We all know that a Hawaiian vacation comes with a hefty price tag. With hotels, resorts, and rental homes costing a pretty penny, it can be easy to rack up a big bill on your accommodations unless you keep your trip short. If you’re looking for a memorable trip but don’t want to overspend on hotels, how long do you really need for a great trip to Hawaii?
A trip to Hawaii should last one to two weeks if you want to make the most of your stay. Traveling to Hawaii and between islands, as well as getting used to the time difference, will eat up at least two days off your itinerary, making a shorter trip not ideal.
Planning a trip can be overwhelming, especially when you’re traveling with the whole family. To help you out, I’m going to discuss tips on how to make the most of your Hawaii trip while keeping costs within the budget in the rest of this article.
How To Make the Most of Your Trip to Hawaii
It’s highly recommended to spend two weeks or more in Hawaii if you want to maximize your vacation and truly experience the best that Aloha State has to offer. But if you don’t have the luxury of time and resources, a one-week Hawaiian escapade can be more than enough–especially if you know how to make the most of your limited time.
Here are some tips for the traveler in a rush on how to maximize a Hawaiian vacation. (If you do have the opportunity to spend more than a week, these tips can make your trip even more worthwhile.)
Create a Travel Itinerary
First things first: a travel itinerary. You are most likely able to have an amazing time if you have a carefully thought-out plan. Winging it is great if you’re feeling spontaneous (and can afford to be), but it will definitely make it hard when you’re working with a tight budget and limited time.
Now, don’t get intimidated if you don’t have one yet. A travel itinerary doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to be complete.
However, the more people are coming along, the more details you have to iron out. Any trip can be challenging to plan because of the logistics, but even more so when there are many people involved.
To help you create your itinerary as early as today, here are the details that you need to include:
- Travel dates. Set your travel dates. They don’t have to be precise yet if you’re planning to travel a year or more from now. But you should start preparing a few months in advance. Doing so will help you look for flights that correspond to your preferred dates.
- Places to visit. There are lots of islands to go to in Hawaii. So as early as now, you should already decide which ones you want to spend time on.
- Daily activities. List down the activities that you plan on doing every day, what time you intend to do them, and how long.
- Accommodation. Along with the flights, your accommodation is one of the things that you need to finalize early, especially if you want to take advantage of discounts or promos.
Decide on the Kind of Experience That You Want
There are four main islands that tourists go to in Hawaii: Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and Big Island. And while you will be able to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of Hawaii on whichever island you decide to stay on, they are not all the same. They offer different tourist attractions and even have different vibes.
Knowing what you want to see and do in Hawaii will help guide you when deciding where you’re going early on so you don’t waste precious time.
- Oahu, “The Gathering Place”. Oahu is known for being a tourist center. It has an almost electric cosmopolitan vibe and is usually very crowded with tourists during peak seasons. You can go to Oahu if you’re looking to experience Hawaii’s nightlife.
- Maui, “The Valley Isle”. If you’re itching to hit the beach, Maui is the spot. It has the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii and offers a wide variety of water activities like snorkeling.
- Big Island, “The Orchid Isle”. As its name suggests, Big Island is the largest island in the state, where tourists can enjoy adventures like going on nature trails and hikes. It’s also the perfect place if you want to have a peek into the rich biodiversity of Hawaii.
- Kauai, “The Garden Isle”. Kauai is the perfect place to go if you’re looking to relax and take in the slow and simple island vibe. Compared to all the other islands, Kauai has a more rural feel and has fewer tourists.
Go on Non-Peak Seasons
Because of Hawaii’s popularity, it can get pretty crowded, especially in more well-known spots like Waikiki Beach. One less talked about effect of the large volume of tourists is that many people don’t make it to their day tours and other activities as scheduled because of the sheer number of tourists that guides need to cater to.
Traffic is another nightmare to be aware of during peak season. Oh boy. If no one has ever told you how bad the traffic can get in Hawaii–now you know. Regardless of whether you rent a car, get on a bus, or use a taxi, heavily congested roads make traffic move very slowly and eat away at your time.
The thing about Hawaii, though, is that the weather is pretty warm year-round in this part of the country, which means there will be tourists at whatever time of the year you choose to go. However, you have better chances of having smoother travels and less time-consuming commutes by scheduling your vacation during off seasons from April to June and September to December.
Want to know the best time to travel to Hawaii? I’ve written a detailed guide about the topic. Read it by clicking on this link.
Take the Weather Into Consideration
Hawaii is known to experience sudden short rainfalls throughout the year, but the rainiest months are from November to March. You would also want to avoid going during hurricane season, which usually runs from June to September.
You can make the most of your vacation by avoiding these months so you can enjoy hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities without the rain or a storm raining on your parade. Take note that hurricane storms can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, and you would not want to get stranded in your hotel room at the height of a hurricane signal.
