Hawaii : Sharing Our Budget

As much as I am a budget traveler, it was hard to be cheap in Hawaii because everything was so expensive. That said, I still think we did well for a 12 nights / 13 days vacation for a family of four. I love reading about other people’s budgets so I thought I would share ours….along with some tips.

We spent $3474.18 on this vacation. I will break it down:

Transportation - $721.32

Hubs and I used up all of our United miles and only paid $30 (processing fee) for 3 tickets from IAD to OGG. At first, we considered buying a 4th ticket for Will, but decided not to in the end. It worked out well because had we had 4 seats, we would had to split up. With just 3 seats, we put up the arm rests and everyone sat comfortably (or as much as it was possible on a long flight). The rest of the transportation cost included car rental (mini van - $424.75), 2 car seats (cheapest ones we could find at Kmart - $103.10), one check-in luggage for both ways ($42), gas ($81.97), and cab home ($39.50).

Tip: Even after booking the car rental, hubs kept on checking the rate up until we left. The rate gradually got cheaper and cheaper and we were able to get the lowest rate possible for a mini van. Also, we bought our own car seats. It just worked out to be a better deal than renting them. We ordered them online back home and picked them up at Kmart when we landed. It took about 15 minutes.  We left the car seats behind in Hawaii, we couldn't carry them back.

Lodging - $1882.45

The first week we stayed for free at Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club, courtesy of my new sister-in-law’s sister. It was a 2-bedroom, 3-bathroom suite with a common area. My oldest brother and his wife stayed in one room (king size bed), my parents stayed in the common area (it had a fold-out couch) and our family stayed in the other room (king size bed and a fold-out couch). It had a tiny kitchenette with sink, mini-fridge, microwave, and dishwasher. Unfortunately, no stove.  It was a very nice accommodation, great location, right on the beach, ocean view.  No complaints.  Especially since it was FREE.
Because we didn't have to pay for the first week, I didn't mind paying for a nice accommodation for the next 5 days. I didn't want to rough it like we did in Jamaica, especially with kids. So I picked Honua Kai, a posh new resort a little bit further north. Our 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom unit was nice – very clean and new. We had a full kitchen so we could cook meals at home. The washer and dryer came in handy.  But -- there is always a but -- whenever we went outside, no matter the time of the day, it was ALWAYS windy. We read about it on TripAdvisor, but didn't think much about it. The constant wind just made it hard to enjoy the beach and the pool.
Tip: If we ever go back to Maui again, we will stay at the Maui Eldorado, which we also considered. It’s not beach front, but walking distance to the best stretch of Kaanapali. The rates are much reasonable, too.

Food - $638.95

There was no way around it, food was expensive in Hawaii. And with kids, we really couldn't skimp it. We never ate out for breakfast, though, so that saved a ton. We bought milk, yogurt, fruits, croissants, and muffins from the grocery store. Our two favorite places when we ate out were Pho Saigon 808 and LL Hawaiian BBQ. Best bang for your buck!
Tip: If we didn't stay for free at the Marriott, we would've stayed at a place with a full kitchen so we could cook more the first week. Yes, groceries were still more expensive than back home, but still cheaper than eating out.

Excursions - $114.21

The beach and the pool were free, which the kids enjoyed the most. Other excursions included Iao Valley (parking fee), whale watching, and the Maui Ocean Center.
Souvenirs - $102.22

We got some t-shirts and magnets for ourselves, but we also bought matching “Just Maui-ed” shirts for the bride and groom. It was part of their wedding present. Overall, $102.22 was a lot to spend on souvenirs, but Anna requests to wear her Hawaii shirts all the time so at least they did not go to waste.

Tips - $15.00

For the helpful bellhops who helped with our luggage.

CONCLUSION: Looking back, what we could have saved on was the hotel for our second week. Hubs pushed for Maui Eldorado, but the mixed reviews had me concerned. But now having drove past by it several times during our trip and knowing its prime location, I have to admit that he was right. Ah, next time.

Still, $3500 for a vacation to Hawaii? Still pretty darn good in my book.


  1. i would love to visit there, i will definitely use your post for guidance when i do :)

  2. Wow, I'm impressed! How wonderful that you were able to get free lodging for the first week! We are hoping to visit Hawaii sometime in the next few years. Such a great vacation destination!

  3. I still think the first time we went there and did the cruise for a week and a week on Honolulu was the better experience, especially for the money. This time, even with a free week of lodging and "free" airfare, we still blew a wad of cash on a rather simple trip. And with kids, we really could've had the same sort of experiences in Florida for a fraction of the dough. Oh well, at least there are no more siblings left to get married anymore, so we can pick where we want to spend our money next time.

    But yes, the Eldorado has to be the best bang for the buck over in Lahaina. It's cheap and right near the only part of the beach that is worth spending time on. The Marriott and Honua Kai properties are beach front, but the beaches are absolutely useless. You can't even step into the water without cutting your feet on rocks and coral. Oh well, next time we know...

  4. I've always wanted to go to Hawaii! It's at the very top of my list. I still kind of regret not going there for our honeymoon, but I figured it would be too expensive. Now looking at your list... it's definitely doable. Thanks! :)

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

  5. I think you did quite well with the budget!! I'm impressed!

  6. Tks for the transparency in sharing your cost for the trip. You guys did great and the first week accommodations for FREE certainly helped A BUNCH! Great tips on where to stay and eat, if I'm ever in Maui. Love the Just Maui-ed tees!!! Glad you all had fun & didn't break the bank.


Post a Comment