even if you’re visiting Hawaii on a budget? Here are a few ideas for how to have those special experiences without busting your budget.

Read more: 10 things to do on Oahu under $10

Go Oahu Card

The Go Oahu Card by Smart Destinations bundles multiple activities together to save you money. There are two different options to choose from: All-Inclusive or Build Your Own.

With their All-Inclusive pass you pay a fixed rate based on the number of days you’d like to use the card (which can be spread over a two week period) and then you can do as many of those activities as you can squeeze in! There are options ranging from luaus to catamaran snorkeling trips to hikes to movie tours, and many activities offer free transportation from Waikiki in case you don’t have a car.

You can choose cards for 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 days – cards for 3 days or more include your choice of one “premium” activity like a luau, a sunset dinner sail, snorkeling with wild sea turtles or even a semi-private surfing lesson.

If you’re visiting Oahu for a week, we think the 3 day card is the sweet spot for value at $219 per adult and $189 per child. Why? In addition to great activities like the Polynesian Cultural Center, you’ll get to choose one premium activity like a snorkel boat tour. There are plenty of other high-value activities included for the other two days so that you’d easily get plenty of value from the 3-day card .

Read all about the Go Oahu card and how to make the most of it when you’re traveling to Hawaii on a budget.

Check out just a few activities you can do with your Go Oahu card :

travel cheap hawaii

Entertainment Book

travel cheap hawaii

Remember the Entertainment Book that our families all used to buy during fundraisers in the 1980s? They’re still around. And they actually offer some pretty good deals in Hawaii on several islands!

As with most deals in the Entertainment Book , you’ll generally find 2-for-1 type coupons. You’ll find coupons for plenty of restaurants, but also coupons for wonderful attractions like the helicopter tours, snorkel rentals, Twogood Kayaks, the Bishop Museum, the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor and more. If you use it for even one or two activities in Hawaii, it’ll pay for itself. You can even choose a digital book to have all the deals at your fingertips!

>>> See all the deals available in the Hawaii Entertainment Book.

Check out more awesome things to do on Oahu with kids

Admission to National Parks in Hawaii

If you plan to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island or Haleakalā on Maui, you can get in  FREE with your America the Beautiful annual pass . For just $80 per year, you can get into nearly all federal government-run recreational lands. It will generally pay for itself in just three or four uses (or even two if you’re visiting some of the popular/expensive parks). Pick up your pass today.

Shopping for someone else? Consider these great National Park themed gifts !

Groupon and Living Social

Other great resources for saving money in Hawaii are daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social. You can find discounts on sailing trips, helicopter rides, parasailing and more. If you’re looking for things to do in Hawaii on a budget, make Groupon your first stop! Check out the deals here.

Use your memberships

travel cheap hawaii

You might have the key to cheap and free activities right in your wallet! If you’re a AAA member, always ask when booking hotels or activities if they offer a special rate.

And if you are a member of a science center back home that participates in the ASTC Passport program, bring your card to the wonderful Bishop Museum in Honolulu to receive free admission. We went twice (for free!) and even considered a third visit. It’s the perfect free activity if you’re trying to visit Hawaii with kids on a budget!

Military discounts

There are almost 50,000 US military personnel and their dependents living in Hawaii (population around 1.5 million). Military families vacationing in Hawaii will find discounts almost everywhere on admission to attractions. You’ll also benefit from lower hotel rates and access to four commissaries on Oahu, plus an exchange where you can buy discounted gifts. Thank you for your service!

There are two schools of thought about “island hopping” in Hawaii as it relates to the cheapest way to visit Hawaii.

First, the “pro island hopping camp”: Flights from mainland US to Hawaii are generally long and expensive. It’s cheaper to fly to Hawaii once and visit several islands while you’re there than it is to pay for separate roundtrip airfares. This is especially true if you’re coming from the east coast or if Hawaii is a once-in-a-lifetime splurge for you! The cheapest way to travel between Hawaiian islands is to look for a deal on Southwest and use companion pass if you have it, especially if you’ll need to check a bag.

Second, the “anti island hopping camp”: If you’re trying to plan a trip to Hawaii on a budget, you’ll economize more by staying in one place. Many vacation rentals offer a weekly rate. Rental cars are much cheaper by the week – often 5 days cost more than 7 days ( see the difference here ).

If you visit two islands (or more!) you’ll have to either eat out all the time or buy small, expensive quantities of food – and then buy them again on your next stop.

Plus you have to pay to get from one island to another, often around $75 each way. You can limit that to one segment if you book an “open jaw” into one island and out of another, but check that pricing versus a regular roundtrip plus an inter-island roundtrip.

Where do we fall? We suggest that you sit back and enjoy the aloha on one island at a time! Hawaii will always be waiting for you to return. The exception is if you’ve already been to some of the islands and want to visit a new on, but flight availability isn’t great. Now that we live in the Midwest it might work out better for us to stop on Oahu or Maui en route to Kauai since it has fewer inbound flights from the mainland.

If you’re planning a family vacation to Hawaii on a budget, some of the tips we’ve already mentioned will be extremely helpful! Here’s a quick roundup:

  • Look for companion pass deals for airfare
  • Grab an Airbnb with a kitchen – make sure it has a decent sized fridge if you plan to shop at Costco in Hawaii
  • Encourage your kids to eat fresh, local food rather than food that’s packaged and sent from the mainland (you can bring a box of cereal in your luggage if that’s a must-have)
  • Bring your own car seat to avoid paying for one with your rental car
  • Use your science museum membership from home for free admission to the Bishop Museum
  • If possible, avoid major school break times

Obviously prices vary a ton depending on where you’re coming from and style of travel. As a baseline, domestic plane tickets to Hawaii cost $400-1200 per person in 2022. Hotel or Airbnb accommodations cost $150-600 per night. The cost of food varies tremendously, but budget at least $40 per person per day if you’ll be eating all your meals at restaurants. Even “cheap trips to Hawaii” aren’t really cheap by true budget travel standards unfortunately.

Oahu can be very inexpensive thanks to abundant choices for lodging and food, and staying in Waikiki can remove the need for a rental car. The Hilo side of the Big Island also offers good value for the money, as it’s one of the less popular tourist areas. All things considered, the Big Island is probably the cheapest island in Hawaii.

We’ve found great deals almost anytime outside of school breaks! Fall is the quietest (and thus, cheapest) time for tourism in Hawaii. January and February can also be inexpensive times for flights as long as you avoid the end of winter break and the long weekends during the season.

If you’re flying at an off-peak time of year, you can often snag deals just a week or two in advance from the west coast. For flights over holiday periods or from the east coast, you’ll want to buy your tickets several months in advance for the best deals.

Prefer a visual version? Check out our Hawaii on a budget web story !

See all of our Hawaii travel planning resources in one place Travel planning resources: Compare rental car prices for Hawaii Buy a top-rated travel insurance policy 5 simple money-saving hacks for General Hawaii resources: How to visit Hawaii on a budget Renting a car in Hawaii: 10 things you NEED to know What to pack for Hawaii Is a cheap GoPro knock-off worth it? Hawaii with kids: What’s the best Hawaiian island for families? Is it worth visiting Hawaii with a baby? Ultimate packing list for Hawaii with kids Top 10 things to do with kids on Oahu The best snorkel gear for kids of all ages Oahu resources: Best Oahu travel guide book Perfect 7 day Oahu itinerary Where to stay on Oahu Family-friendly Oahu vacation rentals Cheap Places To Stay On Oahu 10 Fun Things to do on Oahu for $10 or less Getting the most bang for your buck on your Go Oahu discount card Insider tips for visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center The best beaches on Oahu (and why to visit them) Where to find the best shave ice on Oahu The best easy hikes on Oahu North Shore Oahu complete visitors guide Kayaking to the Mokes with Twogood Kayaks Family-friendly kayaking with Holokai Adventures Visiting Pearl Harbor Maui resources: Best Maui travel guide book Perfect 3 day Maui itinerary Cheap Places To Stay On Maui Big Island resources: Best Big Island travel guide book Perfect 5 day Big Island itinerary Cheap Places To Stay On the Big Island Kauai resources: Best Kauai travel guide book Perfect 3 day Kauai itinerary Cheap Places To Stay On Kauai

What are your secrets for how to do Hawaii on a budget?

Many thanks to our awesome partners in paradise, including Home Exchange, Smart Destinations, Polynesian Cultural Center and Twogood Kayaks; all opinions are my own.

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11 thoughts on “visiting hawaii on a budget (2023): all the tricks and tips you need to know”.

Yayyyyyyy!!! We went for our honeymoon, so I’m loving this! Now I know we can actually go back with the kids one day and not break the bank… so cool that you were able to be there for so long!

Out of all the states I have visited the only state I still have to go to is Hawaii. I always thought it is super mega expensive. Your post proves the opposite and I think it’s the time to start planning a trip. Can’t wait to go!

This is such a great post. We live in Aus and spent a month in Hawaii on our honeymoon back in 2016. Your photos took me right back. We did find accomodation so expensive, even through Airbnb- I wish we’d known about the house exchange back then! Thats such a good way to save some money while seeing the world.

I hope to visit it one day! great post #fearlessfamtrav

I’d love to visit Hawaii, but have always been turned off by the potential price! This post was awesome for me. Saving it for the future. ##fearlessfamtrav

Great tips! We loved Hawaii but not the cheapest #fearlessfamtrav

I love posts like this! Showing how seemingly expensive places are accessible for budget travellers. Good call on the Costco card, although great tips all round. Thanks for linking up to #fearlessfamtrav

Amazing tips, we are going to Hawaii on a home exchange so will already save a bit of money but these tips will be really helpful.

That’s so exciting! Which island are you visiting?

Thank you for these budget tips you shared to us. Hawaii is the best place for vacation lots of delicious foods and shopping center their. I hope i can go their next year.

I was under the impression that Hawaii is very expensive but your article proved me wrong.I would love to visit Hawaii soon

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Find Hawaii Vacation Package Deals

We are proud to offer exclusive vacation packages, most with rates under $1,000. These packages include airfare, car rental, and hotel stay for six to eight days. Visiting different islands, or "island-hopping" as we call it, is highly recommended because each island has its own distinct "personality."

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Facebook has handpicked the best vacation package deals. The all-inclusive vacation packages include airfare to Hawaii, car rental, and hotel stay for up to eight days or more. Please keep in mind that rates for some of these trip packages change weekly, so if you see a vacation deal at a price you like, you’ll definitely want to book it. We also offer deals on luaus, dinner cruises, golf, daily breakfast and more.

Getting The Best Vacation Package Deal

A cheap vacation package doesn’t need to feel, well, “cheap.” The hotels featured in these all-inclusive offers are three star hotels or better and many of them are beautiful beachfront properties but you save when you book air + flight.

Our Top 3 Must Stay at Hotels

We have three hotels that we highly recommend: Kaanapali Beach Hotel and Royal Lahaina Resort on Maui, and Royal Kona Resort on the Big Island. Both Royal Lahaina Resort and Royal Kona Resort offer “Best Price Guarantee” as well as a ton of options for creating your perfect vacation package. And Kaanapali Beach Hotel goes above and beyond to ensure that they provide the most value possible to visitors like you. Known as the “Most Hawaiian Hotel,” Kaanapali Beach Hotel keeps drawing its guests back with its authentic Hawaiian hospitality.

Looking for Luxury Hotels?

Looking for something a little more luxurious? No problem. Check out our lists of the best hotels by island. If money is not so much the issue, we recommend Montage Kapalua Bay on Maui and Mauna Kea Resort on the Big Island. Both of these 5 star resorts are cozied up to beaches that have been voted #1 Beach in America by Dr. Beach. In addition, Montage Kapalua Bay is Hawaii’s newest Forbes Five Star property. Another bonus? They both usually offer “get the 4th night free” specials.

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The aloha state, a family of islands with distinct personalities offers their unique version of paradise. find your ideal island, find your hawaii..

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Oahu on a budget: 5 things to do for free, adding value to your hawaiian vacation, natural hawaii, more about hawaii.

Discover the differences between these majestic islands and choose your paradise.

Hawaii Island is the largest of the islands and sits at the southernmost part of the chain. A temperamental youngest sibling of the family, this island is full of drama, adventure, and natural beauty. Explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, tour a local coffee plantation, stroll seaside villages, travel back in time at Puukoholo Heiau National Historic Site, and stand at the southernmost point of the United States where nothing but ocean separates you from Antarctica.

Kauai is the oldest of the islands and keeps watch over the others from the northernmost point of the chain. With age comes beauty and the dramatic landscape of Kauai reflects this sentiment. Hike Waimea Canyon and gaze at the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, trek the Koloa Heritage Trail for a glimpse of the past, visit local botanical gardens for their tropical treasures, tour cascading waterfalls, and helicopter out to the Na Pali coastline for the ultimate vantage point.

Maui is the second-largest island and just to the north of Hawaii Island. Known for famous beaches and championship golf courses, Maui delivers an experience filled with magic and beauty to visitors. Witness an awe-inspiring sunrise at Haleakala, snorkel with sea turtles at Molokini, stroll the eclectic shops in Lahaina and witness a ceremonial cliff dive at Black Rock.

Sandwiched between Kauai and Maui is the bustling island of Oahu. The most populated in the chain, Oahu offers a unique blend of modern and ancient influences. Transforming the southern coastline is the city of Honolulu while monster waves rule the northern coast. Reflect on U.S. history at Pearl Harbor, stroll through the pineapple maze at the Dole Plantation, hike the Diamond Head crater for unobstructed views of Waikiki Beach, visit the new International Market Place, and watch big wave surfers tackle the Banzai Pipeline.

There is indeed an island for every personality. Find your Hawaii, find your paradise.

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Before You Go

  • To make it easier to replace your passport if it’s lost or stolen, in addition to your passport, take a photocopy of your passport information page (keeping it separate from your actual passport).
  • Carry only a limited amount of cash, just enough for gratuities and incidental purchases. Major credit cards are widely accepted and can be replaced if lost or stolen.
  • Always lock your hotel room door (including patio and balcony door on any level of the building) and use the peephole before opening the door.
  • Store your valuables (such as cash, credit cards and airline tickets) in the hotel’s in-room safe or front desk safety deposit box.
  • If you must carry valuables on your person, do so in a pouch or money belt concealed under your clothing. Purses and backpacks can be easy targets for thieves.
  • For complete and current safety and security information, including travelers' tips, public announcements, travel advisories and more, please visit the website of the U.S. Department of State at
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  • September through November: 82° to 78° (Autumn)

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Traveling to Hawaii on a Budget

Traveling to Hawaii on a budget is something that sounds impossible. If you know where to look and how to book, then traveling to Hawaii on a budget is no problem for the savvy penny pincher. Some primary considerations have many possibilities to save money on the trip.

