Top 10 Ways to Plan a Budget-Friendly Vacation to Oahu - Marina Hawaii Vacations

Top 10 Ways to Plan a Budget-Friendly Vacation to Oahu

Author 05-22-2024

For many, a Hawaiian vacation is a bucket list trip that sometimes feels unattainable, especially if you’re on a budget. But what if there was a way to visit without breaking the bank?

We want to offer you some tips on how and when to book your vacation rental and how to find affordable things to do while you’re here to explore Oahu. Our top 10 ways to plan your budget-friendly vacation to Oahu will have you ready to pack your bags in no time! Read on and start dreaming of your perfect Hawaiian getaway today!

Honolulu from Diamond Head Peak

1. Utilize the Oahu City Bus

Renting a car is expensive, often costing a couple hundred dollars for a week’s visit. Oahu’s award-winning public transportation system, TheBus, makes getting around the island easy and affordable. With daily caps of $7.50 and reloadable fair cards, you can zip around to all the major areas in their air-conditioned buses and light rail trains.

View their routes and map out your visit before you arrive to save time during your stay. Utilizing the bus means even if you do need a car, you may not need one for the entire visit, saving you tons of money you can put toward more fun activities.

2. Make Food at Home

A lot of people underestimate the cost of food on the island. You can easily drop a large portion of your budget just on meals. For a cheaper way to feed the family, skip hotels and opt for a vacation rental so you have access to a kitchen.

Then, visit a local grocery store and stock up on some staples. From simple breakfast items to easy lunches, eating at home is a great way to make your Oahu vacation more affordable.

3. Free Activities

Take advantage of the incredible free activities on Oahu when you visit! The International Market Place is a great place to start. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays you can enjoy a free hula show.

If you’re visiting over the 3rd Thursday of the month, you can take their free Lei-Making Class! On Friday nights, head to the Barefoot Beach Café for an affordable and delicious dinner, where you’ll be treated to a prime viewing of the Hilton resort’s weekly fireworks show.

4. Spend Time Outside

In addition to free activities around the island, the absolute most popular free thing to do is a given: visit some of the stunning beaches Oahu offers! As one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, taking time to visit the famed shores of Waikiki Beach is a no-brainer.

Pack a picnic and enjoy a day full of snorkeling, floating, and lounging in the sun. Other cheap things to do in Oahu include the island’s many hikes and waterfall trails, which deliver spectacular views and offer opportunities to fully immerse yourself in the brilliant surroundings.

Waikiki beach with Diamond Head in distance

5. Luau with a Free Perk

Luaus are a fun way to indulge all your senses and enjoy some classic Hawaiian culture during your stay. From the feast to the live show, it’s an action-packed experience that’s quintessentially “Hawaiian,” making it a must-do for most visitors. But luaus can be pretty pricey, too. One way to work this activity into your affordable vacation to Oahu, Hawaii, is to attend the Toa Luau, where you not only get an incredible show but also free entry to privately owned Waimea Valley!

Book the afternoon show and arrive early to enjoy a hike to Waimea Falls, where you can swim in the beautiful natural pool under the thundering cascade. The afternoon option is great for families traveling with small children since the time difference from the mainland US means it will feel much later than it actually is. Plus, if you’re taking advantage of public transportation, getting back from North Shore is still easy at 4:00 PM when the show ends.

6. Date Night at the Beach

For a picture-perfect date night, visit a local supermarket for some phenomenal poke (sometimes better than what you’d find at a fancy restaurant) and a bottle of wine. Then, head to the beach, where you can listen to the waves roll in and watch a spectacular sunset.

7. Farmer’s Markets and Local Events

Before traveling to Oahu, research some of the most popular neighborhoods and scope out any community events that will be taking place during your stay. From street festivals to farmers markets, wandering the local communities of the island is a great and affordable thing to do on your Hawaiian vacation. If you’re staying in one of our Marina Hawaii Vacations rental properties, check out our Oahu area guide for recommended local happenings.

8. Culture on a Dime

Aside from luaus and hula shows, you can learn all about the rich Hawaiian culture for barely any money at all when you visit local museums. At the Iolani Palace, you can take an audio tour for $26.95 (discounts for military and children), where you’ll learn all about the Hawaiian Monarchy during the 19th century. As the only official royal palace in the United States, it’s a can’t-miss.

The Bishop Museum is another cheap activity near Honolulu, with tickets starting at $33.95 (discounts for military, seniors, and children). There are also frequent promo codes that offer additional money off your entry fee. This museum houses the most extensive collection of Hawaiian and Pacific cultural artifacts in the world. You can spend all day learning about the traditions that are still alive on the island today.

9. Mural Walk

For a fun experience that won’t cost a penny, head to Kaka’ako, a colorful neighborhood full of vibrant murals everywhere you look. Each year, exceptional artists from all around the world visit Oahu for the POW! WOW! Hawaii festival, where they showcase their talents and paint fresh new pieces throughout the community. As you stroll the streets, admire the detail in each work from both local artists and international as well. Wear your most fun outfit and snap Insta-worthy pictures to commemorate your trip.

10. Book Directly with a Property Manager

bedroom of vacation rental in Oahu

The BIGGEST cost-saving thing you can do when planning an affordable vacation to Oahu is booking a vacation rental with a property manager versus getting a hotel or something through Airbnb. Not only do you get more for your money, thanks to things like usable kitchens and on-site laundry facilities. But you also still get all the amenities of a hotel, like a pool, a gym, and a prime location.

At Marina Hawaii Vacations, you can choose from rentals in some of the top areas in Oahu and find a property that’s perfect for your family. Plus, when you book directly with us, you get access to incredible promotions! Don’t forget to ask for a coupon book at the front desk when you check in!

To make travel even more affordable, consider booking in the off-season and checking out free services like Going, which sends email alerts of extremely low-priced airplane tickets. By utilizing these tips, you’ll be on your way to planning a budget-friendly Oahu vacation in no time. And remember, when you’re ready, check out our available properties and book directly with Marina Hawaii Vacations!