I have wanted a dreamy Hawaiian vacation ever since I was a little girl. My mom was flipping through channels on the tv one day when I was quite young and paused on a commercial featuring the beautiful islands – I’ve been hooked since. I was lucky enough to go last year… the trip didn’t quite meet my ridiculously high expectations. Everything that could go wrong did. And I think part of my problem was that I did a ton of research on all of the cool things I wanted to see and do and made a crazy to keep schedule and ended up being disappointed when we didn’t get to do most things. This year was different, I had no real expectations other than a relaxing vacation and it turned out to be my favourite trip to date.
**Be warned. I had a super hard time sifting through the gagillion pictures we took and want to share a bunch with you – feel free to skim & scroll through if you’ve already been or aren’t really interested. But those of you who would like to go and don’t know much about the island of Maui, I am putting together a series of posts to help you plan a trip there. This post focuses on what to do while staying on a budget. I’ll do another post on a few things we did spend money on and of course there will be a post on Maui eats =D Stay tuned for these!
Flights to Maui
If you’re lucky like me and happen to live on the west coast, the flight isn’t so far and you can find deals. Alaskan Airlines frequently has seat sales and I kept my eye out and snagged some inexpensive seats. It also helps if you travel during the winter months as the peak and more expensive times to visit are spring and summer. And if you sign up for a mileage plan with the airline, you can take advantage of the Companion Fare Discount allowing you to take a friend on a flight for $99. I haven’t actually tried this out, but a friend swears by it.
Accommodations in Maui
I have talked about this before, but I’ll talk about it again. I seriously love using Airbnb. It is such a great service and is so much less expensive than booking a hotel. I’ve used it several times, have saved a ton and have never been disappointed. This time around, we rented an entire house for ourselves in the central part of the island, up in the mountains and loved every second of it. I compared the price we paid to hotels and we saved hundreds. I also picked a place in a town called Haiku, which is far enough away from the touristy areas and beaches that we got to experience true island life. It was quiet, relaxed bliss.
We spent our first afternoon & evening lounging around
Sunset from our lanai
We had an easy time keeping a budget here. Many people I know told me of the really cool adventures in Hawaii, like taking a cruise around the island, scuba diving, zip lining, ATV’ing, etc. But we thought we would just drive around and find things on our own. And did we ever! I will mention that my friend Lizzie lent us her Maui Revealed book and it was a great thing to have with us so we knew where to go looking.
We started our adventure on the Road to Hana. It is a great day trip to drive along the coast and see some amazing sights.
My tips: Rent a compact car as the roads are super narrow and you have to negotiate with other drivers when it narrows to one lane. Bring some cash as a lot of places don’t take credit. Wear sunscreen! The sun is blazing hot. Bring lots of water as you dehydrate quickly. And be sure to bring some hand sanitizer as a lot of public washrooms don’t have soap. There are dozens of turnouts along the way so you can stop and explore & take pictures. If you miss one, don’t get discouraged, there are a lot and many have gorgeous views.
View from a bluff
My hair shows the humidity by late morning ;p
Wai’anapanapa State Park Beach
The Seven Sacred Pools (part of Haleakala National Park)
Day 3 brought us to the Haleakala Crater. It’s a 10,000 foot elevation on a windy (but smooth!) road. It doesn’t take long to get up and the views are amazing. My tip – bring a *ton* of water and some snacks. I got symptoms of altitude sickness (nausea, headache, dizziness) and had to guzzle back a few bottles of water to feel ok. A full stomach really does help in this case. Budget-friendly tip: Save your receipt from this park or when you go to the Seven Sacred Pools. It’s a $10 entrance fee for the parks, but you can reuse it for up to 3 days within anything considered part of the park. So if you visit the crater and sacred pools within a few days of each other, you’ll only have to pay one entrance fee.
Nothing beats feeling like you’re up in the clouds…
Terry is smart with hat & sunglasses… I could have saved me some sunstroke :/
Day 4 lead us to the Iao Needle. Very picturesque with mountains and waterfalls all in one setting. And you can’t beat the $5 parking fee!
Although I don’t have any non-food pictures of a half day trip in Paia, I highly recommend it. It is a super cute little town with fun shops for souvenir buying. Check out several stores before committing to your purchases as you may find the same item cheaper elsewhere. It was one of my favourite things we did.
We also checked out a town party in Makawao, which was free. They had local artists set up with handcrafts and food trucks with inexpensive food. It was a fun night!
That’s it for the sights on a budget. Stay tuned for Maui food and ways to spend money.