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Maui on a budget

Believe it or not, it is possible to vacation in Maui on a budget. Let's face it, anyway you go it won't be cheap but here are some tips to not bust your wallet. Generally, you can get a cheaper rate on airfare by using an airline which specializes in flights to the islands.

Rent a condo

There are quite a few condos for those looking for staying on Maui on a budget. The best area I have found in Honokawai, just north of Lahaina. We stayed at the Kaleialoha condos and it was quite reasonable (in 2004 - $125 a night) compared to the hotels just down the road at $350+ per night. Also, having the kitchen area saves a lot on eating. I also felt I didn't eat as much as when we stayed at the hotels, which have way too many all you can eat options! This was fourth floor with a great view of the ocean and beach access. It wasn't the Ritz, but we only were in the room to eat and sleep. Another bonus was that the condo was fully stocked with utensils, coolers, menus of the closest places to eat and even 2 good sized boogie boards under the bed! See to the right for the view from the balcony of the condo we rented.

Bring supplies

Bring your own snack and food items. Don't bring fresh fruits or vegtables as they will likely be confiscated (dried fruits are ok). Go to the store and think of all the non-perishable things you like to eat and stuff them in your suitcases. This will save you money since everything is expensive on Maui (most items must be imported) and it also makes space for bringing things back. We packed all the diapers we needed for a 7 day trip and a lot of snacks and had room to bring back christmas gifts for everyone in our famalies.

Where to shop

The cheapest places to buy items for yourself or family members are ABC stores and Hilo Hattie. Be cautious as some stores have very high prices counting on impulse buying and being in the right location.

Maui condo view
Maui condo view

Where to eat

First I would say snack a lot and avoid getting overcharged by not planning. We had one good outside meal a day on most days, but found that relaxing by ourselves over some Kung Pao chicken takeout and watching the sunset on the balcony was great. There are your normal places to eat on the island that you will recognize (Pizza Hut, etc.). There are places that serve good food (not fast food) that are not that expensive if you look for them. There was a small take out deli in the strip mall in Honokawai (across for the beach park) that was pretty good and offered a wide variety of food. Also, in Lahaina near the library was a small cafe that was not very obvious from the road, but also quite good. You will have to look around in your area when you arive to spot these places, but be warned that the majority of these family run or small establishments only take cash and not checks (including travelers checks) or credit cards. I guess there is just too much fraud.

Rent a car

You will have to have a way to get around while on Maui as there are so many things to see on the island. Also, the cost of a rental car is much less that the cost of taking a family of four on a guided tour bus up to Haleakala.

Free things to do

Obviously there is swimming, surfing, and snorkeling. Those are the three reasons I went and I spent 90% of my time doing that. There are also a large number of hiking areas on Maui with free access, particularly at Iao Valley and on the road to Hana. On the way to Iao Valley area you can stop at the plantation and tour some of the areas for free and also the cultural exhibits in the park prior to entry into Iao Valley are interesting offer a place to cool off from a hot day and are a good place for a family picnic.

Cheap things to do

You have to pay an admission fee to get into Haleakala, but it is certainly worth it. The drive is great if the weather cooperates and can yield some amazing pictures. There are also a number of hiking trails and two visitors area (one at the entrance and one on the summit). Check out the Haleakala page on this site for more info. Also worth it is the Maui Ocean Center.

If you want to splurge on one thing, then I would suggest making it a good Luau, as this is a real experience of food, dancing, and culture that is quite entertaining. 2005. All Rights Reserved.