CJay is just back from Hawaii and has pulled together a primer on how to visit Hawaii on a budget – because we all know he was pinching every penny! There’s plenty of good news to be told – a dream trip to Hawaii has never been more affordable or easier to plan than it is this year.
Getting There: A steady stream of airline sales have kept the cost of flights to Hawaii comparable to flying to a resort in Mexico or the Caribbean. Two sites worth watching are HawaiianAir.com where you can sign up for unadvertised airfare specials by email, and the Twitter and Facebook Page of PleasantHolidays.com. Pleasant Holidays is one of the largest tour companies packaging trips to Hawaii and by following Twitter.com/PleasantHoliday you’ll be among the first to know about their many discounts on vacation package deals.
And thanks to low cost airways GO by Hawaii Airlines, flying inter-island is a real bargain with most flights pricing at just $58. This makes island hopping easy and cheap!
Where To Stay: Two words… Aqua Resorts. This collection of 18 freshly redesigned mid-range properties have an astonishing 12 hotels priced well under $99 per night during the winter of 2010. CJay stayed at the Aqua Surf and Spa which has a terrific location just 2 blocks from center stage Waikiki beach. He could walk out the door and be sipping a cold one at Duke’s in a matter of minutes. The hotel gets high marks for their complementary continental breakfast, which was a full buffet of fruit, cereals, bagels, danish, muffins – you name it – a perfect way to fuel up for the day and saves $15-25 on breakfast prices elsewhere! Aqua Resorts are running a winter special with 60% off standard rates in Waikiki and 50% off in Maui, Kauai and Molokai – a penny pincher’s dream come true.
If you’ll be staying on one island for a week or more, savings can be huge by staying in a condo or vacation home. The downturn in home and condo sales means lots of owners have posted their properties for rent. Sites like VRBO, HomeAway and Rentalo all list terrific rentals starting at only $100 a night in prime locations.
And for those who want a luxury resort experience on a budget, have a look at the offerings of Starwood Hotels’ Values In Paradise, including promotional rates at the incomparable Westin Moana Surfrider which has just completed a multi-million dollar refurbishment and is grander than ever before.
Eating and Drinking On The Cheap: Can you say Happy Hour?! Luckily the practice of holding happy hours is alive and well throughout Hawaii and in particular in Honolulu. Here is THE source for finding happy hour promotions and tasty pub grub PubClub.com in Waikiki and Maui. Even though they don’t have an official happy hour, Duke’s Barefoot Bar is the center of fun on Waikiki Beach. The food may not wow you, but it’s hard not to have a good time – especially on weekends when live bands rock the beach. You’ll find a Duke’s Bar on all the main Hawaiian islands.
The ABC Stores are your friend for pacing the gap between breakfast and happy hour – you’ll find one a block or two away in every direction. Bop in to pick up a fist full of power bars, a $3 sandwich, a banana, and drink, and head off to the beach! Or if you need something more substantial, The International Marketplace in Waikiki has a great food court with lots of local offerings. You can also do the Food Court shuffle at the Waikiki Shopping Plaza with the largest food court in the islands – a good place to hide out if you get a rainy spell.
Tours and Entertainment: Right after you’ve collected your bags at the airport, help yourself to the dozens of free brochures and coupon books you’ll pass on the way out of the terminal, they are a great resource for finding interesting tours. But you really don’t need to pay to enjoy touring in Hawaii. It really takes no more than a pair of sneakers and a curious disposition. There are miles of great beaches to explore – just take a stroll down the boardwalks, stopping in a hotel cafe or two along the way when you need a break from the sun. Rent a boogie board or long board right on the beach and tackle the waves. Take a hike up the Diamond Head trail for a view you’ll always remember. Be dazzled by fireworks every Friday night at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. And don’t miss a sail out on the gorgeous aqua waters. Catamaran cruises (booze, whale watching, snorkeling or sunset) are all very reasonable and you can hop on board right from the beachfront.
Here are a few phenomenal lists of wonderful FREE (or very cheap) things you can do in Hawaii:
101 Free Things To Do on Oahu – About.com
Free or Cheap in Honolulu – PubClub.com
Honolulu On The Cheap
20 Places To Eat Under $20 on Maui - LA Times
Maui Cheap Fun - Maui Vacation Network