It’s easy to see why people are lured to Maui year after year. Beyond the spectacular beaches and scenery, Americans don’t need a passport to visit, and they’ll enjoy all the comforts of traveling close to home -- familiar language, signage, and currency. But if you look beyond the luxury hotels and wallet-busting restaurants that saturate the island, there are simple ways to save. Here are four that you can try.
1. Cue the condo
Maui is brimming with luxury resorts, and the destination’s popularity as a second home and timeshare destination means that rentals are almost always available. Explore owner-direct rental sites such as HomeAway and Maui Beach Front. Napili Kai Beach Resort offers gorgeous beachfront condos, plus barbecue and laundry facilities. But don’t book online: you’ll snag better rates by calling direct and chatting with their reservation team.
2. See what's free
Many hotels and resorts offer free programming that lets guests relax, learn, and get a glimpse into Hawaiian culture. Try traditional throw-net fishing at Travaasa Hana, or watch cliff diving and a torch lighting ceremony at the Sheraton. To soak up some history away from the resort, simply score a map from the Lahaina Visitor’s Center for a self-guided walking tour of this historic town.
And there’s no need to shell out for a pricey snorkeling excursion. You’ll find amazing spots to snorkel all over the island, but we recommend Kapalua Bay, which is known as a great place to spot sea turtles.
3. Brake for bargains
Maui has a public bus system, but to travel freely and affordably -- especially along the dramatic North Shore and on the Hana Highway -- a rental car is the only way to go. If you don’t need a glamorous set of wheels, you can save some cash at Kimo’s Rent-a-Car, which rents second-hand cars for a fraction of what you’d pay at the big chains. Kimo’s services the airport 24/7, takes all major credit cards, and you can choose between a compact car, minivan, or SUV.
4. Get happy
Happy hours are the norm on Maui. Get to know them, and you’ll save every day on food and drinks. Most restaurants offer drink and appetizer specials late in the afternoon.
Wallet-friendly beachfront dining is yours at Sea House Restaurant along Napili Bay. Technically the fare is appetizers, but the portions are big enough to have as entrees. At $5 to $8 each, it’s easy to see why there’s always a line. Late-night happy hours are harder to come by, but you’ll save 50 percent at Sansei Kapalua, a sensational sushi joint, after 10 p.m..