Save on Hawaii travel even when demand increases

WWhen Hawaii decides where to travel this summer, Hawaii checks all the boxes for many tourists. The islands’ lush, tropical landscape provides a contrast from two years of mostly staying at home. It’s a remote getaway, but it will not require a negative COVID-19 test to return to the continental United States. And there is no shortage of luxury.

Within the first two weeks after Hawaii’s announcement of lifting travel restrictions, Expedia says it saw an almost 30% increase in searches for spring and summer trips to Hawaii’s major ports. (Since March 26, 2022, the day after Hawaii’s mandate for indoor masks expired, there have been no covid-related requirements for arriving domestic passengers.)

Demand for some of the top destinations in Hawaii exceeds pre-pandemic levels. Expedia says it already sees six times more hotel reservations on Hawaii’s Big Island for September 2022 than in September 2019. Oahu – which according to Expedia is one of the most popular destinations – sees double-digit percentage increases in demand this summer compared to 2019.

But even though Hawaii can have a relaxed atmosphere with low stress, the rules of supply and demand still apply. Combine that with rising travel costs everywhere due to rapid inflation, and a trip to Hawaii this year is unlikely to be cheap.

But you can still save money on a Hawaii vacation. How to Travel to Hawaii on a Budget


If you have accumulated a lot of points and miles, flying to Hawaii can be a great way to spend them. There are many ways to book cheap Hawaii flights with points and miles, especially if you are willing to transfer miles between partner airlines. Among the largest airlines flying to Hawaii are Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

If you can earn a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass and you want to save money on flights to Hawaii, this is a great opportunity to use it. The pass is essentially a buy-a-get-one deal on your Southwest flight, where you book a flight with cash or points, and you can book another free of charge in addition to taxes and fees (usually only $ 5.60 per one-way trip ).

If you can not choose just one island, island hopping in Hawaii is quite convenient, as most flights between the islands take less than an hour. The key to island jumping: flexibility. Most of the best interisland deals are for flights through Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, so consider placing Oahu in the middle of your itinerary to take advantage of its interisland availability.

Also be flexible when it comes to dates. Southwest has plenty of airfares in between for just $ 45 – but if you are married for a specific flight time or book last minute, realize that some flights cost more than $ 200.


Most of the major hotel brands have a strong presence in Hawaii, which can be handy if you have hotel points or free night certificates.

Hilton is a particularly large player in Hawaii, and its accommodations range from affordable to lavish. If you have a Hilton certificate for free night, which can be earned through some Hilton credit cards, head to Maui. There you will find Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. One of Hilton’s most magnificent resorts, Grand Wailea hosts a 2,000-foot pool complete with waterfalls and slides. Standard nightly rates can easily reach more than $ 1,500, but free nightly rates can cover that.

If you are traveling as a family or with a group, consider booking a vacation rental through a service like Airbnb or Vrbo. They are sometimes cheaper than hotels and usually do not require you to pay resort fees, which are otherwise common. They also often have driveways and kitchens, so you avoid expensive hotel parking and the cost of eating out.

Other ways to visit Hawaii on a budget

Eat out strategically

Speaking of eating out, it can really be a part of the Hawaii experience. But it can also eat up a large portion of your budget. Understand when you pay for mediocre food but a great view. If you are hungry for adventure, head to a convenience store for fresh poke and Spam musubi, and then find a beach (there is no shortage of them) for a free sea view dinner.

Avoid the paid luau

When it comes to entertainment, you can probably pay hundreds of dollars for your group to experience a luau. While the range of entertainment and buffet food may be worth it for some travelers, there are plenty of free ways to watch hula, hear Hawaiian music and learn about the culture. Many major malls in Hawaii, such as Waikiki’s Royal Hawaiian Center mall, offer free shows and courses in lei making, hula, ukulele, lauhala weaving and more. On the Big Island, there are plenty of free coffee farm tours.

Some hotels also make their entertainment available to the public. Go to Marriott’s Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa to watch the nocturnal lele kawa (rock jumping).

Replace ticket activities with cheaper counterparts

Some major tourist attractions with tickets offer some parts of their tours free of charge. At Maui Tropical Plantation, you may pay $ 25 for a tram ride, but you can still explore much of the area, including its market, craft studios and cafe, free of charge. At Oahu, the Dole Plantation tours start at $ 7.75 per person, but it may not be necessary to purchase a ticket. Admission to the area is free, and there you can usually find free activities such as pineapple cutting and demonstrations of chocolate making, as well as a fish feeding pond.

The points

Traveling to Hawaii has always been popular – and all indications are that its popularity is growing. According to a NerdWallet survey from February 2022, 28% of Americans who say that the way they travel have said by chance since the beginning of the pandemic that they have stopped going on international trips and only travel domestically. At the same time, 16% only travel to destinations that do not require covid-19 testing or proof of vaccination. For tourists from the continental United States, Hawaii marks both of these boxes and more. Aloha State may be one of the best places to travel this year – just have a plan for how to pay for it.

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