This post may contain affiliate links to awesome products that I love. I won't promote items that I don't use or think you'll find useful. The full disclosure policy can be found here.
How to save on a Hawaii Vacation
Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth and a very popular vacation destination. Most people think that travel to Hawaii is very expensive, but that doesn’t have to be the case! There are many ways to save on a Hawaii vacation.
1. Work with a travel agent
There is a common misconception that working with a travel agent is more expensive. I understand because I used to think the same thing! The truth is travel agents have access to deals that aren’t available to the general public. In general, it costs less to book a vacation with a travel agent than it would to DIY your trip. The best part is that you also get a personalized vacation experience, it’s a win-win!
The very first part of booking a Hawaii vacation usually includes booking the flights. Flights to Hawaii from the mainland and other countries are always going to be fairly expensive, it’s the most remote destination in the world!
The best tip that I can give when it comes to saving on airfare is timing. I have found that flights booked at 5-6 weeks out generally have the lowest fares. You can sign up for alerts on flights to see if the price goes up or down. Longer flights with more stops might be cheaper, but that isn’t always true.
If you’re flying to Honolulu, you might be lucky enough to get a non-stop flight. If you’re flying to the Big Island, Maui, or Kauai, you may not be as lucky, especially if you live in the midwest. Try to weigh the price of a shorter flight into your considerations. A shorter flight might mean more time in Hawaii and less stress overall. I find that a more direct flight is worth spending a little extra money.
If you are booking the trip yourself, make sure to compare the cost of a package versus car rentals only. No matter what you do, book your car early. I will say it again, book your car early! If you do not book with a travel agent, I recommend renting a car from Hotwire.com.
I don’t recommend Hotwire for hotels in Hawaii but I do recommend them for cars. The prices can’t be beaten. You won’t know what you’re getting until you book with Hotwire, but you can always upgrade later if you don’t like it. Use this link to get $10 Off $150 Hot Rate Rental Cars.
I recommend renting a car no matter what island you’re on. Getting around Honolulu is fairly easy using public transportation or walking, but you don’t want to miss out on the North Shore just because you don’t have a car.
On The Big Island, having a car is very important since there are so many things to do and they are moderately spread out. If you have any plans to drive up Mauna Kea or down to Waipio Valley, it’s worth upgrading to a Jeep. I would also recommend a 4-wheel drive on Kauai.
On Maui, I didn’t find that we needed a 4-wheel drive. Even when we took the “long way” back from the Road to Hana, driving a car was just fine. You can read more about my recommendations for things to do in Maui.
The first tip, work with a travel agent! I have seen some pretty incredible deals for resorts and hotels that are not available to the public. If a resort isn’t for you, I also love the idea of staying in a vacation rental in Hawaii.
Make sure to factor in things like resort fees, parking, wifi, and other fees when decided whether to stay at a resort, hotel, or a vacation rental condo. Many of the resorts have items that you can borrow, rent, or purchase that will make your stay easier. The same goes for vacation rental condos. Our last vacation rental even had boogie boards, snorkels, coolers, and beach chairs. Rentals on these items aren’t expensive, but they can add up and it may be worth it to try to find a rental that includes these amenities.
If you prefer to stay in a condo, check out Airbnb and make sure to use my link and get $55 off your first stay! You can find a room, or a full home, on just about any budget. I have seen rooms (on the Big Island) from around $25 for a shared space for thousands of dollars for a luxury home.
Most rentals, resorts, and hotels have higher rates in December-February. You might be able to get a better deal in the spring or fall. Summer rates can be higher because lots of people travel in the summer. If you book early, this won’t be much of an issue. The temperature in Hawaii doesn’t fluctuate much, but it seems like most vacationers want to escape colder climates during this time of the year. Also, if you’re looking to travel to the Big Island in October, check for the Kona Ironman dates.
You might also like: 10 things to know before you go to Hawaii
Hawaii does not have any all-inclusive resorts. However, some resorts do have dinner options. The number one way to save money on food is to stay in a rental that is equipped with a kitchen. This can be found in some hotels and resorts as well as the vacation rental condos and houses that I already mentioned.
If you do stay at a resort, you can save money and experience more of the island by leaving for some of the meals. Most restaurants will also have a happy hour, with specials on both drinks and appetizers. When working with my travel clients, I gladly share some of my favorite restaurants with the best happy hours! Let me know in the comment if you’d like to see a blog post on this.
Most of the “touristy” stuff is going to be expensive in Hawaii. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to save. Booking a condo or resort that has amenities included can save quite a bit of money. Booking packages through your travel agent is another great way to save.
8. Package Deals
I touched on packages earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again. You can save a little when you book a package, and you can often save even more when you work with a travel agent. Look at your options and price things out separately and together.
If you are booking a package yourself, just do your homework to make sure that the package deal is actually a deal. Sometimes companies inflate prices to make it looks like you’re getting a great deal, but when you do the math you realize that it’s not. I have seen it work both ways, so it is worth comparison shopping.
I hope this blog post helps you save on a Hawaii vacation! Please comment below and let me know where you’re going, or if you have any questions that I can answer. If you have any of your own tips or tricks on how to save on a Hawaii vacation, please share them!
P.S. Do you like reading posts like these? Make sure to sign up for my newsletter to get the latest travel news and deals straight into your inbox! I only send one e-mail per week max, and will never spam you (I hate junk mail too!)