If you want to make sure that you’ll be seeing plenty of sun, you can schedule your vacation in July, which is Hawaii’s sunniest month. Also, remember to check weather forecasts in advance to make sure it’s all clear skies by the time you land and when it’s time to return home.
Spend (at least) a Week per Island
Another tip to maximize your stay is to spend at least one week per island. There is so much to do and so many places to see on every island, regardless of which one you choose. And when you rush to go around different islands in such a short time, you run the risk of missing out on nearby attractions and destinations.
This is one of the reasons why most people who go to Hawaii choose to spend two to three weeks traveling. Getting from one island to another will take up a lot of time, which will leave you with very little opportunity to experience where you are to the fullest.
Also, Hawaii is all about island life: slow, unrushed, and relaxing. Don’t miss out on this unique experience by rushing your trip. If all you have is a week, it’s much better to spend it all on one island where you can explore, go on adventures, and relax.
Go at a Pace You’re Comfortable With
Sure, it would be great to see all the wonderful places in Hawaii on your first visit, but the truth is that the place is just too big, and you will need to spend more than a few weeks if you truly want to immerse in it.
It may sound counterintuitive that to make the most of your trip, you need to go slow (if you have to), but it’s true. Explore at your own pace, and see as many (or as few) things as you would like to, instead of rushing to try to get everything done in one go.
At the end of the day, what will make your trip memorable and fulfilling is if you are able to enjoy yourself the way you want to and at your own pace.
Do What You Want (Not What Travel Websites Tell You To)
Remember those activities that travel vlogs and travel websites advertise about Hawaii? They are incredibly helpful when you are creating your travel itinerary. But they don’t have to dictate what you should be doing.
To make the most of your Hawaiian vacation, simply do what you want! Activities range from the leisurely to the extreme, and all you need to do is choose which ones will make your trip the most fun.
So, if you just really want to spend a relaxing time at beautiful Hawaiian beaches, don’t feel pressured to go on a hike or island hopping. Sip on a fresh coconut and eat fresh seafood. Maybe have a chat with the locals. You do you.
How To Save While Having a Blast in Hawaii
To maximize your Hawaiian trip, you also need to have a budget and stick to it. However, that can be easier said than done. Here are some ways you can keep your expenses at a minimum when you’re traveling to Hawaii.
Make Bookings On off Seasons
Not only are off-seasons great for scheduling visits to Hawaii, but they are also the perfect time to book flights, accommodations, and other rental services at a discount. During these times of the year, prices are typically much lower, and there are usually more discounts and promos to avail.
You would be surprised at how much you can save when you compare flights during peak seasons and those during off-seasons. And that’s just the plane fare. If you’re booking for a large group, such as a family of four, you even have a better chance of getting cheaper hotel accommodation and transportation rates.
You can even travel to Hawaii without booking a flight. Find out how in my travelers guide on the topic.
Make Reservations in Advance
The farther ahead your trip is when you start making your reservations and bookings, the better. Even plane fares are cheaper when you book in advance. This is an important travel hack because hotels and airlines tend to hike prices a few weeks before your travel dates.
Try Camping or Home Rentals
Why not take island life to the next level and go camping for a few days? Going camping can save you a few hundred dollars while giving you a unique experience at the same time. This is best for adventurous couples or friends who are more on the adventurous side of the traveler spectrum.
If you want to try camping, you will find many amazing camping spots in Maui, such as the Waianapanapa State Park, Haleakala Backcountry, and Kipahulu Campground. Here, you can enjoy lush landscapes, mountain views, and pristine coastlines.
If you would rather not go camping, however, you can try home rentals or Airbnbs instead of hotels. They are typically much cheaper and ideal for groups and families. They also allow you to save a lot on meals because you can simply drop by farmers’ markets and cook your own food using fresh produce.
Skip the Island Hopping
If you’re looking to stretch a limited budget, you can opt to forego the island hopping and stick to one island instead. In fact, it may actually be more advantageous, especially if you are only staying about a week. It means no additional transportation expenses, no time wasted on lots of commutes, and more time for fun.
At the end of the day, how long or short your trip to Hawaii matters less than what you intend to do during the time you spend in the Aloha State. As long as you plan your trip well, make arrangements ahead, and do what sparks joy in you, you’ll surely go home full of happy memories and beautiful moments.
- Never Ending Voyage: Planning a Trip to Hawaii: Do’s and Don’ts
- Skyline Hawaii: How Long Should Your Hawaiian Vacation Be?
- Going Awesome Places: Must-Read Guide to Visiting Hawaii for the First Time
- The Hawaii Vacation Guide: Planning a Trip to Hawaii in 2022: 15 Essential Details
- A Broken Backpack: How to Visit Hawaii on a Budget
- Hawaii Guide: Which Hawaii Island to Visit?
- Hawaii.Gov: Hurricane Season
- Matador Network: The 9 Most Amazing Camping Spots in Hawaii