How to visit Maui on a budget

Maui is definitely an expensive island to have a quality vacation without spending a chunk of change. But you can still have a great time without blowing your budget and even splurge for some of the nice and fun activities to do around the island. If you’re looking to visit and experience Maui on a budget and planning on Hotel, Air transportation, car rental and dining options, check out this guide on how to do Maui on the cheap and still have a great time.

How to visit Maui on a budget

Travel during the Off season in Maui

Travel during the Off season in Maui

If you want to travel to Maui on a real budget and save here then visit during the off season in Maui. This is actually a very short time frame from April to May and then September to October timeframe. You’ll find cheaper rates for airfare, hotels and even entertainment tours.

Save on cheap Maui car rentals

The big ticket lately to visiting the island is the lack of supply with car rentals and bumping up daily rates, so you definitely have to book way in advance to secure your rental car situation. There are a variety of search car rental aggregators but the best we find for getting a good deal is with Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. You’ll find the search capability covers most of the major rental agency brands and breaks down into types of vehicles, dates and price ranges.

Other rental car considerations

Compact cars are typically cheaper and give good gas mileage and gas is typically very expensive in Maui

Check your car insurance provider to see if rental cars are included with your policy so you don’t have to pay extra on your car rental and opt out if it is covered

How to find good prices on airline fares

How to find good prices on airline fares

Getting a good airline fare to the islands takes a little bit of effort and research to score the best prices to the islands. Typically, it makes sense to have a flexible time frame and sign up for alerts to airlines or search consolidators offering specials certain times of the year.

One of those is Google flights or Cheapo Air.com which is easy to use and adaptable to putting in your criteria, search by lowest prices with pricing calendars and choosing a variety of airports that offer deals from certain destinations.

Check with low priced carriers like Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines which offer fantastic rates from the west coast to the island and have plenty of flights to various locations. If you sign up for a Southwest credit card then you get a companion pass by just paying the taxes on it.

The cheapest flights typically offered to Hawaii are from the main hubs at Honolulu and Kahului in Maui and interisland fares are priced competitively if you plan on visiting nearby islands.

How to save on hotels or housing alternatives

How to save on hotels or housing alternatives

One of the biggest budget components to visiting Maui is find a place to stay that fits into your budget. One way of doing this is to search with a variety of search hotel sites like TripAdvisor, Travelocity or Cheapo Air that you can set your own criteria for days and daily rate range you want to pay for. If you plan on making most of your own meals then sites like Vrbo” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener nofollow” class=”rank-math-link”>VRBO and Air Bnb have stay options in condos or homes depending on location, you need for rooms and price points. Note that during the low season, you are bound to find better deals and cheaper stays depending on time and location.

How to save money on food and drinks in Maui

How to save money on food and drinks in Maui

Skip those expensive tropical drinks

Skip those expensive tropical drinks

Fancy drinks add up real fast at a local bar or pricy hotel oceanfront venue. Easier on the budget is to buy your own from Costco or a local market like KTA or Foodland and take it to the beach for sunset or a fun picnic experience. Bring your ice tote bag drinks and favorite beverage and you’re all set to enjoy a fun venue for cheap where you are staying or somewhere outdoor by the beach or beautiful picnic area.

Cheap pupus, bring your own snacks

Cheap pupus, bring your own snacks

While shopping at Costco, farmers markets or the groceries make sure to pick up some favorite snack food or try some of the local snacks to sample something new on the islands. Bring your own food is the way to go and you can pick your own spot to hang out for free.

Shop farmers markets and go local

Shop farmers markets and go local

You can support local growers, food preparers and other vendors by going to local farmers markets to get your fresh produce, locally prepared snacks and finished goods, crafts and art along with other take away souvenirs or gifts that you can buy direct from the source. Check out all these local farmers markets in Maui to explore here.

Eat at Food Trucks

Some of the local specialty foods or what’s being offered from the food truck vendor from Thai food specialties, locally sourced shrimp over rice and mac salad, Hawaiian traditional food to a global range of delicious food to go. An affordable alternative to eating out, this is an easy and delicious option especially when they are conveniently located to popular attractions or locations on the islands. There are a variety of places to try food trucks in Maui, you can try Honoapiilani Food Truck Park in Lahaina, the area around Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary on the Hana Hwy in Kahului area and in the Kihei area around Kalama Park is a cluster of food truck venues to try out. Check out all these food truck listings here for more inspiration of food truck venues in Maui.

Go to bars and restaurants for Happy Hour or Early Bird Specials

Go to bars and restaurants for Happy Hour or Early Bird Specials

Many Maui eateries have Pau Hana Happy hour or Early Bird special dinners around the island. Places to check out includes Sansei with 50% off early bird special, Sea House in Lahaina, Kimos in Lahaina, Ruth Kris, 5 Palms and a variety of popular venues that all offer early bird specials typically around 5 to 6pm most days at a discounted price. Check out all these Happy Hour venues in Maui here for cool places to go.

