As a luxury beach destination, Hawaii is infamous for being expensive. But never fear, budget travelers! You can absolutely see Honolulu—and the rest of Hawaii—on a budget. Take a break from the crowds at the swanky resorts get the scoop on affordable activities, food, and more for a totally different kind of Hawaiian holiday. Awesome!
Take The Bus
Hope on a public bus and score a cheap city tour. While there are no narratives, you can get from Point A to Point B quickly and see plenty of the town along the way. You can even take the bus around the whole island if you want. Visit the North Shore, the outlet stores, and anything else you think sounds awesome.
Visit the Dole Plantation
Want to get lost in a maze of pineapples? Obviously! Visit the Dole Plantation and learn how pineapples grow, eat Dole Whip, and more. There’s so much to do that you could make a whole day of your plantation adventure!
Get to the plantation as close to opening as possible, so you don’t get caught up in the crazy tourist lines that tend to form around midday. Buy a multi-pass ticket to ride the train, enter the maze, and wander the garden—just be sure you’ve brought good walking shoes! Have lunch in the Plantation Grill, where you get a lot of food for your money. Portions are so big, you could split a platter of food with your traveling companion! If you haven’t rented a car, the bus will get you to Dole in about 90 minutes from Waikiki, and the ride is gorgeous.
Hike Diamond Head
This is another place to bring your good walking shoes (and sunscreen, sunglasses, water bottle, and camera). You can walk to the entrance of Diamond Head National Park from downtown Honolulu or take the bus. Hiking to the summit is free, good exercise, and promises amazing views of the ocean and Honolulu.
Explore the International Marketplace
Want to find one-of-a-kind handmade Hawaiian products? Head to the International Marketplace! If traditional kitsch is more your style, you’ll find that here as well. you can buy everywhere. Shop for convertible dresses that can be worn as a top or a skirt, baseball caps with wooden bills, and hand-carved tiki statues. If you’re looking for a unique gift to take home, there’s no better place to find it.
Go Snorkeling on the Cheap
If you don’t need an instructor or to swim in a group, then pick up some snorkel gear – and maybe a pool noodle – and head out to the water. One of the best places to snorkel is Hanauma Bay where you can swim in pristine waters and see some gorgeous sea life, all for just $5 per person!
Get a Box of Malasadas at Leonard’s
Stroll on over the famous Leonard’s for a box of malasadas—it’s the only place you can find them! Masaladas are like a cross between a cream puff and a doughnut, and they’re insanely delicious. Forget your diet—calories don’t count on vacation anyway, am I right?—and grab a whole box! No one will question your decision to walk miles for pastries.
Between daily specials at some popular dining establishments, coupon offers, and affordable joints like Marukame Udon, you can save a lot of money. If you see a line out front, you know that’s the place to eat. $2 tacos and Hawaiian pizza? Yes, please.
See, folks? Honolulu is totally doable on a budget. What are your favorite money saving tips in Hawaii? Let us know in the comments!