Hawaii is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. All thanks to its picture-perfect landscape, light pink plastered sunsets draping over teal waves, a vivid mix of historical and cultural diversity, and exasperating geological aspects. And, as with all away-from-home tropical paradises, Hawaii can come with quite the price tag.

Being one of the world’s faraway archipelagos, traveling to the State of Ohanas is almost luxuriously expensive. What’s more, there is a high cost of food since nearly 90% of all resources must be imported onto the islands, in addition to the activities and lodging.

On Food

Say ‘Pass’ to Breakfast from Hotels

The last food that you would want to have a bite of in Hawaii would have to be your typical American breakfast of eggs and bacon. You literally can have it at the comfort of your own home. Try something unfamiliar that feels suitable for the palette. Look no further, as local Hawaii diners serve a plethora of amazing dishes, from Portuguese sausages (made of smoke-cured pork served comfortably on banana leaves) to Hawaiian French Toasts.

Say ‘Go’ to Groceries

What you would want to bring from your typical home errands is the grocery shopping. To save for a budget, should you have a minimal one, is to maximize your resources in doing grocery and making breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner for yourself. Planning on a shopping trip in Hawaii would save more bucks than you can imagine.

Americans can bring to the archipelago their Foodland or Safeway loyalty card for amazing discounts. Should you not have any, you can sign up for these cards on the spot—just don’t expect the products on these groceries to be the same price as it is in mainland U.S. since the products here are foreign to the islands.

Cheap and easy breakfast items are available on the shelves. For brunch or lunch, you can try picking out some fresh lomi-lomi salmon (salad made with tomato and salmon) or some delicious poi (local mashed taro) for a quick bite or picnic by the shores.

Say ‘Yes’ to Eating Local

Hawaii’s local shops and farmers markets provide everyone with equally filling and affordable meals. Try locally grown fresh guava, newly-fished seafood, and coffee just steps away from their natural sources.

‘Ono Grinds (Hawaiian term for ‘good eats’) that are wallet-friendly can be found just around the corner or ask a local for directions. Get your seafood fix at a local fish market like Koloa Fish Market on the part of Kaua’i for a traditional plate lunch (a meat dish with two side dishes) or for some fresh-from-the-kitchen poke (raw fish marinated on locally made sauce). You could also get your taste for veggies by buying truly fresh produce from the farmers’ market like the KCC Saturday Farmers’ Market, the largest one in Honolulu.


Less is More for Car Rentals

It is generally easy to score a lower daily rate with a vacation-long rental of a car: for instance, limiting yourself to one or two days of a car ride hire will lower your expenses to anything under $100. You might probably be better off spending that amount somewhere else since you would probably have that car parked away in the hotel garage while you hang out poolside or at the beach. Instead, you can conveniently plan an excursion and return the rental car as soon as you are finished. 

Most resorts on the island would provide carless guest and tourists with free-to-use shuttle services to local hotspots and other great offers such as discounted (or, sometimes luckily, free) car rentals to their guests.

O’ahu travelers can utilize their budget by taking TheBus, Hawaii’s arguably best public transport system, which offers commuters and riders unlimited travel for about four days for only $35.

Travel During Shoulder Seasons

Brief slow seasons is when the budget travelers can look for amazing deals on the market December to April is peak season, as prices during these periods are generally high, especially when the US travelers seek refuge from the dead of winter. September and May are good choices of months for shoulder-season prices and mild weather, but the better discounts are found during the low season of November and October.


Enjoy the Outdoors

The best way to enjoy Hawaii is to enjoy its landscapes and amazing beaches. It actually does not cost anything to just run out and about the islands with sandals, a pair of shorts, a polo, and sunglasses.  Take pictures of the stunning views and make memories at every turn. Casually stroll along the well-built roads and go sight-seeing or hiking (secure a permit for this first).  Go snorkeling in O’ahu’s Hanauma Bay and enjoy the sea. If you ever forgot your gear, there are some snorkeling rental shops near the beach which costs only around $6 per day.

Grab a Quick Read

While you are waiting for your luggage in the airport arrivals, loom over the nearby magazine stand and pick up an interesting magazine. These usually come with amazing coupons and money-saving ideas to save more budget than you can. The four main islands of Hawaii are supplied by This Week, which gives new trends, updates, and information on where to score large discounts. On the other hand, Aloha Visitor Guides have island-specific issues which provide special offers and coupons up for grabs. Some of the issues of these magazines are also available digitally.

Take Advantage of Free Events

A lot of free performances and events are available for everyone to witness such as the spectacular Hula Show and Kuhio Beach Torch Lighting, held in the land of Waikiki every Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday nights. Around Maui, you can find free lei-making, ukulele, and hula hooping classes at Whalers Village. You can also grab the local newspaper for postings and listings on other free events on the islands.


Consider the Bare Necessities

We might generally be enticed by lodging that has an amazing overlooking view of the ocean, or on that comes with a jacuzzi by the balcony, but you must consider how much time you would actually be spending at your lodging. Your hotel room is generally for sleeping or cooking purposes, and the more you invest your money in this place, should you not be staying here long enough, would significantly hurt your budget. Travelers can often find good deals at local bed and breakfasts which can vary from colossal house resorts to small scale bungalows. Some rugged sleepers might prefer Hawaii’s campsites, which are scattered across the national, state, and county parks.

Consider Staying at These Affordable Choices

These mid-range options are best for low-cost accommodations.

In Kaua’i: Kaua’i Beach Resort’s location in the center of the East Shore make it a primary choice for mid-range travelers. The guests who choose this do not get a swimmable beach but do get resort amenities and mid-range rates.

In Maui, Lahaina Inn is the best option (rooms for only $99), although the rooms are very sparse of decorations and of a pretty relatively small size. However, the food on the Lahaina Grill ground floor is actually quite tasty and delicious.

In O’ahu, the Ilima Hotel (rooms for only $125) boasts a great deal of best mid-range rate add-ons, as each room comes with kitchens in every studio and suite. Beyond the 10th floor of the hotel, a view of the Ko’olau Range and Ala Wai Canal is a sight to see.

In The Big Island, Hilo Bay hostel (dorms for $30) offers travelers a budget with inexpensive beds and an excellent location accessible to vast parts of the island.