Posted on Saturday, 5th June 2010 by

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Think you can’t afford a Hawaiian Vacation?  You might be surprised!

Here you are sitting on Waikiki Beach as the sky is fading from the picture perfect blue to shades of yellow, orange and red.  The Palms overhead are swaying and you feel the trade winds in your hair and on your face while you relax to the sound of the waves lapping on the sand.  You hear the conch shell announce the end of the day as Hawaiian Natives run down the beach lighting the Tiki Torches.  As the sun sets on Waikiki you hear a Ukulele playing a familiar Hawaiian song and as you walk down the beach you find the source of the music.  Sit down on the grass and enjoy the music and Hula dancers providing the entertainment.  Then wander across the street to one of the night spots for a traditional Mai Tai with a float of dark rum.  This is what awaits you every evening on Waikiki.

Wake up to cool breezes as you walk along the beach with the sand in your toes.  Grab a coffee and your favorite breakfast item and enjoy it on the beach.  Later in the day you won’t find better shopping anywhere on the islands.  Waikiki is lined with high end shops and everyone’s favorite, the ABC shops with everything from essentials to souvenirs.  You can also grab a shuttle to Hilo Hattie’s to purchase reasonably priced traditional Hawaiian clothing and souvenirs or stop at the Ala Moana Mall.

When you find you’re in the mood to explore the island there’s plenty to see and do:  Pearl Harbor, the North Shore, the Dole Pineapple Plantation, visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, snorkel at Hanauma Bay, or swim, sunbathe or try surfing at a sparsely occupied beach which are all over the island.

The temperatures in Hawaii only vary by two degrees between summer and winter.  If you plan to go to the tops of any of the volcanoes on the islands, then you’ll need a jacket at a minimum in the winter time, a sweatshirt in Spring/Summer.

Getting There

You can let airfare deals pick your dates.  This is only a problem if you are planning to do some whale watching.  The whales are plentiful from January through March.  If whale watching isn’t on your list of things to do, then you will have the freedom to let the airfare deals guide your travel dates.  There are several websites that will help find airfare deals.  They email you daily or weekly to advise you of the latest deals for destinations you have asked the website to monitor.  You’ll have to use your best guess to determine if it’s the right time to buy.  Good airfare prices for west coast travelers are around $350 to $400, but East coast travelers can expect $550 to $600 as their best deal.

Airfare monitoring sites: KAYAK.com, Airfarewatchdog.com, Bookingbuddy.com

Booking Sites:
Priceline.com Flights – Choose your EXACT flight & time!

Book Air + Hotel together and SAVE with Travelocity

Where to stay

Once you’ve purchased your airline tickets it’s time to find a good hotel deal.  There are several websites that have good prices.  Some will only give you the price without revealing the hotel.  This can be risky.  Most will tell you the hotel if you are packaging a rental car with your hotel purchase.  Beware though, these sites usually require full payment when you make the reservation and generally don’t give refunds.  They do have insurance incase your plans hit a snag, but a full refund is still very limited.  Make sure you read the small print before you complete your purchase.  You can also look at vacation rentals on the islands.  Do some research though to make sure the home is located in an area that appeals to your activity list, is close to beaches and/or tour operations.  For Military retirees there is Fort De Russy Military Reservation, which is essentially a resort for members of the armed forces.  It is located right next to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which provides plenty of places to shop and eat.  There are lots of vendors set up in that area for activities on the water.

Hotels:

Priceline.com Hotels – save up to 50%
Travelocity – Top Hotel Deals in Honolulu
No hotels.com Change or Cancel fees on lodging bookings
Hotwire.com,

Vacation Homes:
Hawaii Vacation Rentals
VRBO.com has great deals because you are renting from the owner and not paying the middle man that manages the property.

Island Transportation

If your plans are to spend your time at Waikiki, I recommend you skip a car rental.  The parking fees at most hotels can be nearly as much as the daily cost of the rental.  You can catch the Roberts shuttle from the Honolulu airport.  A round trip ticket is only $15, and two people can go round trip for less than a one way taxi ride to your hotel.  You say you don’t want to spend everyday at Waikiki?  No problem!  Enterprise car rental has an office on Waikiki, Seaside street that is within easy walking distance (they will pick you up, but you may have to wait a couple of hours due to how busy this office is).  You can rent a car for the day starting around $35.  The Waikiki Trolley will take you up and down the beach for $2, and goes to the malls near Honolulu.  You can also get a free shuttle to Hilo Hattie’s for shopping.

Dining on Oahu

Grab those Tourist booklets as soon as you arrive.  They are everywhere including conveniently located in the Baggage Claim area at the Honolulu Airport!  These books have coupons for everything, tours, shopping and dining, early bird specials, two-for-one’s, etc.  I also recommend asking the locals for the best local restaurants.  Early bird specials aren’t so special if the food isn’t good.  One of my favorite places is Round Table Pizza and the Spaghetti Factory on Ward Avenue, not far from the Ala Moana Mall.  You’ll find lots of chain restaurants at Waikiki, but the prices will run about 20% higher than what you pay at home.  Waikiki has many different types of cuisine and fine dining restaurants.  Asian food offers an abundance of choices.  If you plan to attend a Luau, I recommend you do some research.  If you have a vision of being on the beach for the meal and the Hawaiian show after the meal you may be disappointed when you find that the Luau takes place on the roof of a parking garage (as is the case at the Hilton Hawaiian Village).  The best Hawaiian Luau is on Maui.  The Paradise Cove Luau may meet your expectations.  Prices will be approximately $80 per adult.  I’m always surprised at how much I spend eating on Oahu.  It can easily exceed $100 a day for two people.

Activities

For beach information I use this link:  http://oceansafety.soest.hawaii.edu/v/2.0/?i=oahu

It will help you determine the safest place for the beach activity you are planning.  For info on tours, http://www.oahutours.net/ is very inclusive covering just about anything you might find of interest.  Check with the website or service you use to book your hotel.  Sometimes they have special deals for Luau’s or the more popular tours on the islands.

Aloha! 

Nancy Holston

Learn more about your benefitsemployment, travel, and financial planning issues on our site and visit our Blog frequently at http://fedretire.net to read all forum articles.

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The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances. Travel policies and packages are subject to change without notice. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact travel providers and hotels at the time of your bookings to confirm pricing, itinerary, and all costs. The comments and observations are limited to the author’s personal experience and your results may vary significantly. This article and replies to comments are not intended to substitute for professional travel services. Our reply is time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.

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