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.
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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 Booking.com 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.
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.
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!
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.
Packing Essentials for Maui
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.
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
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.
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.
A few of the cheapest areas to find vacation rentals and hotels in Maui are Kihei, Paia, and Kahului.