Hawaii is America’s paradise. The 50th state is a constellation of islands in the Pacific. Each island has so many special things to offer. From surfing in Oahu, to hiking volcanoes in Maui, to relaxing on the beaches in Kauai, Hawaii is the an amazing place to escape your reality while staying in the US. Hawaii offers beautiful beaches, astonishing jungles, magnificent waterfalls, the best diving excursions, and bad-ass waves to hang ten. Hawaii attracts newly weds, world class surfers, and adventurous families. The Aloha State is famously known for being expensive to travel to, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. There’s so many ways to save money while cruising around Hawaii once you get away from the crazy expensive resorts and tourist traps.
For Christmas 2016, my parents took me and my sister to Maui, Hawaii for our Christmas present. A couple years ago, my parents asked my sister and I if we would rather have presents or go on trips. Naturally, we chose the traveling to awesome destinations as our gifts! We spent a week traveling, eating, and drinking all over the island. Check out the places I’ve highlighted below and read my day-to-day adventures after the highlights.
Must Go To Places
Activities – Hawaii is fairly expensive, but that should not stop you from seeing the island. Maui is filled with many hiking trails that lead to breathtaking views. Maui is also famous for surfing. Whether you’re and expert or a beginner, there’s a surf spot for everyone. Surfboard rentals range from $20-$40 for the day. Snorkeling rentals are around $10-$15 per day. Excursions range from $50-$150 per person. Check out Groupon to score cheap deals for more luxurious activities like helicopter tours, cage diving with sharks, or surf lessons.
Transportation – The best way to get around the islands is to rent a car. If you want/need the cheapest car, you’ll want to rent a compact car for $70 per day. If you’re like me, and have your parents taking you around the island, then you will absolutely want to rent a convertible Jeep Wrangler (2 doors are my personal favorite, but the 4 door will be more convenient for families) for $100-$150 per week. There’s also taxi’s for $3 per mile and Uber and Lyft services can also be found.
- Bamboo Forest – Maui’s bamboo forest along the Pipiwai Trail is a majestic sight indeed, and well worth the 1 mile hike to get there!
- Paako Cove AKA Secret Beach – It is a popular spot for weddings. This small cove probably got this name because it is hidden between homes in Makena. To get to it, you have to find the narrow opening in a lava-rock wall in an upscale neighborhood.
- Haleakala National Park – It’s home to the dormant Haleakalā Volcano and endangered Hawaiian geese. The Leleiwi and Kalahaku overlooks on the steep Crater Road have views across the West Maui Mountains.
- Road to Hana – Is a 64.4-mile long stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 which connects Kahului with the town of Hāna in east Maui. On the east after Kalepa Bridge, the highway continues to Kīpahulu as Hawaii Route 31.
- Nakalele Blowhole – located on the road from Kapalua heading to Wailuku. There is a hike to get down there. Wear hiking shoes or tennis shoes.
- Wailea Beach – Wailea Beach is a large, wide, crescent, graced with lovely fine, golden sand. The beach is protected at both ends by large, black lava points, making the calm waters ideal for swimming. Clear blue waves roll into shore and are perfect for riding, with or without a board.
- Makena State Park – Makena State Park comprises 165 acres in Makena, south of Wailea on the island of Maui, Hawaii. Big Beach, also known as “Oneloa Beach” and “Makena Beach”, is a popular spot for sunbathing and bodyboarding by both tourists and locals. On the other side of “Big Beach” is “Little Beach” AKA the nudie beach!
- Black Sand Beach – Is a special place for Hawaiians, where a Queen took refuge and legends were made, a sacred place one might say. There are romantic tales to be told and natural wonders that simply overwhelm the senses with an extraordinary coastline, lava caves and sea arches. DO NOT take any rocks or sand from this park, for they WILL bring you bad luck once that item is removed from the park.
- Wailua Valley State Wayside – Located 31 miles east of Kahului, Maui. The lookout provides views into Ke’anae Valley. From the park you can view waterfalls, the Ko’olau Gap, Wailua Peninsula and the rim of Haleakala Crater.
