Earlier this month, Southwest Airlines started selling flights to Hawaii. This much anticipated development was excellent news for budget travelers and Southwest Rapid Rewards members.
Even if you didn’t snag one of Southwest’s $49 flash sale tickets the morning they started selling flights to Hawaii, it’s still possible to say aloha to a budget vacation in paradise.
Here are some tips for planning a trip to Hawaii on a budget.
Shop around for the best deal on flights
Southwest has a reputation for affordable flights (not to mention the two free bags) but they aren’t always guaranteed to be the cheapest option. Now that Southwest is in the Hawaii market, word on the street is that competitors such as Hawaiian Airlines have lowered their prices some to remain competitive.
Be sure to shop around and compare flight prices before booking a ticket. Your best chance of snagging a good deal is to be flexible with your dates.
Resist the urge to island-hop
Each of Hawaii’s islands are beautiful and offer their own unique charm, but island-hopping will increase your trip expenses rapidly. Not only does island-hopping cost more than staying on one island, it means you spend more time in airports than on the beach.
Instead of island-hopping, use the money you save by just exploring one island to start planning your next Hawaiian trip to a different island!
Check out the farmer’s markets
Hawaii is known for incredible fresh produce, and it can be found in abundance at farmer’s markets. Book accommodations with a kitchen, spend a morning stocking up on fresh produce, and save money by preparing a few meals (and snacks) yourself. Many farmer’s markets also offer prepared food, so stopping by for lunch can be a delicious, budget friendly option as well.
Even if cooking on vacation doesn’t sound ideal to you, grabbing a loaf of bread and a few of the best avocados you’ve ever tasted for a quick avocado toast breakfast each morning (with a side of fresh fruit, of course) can save you money.
If you do opt to eat out, chose local restaurants as opposed to restaurants designed to attract tourists for a more budget friendly option. Eating a larger (or nicer) meal at lunch can cut costs as well, as lunch menus are often cheaper than dinner.
Hawaii is also a great place to enjoy a booming food truck scene – another way to eat well for less money. Not only does eating from local restaurants or food trucks save you money, it will also provide you a more authentic Hawaiian experience.
Book your trip in the off-season
Plan to head to Hawaii in the spring or fall for fewer crowds and better prices. You will want to book after Easter and before summer vacations begin in June for the best spring rates, and rates go down again from September until just before Christmas.
Skip the ocean view
When you dream of a trip to Hawaii, you might imagine looking out your hotel balcony to a beach view below. While that sounds magical, it might be a vision you should consider giving up in order to travel on a budget.
Ocean view rooms, or hotels right on the beach, will likely cost significantly more than accommodations located a little farther from the beach. If you can be okay with a short walk to get to the beach or a room without an ocean view, it can save you money.
Use points for resort stays
If staying at a beach resort is a non-negotiable part of your Hawaiian vacation dream, start saving hotel points now. Most of the major hotel chains can be found in Hawaii, so if you are a member of a hotel rewards program, you should be able to find a dreamy Hawaiian hotel to cash your points in at.
Spend your time enjoying nature
Hawaii is a naturally stunning place, regardless of which island you choose to vacation on. Spend your time enjoying nature to save money on attractions and entertainment. Whether you spend your days relaxing on the beach or hiking, Hawaii offers plenty of natural beauty, much of which can be enjoyed completely for free.