Hawaii on a shoestring budget

Virtual Tours

Hapuna Beach
Kahaluu Beach
Kikaua Point Beach
Kua Bay Beach
Kukio Beach
Mauna Kea Beach
Kailua Bay Panorama
Kailua Pier Panorama
Coral Reef Panorama
Halema'uma'u Crater
Kilauea Crater

Kona Hawaii

Kohala Coast

SCUBA Diving
Hapuna Beach
Kealakekua Bay

Captain Cook

Pololu Valley

Waipio Valley

Hawaii Volcano
Place of Refuge

Hawaii Souvenirs

Hawaiian Shirts
Macadamia Nuts
Hawaiian Flowers
Kona Coffee
Hilo Hattie Store
Hawaiian Surfwear


Airline tickets, hotel and car rental reservations




Hawaii on a Budget

Over the years, we have extensively traveled the Big Island and found many bargains and discount deals.   We have compiled them on this page so that you can save money and stick to your budget on your next Big Island vacation.  For more personal stories about vacationing in Hawaii on a Budget, check out our travel blog.

Although Hawaii does live up to its high cost of living reputation, if you plan well and travel smartly you can save a lot of money on your Hawaii vacation.

Whether you are searching for a 5-Star Resort in Kohala, or a bargain hotel in Kailua, you can save tremendously by using internet services to quote and reserve rooms for you.  Check out our no-hassles quick search of current Big Island hotel prices.  We only offer internet bargains and the best deals, please check out our exclusive Hotel Rebate Coupons for the Big Island.  For cheap airfare deals, use our airline search.  Traveling with a large group or family? Why not take a look at vacation rentals as cheap as $100 per night? Vacation rentals include full kitchens - so you can save a lot of money by not eating out for every meal.

Kona Hotels starting at $78
Our comprehensive Hotel Search Engine finds the best hotels at the lowest prices.  Check out our Kona Hotels Finder - focused search of Kona Hotels, sorted by price.

Hilo Hotels starting at $72
Our comprehensive Hotel Search Engine finds the best hotels at the lowest prices.  Check out our Hilo Hotels Finder - focused search of Hilo Hotels, sorted by price.

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Accommodations Articles

Where to Stay
Three different parts of the island to stay - which is best for you

Bargain or 5 Star Hotel
You can still find a bargain on the Big Island, or splurge at a resort

Vacation Rentals
Want more room?  Big Island Vacation rentals can be great deal

Waikiki Hotels
Check out the latest deals for hotels on Oahu

Deals and Discounts
There are still many bargains to be had on the Big Island.

Coupons - pick up the latest free copy of BIG ISLAND GOLD at most tourist publication locations.  What sets this publication apart from the others is the prolific coupons section in the back.  Save money on tours, activities, SCUBA diving, rentals, clothing, and food.

Gas - the cheapest gas in Kona is at the Costco gas station at the edge of Kailua-Kona, but you must be a Costco member.  Gas is cheaper in Hilo than on any other part of the island - so if you are in that neighborhood, fill'er up! 

Souvenirs - for very reasonably priced souvenirs, make sure you check out the special Hawaiian souvenir section at Wal-Mart; you'll find clothing, curios, and more.  Also, there are decent bargains in souvenirs at the various ABC Stores located in Kona.  If you plan on buying anything from the Hilo Hattie store, make sure you clip their coupon in the Big Island Gold tourist magazine.

Tours - If you plan on signing up for tours and activities, make your reservations in advance to make avoid being overbooked.  Also, try to book your activites online in advance - it is cheaper than in person once you get there.

Macadamia Nuts - Longs Drug Stores in Hilo often have sizeable sales on their macadamia nuts and Kona coffee.

Free Internet - In Kailua-Kona, there is free wireless internet at Denny's Restaurant (Henry St.) and at Island Lava Java cafe (Ali'i Drive).

Military Discounts - If you are a military service member, make sure you inquire with the local vendors, many offer military discounts including Hilo Hattie, and many dive operators.  Make sure you take a look at the Kilauea Military Camp at the Volcanoes National Park.  Also, Hilo Hattie's souvenir store and many dive operators offer a military discount - make sure you ask for it!

