HAWAII ON A BUDGET
By Rick Fauquet
My family had been talking about going to Hawaii for years. It had been discussed, planned, discussed again—and then planned some more. It wasn’t until this summer that we finally were able to make the dream a reality and it was completely worth it. Here’s how our family of three did Hawaii on a budget.
My wife found some very reasonable flights, which we did have to book six months in advance, but it gave us time to price accommodations. It was decided that we would go for a week.
When you go to Hawaii, I highly recommend renting a car. It allows you the freedom of exploring at your own pace. We decided to do it in style and rented a brand new Mustang convertible … It did not disappoint! It also didn’t cost an arm and a leg—coming to only $38 a day! To assure we got the best possible deal, we booked the car ahead of time.
Cook Meals at the Rental
As we boarded the plane, our excitement was bubbling over and before we could say ‘Aloha’, we were touching down in Maui.
We looked at many different rental properties and after some research, we found a condo in the perfect location. But, we were also looking for a place with a full kitchen. Cooking some of your own meals is one of the easiest ways to save some money (plus, it gets the whole family involved).
We made sure the local Costco was close to us, as it’s a great place for groceries and also the cheapest place on the island for gas.
We decided not to book any excursions or make any solid plans, but to take Hawaii day-by-day. This turned out to be one of the best decisions we could have made. It proved not only to be more relaxing and fun, but saved us a ton of money since we didn’t have to sign up for any expensive tours.
Lahaina was the first town we stopped in. Lahaina is filled with restaurants, shops, and most importantly, Ululani’s Shaved Ice. This is a local spot and considered the best shaved ice on the island.
Lahaina is also home to the largest banyan tree in the United States. Yes, I know, a banyan tree doesn’t sound that exciting. But when you see it up close, you get it. This tree was planted in 1873 and it is simply amazing. It’s the perfect spot for some great photos.
Our next adventure took us to what is probably the #1 destination on Maui, the Road to Hana.
Now, I’m going to be honest with you, we didn’t do the whole Road to Hana. It’s a long drive and if you’re dealing with jet lag (which we were), you should give yourself a few days before you tackle it.
But, that’s what I loved about our vacation. There were no specific plans!
The beginning of the Road to Hana takes you to the North Shore and starts right off with some incredible sights. Particularly, Ho’okipa Beach Park. It’s not the kind of beach for casual swimming, though there are some shallow places to get your feet wet.
It’s primarily a haven for surfers, windsurfers, and kiteboarders. You can sit on the beach and enjoy the free entertainment or walk up to the overlook for a different view.
Our final stop on the Road to Hana was the Ke’anae Peninsula. The small town sits upon a peninsula that is formed of lava rock. The long drive was worth seeing the giant waves slamming into the black lava rock. It’s an incredible sight!
The beaches of Maui were the highlight of our trip. As there are so many beaches to go to, choosing can be overwhelming. We spent one day searching out smaller, hidden beaches around the area.
We realized the best beaches were about 400 yards from our condo rental, Kama’ole Beach I, II, and III.
You can engage in almost every beach activity possible on the Kama’ole Beaches. Kama’ole Beach I is known for hosting beginning surfers and beach III has large grassy areas good for picnics or sports. At night, large groups of people gather to see the sunset and turtle watch.
The water around Maui is crystal clear and the sea life is plentiful. We saw reefs teeming with strange underwater life, schools of fish in every color, and sea turtles swimming right up to outreached hands.
Leave It to the Locals
Near the end of our trip, we rented snorkeling equipment and explored the Pacific Ocean. We asked the locals—who are always willing to point you in the right direction—where they went to rent their equipment. I realized that sticking with local businesses was going to be a cheaper alternative than the tourist traps we were seeing.
This is also good advice for eating out. Eat local! It will be the difference between a breakfast for $7.99 and one that’s going to cost you $18.99. We also found that the local options were delicious! While we were on the Ke’anae Peninsula we made a stop at Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread, a place a lot of locals told us to go. And they were right—it was the best banana bread I’ve ever had.
It was hard to leave Hawaii. Our trip was everything we had hoped for and then some. Boarding the plane, I felt a little sad. ‘How do you leave paradise?’, I thought. By the time we landed, my wife, daughter, and I had already started planning our next trip to Maui.