Hawaii is one of my favorite places to go with my kids, but it can be crazy expensive. I just booked my airfare for Spring Break and I may have had a slight panic attack when I realized we didn’t have any companion fares and had to pay full price for our family of four. Since I’ve been going to Hawaii since I was a kid, I’ve picked up some budget hacks along the way to cut costs—without sacrificing fun.
1. Travel with Friends or Family. The easiest way to slash your Hawaii budget is by inviting friends or family to join you on the trip. Skip hotel rooms and share a house or condo instead. If you do a little research, you’ll see that it’s much cheaper to stay outside of the resort towns. Like on Maui, staying in Kihei is cheaper than Lahaina or Kapalua. And on Kauai, Kapaa is cheaper than Poipu. And on Oahu, just steer clear of Waikiki to save money. And if you’re worried about missing out on an amazing hotel pool, purchase a one-day resort pass for a fraction of the cost of a hotel stay. Traveling with more people also means you can rent a larger vehicle and split the cost. And if your travel party is large enough, you might also qualify for group discounts on luaus and tours.
2. Check Costco for Hawaii Travel Deals. If you do want the Hawaii resort experience, don’t pay full price! One of my favorite places to shop is Costco. A lot of people don’t realize that they have an incredible online travel department where you can get discount travel. They usually have some amazing Hawaii travel packages with flights, hotel, and car rentals. My aunt actually recently booked a trip through Costco and her car rental was completely free! Now, I always check Costco first before booking my trip to Hawaii.
3. Save Money on Food in Hawaii. If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen (or even a hotel with a fridge and microwave) you can save a lot on food. Swing by a grocery store (or large discount store) and stock up on easy breakfast items and ready-to-cook meals. They even sell canned Hawaiian iced coffee that is delicious and way cheaper than hitting a cafe. Many hotels and condos have poolside barbecues, so you can grill up meat and veggies for a gourmet dinner without restaurant prices. Make sure to bring your club cards or enroll in the free Foodland Maikai program to save the most on groceries in Hawaii. We like picking up large sub sandwiches, Spam musubi, and fresh poke from their deli for a budget-friendly meal to take to the beach. And if you do want to eat out, aim for lunch instead of dinner. It’s usually a lot cheaper and the portions are still large enough to share.
4. Cheap Things to Do in Hawaii. While there are pricey adventures like ATV tours, boat trips, and luaus, families will also find that Hawaii has a lot of inexpensive fun. There are lots of free hula shows on each of the Hawaiian islands. We love the shows at Ala Moana Center and the Royal Hawaiian Center on Oahu. Check event listings to find free concerts, outdoor movies and tons of special events in Hawaii. There’s even a free fireworks show every Friday in Waikiki! Another budget-friendly thing to do in Hawaii is head to a museum. If you already have a museum membership for a science museum (like the Museum of Flight in Seattle) you can use it for free admission for the Bishop Museum, Maui Science Center, and the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii.
5. Budget-Friendly Hawaii Activities. So many of the best things to do in Hawaii are actually completely free! Take the kids on a hike to see a hidden Hawaiian waterfall or explore a crater. While you might need to pay a small parking fee, Hawaii has some amazing national parks that are worth checking out. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is on the Big Island and that’s where you’ll find both Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. And on Maui, be sure to visit Haleakala to see the most breathtaking sunrise in Hawaii. But, the number one free activity in Hawaii is visiting the beach! My favorite beaches on Oahu are Lanikai and Waikiki. On Maui, my kids love the beaches in Kihei. And on Kauai, Poipu Beach is a longtime favorite. These are great beaches for kids and they are also great for learning how to snorkel. Snorkel gear is pretty cheap and you can buy them at grocery stores or rent a set at any surf shop.