When thinking about their next vacation destination, most people are eager to dismiss Honolulu, because they erroneously believe that a Hawaiian vacation must be expensive. Ranging from free block parties to inexpensive hotels to affordable meals, Honolulu offers several budget friendly options to its visitors. Here are 3 tips to save money in Honolulu, HI.
When visiting Honolulu, the Waikiki district is a great place to book a hotel because there are so many restaurants, clubs, bars and amenities within walking distance, that you will not need to rent a car. Avoid hotels that are on Kalakaua Avenue and in front of the beach because these are the most expensive ones. Look for hotels that are just 1 to 3 blocks away from the beach on either Kuhio Avenue or Ala Wai Boulevard. Not only will you avoid premium prices, but also you will find plenty of free street parking in the event that you decide to rent a car. Some of the most inexpensive hotels are the ones from the Aqua Hotels resort chain.
Also, members of the Hostelling International network have access to 2 hostels in Honolulu that have rooms starting at $20 per night. One is located near the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the other is nearby Kalakaua Avenue. If you don’t mind sharing a room with 7 other guests, then this is the lowest price possible for a room in Honolulu.
Honolulu’s downtown is know by locals as “Chinatown” and is also known for its free block parties, where hundreds of locals gather to celebrate a special occasion such as Cinco de Mayo, Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day. From Waikiki, there are several bus lines that you can take to Chinatown and the bus fare each way is just $2.50 (with one free transfer). Additionally, every first Friday of the month, Chinatown’s art galleries and restaurants host a celebration called “First Friday Art Walk”, which includes wine tastings inside the art galleries (free, but a $2 tip is recommended), art exhibitions, and live performances on the street by musicians and other artists. First Friday takes place between 5 and 9 p.m. and the locals usually head after to dance clubs such as Soho Media Bar on South Pauahi Street and bars such as Bar 35 on North Hotel Street.
Honolulu is a foodie’s paradise. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, this city has the most culturally diverse population from the United States. With a strong influence of cultures from Asia and the Pacific, Honolulu offers amazing and affordable restaurants.
If’ you’re looking for Chinese food, Chinatown has great places for sit-down dinners such as Little Village Noodle House on Smith Street or quick on-the-go snacks such as the food court inside the Maunakea Market Place on Maunakea Street. If you’re looking for Japanese food, Ideta Restaurant on Kohou Street is a great option, while any of the more than 10 locations of Genki Sushi in Oahu Island are the best option for affordable sushi and sashimi. The closest Genki Sushi location to Waikiki is the one on Kapahulu Street.
Most Hawaiian food places are not in Waikiki. While there are many options, 2 of the most popular and affordable ones are Helena’s Hawaiian Food on North School Street and Yama’s Fish Market on Young Street. Keep in mind that both places have a very small dine-in area (2 tables at the most) and are mostly for ordering take-out. Out of the 2, Yama’s Fish Market is the one closest to Waikiki area. While Ono Hawaiian Foods is popular and closer to Waikiki, most locals avoid it because it is a tourist trap.
Bonus Tip: Ask for Discount
Most restaurants, hotels, shops and bars will offer some discount but will not let you know about it unless you ask for it. The social media scene is very active in Honolulu and many businesses are offering discounts to users of Yelp, Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook, so make sure to check the online presence of the business that you’re visiting.
Additionally, most business offer discounts to military personnel, senior citizens, and children. So, it is a good idea to check for these discounts.
Ask CCD Readers: Have you been to Hawaii? Do you have any more tips?