Having your dream vacation in Waikiki doesn’t have to be expensive—contrary to what many believe. Historically, Waikiki is a playground for Ancient Hawaiian Royalty. Regardless of its luxurious past, traveling on a budget is still very doable. Despite being one of the top tourist destinations in the world, travelers and vacationers in Waikiki can have a wonderful vacation, enjoy every experience, and make the most out of their stay in this tropical paradise without going over budget.
Waikiki relies heavily on tourism, and the islands’ tourism statistics dipped significantly as a result of the global financial crisis. In response, the HVCB launched a budget travel program under the theme “Discover more of Hawaii for less than you imagined.”
With some careful planning and a well-researched strategy, one can enjoy Waikiki to the fullest without blowing your cash. Here are some ways you can have a vacation in a lifetime without spending over-budget:
Before Arriving in Waikiki:
- When to travel to Waikiki?
Rates are highest in summer and before New Year’s Eve. Scheduling your vacation to Waikiki during the colder months will be cheaper drastically. Especially after the new year, the months of January and February, as well as September and October.
- Find inexpensive flights
Waikiki is very accessible because it is located in the Hawaiian state capital, Honolulu, the gateway to Hawaii. The main airport of Hawaii is located just 9 miles or a 30-minute drive away from Waikiki. The least expensive way to go from the airport to Waikiki is The Bus, which costs $2 per person. If you have larger luggage, or want to pay a little more for convenience, there is a shuttle that will take you from the airport to your hotel for a little more money.
Flight costs to Hawaii can change drastically depending on when you purchase, and demand. The best way to get a low cost fare is to use Google Flights, where you can type in the flight you’d like, and select track flight. This will notify you via text or email when the ticket prices drop.
- Pack to your advantage.
Packing your own gear instead of renting is much cheaper. Pack a snorkel, mask and fins (borrow if you have to) if you plan on lots of snorkeling. Also bring your own sun block, swimsuit, and other beach essentials because prices in Waikiki shops can be quite more expensive compared to your local stores.
- Have an itinerary.
Having a prepared itinerary before you travel can help you spend less because you can plan your budget ahead. List all the activities and places you will do and visit and research how much should you spend on each. Search for entrance fees, and other fees needed for each place or activity. Following an itinerary also lessens the chances of overspending and doing impulsive side trips, which can totally add on to your expense.
- Print out directions, maps, and tour guides.
To avoid getting lost and spending more on fares, download some maps, guides, and directions from the websites of places you plan on visiting. You can also find a brochure stand once you arrive at the airport and collect some free maps and brochures of the island.
- Book affordable but nice accommodations.
Remember that you are going to Waikiki to go sightseeing, try enjoy some water sports, or simply laze around on beautiful sandy beaches—activities that do not really require a pricey hotel room. Many less known hotels offer a fairly good place to stay with amenities and other services readily available for 24 hours.
Don’t limit your options to hotel rooms. There are vacation houses and condominiums for rent in Waikiki. If your trip to Waikiki is a family holiday, then the best option for you is to rent a vacation home. These rental cottages or condo units usually have fully furnished kitchens, so you can cook your own meals instead of dining out.
During your stay in Waikiki
- Keep a money journal.
Keep a pen and paper readily available in your bag so you can list all your expenses as you go about your day. At the end of the day, evaluate your expense list and try not to spend on things you can live without during your stay.
- Familiarize yourself.
Explore by foot so you can know which places are near each other. That way you can save by skipping a ride. You can go for a walk up Kalakua Avenue, which is the main strip along the beach, to get to know your surroundings.
- Check out the Visitor Information Center.
This is a must. The Visitor Information Center is located in a gazebo at the Diamond Head end of the Waikiki strip, corner of Kapahulu and Kalakaua. You can ask the staff for maps and other guides for tourists which can contain more information on how to go to and from a specific tourist attraction, timetables for The Bus, and other helpful materials. The information center will also have a list of affordable or free activities. Tours such as the Aloha Trikke electric 3 wheel sunset tour is a great option when on a budget!
- Bring water.
It gets hot in Hawaii, and walking around all day will leave you dehydrated if you don’t drink enough fluids. Bringing your own water bottles not only reduces waste, but also can save you a ton of money on having to purchase water every day.
If you’re looking for a fun affordable tour of the Waikiki area, consider our Aloha Trikke tour. Its a 3 wheel electric tour around Diamond Head or other areas of Waikiki.
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Eddie Keliinohomoku is the Director of sales and marketing and co-founder of Go Hawaii Tours and Aloha Trikke, With Direct Ties to the Hawaiian islands, Eddie's passion is sharing the islands and spirit of aloha with the world. "E Komo Mai"