Paradise is rarely cheap, but you can enjoy Hawaii without breaking the bank. Some costs like food and accommodations are unavoidable, but if you plan it strategically, you can minimize base costs and have more room for activities (which is the main reason you’re going to Hawaii, right?). Here we look at how to plan a trip to Hawaii on a budget.
Even before you think of hunting some some killer airfare deals, the big decision starts with choosing the best Hawaiian island to visit. When it comes to cost, O’ahu is king. Because O’ahu is the most visited Hawaiian island, there are tons more options when it comes to accommodations, activities, and food. All that competition gives way to some cheaper prices.
Another budgeting tip is to try to use public transport and stay in alternative vacation rentals like AirBnbs or bed and breakfasts. This way you can make the most of your time and money and enjoy discovering all the island has to offer.
How to Plan a Trip to Hawaii on a Budget (While Still Having a Blast)
Day 1: Explore the Island on a Hike
If you like outdoor adventures and saving money, then hiking is a great match. O’ahu offers trails ranging from gentle strolls to steep climbs, giving options to hikers of all skill levels. For first time visitors, trail maps are available online.
Koko Head offers stunning views from the top of 1,048 steps that take you to an old WWII bunker. There used to be a railway to take supplies up to the top, but now the abandoned railway serves as a giant staircase.
Diamond Head is an iconic landmark in the middle of Honolulu. The volcanic crater is a steep 560-foot climb up to the ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Aiea Loop Trail is a moderate hike through eucalyptus forests that runs along the ridge on the west of Halawa Valley.
Makapuu Trail is a great family hike with views of Maui on a clear day.
Day 2: Sunbathe on the Beaches
O’ahu is home to Kailua Beach Park, known as “Hawaii’s best beach”, and the famous Waikiki beach, among others. You are sure to find the perfect place to relax in the sun—for free, too.
Try surfing at Waikiki or bring your mask and snorkel with the fish and turtles at Lanikai Beach. Stroll along the shoreline of Waimanalo Bay Beach Park or take a picnic and watch the experienced surfers and huge winter waves at Sunset Beach.
Day 3: Try Out the Local Food Trucks
Local food trucks are a common sight all over O’ahu, particularly on the North Shore. They are popular with locals and tourists alike, and provide an affordable alternative to sit-down restaurants.
Whether you want to try delicious local food, tacos, savory Thai food, or even Asian fusion dishes, there is a food truck for almost every cuisine. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck on the North Shore is one of the most famous.
Day 4: Visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial
The USS Arizona Memorial was built in 1962 and honors the memory of the servicemen that died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Visiting the memorial and museums is a great opportunity to learn more about one of the pivotal moments in US history.
Entry is free, though you do need to get a ticket at the visitor center. Reservations can be made in advance at recreation.gov
**At the moment boat transportation to the USS Arizona Memorial is temporarily suspended. The visitor center, Battleship Missouri Memorial and museums are all open as usual.**
Day 5: Book a Discount Helicopter Tour
One of the best ways to discover all O’ahu has to offer is from the air. Imagine flying above the waves of North Shore, taking in majestic aerial views of Diamond Head and the sights of Pearl Harbor. In fact, O’ahu has several stunning natural sights to see from the sky. Sacred Falls is one that is only accessible by air.
The Oahu Island Adventure tour with Tropical Helicopters is a breathtaking way to explore O’ahu. With attractive discounts on flights, there is even more reason to add this amazing experience to your trip.
Don’t just explore Oahu from the ground. If you’re thinking about how to plan a trip to Hawaii on a budget, book your island adventure today and discover the island from above.