Is Maui expensive?  Yes.  Can you travel Maui on a budget?  Absolutely.  Just because you are traveling to an expensive place doesn’t mean that you have to spend your life savings.  There are ways to save money while traveling Maui without having to sacrifice the experience.  I am a frugal person by nature but I know when and what to splurge for.

Maui on a budget

*I have sprinkled some affiliate links in this post that gives me a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decided to make a purchase. All proceeds go to keep Jess traveling and coffee ☕️.  I thank you in advance.

How to Travel Maui on a Budget

flights

Getting to Hawaii in general is expensive.  I mean the Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated island chains in the world what do you expect, but if you keep a look out you can get some great deals.  Southwest Airlines has recently started flying to the Hawaiian Islands and offer cheaper prices to get here and also inner island.  Airlines like Hawaiian, American and Delta all fly direct to Maui.  Bye bye connecting through Oah’u 👋.

I always use Skyscanner to search for my flights. Skyscanner is great if you are flexible and/or want to find the cheapest way possible.  Pick your departing city and destination and choose to search based on cheapest month.  Voila you’ve gotten your flight.

Other sites I like to check when looking for flights are Kayak, Momondo and email’s from Scott’s Cheap Flights.

View Kapalua Bay Beach on Maui

when to go

When is the best time to travel to Maui?  Honestly there’s never a bad time to vacation on Maui.  An average temperature of 80 degrees all year round is one of the many perks and positives of living in Hawaii.

Are there preferred months to travel…yes.  Whale season runs mid December to mid May.  When I have friends or family that are planning to visit me, I always tell them to come during whale season.

Every year thousands of humpback whales begin the trek from frigid Alaska to the warm shallow waters of Hawaii to have their young.  Going on a whale watch is a real treat and something I would want to specifically travel to Maui for.

The holiday season (Thanksgiving,  Christmas and New Years) also coincides with whale season and the busiest time in the islands.  Being the busiest also means that accommodations are more expensive at this time.  If you want to see whales but stick to Maui on a budget I’d recommend coming in February or March.   A negative to coming during these months is rain, it rains more in these months than any others.

Winter months are pleasant to visit.  Winter in Hawaii is guaranteed to better than where you came from.  If you plan on coming during the winter, even tho it’s Hawaii don’t forget to pack a light jacket and pants.  It does get cold on Hawaii especially at the summit of Haleakala.  Last year it snowed on top and stuck for on the ground for days.

Summer time you can find cheaper accommodations and flights.  Lahaina in Hawaiian is translated as cruel merciless sun so prepare for summer temperatures to be in the mid 90’s and no shade when you are cruising around town.

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    Jeep on a black rock beach on Maui

    getting around

    Maui’s transportation system is very limited so renting a car is necessary.  This is an expense you can’t cut out.  Driving around the island with the top off of your rented Jeep Wrangler is touristy but super fun.  Driving around West Maui or the road to Hana, one of Maui’s top attractions are best experienced when you have your own four wheels.

    Traveling with another couple or with a group of 4 through Maui can help cut a lot of costs.  Splitting the vehicle and hotels 4 ways cuts down two of the most expensive expenses drastically.

    Camp Olowalu cabins on Maui Hawaii

    Where to Stay in Maui on a Budget

    One of the biggest expense you will occur while traveling through the Hawaiian Islands is the cost of housing.  Of course it would be wonderful to live luxurious for the week that you’re here but sometimes the budget rules.

    Airbnb’s

    Airbnb’s are usually cheaper than hotels and come with a kitchen.  This way you can cook some meals in and save money instead of eating out.  Check out what’s available here.

    READ:  Where to Stay in Maui on a Budget for a longer list

    Camping

    If you really want to cut down the cost of hotels, camping is a great option when traveling around Maui.  There are a handful of campgrounds around the island that will cost about $25 dollars a night to rent a spot in a campground for the night.

    Wai'napanapa State Park
    On the iconic black sand beach has camp grounds and cabins.
    Haleakala National Park
    Where the famous Pipiwai Trail starts.

    Not into renting your own gear?  Stay in your own tentalow at Olowalu Camp.  Image a tent and a bungalow have a child, voila the Tentalow.  This is a great option if you want a privacy and do without the resort atmosphere.  Each tentalow comes with 2 twin beds, a sink, solar powered lights, open closet space and a private outdoor shower.  The bathrooms are campground style but assigned 2 tentalows per bathroom so you’ll only be sharing with a 2-4 people.

    Check out my Stay ↓

    Staying at Camp Olowalu

    Hotels

    If staying in West Maui these are great budget options.

    Maui Garden Oasis
    The Royal Lahaina
    I love the stretch of beach that this resort sits on.  Has a small pool and bar on sight but you come here to lounge on the beach which is never busy.  This is one of the oldest resorts on Maui.
    Napili Kai Beach Resort
    Located on the beautiful Napili Bay which has world class snorkeling.  The Sea House Restaurant has one of the best happy hours on the island.

