It almost pains me to share my Hawaii vacation because the pictures don’t do the real life experience any justice. Every picture, every video that I’ve ever seen about Hawaii was all true. It is PARADISE! Literally the most amazing place that I’ve ever visited and worth every life saving penny lol. I say life saving because the amount of money it costs to go, stay and enjoy yourself is SUPER expensive. I’ll be sure to share some financial tips and tricks throughout this post.
I’ve seen flights to Hawaii range anywhere from $800-1400 per ticket during the holidays. Of course this varies depending on the length of your trip, where you’re flying from, the airline and when you would like to visit. During the holidays, it’s definitely on the higher end. I would suggest downloading the app, Hopper, well in advance to receive alerts on price drops and increases. I typically use the Hopper app for alerts, then head to Google flights or Expedia for more pricing options.
What if I told you that I booked two tickets for myself and my daughter to Honolulu for $850 each during Christmas break?! Here’s how I did it:
*Technically, the first thing I did was get a back injury from someone running into the back of my truck and using my small settlement to pay for this trip lol*
- Added my dates to the Hopper app in August, giving myself months in advance to watch for flights.
- Received an alert that it was a good time to purchase flights then went to Expedia.
- Expedia has an option where you can provide your dates but let them choose the airline and times for a cheaper rate. Some sort of really cool flexible feature that they offer. After your purchase, you get an email that provides you with your detailed itinerary. I got insanely lucky, we ended up on Delta with only one layover.
- I did not purchase the additional travel insurance. Not a move I would recommend, but that’s what I did to save money.
Be prepared (depending on where you’re coming from) the flight is extremely long. From Atlanta, we flew 2.5 hours to Minneapolis. From there we flew eight hours to Honolulu. Remember when I said I got lucky with Delta? Well, Delta has a partnership with Disney + , so my daughter occupied herself the entire time with Disney movies. They provided us with blankets, pillows, an eye mask, two hot meals and unlimited cocktails. This was just Basic Economy seating! Shoutout to Delta man 🙂
What We Did in Hawaii
Originally, I had a full itinerary planned but then I scratched off a lot of things once I saw how nice it was just to relax there. Also, we lost about two days of activities due to most places being closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. No biggie though, I enjoyed just soaking up the sun and taking in the scenery. Besides going to the beach almost everyday, here are the additional activities that we ended up doing during our stay.
Official Hawaiian Lei Greeting
I started roaming through Groupon to get a better idea of what to do once we got there and stumbled upon a lei greeting offer that meets passengers once you’re off the plane. This made me think of all the tv shows and movies that I’ve seen where people received leis once off the plane and I definitely wanted that same experience for my daughter and I. I purchased the ‘Ali’i Greeting Service’ for $25.95/ person. They greeted us with a fresh full orchid lei that lasted 3-4 days later and plenty of Aloha spirit. The greeter walked us to baggage claim while giving some fun facts about the island.
Hawaii’s complete pineapple experience, better known as the Dole Plantation was tons of fun…despite the fact that it rained all day on us. I read so many articles before visiting that said it never really rains in Hawaii and when it does, it’s only for like an hour at the most. So not true. Anyways, we still made a day of it by having lunch, eating some amazing Dole Whip, visiting the souvenir shops and taking a train ride throughout the farm. We purchased tickets for their maze (the world’s largest by the way) but couldn’t complete it because it started pouring down. The Dole plantation had pineapple EVERYTHING, which was fine by me because I love pineapples!
You can not come to Hawaii and not attend a luau! If I close my eyes and think of the most Hawaiian thing that I’ve done in my life it’s either attend or throw a luau lol, so how could I not attend a real one in Hawaii? One thing I wish I would have known though is how long they can be Worth it, just wish I prepared myself with a nap or a Red Bull. They’re long because they take the time to teach you about various Polynesian cultures, dances and traditions. There are a ton of luaus to choose from. Do some price comparisons and book in advance, the earlier the better, these places book up fast. I joined a couple of Hawaiian Facebook travel groups prior to our trip to get recommendations for luaus. We went with Paradise Cove and it was amazing!
Click here to watch my YouTube video for some cool clips from the luau at Paradise Cove.
Hawaiian Street Market Shopping
While there’s plenty of places to purchase Hawaiian souvenirs, this place was the best bang for your buck. It’s located within the University of Hawaii Stadium and only open on certain days of the week. Entry fees were only $1 per person for parking. Their souvenirs were way cheaper than the airport and local shops and more authentic. The street market has individual vendors willing to bargain on their prices and ready to hand you a deal. They had everything from fresh fruits and authentic clothing to vendors offering discounted tickets to various attractions and activities. Speaking of discounted tickets to activities, this is where I discovered a cheaper option for our next adventure below, parasailing.
Click here to watch my YouTube video for some cool clips from the Hawaiian Street Market.
This was a first for me and maybe a last for my daughter. It was literally the most exciting and scariest thing I’ve done at the same time ha! Oh the discount, let me tell you about how I got the parasailing tickets for half of the cost, $25/person. At the street market mentioned above, there were vendors that offered discounts on attractions and activities if you go to their offices at an offsite location to learn more about them. We went to their office where they provided breakfast, gave a 35 min. seminar about their travel club…that only needed a $6,000 membership fee, no thanks. They still honored their discount on the parasailing tickets despite my lack of interest in shelling out 6k on the spot.
Anywho, back to parasailing, I highly recommend using the company Xtreme Parasail. What a super sweet and helpful staff! They even had someone on board to take pics for an extra fee and hand you over an SD card with all of your pics when it’s over with. Needless to say, my daughter didn’t enjoy it lol, see pics below.
Ahhhhh the beach, hands down my favorite part of the trip. I also had no idea that they had so many beaches to choose from depending on what you like. If you don’t mind being around a ton of people, then Waikiki and Electric Beach would be for you. Like something a little more relaxing and scenic? Then I recommend Makua and Hanauma Bay. If you are looking for something kid-friendly, then I would suggest Disney’s Aulani Resort. Oh and you don’t have to be a guest at their hotel to hang out at their beach by the way. My daughter really liked this beach because there were a ton of other kids to play with. I preferred Makua beach because of its high tides and mountains in the background.
Click here to watch my YouTube video for some cool clips from the beaches.
What We Ate in Hawaii
A great way to save money on food in Hawaii is to simply order one entree. They give you so much food, I kid you not, that two people can easily split a meal. I purposely ate things that I’ve only seen in Hawaii to ensure I was learning about the culture while having fun as well. Hawaii is definitely known for their awesome BBQ and shaved ice. I had both multiple times because it was just that good.
I’m sure the burning question is, where did you stay while in Hawaii? Well, my brother lives there, so we were able to stay with him. How awesome is that?! Staying in Hawaii costs way more than actually flying to Hawaii, so I recommend using Expedia when booking flights to take advance of their discounted package deals.
Don’t forget to check out my ‘Hawaiian Adventure’ YouTube video below and be sure to like and subscribe!
Looking for more travel adventures? Check out where to stay when in Chicago!