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How to Travel to Hawaii for Dirt Cheap

travel Hawaii for cheap

When I decided to visit Hawaii for a month, I was determined to do it for cheap. Having just quit my full-time job, I wasn’t going to have the most funds to spend on anything and everything. For some reason, I always end up not having any money before I go on trips… Might need to work on this…

Being Canadian, the exchange rate made things even more difficult, so I needed to be creative. Most people think that a trip to Hawaii has to be an expensive one, but if you’re careful about your spending and implement a few of the tricks below, you CAN travel Hawaii for cheap!

So, how did I manage to spend a month on Kauai (or any Hawaiian island) with very little money? Read on to find out…

1. Flights:

Be flexible with your schedule and you can find cheap flights. I got direct flights from Vancouver to Lihue (on Kauai) for $206 one way. I was expecting them to be twice as much! $412 on flights is extremely reasonable, and I’m sure you could find even cheaper options if you searched on discount airline websites.

I flew with WestJet and chose the cheapest flights within a week or two. Being flexible with dates is a definite way to save you some $$$. We ended up flying there on November 13th and back on December 13th, so I guess flights are cheaper on the 13th of every month!

Keep on being superstitious people, you’re really helping me out!

silver car in kauai from rent a wreck

2. Get A Car From Rent-A-Wreck:

Although some of the Hawaiian islands are more public transit friendly, you need a car on Kauai. We wanted the cheapest possible option and ended up going with Rent-A-Wreck.

Now, you might be thinking, “Rent-A-What? A wreck? Are you sure?”. Yes, the cars aren’t exactly new, and we probably paid more renting the car than the car is actually worth, but we needed a car and this was by far the cheapest option so, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

If you have rental car protection on your credit card, you’re in luck because your rental prices are going to be WAY cheaper. I don’t have insurance so I had to buy some through Rent-A-Wreck. With your own insurance, you can spend $20-$30 a day on a car. If you buy the insurance through them, it goes up to $60-$70 a day. This is still way cheaper than any other rental company on the island. They also have a lower minimum age for rentals (21 years old instead of 25). SO if you’re a youngin’ like me and want to go to Kauai and cruise around, make sure you go through them!

Although you can rent scooters at a cheaper price, I wouldn’t recommend it (on Kauai at least). The main highway on Kauai is not scooter friendly at all and we ended up cursing every single tourist on a scooter that we saw.

eating pie in kauai

3. Eat Out Less:

Eating out while on vacation is always a massive amount of money. We made the decision while on our trip to only eat out once a day, and to try and make that meal either breakfast or lunch (because they are cheaper). This was a huge way to save money, as we usually spent about $20 a day on food. The rest of the time, we would cook our own food and buy groceries.

This still allows you to try out all the new restaurants and food trucks you want, but will keep your money in your wallet.

Some of our best meals were the ones we cooked ourselves. Cereal with almond milk was a staple for breakfasts, sandwiches are always a great lunch idea, and for dinners our go-to was penne pasta, tomato sauce, fresh avocado and bagged salads (the Mediterranean one is soooooooooo good!) We had a small backpacking stove with us and some camp-sized pots and pans. This allowed us to make dinners even while staying in hotels (see the image below). If you don’t have these things, try to stay in a hostel (which will have a kitchen) or a hotel with a kitchenette!

cooking dinner in a hotel room on a camping stove

4. You Don’t Need Souvenirs:

Isn’t exploring a gorgeous island enough? If you want to buy something, then don’t hold back. BUT, don’t go crazy with the shopping. Life is about experiences not things, so spend your money on those experiences instead of shell leis for all your friends back home.

5. Free Activities:

The best part about Hawaii is that it’s a tropical destination. I freakin’ love tropical destinations.

This means that you can always hit up the beach, which is FREE! I also freakin’ love free.

Walks along the beach, hikes into the jungle, swimming, tanning, etc… are all great activities and they’re all going to save you some money.

Also, if you’re on Kauai, you can rent a surfboard in Hanalei for $10 a day and paddle boards for $5 a day. This is a cheap way to spend the day out on the ocean, and you’ll have a ton of fun!

Reading the alchemist with tevas on the beach in kauai

6. Live Like A Local:

Do locals go out for every single meal? No. Do they go shopping every day? No. So you don’t need to either. One of the best ways to save money is to act like you’re living, instead of vacationing.

7. Choose Cheap Accommodation:

Camping is by far the cheapest option for accommodation. If you want to learn more about camping on Kauai, check out my blog post here.

tent at haena campground on the beach in kauai

hostel on kauai

If camping isn’t really your style, you can also stay in one of the two hostels on the island. We spent two nights at the Honu’ea International Hostel and it was perfect! There’s also the Kauai Beach House Hostel right on the water which looked super nice as well!

Finally, if you want a hotel, try Kauai Shores. Read my blog post on why this was our favourite budget hotel here.

To check out all the available hotels on Kauai, click here.

Although Hawaii can be an expensive destination (if you go on March Break), it doesn’t need to leave you broke. I managed to explore the island of Kauai for an entire month and only spent a couple thousand dollars in total for the whole trip!

Hopefully the tips above have been helpful and you feel ready to book your Hawaiian adventure now too!

Have you ever been to Kauai? Would you be willing to camp there? 

Let me know in the comments below!

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how to travel to Kauai for dirt cheap

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Amy
    June 2, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii but always thought of it as somewhere pretty expensive so thought it would have to wait! I never knew there were so many budget friendly options there!

    • Reply
      erynmacgillivray
      June 5, 2018 at 11:07 pm

      Yes!! If you’re smart about it, it can be super affordable 🙂

  • Reply
    Madhu
    June 2, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    Those are really useful tips on saving money.its nice that you could have a great time on a shoe string budget !

    • Reply
      erynmacgillivray
      June 5, 2018 at 11:07 pm

      Thank you! It really showed me how you can travel without a ton of savings 🙂

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