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On my first visit to the Garden Isle, also known as the beautiful island of Kuaui, I was pleasantly surprised by its beauty and simplicity.  As someone who has only been to Oahu on my Hawaiian island adventures, I thought Kuaui was beautiful and well worth a visit.

Although I only stayed for about three days, I was able to go around the whole island and see the Napali coast.  Kuaui is famous for the beautiful Napali coast and the Napali coast hike.

Here are some ways in which you can save money on your next trip to the Garden Isle:

Save on Accommodation

One thing I found apparent when we were researching places to stay in Kuaui in comparison to Oahu is that the condos and hotels in Kuaui are expenive in comparison to Oahu and Waikiki.  To be honest there wasn’t much selection.  There are a few popular places to stay on Kuaui, Poipu in the souhern part of the island is probably the most popular place to stay, then Princeville in the northern part of the island.  Because we were coming in on a late flight, we chose Lihue (on the eastern part of the island) because it was only about a 10-15 minute drive from the airport.  We were happy with Lihue because it was in the middle of the island and allowed us easy access to other parts of the island.

Related: Backpacking and Hostels

Instead of booking through hotel booking sites like Kayak, Trivago, Expedia, and Orbitz (which showed average hotel costs to be well over $200 a night) we looked on VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and Homeaway.  We found a lovely studio unit that was about $120 a night and included a very basic kitchenette.

Save on Meals

Lihue is very close to the Walmart (the Walmart is about 5 minutes away from the airport) and we were able to load up in basic groceries including yogurt and some juice (and wine haha) to save money on some meals.  We made bagel and cream cheese with ham for some breakfasts and lunches.

There are some good food trucks on the island, we had fish tacos for $11 per plate and it was very filling.  There is also a decent garlic shrimp place in Waimea area on your way to the canyon or Polihai.

Related: How To Get Cheap Airfare

Save on Car Rental

We saved on the car rental by paying through points with my RBC Avion card (basically did not have to pay for anything, it included car rental insurance).  We chose the cheapest option (a 2 door option) but were pleasantly surprised because they upgraded us to a larger car for free!

Save on Activities and Sightseeing

Basically if you have a car, you are good to go.  The “Grand Canyon of Hawaii” is beautiful especially on a clear day.  It is quite a stomach churning car ride to get there (it was either that or my boyfriend’s driving 😉 ) because the road is very wind-y but the scenic point is beautiful.

Related: Tips on Budgeting During A Holiday

Also, some of the beaches we visited and really liked included Shipwreck Beach (there’s a 20 foot cliff to jump off if you’re the daring type), Polihali beach on the eastern coast (the longest beach on the Hawaiian islands) which required a 15-20 minute drive along a gravel unpaved road (shhhhh, don’t tell the car rental company as the insurance may be void if they find that you go on the road), and the Napali coast day hike from Ke’e beach to the first beach (and furthest point you can go) before you require a permit for camping on the Napali coast.

We went on a zodiac or raft tour of the Napali coast.  It was 5.5 hours and $125 per person but it included lunch and drinks and was worth it.  We saw whales, dolphins swimming in the ocean, sea turtles, and of course (but not guaranteed as it is dependent on the weather, we were very lucky) the beautiful Napali coast.  The 3000 ft + Napali coast was very majestic and it was a great opportunity to be able to do the Napali coast by foot (a little of it anyway) and to see it from the ocean.  We did the raft tour through Kuaui Sea Adventures and were pleased with the tour, the captain and crew were laid back and were evidently very passionate about the Napali coast, or their backyard, as they call it.

Readers, have you been to Kuaui?  Are there any free or frugal activities that you enjoyed?

Article comments

1 comment
Tim says:

Kauai not Kuaui but hey no matter how you spell it, it is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.

When you say Kauai on the cheap one of the things that immediately comes to mind is the insane amount of things that you can do in this island for free if you like to hike and experience the outdoors. I recently returned from an 11 days vacation there and did some truly breathtaking hikes. All of which I would put in the novice to intermediate difficulty level. The Sleeping Giant hike (Nounou trail), Kuilau Trail, Waimea Canyon trail, kalalau trail to Hanakapei Falls and the shipwreck beach trail offered some of the most amazing views and diverse plant life I have seen and all completely free. Then there are the beaches, public markets and free shows like the Hula show at the Coconut Market Place in Kapa’a. Another inexpensive super fun and easy experience was renting bicycles ($10 per bike) and riding them along the boardwalk La Ala Hele Makalae near Kapa’a. Finally if you are going to do any other sailing experiences with Holo Holo charters there at gift certificates at Costco that you pay $80 and get $100. We saved $120 on our sail and snorkel day trip for four! Great post guys!