Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Explore Hawaii with these 5 budget-friendly tips

Hawaii hacks to help curb the spending

Hawaii is a beautiful and relaxing place to explore, but the cost of the trip can be pricey. It’s a relatively easy getaway for PNW families, given that there are direct flights offered to any of the islands from SeaTac airport. There are often travel deals available as well. On our most recent trip, we were able to combine airline miles and some companion passes to bring the airfare costs down. We also planned well in advance and chose budget-friendly places to stay and eat. Activities weren’t expensive either. We did it while visiting two islands too– Oahu and the Big Island.

Here’s what you need to know to enjoy Hawaii on a budget.

Take advantage of the resort offerings like this beautiful pool at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort

Hawaii on a budget tip #1: Book accommodations strategically

In Oahu, we opted to stay on the outskirts of Honolulu in a town called Kapolei at the Embassy Suites in Kapolei. What does it mean to be on the outskirts of town? Well, it means that you’ll be driving into the city where all the action is.  But we liked that it was outside of the hustle and bustle of busy downtown Honolulu and the Waikiki Beach area.

The benefits outweighed the inconvenience. The hotel costs were nearly half the price of staying downtown and we got to feel more like a local. Plus, we knew we’d be staying at a resort on the Big Island during the second part of our trip and would get a more resort-like experience there.

On the Big Island, we stayed at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort. We used Costco Travel and found a package deal that included the daily resort fees and our rental car. While there were cheaper options than this resort, we found the convenience made up for it. With great amenities and beach access, you’d never have to leave the resort. You’re also within walking distance of at least two shopping centers with restaurants.

Hawaii on a budget tip #2: Enjoy the beaches

Wherever you decide to stay, Hawaii has a plethora of beach-going options and there are likely a few beach locations nearby your living accommodations. Many of them are free, so that’s an activity that doesn’t require extra cash unless you want to rent a shaded cabana or gear for watersports. If you can fit it into your suitcase, bring the gear you need for snorkeling or sand play.

My kids were content watching the waves hit their feet and playing in the sand, so they were cheap dates.

Some of the famous and free beaches we’ve visited are:

  • Waikiki Beach- Oahu
  • White Plains Beach- Oahu
  • Punalu’u County Beach Park- Big Island

Hawaii on a budget tip #3: Explore historic landmarks: Low-cost or free options

I love that many of the historic landmarks like the Dole Plantation and Pearl Harbor don’t require admission just to get in. You can pay extra for additional experiences, but it’s free to visit the grounds. This really allows families to experience history within their own budgets.

On the Big Island, we also found a gem with and outing to the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens in Hilo. The Zoo and Gardens are free with donations accepted. Admission to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is $30 per vehicle, the same as all the other national parks. Fourth graders can get a free pass through the Every Kid Outdoors Annual Pass Program, saving the family entrance fees to each park.

Hawaii on a budget tip #4: Catch a free show or cultural experience

While traditional luaus can be pretty spendy as they include a beautiful show and a fancy buffet meal, there are some other free options available if you just want to catch a hula show. Take a look at these options for some dancing, music and a cool Hawaiian vibe.

Free cultural opportunities may also be offered at your resort. We took advantage of our resort programs that offered a free cultural walk and ukulele lessons.

Try the famous Dole whip

Hawaii on a budget tip#5: Eat like a local

Cost of food can really add up. We opted to do some grocery shopping as soon as we arrived to cover some essentials. We also found that you can save by eating like the locals. For example, the Foodland grocery store on Oahu is said to have some of the best Poke on the island. When I saw the line of locals getting this fresh fish delicacy around lunchtime, I knew it was legit. We weren’t disappointed either.

Note: Resort food and restaurants around the resort are pricey, but there were always grocery or food court options that proved to be economical. So before you go do your research or ask a local about favorite hole-in-the-wall places to eat.

These tips could apply to whatever island you’re visiting, so a beautiful vacation doesn’t always have to come with a hefty price tag.

Read more

Want to visit Super Nintendo World in CA? Here’s what you need to know

Disney World tips and tricks to make it a successful family trip

Family-friendly trip to Monterey, CA



About the Author

Janet Kim

Janet Kim works in tech during the day and can be found adventuring with her family outside of her day job. A former broadcast journalist, her passion has always been to share stories that can help her community. You can find her sharing tips from her family adventures on Instagram at @JanetKimTV.