How to Plan an Affordable Family Vacation to Kauai

How to Plan an Affordable Family Vacation to Kauai
Kauai is the northernmost inhabited island in the state of Hawaii. Locally known as the Garden Isle, thousands of tourists visit Kauai every year for its sun, surf and colorful local culture. It is traditionally known to have a more relaxed island atmosphere than the more urban islands of Oahu and Maui. Like the other islands, unfortunately, Kauai can also be expensive to visit. Learn how to plan an affordable and budget-friendly family vacation to Kauai so you can enjoy this Hawaiian paradise without feeling guilty about your bank account.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Plan your vacation around the island's slow tourism season to save on accommodations. Peak travel times are during the spring and most of the summer. However, travel dips during the fall and early winter from September through the first couple of weeks in December, as well as as at the start of the summer in May and June. During this time, room rates at most of Kauai's hotels and resorts can be 20 to 40 percent cheaper.
Step 2
Save money on airfare by not booking a direct flight to Kauai. Most airlines route flights through Honolulu International Airport on the island of Oahu, a 20 minute flight from Lihue International Airport on Kauai. However, connecting flights on major airlines typically cost $100 or more. Instead, book a flight to Oahu and buy a separate ticket on one of Hawaii's discount airlines such as Mokulele Airlines and go! Airlines. As of September 2009, both go! and Mokulele's standard interisland flights start at $49, though they often have sales that bring the costs down to $29 or less.
Step 3
Stock up on snacks and food before heading to one of Kauai's many beaches so you avoid paying for overpriced meals at beachfront restaurants and cafes. Most beach towns have a major local grocery store. For example, cheap ready-made meals can be purchased at Ishihara Market in Waimea, Sueoka's in Koloa, and Kojima's in Kapaa. There are also major chain grocery stores on the island, including Walmart and Safeway.
Step 4
Avoid expensive tourist-focused stores and shops. For example, the ubiquitous Big Save grocery stores can be found across Kauai but are significantly overpriced, as are the Whaler's General Stores found in many tourist shopping districts. If you want to purchase affordable souvenirs, attend one of the many craft fairs held daily around the island. These include the Spouting Horn craft fair at 5163 Lawai Road in Poipu, and the roadside Kapaa Craft Fair found on the edge of the town of Kapaa as you travel northward on Kuhio Highway.
Step 5
Comparison shop if you want to book one of the many paid activities available, such as helicopter tours or kayak and hiking trips along Kauai's world-famous Na Pali coast. There are dozens of tour companies offering similar trips and activities at varying price points, and it's unwise to select the first company you come across. Consult the concierge desk at your hotel for guidance, or review the hundreds of brochures and pamphlets at tour kiosks found at most shopping centers.
Step 6
Explore free activities that let you enjoy Kauai's tropical weather without shelling out money. Because Kauai is the oldest inhabited island in Hawaii, centuries of rain, sun and surf have created stretches of white sand beaches that are open to the public. Examples include Polihale on Kauai's westside, Poipu Beach on its southside and Hanalei Beach on Kauai's northshore. Also explore the island's many state parks (see Resources), such as Kokee State Park where you may catch a glimpse of Hawaii's rare state goose.

Tips & Warnings

All Kauai resorts offer something called a kama'aina discount to residents of the island. If you have friends or family who live on Kauai, ask them to book a hotel for you in their name for significant savings.

Article Written By Josh Duvauchelle

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.

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