Cheap or free activities or entertainment

Cheap or free activities or entertainment

There are a few places around the island that offer free entertainment mostly in the main shopping centers and activities and recreation you can do for free if you plan your own DIY excursion. Check out these inexpensive or free things to do around the island.

**Check out my page on free things to do in Maui here for all these fun and free activities you can do all around the island now.

Find freebie entertainment venues

Find freebie entertainment venues

There are quite a few cool and fun things to do around Maui that’s entertainment focused and absolutely free. Check out all these fantastic places for entertainment that is totally free here for more inspiration.

**some of these venues might be on hold during Covid time frames.

Free Self-Guided Walking tours

Free Self-Guided Walking tours

You can do some of the free walking tours around the island on historical trails, coastal trails and wildlife refuge areas below.

Kaanapali Historical trail – is an easy trail that is oceanfront and covers Kaanapali Resort and other historical sites noted in placards along the walk

Kapalua Coastal Trail – an oceanfront trail that runs from Kapalua Beach to DT Fleming Beach Park

Wailea Beach Walk is a nice ocean front trail that is paved and 1.5 miles in length perfect for morning to evening walks

Lahaina Historic Trail – the historic trail covers over 62 important and historic sites in town to explore. You can get a printed version at the visitor’s center located at the Old Banyan Tree in town.

Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge – You can explore this wildlife refuge with a 2,200-foot boardwalk with guided interpretive exhibits. Enter the refuge area on the highway between Maalaea and Kihei area.

Free Friday Maui Town Parties

Free Friday Maui Town Parties

Every Friday is a town celebration event and town party sponsored by the County of Maui in different locations around the island. You’ll find great free music, dance, street performances and arts and crafts and other discounts offered by vendors in that town event. Following are the scheduled rotations, but check out the Maui County town town party website here for more details.

1st Friday of the Month at Central Maui Wailuku on Market Street

2nd Friday at Lahaina on Front Street

3rd Friday at Makawao (changed to every other month)

4th Friday at Keith in the Azeka Shopping Center Mauka

Other free entertainment venues around Maui
Other free entertainment venues around Maui

Other free entertainment venues around Maui

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel offers a free sunset hula show at the Tiki Courtyard at 6pm daily

 (During covid, these gatherings are on hold until further notice).

Shops at Wailea – every 3rd Wednesday at the Fountain Courtyard, offers free local live performances with top Hawaiian Musicians, hula and other local performers. Also offered are one hour performance of Polynesian dances and hula Tues/Thurs at 5:30pm

(During covid, these gatherings are on hold until further notice).

Lahaina Cannery Mall Keiki Hula Shows – children hula shows offered on Saturdays and Sundays 1pm with free Parking. There are also free art shows at the mall every week. On Thursdays, free hula lessons are offered on at 5pm on the main concourse

(During covid, these gatherings are on hold until further notice).

The Outlets of Maui in Lahaina offers free Tahitian dance, ukulele shows and other free events and activities here for more information. Ukulele lessons with free ukulele use offered on a regular basis also at the mall.

(During covid, these gatherings are on hold until further notice).

Baldwin House – free Hawaiian music concert offered on the last Thursday of the Month on the main lawn area. The free program starts at 7:30pm

(During covid, these gatherings are on hold until further notice).

Cheap or free adventure experiences in Maui

Cheap or free adventure experiences in Maui

You can do so many outdoor adventure activities without tours and on your own for free if you like to surf, snorkel, swim or spend more time on land hiking, biking, climbing or exploring around the island.

Pack your own snorkel gear

Beaches and snorkeling activities are free but with nominal parking fees at some of the beach parks with limited parking areas. Check out the best snorkeling spots around Maui to explore here for the best spots to explore and snorkel around the island now.

Plan your own adventure tour around Maui

Plan your own adventure tour around Maui

You can hike, swim, snorkel and explore the island on road trips free or even inexpensive. Rentals for Sups, Kayaks and sailing equipment can be done with outdoor outfitters for hourly or daily rates depending on how much time you want to do a particular activity.  Check out the best things to do in Maui here with over 45 ideas and activities to keep you busy and exploring and doing your own planned activity on a budget.

If you’re looking for more fun and free adventure experiences of things to do on the island, check out this post here for more inspiration.

Enjoy sunsets, beaches and the outdoors for free

Enjoy sunsets, beaches and the outdoors for free

You can’t go wrong being outdoors along the shoreline, up in the mountains or along the forested areas with waterfall views on the island. All of these are totally free with your own DIY initiative. Check out my post on free things to do in Maui here for reference.

Conclusion of visiting Maui on a budget

Check out these other posts to visiting Maui

Where to eat in Maui

Best beaches in Maui to enjoy

Things to do in West Maui

Best snorkeling spots in Maui

Top things to do in Maui

Conclusion of visiting Maui on a budget

There’s no getting around it that Maui is a very expensive island to visit and explore from hotels, dining to entertainment. But you really can do it on a cheaper budget with all these fantastic tips above to try and do on your own.

If you have any other tips or suggestions to offer, please share them in the comment sections below for our readers to also do.

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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.