Maui is a beautiful part of Hawaii. It has stunning beaches, gorgeous resorts, beautiful hula shows, and breathtaking coastlines. If you don’t plan well, all that beauty and fun can end up costing you a lot. Fortunately, Maui offers many affordable and free ways to enjoy the island, as I have learned from more than 20 trips.
Keep in mind the season: Summer is expensive due to many families heading to the beach to enjoy a summer vacation while school is out. Winter can be expensive due to the influx of snowbirds fleeing the freezing temperatures. Spring and fall are likely to be more expensive than winter, as well as for accommodations and your rental car and flights.
The Costco is a mile from the airport in Kahului, and it’s a popular stop for wise visitors to Maui. It’s a great spot to stock up on groceries and fresh produce if you rent a property with a kitchen. You’ll also save a lot of money at the small specialty shops located in tourist areas. You can also save money on wine, liquor, snorkel gear, and Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops.
These extravagant hotel luaus are great. They often include delicious food, beautiful performances by men and women, as well fire juggling and other acts. They can be costly. For example, the Old Lahaina Luau will cost $125 per person. You can save a lot by getting free shows at the main resorts or at one of the small shopping centers on the island.
At sunset, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa offers a nightly cliff diving ceremony. A young man dressed in a loincloth runs about lighting the tiki torch, then proceeds to a high point where lava rocks arch out over the water. He then dives headfirst into ocean. It’s touristy, yes, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s also free to view.
Ka’anapali Beach Hotel claims to be the “most Hawaiian” resort on the island. It offers free music and dance performances every night at an outdoor stage. The little ones perform and it’s great fun for all ages. Lahaina Cannery Mall offers free hula classes and regular hula performances.
At the Napili Ka Beach Resort, on Napili beach, George Kahumoku Jr., a multiple-Grammy-winning, slack-key guitar player, entertains guests with wild stories, virtuoso performances with different artists and hula dancing. Admission is $37.99 for the Wednesday night shows.
Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, which is located on a 3-mile stretch of beach, is one of the more affordable options. It offers breathtaking sunsets and all types of water sports. You can also learn how to make a lei and ukelele at no cost. In Lahaina, the Plantation Inn is also owned by the owners. The inn has nice, simple rooms and a small swimming pool. It is also just two minutes from excellent shopping and restaurants. The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel offers free use to guests staying at the Inn.
The Old Wailuku Inn in Ulupono, Maui’s capital is known for its clean rooms and delicious Hawaiian-style breakfast. The Hana Kai Maui resort offers condo-style units at reasonable prices. Some units have ocean views.
Hotels in Wailea are usually quite costly, while the Kihei region is much more affordable, although it can be windy.
A home rental is always an option. Condos and condo-style units are also good options. You will want to find a place that has a grill. There are few things more enjoyable than cooking your meal over an open fire with a Hawaiian cocktail in hand, and watching the sun set over the ocean.
Avoid the resorts and beaches and instead stick to Kahana and Kihei’s small shopping centers. This is where the locals shop. It’s also possible to save money by going to Haiku, Wailuku, or Makawao (a cowboy town). A mixed plate is a dish that includes beef, chicken, macaroni salad or potato salad. It can be found in almost every village or town in Hawaii. Although the carb load can be quite high, they are usually very affordable (from $12 to $18 at Aloha Mixed Plate, Lahaina) and filling.
Maui Tacos can be found in the Wailea shopping center. There is also an 808 Deli that serves some of the best sandwiches in the entire island. Food trucks are often found at Makena Beach, south of Wailea. Sam Sato’s is known for its simple, delicious, and filling meals in an industrial area near Wailuku. Although it won’t win any awards for design, it offers excellent value for those on a tight budget.
You can also find great deals at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop just south of Lahaina. They offer delicious meat pies and other goodies. CJ’s Deli & Diner in Kaanapali offers a wide range of breakfast options and serves enough food for an NFL offensive lineman. Nahiku Marketplace is a group of casual shops set in a natural setting near Hana that serves Thai food.
Wailea and Kapalua are big courses that can be expensive at $150 to $225. There are many nice and affordable golf courses in Maui. These include Pukalani Country Club, upcountry Maui, and Waiehu Municipal Course. This course boasts more holes along the coast than any other on the island. Nonresidents pay $63 on weekends, and $58 on weekdays for green fees at Waiehu. Also, look out for twilight rates. Multiday passes are a great way to save money if you have to play one the more well-known courses.