I visit Hawaii about twice a year. It is one of my favorite destinations: perfect beaches, perfect water temps, snorkeling for days, and farmer’s markets on every corner. Every time we tell friends or family we are heading to Hawaii, they respond with, “Again? How do you afford to got there so often? I want to get on your program!” For all of you wanting to get on our program, here is how we do it.
Booking a flight eats up a big chunk of the budget right off the bat. I set a Kayak alert so I know when prices drop and am willing to book immediately for any period of time in our open time frame. The key here is to be flexible on dates and to be proactive. I have ever found a flight from SLC > KOA for about $450.
The cheapest way to stay on the island is to camp for about $30-50/night. The beaches in Hawaii close at night so it is illegal to camp on the beach there are plenty of campgrounds that can be booked through the state or county. You will also have access to flush-toilets and showers behind doors if you camp. If you don’t have a tent, some of the islands have little cabins where you will just need a sleeping bag + sleeping pad + pillow that are on the $50 end of the range. The Big Island and Kauai have the easiest and most plentiful camping options. You won’t be staying in a five-star hotel with all the amenities but you will likely meet some pretty cool folks and get some great local recommendations.
The first stop on any Hawaiian vacation should be a local farm stand. The growing season is 365 days a year in Hawaii and every island has amazing locally-grown fruits and veggies. Grab yourself a bag of coffee, some bananas, stuff for a salad, and veggies to dip in dips like Hummus. Eat at least two meals a day from your farm stand stash. The other secret is happy hour. Every restaurant has a happy hour menu in the 3:00-6:00 time frame. This just happens to be timed to perfectly coincide with dinner-time on the mainland. Eat your big dinner and get yourself a $5 Mai Tai during Happy Hour. This isn’t usually the healthiest food so make sure you get your five-a-day in before this meal. The other bonus is that by eating dinner on your mainland schedule will make the readjustment to coming home much easier.
When it comes to Hawaiian transportation, get yourself a car with the best gas mileage. Gas can be so pricey there that you may spend your savings from renting a gas guzzler on gas. If you have a Costco membership, bring your card to buy gas (and sushi) at the cheapest place on the island.
It is rare that I buy any souvenirs or extras on any vacation but if you need to, you have $100 to do it. I have spent it on a pedicure, a 5k race entry fee, locally crafted hand-soaps, and/or a beach umbrella rental. You might need to rent a snorkel gear (if you don’t have it already), buy a beach wrap (which works better and dries faster than a towel), or eat sushi instead of salad. If you don’t spend it, you can always blow the whole lot on extra leg room for the plane ride home.
So there you have it! If your trip to Hawaii is about beaches and blue water then this is a great way to do it and do it often. Get with the program!