If you’re anything like me, you’re still planning your Hawaii trip down to the minute. Or, perhaps you’re the kind of person that throws caution to the wind and lets adventure take you where it will. Either way, anyone can make use of a list of what to do in Hawaii on a budget! In fact here are some free and wallet-friendly activities that you can do no matter which island you’re on!
Snorkeling is one of the most enjoyable activities in my opinion. You float at your own pace and enjoy the occasional heart drop when a turtle swims by. Armed with snorkel gear, you have a number of options for a memorable snorkeling trip. Beaches are public areas in Hawaii, except for a few with good reason, like the nature preserve Hanauma Bay. If you want to see turtles while snorkeling, try Shark’s Cove at the North Shore past Haleiwa. The waves are a step more difficult than Hanauma Bay, so I only recommend this if you can hold your own swimming by yourself. There are several beaches all over Hawaii that have great snorkeling and perfect for those visiting Hawaii on a budget.
Visit famous landmarks on special days. Hawaii’s culture is incredibly different from anything else you’ll find in this world. Because of this, you’ll find certain events that are wonderfully eye-catching depending on what day you get there to see it. On King Kamehameha Day, Hawaii celebrates King Kamehameha I who is known for uniting the Hawaiian islands. On this state holiday (yes, state workers are off on this day), his statue is covered with gorgeous and fragrant leis. You can see how long each strand is in this photo and I can only imagine how long that took for the dedicated lei makers. With all those plumeria and maile, the scent must be heavenly! For true Hawaii on a budget plan, check out other free landmarks like Duke Kahanamoku, walking around Chinatown or even free festivals full of food and fun.
Hawaii is hiking heaven for many visitors. With a ton of hiking options that go up into the clouds, down waterfalls, or up a really, really, really long stairway (Koko Head anyone?), your options are limitless. And it’s not just trees and clouds that you’ll see on your hike here. Choose from desert hikes in Kona, muddy trails that never see the sun like Manoa Trail, or even well-paved asphalt hikes where you can see humpback whales breaching.
Local tip: If you’re still looking for a good information source about Hawaii, try the GoHawaii.com free official visitor’s guide. You can download it for free and get a copy of several different brochures filled with information about the different islands. If you want a printed copy (which I recommend because the photos are gorgeous and it makes a nice souvenir), you can also get them mailed out to you for free, although delivery can take up to four weeks so plan ahead!
Jessica Padykula wrote “10 Tips for Exploring Hawaii on a Shoestring Budget” for Cheapflights that provides a ton of links, resources and ideas for traveling on a budget. She hits most of the major islands so you’re sure to find something that you can benefit from.
One of my favorite budget tours is the Pacific Whale Foundation in Maui’s top-notch Whale Watch Cruise at a discount. I also highly recommend looking into the Go Oahu Card, which will save you some major bucks if you use it wisely. Go Airport Shuttle has great deals, too when traveling from Honolulu International Airport.