Yesterday, I read that the price of the average hotel stay in Hawaii is $300.00 per night and expected to rise. Tourism officials are concerned that increasing prices will hurt tourism. I then read several articles that concerns about the volcano on the Big Island are creating irrational travel fears and people are cancelling or delaying their trips. Neither the volcano or a limited budget should keep people from traveling to Hawaii.

When I told people we were going to Hawaii, several people asked me if I was worried about the erupting volcano. Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Hawaii (aka The Big Island) are the islands most tourists visit in the Hawaiian archipelago. Kauai is over 300 miles from the Big Island. Oahu is about 200 miles away. Even if we had been booked to go the Big Island, we would have not changed our plans. Kona and Hilo along with the vast majority of the Big Island are not being impacted by the eruptions at Kilauea.

We recently returned from an eight night vacation in Hawaii. Our first five nights were spent on the beautiful island of Kauai and the final three nights were on the North Shore of Oahu. We spent $1,117.00 for eight nights of lodging including all taxes and fees. A significant savings over the estimated $2,400.00 it would have cost if we were spending the average of $300.00 a night. Truthfully, we could have spent even less on lodging but we like certain amenities and a fair bit of privacy.

I’ve written before about how to control lodging costs and I’ll repeat some of those tips here.

Airbnb is the budget traveler’s friend. On the  North Shore of Oahu, where there is exactly one traditional type of lodging, the very beautiful and expensive Turtle Bay Resort, you can find accommodations on Airbnb that allow you spend a fraction of the money and still experience all of the beauty of the North Shore. Less than a month ahead of our travel date, we were able to book a large studio with full bath, kitchen, washer and dryer, beach chairs, and more for a total of $499.00 on Airbnb. We spent three nights in a secure, gated, ocean front community. It was a quick walk to the beach which we mostly had to ourselves each day. We spent the mornings and evenings relaxing in our beach chairs. The sunsets were amazing. The hosts live on site but since the studio is separate from the main house, we had plenty of privacy. In fact, most hotel stays aren’t this private. The cheapest room at the Turtle Bay Resort for the same time period would have cost a little over $500.00 per night not including taxes and resort fees.

There are still some old fashioned, family owned motels and hotels in the Hawaiian Islands. On Kauai, we stayed at the Kauai Palms Hotel in Lihue. Kauai Palms provides clean, comfortable, and safe budget accommodations. We were lucky to get a room there since we only planned about a month ahead of time for this trip. Every room was sold out during our five night stay. We had a large air-conditioned studio with a king-size bed and a kitchenette on the ground floor. Total cost for five nights was $618.00.

No matter where we travel, I always check Airbnb and compare their offerings with local hotels. All of our Airbnb stays have been good to excellent. A few friends have asked me if we have had any safety or privacy concerns. The answer is no. Just like any type of accommodations, you have to make sure you read the entire description and the reviews. If an Airbnb listing doesn’t have any reviews, I skip the listing. If the description is vague or they post very few photos, I skip it. There are usually many options and the savings are sometimes significant over staying in a local hotel.

When we stay at hotels, I always ask about AAA and AARP discounts. I also double-check whether booking online or paying upfront saves me money.  I just saved over $200.00 on an upcoming stay in Estes Park, Colorado because I booked online and prepaid.  Accommodations are a significant part of any travel budget, so saving even small amounts adds up over time.

Don’t delay visiting the Hawaiian Islands because you think it is too expensive. Your biggest costs will be airfare, lodging, rental cars, and food. There are ways to save money on all of these costs. Hopefully, this post has given you some ideas about alternatives to costly hotels and resorts no matter where you are traveling.