Some of the more popular budget items include:  

  • Taking a cruise
  • Finding cheap flights
  • Finding the perfect lodging 
  • Discounts on activities
  • Food savings

Regardless of the way you arrive on the Island; Transportation is your second largest expense. Deciding how to get to the Island can make or break your entire trip. A Cruise gives you many benefits, but if you plan on staying on one Island, then the flight options may be the better choice. Here is how you travel to Hawaii on a budget and still have the time of your life!

— article continued below —

Visiting Hawaii soon? Be sure to grab a copy of one of our updated Hawaii Visitor Guides .

~ Trusted by Millions of Hawaii Visitors Annually ~

Taking a Cruise

Taking a cruise is far cheaper overall than flying into the islands and booking a hotel stay. Not only do you get the already paid for food from the cruise ship, but you also get to see all the islands. If you do not mind spending longer at sea than on land, maybe a cruise is a better option. 

Most cruises also do not visit every Island in Hawaii but will put the most popular islands on the schedule.  Make sure to check the stops and times with the cruise line to ensure that you have enough time at each Island. Most cruise ships will stop at each Island for a day , sometimes two days. If you know where you are going, one day is plenty of time to see one or two landmarks and grab a few meals. 

Typically, a cruise will cost anywhere from $500 to upwards of $5000 depending on several different factors, including the time of year, cruise line, cruise theme, departure port, etc. A Typical cruise to Hawaii can be anywhere from seven days to 14 days. 

The most significant benefit of booking a cruise is the savings from expensive hotel restaurants and taking advantage of the free cruise ship restaurants. Some of the other advantages include:

  • No planning pack a bag and show up.
  • No or little added lodging costs
  • No or little added food cost
  • Professional staff to help with directions and all the “hot spots.”

Visit our Hawaii Reopening What You Need to Know article for the latest on cruising the Hawaiian islands during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Flying to Hawaii

If air is more your arrival style and you want to spend your days relaxing at the beach and hanging out with the locals, you are probably looking forward to flying over there. Most flights from the West Coast are anywhere from 5-7 hours, and airports in different locations will fly you over to a western airport that makes the flight regularly. 

When flying to Hawaii, you most likely will be planning everything yourself, including booking your hotel and your activities. Knowing how to find the lowest airfare to the islands is important before you book your flight(s). Some activities can be fully booked at high traveled times of the year. It is recommended that you book your activities when you book your stay. 

Booking through a travel agent or an online aggregator can significantly help arrange everything from rental cars to hotel stays.  You get discounts from different groups at different rates. A rental car may be one price on one site and another price on another site. The best way to get the most discounts is to use multiple sites to find the cheapest option combinations.  

Airlines, Hotels, and Rental car companies all share the same ups and down in tourist/travelers simultaneously, so the best time to save the most is when there are very few people. March-April and September-October is the consensus for the best time to purchase airline tickets. When you book between 21 and 120 days in advance during the offseason, you typically get the best rates.

There are several different options for finding the correct lodging for your trip outside of a cruise ship or a hotel stay.  

Shared hotel stays usually run anywhere from $30-$150 a night, depending on the hostel and options you chose. In some cases, as with the Polynesian hostel, you are closer to the beach than the hotels are! You do not have to worry about your safety either; you can view reviews left from other patrons well in advance at hostel world . 

You could rent anything from a Dodge Grand caravan for two people up to a full class A  motorhome. It gives you a place to sleep, prepare food, and travel to and from destinations, all for around $100 per day. If you combine this with our next option, camping, you will save quite a chunk of change while maintaining water and food access.

travel cheap hawaii

Camping in Hawaii is probably one of the most rewarding experiences you could have. Campsites range from $5.00 a night up to $150 a night for full cabins.  There are campgrounds everywhere in Hawaii; it is safe to say that you would be able to find a spot without reserving it first.  Some campgrounds even have showers and other fine amenities such as a convenience store or fish and tackle spots. We can not recommend camping in Haleakala National Park on Maui enough.

Airbnb and Other Home-Share Programs

Airbnb and other home-share programs are beneficial in finding a shared space to rent for the trip. You can rent a room or an entire house to yourself. The only thing to look out for here is the legitimacy of the Poster. Airbnb is regulated in Hawaii, and these establishments must hold a license to rent the home to you.

Save on Activities!

Many local tour companies have some discounts on their tours, all you need to do is ask them when you contact them to book.  We suggest booking through local companies since most of the island's residents are more than happy to show you Aloha and what the local culture is all about. Also, check with them on what the current mask-wearing and social distancing rules are.

Here a few fun activities you can book early in Hawaii: 

  • Whale Watching
  • Sandbar turtle tour
  • BYOB dinner and cruise
  • Helicopter Ride
  • Deep-Sea Fishing
  • Snorkeling 

Save on food!

To save the most money on your trip when it comes to food, we suggest getting a place with a kitchen and buying your food at the local grocery stores and farmers' markets. If you decide to go the Airbnb route, Costco, Target, and Walmart with price match will help get you through the trip. Most items are slightly more expensive than the mainland, but not overzealously priced. 

Groupon is wonderful for restaurant deals if you buy in advance of where you are going to stay.  Most restaurants want the added business, especially during the slower months of tourism. Aside from Groupon, hotels will have coupons for popular restaurants if you are staying in a hotel. 

Doing a mix of both strategies will save you the most money! $3.00 sandwiches from Walmart Deli for Lunch, $29.99 meal from Groupon, and a bowl of oats or breakfast you took your average cost down from $40 per person/meal to about $12 per person.  Another popular item on the menu is a plate lunch. It is a plate of one meat, one salad, and some rice for around $8.00 a plate.

Just remember to carry plenty of snacks with you on the go, and maybe even a picnic lunch for those out and about all day excursions, such as the Road to Hana on Maui.

Hawaii is a fun place to visit, and even though it can be expensive, there are ways to travel to Hawaii on a budget and still have the time of your life.  There is no imaginable way to do everything in one trip to Hawaii; pre-planning will save you a lot of money on the trip.  

Taking a cruise is fun and rewarding, but there are other ways to save money; camping, glamping with an RV, or an Airbnb are all great options. The perfect package is usually one that you create yourself, a morning of zip lining followed by an afternoon of whale watching and a dinner cruise; they do not make packages like that for a reasonable price.

2024 Hawaii Budget Calculator

Estimate the cost of your hawaii vacation.

Aloha, guest readers can calculate five (5) trip cost estimates for Hawaii each day. Rates included within this calculator are based on projected 2024 rates aggregated from current OTA pricing. Rates will be updated regularly.

HawaiiGuide Premium members can submit unlimited trip estimates each day.

Aloha, as a HawaiiGuide Premium member you can calculate unlimited Hawaii trip cost estimates each day. Mahalo for being a HawaiiGuide Premium member!

Currently, you have

Calculator overview.

This calculator is designed to provide both a comprehensive and regularly updated budget estimate for planning a trip to Hawaii. Currently, rates are applicable for 2024. Generally, these rates should provide a good estimate for any time period between 2024 and early 2025.

This budget tool considers all of the following:

  • Hawaii Flight Costs including airfare from various destinations, baggage fees, etc.
  • Hawaii Accommodation Costs including different lodging types, Hawaii's now roughly 18% accommodation tax, parking fees (if applicable), which island you're staying on, etc.
  • Hawaii Vehicle Rental Costs including various types of vehicles, fuel costs, and number of miles driven daily.
  • Additional Costs including dining + gratuity, visitor fees to parks, etc., and Hawaii Tours and Activity costs.

Hawaii Flight Costs

First, consider your flight costs to Hawaii. Select your departure location, update the number of travelers (if applicable), and check whether you expect to pay baggage fees, below.

Hawaii Accommodation Costs

Next, let us know which island you'll be visiting (select the primary island if you're visiting more than one), select a lodging type/classification, update the number of nights (default is set to a week), update the number or rooms (if applicable), and check whether you expect to pay parking fees (common in more densely populated areas on Oahu and/or Maui).

Statewide Rate : 18%

Hawaii Car Rental Costs

Now, let's consider your vehicle rental costs (if applicable). If you're not renting a car, select 'No Car,' but for most visitors, we highly recommend a rental. Update the number of days (which will default to +1 day more than you selected in accommodation nights) and choose an estimate for your mileage each day. If you're not sure, we recommend you leave the default option selected.

If you select 'No Car' this will be zeroed out by default!

Other Hawaii Costs

Finally, consider a few last potential costs and fees for your trip. There's dining (we've included gratuity in the estimates), and we've selected all three meal options by default. Then, there are potential fees for parks and other attractions, which are a relatively new factor to now consider when estimating a Hawaii budget; select the applicable options below. Finally, select the amount, if any, you expect to spend on Hawaii Tours and/or commercial Activities. Be sure to update the number of people dining and people the fees/tours apply to if applicable; these numbers will default to the same number of people you selected previously for this trip estimate.

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We'll email you a copy of your results to this email address for your records.

You may not have exact dates yet, but provide a rough guess or estimate below. This will help us refine the calculator and provide more accurate data throughout the year. Mahalo!

Final Question

If you're visiting another island, please let us know below. This will not affect the estimate or rate you're provided. This is for research and calculator improvement purposes only. Mahalo!

- Click To Estimate Trip Cost -

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When deciding where to travel, Hawaii checks all the boxes for many tourists. The islands’ lush, tropical landscape provides a contrast from two years of mostly staying at home. It’s a far-off getaway that doesn't require a passport, and there’s no shortage of luxury.

Within the first two weeks of Hawaii's announcement to lift travel restrictions, Expedia says it saw a nearly 30% increase in searches for spring and summer trips to Hawaii’s major ports. Domestic travelers no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter Hawaii as of March 26, 2022.

Demand in some of the top destinations in Hawaii is outpacing pre-pandemic levels. Expedia says it’s already seeing six times more bookings for hotels on Hawaii’s Big Island for September 2022 than it did in September 2019. Oahu — which Expedia says is one of the most popular destinations — is seeing double digit-percentage increases in demand this summer versus 2019.

But while Hawaii might have a laid-back, low-stress vibe, the rules of supply and demand still apply. Couple that with rising travel costs everywhere due to rapid inflation , and a trip to Hawaii this year likely won’t be cheap.

However, you can still save money on a Hawaiian vacation. Here’s how to travel to Hawaii on a budget.

Save on airfare to Hawaii

If you’ve accumulated a stash of points and miles, flights to Hawaii can prove a good way to spend them. There are many ways to book cheap Hawaii flights with points and miles , especially if you’re willing to transfer miles between partner airlines. Among the biggest airlines flying to Hawaii are Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

If you can earn a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass and you’d like to save on flights to Hawaii, this is an excellent opportunity to use it. The pass is essentially a buy-one-get-one deal on your Southwest flight, where you book a flight with cash or points, and you can book another at no cost aside from taxes and fees (typically just $5.60 per one-way trip).

If you can’t choose just one island, island-hopping in Hawaii is fairly convenient, as most flights between islands take less than an hour. The key when island-hopping: flexibility. Most of the best interisland deals are for flights through Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, so consider placing Oahu in the middle of your itinerary to take advantage of its interisland availability.

Be flexible on dates, too. Southwest has plenty of interisland airfares for just $45 — but if you’re married to a specific flight time or book last-minute, realize that some flights cost more than $200.

Use hotel points or free night certificates to save on lodging

Most of the major hotel brands have a strong presence in Hawaii, which can be handy if you have hotel points or free night certificates.

Hilton is an especially big player in Hawaii , and its lodging runs the gamut from affordable to opulent. If you have a Hilton free night certificate , which can be earned through certain Hilton credit cards , head to Maui. There you’ll find the Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. One of Hilton’s most grandiose resorts, the Grand Wailea hosts a 2,000-foot-long pool complete with waterfalls and slides. Standard nightly room rates can easily run more than $1,500, but free night certificates can cover it.

If you’re traveling as a family or with a group, consider booking a vacation rental through a service like Airbnb or Vrbo . They are sometimes cheaper than hotels and typically don’t require you to pay resort fees, which are otherwise common. They also often have driveways and kitchens, so you can avoid expensive hotel parking and the cost of dining out.

Other ways to visit Hawaii on a budget

Dine out strategically.

Speaking of dining out, it can certainly be part of the Hawaiian experience. But it can also eat up a huge chunk of your budget. Understand when you’re paying for mediocre food but a stellar view. If you’re up for adventure, head to a convenience store for fresh poke and Spam musubi, then find a beach (there’s no shortage of them) for a free, oceanfront dinner view.

Sidestep the paid luau

As far as entertainment, you can certainly pay hundreds of dollars for your group to experience a luau. While the array of entertainment and buffet food can be worth it for some travelers, there are plenty of free ways to watch hula, hear Hawaiian music and learn about the culture. Many major malls in Hawaii, such as Waikiki’s Royal Hawaiian Center mall, offer free shows and classes in lei making, hula, ukulele, lauhala weaving and more. On the Big Island, free coffee farm tours are abundant.

Some hotels also make their entertainment available to the public. Head to Marriott’s Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa to watch the nightly lele kawa (cliff jumping).

travel cheap hawaii

(Photo courtesy of Sheraton Maui Resort)

Swap ticketed activities for cheaper counterparts

Some major, ticketed tourist attractions offer some components of their tours for free. At the Maui Tropical Plantation, you might pay $25 for a tram tour, but you can still explore a good chunk of the grounds, including its market, craft studios and cafe, at no cost. On Oahu, Dole Plantation tours start at $7.75 per person, but purchasing a ticket might not be necessary. Admission to the grounds is free, and there you can typically find no-cost activities like pineapple-cutting and chocolate-making demonstrations, as well as a fish feeding pond.

The bottom line

Travel to Hawaii was always popular — and all signs point to its popularity growing. According to a February 2022 NerdWallet survey , 28% of Americans who say the way they travel has chanced since the beginning of the pandemic say they have stopped going on international trips and only travel domestically. Meanwhile, 16% only travel to destinations that don’t require COVID-19 testing or proof of vaccination. For tourists from the continental U.S., Hawaii checks both of those boxes, and a lot more. The Aloha State might be one of the best places to travel to this year — just have a plan for how you’ll pay for it.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee:   Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards:  Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card  

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

1.5%-6.5% Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

$300 Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

travel cheap hawaii

A Broken Backpack

Complete Guide: How To Visit Hawaii On A Budget

by Melissa Giroux | Last updated Feb 24, 2023 | North America , Travel Tips , United States

Traveling to Hawaii might be a dream for many of us. We’ve all seen the photos – dreaming of these beaches and epic volcanoes in the background.

