Hawaii has always been one of those magical places I always daydreamed visiting, but I just assumed I could never afford it. An unreachable paradise I suppose. And I know I'm not the only ones who feel this beautiful state can only be experienced in daydreams.
But what if I told you this paradise wasn't all that far away from being possible! What if I told you it could be done on a budget. That's right! I am sharing all about how we made our recent trip to Maui happen on a budget. These 6 tips will let you experience your dream vacation, while still remaining very affordable.
At the end of last year, my husband and I lightly discussed where we would want to go this time to escape our Wisconsin winter. I brought up Hawaii, and he sort of laughed. Too expensive he shared. I'm a dreamer, and a bit of a stubborn one, so I was determined to find a way to make this impossible trip happen. I did a lot of research and was kind of surprised to find we could actually make it work!
1) Book a cheap flight. The time of year you're traveling to Maui is one of the key factors to making the trip affordable. Round trip tickets to Maui, in the low peak season (January-March), can sometimes bring prices down to as low as $500. If you watch flights aggressively, considering the day of the week and the time of the day you're viewing them, you can really score a deal. Before we booked our flight, the lowest price I saw was $510. Scoring a cheap flight is the first step to saving you a ton of money.
Tip: If your airline charges baggage, and you're traveling with another person, consider sharing a checked bag and packing more in a carry on to reduce the cost. Most airlines allow one carry on plus a personal bag. Ladies, those personal bags can fit quite a bit in them. Am I right!
2) Rent a condo. Resorts are beautiful and often include a ton of amenities, but it does come with a price. We decided that renting a condo would give us the Hawaiian experience we wanted most and found a great condo in Kihei through VRBO. It was better than we could've imagined. It had everything we could need: a fully stocked kitchen, beach towels, cooler, beach chairs, boogie boards, snorkel gear, etc. We were RIGHT on the water and had the best sunset view! It was seriously perfect. Kihei is relatively close to just about everything, allowing traveling all around the island quite simple to do.
Tip: Beaches are never too far away. Consider saving costs by not having a beachfront condo or ocean view. You're nearly always going to be within walking distance of the ocean anyways.
3) Do free things. There is so much to do in Maui and a lot of it is free. Visit a farmer's market, hike through a park (sometimes there is a parking fee or donation cost), or visit multiple beaches and simply relax on the ocean. We traveled to a lot of different beaches and it was really fun to get different views of the island. There is just SO much to do and enjoy, and it doesn't need to cost an arm or a leg.
3a) Road to Hana is a beautiful drive that doesn't cost a thing! It's something I highly recommend you experience if you go to Maui. The views and waterfalls are one of a kind. Our condo included the CD guide and a guide book that had more information than I could contain during the drive. I would recommend doing a little research so you have a bit of an idea where you want to go. We had a blast but went into it a bit blindly. If we had prepared a bit more we might have been able to see even more. We packed a lunch and snacks for the day, but I highly suggest treating yourself to banana bread from Aunty Sandy's and coconut ice cream from Coconut Glen's Ice Cream.
4) Pack food in your suitcase. This is where we felt we saved the most money. Like any other week at home, we created a meal plan for our week in Maui before we left and packed quite a bit of food in our luggage to save from eating out at every meal. Whatever we couldn't bring, such as produce, dairy, and meats, we bought at a farmer's market or grocery store our first day there. We really loved this! Unless you stay somewhere that provides meals, it can quickly empty out your budget eating out every meal. We agreed that we would rather put our money towards experiences in Maui than eating out. We set aside a small budget to treat ourselves to eat out for one lunch and two dinners. This is also why I loved renting a condo. We were able to make delicious and healthy home-cooked meals right in our room, and enjoy a cozy dinner on our lanai while the sunset. Can it get any better than that!
Tip: One thing you do need to experience is shave ice. It was suggested to us and I'll suggest it to you. I can't really explain it, it's like an Icee but So. Much. Better. You won't regret it! We found that the small size was plenty and we would actually share it so we could try out different flavors and combinations. Get a punch card if you really love it and plan on going multiple times a day during your stay to get a free one at the end :)
5) Rent a jeep. You pretty much need to rent a vehicle for Maui if you plan on exploring and I would suggest renting a jeep. It was so fun to drive with the convertible top and I think it made the road to Hana an even better experience with such a fuller view. However, a jeep costs more than a car so what we did was just rent a jeep for 2 days, and then a car for the remainder of our stay. This saved us quite a bit, and gave us the best of both worlds.
6) Whale watch. This was just about my favorite part in Maui. We got two tickets with Pride of Maui which included 2.5 hours of whale watching, lots of information on whales, great tunes, an open bar, and a super delicious meal. I have wanted to see a whale ever since I knew what a whale was, they are so beautiful! I was speechless and giddy when we saw our first whale sighting.
Our Dream Vacation
Car Rental: $500
Food + Activities: $250
I hope this blog post helps you plan your next trip to paradise. What are your favorite travel hacks and tips? Leave your comments below! To see more pictures from our time in Hawaii go here.