8 ways to spend less on Hawaii

Tuesday, 15.03.2016

Let’s face it – Hawaii is expensive, but still cheaper than San Francisco if this consoles anybody. At least, from the Kauai perspective. During our vacation we wanted to spend as little as possible and here are the 8 ways on how to do it.

1.    Flights

The price is stable and ranges from $600-900 from San Jose to Lihue, Kauai. But if you dig in deeper you can bump into flights for $464 both ways.  And if you don’t plan to visit Kauai in peak season you can as well save pennies.

2.    Where to lodge?

If you’re tight on a budget, the usual solution is Couchsurfing with no cost of accommodation. We didn’t do it, but I’ve heard only good opinions about Hawaiian hosts.


We enjoy staying outside, so we explored Kauai’s camping sites. Going camping is popular on the island. Kauai is the most welcoming island for campers in the archipelago.

But wait a minute, doesn’t it require piles of stuff to take with yourself? Just the contrary. On Kauai, traveling companies meet your needs and rent all the gear throughout your stay. And I mean literally everything. A tent, a mattress, sheets, pillows, a coffee percolator, a bottle of wine, and even a surfboard (here you save – the rental costs around $20 per day).

The permit for the camping site is around $40 for 6 days, and with a blue, blue sky and a morning coffee on the beach included in the price.

Once you pay for the permit you can stay at any camping site on the island. But you should remember that during one day of the week, each site is closed due to maintenance works. So campers and backpackers are to pack up their stuff and change a place. The toilets and showers are available.

3.    How to drive along the island?

There is public transportation on the island, but I haven’t used it. So a rental car is a reliable must to get around Kauai. The general rule is the earlier you book your car, the cheaper it is. Hitchhiking is popular as well. . Hitch-hikers said you didn’t have to wait for too long for somebody to pick you up. Sounds like fun?


4.    What to pack in your baggage?

Not much. Limit your stuff only to a hand luggage can save up money on the flight ticket. And to be honest, you don’t need a spare pair of trousers or five leather bags.

For clothes and shoes, all you need is a good pair of flip-flops. They shouldn’t be made of leather unless you want to massacre them with salty water and the omnipresent dirt. Sandals wouldn’t be my favorite pick as the sand goes in between a foot and a sole, making it inconvenient to pour out. Sand is scorching hot and you can burn your feet with ease. If you go hiking a serious shoe artillery might be needed. Besides footwear, only a few t-shirts, a raincoat, and shorts will come in handy. Please avoid taking white clothes – they get destroyed by the dirt in the blink of an eye and the stains are impossible to wash.

Sun cream, sunglasses with polarization to get the best of colors, and a hat.

5.    Where to buy?

Besides what I’ve listed, you can buy the necessary gear (e.g. bamboo matt for the beach) in local supermarkets. Don’t forget to pack your Safeway or Target club cards. Take part in a scavenger hunt for coupons found posted in the local press or on the stands at the airport.


6.    What to eat?

With the San Franciscan perspective, the prices at joints and restaurants pleased me, because they were a bit cheaper than in Silicon Valley. For a good dinner with fancy drinks in a reputable restaurant, we paid $50.

Overall, we didn’t want to spend a fortune on dining, so we opted for small joints which offered wonderful food for around $10. Market Pono in Kapa’a serves sushi for $3 or a stew for $7; Da Booze Shop in Waimea has amazing portions for a similar price. As always, check your Yelp.

7.    What to visit?

Kauai is not the most exciting destination on a planet because of newlyweds and their love hovering in the air. But besides love and marriage, you can jump on many activities without spending a bag of money.

Nature (the one with capital N) is the Kauai’s gem. With nature comes outdoor activities, which doesn’t stretch your budget. You can go hiking, snorkeling, or staring at the night sky. These are just a few options.

The only exception is Kalalau Trail. When you stay for a night you have to buy a permit. More info about the prices here: Kalalau Trail

8.    Wanna stay longer on Kauai?

A good alternative to a standard vacation is enrolling to farmers organizations. They offer lodging, food and a small salary for your work on an organic farm. We met a few people who chose this way of visiting Kauai. During the week they work, during the weekend they explore. In the link, you can find a list of farms which offer such an opportunity: Wwoof Hawaii


Bonus TIPS