How to Hawaii on a Budget: Our Dream Honeymoon

Our Hawaii Honeymoon

It’s true – Hawaii is beautiful. What you see in the pictures doesn’t even do it justice. There’s nature everywhere from mountains, clear ocean water, and big palm trees; you’re surrounded everywhere you go. Surprisingly, Hawaii is also huge. It’s made up of several islands. We chose to go to Oahu specifically so that we could see Waikiki, North Shore, and Honolulu. What inspired our trip to Hawaii was actually the show, Hawaii 5-0. Seeing shots of the scenery made us want to experience some of that beauty ourselves.

We’ve always heard that Hawaii is expensive. And it is. But it has actually gotten a lot more affordable. Before, a flight to Hawaii was at least $1,000 (depending on where you were traveling from, of course). But recently, there was an effort to make travel to Hawaii cheaper so flights are now half the price they used to be.

Because we never truly celebrated our honeymoon, we decided to go all out. We saved and we deserved it. You know I’m all about a well-deserved self-care trip! So I’m sharing the details of our trip, which includes upgrades and “expensive” experiences, but this isn’t a one-sized fits all. You don’t have to break the bank; you can go to Hawaii on a budget.

Travel to Hawaii

Flights

Google Flights is amazing because it shows you all of the available flights based on price, number of stops, and airlines. You can also play around with the dates to see which ones are cheaper. Most people don’t know about this so everyone always asks how I find such cheap flights. That’s the secret!

We flew American Airlines from Indianapolis to Dallas to Honolulu. It was an 11 hours trip total so it is far. I couldn’t find anything nonstop because trust me, if there were, I would have paid for that. Originally, I paid $1,350 for two flex tickets, which means that we could make changes to our flight. I also paid the $60 for trip insurance. Like I said, we wanted to be comfortable so whenever an upgrade became available, I took it. You’ll see in the breakdown that I upgraded our seats four times because I had to upgrade each flight separately.

I’m also an American Airlines Citi cardholder so I get certain perks such as a free checked back for each person. If you’re not already on a travel rewards program, definitely check out your options.

The total flight expenses ended up being $1602, which is $801 per person.

Transportation

We chose to rent a car so that we could explore on our own. It was actually a really great decision for us because we would not have been able to do as much. I reserved our car with Enterprise the night before our trip and we were able to pick it up at the airport. You can rent any car but we decided to go with a Jeep because we knew we would be going around the island. Plus, we’ve both always wanted to drive a Jeep and let the top down!

We spent $552.06 total with insurance included for the 5 days. We only refilled gas once on our way to drop it off! The fill-up cost us about $60.

Budget Breakdown:

Original Ticket Price: $1350

Outbound Trip Seat Upgrades: $137.55

Return Trip Seat Upgrades: $55.20

Trip Insurance: $60

Flight Total: $1602

Car Rental: $552.06

Gas: $60

Car Total: $612.06

Stay

We stayed at the Laylow Waikiki Hotel because it was in the middle of everything! We could walk to Waikiki Beach, endless restaurants, and so much nightlife. Of course, that ended up costing us. We spent $1950 on our 5-day hotel stay. Our hotel was more expensive than others in the area, but it was worth it. The main reason we went with our hotel is that they had a special going on, which included valet parking with our room reservation. Parking in Waikiki is about $25 per night so in the long run, it saved us money.

Budget Breakdown:

Room Per Day: $299

Hotel Taxes: $49.97 per night / $249.85 total

Amenity Taxes: $35 per night / $175 total

Valet Parking: Free

Hotel and Parking Total: $1919.85 5-nights

Do

There are so many things to do in Oahu. On the first day, we ended up just driving around the island to take in the beautiful scenery. We stopped a few times to walk to the beach and people watch. Unless you are going for a long period of time l, I suggest you narrow down what you would like to do because you may not be able to get it all done. Here are some ideas for things to do.

Pearl Harbour – Entry to the center is free but there is a $15 charge per adult to tour the Submarine.

Lolani Palace – You can do a guided tour for $27 per adult.

Shangri-la Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design – This place is beautiful but you definitely want to book ahead of time because they get sold out weeks in advance. $25 per adults.

Waikiki Beach – You can go to the beach for free but I suggest you take a surfing class or rent a surfboard because who goes to Hawaii without surfing?

Chinatown – This is free unless you buy something of course but there is a lot to see.

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden – This is free and it is absolutely beautiful. Be careful with photos; taking them at the entrance (which has the most beautiful view) is illegal unfortunately.