So, you found a cool flight deal to get to Hawaii and wondering if you can actually afford it? Traveling Hawaii on a budget isn’t super easy, but it’s not impossible.

Ready To Travel? Don't Go Without Travel Insurance.

Check Prices

If you’ve been wondering if Hawaii is expensive – keep reading.

In this post, I’ll be covering different aspects when it comes to budget travel in Hawaii so you can have a rough idea of what to expect cost-wise.

I’ll give you some budget tips too and alternatives that could be more budget-friendly.


Finding Cheap Flights To Hawaii

Finding cheap flights to Hawaii isn’t that hard. With websites such as Skyscanner , Google Flights, or even Secret Flying, it’s easy to find great deals.

If you’re coming from Asia, you should be able to find great deals with AirAsia and if you’re coming from Canada, WestJet normally has great deals too. 

To give you an idea, I was flying from Japan and then I was heading to Canada, which was the perfect stop for a break between long flights.


Finding Cheap Accommodation In Hawaii

The biggest challenge when it comes to backpacking Hawaii (or just keeping it budget-friendly) is the accommodation. Finding cheap accommodation in Hawaii is tough.

Accommodation in Hawaii is generally expensive. It’s hard to find something below $35. It also depends on the season – it can be higher or lower depending on the timing.

Usually, if you’re going to pay $35 for a dorm, or even a room, you would expect a better-looking room. Unfortunately, it is not the case in Hawaii.

Buildings are old, the market is high… there’s not much you can do about it. 

If you think you’re better off with Airbnb… well, you’re not – the cost is also expensive and the apartments available aren’t that special.

That said, you might have to increase your budget or lower your standards when it comes to Hawaii.

Hostels in Oahu:

  • Hostelling international Honolulu
  • Polynesian Hostel Beach Club
  • Waikiki Beachside Hostel

Mid-Range Hotels in Oahu:

  • East Side of Hanama Bay
  • Ramada Plaza
  • Ewa Hotel Waikiki

Luxury Hotels in Oahu:

  • Real Select Vacations
  • Hampton Inn & Suites
  • Hokulani Waikiki

Find more accommodation options in Oahu here .

Mid-Range Hotels in Kauai:

  • Hotel Coral Reef
  • Banyan Harbor
  • Kauai Shores Hotel

Luxury Hotels in Kauai:

  • Koa Kea Hotel
  • Marriott’s Waiohai
  • Koloa Landing Resort

Find more accommodation options in Kauai here .

Hostels in Maui:

  • The Northshore Hostel
  • Central Maui Hostel
  • Tiki Beach Hostel

Mid-Range Hotels in Maui:

  • What a wonderful world
  • Adventure in Paradise
  • Kahana Villa

Luxury Hotels in Maui:

  • Hyatt Residence Club
  • Hotel Wailea
  • Four Seasons Resort

Find more accommodation options in Maui here .

Hostels on the Big Island:

  • Camping Cabanas
  • Hilo Bay Hostel
  • The Big Island Hostel

Mid-Range Hotels on the Big Island:

  • Hilotown Hale
  • At the end of the road
  • Hilo Bay Oceanfront

Luxury Hotels on the Big Island:

  • Fairmont Orchid
  • Aston Kona by the Sea

Find more accommodation options in Big Island here .


Getting Around Hawaii On A Budget

Here are your options to get around Hawaii. You’ll find prices so that you can have an overview of the expenses related to transportation.

Getting Around Hawaii By Bus

The cheapest way to get around Hawaii is by bus. Whether you want to explore the island or simply reach your destination from the airport, buses are efficient and affordable. 

Fare for a one-way ticket: $2.75

Fare for a day pass: $5.50

Getting Around Hawaii By moped

The most fun way to get around is probably by moped or scooter. Although it’s quite expensive if I compare to Asia. 

I rented my moped for 24 hours for $40. Although, they insisted on the insurance and the overnight parking option, and I fell for it.

In total, it cost me a lot more than I expected. If you’re planning on renting a moped for a few days, then, you will receive discounted rates.

Getting Around Hawaii By Car

Another option to consider would be by rental car . It’s obviously expensive, but it’s a safe way to get around without having any limitations like on the mopeds where you need to avoid the highways.

Check prices and availability and book a car for your trip here .

Finding Cheap Restaurants In Hawaii

Eating in Hawaii on a budget was a bit challenging. Depending on where your accommodation is located, you might find supermarkets… or not.

I found it hard to find supermarkets in the Waikiki Beach area, which means I wasn’t able to cook my own food. 

My plan was to avoid expensive restaurants in Hawaii for a few reasons:

  • You have to tip
  • Tax is added to the bill
  • It’s pricey

After getting tired of options like Mcdonald’s, Subway, etc. I wanted to get a real meal, and it was honestly hard to find something good, and healthy without it being super expensive.

As a result, I decided to treat myself to pricey restaurants – and it wasn’t worth the price. I realized that I could eat out for about $10 and it would be better in terms of quality/price.

If you’re on a tight budget, your best bet is probably to head to Walmart to buy groceries or to stick to the specials at Mcdonald’s.

If you have a mid-range budget, then, you can splurge easily wherever you are. If you love American food, you’ll be happy. You can read more about cheap eats in Waikiki .

Finding Cheap Activities In Hawaii

It is quite hard to find cheap activities in Hawaii. Although, if you like hiking, you can hike in many places in Oahu for free. You might only need to pay for transport to get there.

Also, if you’re into beach bumming or surfing, you can do it for cheap – you can rent a surfboard on the beach or in your accommodation (if you’re lucky).

If you just want to start your surf career, then this surf lesson is definitely for you!

Other than that, here are some cool activities below $60.

  • Boat Trip from Waikiki – Check the price .
  • Ghosted tour – Check the price.
  • Sunset cruise – Check the price.
  • Traditional airport experience – Check the price.  

Find more budget activities in Hawaii here .


Real-Life Example – How Much I Spent In Hawaii In One Week

Well – I say one week but I was there for 7 nights, 8 days.

You should also know that I was traveling in Oahu so, this applies only to Oahu.

Is Hawaii expensive? Let’s see!

Total Spent on Flights | Budget Travel Hawaii

My flight from Osaka to Honolulu was $195.

My flight from Honolulu to Ottawa was $231.

The total was then $426.

Total Spent In Hawaii | Budget Travel Hawaii

I spent $822 which includes the following:

Accommodation, luggage storage at the hostel, food, moped rental, and activities.

This would be about $102 per day.

Total Spent In Hawaii + Flights

Big total for flights and the trip: $1248

Can you travel to Oahu on a budget? Well – I think it’s a tough one. 

It could have been cheaper if I had not rented a moped and if I had cooked my own meals.

To save money on accommodation, I could have decided to do couchsurfing instead. Overall, Oahu isn’t the most budget-friendly place.

What To Pack For Hawaii

These are some beach essentials and a few more items you should bring with you while visiting Hawaii.

  • Sunscreen and Aloe Vera
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Beach Towel
  • Universal adapter

Do You Need A Visa To Visit Hawaii?

If you need a visa to travel to Hawaii, you can sort it out here .


Travel Insurance In Hawaii

Make sure your travel insurance can cover you in Hawaii (United States). Better be safe than sorry! You can check the options on  SafetyWing .

Final Thoughts On Hawaii On A Budget

Finally, Hawaii is not the most budget-friendly destination, but you can save money if you wish to.

Take a look at our list of fun things to do in Honolulu and Waikiki at night .

Hawaii is a great honeymoon destination , too – you can do it on a budget, or you can splurge!

travel cheap hawaii







travel cheap hawaii

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The 10 Best Websites for Hawaii Vacation Packages & Deals [2023]

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Katie Seemann

Senior Content Contributor and News Editor

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The 10 Best Websites for Hawaii Vacation Packages & Deals [2023]

2. Apple Vacations

3. cheaptickets, 6., 7. southwest vacations, 8. priceline, 9. hawaiian airlines vacations, 10. vacations by marriott, hawaii vacation package price comparisons, final thoughts.

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Hawaii is a dream vacation destination for many (if not most) people. Swaying palm trees, volcanoes, gorgeous beaches — Hawaii has it all.

But, as you might have guessed, that comes with a price. Yes, Hawaii can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Booking a vacation package for your Hawaiian vacation is a great way to save some money — but with all of the options out there, how do you know which package deal is best?

That’s exactly why we’ve put together this list of the 10 best websites for Hawaii vacation packages so you can easily book the vacation of your dreams.

Expedia is a familiar website that offers an easy way to book a Hawaiian vacation package. What’s nice about using Expedia is that if you’re not sure which island you want to go to, you can just search “Hawaii” without having to narrow it down to a specific location.

Hawaii vacation package search on Expedia

Expedia also has great filtering and sorting options as well as a map so you can easily search by location. In addition, you’ll be able to earn OneKeyCash  on eligible packages, making this a great option when you don’t have loyalty to a specific hotel brand.

Hot Tip: If you book a property that’s part of a hotel brand that offers a loyalty program (like Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, etc.) you won’t earn hotel loyalty points when you book through a third-party website like Expedia. However, you can earn rewards from your booking site if it has its own loyalty program like One Key (Expedia,, and Vrbo) or Orbitz Orbucks.

Apple Vacations specializes in package deals in popular spots like Mexico, the Caribbean, and Hawaii. In addition to booking a package that includes a flight and hotel, you can add a rental car and trip protection. On top of that, you can add Apple Extras to your trip that can include things like a lei greeting or a sightseeing excursion.

Apple Vacations Apple Extras 1

While Apple Vacations offers a good selection of flights, you’ll be able to see additional options after creating an account and logging in.

Bottom Line: While you can add trip protection through Apple Vacations, you may want to hold a credit card with travel insurance . If you still feel like you need additional coverage, check out our guide to travel insurance before making a purchase.

CheapTickets is an online travel agency powered by Expedia, but the pricing you’ll see can be different from Expedia, so it’s worth checking out separately.

CheapTickets is easy to use and has great sorting and filtering options as well as a nice map feature you can use to find a hotel by location. This is especially handy in a popular vacation spot like Hawaii where your hotel’s location is very important.

CheapTickets map feature

Bottom Line: Hawaii is a fantastic vacation spot — it boasts beautiful scenery and plenty to do. Check out our guides to Maui and Kauai and Oahu, Lanai, and the Big Island for some ideas about what to do while you’re there.

Orbitz is a great website for booking vacation packages because it has its own loyalty program. With Orbitz Rewards , you’ll earn Orbucks when you book a Hawaiian vacation which you can then use to reduce the cost of your next hotel stay. You’ll earn 1% back in Orbucks on vacation packages, but if you book through the Orbitz app, you can earn 2%!

Earn Orbucks on a Hawaii vacation package

You’ll be able to add extras like airport transportation, trip protection, and even tours or activities during checkout.

Momondo  acts as a metasearch engine that shows you deals from other sites in 1 place. This type of website can be a huge time saver when you’re not really sure where to start.

From the home page, just select Packages from the search options, then you’ll be able to specify your travel dates and destination. Your search results will clearly display which website the listed deal is from. You can see additional websites and flight options by clicking See all right under the price.

Momondo search results

Once you find a deal you like, click View Deal and you’ll be transferred to a different website to complete your booking. is a good place to search for vacation packages when you know the exact dates you want to travel. You can book a package consisting of a hotel, flight, and even a rental car, but the search starts with flights, so your dates need to be set in order to search . You can’t just search for the best deals like you can on some other sites. vacation packages

While the search process starts a little different on, it’s easy to change your flight and add a hotel or rental car once you get started.

You may notice that the vacation packages page states that packages are for air, car rental, and hotel for 6 to 8 days. Don’t let that deter you, though. We found that you could search for any combination of hotels, flights, and cars for any duration, so you’re not as limited as you may initially think.

Hot Tip: If you decide you’d rather use points for your Hawaiian vacation, check out our guides covering the best hotels to book with points in Hawaii and how to fly to Hawaii using points and miles .

Southwest Airlines began flights to Hawaii a few years ago and it’s now a popular way to fly to the islands. However, Southwest flights won’t show up on any third-party websites, so if you want to fly Southwest you’ll have to search for a flight and hotel separately — or book through Southwest Vacations .

The great thing about booking through Southwest Vacations is that you can earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points for your package purchase ! The not-so-great thing is that you’re limited to the few routes that Southwest flies between Hawaii and the continental U.S. That means you may need to book an extra flight to get to your Southwest departure city. Even with those restrictions, fans of Southwest — and especially Southwest Companion Pass holders — should consider booking through Southwest Vacations for their Hawaiian holiday.

Southwest Vacations packages to Hawaii

Bottom Line: You’ll earn Rapid Rewards points on any vacation package booked through Southwest Vacations. You can’t, however, book a Southwest Vacations package with points. 

Booking a Hawaii vacation package on Priceline is a straightforward and easy process. You can search for any combination of flights, hotels, and cars under the Bundle + Save search tab on the home page.

After providing your travel details, you’ll see a long list of search results that will give you a lot of information about the property, such as ratings and amenities, as well as alerts about package-deal savings or Priceline VIP pricing.

Priceline discounts on Hawaii vacation package

Priceline VIP is a free loyalty program that comes with discounts, a best rate guarantee, and Express Deal coupons. While these perks are available as soon as you join, the discounts get bigger and better as you reach new status tiers within the program.

It may come as no surprise that Hawaii’s flag air carrier is a good place to search for vacation packages to that state. Hawaiian Airlines Vacations offer packages that include any combination of flights, hotels, and rental cars for the ultimate in flexibility.

If you scroll down past the search box, you may be able to find a discount code that could save you money!

Hawaiian Airlines Vacation Package promo code

The hotel search function is powered by Expedia, so all of the filtering and sorting options should look familiar. The only downside to Hawaiian Airlines Vacations is that the flight options are limited since it just includes 1 airline (and its limited partners) that don’t offer flights to every part of the country.

Hot Tip: You won’t be able to redeem Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles for a vacation package, however, you can still earn miles on the flight portion of your package.