Golf Tee Times
There are numerous world-class golf courses that you can play while on vacation to the Big Island.  Check out our discount tee times for golf courses in Kohala.  We offer tee times at the best Big Island Golf courses including: Big Island Country Club, Kona Country Club, Makalei Golf Club, Volcano, and Waikoloa golf courses.  Make your reservations early to guarantee your preferred date and time - use our online reservation tool and save money now. 

Best Gear Rentals
The price of rental gear and equipment on the Big Island can vary tremendously.  Don't worry if you don't own all of your gear - you can purchase snorkeling and beach gear or simply rent them during your stay.  Here are a few reasonably prices gear rentals that we recommend.

Aloha Kayak Co - Hawaiian-owned and located in Honalo, just North of Kealakekua Bay, offers great deals on Kayak rentals, tours, snorkel gear and roof-racks for any car or truck.  Let the local style guys at Aloha Kayak Co help you enjoy kayaking.

Nautilus Dive Center - located in downtown Hilo on Kamehameha Ave, offers great deals on diving equipment, dive certification courses, and snorkel gear as well.  Rent your tanks and BCDs for the best prices on the island.  Phone (808) 935-6939.

Sandwich Island Divers - located in the Coconut Grove Marketplace in downtown Kailua-Kona offer great service on their dives as well as a full service dive shop and gear sales.  Rent tanks from Sandwich Island as well, if you plan on doing your own shore diving. Phone Toll Free 1-888-743-3483 or 808-329-9188  http://www.sandwichisledivers.com/

Snorkel Bob's - located in the parking lot of the Royal Kona Resort on Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona, offers all the gear you will need.  You can rent snorkeling gear, body boards, beach coolers, beach chairs, umbrellas, and more. Rent for the day or for the whole week.  Prices are very reasonable. Phone 808-329-0770

Cheapest Food
Unlike the other Islands, you can still find food bargains here on the Big Island.  These restaurants are low on price but high on taste and value.  Enjoy a great meal without paying the exorbitant tourist prices.  You can also check out our full listings of Kailua-Kona restaurants and Hilo restaurants.

Heading out for a full day of activities?  Pack your lunch the night prior (take-out from a Plate Lunch restaurant) or pick it up in the morning on your way out the door (Buns in the Sun Bakery serves breakfast and lunch starting at 5 AM).


Bale Kona Sandwich & Vietnamese Food
74-5588 Palani Rd
Kailua Kona, HI 96740
(808) 327-1212

Bale is a casual dining Vietnamese restaurant.  Serving a large Vietnamese menu and a variety of French-inspired sandwiches, Bale is a tasty, affordable restaurant.  Also located in Hilo.

Buns in the Sun Inc
75-5595 Palani Rd # A10
Lanihau Shopping Center

Kailua Kona, HI 96740
(808) 326-2774

Buns in the Sun is a busy little Bakery/Deli.  Serving sandwiches and freshly baked breads, this is a great place to pick up some food on your way to the beach or the volcano.  Buns also serves breakfast and lunch starting at 5:00AM - perfect for an early start.  You have to try their Kalua Pig Sandwich, Ono Fish Fillet, Kona Cheese steak, Paniolo Grille.

Cuz'ns Deli
Kona Inn Shopping Village

Cuz'ns is waterfront, nestled within the shops of the Kona Inn Shopping Village.  Hot and cold sandwiches, ice cream, and internet access with a beautiful view of the ocean and Kailua pier.  Eat inside or outside.  This is a great spot to grab a cone of macadamia nut ice cream, then walk out on the sea wall and watch the sunset!

Hayashi's You Make the Roll - Sushi Take Out
Kona Marketplace
75-5725 Alii Drive, D-101
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
(808) 326-1322

You Make the Roll is the best sushi restaurant in Kailua-Kona!  Although the restaurant itself is nothing more than a take-out counter with a few outdoor cafe-style tables, looks are deceiving...  This sushi restaurant is a hidden gem, tucked away in the rear of the Kona Marketplace (entrance faces Sarona Rd.), near Sandwich Island Divers.  The sushi is delicious, the rolls are huge, and the prices are unbeatable!

Kamuela Deli
Kona Coast Shopping Center
Kailua Kona, HI 96740
(808) 334-0017

Kamuela Deli is your typical Hawaiian lunch counter deli.  Serving a mix of Asian cuisines, and local "plate lunches" with a uniquely Hawaiian flavor.  Korean kalbi, teriyaki, sandwiches, mac salad, and more.  This is a tasty, very affordable restaurant.