Judd Trail – This begins with shallow river crossing but it will give you a scenic view of nature.

Polynesian Cultural Center – This place has so much to offer and it is quite pricy so I suggest you check out their site for the different experiences. I also suggest you attend a Lau while here.

Haleiwa Town – There is so much to do in this town, kayaking, jet ski, horseback riding, gliding and zip lining. You can also explore the town on your own.

Dive with Shark – This is one of those things I really wanted to do but didn’t get a chance. The Northshore has a lot to offer so I suggest you take a day to explore.

Turtle Beach – The name says it all; you may encounter a few turtles while hanging here.

Lanikai Pillbox – I suggest you wear really comfortable clothes and gloves! This trail is no joke and can be very scary but the view at the top is AMAZING. Please don’t risk your life taking “Instagrammable” photos.

Kualoa Ranch – Also the site for Jurasic park, you can do ATV tours, Hollywood tours and a whole lot more. This place is definitely on the pricey side but worth it.

Couples Massage – Lastly, the day before we left we got a 60 minute couples massage that was amazing. I can’t remember the name of the place but the service was $150.

In total we spent around $400 in activities, which included our massages!

Eat

When you go on vacation, you EAT. My motto is: if I can have it at home then I won’t eat it while on vacation. Beside Starbucks, we explored restaurants that we don’t have back home. I don’t remember every single place we ate at but I wrote down the ones I remember below. Overall, we spent $1600 on food (YIKES). Don’t judge, you would be surprise how spending a few bucks here and there can really eat up your pockets.

Hideout Waikiki– If you stay at the Laylow Hotel like we did, this is just downstairs. They have some amazing food options; definitely try the pancakes.

Leonards Bakery – This bakery is famous for their Malasadas; I recommend you eat them warm.

Rigo – We visited this place twice and loved it. Definitely try their Shrimp Fry with Italian Parsley Butter served with garlic bread: YUM!

Sunrise Shack – They have a few locations; we visited the Northshore location and I loved their papaya bowl.

Arvo Café – This cafe is super cute and served some really nice art lattes as well as avocado toast.

Banan – Ice cream served in fruit? Yes, please. This place will have you living your fruit/icecream combo dreams.

Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – Listen!!! Bring cash and make sure you order more than a plate cause this stuff is DELICIOUS. I had their “shrimp scampi” and my husband got the “no refund spicy.”

STRIPSTEAK – I highly recommend having dinner here at least once. This place has a romantic vibe, service is great and the food is IMPECCABLE. But, please check their menu before you go because this place is the mother of PRICEY.

Bills Hawaii’ – This is a great brunch place. We loved their Ricotta Hotcakes, Banana and Honeycomb Butter. Yummy!

Heavenly – This place is super chill with indoor and outdoor seating, serving up some bomb food made with only local products. Definitely try their organic coconut green curry.

Marukame Udon – This place was right in front of our hotel and the line was always down the block, so guess what? Curiosity got the cat and we stopped by. They have some bomb Japanese noodles and all sorts of tempura. It is also super affordable.

Basalt – Contemporary, refined yet casual, this place has a variety of tasty dishes. My favorite? their charcoal buttermilk pancakes: YUM!

Souvenirs

Who travels without picking up some souvenirs! If you have people you wish to bring back souvenirs for, hit up the local markets as well as the street vendors to grab some cute souvenirs. Waikiki had a bunch of stores called ABC stores that carried everything you can think of. I bought hula dolls, key chains, mugs, purses and beauty pouches for souvenirs and ended up spending $200.

Visit Hawaii

If you’ve ever thought about going to Hawaii, definitely go! It’s a great place for families for sure, but it’s awesome for couples too. We want to make Hawaii one of our main vacation destinations; we definitely want to go back with the kids. I’ve never been somewhere so beautiful, peaceful, and fun that I just didn’t want to leave. And even with five days, we wished we had more time. Now that I know Hawaii is affordable with the right budgeting, I’ll definitely be planning more trips. Don’t be surprised if you find out we moved!

Total Budget Breakdown:

Flights: $1602

Transportation: $612.06

Hotel: $1950

Activities: $400

Food: $1600

Souvenirs: $200

Trip Total: $6,364.06

2 Comments

  1. maryamketso
    March 4, 2020 / 4:45 pm

    Wow this is so beautiful
    Thank you so much for breaking everything down❣❣

  2. Christina D
    March 5, 2020 / 2:52 am

    Yes boo what an amazing trip I thought it was sponsored the whole time. So who was taking the pictures🧐

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