Vacations by Marriott is a great place to search for a Hawaii vacation package if you’re a fan of Marriott hotels and resorts . Don’t think that you’re limited to just the hotel portion of your trip — you can book flights and a rental car through Vacations by Marriott, too.

The search capabilities are powered by Expedia, so you’ll have the same great functions of that site when using Vacations by Marriott.

The obvious limitation to this site is that you’ll only find Marriott properties.

Vacations by Marriott

Hot Tip: When searching for a Hawaii vacation package, don’t get discouraged if your search results come back empty. We found that many sites only showed packages from select cities on the West Coast, such as Los Angeles. If you find a good deal from a city that’s not your hometown, you can usually purchase an inexpensive flight to get you where you need to be to take advantage of the package deal.

Now that we’ve gone through some of the best websites for Hawaii vacation packages, let’s take a look at how these sites match up price-wise.

We searched for a week-long hotel stay at 2 different hotels plus flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to see how these websites stacked up.

*Prices are for the lowest category room for 2 people and do not include resort fees which are collected by the hotel at check-in or checkout.

As you can see from these examples, prices are all over the map. For the Maui package deal (hotel #1), CheapTickets was the cheapest by $167. For the Oahu package deal (hotel #2), Apple Vacations and Momondo (which brought me to Apple Vacations) had the best price by a whopping $778!

In both searches, had the most expensive price by far.

Who doesn’t want to go to Hawaii on vacation? Thankfully, there are lots of package deals out there to help you make your dream vacation a reality while saving you some money in the process.

When searching for a Hawaii vacation package, keep in mind that each site may offer different pricing and terms. It’s important to check a few sites and read everything carefully before booking.

Once you’ve found your perfect vacation package, pack your bags and get ready for some aloha!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit hawaii.

The best time to visit Hawaii will depend a lot on what type of activities you want to do. Check out our guide to planning the perfect time for your Hawaii vacation for some guidance.

How much does a vacation in Hawaii cost?

The cost of a Hawaiian vacation will vary based on the type of accommodations you choose. A luxury hotel on Lanai will cost significantly more than a budget motel on Oahu. Regardless of what type of hotel you choose, you can usually save money by booking a package deal that includes a flight and hotel.

Are there Hawaii vacation packages for all-inclusive hotels?

It may be harder to find an all-inclusive resort in Hawaii than you may think. While you can find many hotels that offer a free breakfast package, traditional all-inclusive resorts that include all meals and drinks aren’t plentiful in Hawaii. If you’re interested in an all-inclusive package, focus on destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico for the most options.

How can I get a cheap Hawaiian vacation?

To get a cheap Hawaiian vacation, you’ll want to search for deals on websites that offer package deals like Expedia, CheapTickets, or Momondo. Traveling in the off season and booking an inexpensive, basic hotel are other ways to save money on your vacation.

Which Hawaiian island is cheapest?

Generally speaking, Oahu tends to be the cheapest Hawaiian island to visit, although the type of hotel you choose can significantly affect your costs. Maui and Lanai tend to be the most expensive Hawaiian islands to visit.

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About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure and Forbes Advisor.


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10 ways to see Hawaii on a budget

Catherine Toth Fox

Nov 11, 2023 • 9 min read

People hiking - happy hiker couple trekking as part of healthy lifestyle outdoors activity. Young multiracial couple walking in nature in Iao Valley State Park, Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii, USA.

Hawaii is expensive, but these budget tips can make your money go a bit further © Getty Images / iStockphoto

There’s a saying in Hawaii : there’s a cost to paradise. Among the US states, Hawaii had the highest cost of living in 2022, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. The median price of a single-family home on Oʻahu is more than $1 million. And gas costs around $5 a gallon.

There are, however, plenty of low-cost (and even free) ways to enjoy the best of the islands  –  pristine beaches , local flavors, stunning natural beauty  – which will allow you to stay for longer and experience more. This guide to daily costs in Hawaii, along with top tips for budget travelers, can help you save your dollars.

As of Nov 1, 2023, all areas of Maui (except Lahaina) affected by the devastating wildfires in August are open for tourism. Respectful travel is encouraged to support Hawaii’s local businesses that rely so heavily on tourism.

Two men who just got married in Hawaii in June 2019, on an adventure day together.

Plan a fall or spring vacation

Hawaii is a year-round destination, and that’s good news for budget travelers. You can find deals on airfare and accommodations during the slower shoulder months  – September and October, January and February, April and May – avoiding peak travel times like summer, winter and spring break.

Be smart about island-hopping...

Why fly all the way to Hawaii and stay on one island? If you’re set on seeing more than one island on your vacation, you should take advantage of cheaper options on interisland airfares.

Southwest Airlines offers one-way rates that are sometimes as low as $39 with no-frills service and no assigned seating. Mokulele Airlines operates Cessna 208EX Grand Caravans that seat up to nine passengers and fly into smaller airports, offering round-trip fares for less than $200 per person.

Planning tip: If you’re on Maui and want to visit Lanaʻi , you can book a ride on the Expeditions Maui-Lanaʻi Passenger Ferry , but be aware this business was severely impacted by the wildfires and is still rebuilding. Tickets start at $30 one way and take about an hour. Bonus: if you’re traveling between islands from January to April, you may see humpback whales along the way.

Three Strong Men Juggling Fire in Hawaii: Fire Dancers

...Or simply stay on one island

Island-hopping can be pricey – you’re paying for additional airfares and accommodations, and if you’re not on Oʻahu , you’ll likely have to rent a car, the price of which fluctuates with demand. 

By staying on one island , you can really explore everything it has to offer. Oʻahu is bustling, with tons of restaurants, shopping, beaches, museums and hiking trails. Maui is just as vibrant, with more country charm and quaint towns like Hana and Makawao.

Kauaʻi is the most laid-back of all the islands, with verdant landscapes, breathtaking beaches and a quieter pace. Hawaiʻi Island, aka the Big Island , boasts active volcanoes, rolling ranchland and old-Hawaii charm.

Keep your car-rental period short

While opting out of renting a car during your entire vacation may be the most cost-effective, it’s also very limiting – even on Oʻahu, which boasts a great public bus system. You’ll want to get out of resort areas and venture into different neighborhoods, find hole-in-the-wall eateries and experience the islands the way locals do.

Instead of renting a car for the duration of your stay, consider a car hire for just a few days, optimally keeping your costs under $100.

A red car follows a hilly cliff road with the sea to one side

Use local ridesharing services and rentals

All of the main islands have ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, with O‘ahu featuring the best coverage. But there are new local services as well.

In June 2021,  Holoholo , a new rideshare company, launched on Oʻahu, Maui, Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi Island and Lanaʻi with a wider selection of rides – hybrid, electric and luxury vehicles, rides with vaccinated drivers and drivers pre-approved to enter US military bases and options for those requiring additional mobility assistance.

Fares are based on distance and calculated up front, and rides can be scheduled in advance. Turo also recently entered the Hawaii market, offering the more affordable option of renting vehicles directly from local owners.

Hui Care Share is a round-trip, station-based car-share program on Oʻahu only, where you can book a vehicle by the hour or day, now or in the future. The service includes 170 vehicles parked at 65 stations throughout urban Honolulu  – downtown, Waikiki , Kakaʻako, Ala Moana, Mānoa, Kaimukī – and Ko Olina. The best part? Gas, insurance and roadside assistance are all included.

Take public transportation

You can also ditch the cars entirely – no worries about parking! – by using public transportation.

On Oʻahu, there's TheBus , a public bus service with a fleet of 542 buses providing daily services on 101 routes across the island. Adult fares are $3 (one way), to be paid in cash upon boarding, with discounts for seniors aged 65 and up and youth ages 6 to 17. TheBus conveniently stops at some of the island’s most popular visitor destinations, including Waikiki, Ala Moana Center, Bishop Museum , Kualoa Ranch, Polynesian Cultural Center , Pearl Harbor , Waimea Valley and Hanauma Bay.

Maui also operates a public bus system  with service in various parts of the islands, from Kaʻanapali to Upcountry .

Get around by bike

Another option is to ride around Oʻahu on a bike using the island’s only bikeshare program, Biki , which has 1300 bikes at more than 130 self-service Biki Stops throughout Honolulu.

It’s a great option for short jaunts to the beach or to grab lunch nearby. Rides cost $4.50 per bike for a single ride for up to 30 minutes, $12 for unlimited rides within 24 hours or $30 for 300 minutes to use in any increment for one year (the best option to use over an entire vacation stay).

Two hikers walk away from the camera on a hiking trail across a crater, a large dusty expanse

There are fees for some of Hawaii's beaches, hiking trails and gardens

Enjoy the best parts of Hawaii – its beaches, gardens, parks and hiking trails  – without spending much.

Most beaches in Hawaii are free and accessible year-round. Some – like Hanauma Bay on Oʻahu and Hāʻena State Park on Kauaʻi – require reservations with a small fee for visitors. Pristine nature reserve Hanauma Bay has an online reservation system , limiting the number of visitors to fewer than 800 a day. It costs $25 per person to enter (free for Hawaii residents and children aged 12 and under) and another $3 for parking ($1 for residents).

To visit Hāʻena State Park  – which includes Kēʻē Beach and the start of the Kalalau Trail along the famed Nāpali Coast – you’ll need to secure a reservation and pay a $5 entry fee and $10 for parking (free for residents).

While state-run hiking trails are normally free to access, some have small fees. For non-residents, it costs $5 to hike to the top of Diamond Head (Lēʻahi in Hawaiian) on Oʻahu, plus $10 for parking (both payable by credit card only), or to visit the popular ʻIao Valley State Monument on Maui. Reserve your place in advance online .

Most botanical gardens charge a nominal entrance fee, though some, including the popular city-run Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden on Oʻahu, are free to explore.

Eat affordable local dishes: bento boxes and poke bowls 

While each island boasts upscale farm-to-table restaurants that will break your food budget, Hawaii is also known for its homestyle local cuisine. Plate lunches, bento (Japanese box meals) and poke bowls (cubed ahi, raw and seasoned, and served atop rice) are plentiful – and affordable.

Get loaded plates of teriyaki beef, shoyu chicken or hamburger steak and gravy at popular drive-ins, such as  Rainbow Drive-In on Oʻahu, Hawaiian Style Cafe on Hawaii Island and Tin Roof on Maui.

Seek out okazu-ya (Japanese deli-type eateries), which serve à la carte portions of local favorites – shoyu pork, chow fun noodles, shrimp tempura and  musubi (rice balls). Some popular ones are Kawamoto Store on Hawaiʻi Island, Fukuya Deli on Oʻahu, Honokowai Okazuya & Deli on Maui and Po’s Kitchen on Kauaʻi. And poke bowls are everywhere – affordable and filling meals you can grab even from convenience stores.

Planning tip: If your short-term rental has a kitchen, you may want to save money by cooking in. Hit up one of the many farmers markets run by the Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau Federation or FarmLovers Markets . You can meet local farmers, buy fresh and local produce and even pick up artisan-made gifts, such as jams, hot sauces, cookies, vinegars and honey. Many serve prepared foods too.

Find free and low-cost activities and tours

You can still immerse yourself in Hawaii and its rich culture without a pricey lūʻau or helicopter tour through free (or cheap) classes around town .

Many hotels and malls offer free entertainment and classes in cultural practices, such as lei-making , ukulele-playing and hula. The Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki offers all that, plus lauhala-weaving and free Hawaiian entertainment.  Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel  by Outrigger on Maui provides complimentary cultural classes to its guests at its Hale Hoʻokipa; learn to hula, make tapa cloth, restring kukui-nut leis, speak short words and phrases in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) and even find your way around with pānānā , or traditional navigational techniques.

On Oʻahu you can rent surfboards at stands along Waikiki Beach for about $20, or pay a little more for a lesson from a beach attendant. You can also rent surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, boogieboards with fins, snorkel gear and more from Surf in the City Waikiki .

Opt for self-guided tours to save some money. Hōlualoa Kona Coffee Company on Hawaiʻi Island offers free coffee-roasting tours and samplings for a small fee. Stroll the grounds of the state’s largest coffee grower, Kauaʻi Coffee Co , at your leisure to learn about coffee and its history in the islands.

For about $35 you can go on a walking tour of Oʻahu’s historic Chinatown district with the Hawaiʻi Heritage Center , where you learn about the rich history of the neighborhood, Chinese immigration to Hawaii and architecture. The fee includes gallery entry, visits to sites with cultural and historical significance, and food from neighborhood shops and restaurants.

Planning tip: Download the Shaka Guide app for self-guided GPS audio tours of popular attractions across the islands. Featured tours include Road to Hana on Maui, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on Hawaiʻi Island and Waimea Canyon on Kauaʻi. Each tour costs $20 and works offline.

A guide to daily costs in Hawaii

Hostel room: $40 to $150 a night Basic room for two: $150 to $300 a night Self-catering apartment (including Airbnb): $80 (for a private room) to $6000 a night (where President Obama stayed in Kailua) Public transport ticket: Adult fares on TheBus on Oʻahu are $3 (one way), with discounts for seniors aged 65 and up and youth aged 6 to 17. Coffee: $2.25 (hot coffee at Starbucks) to $12.50 (Kona Estate coffee brewed fresh, using the Chemex pour-over brewer at Honolulu Coffee) Sandwich: $7 (Andy’s Sandwiches & Smoothies) to $13 (at Sprout Sandwich Shop) Dinner for two: $50 to $500 Beer/pint at the bar: $7 to $12

This article was first published April 2016 and updated November 2023

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What is the Cheapest Hawaiian Island to Visit? (plus 4 ways to save)

What is the Cheapest Hawaiian Island to Visit

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase through my links we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read about our affiliate policies here .

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When Jordan and I moved to Maui we were convinced that this was the most expensive of all the Hawaiian islands. When our friends and family come to visit, they’re paying an astronomical amount for hotel rooms. We soon started to wonder, if we think Maui is the most expensive, what is the cheapest Hawaiian island to visit?

Using data from The Hawaii Tourism Authority and, the cheapest island to visit is Oahu. Airfare, hotel, and rental car for two people for a week costs $2,625 on Oahu. The most expensive Hawaiian island to visit is Maui, where the same average costs for a week are $3,600. 

How did we get this number? We break down the data below and show you how to save money regardless of what island you visit.  

Note : Prices quoted in this article are from September 2020. Oahu is by far the cheapest island to visit in 2023 as well. For updated pricing, see our annual series on the cost of a family of four to visit Hawaii .

