How to Enjoy Maui for Less
Vacationing in Maui is truly a once in a lifetime experience and that is if you are lucky. The vegetation is breathtaking, the weather is warm and sunny with a light breeze, and the ocean water feels like bath water. However, airfare, hotels and restaurants are quite expensive and can be out of reach for many. With some flexibility and planning, you can vacation In Maui and here's how.
What are you most looking forward to doing in Maui?
Visit Low Season And Save On Airfare
May, September and October are traditionally low season for Maui. Right now a round-trip, non-stop ticket from Chicago to Maui is $2500 per person for travel at the end of March. The same carrier flying round-trip the first week in December is $1600. While still a lot of money, a $900 savings per person is still significant. With a little advance planning and some flexibility with your dates you may be able to spend even less. We recently went to Maui and paid $800 per person to fly non-stop on United.
Worried about the weather? Don't be. When we were there it rained one day out of eight, and was 80 degrees, sunny and dry the remainder of the the time. The ocean literally was as warm as bath water. The weather was simply spectacular.
Save on Lodging
We were there for eight days and spent one night at The Grand Wailea. The seasonal rate was $400 per night and we got an upgrade to ocean view because the hotel was so empty. We chose this hotel for their pool which is actually several different pools that are connected and that you can swim between. Our room was nicer than my house. We ate lunch by the pool and three burgers, fries and Cokes cost $75 before. We would have loved to have spent our entire stay there but it just wasn't in our budget.
So we spent 7 nights at the Maui Seaside Hotel located in Kahului for only $121 per night for 2 queen beds. An older motel with a retro vibe, it honestly could use a freshening. However, it is clean, the parking is free, there is a swimming pool and a full service restaurant. It is located near the airport and major highways so getting around is easy.
We ate breakfast at the restaurant each day as guests received a complimentary full breakfast. Try the coconut syrup. It is delicious. The staff was very friendly and we had a wonderful stay there. If you're on a budget, like we were, it was a good choice.
Rent A Car
Maui is easily navigable so we rented a car and went exploring. A full-size rental car runs about $250 a week and gas is about $3.30 a gallon. Compare this to Chicago suburbs where gas is about $2.00 a gallon and you can see how much more expensive products are when they are shipped across the Pacific.
Nonetheless, what you give up in gas you will make up in flexibility and savings on tours.
Save On Food
We like trying new foods just as long as it's reasonably priced. Eating out is not a high priority for us so we ordinarily cook our own. Since our hotel restaurant provided a large free breakfast we really only ate one other meal and s snack each day. Our hotel did not have an in-room microwave or other cooking facilities so we made liberal use of the local Whole Foods. Plus it was about a five minute drive from the hotel.
Whole Foods is an upscale grocery store that sells a lot of organic produce and grocery items as well as prepared foods. Though Whole Foods is an expensive grocery store, taking into account our free breakfast, we would pack a lunch for the days outings. Sushi is about $12.50 per person. A family salad is about $18.00. Though bread was $6.00 a loaf we still spent less on sandwiches than we would have at a restaurant.
Free Or Nearly Free Fun
If you're like me, you're going to Hawaii for its natural splendor. Fortunately, there is a lot to do that doesn't cost a lot. Here are a few to get you started:
There are so many great beaches you really can't go wrong. Kapalua Beach, which has calm waters, is perfect for snorkeling and swimming. There are also showers, restrooms and lifeguards.
Kaanapali Beach is located on the southern end of Maui is good for swimmers when the water is calm but is also great for bodysurfing when the surf is up.
Makena Beach, also known as Big Beach, is another great option for swimmers. Don't confuse this with Little Beach which is known for nude sunbathing.
There are plenty of little shops by the beaches where you can rent beach toys and umbrellas or snorkeling gear. Bring your picnic lunch and have a great day.
Journey Down Hana Highway
Famous for breathtaking waterfalls, wild coastline, and lush jungle, Hana Highway is a 52 mile stretch of highway which connects Kahului with Hana in the east. The road is very narrow and winding with 59 bridges 46 of which are only one lane wide. It will take you the entire day to drive to Hana and back so stop for a snack at Twin Falls and drink from a fresh coconut. Take your picnic lunch down one of the many winding paths that line the highway and enjoy your lunch in a tropical rainforest. Bring your suits and take in a dip in a cool pool surrounded by lush vegetation. What could be better?
Though Haleakala means "House of the Sun", visiting it is like exploring the moon. A dormant volcano that makes up 75% of Maui, it is 29,000 acres in size. The peak is at 10,023 feet and houses the visitor's center, where you can get information on camping, biking, hiking and all the programs that are offered. Wear a jacket to the peak because it can be very cold and windy.
Designated a national park in 1961, the entrance fee is minimal. If you have the desire and money, take a bike tour down the volcano for an exhilarating ride.
Iao Valley State Park provides a beautiful day trip activity on Maui. This state park is home to the famous ‘Iao Needle. A 4,000 acre park gives you plenty of space to explore lush scenery and native Hawaiian flora and fauna. The park has plenty of hiking trails, waterfalls, swimming holes, and BBQ and picnic areas.
Open from 7am-7pm, with a $1 donation entrance fee per person, and $5 for parking. For the best view of the ‘Iao Needle, arrive early morning before the clouds start settling in the mountain valley. This is a perfect place on Maui to visit with kids!
Twin Falls is located just a 20 minute drive East from the Historic Town of Paia on Maui’s North Shore. This site is found easily off Hana Highway. An easily navigated path, you visit many different tropical waterfalls and fresh water swimming holes.
All pathways are just dirt and gravel, so bring good walking shoes. The main pathway splits into both a left and right fork. The left fork is the footpath that leads to the most popular waterfall at Twin Falls, "Caveman Swimming Hole and Falls".
Make sure to bring good walking shows, bathing suits and towels, bug spray, if you're prone to mosquito bites, and suntan lotion. Twin Falls is free and there is a cute little snack stand at it's entrance.
This is just a small taste of what Maui has to offer and how you can afford to get there. Safe travels.
© 2015 Chantelle Porter