Big Island, Budgeting, Finances, Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Oahu, Travel

Hawaii on a Budget

Welcome back to part two in my two-part Aloha-inspired series! My last post detailed how to plan a trip to Hawaii and today I’m going to share my favorite tips on Scoring a Fantastic Deal! A lot of folks assume that Hawaii is insanely expensive, so today let’s discuss how to travel to Hawaii for around $1,300! No, that’s not a tag line to grab your attention — although it definitely should — a week in Hawaii for just over $1,300 a person is a great deal in my travel book! 🙂

Now I know that $1,300 isn’t chump change — that’s a lot of money for most of us — however, I’m hoping that through this post you’ll realize Hawaii isn’t as unattainable as many people assume.


Before we get started, let me state that this post is purely an example. There are so many different individual scenarios that may impact your specific travel budget, but hopefully this post can serve as a guideline in planning YOUR next trip to Hawaii. And I feel like if I didn’t have the coolest readers on the Planet, I would also need to mention that timing is so important — sorry, but you’re probably not going to spend Christmas in Hawaii for only $1,300 a person — however, my readers are the coolest, (not to mention logical), so I don’t need to mention it. 🙂

So grab three of your closest friends and let’s plan a trip to Hawaii on a budget!


Flights to Hawaii aren’t cheap. In fact, sometimes half (or slightly more than half) of your budget will be dedicated to one of those tiny seats in economy, but it is Oh, so worth it! For today’s post I’m using Salt Lake City International Airport as my home base, and a quick search on shows a round-trip flight to Maui for around $527 with dates into April and May.

Want to try and snag an even better deal? Set a price-alert on to monitor those prices on a daily basis and see if they drop even more! And if you’re one of the lucky ones who live on the West Coast, your flight may cost even less–I’m talking $300-$400. You guys are SO LUCKY over there!

Flight cost per person: $527


Another huge portion of the budget is your room. Luckily for us, we’re traveling as a group of four, so we can split the cost four ways! If we reserve a room for $200/night with double beds, then we’re only spending $50 per night per person. $200 a night will give you a wide range of options, and more than likely you’ll find something cheaper which means the overall budget will be even lower.

Westin Maui

Lodging per person: $300 ($50 x 6 nights)


We gotta eat, right?! From the beginning of our adventures, Cody and I have always followed the $40/day rule. We each have $40 for the day, so if we splurge at breakfast, we have a picnic on the beach for lunch, and a light dinner that night. And we always stop at a local grocery store once we land on the island to pick up a few snacks, alcohol, and some breakfast items in order to save on food costs during the trip.

Valley Isle Resort

Food cost per person: $280 ($40 x 7 days)


You don’t want to come all the way to Hawaii and just sit at your resort all day. Well, unless you stay at a luxurious resort like we did on our last trip — but even so, we still ventured out to sight-see. You’re going to want transportation to not only get you to and from the airport, but to also explore the island!

I always reserve my rental cars through And the biggest money saving tip in this category is knowing whether or not your personal car insurance covers a rental car. We never opt for insurance through the rental agency because we are covered through our own insurance. Disclaimer: Always, always, always, check your car insurance policy to protect yourself and your family from devastating financial liability. The cost of a rental car ranges depending on the time of year you visit, the island you’re exploring, and the car you choose, but I would say on average we spend about $220 for a seven day rental.

Nahiku Cottage6

Rental car cost per person: $55


For today’s purposes we are also going to budget $100 for FUN. Book that once-in-a-lifetime whale watching trip, try surfing for the first time, learn how to hula at one of the Luau’s, see how fast you can go while ziplining down Haleakala, and depending on your decision you may be able to book TWO activities for under $100. You could also spend a little more and splurge on a helicopter ride or a scuba diving adventure, this is YOUR dream trip after all.

Trilogy Whale Watch, Maui

And let’s not forget all the FREE activities in Hawaii: spend the day at the beach, go snorkeling at some of my favorite snorkel spots, enjoy the Road to Hana, go on a hike, swim in a waterfall, explore Lahaina, there are so many free things to do in Hawaii so take advantage of those opportunities to maximize your vacation.

'Anini Beach, Kauai


Let’s budget $100 for miscellaneous expenses like: baggage fees each way if you’re checking a bag, gas for your rental car, some possible overage from the above expenses, and even some spending money for souvenirs.


So according to my calculations, we are at $1,362 (give or take a few pennies). Can you believe it? That’s less than $200/day! Sa-weeeeeet!

And we have yet to discuss Reward Redemption’s, Mileage points, and other credit card travel deals to get your costs EVEN LOWER. (For example, Cody and I earned free flights for our anniversary trip this upcoming summer and I am beyond excited about it! I’ll share that trick at a later time. You guys know my motto: More travel savings = More Adventures!).

I hope you’ll use this post as a guideline to help you plan your dream vacation to Hawaii. Also, I should mention that this post is not about the “cheap-lympics” where we debate about how cheap we can actually get our trip–Yes I KNOW we could reserve a bed at one of the hostels to cut costs, and we COULD eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day to have a minimal food budget, but that’s not what this post is about. I wanted to write something that would appeal to the general traveler (those who want to vacation in Paradise without forgoing too many amenities).

So grab your significant other and your favorite couple-friends, or possibly three of your closest girlfriends for a girls getaway, and start planning your trip to Hawaii!

Heart Rock in Maui

Happy Adventuring! 🙂

Are you a frequent traveler? What other money saving tips would you add to the list above?

4 thoughts on “Hawaii on a Budget”

    1. Auntie,

      Another great tip. Mahalo! 🙂 Next time we go to O’ahu I’m going to check it out. We just returned from a relaxing week on the Big Island. I used your suggestion on the Discount Hawaii Car Rental and it saved us some extra money. Yay! Thanks again.
      Hope you have a wonderful week.
      A hui hou.

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