Quite a few people messaged me to say they were looking forward to this blog post. Obviously! Who doesn't want to go to Hawaii and also...Hawaii is EXPENSIVE.
Because it's part of the US, everything is in USD, which at the moment is not great for Canadians. And even though it's a tropical island, it's not cheap like other tropical islands and there's no all-inclusive situation. So essentially, it's a luxury destination. But the vibe there is low key, surfer-style and chill (unless you move on the locals' turf...certain beaches etc.). I'm on mat leave but we really wanted to go to Hawaii and have an awesome first family vacation and were determined to enjoy our trip without feeling like we were missing out on stuff because we were pinching pennies.
Here are our tips for saving money in Maui (not to be confused with doing Maui on a budget...because that's tough. Real tough.)
USE YOUR POINTS
Saving your points for a rainy day? If you are ever planning on going to Hawaii, I recommend using your points and saving them until you can go. We used travel rewards to cover both our flights (my amex aeroplan card) and to cover 3/4 nights (i can't remember) at the Sheraton Resort and Spa (which was amazing...AND none other than Minka Kelly enjoyed the beach in front of us one day while she was staying there. Sarah from Sarah's Day was also there with her fiancé and baby. It's a stunning hotel...but expensive if you aren't using points. This obviously freed up some budget so we could go surfing, buy snorkel gear and enjoy a few drinks and dinners while staying at the hotel.
LOOKG FOR CHEAP AIRBNBS IN FANTASTIC LOCATIONS - THEY DO EXIST
Instagram says we need to stay in the coolest looking hotel/airbnb EVERRRR so your pics are cool. But newsflash - you're probably NOT going to be hanging out in your stay. We rented a no-frills condo in Kihei right across from the beach! It overlooked a parking lot, but you could see the water and the sunset. It had everything we needed including beach gear. Compared to waterfront airbnbs and other super-stylish ones, this was affordable and perfect! I would rent it again, hands down.
AMAZING LOCATION = HIGHER HOTEL PRICES
Um, obviously I wanted to stay at the Fairmont in Wailea...but obviously that's out of our budget this year. So we rented a condo at Kihei which is 10 minutes away. We had a car while we were staying in the condo, so we were able to enjoy Wailea's beautiful beaches. It's pretty luxurious in that area - a lot of celebrities stay there. For example, Jillian Harris and Miranda Lambert were staying at the Fairmont while we were there. It's not cheap. We considered using our points for a few nights there, but wanted to stay in a different area (Kaanapali), which I think was a MUCH better decision in my opinion. Really do some research when you are choosing your hotel - but if you want the best of both worlds and have the opportunity to enjoy different areas of the island while saving some money, you can follow our lead :)
TARGET AND WALMART
When you arrive in Maui, stop at Target or Wal-Mart (I prefer Target) and get everything you need to last you for the week. Sunscreen, things you may have forgotten, groceries, alcohol, etc. It's a one-stop shop which will save you money later when you need to run to an overpriced store in the tourist areas. We rented a car - which you don't have to do, but might want to if you have the budget. It is likely cheaper to rent a car than use Ubers.
COOK AT 'HOME' AND BUY YOUR BOOZE FROM TARGET/WAL-MART
When we got to Target we bought everything we needed to last ALL our meals for the 4 nights we were staying at the Airbnb. We went out for Mexican one night as a treat, but otherwise we made breakfast every morning and dinner every night and we packed our lunches to go for the day (our condo had a little cooler we could use throughout the day). Food is NOT cheap in Maui, so you can imagine how much food costs would add up if you ate out even just once a day! Staying at an Airbnb will really cut things down because you can cook your own meals. I would say this is the biggest money saver right here. It's great to experience the food and culture when you go away, but a lot of it is literally American food - i.e burgers, chain restaurants etc. (There are a lot of traditional and cultural foods and experience, which are separate from what I am talking about. If you are interested in trying traditional and cultural foods and experiences on the island, you can find tons! And I recommend doing it if you haven't had a Polynesian experience before) The one thing I would encourage you to try is local caught fish, and if you're into it (which I'm not) some of their Spam stuff lol.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE THINGS
You probably came to Hawaii for the ocean! Go to the beach! There's tons of them and they are free! Free, free freeeeeeee!!! Either look for a cheap and good quality snorkel set and do something snorkelling - there are organized snorkel trips, but I snorkelled on my own saw multiple sea turtled and amazing tropical fish! If you rented a car, you can also do the Road to Hana, which you will need to rent a car for + pay for gas. But there are tons of cool stops and while there are lots of fruit stands and other cool food stops, Bryon and I packed a lunch! Also, we forgot to bring cash - we were going to stop at one place lol. Driving around the island is also a cool experience, so get a map, check Instagram hashtags. It's a small island so you can do a lot in 4-5 hours and there's tons of cool surf tons and places to stop and watch surfers.
Keeping children entertained and comfortable is not an easy job. This isn't something that will really 'save you' money, but it will save your sanity, and possibly keep you from buying something you could have rented. Taking home extra = more money for checking luggage. Maui Baby Rentals is great because you can rent cribs, play pens, high chairs, beach toys, beach sun shelters etc. and floaties. These are all really helpful items if you're bringing a baby or small children with you on vacation. We used them to rent a play pen for Huxley to keep him contained so he wouldn't damage anything in the condo we rented, and also himself lol. It also gave us some hands-free time from Huxley while we were in the condo or hotel room.
Staying in Kaanapali? I have an awesome beach package for you!
We WISH we saw this deal when we first arrived, but we didn't. If you are on a family vacation, you should consider an umbrella rental. We had one we could borrow at the condo, but at the hotel you had to pay for the umbrella and chair rental and the price was astronomical. When we went for a walk down the walkway on Kaanapali beach we found an awesome deal...so I had to share it, because it will ultimately save you money. If you're Hawaii, you'll also want to try snorkelling because it's amazing. This bundle is a steal and should be taken advantage of. There's a hut at The Whaler (apartments) and you can grab this bundle for 5 days at an amazing price compared to the hotel rentals! See the photo below. You're welcome.
These are probably the most significant ways we saved money while staying in Hawaii. I mean, I'll be honest, it's not the best spot to go if you're on a budget - especially if you want to truly enjoy the experience. You can do what we did - if you don't have points, stay in a condo for the entire duration of your trip - you can still check out different hotels by experiencing their restaurants (stop for a drink and an app), the beaches are public, so the hotel can't keep you from enjoying the beach area in front of one of the hotels. So you really aren't missing much by not staying in a hotel. The only reason we did it was because we were able to cover the cost of our hotel with points.
I hope this blog post helps you save money when you visit beautiful Maui!!!