This is the first in a series we will now run on “Doing Travel on a Budget”.
The island of Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Known as the “Valley Isle,” Maui is dotted with quaint towns, artist communities and local favorites that have been around for generations. From shimmering beaches and sacred Iao Valley to migrating humpback whales and sunset on Haleakala, it’s not surprising Maui was voted the “Best Island” by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler for more than twenty years.
Determine how you’ll get around
Once you land on Maui, will you be renting a car or taking the bus? You can get a Maui Bus Pass for just a few bucks a day, and it does stop at the airport (among other popular spots on the island). You won’t get the option of exploring as much if you just have the bus pass, so keep that in mind.
If you’re going to rent a car, consider an economy car instead of a 4WD. Everyone wants the 4WD so you’ll pay a premium for it. Unless you plan on off-roading (in a rental vehicle? Eek!), 2WD should be fine. Don’t skimp on the insurance, though! Check with your insurance company before you leave home, to see if they will cover your rental. Usually if you have full coverage back home, rental cars will be covered as well.
Plan, plan, plan
When you’re planning your Maui vacation on a budget, make a long list of things you’d like to do, places you want to see, and of course popular tourist attractions that everyone loves if that’s your type of thing. As you get closer to actually visiting Hawaii, your list can get chopped down to your favorites. Map everything out so you know where one stop is in relation to the next. Creating a plan will save you time, money, and headaches.
Because you’ll be on vacation, it’s also important to understand that things do come up. Traffic gets crazy. There are road closures. Having a long list of things you want to do while on the island can make your stay less stressful, because you’ll always have a backup plan.
Avoid tourist traps
Some tourist spots are okay because they are parks, or beaches, and completely free. But other tourist spots like luaus get expensive… fast! You can easily pay $100 for one luau. Visit Whaler’s Village for free lei making classes, hula classes, and live music at night. Check the website for their complete schedule.
Book your lodging carefully
When you start planning your vacation, ask around to see if any friends or family members have timeshares or condos on Maui. You’d be surprised at what you’ll find if you start planning early enough! In Hawaii, food is very expensive, so booking a condo rather than a hotel room is one way to save quite a bit of cash. If you calculate 3 meals a day, multiply that by $15-$25 per person, you’ve definitely blown your budget rather quickly! While grocery stores aren’t going to be super inexpensive options – it is Hawaii, after all – stocking up on snacks, drinks, and quick meal options will save you a lot of money.
Must-sees that won’t break the bank!
The Banyan Tree is the size of a city block and nearly 60ft high!
Snorkeling is one of the most affordable things to do in Maui! You can rent snorkels for just a few bucks!
Haleakala National Park is home to the world’s largest dormant volcano, and some of the most beautiful waterfalls you’ll ever see!
The Road to Hana is one of the most scenic highways in Hawaii. This highway is one good reason to rent a car!
Whale watching in Hawaii is one of those things you have to do if you’re visiting during mating season. Whales migrate from Alaska, to mate in the warm waters Hawaii offers. Whales arrive in the winter and head back to Alaska in the summer; peak whale watching season in Hawaii is during February and March. Whales can be spotted by land, if you don’t want to shell out the cash for a whale watching tour. I did some research to find the best place to whale watch from land. I found that McGregor Point (at mile marker 9 on Highway 30) is the spot to catch a glimpse of the whales migrating, anywhere from December through April. Another good spot is Papawai Scenic Lookout.