Hostels in Hawaii run around 30-70 USD. Hostels will be the cheapest places for you to stay if you are not into camping. Aim for renting a bed in a dorm styled room. The smaller towns will have the cheapest prices and more availability than the larger towns/cities. Using apps like Airbnb and Couchsurfer will also help you save money.
- Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel – 310 N Market St, Wailuku, HI 96793
- North Shore Hostel – 2080 W Vineyard St, Wailuku, HI 96793
- Aloha Surf Hostel – 2080 W Vineyard St, Wailuku, HI 96793
- Hakuna Matata – 545 Front St A, Lahaina, HI 96761
If you’re outdoorsy and don’t mind roughing it, camping can be a really cheap way to epxperience Hawaii. Tent camping will be the absolute most affordable way to stay in Hawaii. In my opinion, it may be the best way to experience the true authenticity of the Hawaiian Islands.
Kīpahulu Campground – Hana, HI
- Hosmer Grove Campground – Kula, HI
- Waianapanapa State Park – Hana, HI
- Maui Camping King – 851 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI
- Hōlua Campground – Kula, HI
- Camp Maui – 1794 S Kihei Rd, Kihei, HI
- Aloha Campers – 2670 Wai Wai Pl, Kihei, HI
Bars & Restaurants
The Hawaiians have been cooking up some of the best food for centuries. Fresh seafood is always on the menu and it delicious and naturally gluten free if nothing zazzy is added to it. Food trucks are very popular and super easy to find gluten free tacos because they always use corn tortillas instead of flour. A food truck lunch will cost $5-10 USD.
- Aloha Mix Plate – All outdoor seating with a glorious view of the beach. Affordable prices and very gluten friendly.
- The Fish Market – Local fishermen bring the catch of the day, every day! They have some of the freshest fish you’ll find on the island.
- Sansei Sushi – Contemporary sushi and new wave Asian inspired dishes served in a lively setting are what make Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar one of Hawai’i’s most critically acclaimed and wildly popular restaurants.
- Mamma’s Fish House – The freshest fish, gracious service, and tropical breezes make for an unforgettable experience, exult enthusiasts who find heavenly bliss at this intimate Pacific seafooder– it’s voted Most Popular and No. 1 for Food among Maui restaurants.
- Maui Brick Oven – Only serves gluten free dishes
- Coconut Glen’s – On the road to Hana. All organic and vegan ice cream. All products are made straight from coconut’s picked by Coconut Glen.
- Uncle Harry’s Chop Shop – Famous for their pig tacos and located on The Road to Hana in a food truck and a perfect place for a taco lunch.
- Cafe Mambo – Funky, vibrant restaurant serving a creative menu of locally sourced burgers, fajitas & salads.
- Huli Huli Chicken – On The Road to Hana and is extremely hard to find. I was either late to the game and it was closed or I just completely missed it. They are supposed to have the best chicken on the island. Their address is 175 Haneoo Rd, Hana, HI 96713.
- Honokowai Okazuya & Deli – Basic strip center-based lunch & dinner spot offering a wide variety of Asian take-out dishes.
- Paia Fish Market –Casual stop with a nautical theme & indoor picnic tables for seafood, plate lunches & fish burgers.
- Local Boys Shave Ice Co. – The best shaved ice on the island. They have a great Aloha vibe and they have the perfect beach snacks!
- Braddah Hutts BBQ Grill – Food truck located 5305 Hana Hwy. A one day turn around is too short and stressful to see and do everything that Hana has to offer. And if you arrive too late for the lunch plate, Braddah Hutts can filet a fresh catch ahi for you if you are lucky enough to be staying overnight.
Money Saving Tips
- Travel during the summer and early winter. Prices on hotels and hostels will be down. Prices will rise during the holiday seasons.
- Use Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is is a service that connects members to a global community of travelers. Use Couchsurfing to find a place to stay or share your home and hometown with travelers for free. App services are available in the Apple Store and Google Play
- Buy alcohol at duty free stores
- Use Airbnb. Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world
- Use Groupon to find discounts for activities
- Visit discounted grocery stores and cook your own food
- Do the free things! Hiking is always free
- Stay in hostels
- Bring your own tent and sleeping bag and camp