1 Plus 1 Cafe
315 Makaala St. Suite 110
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 961-6288

This is also located near Wal-Mart and Office Max., but is just outside the food court.  It is a Chinese restaurant--not gourmet Chinese dishes like Happy Valley, but it's the best place in town for Chinese noodle dishes, especially the various noodle soups. Lovely "Kwey Tiao," although they don't call it that.

Freddies Manono Mini Mart
454 Manono St
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 935-0611

Manono Mini Mart is a lunch counter deli that has a great variety of fresh sandwiches.  This is a perfect place to pick up your lunch on the go - on the way to the beach or the volcano.

Kalbi Express
315 Makaala Street, Suite 106 D
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 935-7997

This is a Korean lunch-counter restaurant in the Waiakea Food Court Pavilion near Wal-Mart. Food with Island flair, very reasonably priced.  Serves typical Hawaiian-style "plate lunches".

Ocean Sushi Deli
239 Keawe St
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 961-6625

Ocean Sushi Deli has fantastic sushi.  They offer a wide ranging menu with a local Hawaiian twist - don't forget to try the Big Island Roll!  They serve a wonderful scallop roll with melted cheese on top!  Prices are reasonable and Ocean Sushi is located right downtown in Hilo.

Travel Planning Articles

Planning your Trip
When to come, how long to stay, itineraries, good guide books

Big Island Transportation
How to travel to the attractions, how to get there, plan your driving

Vacations for Families
Best family beaches, activities for youngsters, infants, teens

Packing for your Trip
The Big Island scenery is as diverse as its weather - pack smart

Gear Guide
ake sure you are outfitted with the right gear

Hawaii Ocean Activities

Body Glove Snorkel Dolphin Sail
Body Glove SnorkelGo sailing with Body Glove Cruises - see playful Hawaii dolphins, and snorkel with brilliantly colored tropical fish and sea turtles on a snorkeling adventure at Pawai Bay, near Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii!  The whole family will love the 15-foot waterslide, and the high-dive platform makes a big "splash" with the kids, as well as those who are kids at heart.

Fair Wind Kealakekua Bay Snorkel
Captain Cook Snorkel Slide down the Fair Wind II's water slide into the pristine waters of Kealakekua Bay, a marine sanctuary, and enjoy snorkeling or diving with 80-100 feet visibility!  Everything you’ll need for snorkeling is provided – masks, snorkels, fins, etc.

Sea Caves Snorkel and Kayak Adventure
Kayak the Sea CavesKayak along beautiful sea cliffs, over underwater lava tubes, into mysterious sea caves and go snorkeling in aqua waters filled with tropical reef fish!  After traveling along sea cliffs adorned with interesting arches and blowholes, you’ll kayak into a sea cave with pink walls and electric blue waters.  Explore a protected, clear, calm cove for snorkeling and swimming.

Deep Sea Fishing
Kona Deep Sea FishingExplore Kona's world-famous fishing grounds aboard the Sea Wife II, and keep your catch! Without a doubt, this is the best sportfishing value on the Big Island.  Share a trip or on an Exclusive Charter, the Captain and crew of Sea Wife Charters are friendly, experienced and will work hard to find that fish you are looking for! You can expect to catch Mahi Mahi, Ono, tuna, short nose spearfish, striped marlin or smaller blue marlin and much more.

Atlantis Submarine Adventure Kona
Atlantis Submarine AdventureDescend 100 feet to explore a 25-acre natural Hawaiian coral reef and its inhabitants aboard a 48-passenger submarine!  Every dive is unique and you never know what you will see... beautiful, vibrant reef fish, eels, lobster... maybe even a turtle or a reef shark!

hawaii big island vacation rentals

Your recreational activities should cost the least during your vacation - hiking is free, just look in our guide to find where to go.  Sightseeing can be breathtaking on the Big Island, we have given you the details to plan your vacation.  And of course, all beaches have free public access.  With crystal clear Hawaiian waters, and abundant sea life, your time at the beaches will be a memorable one.  Do not miss Honaunau, Kayaking, Captain Cook, Kapoho Tidal Pools the Petroglyphs, and of course the Volcanoes National Park.

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