ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.
Hawaii Money-Saving Tips
Snorkel for Less
Renting out a mask-snorkel-fin set for $9/week from Snorkel Bob's could save you from spending wads of cash on pricier companies. If one day is all you need to explore the islands’ shores, Bob's Budget Crunch gear package is only $2.50 for 24-hour rental. Gear can also be returned to any location in the entire state! www.snorkelbob.com; 800-262-7725
Sunscreen is Your FriendEven when it’s overcast, the sun’s ultraviolet rays are extremely powerful. Better to slather on the high-SPF sunscreen than spend the rest of your vacation in blistery misery. Don’t worry, you’ll still get a tan.
Best BuyOn Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays Aloha Stadium in Honolulu hosts a gigantic swap meet, where you can find inexpensive resort wear, T-shirts, and souvenirs. Plan a stop on the way back from Pearl Harbor. Admission is $1, and free for kids. www.alohastadiumswapmeet.net
Don’t Trample the ReefJust because it looks like a rock doesn’t mean it’s dead. The living coral reef found just off most of the islands is also home to numerous marine species, so try to respect their habitat. Besides, walking on sharp coral is dangerous!
Slow DownNo matter how fast you go, you won’t see it all. Allow yourself the luxury of taking in the scenery and not rushing from one beach to the next. Relax and let time be on your side. You can always come back next year.
Radio ParadiseHawaii’s only alternative radio is college station KTUH. The Oahu station plays jazz in the morning and a mix of world, reggae, rock, hip-hop, and more throughout the day. Tune in to 90.3 in Honolulu, 91.3 on the North Shore, and 89.9 on the Windward Coast.
Shaka, BrahIt’s commonly accepted to flash a shaka, extending your pinky and thumb. The friendly gesture means the same as a hand wave, and it’s also used to express enthusiastic approval, as in “Right on!” or as locals would say, “Awwright!”
Beach SafetyHawaii has the second highest drowning rate in the country. The following site offers continuously updated conditions and hazards at specific Kauai beaches. http://oceansafety.soest.hawaii.edu
Local CuisineDon’t miss the islands’ ‘ono (delicious) local specialties, a mélange of multicultural culinary delights: malasadas (sugar-coated donuts), loco moco (fried egg and gravy atop hamburger and rice), manapua (steamed bun), musubi (seaweed-wrapped rice). Also, be sure to stop at an okazuya, Hawaii’s equivalent of a deli.
Underwater CameraEven inexpensive, disposable underwater cameras can capture precious memories, whether it’s a belly-flop entry into the resort pool or a turtle’s graceful glide past colorful reef fish.
Shave IceOrder azuki beans and ice cream with your shave (not shaved) ice and you’ve made a good thing better.
Early to RiseAs Robert Frost wrote, “Nature’s first green is gold.” Some of Hawaii’s most magical hours are the ones after sunrise, when the ocean is glassy, the beaches are empty, and the birds awaken.
Guard Your ValuablesEven paradise has an underbelly, and parking areas at popular attractions are high-theft areas. Try not to leave any valuables in your vehicle, not even in the trunk.
Channel CrossingEvery summer, the world’s best paddleboarders arrive on Molokai to compete in the race of all races across the treacherous Kaiwi Channel. Catch the athletes at the finish line on Oahu’s south shore.
Hawaii International Film FestivalEach fall, the 11-day Hawaii International Film Festival, showcasing more than 150 Asian and Pacific features and documentaries, attracts cinema lovers from all over the world. Special guests, stars and filmmakers are always in attendance.
IronmanEvery October, Kona, on the Big Island, hosts the ultimate event for triathletes, the annual Ironman World Championship, with a grueling 2.4 mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run.
International Festival of CanoesOutrigger canoe paddling is Hawaii’s official state team sport, and Maui’s cultural heritage festival, held in May, celebrates how this tradition connects the Polynesian islands. See how logs are shaped into seafaring vessels that carried Hawaiians across the Pacific.
Triple Crown of SurfingConsidered surfing’s most critical proving ground, Oahu’s North Shore is home to the Triple Crown of Surfing each winter. Get ringside seats as the pros charge waves that are multiple-stories tall. It’s a worthwhile day at the beach.
Honolulu MarathonIf you’re going to run 26.2 miles, you might as well have tropical island landscapes to look at. With upwards of 25,000 finishers, the Honolulu Marathon, held in December, is one of the world’s largest.
Merrie Monarch FestivalThe weeklong Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo, on the Big Island, held each spring, perpetuates the hula tradition through workshops and performances, culminating in a prestigious three-day hula competition.
Getting AroundMost people rent (and return) cars at the airports. Two essential local terms used in driving directions include mauka (mountain-ward) and makai (ocean-ward). In Waikiki, hotel parking rates can run from $25 to $30 a night.
Travel in the Spring
Hawaii in spring is almost more appealing than Hawaii in summer, because the higher temperatures (still just around 85 degrees) are reached less frequently. Hotel rates tend to be lower before the busy summer season.
Learn to Hula
Check out the daily schedule at the Royal Hawaiian Center (www.royalhawaiiancenter.com) in Honolulu, where free hula classes, ukelele lessons, and lomi lomi massage courses are all on offer.
Most supermarkets and small cafes serve plate lunches, three-course picnic-style feasts consisting of various entrees and a side of macaroni salad, for around $5 to $7.
Find Cheap Parking
Parking is expensive in crowded Waikiki; look for specials at restaurants and shopping centers. The Royal Hawaiian Center gives shoppers and diners the first parking hour free, then charges just $1 per 60 minutes for the following two hours (through December 2011).
Our Experts save you money with travel deals and advice
Always ask for a room upgrade when you arrive at your hotel. They may laugh, but it never hurts to try!
Alex Schechter Assistant Editor
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