How to See Hawaii on the Cheap

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The island state of Hawaii is a popular vacation destination. According to Hawaii’s state government, over 10 million people visit Hawaii every year. The average Hawaii tourist spends $183 a day, with the total spending per person per trip averaging approximately $1,680. This doesn’t include hotel costs and the actual cost of reaching Hawaii. However, a Hawaiian vacation does not need to empty your bank account. Careful planning and smart shopping can help reduce your vacation costs dramatically.

Step 1Shop for round-trip tickets using discount trip data aggregates such as Orbitz or Travelocity. Such services search for flights on a variety of airlines and present you with the best rates for the times you wish to fly.

Step 2Save more money by avoiding trips to Hawaii during its peak summer and winter vacation seasons. Spring and fall flights are typically several hundred dollars cheaper.

Step 3Book a room at a two or three-star Hawaii hotel. Don’t pay extra for a hotel that’s built on the beach. Most hotels in Hawaii are situated close to the beach and budget visitors should not pay extra fees for ocean-front properties. Also, a four or five-star hotel will add significant fees onto the total trip costs. You do not need the extra amenities that are connected to such hotels if you plan to be outside and enjoying the islands.

Step 4Avoid booking activities through your hotel. Hotel activity kiosks not only charge for the activity, but often add booking fees and gratuities. Book activities directly through the company offering them. Also, focus on low-cost but fun activities that allow you to experience Hawaii’s unique tropical environment. For example, renting equipment for surfing, boogie boarding and snorkeling is much cheaper and more hands-on than a boat ride that costs $200 per person.

Step 5Eat and shop at local restaurants and stores rather than hotel restaurants and tourist-focused stores. Authentic, Hawaiian cuisine can be enjoyed at local food establishments at a cost much lower than what is offered by hotel-run locations. Such local restaurants are often found just outside the main tourist districts, and most local residents would be happy to provide you with a recommendation. Also, many local stores and national retailers (e.g. Walmart) sell tourist items such as coconuts and postcards much cheaper than tourist-themed stores such as the ubiquitous ABC Store chain.


Joshua Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist who has been writing since 2000. His work has appeared in various national and international magazines, including “Honolulu Magazine.” Duvauchelle graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and he earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.


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