Oahu On A Budget

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When people think of Waikiki and Oahu, they rarely think of “budget vacation”.  Instead, they think of palm trees, the world famous Waikiki beach, and beautiful turquoise water.  There are a few ways in which you can save money on your next trip to Oahu, and I'll share some with you.  Hopefully these tips will help you on your next trip.

Save Money on Accomodation

My boyfriend and I spent a ton of time looking for cheap accomodation.  We poured through tons of VRBO.com websites, Homeaway.com websites, including Expedia and Orbitz.  We also looked at some accommodation from their websites directly.  We settled on booking directly with a hotel that was about 10-15 minutes walk from the beach and it had a kitchenette, a city view, and a king bed!  It was a “2 star” hotel and definitely “basic” but it was great even though it was “no frills”.  What more do you need?  You'll be spending very little time in the hotel/ condo anyways.  It was $100 per night cheaper than the 3 star hotels available.

Potential Savings: $700

Save Money on Your Car Rental and Parking

Instead of paying per day with cash for a car rental, I used my RBC Avion points to rent a car for two days in a 9 day stay. You can find a shuttle to get to the Waikiki area for $22 USD per person return.  Instead of getting a car for the whole time you are in Waikiki (not necessary in my opinion) just intersperse your “car days” throughout your vacation.  And don't book 2 days in a row (because you'll be looking for $20 USD per night parking).  Instead, return the car back to the car agency at 8:30pm (often when most car rental return places close).

Potential savings: $100-500 depending on how many days you want a car

Save Money on Your Meals

Eating out three times a day definitely eats a large hole into your budget.  A breakfast can cost at least $10 USD per person (with juice, and your breakfast entree) and if you stay for a week, this is $70 per person just for break.fast.  Instead, look for a place to stay with a kitchenette, a full stove would be ideal.  Bacon and eggs, granola with yogurt, and juice and coffee are more within your reach.  Grocery stores that are reasonably priced just about 15 minutes walk from the Waikiki strip include Don Quijoto's and Walmart (both are near the Ala Moana shopping mall).

Also, if you grab the “This Week in Oahu” brochures (just keep an eye out for the flyers/ and pamphlets on the street, there are a lot of coupons in those books where you can save money on meals and lunches.

The King's Village area (right beside the Hyatt) has a Farmer's Market gettogether in the evenings.  We found a great salad with avocado, an egg, carrots, and romain lettuce for $5USD

Potential savings: $140 for two people on a week stay in Oahu if you skip breakfast, $250 for two people if you make breakfast at home and if you have a salad a few times during your stay (better for the waistline that way anyway).

Save Money on Your Activities

If you're looking to experience everything you can while you're in Oahu, a Go Oahu card might be a good option.  I will warn you though it might be tiring but well worth it if you're looking to see as much as you can.  The Go Oahu card comes in 1, 2, or 3 day options.

The North Shore is “free” and just requires a car rental.  The garlic shrimp is absolutely delicious and well worth the $13 USD a plate.  The beaches on the East Oahu shore are breathtaking, including my favourite beaches, Lanikai and Kailua (soft, white sand beach with turquoise waters and pillowy soft sand).

We spent a few days just “beach hopping” while we had the car and it was fantastic, every beach has a different experience and feel.  The best thing about beach hopping is that it was free!

Also, on Friday nights at the Hilton Hawaiian village, there is a free fireworks show starting at about 7:45pm in the evening.  Just  come early to grab a spot as it seating space can fill up quickly.

Potential savings: $100-200.

Readers, how do you save money while you are vacationing in the beautiful island of Oahu?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

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