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How To Plan A Luxury Trip To Hawaii On A Budget

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

Hawaii is known to be one of the most breathtaking places in the world. Commonly referred to as “Heaven on Earth,” it is a premium destination when looking for a luxury getaway.

With that being said, it does come with a hefty price tag. If you want to find some budget friendly tips and advice for booking your next trip to Hawaii, keep on reading. 

According to my research, the average price for a luxurious 10-day trip to Hawaii for two people came to around $12,000. This is without the additional costs of 5-star accommodation and fine dining. With these factors included, you are likely to run up an extra $6,000 to $8,000 which puts your total cost to around $20,000. 

This guide will give you tips that are tried and tested from my previous experience in Hawaii a few years ago so you can make the most of your time there without sacrificing the finer things. 


Finding hotels can already be a daunting and overwhelming experience for many. I have some easy ways to lock in on a high-end hotel/resort without splurging more than needed. 

Hawaii is made up of eight major islands, each beautiful in its own unique way. Some are more well-known and popular with tourists, like Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, while Hawai’i, Molokai, and Lanai are smaller and less crowded. 

The good thing here is that based on the popularity of the island and the location of the hotel, prices can vary. So if you are flexible, try opting for a less popular island. This can save you a few thousand dollars when booking the more fancier hotels.

This also means you wouldn’t be sacrificing much, as each island has its own unique landscape with lots to do. I personally like to use Expedia for hotel searches as they normally have good deals and make it easy to filter your needs. 

If you would still prefer going to some of the more popular islands like Oahu (known for its bustling city, Honolulu) or Maui (a mix of natural beauty and island life), then the location of the hotel can also be helpful in saving some extra money. 

I would first identify where the most popular parts of the island are. After this, find spots on the island that are less busy among tourists. Alternative areas will normally offer way better prices when booking, and as most of the islands are relatively small, getting from one place to another will be really easy. In my opinion, this is also 10 times better as you really get the feel of a local experience rather than being in the midst of a bunch of tourists. 

Lastly, going during off-season times is the best way to avoid being stuck with marked-up hotels and resort prices. Since the weather is beautiful nearly all year, there are always many overseas tourists.

However, the winter months following the holidays and the spring months are typically less crowded than the summer months. And the number of tourists drops from the end of August to the beginning of the holidays.

For example, when I went to Maui, one of the more popular islands, my family and I chose to stay in Kapalua, Lahaina. This area had a few really nice resorts that were less expensive than the ones directly in the tourist premises. We also booked directly with a hotel a few months in advance, which gave us a cheaper rate at a more fancy hotel. 

We stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua, Maui, which was only a 15-minute drive from Kaanapali — the island’s busier area. We enjoyed a luxurious stay and saved ourselves a few hundred dollars a night by following these tips!

There is also a special beach clean-up festival called “Malama Hawaii” that gives you exclusive discounts for a free night’s stay at a luxury resort. 


Hawaii has so many amazing options for tourist excursions and island tours. To top it off, most of these extra excursions can be experienced without having to pay for them. All of the islands in Hawaii have beautiful beaches, hikes, waterfalls, sunsets and scenic drives, which cost $0 to experience. 

Most tours take you to these publicly accessible spots but charge you a little extra for their time and transportation. While this may be nice for people who prefer going in bigger groups through guided tours, remember that it’s not needed. You can save $400-$500 by opting to go independently and renting a car (more on that later). 

On the other hand, some specific spots are not accessible to the public without booking through a tour group or as an excursion. If you plan and book these excursions in advance, you will also save a few hundred dollars.

Many tour groups offer great deals if you book ahead of time. This is an effective way to do some of the more luxurious and pricey activities, like Catamaran rides, snorkelling, and boat tours, without risking last-minute price hikes. 

I highly recommend checking Viator for deals ahead of time. I was able to find an amazing snorkelling tour through the site when I was in Hawaii with Maui Pacific Tours.


Getting from place to place is also another hassle when travelling. In Hawaii, the best option is to rent a car to ensure you always secure a ride when between different destinations. Taxis are overly expensive and minimal here, so having your own vehicle is definitely the most convenient and approachable option. 