We know you came here for the savings, so here are some quick links to keep it cheap: 1. Airfare: read our travel hacks for buying plane tickets. 2. Lodging: the best way you can save BIG on a trip is with your lodging. We show you exactly how we’ve been booking resorts *for almost free* for years now . 3. Rental car: see our recommendations from tried and true methods. 4. Plan activities and save on spontaneously booking a tour through your hotel.

What is the Cheapest Hawaiian Island to Visit? Our Research Shows…

To determine which island was actually the cheapest to visit we looked at three different costs: airfare, lodging (hotels and vacation rentals), and rental car. 

Using these averages, we calculated the cost for a trip for two to each island for a week.

Here is what we found. 

Airfare to Hawaii

Ok, so you already know that our research shows that Oahu is the cheapest. Surprisingly though, it didn’t have the cheapest average airfare cost. Using Kayak, which shows the average airfare price over the past two weeks, we looked up the average fare from LAX to each island. 

We found that the cheapest airfare was actually to Kona on the big island, at $403 for a roundtrip ticket.

Data for the islands include:

  • Big Island (Kona): $403 roundtrip
  • Oahu: $418 roundtrip
  • Maui: $428 roundtrip
  • Kauai: $451 roundtrip

Related article: How to Get a Cheap Ticket to Hawaii: 5 Insider’s Tips

Note, these are 2019 airfare prices. We expect and are already seeing large reductions in ticket prices for 2021. We expect the same pricing trends to continue when it comes to the cheapest island to fly to in 2021.

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Lodging in Hawaii:

Staying in Hawaii can be expensive. Yes, there are plenty of options — hotels, rentals, and timeshares — but budget accommodations are few and far between. 

To get the average rate, we used data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which tracks average daily rates for hotels, vacation rentals, and timeshares. 

Yes, you could camp on the beach or sleep in your car and save a bundle of money. If that’s your plan, you can omit this from your personal calculation. But for the rest of us, here’s how the average hotel and vacation rental costs break down:

July 2023 average daily rate for hotel rooms:

  • Oahu: $ 306
  • Big Island: $442
  • Kauai: $ 458
  • Maui: $ 656

Source: The Hawaii Tourism Authority

July 2023 average daily rate for vacation rentals:

  • Big Island: $ 236
  • Oahu: $ 247
  • Maui: $ 359
  • Kauai: $ 386

Basically, when it comes to lodging, the Big Island and Oahu are the cheapest option, which Kauai and Maui really firmly plant themselves in the most expensive category.

Like most people, we love a good luxury hotel, but not the luxury price tag. With all of our travel through Hawaii, we’ve perfected the strategy for getting hotels *for almost free* . We show you exactly you can do the same and how to save thousands on your Hawaii Vacation when it’s Booked With Points.

Related reads: Oahu vs Big Island: Pick The Right Island for Your Trip Hotel vs Airbnb: How to Decide What is Best for Your Hawaii Vacation

Rental Car in Hawaii

Our final input is the rental car. This is where the big island makes a bit of a leap in cost, ahead of Oahu:

Oahu: $49 per day (economy)

Maui: $50 per day (intermediate)

Kauai: $57 per day (economy car)

Big Island, Kona: $70 per day (intermediate)

You’ll notice that most people rent an intermediate car when visiting Kona and Maui. It’s likely because visitors want to drive to the volcanoes on each island or on the road to Hana on Maui. 

The Cheapest Hawaiian Island to Visit and the Most Expensive

Of course, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to put all of these costs together and get the real answer for which Hawaiian island is the cheapest and which is the most expensive to visit. 

Using a trip for two from LAX for seven days and six nights, this is the average cost when staying at a hotel:

Oahu is the cheapest Hawaiian island to visit, with a total cost of $ 3,015.  

Cheapest Hawaiian Island to Visit Hotel Lodging

Maui is the most expensive island to visit , coming in over $2,000 more expensive, with a total cost of $5,142. 

Maui is most expensive Hawaiian islan

Doing the same calculation but inputting vacation rental costs , rather than a hotel still shows us that Oahu is the cheapest island to visit, but now Kauai is the most expensive.

Cheapest Hawaiian Island Video

In case you are a visual learner or you want to see some beautiful footage of Oahu and Maui, check out our video on The Cheapest Hawaiian Island to Vacation below. Erica and I break down the costs and share four tips on how to save money on your Hawaii vacation.

Feel free to add a comment with your thoughts or counterarguments on the cheapest Hawaiian island.

How to Save Money on Your Trip to Hawaii, No Matter What Island You Visit

While the differences in average price can be significant, what will impact the total cost of your trip more is how you plan it. There are money-saving tips that you can implement, regardless of what island you decide to visit. 

Book Your Trip With Points

You don’t need to be a frequent flier or spend an absurd amount to get a few free nights at a luxury hotel in Hawaii. We’ve found the sweet spot of using welcome bonuses to offset the cost of our hotel stays.

Whether you’re looking to book just a few nights at a luxury resort for free or you want to stretch your points for a full 10 day escape we show you the hotels to book and exactly how to earn the points with welcome bonuses over at Booked With Points .

This is my favorite points example: The Grand Hyatt Kauai can be over $1,000 per night! We can get four or five nights for free with these two strategic welcome offers .

Time it Right

If you can be flexible with your vacation schedule, you can save hundreds (or thousands) on your trip to Hawaii. You’ll get the same experience as someone paying double just by traveling during cheaper months.

According to Skyscanner , the cheapest time to fly to Hawaii is January. Data from f are detective shows that the cheapest time to fly to Hawaii is April. Looking for a flight during those two months can mean that you are paying hundreds less for the same flight another person is taking just a few months later.

Saving money on a flight is great. Saving money on your accommodation can really take a significant bite out of your budget. 

We looked through data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority and found that the cheapest months to book a hotel room in Hawaii are April, May, September, October, and November (aside from Thanksgiving week). 

The cheapest months to book a vacation rental are April, May, June, September, October, and November. The most expensive time to book a place to stay are during summer months (specifically July and August) and the winter months. 

Related article: How to Book the Cheapest Flight to Hawaii

Stay at a Vacation Rental

On all but three islands, the cost of a vacation rental is cheaper than the cost of a hotel. Kauai is the only island where vacation rental costs are actually slightly higher than hotel costs. 

That aside, it’s probably still going to be better on your budget to choose a vacation rental. The average daily rate of a hotel room doesn’t take into account two very expensive fees you may encounter in Hawaii: resort fee and parking fee. 

For example, at the Marriott Kauai Beach Club, the resort fee is $35 per day. Hotels in Waikiki charge as much as $35 per day for self-parking. These extra fees can really add up.

You’ll also save money at a vacation rental by eating in. Eating out for every meal in Hawaii can really add up quickly. Renting a place with a kitchen can help you cut back on the costs.

Related article: Hotels vs. Airbnb. How to decide what’s best for your Hawaiian vacation

Cheapest Hawaiian Island is Oahu

Plan Out Your Activities

When you get to Hawaii, it’s easy to get sucked into wanting to do everything and wanting to do it right now! But one of the greatest things about visiting Hawaii is there is so much you can do for free or low cost if you get out and explore what the island has to offer. 

Hiking, scenic drives, waterfalls, snorkeling from the beach, and more. 

Related article: The 14 Best Things to Do on Maui on a Budget

But there will undoubtedly be other things that you want to do while you’re here. Plan and research these things before you go and pick based on value. 

For example, we always advise our friends to pick the best luau on Maui , regardless of the price. You’ll feel satisfied by doing a few great activities rather than doing a few mediocre, cheaper options.

And if you’re planning your activities out a little ahead of time, you can look for the best deals. For example, we go whale watching a number of times during the season. These trips can add up but by looking ahead and booking the early bird morning cruise, we can save 25% or more on each trip we do. 

Related article: The Guide to Seeing Humpback Whales on Maui

Living here (and having made 50+ trips to the islands before moving) we have tested some of the best activities on the island. Don’t go it alone when it comes to picking the best activities. We’ve included the best of the best for you on our activity recommendation page . 

To Rent a Car or Not?

While a rental car is the smallest of the three costs we looked at, you may wonder if a rental car is right for your trip. From what we’ve heard, more visitors are ditching the rental and preferring to take a ride-sharing service when they want to get around. And we certainly saw plenty of people arriving at the Diamond Head hike via a taxi. 

The decision whether to rent a car or not comes down to what you want to do on your vacation. Do you expect to hang around the resort and maybe take a trip or two out? A rental car might not be the best choice for you. Or are you planning to do plenty of sightseeing and grocery shopping? The cost of a rental car might be well worth it. 

Taking the time to decide whether to book a rental car could save you hundreds. 

If you do decide to rent a car, check out our recommended rental car booking tool . Booking with them saved us $300 over our New Year’s trip to the Big Island and $70 on our most recent trip to Oahu. Yes, their prices are that good. 

Related article: Should I Rent a Car on Maui?

Ready to Plan Your Trip to Hawaii?

We’re here to make your planning easy. Whether it’s picking an island, a hotel, or an activity, you’ll find the best information on our Hawaii recommendations page . 

We’re your local guide here to help you make your trip to the islands the best it can possibly be. 

travel cheap hawaii

Oahu Wayfinder Itinerary

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Maui Wayfinder Itinerary

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Kauai Wayfinder Itinerary

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Cruising Hawaii Guide

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Big Island Wayfinder Itinerary

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I'm the co-founder, with my husband Jordan, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We have lived on Maui and Oahu and continue to travel, experience, and learn about the Hawaiian Islands. We travel with our kids, Henry and Edith. I am a planner! I love to plan trips from the mainland and island-hopping adventures, excursion days, and everything in-between. I spend a lot of my time in Hawai'i on a SUP and my favorite time of year in Hawai'i is whale season!

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Good to know

Faqs - booking hawaii flights, i’m traveling to big island. which airport should i choose when booking flights to hawaii.

The best airport for passengers traveling to Big Island will probably depend on the reason for your trip. If you’re going mainly for the resorts and beaches on the West Kona side, then the best airport is Kona International Airport. If you’re going for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, then the best airport is Hilo International Airport.

I want to hike in Hawaii. Which island should I travel to?

Kauai, Big Island, Molokai, Oahu, and Maui are the best islands in Hawaii for hiking. Big Island, Oahu, and Maui are all served by major international airports with nonstop flights from the continent. Kauai and Molokai also have airports, but travelers from the States will need to travel to Honolulu (in Oahu) first, and then take an inter-island flight to their final destination.

How can I travel from the Honolulu airport to Waikiki beach?

Waikiki Beach is less than 20 min from the Honolulu Airport. You can travel by private shuttle ($18 per person on average), taxi ($30 per ride on average), or you can use a rideshare service ($23-30 per ride on average). If you’re planning on exploring the island beyond Waikiki, you can rent a car at the airport. You’ll find offices for Avis, Budget, Hertz, National, and Enterprise at the baggage claim area.

Which airports in Hawaii are closer to the beach?

The airports in Hawaii closest to the beach are Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu on Oahu island (13 min to Ala Moana Beach Park), Kona International Airport on Big Island (7 min to Wawaloli Beach Park), and Kahului Airport on Maui island (6 min to Kanaha Beach Park).

How long is the flight to Hawaii?

An average nonstop flight from the United States to Hawaii takes 7h 50m, covering a distance of 3328 miles. The most popular route is Los Angeles - Honolulu with an average flight time of 5h 43m.

What is the cheapest flight to Hawaii?

The cheapest ticket to Hawaii from the United States found in the last 72 hours was $40 one-way, and $171 round-trip. The most popular route is from Los Angeles to Honolulu and the cheapest round-trip airline ticket found on this route in the last 72 hours was $187.

Which airlines fly to Hawaii?

Korean Air, Hawaiian Airlines & Alaska Airlines fly the most frequently from the United States to Hawaii.

What are the most popular destinations in Hawaii?

The next most popular destinations are Kahului (16%) and Kailua-Kona (12%). Searches for flights to Lihue (12%), to Hilo (1%) and to Kapalua (0.9%) are also popular.

How does KAYAK’s flight Price Forecast tool help me choose the right time to buy?

KAYAK’s flight Price Forecast tool uses historical data to determine whether the price for a given destination and date is likely to change within 7 days, so travelers know whether to wait or book now.

Top tips for finding cheap flights to Hawaii

  • Looking for cheap airfare to Hawaii? 25% of our users found tickets to Hawaii for the following prices or less: From Honolulu $73 one-way - $140 round-trip, from Los Angeles $148 one-way - $222 round-trip, from New York John F Kennedy Intl $283 one-way - $538 round-trip
  • Book at least 1 week before departure in order to get a below-average price.
  • High season is considered to be June and July. The cheapest month to fly from the United States is January.
  • Enter your preferred departure airport and travel dates into the search form above to unlock the latest Hawaii flight deals.
  • If you’re looking for beach- and family-friendly destinations when booking your flights to Hawaii, look for flights into the islands of Kauai, Big Island, Maui, and Oahu. They are served by Lihue Airport (LIH), Kona International Airport (KOA) and Hilo International Airport (ITO), Kahului Airport (OGG), and Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), respectively.
  • If you want to take your time exploring the islands, you can fly from the mainland into Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu on Oahu island, and then take domestic flights to the other islands. Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest are two of the companies that operate inter-island flights.
  • Most first-time travelers to Hawaii choose Maui as their destination, but keep in mind that there are fewer nonstop flights from the continental US landing at Maui’s Kahului Airport. Most flights from the mainland connect via the Honolulu airport on Oahu island.
  • If you’re planning to go on whale-watching tours, look for flights to Hawaii on the island of Kauai. Although practically every island is excellent for whale-watching activities, Kauai has a greater range of possible spotting locations.
  • For golfers, Hawaii means golf courses that are as gorgeous as they are high-quality. If you don’t know where to start, consider traveling to the airport of Oahu. With 37 golf clubs, it’s the island with the most golf courses in America’s 50th state.

Top 5 airlines flying to Hawaii

Drinks and snacks provided. TV had a lot of entertainment options. Plane was fairly comfortable. Staff was less than pleasant.

No service due to turbulence. No entertainment on this type of aircraft. But nice old comfortable seats.

Had the best flight in a long time. The captain was amazing, friendly, kept us informed of any weather or sites to see. Took good care of the flight attendants and made us feel safe and confident. Smooth lovely flight.

One the best cabin crew team we have ever had (I have flown globally for more than 2 million miles), food was good and wines choices were great.⁰

The low fare charge is a catch., only to be hit by exorbitantly high charges for carry on, checked luggage and seat.

