10 Tips for Saving Money in Hawaii


1. Use coupons your rental car.

You can always find great rental car coupons online. For example, I recently got a car for $100 a week by using a Hertz coupon. If you’re traveling as a family, this is going to be cheaper than everyone taking the bus. For 1-2 people, it’s still great value. The bus system is fine, but a car is so much more convenient. Since you’re on vacation, who wants to spend it waiting for the bus. Renting a car will allow you to save money on food expenses. Not renting one is false economy in my book.

If you do use the bus, use for the bus times and routes.

Save money on gas by using the Gas Buddy app.

2. Skip bringing luggage.

Save money but traveling carry on only. Think about what to pack for Hawaii. Since Hawaii is hot and relaxed, there’s no reason to bring lots of clothing. You can likely gate check a stroller and car seat if you’re traveling with kids.

3. Self cater.

Self catering in Hawaii is fun. Since it’s hot, you’ll most like only feel like salads and other light meals. Even if you don’t have cooking facilities at your accommodation, there are plenty of yummy meals you can make if you’ve only got access to a fridge e.g., delicious wraps. We mostly shopped a the Ala Moana Safeway supermarket for our basics. The Wal-mart didn’t have much in the way food options but was good for flip flops, sodas and the like.

Bring or buy (from Wal-mart) a cheap cooler so you can take a picnic to the beach.

4. Stick to free stuff.

There really isn’t any need to do anything in Hawaii except explore and check out the different beaches. For example, swimming with turtles on the Western side of the Oahu. All this will cost you is your car rental and gas money.

The Honolulu Museum of Art is free, the first Wednesday of each month, and from 11-5 the 3rd Sunday of the month.

6. Visit for a week or a month.

If you stay exactly a week or a month, you’ll be able to both a weekly or monthly vacation rental apartment, and a weekly or monthly car rental.

7. Wal-mart.

There’s a big Wal-Mart not far from Waikiki. It’s walking distance but a bit of a long walk (around 40 mins). If you have a car, there’s easy parking. If you *must* buy your typical Hawaii themed souvenirs, buy them here.

8. Bid on Priceline for Your Hotel.

If you’re keen to stay in a hotel rather than a vacation apartment, and you’re flexible about which hotel, bid for a mystery hotel on Priceline. You can see some recent examples of winning bids here.

Hotwire is another option for mystery hotels. Stick to hotels with at least an 80% recommend rate on Hotwire.

9. Max your Priceline even more by using Shop At Home for 9% cashback.

Whenever I use Priceline I go through a link on Shop At Home for 9% cashback. I got $44 cashback last month doing this.

10. Avoid peak periods, like Easter.

Hawaii is much nicer in summer than winter. The air temperatures are usually warm year around but the sea is calm in summer and really rough in winter. Hawaii water temperatures are also not as warm as places like Asia or the Caribbean. In the summer, they’re a few degrees warmer and more pleasant.

Summer is also generally cheaper than winter, excluding holiday weekends. International travelers may need to Google the US public holidays when making their plans.



  1. // Reply

    These are great tips. We haven’t been to Hawaii but many friends who have gone do exactly what you’ve mentioned since things can add up quickly!

  2. // Reply

    We were there last August. We checked a bag of snacks due to the ridiculously high cost of food. We took bread, peanut butter, chips, cereal, easy Mac, etc. The $30 to check a bag definitely was worth it since I filled it with food I bought with coupons and some of our clothes.

    If you are wanting to do some costly events, look into the Go Oahu card, if you’re on that island. We looked at the list and compared costs of the things we would do. We saved money and did things we wouldn’t have ordinarily done like a catamaran sail and touring the Palace. Just don’t buy more days than you need and don’t jam pack your days with activities just to think you’re saving money.

    Also check groupon, Living Social, etc for local deals on everything from meals to massages!

    1. // Reply

      Great tips Jacqui – I definitely should’ve mentioned about checking Groupon etc.

  3. // Reply

    there is also a costco and SAMS. Costco had the Hawaiian Host Chocolate covered macadamia nuts lots cheaper than the ABC stores and really cute rash guard shirts.

  4. // Reply

    We also used the Go Oahu card and it was great for our family of 3. But made sure we had plenty of time to explore. We brought some food from the mainland, mostly it was my spiced that I wasn’t sure I could get. But bought most of our food at Costco/SAMs. Safeway also had good deals. Signed up ahead of time for there savings card.

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