Tips for Doing Hawaii on a Budget 

By Joe Kukura

Hawaii is rich with exotic culture and beauty, and you don’t need to be rich to enjoy it all. For all of the talk of Hawaii as an expensive place to visit, the reality is that any smart vacationer can find affordable options with some research and asking around. A little bit of comparison shopping can go a long way and keep your trip to paradise from getting pricey.

Time and money are your two most precious and limited resources on your Hawaiian vacation. You will want affordable options for your Hawaiian dining, entertainment and nightlife, and you want good, central locations so you can enjoy the tropics instead of getting lost in them. Let’s look at a few tips for travelers who want to do Hawaii on a budget and stretch their Hawaiian vacation dollars as far as possible. 

All-in-One at Hawaii’s #1 Attraction

The traditional Hawaiian luau is a must-see spectacle on any visitor’s checklist. Why not save time and money by combining it with a full day of cultural activities and an action-packed evening show in one place for about the same cost as doing only a luau somewhere else?

Purchase a Polynesian Cultural Center package to immerse yourself in authentic Polynesia at Hawaii’s #1 attraction. During the day, visit villages and mingle with natives from six Pacific cultures as they demonstrate their arts. Challenge your family and friends to a canoe race. Try your hand at cooking the Samoan way (sticks and stones included). Ever hit a coconut perched on a pole 20 feet away? You can do it with a Tahitian spear.

All that spear throwing will work up your appetite for the Polynesian Cultural Center’s award-winning Ali’i Luau—a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of Polynesia that includes a Royal Court procession, presentation of the imu (underground oven), delicious traditional food and lively entertainment.

Afterwards, keep the good times rolling (without even getting in your car) at the #1 evening show in Hawaii—Hā: Breath of Life. You’ll be thrilled by this passionate Pacific isle saga filled with Polynesian dance, music and fireknives. Combined with a day of immersive activities and an authentic island luau, Hā: Breath of Life and the Polynesian Cultural Center will take your breath away without putting a dent in your wallet.

 Ride the Bus

Don’t care to splurge on a rental car? You don’t have to. Oahu has a public transportation option covering much of the island, and that public transportation option is unsurprisingly called The Bus. The bus serves Honolulu, Waikiki as well as the North Shore and Sunset Beach. Fares are an extremely affordable $2.50 for an adult one-way ride, with discounts for kids and seniors and four-day passes providing unlimited rides during your stay.

Beaches and Hikes are Free

Well, they’re not all free. The gorgeous Diamond Head State Monument costs a whole $1 per person for a hike. Other great hikes on Oahu include Lulumahu Falls and the Wa’ahila Ridge State Recreation Area in addition to many other Oahu hiking trails. And Oahu has plenty of world famous beaches as well as lesser-known gems like Kakelas Beach, Pounders Beach and Castles Beach.

Get to Know the Locals

Hawaiians are some of the most magnificently generous people on earth, and they’re always eager to welcome new friends. Many will recommend their favorite “well-kept secrets” for budget options, or even give you surfing lessons or hints for hiking trails.

The most magical place in the world is more magical when you’re not worried about your bank balance. Keep your Hawaiian vacation budget smart with some destinations outside Honolulu, and your wallet will say ‘Thank you and Mahalo’ a whole lot more.

This article is brought to you by the Polynesian Cultural Center—all of Polynesia in one place. Click here to register for tours, luaus and special packages. Book tickets 10 days in advance and receive 10 percent off!