    Great Maui budget options in South Maui.

    Maui Coast Hotel
    Renovated and great location in the middle of Kihei across from Kam Beach Park.  Outdoor pool and hot tubs on site.  Walkable to the beach. Great value.

    Upcountry Maui is a term that is used to describe the area on the Haleakala side of Maui away from the shoreline.  Stay here for cheaper accommodations, if not the night before you hike through Haleakala Crater.  You’ll get an early start with less of a drive.

    Kula Star Dome
    Glamping to another level.  This luxury tent has lets you sleep under the stars with unobstructed views.  Comes with many amenities like breakfast and showers.  You won’t be able to get closer to the stars if you tried.

    Hana town in East Maui has limited options due to its size and distance from the rest of Maui.

    Aina Kupuna
    Great location for this jungle oasis.  Equipped with amenities for the beach this one bedroom place has a kitchen and parking.  Perfect for a night or 2 while you explore the surrounding area.

    Find out about the pros and cons of each area of the island and where to stay in the detailed guide below.

    food & drinks

    Food along with everything else on Maui is expensive.  An easy and fun way to stick to Maui on a budget is by searching for happy hours.

    Of course buying food from the grocery store and preparing your own meals will save you money.  Buying at the local Farmers Market will be the cheapest, freshest produce around.

     

    best happy hours ↓

    FLEETWOODS

    • $1.25 Oysters
    • Half off all beer & wine
    • Live Music
    • Variety of food on the pupu menu
    • On Friday’s all day happy hour at the only rooftop bar in Lahaina.

    DOWN THE HATCH

    • Longest happy hour on Maui
    • 15% off all appetizers
    • Aloha drinks (Mai Tai’s, Pina Coladas etc) on special
    • Live music

    THREES

    • Huge selection of pupu’s on the happy hour menu including sushi.
    • $4 Margaritas & Mai Tai’s
    • They also have a late night happy hour

    THE SEAHOUSE

    • Cheap wine
    • Lots of choices for food and for $7 and under
    • Beautiful view over looking Napili Bay
    • Outside seating

    MONKEYPOD

    • They have a regular and a reverse happy hour.
    • The poke tacos are out of this world
    • Huge selection of beer
    • Flatbread pizzas 😋

    Cheap Tasty Eats ↓

    Mai Tylers at Fleetwoods on Front Street, Lahaina Maui
    Star Noodle restaurant in Lahaina Maui
    Seahouse happy hour in Napili Maui-2
    Prison Street Pizza a cheap restaurant in Lahaina

    nightlife

    Unfortunately Maui doesn’t have much of a night life.  I’m not complaining but a lot of people I meet that are visiting Maui are always surprised at the lack of bars and clubs to go at night.

    Most restaurants close at 10 pm and since I am writing this post in June a lot of bars and restaurants are still closed due to the 14 day quarantine imposed on travelers coming from over seas or the mainland.

    When it is safe to travel again here are some of my favorite bars that offer great nightly specials and a fun atmosphere.

    Maui on a budget

    activities to do in maui on a budget

    What you do on your trip to Maui is what traveling is about.  Of course there are high ticket items like taking a helicopter ride to view the islands from above or night diving with the manta rays on the Big Island.  But there are also lots of affordable activities that are much more pleasing to your wallet.

    • Surfing – $85 for group lessons
    • Sunsets/Sunrises – FREE
    • Hiking – At most $30 for the entrance fee into Haleakala National Park or use your National Parks Annual Pass
    • Beach days – FREE.  All the beaches in Hawaii are open to the public so you have plenty to pick from.
    • Snorkel – $12-$18 a day for mask & fin rental
    • Chase waterfalls – FREE.  Although places like Twin Falls kindly accept donations. 
    • Paddle boarding – $50 board rental
    • Cliff jumping – FREE
    • Kayaking – $65 kayak rental
    • Go on a Whale Watch
    Napili Bay with a palm tree hanging over the beach

    Traveling Maui on a budget tips in a nutshell:

    • Buy a National Park pass, if you follow my 7, 10, or 14 day Maui itinerary you’ll be visiting Haleakala National Park 2 or 3 times so getting the park pass basically pays for itself.
    • Tap water is safe to drink.  Bring a hydro-flask or reusable water bottle to fill up with water at your hotel or the sink.
    • Traveling with a group of 4 splits vehicle and hotel costs 4 ways
    • Search for happy hours, eat, drink, enjoy, repeat.
    • Search for flights based on whole month and be flexible on the days that you leave and return.
    • Buy reef safe sunscreen for less before you land.

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    How to Travel Maui on a Budget with I''m Jess Traveling
    How to Travel Maui on a Budget with I''m Jess Traveling
    How to Travel Maui on a Budget with I''m Jess Traveling