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 Google.com/transit 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.
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.