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The Best Time to Visit Hawaii for Low Prices and Beautiful Weather

These are the best times to visit Hawaii, according to your travel preferences.

travel cheap hawaii

Elizabeth Rhodes is a special projects editor at Travel + Leisure , covering everything from luxury hotels to theme parks to must-pack travel products. Originally from South Carolina, Elizabeth moved to New York City from London, where she started her career as a travel blogger and writer.

travel cheap hawaii

Hawaii is a perennially popular destination for many reasons. The Aloha State is home to an extraordinary culture, pristine landscapes, and idyllic beaches. If you're searching for the best time to visit Hawaii, we've got you covered. The islands are beautiful at any time of year, but individual preferences can dictate the best time to book your tropical vacation. To help you decide, you can think of the state's calendar in the following way.

  • High Seasons: June to July and the month of December
  • Shoulder Seasons: January to May and August to November

Whether you want to save a few bucks, find uncrowded attractions, or spot a majestic humpback whale, here are the best times to visit Hawaii.

Michela Buttignol/Travel+Leisure

Most Popular Times to Visit Hawaii

With an annual visitor count that regularly approaches 10 million, Hawaii is beloved throughout the year. However, some periods are busier than others. According to the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, the most popular months for tourists are almost always June, July, and December (in some configuration). July usually takes the top spot — as it did in 2022, when it drew more than 919,000 visitors to the islands.

This aligns with the fact that Hawaii is a popular destination for families during school breaks. Summer vacation attracts many travelers, and so does winter break, especially among visitors from cold climates who'd like to spend their holidays singing "Mele Kalikimaka" on a warm, sunny beach .

Spring is another time that can draw considerable crowds. In addition to bringing American spring breakers, spring also draws Japanese travelers celebrating the so-called Golden Week , a stretch in late April and early May when four holidays are celebrated over seven days.

Best Times to Visit Hawaii for Smaller Crowds

Since school breaks are the most popular times in Hawaii , the months when school is in session tend to draw the smallest crowds. February and September consistently rank near the bottom of the tourism board's list of busiest months — in 2022, they saw 630,000 and 703,000 visitors respectively — and the months surrounding them tend to be quiet, too.

Given the holidays that happen in the spring, though, fall is perhaps the best time to plan a trip if you're looking for a long stretch of uncrowded days. There are fun events to be found at this time of year, too, like the Aloha Festivals in September and October's Hawaii Food & Wine Festival.

Best Times to Visit Hawaii for Good Weather

The weather in Hawaii is consistently warm, with temperatures slightly lower in the winter months (November to April) than in the summer (May to October). Hawaii's average daily winter temperature at the beach is 78 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average daily summer temperature is 85 degrees, according to the Hawaiian Tourism Authority . Water temperatures are usually pleasant, too: they average around 74 degrees most of the year but inch up to around 80 degrees in the summer.

Rainfall is at its lowest in Hawaii from April through October, but even the wetter winter months aren't too bad. Rain is most common on the northeastern (or windward) sides of the Hawaiian islands, meaning sunseekers can stick to the leeward southwestern edges for the best chance of clear skies. Hawaiian rain showers are also famous for producing rainbows — so drizzly days have their perks.

The timing of severe weather can sometimes be hard to predict, since tropical storms and cyclones can happen year-round in the Pacific. But the Hawaii Department of Health warns that hurricane season officially runs from June through November.

Best Times to Visit Hawaii for Lower Prices

Hawaiian Airlines reports that traveling to the state is generally cheapest in the shoulder seasons of late spring and early fall — and they should know, considering they operate both nonstop flights to Hawaii from the United States, Asia, and the South Pacific, as well as inter-island flights that can get you from one Hawaiian island to another. For more savings, the airline suggests booking your flights so you're arriving and departing on weekdays, not weekends. Generally speaking, hotel rates soar in Hawaii during the Christmas and New Year holidays in late December and early January, and again during spring break and summer vacation dates. So, if you want to cut costs on both accommodations and airfare, avoid those times of the year.

Another way to visit without worrying about airfare and hotel costs is to hop aboard a Hawaiian cruise . Choose an itinerary that visits outside of the peak tourist seasons, and you'll have great odds of experiencing all that Hawaii has to offer without any exorbitant on-shore costs.

Best Times to Go Surfing in Hawaii

Visitors and locals can surf year-round on Hawaii's famous waves, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you're planning to hang ten . Waves are usually larger during the winter months, says the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, especially on the islands' north-facing shores, so conditions aren't ideal for beginners learning to surf.

If you want to watch the experts tackle some big waves, though, this can be a fun time to visit. Some of the world's greatest surf contests happen in Hawaii during the winter, like the Vans Triple Crown — held on Oahu's North Shore every year since 1983 — and the Eddie Aikau Invitational , held any winter when waves consistently reach 40 feet in height.

Best Times to Go Whale Watching in Hawaii

Humpback whales can be seen off the islands' coasts from December through May, so visitors who come to Hawaii with whale watching in mind will be in luck for much of the year. The peak of the season is generally considered to be January, February, and March — that's when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls on the public to help monitor whales and contribute to its annual Sanctuary Ocean Count .

Worst Times to Visit Hawaii

In an environment as beautiful as Hawaii, it's hard to call any season a "bad time" to visit. But if you want to avoid high prices and giant crowds at the islands' most popular destinations , you might consider skipping the busy months of June, July, and December.

No matter when you visit, bear in mind that Hawaii has a unique ecosystem and a vibrant Indigenous culture — both of which have sometimes been put at risk by overtourism. If you travel to the islands, do so responsibly by respecting the locals you meet, keeping a safe distance from wildlife, and patronizing Hawaiian-owned businesses when you can. Be sure, as well, to prepare adequately for any outdoor activities you want to try. There's never a good time to be stuck on a steep mountain trail or stranded in choppy waters!

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Cheap Vacations in Hawaii

I only need accommodations for part of my trip

travel cheap hawaii

Hawaii vacations

  • 3-night Hawaii vacations

4-night Hawaii vacations

5-night hawaii vacations.

  • 6-7 night Hawaii vacations

Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

OUTRIGGER Kona Resort and Spa

OUTRIGGER Kona Resort and Spa

Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection

Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection

Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel

Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel

Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort

Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort

Manoa Valley Inn

Manoa Valley Inn

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

The Kahala Hotel & Resort

The Kahala Hotel & Resort

Embassy Suites By Hilton Oahu Kapolei

Embassy Suites By Hilton Oahu Kapolei

OUTRIGGER Reef Waikiki Beach Resort

OUTRIGGER Reef Waikiki Beach Resort

Prince Waikiki

Prince Waikiki

Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina

Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki Beach Walk

Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki Beach Walk

Waikiki Marina Resort at the Ilikai

Waikiki Marina Resort at the Ilikai

Hotel La Croix

Hotel La Croix



Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa

Hilton Waikiki Beach

Hilton Waikiki Beach

Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort - a concept by Hyatt

Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort - a concept by Hyatt

Fairmont Orchid

Fairmont Orchid

Turtle Bay Resort

Turtle Bay Resort

Top places to visit in hawaii.

Makiki - Lower Punchbowl - Tantalus showing landscape views, a sunset and a city



Flight deals to Hawaii

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Welcome to Hawaii

Your hawaii vacation.

With beautiful beaches, active volcanoes and warm weather, paradise may sound pricey, but that needn't be the case. From the cosmopolitan Honolulu to the sun rises over Mount Haleakala, let CheapTickets lead you to the land of aloha. Hike Diamond Head, drink Mai Tais at sunset and kayak the Kealakekua Bay. Whether it's your first trip or an annual pilgrimage, the ultimate Hawaii vacation is only a click away.

Best time to take a vacation to Hawaii

Best time to go.

Hawaii’s archipelago is thriving with good weather the whole year round. Mauna Kea of Hawaii Island features excellent skiing conditions during the winter months. The best months for Hawaii vacations in terms of minimal wallet damage, smaller crowds and good weather, are May and September. You will be able to enjoy the best of the sea while island hopping through Hawaii’s six islands tailored for travelers: Maui, Oahu, Hawaii Island, Lanai, Molokai and Kauai.

Popular Hawaii experiences

Haleakala national park (maui).

Discover why Mark Twain claimed sunrise on Mount Haleakala sublime. You have to start your trek early (about 3 a.m.), but the dawning views from the summit make it oh-so worth it. On the way you'll experience unique wildlife, volcanic landscapes and seriously soulful terrain. A three-day entry pass is $10 per vehicle or $5 for individuals, making it a budget must on your Hawaii travels.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Big Island)

See the awesome power of nature at this unforgettable site where hiking opportunities are second to none. Kilauea is the world's most active volcano, constantly sending streams of molten lava into the sea. Entrance fees cost just $10 per vehicle or $5 for individuals. Get there before 9 a.m. to enhance the experience with a ranger-led program.

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau (Oahu)

A sanctuary for Hawaiians of old, this historic park offers serene spots to stroll on your Hawaii travels. View ancient temples, wooden ki'I, tidepools, turtles and more. Admission prices are a modest $5 per vehicle, or $3 per person when entering on foot or bike, and free for kids 15 and younger.

Waikiki and Honolulu (Oahu)

The starting, stopping and staying points of many Hawaii vacations, Waikiki and Honolulu have been shaped with tourism in mind. Hula dancers, beaches and ukuleles abound, but you'll also find plenty of cheap eateries, hotels and shopping, too. Trek up to Diamond Head Crater for gorgeous views in the Pacific, and bring the little ones to the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center to enjoy hands-on exhibits and educational activities.

Waimea Canyon (Kauai)

Over 10 miles long and up to 3500 feet deep, this craggy chasm of long-dried lava is the place for photo-opportunities. Stay up top for extraordinary vistas or hike through the canyon floor alongside the Waimea River to witness natural history in action.

Insider tips for Hawaii travel

Ancient petroglyph.

Ancient petroglyph drawings are found on boulders and ancient lava flows near Lanai’s Shipwreck Beach.

Enjoy the local appetizers such as the Loco Moco, hamburger steak served with rice and egg, at the Café 100 on Hilo on the Big Island.

Na Pali Coast

The Na Pali coast in Kauai prides itself as the spot for Jurassic Park & King Kong movie shoots, and is heralded as the most breathtaking shoreline around the world.

Queen Kaahumanu

Choose between the Queen Kaahumanu Center or visit the local shopping options at Paia Town in Maui.

Top rated hotels for your Hawaii vacation

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

'Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

Popular Hawaii vacation package destinations

  • Honolulu Vacations
  • Kihei Vacations
  • Kailua-Kona Vacations
  • Kaanapali Vacations
  • Koloa Vacations
  • Princeville Vacations
  • Waikoloa Vacations
  • Hilo Vacations
  • Kamuela Vacations
  • Kapaa Vacations
  • Kapolei Vacations
  • Lihue Vacations
  • Kahuku Vacations
  • Kailua Vacations
  • Napili-Honokowai Vacations
  • Hanalei Vacations
  • Kapalua Vacations
  • Lahaina Vacations
  • Haleiwa Vacations
  • Kahului Vacations
  • Kaneohe Vacations
  • Kilauea Vacations
  • Hana Vacations
  • Wailuku Vacations
  • Waimea Vacations
  • Laie Vacations
  • Waianae Vacations
  • Waipahu Vacations
  • Hauula Vacations
  • Volcano Vacations
  • Waialua Vacations
  • Captain Cook Vacations
  • Waimanalo Vacations
  • Mililani Vacations
  • Makawao Vacations
  • Paia Vacations
  • Pearl City Vacations
  • Aiea Vacations

^Savings based on all package bookings with Flight + Hotel made on from 2019-04-01 - 2020-03-31 as compared to the price of the same components booked separately. Savings will vary based on origin/destination, length of trip, stay dates and selected travel supplier(s). Savings not available on all packages.

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travel cheap hawaii

Hawaii conforms to every stereotype you've ever heaped upon it including bronzed surfers and touristy luaus in Oahu, lavish resorts and the Road to Hana in Maui, black sand beaches and active waterfalls on the Big Island and Kauai's stunning Na Pali coast. Of course, there's so much more and it takes a lifetime to see and do it all. Free cancellation on most hotels. Some hotels require you to cancel more than 24 hours before check in. Please check the site for details. Important : These destinations may have COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, including specific restrictions for lodging. Check any national, local, and health advisories for these destinations before you book.

  • Top flight deals

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travel cheap hawaii

Terms and Conditions

All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions--please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Hotels: Offers valid at participating hotels only. Minimum night stay may be required and rules, restrictions, and blackout dates may apply. Please check individual property for details. Hotel prices displayed are per room per stay based on the cheapest double room available on the specific dates shown. Prices are updated regularly and are accurate when published. Applicable discount, if any, will be applied to the price of selected hotels, excluding taxes and other fees. Hotel savings are based upon Travelocity's everyday hotel rates, excluding taxes and other fees for the date(s) searched. Additional terms may apply.

Vacation Rental: Offers valid at participating vacation rental properties only. Minimum night stay may be required and rules, restrictions, and blackout dates may apply. Please check individual property for details. Property prices displayed are per night for stays on the specific dates shown and do not include taxes, fees, or damage deposit details. Prices and availability may change depending on number of people. Prices are updated regularly and are accurate when published. Applicable discount, if any, will be applied to the price of selected properties, excluding taxes and other fees. Additional terms may apply.

Air Pricing: Sample air prices are quoted for one adult and include taxes and fees for round-trip travel on the promoted airline from the specified airports, inclusive of all taxes. Prices do not include baggage fees that may be charged by the applicable airline. Actual price may vary based on time/date of search, booking date, travel dates, origin, and destination, and blackout periods may apply. Please check airline for details. Lower fares may be available to selected destinations. Prices, quoted in U.S. dollars, are updated regularly and are accurate when published. Portions of these flights may be operated by the airlines code-share partners. Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights/dates. Fares and rules are subject to change without notice. Tickets are nontransferable and nonrefundable. Read the complete penalty rules for changes and cancellations applicable to the fare you're considering booking.

Package: Package prices quoted are per person per stay based on the cheapest return flights and two people sharing the cheapest double room at participating hotels, inclusive of all taxes, on the specific dates shown, and blackout periods may apply. Please check individual property and airline for details Package prices do not include resort fees or other fees charged directly by the included hotel. Package prices do not include baggage fees or other fees charged directly by the airline for the included flight. Prices are updated regularly and are accurate when published. Savings based on the price of the hotel + flight booked together, as compared to the price of the same components booked separately. Savings will vary based on origin/destination, length of trip, stay dates and selected travel supplier(s). Savings are not available on all packages. Package offers are subject to all applicable terms and conditions for hotel and air. Additional terms may apply.

