Maui on a Budget: The Cheapest Way to Vacation in Maui

Maui on a Budget - Save Money on Food, Activities & Accommodation!

Visiting Maui on a budget is easier than you think! This must-read guide covers how to save money on food, car rentals, hotels and more!

If visiting Maui is your dream vacation, rest assured, you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a trip there. With these tips, you can stay within your budget even as you’re living it up on this fun, friendly island.

How to Save Money When Traveling to Maui

Maui on a Budget

Save Money on Car Rentals

It’s necessary to rent a car in Maui, but you don’t have to pay a fortune for it. Rent an economy car–not only is the rental fee cheaper, you’ll get better gas mileage, too. This is my go-to site for car rentals and some American Express cards offer further discounts on rental insurance. Also, be sure to check with your auto insurance carrier at home to see if it covers rental cars.

Travel in the Off-Season

The off-season and shoulder seasons in Maui are April to May and September to October. Airfare and hotels tend to be cheaper. And for an added perk, it won’t be as crowded. For the best rates on hotels, we always check first.

Rent a Place with a Kitchen

Renting a condo or apartment through Airbnb is a great way to save money on your Maui vacation. Often the rental price itself is very affordable. Beyond that, having your own kitchen means that you can save money by cooking your own food.

Buy Alcohol at the Local Market

We always head to the local market on our first day of arrival to Maui. We like to buy any snacks we didn’t bring with us and, most importantly, buy a few six packs to have on hand at our hotel or apartment. We often travel with this insulated tote bag that doubles as an ice chest for the beach or other outdoor activities.

The Ultimate Guide to Maui on a Budget

Pack Some Snacks

Since it’s an island and 90% of the food has to be imported, packaged food tends to be pretty expensive on Maui. We like to have snacks — like almonds and nature bars — on hand when traveling, so packing these items in our suitcase saves us a ton of money.

Eat at Food Trucks

Food trucks are another great budget-friendly alternative. There’s such a variety that you don’t have to miss out on exotic local fare, and you’ll be getting fun, delicious meals for sometimes half the price of a restaurant. Here’s a list of the best food trucks on Maui according to Yelp reviews.

Go During Happy Hour

If you are going out to restaurants or buying drinks, take advantage of happy hour! Some restaurants keep happy hour going until late afternoon, so you can turn it into an early dinner and maybe even catch the sunset. Some food trucks have happy hour, too.

How to Save Money When Traveling to Maui

Bring Your Own Snorkel Gear

Some hotels provide free snorkel equipment rentals, but if you check ahead, and yours doesn’t, bring your own! We found a travel set of flippers that don’t take up too much room in our luggage so we end up dodging rental fees entirely.

Our favorite place to snorkel is Black Rock in front of the Sheraton Maui, which also happens to be our favorite hotel to stay on the island!

How to Save Money When Traveling to Maui

Explore the Outdoors

Many of the hiking trails in Maui are completely free, and even the ones that charge fees are inexpensive. Part of the wonder of Maui is its lush and diverse environment, with tropical flowers, bamboo, and waterfall-fed diving pools.

A day at the beach is free, too, and you can avoid the temptation of spending money on cabanas and cocktails by hitting up one of the lesser-known spots. Sunning, swimming, and snorkeling in clear waters–priceless. Incidentally, humpback whales visit the southern shores of Maui from November to May, so even during the off-season you can spot them from the beach.

Find Free Entertainment

There are many venues for live music and dancing that are completely free. Some well-known ones are Lahaina Cannery Mall, which has free hula shows and even ukulele lessons, and Kaanapali Beach’s bar district for stage performances.

How to Save Money When Traveling to Maui

Packing Essentials for Maui

Photo Equipment – I highly recommend bringing a GoPro for underwater photos (and a selfie stick!) and a nice camera for land activities. (See our complete travel camera buying guide here.)

Clothing – Sandals or flip flops (I love Rainbow sandals), a couple of swimsuits, sunglasses, and a sun hat are must-haves any time of year. I also highly recommend bringing water shoes.

Rash Guard – I always pack my long-sleeve rash guard on island trips. It protects you from the sun when snorkeling and provides a little warmth if the water is chilly.

Maui Budget Travel Tips

Snorkel Equipment – You’ll save a ton of money by bringing your own and you won’t be stuck with old equipment. We brought this mask and these travel size fins.

Reusable Water Bottle – Refilling your water bottle not only saves money, but it’s so much better for the environment! We use this CamelBak water bottle at home, but if you want something more compact, this collapsible water bottle is perfect for travel days and hiking.

Carry-on Bag Essentials – Visit our Carry-on Packing Guide.

FAQs: Visit Maui on a Budget

When is the cheapest time to visit Maui?

The cheapest time to visit Maui is during the off-season and shoulder seasons, which falls between the months of April to May and September to October. Airfare and hotels tend to be cheaper during these times and you’ll find it to be less crowded as well.

Is food expensive in Maui?

When it comes to grocery shopping in Maui, be prepared for a significant difference in prices compared to the average mainland costs (an average of 60% higher) for essentials like eggs, milk, bread, and more. The cheapest grocery stores include Costco, Walmart, Target and Island Grocery Depot.

Where are the cheapest areas to stay in Maui?

A few of the cheapest areas to find vacation rentals and hotels in Maui are Kihei, Paia, and Kahului.

Plan Your Trip

After traveling consistently for over 15 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights: Going is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. If you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll receive flight deals at up to 90% off. I have traveled all over the world using their flight deals.

Accommodation: offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust Visitors Coverage, which we’ve used for the past 10 years.

Let us book your trip! Looking for a Travel Advisor to help you plan your trip? Contact us here for more information!

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  1. Eric Wilson says:

    I just want to share this adventurer piece of writing. Great!

  2. LOCAL TIP: do not use the sunscreen in the link provided. we are loosing our precious reef due to tourist and their toxic sunscreen. please buy “reef safe” sunscreen and support local by getting one when you arrive at the market. one of my favorites is Raw Love Sunscreen which is plant based. keep Maui beautiful!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      I have yet to find a reef-safe sunscreen that doesn’t doesn’t cause me to burn. Believe me, I would LOVE to recommend one if I could find a great product out there! I’ll give Raw Love a try and fingers crossed I won’t burn this time. :0

      1. check out Mana Foods in Paia, there is a plethora of reef safe sunscreens to try. either that or don’t swim in our oceans after applying 😉 umbrellas are good for shade and proper sunscreen. safe our islands! a hui ho sista