Every year just over 5 million people visit the island of Honolulu. Those numbers would more than double if everyone knew just how affordable it was to travel there. Hawaii is more than just an image on a post card or some distant dream you often fantasize about. Once you take your first step into the sand you will wonder why it took you so long to get here. All one needs is four days, and at least $2,000 for expenses which will be used in stages leading up to and during the trip.
First let’s work on getting you some decent plane fares. Our suggestion is to first fly into Los Angeles if you’re trying to go the most cost effective route. Why Los Angeles, you ask? Well Los Angeles is one of the closest points to Hawaii and for those of us lucky to live here, depending on the season we can find tickets for about $300 roundtrip. The best time to purchase airfare is during the off season months of April, May, September, October, and November. Flying direct from the east coast can put you close to the thousand dollar ticket range, but our method can get you closer to $550 which includes your ticket from your home state. Allegiant Airlines would be the most inexpensive airline to fly from LA to Hawaii. Delta and Hawaiian also make the same route but are more expensive in price. As far as best time for travel, take the redeye that Thursday after you get off work, then take your connecting flight the following morning. This plan of action will have you in Hawaii by noon Hawaii Standard Time (HST) that Friday. Make note that Hawaii is six hours behind Eastern Standard Time so bank on those bonus hours.
Friday morning you will mostly be exhausted and slightly stir crazy after the previous night of travel. Go ahead and check into the Embassy Suites Waikiki for five reasons: (1) Suites start at $250 per night. (2) Located right in the center of Waikiki and just steps away from the beach. (3) Your suite will have enough room for up to 6 friends. You can split the room cost. (4) Free Breakfast every morning which will cut your cost down by one meal. (5) Manager’s cocktail reception. Why waste money on pre-gaming when the hotel includes that for free with your suite.
Once you’re checked in, drop your bags off in the room then go down to the beach and just unwind. When the subject of dinner comes up hop in a cab and visit The Pig & the Lady downtown Honolulu where the meals average around $15 per person.
Now you’re refreshed and looking for something to get into. Wake up early and go watch the sunrise. All the pictures and postcards seen prior to your visit will come to life. Make sure you’re camera ready because this will be a moment you will never forget. After the sun makes its grand entrance walk back to the hotel and have breakfast on the 4th floor. Try booking tickets in advance to see Shangri LA through the Museum of Honolulu ($25). The photos on the website doesn’t do this palatial estate justice. Consider dinner at one of the many luau’s that take place such as Paradise Cove, Germaine’s, or the Polynesian Cultural Center. Luau tickets averages $60 per person and should be purchased prior to your trip as they sell out fast.
Start with breakfast then go for an early morning hike on Diamond Head. Since this will be your last full day on the island try to catch the sunset as it is equally as spectacular as the sunrise. If nightlife is what you’re into we suggest ether club Addiction or M nightclub. For our LGBTQ family we suggest karaoke at In Between or strong drinks and dancing at Bacchus (say hello to my favorite bartender Luke). Drinks average around $9, but savvy travelers often schedule their bar hopping around Happy Hour.
This is when you start contemplating about giving up your kingdom and living full-time in Hawaii. Before you vow to never return to the mainland please know that the cost of living is on the same level as New York. Instead we suggest you focus on planning your next trip. Consider trying one of the other islands.
On your final day, before you catch your red-eye back to basicness we suggest going to Peggy’s Picks. Peggy’s Picks is a vintage shop that sells authentic, often one-of-a-kind pieces that are made in Hawaii. As you visit other gift stores on the island you will learn that most of it is mass produced in other countries. If you are like us and want to support local businesses; Peggy’s Picks will take care of all of your souvenir needs.
With the tickets averaging around $550 with advance purchase, hotel coming out to $500 with double occupancy, food cost $70 a day, and the rest going to souvenirs, entertainment, and cab fares. You total cost comes out to around $2000. All of the above suggestions include the bare minimum expenditures, but have been tried and tested. The final result was a relaxing vacation that didn’t cost very much. –Mahalo