Car: Sample rates displayed are for the travel period represented. Rates may vary by date, pick-up/drop-off location, and availability. Prices are updated regularly and are accurate when published. Applicable discount, if any, will be applied to the price of selected car, excluding taxes and other fees. Car charges are billed at time of rental, unless otherwise indicated. Certain conditional charges may apply to your rental; these charges are not included in price shown. Charges for optional services are not included. Offers vary by vendor, are subject to availability and may be discontinued without notice. Rules, restrictions, and blackout dates may apply. See vendor pages for further details.

Activity: Prices displayed are for activities on the specific dates shown, and include promotional discounts referred to. Blackout periods may apply. Please check individual activity for details. Discounts are applied to the standard price of selected activities excluding applicable taxes and fees. Activities prices displayed are per person based on the cheapest offer available, inclusive of all taxes and service fees. Prices are updated regularly and are accurate when published. Blackout periods may apply. Offers are subject to limited availability and may be discounted without notice. Please check individual activity for details and to confirm prices, availability, and applicable terms and conditions.

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How To Travel To Hawaii Cheaply

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Dreaming of a Hawaiian getaway but worried about the costs? With some planning and flexibility, you can visit these stunning islands without breaking the bank. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Book flights in the off-season, snag deals on hotels, rent a condo, and take advantage of free activities to keep your Hawaii vacation budget-friendly .

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide money-saving tips for flights, accommodations, activities, food, and transportation to help you plan an affordable Hawaiian vacation.

Find Cheap Flights to Hawaii

Fly in the off-season.

The peak tourism season for Hawaii runs from mid-December through mid-April. During this busy time, flight prices tend to be at their highest. If your schedule allows, consider traveling in the off-season of early spring (after Easter) and fall when airfare prices usually drop by 20-40%.

Even the summer months can have good flight deals before the crowds return for winter holidays.

Be flexible with dates and airports

Give flexible travel dates to maximize choice over cheap rates. Weekday departures tend to be less expensive than weekend dates. Bargain flights also often have inconvenient layovers. Be open-minded towards direct or connecting flights from alternative airports like Oakland, San Jose, LAX, or Long Beach to discover lower fares.

Researching alternate route options increases your chances of uncovering a flight deal. Some possibilities include:

  • Fly into a neighboring island first, then catch an inter-island flight.
  • Take an initial flight to the West Coast, followed by a flight to Hawaii from those airports.

Use flight deal alerts and sites

Utilize flight deal websites like Scott’s Cheap Flights , Secret Flying , and AirFareWatchdog which track airfare sales to Hawaii. You can set up custom alerts tailored to your home airport and travel dates so tempting deals get delivered right to your inbox.

Following flight deals sites on social media is another easy way to get notifications on Hawaii sales and mistake fares which must be booked quickly before they disappear!

Save on Accommodations

Book a condo rental.

One of the best ways to save money on accommodations when visiting Hawaii is to book a condo rental. Condo rentals often have full kitchens, allowing you to cook some of your own meals and save on dining out. Many also have separate bedrooms, giving you more space than a standard hotel room.

Sites like VRBO , Airbnb , and offer a wide selection of condo rentals across the Hawaiian Islands.

Check for hotel deals and packages

Even when not traveling during peak seasons, Hawaii hotel rates can be high. However, some deals and discounted packages can be found, especially if you’re flexible on locations and travel dates. Sites like Priceline and Expedia let you easily compare rates across hotels.

Additionally, many Hawaiian hotels offer special packages that bundle room nights with extras like dining credits, spa treatments, or activity discounts. Checking a hotel’s website directly can uncover exclusive packages not found on third-party booking sites.

Consider hostels and vacation rentals

For budget-focused travelers, hostels and vacation rentals provide very affordable Hawaii accommodation options. Hostels offer basic dorm-style lodging and shared bathrooms at a fraction of a typical hotel price. Hawaii hostel choices include Hostel World Hawaii on Oahu and Maui Hostel in Lahaina.

Vacation rental sites like HomeAway and FlipKey list privately-owned condos, cabins, and even treehouses for rent across the islands.

As shown above, significant savings on nightly rates can be achieved by opting for alternative accommodations like condo rentals, hostels, or vacation home rentals rather than standard hotels. Pair these affordable lodging options with cooking some of your own meals and you can travel to Hawaii without breaking the bank.

Take Advantage of Free Activities

One of the best ways to save money when visiting Hawaii is to take advantage of the countless free activities available. From hiking trails to beaches to cultural sites, you can immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture without emptying your wallet.

Go hiking and explore nature

Hawaii has an abundance of spectacular natural sights that can be explored for free by going on a hike. Popular trails like the Diamond Head State Monument Trail on Oahu offer amazing 360 degree views of the Honolulu skyline and ocean at no cost.

The 4-mile round trip hike takes under 2 hours for moderate hikers. On Maui, the Pipiwai Trail winds through a magical bamboo forest leading up to the 400 foot Waimoku Falls. Remember to wear sturdy shoes, bring water, and apply sunscreen before venturing out into mother nature.

Visit local beaches and parks

Beat the heat with a trip to one of Hawaii’s world-renowned beaches, many of which offer free access. Hanauma Bay on Oahu is a snorkeler’s paradise with an abundance of tropical fish and sea turtles swimming close to shore. Entrance into the nature preserve is only $1 per person.

Magic Sands Beach on Hawaii Island is known for its sand that appears and disappears into four distinct shades throughout the year. The South Point Cliff Divers perform daily cliff diving ceremonies off the southernmost point in the USA.

Pack a lunch, lay in the soft sand, and relax under swaying palms at Hawaii’s beaches and coastal parks free of charge.

Experience Hawaiian culture

In addition to natural sights, learning about Hawaiian history and cultural traditions won’t cost you anything during an island getaway. Attend a live ukulele performance at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound in Waikiki where hula dancers sway to Hawaiian melodies as the sun sets over the ocean.

The scene reenacts Queen Liliuokalani’s last walk as monarch in 1893. Pay respects to King Kamehameha I, who united the islands, at the King Kamehameha I Statue in downtown Honolulu. A favorite free activity for families is watching Samoan fire dancers twirl flaming batons atop outrigger canoes during nightly Polynesian revue shows in front of beachfront resorts.

Embrace aloha spirit by gaining an appreciation for native arts, music, and customs in Hawaii.

Use Public Transportation to Get Around

TheBus is an affordable and convenient way to get around the main islands of Hawaii once you arrive. The public bus system connects most major towns and destinations across Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island with fares starting at just $2.50 per ride .

Many hotels and resorts offer free shuttle services to the nearest bus stop too.

TheBus has an extensive route system that can take you to popular attractions like Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, and even hike trailheads. Buses generally run from early morning until late evening with schedules posted at each stop.

You can plan your trip using the online bus locator that provides routes and arrival times.

If you’ll be riding TheBus frequently, consider purchasing a 4-day pass for $35 or a monthly pass for $70. Kids ages 6-17 can ride for just $1. Not sure which bus to take or where to get off? Bus drivers are usually happy to help anytime.

While public transportation can meet most travel needs once in Hawaii, renting a car allows greater flexibility to explore more remote destinations at your own pace. Some ways to save money on rental cars in Hawaii include:

  • Reserve the smallest car that will accommodate passengers and luggage
  • Check for deals on compact cars which tend to have lower rates
  • Look for inclusion of unlimited mileage and insurance when comparing rental quotes
  • Avoid renting vehicles at airport locations which tack on additional fees

Rental car rates average around $50 per day for an economy car if booked in advance online. Some companies offer additional markdowns for rentals of 1 week or longer too. Just be sure to calculate in elevated fuel costs driving around the islands – gas prices are higher than the mainland.

With scenic routes begging to be driven in Hawaii, a rental car allows pulling over at your leisure to capture photos or take on spur-of-the-moment adventures. Just plan for potential traffic congestion in larger cities during busy tourist seasons.

Eat and Drink on a Budget

Grocery shop.

One of the best ways to save money on dining in Hawaii is by grocery shopping. Many resort areas have large grocery stores nearby where you can buy ingredients to prepare simple meals. Making your own meals even a few times instead of eating out for every meal can lead to huge savings.

Some affordable and common Hawaiian foods to buy are seasonal fruits, baked goods, rice, Spam, salads, and fish.

When choosing which grocery store to shop at, try to find one that is popular with locals rather than a smaller convenient store. The big retailers like Times , Foodland , and Don Quijote often have better prices. You may even find some awesome deals or local specialties you can’t resist trying!

Food trucks and casual dining

Instead of dining at fancy restaurants every night, opt to eat at lower cost venues like food trucks, drive-ins, or small cafés at least a few times during your trip. Hawaiian plate lunch at a casual spot can be extremely tasty, convenient, and easy on your wallet.

Plate lunches typically include proteins like hamburger patties, fried fish, or teriyaki chicken served alongside staples like macaroni salad, white rice, and sometimes kimchi.

Food trucks are found all over Hawaii, especially near beaches and busy areas. You’ll often spot locals flocking to their favorite mobile kitchens during lunch and dinner hours. Situated along the North Shore of Oahu, the town of Haleiwa has dozens of food trucks selling everything from fresh fruit bowls to tacos for great prices.

Happy hour specials

Enjoying discount dining at happy hours is a popular way for visitors to cut costs in Hawaii. Many restaurants offer special menu deals for a few hours before actual happy hour with heavily reduced or even free appetizers when you purchase a drink.

Quality happy hour deals on the Islands draw in both tourists and locals looking to take advantage of lower prices on drinks and pu-pus (Hawaiian for “appetizers”).

Some luxury resorts offer the best happy hour specials you’ll find with incredible sunset views to boot. Before your trip, research restaurants nearby your hotel that promote daily early evening dining deals.

Arrive early to grab a table and enjoy half-off starters and cocktails just in time for the sunset! 🍹 🏝

With strategic planning across flights, hotels, activities, food, and transportation, you can have an amazing Hawaiian getaway without overspending. Focus on traveling in the off-season, being flexible, taking advantage of deals, and enjoying Hawaii’s natural beauty and culture.

Have a relaxing and affordable island adventure!

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Jane Smith is a Hawaii resident and author born and raised on the island of Oahu. Her Hawaiian heritage shines through in her writing, infusing it with the Aloha spirit and local flavor.

Jane draws inspiration from the tropical island lifestyle - outrigger canoeing at sunrise, beach picnics, hiking to hidden waterfalls. Her works immerse readers in the beauty and culture of Hawaii.

An avid surfer since childhood, Jane often wakes early to catch waves along the North Shore. She also enjoys practicing Hawaiian crafts like lei-making, lauhala weaving, and kapa cloth printing.

When not writing or adventuring outdoors, you can find Jane sipping mai tais at the local tiki bar, listening to ukulele music at the night market, or cooking up a big pot of stew at home.

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Stuff your suitcase, schedule your Hawaii flights, and prepare for an excursion unlike any you've ever had before. Whether you're looking for an action-packed getaway or a peaceful sojourn, you'll find countless ways to customize your trip exactly to your liking. Treat yourself to every facet of the nearby culture, from sampling the local fare to enjoying the after-hours scene in Hawaii. On your trip, visit the can't-miss landmarks and revel in the vistas of the most gorgeous areas. It's easy to see why adventurers, culture enthusiasts, and travel addicts are all lured to this incredible area.

At Expedia, it's our job to help you find cheap flights to Hawaii that won't set you back financially. We realize you want to allocate more of your hard-earned money toward experiencing the sites and less on the cost of your ticket. And That's the reason we offer you a sprawling selection of economical plane tickets, including both roundtrip and single-way reservations, to guarantee your Hawaii travel plans stay under budget. Score great deals on our cheapest airfares and still have money leftover for a few adventures.

When It's time to find flights to Hawaii that fit into your price range, we have the best options on the web. We offer a variety of airlines, airports, and flight times making it easier for you to book your airfare. Whether you're looking for a redeye ticket or a flight to a specific terminal, you'll find exactly what you need. We also provide a hassle-free mobile booking app, which lets you reserve wherever and whenever is most convenient for you. Book your trip to Hawaii today and get ready to embark on an unforgettable getaway tomorrow.

Here at Expedia, we’re committed to helping you find cheap flights to Hawaii that won’t break the bank. We know you want to put more of your hard-earned cash toward exploring the sites and less on the price of your airfare. That’s why we provide you with a vast selection of affordable plane tickets, including roundtrip and one-way reservations, to ensure your United States of America travel plans remain within your budget. Take advantage of our lowest rates on airfare and have leftover money to spare on your travel adventures.

When it comes to finding flights to Hawaii that match your price range and itinerary, look no further than our options right here. We offer a variety of airlines, airports, and flight times making it easier for you to book your airfare. Whether you’re looking for a redeye ticket or a flight to a specific terminal, you’ll find exactly what you need. We also provide a hassle-free mobile booking app, which lets you reserve wherever and whenever is most convenient for you. Book your airfare to Hawaii today and get ready to embark on an unforgettable getaway tomorrow.

Hawaii Flights Information

Frequently asked questions.

  • Hawaiian Airlines - 4,716 flights to or near Hawaii each month, including 2,724 flights to Daniel K. Inouye Intl. Airport (HNL) and 1,319 flights to Kahului Airport (OGG) per month.
  • Southern Airways Express - 1,676 flights to or near Hawaii each month, including 785 flights to Daniel K. Inouye Intl. Airport (HNL) and 708 flights to Kahului Airport (OGG) per month.
  • Southwest Airlines - 1,534 flights to or near Hawaii each month, including 728 flights to Daniel K. Inouye Intl. Airport (HNL) and 515 flights to Kahului Airport (OGG) per month.
  • Daniel K. Inouye Intl. Airport (HNL) - 5,460 flights per month.
  • Kahului Airport (OGG) - 3,190 flights per month.
  • Kona Intl. Airport (KOA) - 1,605 flights per month.
  • Kahului, HI (OGG) to Daniel K. Inouye Intl. Airport (HNL) - 44 minutes
  • Kailua-Kona, HI (KOA-Kona Intl.) to Daniel K. Inouye Intl. Airport (HNL) - 1 hour and 25 minutes
  • Lihue, HI (LIH) to Daniel K. Inouye Intl. Airport (HNL) - 38 minutes

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Maui on the Cheap: How to Visit Maui on a Budget (14 Tips)

Alert for Visitors: Maui has experienced significant wildfires in August 2023, causing major disruption for both locals and tourists. For your safety and up-to-date information, please visit the Maui County website before planning any activities or travels. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated. Stay safe!

