Will you be flying Southwest Airlines to Hawaii soon? 

Many of you will be saving money by using your Southwest Companion Pass or paying with Southwest points to get there FREE, but you probably want to save money in other areas, too.

Because, in case you haven’t heard, Hawaii can be an expensive place to visit 🙂 even if you fly there free!

By planning ahead and using some of these techniques, you can save a bundle and make your Hawaii trip absolutely affordable.

Of course, Hawaii’s year-round sunshine, sapphire blue waters and warmth are always FREE!

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10 Hacks to Save BIG Money in Hawaii

Southwest Hawaii


1. Visit During the Low Season

When planning your trip, you’ll need to consider WHEN you’ll go.

In Hawaii, the late spring and fall are considered the low season (there’s never an “off” season in Hawaii ;-)). Because kids are still in school, this can be a great time to visit when the islands are not quite as full of tourists.

Visiting during the summer months or over the holidays will find you traveling at the same time as many other tourists seeking fun in the sun which means prices are likely to be more expensive.


2. Stay in a Vacation Rental or Hostel

Hawaii vacation rental HomeAway
Credit HomeAway

Booking a Vrbo (this is an affiliate link) vacation rental, especially with another family or couple, can be a great way to save. Read Lyn’s tips on what to know before booking a Vrbo.

The ability to cook your own meals will slash your costs, and you’ll also have more room to spread out, as well as more privacy. This can be great for families so everyone can have their own space for a bit, or for couples traveling together.

My husband and I recently met up with friends at a beautiful log cabin with a view of the Smoky Mountains that had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a pool table and a hot tub. We were able to split the cost and cook our own meals to live it up for a few days while saving money at the same time. We loved it!

If you still want to share accommodations but having more space and more privacy aren’t as important to you, consider a hostel.

The average price for a night in a hostel ranges from $37-$57, according to Hostel World. These days, some even have private rooms with baths and include breakfast!


3. Choose a Hotel With Free Breakfast

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki
Credit Holiday Inn Express Waikiki

Look for a hotel that will provide a substantial breakfast for your group, like the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki above, which is included as part of the nightly rate.

Have each member of your party eat a filling breakfast every morning before leaving for the day’s activities to stay full as long as possible :).

4. Bring Food From Home

Flying airplane, ocean.

Because Southwest Airlines allows everyone in your group to bring two checked bags free, consider packing food from home, especially snacks and breakfast items. Even though you could buy these items in a store in Hawaii, they will be much cheaper at home! 

There are some restrictions on what you can and can’t bring to and take from Hawaii, so be sure to read those details on Southwest’s Hawaii FAQ page.

5. Shop Costco and Local Farmer’s Markets

Pineapples are on display at a market in hawaii.

You’ll be happy to know that Costco is alive and well in Hawaii! Don’t forget to take your card with you to stock up.

Then be sure to shop at the local farmer’s markets for seasonal produce and unique items. You may discover some new foods you’ve never even heard of before that become new favorites and this is a great way to have a more localized, and less touristy, experience!

You can even ask them to chop open a coconut for you and then drink the water. They’ll even shave up the inside of the coconut for you to use later, as well!

A man drinking a coconut in front of a jeep.

6. Buy From Food Trucks

An airstream food truck with tables and chairs outside.

Food trucks seem to be everywhere these days, including throughout the Hawaiian Islands, so be sure to try some of their deliciousness.

Whether it’s fish tacos, Poke bowls, pineapple smoothies or shave ice, you can be sure to save money and get local, authentic food that’s not an outrageous price.

Hawaiian juice stand - hawaiian juice stand.

You’ll find them at most shopping centers in Hawaii or by the side of the road, but do check the pricing to make sure it’s not more expensive than the local restaurant.


7. Score a Cheap Rental Car

Car Rental SPG Starpoints

If you’re going to be exploring a large area of the island of your choosing, you’ll most likely need a rental car. Some of the cheapest rates I’ve found for US rentals are through Costco. Pair that with AutoSlash, which notifies you when the price drops even after you make your reservation, so you can cancel and get the better rate.

There’s also Discount Hawaii Car Rental and Turo car sharing service. I like comparing multiple sites to get the best deal.

8. Stay in Walkable Waikiki

Honolulu, Hawaii

If you plan on staying in the heart of the action on Waikiki, you might not even need a car. You can take Uber/Lyft to your hotel or try the local bus. For a nominal fee, you can get to other attractions via bus as well.

Coupons and Discounts

9.  Use Coupons and Groupons

When you get off your flight, be sure to check all of the literature racks in the airport. They are stuffed with Aloha Visitor Guides and ThisWeekHawaii.

These, as well as Groupon, contain discounts and coupons for every island on everything from food to tours to scavenger hunts. Be sure to check Groupon before you leave home to see if there are any deals you want to take advantage of while visiting.


10.  Do FREE Stuff!

The sunset colors illuminate a beach with people enjoying the water at Tradewinds Island Grand Resort.

While all the above ideas give you ways to save money on your Hawaiian vacation, nothing  is better than something that is really and truly FREE!

Here are some ideas of free Hawaii activities:

  • Head to a local music festival
  • Attend a cultural event at the Royal Hawaiian Center
  • Ooh and aah at the fireworks show at the Hilton Hawaiian Village
  • Watch the sun set on the beach with your significant other
  • See the Waikiki Hula Show at Kuhio Beach
  • Snorkel, snorkel and snorkel some more!

Check out these great places to stay.

What money-saving or completely free tips do you have to share?

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  • Cami Sauder

    Cami Sauder, a member of the Families Travel Free team, is a longtime traveler who aims to be away from home at least 1/3 of the year. She's mastered the art of using miles and points to save on flights and hotels and saved more than $16,000 on travel using points in the last year. She and her husband have a goal to see as many National Parks as possible.

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