Planning a Hawaiian Vacation

In Travel by GoldenLife

Aloha friends!

I was able to escape the cold for a few weeks and head to Hawaii! I am so excited for my next few posts because I found some awesome deals on all the islands I visited plus some fun free or close to free things to do while you are there. Because you know I’m all about finding a good deal!

Background, I only went to four (Maui, Kauai, Oahu & the Big Island) of the islands so I won’t have details for the islands I didn’t visit. If you want to do a guest post on the islands I wasn’t able to visit, send me an email.

I did a lot of research before my trip to make this the most cost effective trip as possible while still being comfortable & not missing out on anything I wanted to do or see. I hope these tips for planning your trip help you out & don’t forget to subscribe because I’ll be posting about every island in the weeks to come. Mahalo!

“Hawaii is the island of big dreams for both islanders and guests.
Those dreams born in paradise can, indeed come true.”Sharon Linnea

Planning Your Trip

Let’s get started with planning. Does anyone else hate planning trips as much as I do? I have pinned thousands of ideas of things I want to do but when it comes down to it I actually suck at taking action and leave things to the last minute. I am more of a “let’s see where the day takes us” kind of vacationer. It doesn’t always work out but sometimes it’s fun to just wander.

But do as I say not as I do. For Hawaii, you need to plan. Here are some quick tips for Hawaii.

  • Best time to visit

    Most people escape their winter weather and head to the islands for some sunshine. Therefore the busiest (most expensive) time to go is December through March or April. The last few weeks of December and all of January is especially expensive since most are on break from school still.

  • Best time to go for whale watching

    Humpback whales visit Hawaii from November until May. Peak season is from January until March. If you are wanting to spot some of these beautiful mammals but don’t want to break the bank, opt to visit Hawaii after March.

  • Most expensive island to visit

    This is completely relative to what your definition of expensive is but my personal opinion is Maui. It’s commonly refered to as the prettiest island but I personally think Kauai is the prettiest but again, all a matter of opinion. For quick reference, our hotels in Maui were 3x more expensive than our hotels in Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island.

  • Look out for airfare sales

    Did you know there are a bunch of websites and Instagram accounts that watch for flight deals and will post them? I’ll add them below but you can also join my group where I compile most of them for you. You can join & follow those below…

Booking Flights

These are a few of my favorite accounts to follow for airfare deals. Let me know in the comments if you know of more that I should be watching.

Because we live in Utah, this is one I recommend to follow on Instagram, @flightsfromhome . They also have these accounts for Portland, Las Vegas and a few others.

Another one I love is @SLCFlightWatch on Instagram as well. You can search for similar accounts near your home airport on Instagram by searching hashtags like #flightwatch #flightdeal.

I would highly recommend subscribing to Scott’s Cheap Flights. He sends email alerts for flight sales. We booked our Paris flights in August for $600 USD thanks to Scott!

One thing you need to keep in mind is these fares are not guaranteed and they go QUICK! So when you see a place you have been dying to go and it fits your budget you need to jump on that deal!

Here are some other websites to look into:

Travel Pirates

Hopper, which is actually an app not a website.

* I will be adding more to this post as I remember more.

If you would like to join my Facebook group where I share all the deals I find from all the sites I follow you can join here: The Great Adventure | Travel Tips + Deal Alerts Feel free to add your travel buddies so they can snag some deals too!

Where to stay

Okay so this will be the most stressful part of the whole trip because I had a strict hotel budget I did not want to go over. I would set a hotel/lodging budget and stick with it. Because I was traveling for work and some play, I wanted to stay somewhere I could be comfortable. If it was just Derek and I, our standards are pretty low and we could sleep in our car or on the beach and be happy.

For hotels, I love using or Priceline Express Deals. A good rule of thumb when booking hotels is to make sure it’s a 3 star or above and has at least a 7+ guest rating. See the example below. The bottom example has a 6+ rating which is good and is $30 USD cheaper than the top. But the top example has a high rating. If this was me booking, I would opt to save the cash and book the bottom hotel since they have the same star rating and fairly close reviews. You then want to look at the map to see where it’s located, it will give you a general location to hide what hotel it is.

The reason I love is because for every 10 nights you book you get 1 free! So these start adding up over time. shows the actual hotel you are staying at and adds a rating from TripAdvisor which is really nice. Considering most people come to Hawaii for more than just a few days these nights could really start adding up and you could use them towards your next trip.

So the two biggest costs for your trip have been covered. I’ll be posting some recommendations on things to do while you are there in the next few weeks so be sure to check back or subscribe so you can get notified.

**I use these third party sites every week and these really are my favorite websites to use. I
f you click the hotel links I provided in this post, we will receive a small commission if you end up booking through that link.

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Don’t Forget to
pack the essentials

I hate buying things I have at home and could have packed while I am on vacation. So here is a quick list of things I would get before you hit the islands. Because almost everything needs to be imported to Hawaii, prices are a lot more expensive once you get there. For example, we went grocery shopping for our hike and fruit snacks that are normally $1.00 USD at our grocery store in Utah were selling for $5.50 in Maui. Just plan accordingly and I would pack some snacks.

Beach Towel: the hotel beach towels are always so small. I would bring your own. I got ours from Costco but you can find some cute ones like the one below that will fit more than one person & make for a super cute Instagram photo.

Snorkel: I am a little big of a germaphobe and the thought of renting a snorkel that hundreds if not thousands of other people from all over the world has used grosses me out. So I bought one from Amazon and you can find the two I like here & here. I tried the full face snorkel and loved it but Derek hated it. So to each their own. You can also go snorkel any time you want and don’t have to worry about returning your snorkel or having to schedule a tour in order to go snorkeling. We have four snorkels between the two of us. Derek was a boy scout, so you always have to be prepared! 😉

Beach Bag: I love having a bag that fits everything I need and I don’t have to worry about it laying in the sand or stuffing a damp sandy beach towel in it. You can find the one I bought here.

Water Bottle: Bottled water is pricey everywhere but plastic is so bad for our ocean too! Most restaurants in Hawaii are starting to not even give out straws unless you request one. So save money while saving the ocean and opt to refill your water bottle at your hotel. You can find my favorite one below but you can also find the super popular HydroFlasks all over the islands that are taking over Hawaii!

GoPro: You will definitely want some cool underwater photos while snorkleing or scuba diving like the one below. So bring your GoPro or get one before you head to the island. They’re more expensive once you get there. I have the Hero 5 that Derek got me for my birthday a few years ago & love it. You can get it here.

** Just adding that you CANNOT touch the turtles in Hawaii. All sea turtles in Hawaii are protected by both State and Federal Law! It is illegal to kill, capture, touch or harass sea turtles. Fines can be as high as $25,000 and may include a year in prison. So if you are lucky enough to have one swim by you, admire from afar like we did. One swam right under me and I think I had a panic attack trying to back stroke out of it’s way. Still the highlight of our trip.

“First, you were like, whoa!
And then we were like, WHOA! And then you were like, whoa.”Crush the Sea Turtle from Finding Nemo