Planning a trip to Maui  on a budget and want to know some cheap things to do on Maui HI? Keep scrolling to find out how to have a cheap vacation on Maui that rocks!

This post about how to visit maui on a budget was written by hawaii travel expert marcie cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, i may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog..

Are you looking for a way to visit Maui without breaking the bank?

For a lot of people, a vacation to Maui is a dream come true. But for others, it’s just not in the  budget . If you’re one of those people who can’t afford the expense of traveling to this beautiful island, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to visit Maui on the cheap and still enjoy your time there as much as possible.

If you want to see all of the beautiful sites that Maui has to offer but don’t have thousands of dollars lying around, this how-to-do Maui on a budget article is for you.

Here are some budget Maui tips and tricks we’ve gathered from our own experiences traveling with kids so that your next trip doesn’t have to break the bank. Let’s get started!

Keep scrolling for my guide to visiting Maui on a budget!

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Maui on a budget.

Best Budget-Friendly Maui Activities

  • Glass Bottom Boat (this is cheaper than the submarine ride and still really cool)
  • 90-Minute Whale Watching Tour (this is a short and affordable boat tour during winter months)
  • Molokini Snorkel Tour (this is one of the cheapest snorkeling tours on Maui)
  • Shaka Driving App (it’s like going on an island tour (including Road to Hana) at a fraction of the price)

Best Budget-Friendly Maui Hotels

  • Aina Nalu Resort (this is in the heart of Lahaina town and totally walkable to shops and restaurants)
  • Maui Beach Hotel (this is in Kahului and it’s easy to get to all areas of the island)
  • Paia Condo (amazing North Shore location right at the start of the Road to Hana)

Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii? One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Maui Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

Get this ultimate Maui travel guide for families by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids!

Is Maui Expensive? How Much Does the Average Trip Cost?

While Maui may not be the cheapest vacation to take, it is also possible to  plan your trip  on a budget.

A Maui Hawaii vacation cost will all depend on how many days you plan on spending in Maui, along with how many people you take on your dream vacation. If you plan on island-hopping to the other Hawaiian islands during your trip, that will add to your cost as well.

The average Maui vacation cost for a week-long trip to Maui is  around 3,000 dollars for two people , and costs will increase if you’re planning on taking the whole family. 

Many of the affordable places to stay in Maui will give discounts if you stay five or more days, which can help you cut costs as well. You might be able to find some cheap Maui packages with some cheap hotels too!

A trip to Maui cost can be quite low if you stay in the Maui budget hotels, go during the cheapest time of year to visit Maui, and enjoy all the free and cheap things to do in Maui!

Find out how much the trip cost to Hawaii is by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids. Close-up of 100 dollar bills and shell

You can cut costs in many different ways throughout your trip-planning process, and some are very simple, so you can visit Maui on a dime!

If you’re trying to plan a budget for a cheaper trip to Maui, then keep reading to see the ways you can cut costs and still have the best Maui budget vacation you deserve!  

Save Money with Points Here are the best credit card offers for families who travel and want to use points to pay for airfare and hotels in Hawaii.

What is the cheapest month to go to Maui?

The cheapest month to go to Maui is usually in the spring or fall, which is considered  the Maui off seasons  for most travelers. The best months are going to be  April ,  May ,  September , or  November .

You want to visit the island when the weather is enjoyable, but the crowds aren’t too congested. This is why spring and fall are the perfect times to go for a cheap stay in Maui. 

The weather remains temperate in the mid-70s to 80s during the day, with the only issue being that the nights will be chilly, reaching into the 60s. So, there will still be plenty of good weather to experience the island to the fullest without paying the premium prices and braving the summer crowds.

If you are wondering how to go to Maui on a budget, this is one of the best Maui travel tips to follow!

When should you not go to Maui?

You should avoid going to Maui in the height of the summer, in  June  and  July . This is because the crowds and hotels are packed with the summer rush of vacationers.

Since Hawaii is a popular travel destination for many individuals, the summer is the perfect opportunity for travelers, and the tourist state’s prices rise accordingly. So, in order to avoid the higher costs of flights, hotels, and activities, it is best to avoid traveling during the high-traffic seasons.

If this is the only time you can travel, you might still be able to cut the cost of Maui vacation down a bit with the other tips.

How can I save money on Maui vacation?

The best way to save money on a vacation to Maui is to travel in the off-season. This is one of the best ways to budget for your trip, as you can avoid costs that have risen up due to “supply and demand.”

You can also save by flying out during off times, like in the week, instead of on the weekend.

Hotel and rental properties can also be found for cheaper when you book package deals or are willing to book away from city hubs and direct beachfront properties. This is one of the best ways to find Maui accommodations on a budget.

Finding Cheap Flights to Maui

If you are traveling to Maui on a budget, here are ways to get great deals on flights!

Plan to Fly in the Off Season

A great way to find cheaper flights to Maui is to fly in the off-season. By avoiding planning your flight during the high-traffic summer months, you can avoid the costs that come from the price hikes.

Looking to save money in Hawaii? Take advantage of companion fares, like on Alaska Airlines. Image of an airplane at the airport.

The increase in travelers creates a higher demand for flights to popular vacation destinations such as Hawaii, so by booking during months in the spring and fall, like April, May, September, or November, you will be buying at lower prices because the demand is not as high.

It is one of the best ways to get cheap trips to Maui!

Book your Flight during the week

To further increase your savings when booking flights to Maui, you can plan on flying out during the week.

If you are taking a week or longer vacation, then a good way to save is to fly out on a weekday rather than a weekend. While this may not always be true, it is a great plan to search for flights during the week and compare them to the weekend flight prices.

Saving on plane tickets by flying out during the week will help to decrease the costs of one of your trip necessities.

Use Flight Service Sites  

Sites like Priceline, Expedia, and Orbitz tend to have standby tickets that are cheaper than tickets sold directly from airlines. These sites allow you to check the prices of all airlines and services and compare them to get the lowest possible rate for the tickets.

Be aware that if you wait days after, the deals may change, so you should search when you are ready to commit and have planned out the dates.

The sites usually offer the cheapest way to travel to Maui, Hawaii, on a budget.

Getting around Maui for Less 

Here is how to travel in Maui on a budget so you can explore Maui and all it offers with the best deals on rental cars and other ways to lower your Maui trip cost.

Use Public Transportation

Maui has its own   public transportation system  that has 14 routes, and they run seven days a week, including holidays. This system could be a cheap option for travelers who would prefer not to use a rental car.

These systems and routes do not cover every possible destination, but they do run from the airport to several destinations and shopping centers that are helpful to travelers. The bus fare is also fairly cheap, and you can purchase daily passes for only 4 dollars.

It is an easy way to have a Maui vacation on a budget.

Find Cheap Rental Car Options 

To cover more ground and reach any possible destination in Maui, travelers will likely need to use a rental car. While this prospect may seem expensive to many travelers, there are several ways to cut costs on rental cars.

Find out where to get cheap Maui car rentals recommended by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel with Kids. Image of a bunch of renal cars in Hawaii.

For example, you can use several travel sites like Priceline, and Expedia, or you can even use memberships from your own car insurance. This way, you can shop around and find the cheapest price.

Another great way to save is to book an economy rental car which is the cheapest option among rental cars.

The cheapest place I’ve found is  Discount Hawaii Car Rental . They get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.  Check out the latest prices and more details.

Rent Bikes 

If you book accommodations close to the beach or other activities that you want to frequent on your trip, then you can save money on transportation by renting bikes or mopeds to travel short distances in the area.

You can save money by not renting a car, but if you are close to the beach and shopping centers, then you can travel to many different activities with just a bike in the area.

Best Places To Stay in Maui on a Budget

If you are looking for where to stay in Maui on a budget, here are some of the best budget accommodations Maui has to offer.

Maui is full of natural beauty and wonders, with a lot of public parks that offer campsites for a low reservation price. If you wish to save money on accommodations and want to connect with the nature of Maui, then this is a unique option.

Camping in Maui: Romantic couple is relaxing near a tent on the beach, hugging and looking at each other. Happy people in nature. Back Light.

You can also find cheap camp gear rentals in the area and through other rental sites.

North Shore Hostel

Hostels are frequently used by young travelers and those wishing to travel on a budget, as they offer cheap prices and genuinely nice accommodations.

The only downside with hostels is that they are shared spaces. For example, the North Shore Hostel offers a shared kitchen and shared rooms with bunk beds.

This is a great option for single travelers, couples, and small groups as they can save a lot of money on accommodations because rooms here are generally around 100 dollars a night. It’s perfect for visiting Maui on a tight budget.

Vacation Rentals

Cheap options for Airbnb may seem impossible to find, but it just takes a search to find out if there are more affordable options than the brand-name hotels that abound on the island.

Even some of the cheapest hotels in Maui might still be over your budget, but not vacation rentals.

A vacation rental on sites like these can sometimes be cheaper because the price is determined by the owners of the properties and not a chain, such as in hotel circumstances.

This is usually the cheapest way to stay in Maui and what most people do, even if you are planning a Maui honeymoon on a budget!

Best Cheap Hotels in Maui Hawaii

Staying in Maui on a budget can mean different things to everyone since everyone has a different opinion on what “cheap” means when determining their budget Maui vacation.

For some, there are plenty of the best affordable hotels Maui offers that work right in their budget!

If you want a honeymoon in Maui on a budget, you will probably like a hotel or resort for their romantic packages. You can find plenty of affordable resorts, Maui is full of them if you know where to look!

Check out some of the best affordable hotels in Maui

Cheap and Free Things to do in Maui on a Budget

Here are some of the best things to do in Maui on a budget everyone will love!

Visit the Beach

Beaches in Maui are completely free to the public and are one of the biggest draws for travelers visiting the island. It will cost you nothing to set foot on any of the beaches, except the possibility of paying for parking if you have to drive.

One of the best things to do in Maui on a budget is visit the beach. Image of Kanaha Beach on Maui.

This means you can have fun with a multitude of different beach activities, swimming, or just taking in the beachside views.

If you pack snorkeling gear or have any other sports equipment, you can use them freely on the beach without spending money on hefty rental fees.

During whale season, you might even see some humpback whales right from the beach without going on a whale-watching tour. Many of the beaches in Maui also have a sea turtle or two lying around.

A beach day is one of the cheapest things to do in Maui since it doesn’t cost you a thing!

Go See the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

A budget travel option in Maui that you won’t soon forget is the beautiful and aromatic  Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm . This farm offers self-guided tours of the facility and gorgeous flowers for only 3 dollars!

For a cheap activity on Maui, head to the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm on Maui. Image of a woman holding a bouquet of lavender.

You can also book craft classes or a picnic lunch with food included for only 26 dollars per lunch.

There is much to do on this picturesque lavender farm, and you can even browse some of the teas, jellies, lotions, and oils that are made on the farm itself.

It is another one of the Maui Hawaii things to do on a budget your entire family will love!

Visit the Surfing Goat Dairy Farm

The  Surfing Goat Dairy Farm  is free to enter for visitors, and you can even sample cheeses made at the farm for free as well! This is a fun experience, and you can see the local farm life of the goats that make a large variety of different cheeses.

Visiting Surfing Goat Dairy is one of the top things to do in Maui with toddlers. Image of a girl feeding goats.

If you want a full tour, casual tour, or to get a chance to interact with the goats or cows on the farm, then it will just be an extra cost of 12 dollars for the shorter tour and 39 for the full tour.

Though there are many things to do for free at this farm, it is still fairly cheap to enjoy all they have to offer.

It is one of the inexpensive places to see during your Hawaii vacation on a budget.

Hiking in Maui

Many hikes in Maui are free to enjoy, while others charge a small entrance fee. Hiking is another one of the top cheap activities in Maui.

Discover a bamboo forest or explore all the national parks on the island. Whether you are in South Maui, West Maui, or East Maui, you will find plenty of great hikes for all levels.

Check out the best Maui hiking trails to explore

Cheap Maui Vacations FAQs

For inexpensive things to do in Maui, check out the Nakalele Blowhole for a spectacular sight. The Surfing Goat Dairy is also a fun place to play with goats and taste goat cheese truffles. You can also drive the Road to Hana if you have a rental car. And the best thing to do in Maui is to see the sunrise or sunset from Haleakala National Park.

A Maui family vacation doesn’t have to cost a lot if you mix in free activities. Some of the coolest free things to do on Maui include watching free hula shows, seeing surfers, listening to live music, lounging on the beach, going for a beach walk, hiking trails, and stargazing on Maui.

There’s a really cool walking path in Wailea that’s perfect for sunrise or  sunset strolls . You can also  window shop  at The Shops at Wailea and get free samples at Honolulu Cookie Company. There’s also a really cool hiking trail called the Hoapili Trail, close to Wailea.

Usually, the cheapest time to go to Maui is either April or September. These are the Maui low-season, so you can find the top cheap places to stay in Maui, Hawaii, along with cheap flights to help you travel to Maui on a budget.

You will want to bring plenty of money for food, souvenirs , resort or hotel fees, and fun activities for each person. The best places to eat in Maui for cheap are usually the local stops or food trucks. Many of the cheap places to stay on Maui also don’t require daily fees which helps you save money too!

travel cheap hawaii

With the proper planning, you can plan an affordable vacation to Maui

Now you know how to plan a trip to Maui on a budget!

If you are worried that you can’t afford a trip to Maui, then hopefully, this article on how to do Maui cheaply changed your mind! By using these tips and tricks, you can save some money and budget enough to enjoy the vacation you deserve.

Beginning with the price of plane tickets, you can begin cutting costs throughout your entire trip, including prices for transportation and other accommodations.

There are even many free or low-priced activities you can participate in on Maui to fully enjoy the wonders of the island. And there are plenty of  cheap places for eating in Maui on a budget .

Now you know the cheapest way to visit Maui, get started planning your dream vacation!

Want more Maui on a Budget resources? Check out the  cheapest places to stay on Maui ,  how many days to spend in Maui , things to do in Maui at night ,  Maui packing list , and  cheap things to do on Maui .

Ready to plan your trip to maui.

Maui Travel Guide



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