Exploring Oahu on a Dime (Ish)

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Hawaii is notorious for being an expensive state, both for residents and travelers alike. So, maybe a literal dime will cut you a little bit short.

Rightfully so, as the distance from the edge of the continental U.S. to Hawaii is the same distance as travelling the country from west coast to east coast. Isolation does not make for easy access, y’all

The distance combined with limited space and its gorgeous, desirable landscape make for a pricey travel bill for Haolies hoping to experience the beautiful islands for themselves. For all of these reasons, visiting Hawaii always seemed like a distant dream growing up.

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So how do folks make it happen? Before we left, the trip was estimated to me to be a $10,000 tab between flights, lodging, and adventuring around. However, this was twice what we ended up spending on 9 days on Oahu’s North Shore, and absolutely, we could have spent much less. It was our honeymoon, so we splurged a bit, but for the savvy roamer, this rad place is a wicked feasible destination.

First off, our flights were a gift. That doesn’t help anyone else, but my now-husband’s father had racked up an insane amount of miles flying for the past 30 years for his job, and booked our tickets as a wedding gift. However, you canΒ find tickets for a semi-reasonable amount depending on timing.

While this will likely end up being the most expensive part of your trip, getting there is the key. You can wing the rest.

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We went at the end of April, which is the tail end of the major surfing season, so there were fewer tourists, flights were less expensive, and we still got the last good swell of the season with nearly empty waves. On Oahu. Yeah.

The second most expensive element is lodging. Honolulu on the south side of the island is the metropolitan hub of development and glossy establishments. Shopping, big hotels, people everywhere. Just mayhem.

While the area was fun for day trips and full of delicious food, we knew it wasn’t the overall experience we wanted for our trip. We looked to VRBO.

Vacation Rentals by Owner is, in my opinion, such a genius way of traveling. We found a sweet, two story mother in law suite on a farm right at Sunset Beach all to ourselves for less than 100 bucks a night. Again, prices change with the seasons, so researching the area before hand goes a long way.

Had we wanted to stay only on the north side of the island, which would have been an easy decision, we could have just utilized the bikes the rental unit came with, walked to numerous food trucks (I’ll get to that in a minute), and surfed the endless perfect rights just out front of our temporary home.

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(Again, it was our honeymoon, so we went the car rental route, and roamed all over the island)

We learned upon the first hour of arriving on the island that things could get expensive quickly. We spent a painful $75 at a health food market in Honolulu on two hot bar meals, some soap, and a couple small staples. This was not the way to go.

We learned that every day of the week, a farmers’ market was happening somewhere around the North Shore. You could grab all of the delicious, locally grown produce and snacks you could ever want for reasonable prices and support the folks who are still tending the land. It’s the better choice all around!

This is not to mention the endless amounts of food trucks that pepper the North Shore. Thai food, coffee trucks, burritos, acai bowls, endless options served up by local families at reasonable prices will never leave you bored nor broke.

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Most activities on the island are free as well. Surf rentals are reasonable, the beaches are breath taking, there’s countless famous hikes, and you could stop by the endless farms and explore what they offer up. I also highly recommend, if you do opt for a rental vehicle, to visit the Valley of the Temples. A small donation gets you in to see temples tucked into the sides of the hills on the south east shore. The views are incredible.

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If you fly for around $1000 a person round trip, bike to your destinations, and shop local, you could be completely immersed in the beauty that is Oahu for about $3000 total for a week.

Like all successful, money savvy, and rad traveling, it just takes a little foresight, and a little planning. After all, it’s not about the fancy hotels and purchasing souvenirs. It’s about experiencing the land and culture itself. Live like the locals, and you’ll have the raddest time of your life.

11 thoughts on “Exploring Oahu on a Dime (Ish)

      1. Being a travel blogger such articles always inspires me..
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  1. Eating your big meal at lunch time and checking out gohawaii.com gets you great deals in car rentals and some lodging. I use it to go to the Big Island, we can do a week for about $3500 all included

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Holy heck, I think our friends found that place right when they moved! They couldn’t believe it! Either way, we’re def doing that

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      2. Its more expensive at dinner time and if you order from regular menu, but Jackie Chans (kona) had good lunch menu and you can use online coupon from their website too.

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      3. I’m a six time visitor to Kona. I’ve learned a few things. Look up South Point or Green Beach. Afterwards consider if you have $ for jeep even for a day. Let me know where else. I have covered all but southeast corner so far

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