Given your budget, you can choose how pricey or luxurious this element of your trip is by picking the type of vehicle you drive.

While booking ahead may be the safer route, there are always quite a few rental car companies located near the airport for you to pick from. However, the wait is a few hours during their peak seasons so you can save money and time by looking at options available beforehand. 

I’ve found that the website Travel Price Drop is a good way to filter out the best options! 

Another way to glam up your vacation if you are hopping from island to island for day trips is by taking a charter flight for a “private jet” experience. Many local airlines are very small and offer flights back and forth between the main islands. By booking locally, you get a chartered flight with a semi-private captain, as there are only six to eight seats on each flight (an added plus being that everyone gets a window seat too). 

Mokulele Airlines offers round-trip tickets from $180 per person which is a fraction of the cost of taking an actual private jet or boat. 


Another one of my favourite parts about Hawaii is the food. They have such fresh and hearty dishes that really satisfy your palette. However, dining is again not cheap, especially in the more upscale restaurants.

A great way to enjoy the luxury of Hawaiian cuisine without stretching your budget is by avoiding tourist spots and heading to more local areas for food. 

The average dinner in Hawaii for two people will easily set you back between $100 to $200. You can drastically reduce this by also adding in some more local spots for dinner. The main restaurants by the beach and hotels normally up-charge food and drinks when you can enjoy a more authentic experience by simply choosing to dine 10 to 15 minutes away from the hot spots. 

As tourism plays a large role in Hawaii’s economy, this is also beneficial for restaurants and cafes that don’t see a lot of customers during high travel seasons. By going somewhere a bit more local, you do a great service to the local economy in Hawaii, while getting to try more authentic dishes. 

One of my favourite spots was the Paia fish market that I had on the way back from a hike one afternoon. It was a small, simple joint with some of the best fish tacos I have ever had. The food was also only $15 to $20 with generous portions. 

Another way to save money is by avoiding the Luau dinner tourist traps. A lot of people choose to book the fancy “traditional” Luau dinners (a traditional Hawaiian occasion that you may have seen in TV shows and movies like Lilo & Stitch), which come down to around $75 to $200 a person. 

Most of the time, Luau’s can be watched for free at your hotel, local gathering places, outside supermarkets, on the beach, and more. Ask the hotel concierge, and they will be able to tell you the exact spots where the performances happen for free. 

If you will be cooking breakfasts or lunches from a vacation property or rental home, make time to travel a few miles out of the way when acquiring supplies. You’ll not only find better deals and a more extensive range, but you’ll also have access to discount stores and fresh local farmers’ markets — who doesn’t want to try fresh, exotic fruit and vegetables on an island? 


Shopping is always a fun and enjoyable experience, especially on holidays. Depending on your budget, you can splurge at malls, tourist shops, or even local boutique stores.

However, when it comes to getting the same experience on a budget, you can get the same souvenirs, clothes, and accessories for a lot less when you go to local stores. 

Most of the local stores on each island also offer more traditional gifts like shark necklaces, handmade Haku (Flower Crown Lei), and Kona coffee (local coffee beans) for half the price. 

If you are more of a high-end shopper, Hawaii is one of the best places to purchase luxury goods. Honolulu is known as a “shoppers paradise,” and it is no surprise why, as there are many amazing luxury stores that sell their items cheaper than in the mainland by up to 15%

For example, the official Yves Saint Laurent boutiques in Hawaii sell all items for prices that are 10% lower than the online listed prices for the U.S.

Tax in Hawaii is also around 4.5%, so you can save a few hundred dollars on luxury items this way. 

If you choose to reside in Oahu or happen to go during your trip, the Ala Moana Centre in Honolulu is the world’s largest open-air shopping complex with over 350 shops and 150 food options ranging in all price points. This is a great place to go for a luxurious shopping experience. 

Overall, experiencing the luxurious side of Hawaii’s beauty doesn’t have to break the bank. By following these tips, you can have an unforgettable, high-end vacation while keeping your budget in check.

Prisha Dev

Toronto MU '25

Prisha is a journalism student who loves writing, travelling, sports, fashion and of course coffee!! She has written for numerous publications varying on many topics. Check out her Instagram for more content @prishadev