I just returned from a 5 day Hawaii trip last night and it was an absolute blast & most importantly I did Hawaii on a budget. If you remember, I wrote about my 25 at 25 travel bucket list 5 months ago and Hawaii was on there. If you haven’t yet read my travel goals list check it out here! I have so much to share with you all. Here’s my guide on how to do Hawaii on a budget, featuring where to stay in Hawaii, what to do in Hawaii, how to get around Hawaii on a budget, and what to eat in Oahu.
How to Travel Hawaii on a Budget
Where to stay in Hawaii on a budget:
There’s literally so many parts/islands in Hawaii, so if you’re asking yourself what part of Hawaii should I go to or Where to stay in Hawaii you definitely aren’t alone. We stayed in Waikiki Beach at Shoreline Hotel Waikiki and couldn’t have been happier. It’s a unique and modern boutique hotel only steps from the beach. & it’s one of the more inexpensive hotels in Hawaii. Truthfully, No matter where you stay in Waikiki you’re never more than a 2 minute walk from the beautiful beaches. Plus, Waikiki has something for everyone. It is very touristy and has tons of shopping, but it is also in close proximity to cultural activities, restaurants, and even hiking. (Which means you don’t need to rent a car). We didn’t rent a car at all in fact.
How to get around Hawaii:
You do not NEED to rent a car when traveling in Oahu, Hawaii. It is not necessary. Oahu has a great bus system/public transportation known as TheBus and it goes basically everywhere on the island including the airport, and yes even Pearl Harbor. This is how we got around the island majority of the time. The fare is super cheap and budget friendly. It’s only $2.50 each way per adult, youth ages 6-17 are $1.25 each way, and children 5 and under are free.
TheBus also offers a 4 day pass for $35.00 per person, so if you plan to ride the bus at least 7 times each way then the 4 day pass would be the best option for you.
TheBus also has an app that is pretty easy to navigate. It tells you pick up locations nearby and also lets you know what bus to take and how long until the next bus comes.
Lyft is another great option for getting around the island. If you aren’t familiar with it, Lyft is a ride request service. You download the app and choose your location and destination and then a driver will be on the way to take you to your destination. The app tells you the make and model of the car, the license plate number, and also shows you a picture of your driver. It also gives you the price in advance. We took Lyft once while in Hawaii because we didn’t want to walk 30 mins to a restaurant, but the drive was only 8 mins and only cost $3 total. Plus, it was a lot quicker than the bus because we didn’t have to make multiple stops.
Where to eat in Hawaii on a budget:
Before going to Hawaii I did lots of research on places to eat. I’m a vegetarian so I like to be prepared and make sure I have options while traveling and Waikiki certainly didn’t disappoint in regards to food. We found a cute little restaurant on the beach called Lulu’s Waikiki and we literally had breakfast there every morning while in Hawaii (and even dinner a few times).
One word of advice: GET THE POTATOES WITH BREAKFAST!!! They were so yummy and I miss them already.
Duke’s is another great restaurant with a beautiful beach view. We came here for lunch and fell in love with the veggie burgers and nachos. Definitely a must try!
Islands Fine Burgers and Drinks
Although this restaurant isn’t specific to Hawaii, we enjoyed the food so much. It is located at the Ala Moana shopping mall. So depending on where you stay in Waikiki, it could be about a 10 min car ride to get to this restaurant. I had the Hawaiian Burger with fresh pineapple, teriyaki sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, & mayo. If that doesn’t say Hawaii what does?! 🙂
The Island Nachos with cheddar, jack, jalapeños, tomatoes, & refried beans, served w/sides of salsa & guacamole were my favorite nachos on the island. They were delicious.
You can’t go to Hawaii and not get shaved ice. After a hot day at the beach we decided to stop at Lemona Hawaii to cool off. All of their syrups are organic and are made with fresh fruit on site. Plus the staff was so friendly. Definitely recommend this place
What to do in Hawaii:
Go Sailing with Holokai Catamaran: Catamaran sailing is one of my favorite activities ever. We did the 3pm trade wind sail with Holokai Catamaran and had so much fun. It was cool to see Waikiki from a different perspective. We also had a beautiful view of Diamond Head. Blackpoint, Koko Head, and Koko Crater are also in the near distance. The music and drinks onboard, paired with the friendly crew made it the perfect afternoon activity. It’s also Waikiki’s first new catamaran in 20 years. They have a wide range of activities including a Turtle Canyon Adventure Sail that includes snorkeling, Fireworks Sail and a Sunset Sail.
Hike Diamond Head State Monument: Diamond Head, known by the locals as Le’ahi, is one of Hawaii’s most recognized icons. It is a 760 foot tuff crater that was used as a military lookout and is now a popular hiking destination with panoramic views of the shoreline.
While it may be one of Hawaii’s friendlier hikes I still would recommend wearing sneakers, and bringing a water bottle. A flash light would be beneficial as well since there are points where you are walking through a dark tunnel. I used the flashlight on my iPhone and it was sufficient.
It is only 1$ per person, or $5 per car to hike Diamond Head. It took us about an hour to do. Its 1.6 miles roundtrip. Be sure to take your time and stop at the landings along the way because they offer great views. We saw a few humpback whales, pretty exciting.
Visit Pearl Harbor: Contrary to popular belief you can visit Pearl Harbor for free. They do have an optional tour though that will cost you if you choose to do that. If going by bus, Pearl Harbor is about an hour away from Waikiki Beach so be sure to get up early. Tickets for the USS Arizona are handed out based on arrival time. So the earlier you get there the sooner you can get to see the USS Arizona. We got there around 9am and our ticket for the USS Arizona was for 10:30, so again the earlier the better. In the meantime you can walk through the exhibits. Just an FYI: you cannot bring any bags or purses inside of Pearl Harbor. There are lockers onsite that you can rent for 3$ per bag/purse.
Hawaii was beautiful and a lot of fun. I can’t wait to go back. I hope this guide helps you visit Hawaii on a budget!
Have you been to Hawaii? Any tips or must do’s you have? Share below!
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All pics and opinions are my own! Happy travels!