Living on Maui ain’t cheap. But visiting Maui is even more expensive. Still, we locals know a thing or two about saving money on Maui. Here are 10 money-saving tips for you to get the most out of your visit to Maui.
1.) One of the top tourist attractions on Maui during the busy winter months is whale watching. While watching whales from the shore is free, if you want to get out into the ocean, book Hawaii Ocean Project’s “Early Bird” whale watch special at 7:30 AM and take the normal $39.95 tour price down to just $24.99. There’s more than just the price advantage in booking this trip. First, parking in Lahaina can be a bit challenging, but that early, you’ll have your choice of free parking spots. The boats also tend to be less crowded on the 7:30 trip. Finally, the early morning air is much cooler than a mid-afternoon tour. Really, you can’t go wrong on any of the whale watch tours, but for the most bang for your buck, book the Early Bird special.
2.) Instead of a high-end resort with their hidden “resort fees,” consider booking a condo or house through Airbnb or VRBO. In addition to saving on nightly room charges, you will also save big on meals because you’ll have your own kitchen for preparing meals. Take a trip to Costco when you land (located 2 minutes from the airport) and stock your kitchen for the week.
3.) Of course, if you’ve traveled this far to reach Maui, you probably want to experience Maui’s fantastic local foods. Maui’s food truck scene is absolutely busting out. You can find food truck round-ups all over the island. Our favorites are near the Costco and in Kihei behind the Azeka shopping center. But drive long enough, and you’re likely to see food trucks on random streets and in shopping mall parking lots. Here’s a look at our favorite foodand shrimp trucks. Another way to experience inexpensive food is Happy Hour. Nearly every restaurant on the island has Happy Hour specials. Here’s a look at some of the best Happy Hour deals in Lahaina and the west side and Kihei/Wailea.
4.) Most likely, the main reason you’re visiting Maui is to spend time at our amazing beaches. We have beaches for all occasions… and they’re all free! “Private” beaches are not a thing here on Maui. Every beach, even the ones fronting the high end resorts are free and open to the public. No, those fancy loungers aren’t free to everyone, but laying your towel in the sand sure is.
5.) Speaking of beaches, snorkeling is another free-to-inexpensive activity. Again, the beaches around Maui are free. So no matter where you are, you have access to some free, wonderful snorkeling. Renting gear will cost you some coin, but you also have the option of going to Costco and buying snorkel gear. If you’ve checked luggage, you can take it home with you for another adventure. You can also donate your used gear to local shelters or the Boys and Girls Clubs. Here’s our guide to the best places to snorkel on Maui. Or for an even more exciting snorkel adventure, book a Lanai Snorkel and Dolphin Excursion and save 10% using the discount code at the bottom of this article. On this trip, you’ll be served breakfast, barbecue lunch and snorkel at two locations. Along the way, you’ll probably see dolphins and, during the winter months, whales!
6.) Another free outdoor activity is hiking. Maui has some of the most beautiful hikes you will encounter. Whether you want to hike in the mountains or take a nature walk along beach paths, Maui has you covered. Here are our favorite Maui hikes, broken down by hiking ability from easy to challenging. Your only cost is the price of gas. Though, if you plan on hiking in Haleakala National Park, there is an entrance fee.
7.) If you’re going to hike in Haleakala National Park, you need to get a pass for $25. The good news is the pass is good for three days, so use your days wisely! It’s about two hours from Lahaina to the summit (depending on that westside traffic) so you may only want to go for one day. But, once you pay for the pass, everything in the park is free. If you want to see the sunrise, you’ll need to make a reservations and fight massive crowds. Instead, we recommend heading up to the summit for the sunset. The sunset is just as beautiful as the sunrise, but with a quarter of the crowd size. Plus, once the sun is down, you’ll be able stargaze like a pro. We swear, you will never see so many stars.
8.) We alluded to this earlier, but resort fees really suck. They tend to run from $25 to $40 a night. For this, whether or not you use the “free” towels or “free” wifi, you’re going to be stuck paying the fee. The other place the resorts stick you is on parking. Most places tend to charge between $20 – $35 a night to park your car. Again, if you have a car, this is nearly inescapable. So to get around it, you can try only renting cars on the days you need them, for example, a trip on the Road to Hana. The rest of trip, you can use Uber/Lyft or cabs. Uber and Lyft drivers can now pick up and drop off riders airport. The other not so hidden cost of a rental car is gas. Gas prices on Maui are about $1.00 per gallon higher than the mainland, usually hovering around $4.00 a gallon. But if you go to Costco, you’ll save around $.75 a gallon.
9.) Don’t be afraid to hit up the ABC Stores. They may seem like tourist traps, but if you stay away from the potato chips and candy, they actually have some great deals. If you’re lucky enough to be near an ABC with a kitchen, the food is pretty good and cheap. The t-shirts and beach towels are about as cheap as you’ll find.
10.) While $109.95 per person for a Hawaii Ocean Project Sunset Dinner Cruise may sound spendy, when you break it down, it’s not. For your money, you’ll spend an enchanting evening out on the Maui Princess, Maui’s largest and most comfortable luxury yacht with guaranteed roof-top seating. Your three-course dinner is served by professional waitstaff to your table. There’s a mixologist on board to whip up your favorite Hawaiian cocktails and beers. There’s also live entertainment and dancing as day turns to night. In other words, you aren’t just paying $100 for dinner, you’re paying for an unforgettable, magical evening. Have kids? Well children aged 4 – 12 are just $59.95 and under 4 are free.
By the way, did you know that you can now save $10/person on our Maui Princess Dinner Cruise or a Snorkel Adventure to the island of Lanai? Well you can! Just use the promo code VIP20 after clicking on this link: Hawaii Ocean Project Adventures.