There’s really no such thing as a ‘budget’ Hawaiian vacation. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your next surfing trip to the islands for a lot less than most people end up paying. You just need to know where and when to head to Hawaii for that surfin’ safari you’ve been dreaming about all these years. Here are some helpful tips that will save you plenty of green on your Hawaiian surf getaway.
A hotel aggregator site like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotels.com or Kayak is still the best bet for finding budget accommodation in Hawaii, or pretty much anywhere on earth you’ll be going.
If you’re a beginning surfer, you need not worry yourself over when and where the waves are peaking. You’ll most likely be heading to Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach, home of warm, gentle waters and world-famous beaches, to get your sea legs. There are some really good deals out there right now on Expedia, ranging from rock-bottom bargains at the Waikiki Beachside Hostel (from $29/night), to mid-range value at the Luana Waikiki ($129/night) and Waikiki Marina Resort (from $157/night). We know that’s not exactly cheap, but this is Hawaii we’re talking about!
More accomplished wave riders know the time to visit Oahu for the biggest swells is in winter, followed by March through May. North Shore waves are at their finest during this period. The world-renowned surf scenes at Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach attract top surfers from around the globe. This means prices are naturally higher, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t still find decent budget accommodation.
The best advice for doing this is to travel in a group and rent a vacation home. There are also some good hostels that won’t drain your wallet, like the Backpackers Vacation Inn & Plantation Village on Kamehameha Highway in Hale’iwa, where beds go for around $27-$30/night.
For cheap eats, your best bet is to avoid pricey restaurants and stick to the authentic plate lunch specials so beloved by locals. They’re everywhere, they’re cheap and they’re delicious! Rainbow Drive-Inn is a very popular chain, where the $7.75 mix plate reigns supreme. The shoyu chicken and mac salad are the best on Oahu. Their loco moco is also the stuff of legend.
Also, you can find plenty of good, cheap meals in local supermarkets. The poke selection at popular island chain Foodland must be seen to be believed!
Oh, and don’t forget to try shave ice, favorite of every Hawaiian from surf bums to President Obama. Waiola Shave Ice in Honolulu is one of the best. It might be the best four bucks you spend on your trip!
Since we’re talking surfing vacations here, beginners will probably want to know where they can get the best lessons on a budget. Our advice would be find a local friend who can teach you, but being that’s not going to happen for everyone, head down to Alysha Surf School in Waikiki, where you can take advantage of their great instructors, equipment, prices and specials.