The Americas

Can you have your Hawaiian dream holiday on a budget?

Reading time: 4 minutes

There are few places that can compete with Hawaii when it comes to the ultimate island holiday. In 2016 alone, 8.9 million people visited Hawaii, setting a record high for the American state. However, with this type of popularity, Hawaii can sometimes seem out of reach for budget travellers.

Fortunately, we’re here to resurrect that Hawaiian dream by giving you our top tips to enjoy Hawaii without blowing the budget.

Why you should visit Hawaii?

The real question should perhaps be ‘why shouldn’t you?’. The fiftieth U.S. state, the archipelago of Hawaii is made up of eight main islands and over 100 tiny islets. In addition to the postcard perfect beaches you’ve likely got in mind, Hawaii is incredibly geographically diverse. The volcanic nature of the islands has produced lush vegetation and rainforests, as well as dizzying mountain peaks – one of which has even been known to get a dusting of snow!

Modern Hawaii is a portrait of cultural diversity and the balance between local tradition and its identity as part of America. However, whether you’re strutting the streets of cosmopolitan Honolulu or exploring the island of Lanai – which boasts not a single traffic light – you’re always bound to find the quintessential Aloha spirit which makes Hawaii so unique.

When is the cheapest time to visit Hawaii?

If you want to save on your trip to Hawaii, the first step is to time your trip right. In general, you can look to find some of the better package deals on hotels and resorts from mid-April to mid-June (spring) and September to mid-December (autumn), when tourist numbers tend to be lower.

Or for something completely different, how about jetting over to Hawaii in winter? Average daytime winter temperatures hover around 25 degrees Celsius, and while there is higher rainfall, the rain tends to be quite localised – you’ll usually be able to find a sunny spot around the corner!

If you’re looking for cheap flights, sometimes flexibility is your best friend. If you’re open to shifting your travel dates, you can often score big when it comes to budget flight prices. It’s generally a good idea to avoid the U.S. spring break (March 21-April 14) or the summer high season (early June to mid-August).

How can I save money on accommodation in Hawaii?

Honolulu on the island of Oahu has a number of budget accommodation options and some great hostels if you’re looking to keep costs down. In addition, a number of the bigger hotels often have bundle deals that can comprise anything from flights and meals to various activities around the resort. If you’re planning on travelling off-peak in the cooler seasons, you’re likely to have more options available to you, but if you’re set on a Hawaiian summer, be sure to book well in advance, or aim for later in the season for last minute deals.

What are some cheap activities to try on Oahu?

  • The historic site of Pearl Harbour is a must see if you are staying on Oahu. While you’ll have to purchase tickets to some of the attractions here, the USS Arizona Memorial is actually free – if you get there early. Over 1,300 free tickets are handed out each day, but you have to beat the crowds!
  • The summit of Diamond Head, the volcanic cone which crowns Honolulu, is a truly wonderful lookout spot that is free to access…if you walk up the scenic trail! Avoid the petrol costs and the US$5 parking fee by hiking up the Diamond Head Summit trail, which leads you up towards the crater and finally to the lookout point where you’ll have a breathtaking view over Oahu and the islands of Maui and Molokai.
  • Another free activity around Honolulu is the wonderful Hawai’i State Art Museum (HiSAM), which houses collections with a connection to Hawaiian culture.

Activities beyond Oahu

  • Send yourself (or your family) a souvenir to remember with the unique ‘Post-A-Nut’ service, available on the small island of Molokai. Visit the U.S. Post Office in Ho’olehua and select your free coconut before decorating it to your liking. If you’re not overly confident in your artistic skills, you can always purchase a coconut decorated by local artist, Teri.
  • On the island of Kauai, you’ll find one of Hawaii’s most spectacular landscapes not on the coast, but inland. Waimea Canyon, Hawaii’s very own Grand Canyon is over 1,000 metres deep in places, offering dizzying views of waterfalls and even the odd rainbow or two. Entrance into the Waimea Canyon State Park is free.
  • No matter where you go, one of Hawaii’s key attractions – the beach – is always free. Whether you’re stretching out on the golden sands of the North Shore to watch the pros catch some sick waves, or you’re exploring the black sand beaches of the Big Island, there’s no better way to spend a day.

Food to try


A lot of Hawaii’s great culinary delights can be sampled without needing to break the bank. Shave ice is a refreshing, icy treat that is heaven on a hot Hawaiian day. Just a few dollars will buy you a local icon to enjoy at the beach, or while you’re exploring the streets of Honolulu.

Chase your shave ice down with a Chinese style pork bun, also known as manapua, or try a taste of poke, a raw fish dish mixed in with a fresh salad. Usually made with yellow fin tuna, or ahi, you can enjoy poke with a splash of soy or add a little chilli for an extra kick.

If you’re ready to book your dream Hawaiian holiday, make sure you budget for travel insurance.


Author

TID is an Australian online travel insurance company.

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