Tuesday, September 22, 2015

10 Tips for Visiting Hawaii on a Budget

Almost a year ago, my husband and I were sitting on the sofa drinking wine and watching a show on Amazon on the Roku and I was entering sweepstakes online. In an awesome instant win game offered by Orbitz, I won a 5 night stay out the Outrigger Reef Waikiki. This is a nice prize, but it was bare bones, with no transportation, food, excursions, or spending money. (About 7 years ago, we won an amazing all expense paid, first class Miami and Western Carribean Cruise so the bar is set pretty high.)

Even though we hadn't budgeted for an extra vacation this year, especially to someplace expensive like Hawaii, we both knew a free hotel stay was a deal that was too good to pass up. I kept the budget to a minimum and we managed to save a whole lot of money and didn't ring up a hefty credit card bill.

I realize not everyone can WIN a vacation but the only way to win is to enter. You can visit my giveaways page or start searching for a community where you can enter sweepstakes online and if you keep entering you will eventually win something... possibly a trip!

We won the trip this time, but my husband and I have been to Oahu Hawaii before. He has been there dozens of times so we both had a good idea of what we could do without spending a lot of cash.

If you end up in Hawaii, here are the details on how to save a few bucks beyond airfare and lodging.

To save money around Oahu we have a few simple tips:

1. Make sure you are enrolled in points/miles on your credit card. 

All purchases should be accruing you some sort of points, miles, or benefit in something. Enroll in your favorite airline's miles. Use a credit card that gets cash back for travel or points for purchases. We use BOTH and it keeps my husband in their highest possible status with upgrades for business travel. Benefit in something that means something to you with money you were already going to spend.

2. Use a rental car to see free attractions, beaches, and parks. 

Shop around for the best deal on a rental car ahead of time to make your way around the island. Remember you will have to rent car seats for little kids if you don't bring your own, so factor that into the cost. My daughter hates the rental car seats!

3. On the other hand, skip the rental car. 

Save on parking fees rentals and gas. There are TONS of things to do in Waikiki and you don't need a car to get around. Stay at a hotel on the beach to enjoy it best with a family and you are all set! Everything from shopping to dining is at your fingertips. Have a travel stroller and a baby carrier like my Tula to get around with a little ones.

Checking out sea turtles!

4. Visit a grocery store on your way to the hotel. 

Grab things like PB&J, snacks, fruit, wine, and the largest size of water possible. (If you don't have a refillable water bottle with you, here's where you can buy one.) A good grocery store will have a deli counter where you can request utensils and maybe even plates. I like to bring a few compostable plates from home. There's a Whole Foods in Waikiki that we visited for dinner and groceries before we went to the hotel. They have a salad bar and various prepared foods there so you can eat and get your groceries in the same place.

The Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Hotel was fun!

5. Stay at a fun hotel. 

Lookout for deals, amenities, and entertainment at your hotel. Ours had an awesome pool and was right on the beach. They had lei making on Friday morning for guests at our hotel and live music by the pool bar and restaurant every evening. Our balcony looked over this and we could have wine by ourselves on our balcony every night after we put the kids to bed or do an evening swim with the kids.

We actually brought this umbrella tent from home. It came in handy on one beach. I think we would have used it more had we been in Hawaii longer because it was perfect for  a wind/sun shield for the baby.

6. Skip the theme parks, excursions, and attractions. 

The Hawaiian Cultural center, the zoo, the aquariums are great, I'm sure. I've actually only been to the Cultural Center and it was pricey but cool. There are so many gorgeous beaches and state parks on this island that it isn't difficult to see beautiful things and have experiences for free. If you want to lay down $100 bucks or so to brave crowds then there are plenty of places to do that but you don't have to spend much more than a parking fee to have fun here.

It's okay to have a cupcake and a danish for breakfast if you eat all this fruit, right? #Doesnteatmeat... #doesntlikealotofstuff

7. Eat at a buffet. Find out where kids eat free. 

Look for coupons. Our hotel had a nice buffet for $15/ea and my son who was 3 was free. The bill came with a coupon for 50% off so we ate there the next day too. Buffets are the best way to fill up on healthy food. I admit, I overeat a little and it totally works for skipping a meal later on. Especially if you eat a lot of fruit or plant foods that break down quickly without causing havoc on your system. This is where we have the PB&J and fruit or something we can grab and go for lunch after.

We just brought the floaties and goggles from home. I had a kids mask that my husband and I shared and we picked up some new water shoes from Walmart.

8. Get your snorkel gear on the cheap. 

Grab your water shoes, snorkel masks at a Walmart or KMart and hit all the local beaches or make your way around the island. There is plenty to see here, on your own in beautiful places that are free from crowds.

My favorite flower - A Gloriosa lily.

9. Don't buy crap. 

I think all the leis and Hawaiian theme jewelry and attire are cute, but it is all made in China, not even supporting locals, and I know we will NEVER wear it ever again except that one time that we made everyone look ridiculous in Hawaii. Take lots of pictures. Pick up plumeria florets off grass or the sidewalk for your hair, have experiences and spend time with your loved ones. You don't need to commemorate this with junk. If you want to buy something nice, buy from a local artist or business where you can make your money and your purchase more meaningful.

Sea Turtle comes up on the beach to feed!

10. Anticipate Hunger

Bring some snacks on the plane and don't forget to bring some one the way home too. You will spend more than you want to on something you don't want if you don't have a meal of something you like on the way home. The sooner you realize that, the less you'll spend. Plus, good food keeps my family of picky eaters and vegans off the do not fly list.

I'll be posting the entire trip with locations and photos soon. It was an amazing trip and I can't wait to share the rest of it!


  1. I want to visit Hawaii one day in the future, it looks like heaven. And I'd love to see a Sea Turtle, too!

  2. I love the fact that you guys went and didnt say we wont go cos we dont have alot of money great tips and t loks like you all had a fantastic time

  3. I love Hawaii! i'll definitely go there someday :)

  4. Maybe someday my hubby and I would get to go there. Thank you for the pretty pictures.

  5. Great tips! Looks like you had a wonderful trip.

  6. I would love to visit Hawaii one day so these tips will be very handy!!

    Betul E.

  7. Boy oh boy, those photos look beautiful.

    God bless,

  8. I have heard it is very expensive to go there. These are good tips to know

  9. Beautiful photos. Someday I hope to vacation there.

  10. I visited Hawaii two months ago. My tip is to find local restaurants coupons before you go

  11. I would love to visit Hawaii. It would be even better if I could win a trip like this. It looks beautiful there. Thank you so much for these great tips

  12. Cool, these are some nice tips! I am looking forward.. Keep up the good work. For sure i will check out more posts.

  13. This is a wonderful article. I would like to suggest you that please keep sharing such type of info. Thanks. I really found this to much information. It is what i was searching for.What a beautiful camping spot!


Thanks for the comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...