Money-saving tips for before and during your trip to the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Whether you’re heading to Maui without deep pockets or wishing you could get costs down enough to swing a trip, these tips will help you shave some dollars from your travel budget.
BEFORE YOU GO
Local rentals: At the top of the home page for the Maui News website, you’ll see “Vac Rentals.” If you click on that, you’ll see a list of live links from rental brokers and the condos they offer, starting at $95 per night. I strongly recommend getting a kitchen, which will save a lot in the long run. (And pick up the local papers while you’re there to look for money-saving coupons.) Learn more: MauiNews.com.
Rent a timeshare: You don’t have to buy a timeshare condo to stay in one — and they are very convenient, family-friendly and well-stocked. I recommend the Timeshare Users Group vacation rental site. You don’t have to join the group to look at the rentals available, and you rent directly from owners at a significant savings. Look for the purple button on the page that says “Rentals.” Double-check that the advertisers are actually the real owners, maybe by calling the resort, though people who belong to this site probably are. Learn more: Tug2.net.
Try to go offseason: Hawaii’s slower seasons generally run February–May and September–December (except for times like spring break and Thanksgiving). It’s not because that’s a bad time to be there, but rather that the snowbirds have gone home and school is back in session. You can save considerably on lodging and airfare. If there’s a resort you have in mind, call the reservations desk directly and ask them when their slowest season is.
Bonus miles: Sign up for airline alerts and check your frequent-flier points. I’ve been hoarding American Express member points forever, and I just realized that I now have enough to take both of my kids on Hawaiian Airlines if we go offseason in May.
Consider getting a Hawaiian Airlines credit card. I cringe writing this because it won’t save you any money if you don’t pay it off every month. The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard gives you 35,000 bonus HawaiianMiles if you spend at least $1,000 on it in the first 90 days. And you get a one-time 50 percent-off companion ticket, too. The annual fee is $89, so factor that into your decision.
Look for other gateways: You may be able to save money by flying out of a nearby city. If you have more time than money, check out Portland and Vancouver before you buy and see if you can save.
SAVE ON THE GROUND
Search for deals: A reader recommended Maui Tickets For Less, which offers discounts on luaus, snorkeling trips, ATV tours, golfing, sightseeing, pretty much anything you want to do there. Peruse the offerings at maui ticketsforless.com or call 855-268-0387. Address: 181 Lahainaluna Road, Unit G, Lahaina; local phone, 808-856-3500.
Eat in: Expect to be thunderstruck by the cost of groceries, but keep in mind how far they have to travel to get there. If you belong to Costco, note that there’s one near the airport. However, don’t buy more food than you need just because it’s Costco, or you’ll end up leaving it behind.
In addition to food, check look for discounts for local restaurants and events. I’m looking at the Maui page now at Costco.com/hawaii-tickets.html and it includes golf for two for $149, a dinner sail for $70, a Maui Theatre $100 gift card for $70 and more. In addition to the online offerings, expect to find more savings in the store. Note: There’s also a gas station, food court and pharmacy here: 540 Haleakala Highway, Kahului; 808-877-5241.
If you don’t want the hassle of grocery shopping but you want food to appear magically in your room, consider the Maui Grocery Service. Starting at $39, with a $5 off coupon for the first order, it will stock your room for you before you get there. You can choose from 5,000 items. Learn more here: Mauigroceryservice.com
Bring your own gear: Look at stores like Costco for snorkel equipment, which might be worth bringing in your suitcase, or call the Maui store and see if you can buy it there. Then, you can snorkel without having to rent gear.
Watch parking: Parking in Maui can be costly. If you’re driving to an activity, make sure to ask the company ahead of time where you can park for free. And, if you can’t, maybe consider another option.
Just relax: I’m guilty of this, too, but don’t overbook your time in advance with so many pricey things to do that you’re rushing from one to another. It’s Hawaii. Relax. There’s very little that you can’t book on the fly.