13 Ways to Save on Your Hawaii Trip

by Mariam Beard • Last Updated: June 28, 2023

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Planning a trip to Hawaii in 2023? Want to make the most of your budget and save some money along the way? In this article, I’ll share 13 tips to help you save for your Hawaii trip. From dining options to credit card perks, these tips will help you make the most of your vacation without breaking the bank.

Explore Affordable Dining Options

vegetable salad on white ceramic bowl

While Hawaii is known for its delicious and often expensive dining options, there are also plenty of affordable alternatives. Instead of dining at expensive restaurants every night, consider trying out some of the local food courts or smaller food halls. These places offer grab-and-go options in the $10 to $20 price range, allowing you to enjoy a meal on a budget. You can even take your food to the beach and have a sunset dinner there.

Bring a Refillable Water Bottle

Hawaii’s high humidity and hot weather make it essential to stay hydrated. Instead of buying single-use plastic water bottles everywhere you go, bring a refillable water bottle with you. This not only helps reduce plastic waste but also saves you money. A 22-ounce water bottle with a carabiner clip is convenient to carry and can be refilled almost anywhere. Staying hydrated is important, especially in a hot climate like Hawaii.

Utilize Travel Credit Card Benefits

Consider getting a travel credit card that offers great perks and benefits. Look for cards that have no annual fee or ones that offer sign-up bonuses that can save you money on travel expenses. Some travel credit cards offer reimbursement for travel programs:

  • TSA PreCheck
  • Global Entry
  • or CLEAR.

These programs can cost anywhere from $80 to $179, but with the right credit card, you can get reimbursed for the fees. Additionally, many travel credit cards provide complimentary airport lounge access, which can save you money on food and drinks during layovers. Some cards even offer reimbursement for travel incidentals like airport lounges and flight food.

Book Excursions Early

If you’re planning to do any excursions or activities during your Hawaii trip, it’s best to book them EARLY. This is especially important if you’re visiting during peak summer season, such as June, July, and August. Booking ahead gives you more flexibility in choosing the type of boat, location, and cost.

For example, if you want to go snorkeling at Turtle Canyon, booking ahead ensures you get the boat you want at a convenient time and location. Waiting until the last minute may result in the boat being sold out for the day you’re available, requiring you to choose a different (sometimes – more expensive!) boat or travel farther.

Factor in All Costs When Renting a Car

If you plan on renting a car during your stay in Hawaii, make sure to factor in all the costs. While it may seem cheaper to rent a car from the airport, consider the additional expenses like parking fees. Some hotels offer self-parking, while others only offer valet parking, which can range from $25 to $55 per day.

If you’re staying in a walkable area like Waikiki and have access to transportation for activities and tours, you may not need a car for the entire duration of your stay. Renting a car for just one or two days in Waikiki can save you money on parking fees. Consider your itinerary and group needs to determine if renting a car is necessary for your entire trip.

Mix in Free Activities

Hawaii offers plenty of free activities that allow you to experience the beauty of the islands without spending a dime. OnOahu, you can check out

  • free hula shows in Waikiki
  • visit local farmers markets
  • explore festivals and events
  • and discover neighborhoods like Chinatown and Kakaako

These activities provide a glimpse into the local culture and are a great way to save money while still having a memorable experience.

Take Advantage of Hotel Offerings

Check with your hotel to see if they offer any free activities for guests. Many hotels in Hawaii provide:

  • complimentary hula lessons
  • arts and crafts sessions
  • and other activities.

These offerings can be a fun way to immerse yourself in the Hawaiian culture without spending extra money. Make sure to check the hotel’s calendar or ask at the front desk for a schedule of activities during your stay.

Mix in Low-Cost Activities

If you’re looking for more activities to add to your itinerary, consider some low-cost options. The Waikiki Trolley Pink Line offers a scenic tour of Waikiki for just $5. You can also hike Diamond Head, visit the Waikiki Aquarium, explore the Iolani Palace, or check out the Bishop Museum. These attractions provide a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty at affordable prices.

Shop Local for Souvenirs

Instead of buying mass-produced souvenirs from tourist shops, consider shopping local for unique and affordable souvenirs. Visit local craft fairs or farmers markets to find one-of-a-kind gifts that directly support the local economy.

For example, you can find locally made honey or handmade crafts that make for thoughtful and meaningful souvenirs. Not only will you save money compared to buying generic souvenirs, but you’ll also have a more authentic and memorable keepsake from your trip.

Pack Light and Use Carry-On Luggage

Packing light and using carry-on luggage whenever possible can save you money on baggage fees. Most airlines charge fees for checked bags, so by packing light and only bringing a carry-on suitcase, you can avoid these extra costs.

Plus, traveling with less luggage makes it easier to navigate airports and transportation. Consider investing in a durable and lightweight carry-on suitcase that meets airline size restrictions. Packing cubes and compression bags can also help maximize space and keep your belongings organized.

Check Credit Card Benefits for Baggage Fee Reimbursement

Before you check any bags, check your credit card benefits to see if they offer reimbursement for baggage fees. Some travel credit cards provide this perk, allowing you to save money on checked luggage.

Additionally, some airlines, like Southwest, offer free checked bags as part of their policy. By taking advantage of these benefits, you can avoid paying extra fees for checked luggage and keep more money in your pocket.

Enjoy the Free Friday Fireworks Show in Waikiki Beach

If you’re in Waikiki during the winter or summer season, don’t miss the free Friday fireworks show at Waikiki Beach. The show takes place at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and offers a spectacular display of fireworks against the backdrop of the ocean.

You can watch the show from the beach or book a boat tour for a unique vantage point. It’s a great way to end the week and enjoy a free and memorable experience in Hawaii.

Share Your Tips and Tricks in the Comments

If you have any additional tips or tricks for saving money while visiting Hawaii, be sure to share them in the comments below. Your insights and experiences can help fellow Hawaii travelers make the most of their trip and stretch their budget even further.

In conclusion, visiting Hawaii on a budget is possible with some planning. By following these tips, you can save money on accommodations, transportation, activities, and souvenirs, allowing you to have an amazing Hawaiian experience without breaking the bank. Remember to mix in free and low-cost activities, take advantage of hotel offerings, and shop local for unique souvenirs. And don’t forget to pack light and utilize travel credit card benefits to save on baggage fees. With these strategies in mind, you can enjoy all that Hawaii has to offer while staying within your budget.

So start planning your budget-friendly trip to Hawaii today and get ready to create unforgettable memories in paradise!

One response to “13 Ways to Save on Your Hawaii Trip”

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Aloha! I'm Mariam.

I'm an Oahu resident sharing my adventures here in Hawaii to help take the guesswork out of planning your trip to Hawaii.

I've worked full-time as a concierge for a decade and have planned thousands of itineraries for travelers like you!


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