Updated: Apr 20
Car Rentals and Ebates:
After scouring the internet to find the cheapest car rental on the island, I decided to stay with Hertz. It is my car rental of choice because one, it is a reputable company and also, I am a Gold member with them. You can instantly become a GOLD member too by signing up with them (100% free). Generally its always better to have a membership (example: Gold with Hertz) with a company that earns you award points as you continue to rent. I get free(ish) rentals with Hertz all the time for being a Gold Member. Another benefit to being GOLD is that directly after touchdown - I get in my car and GO. Once I waited over 2 hours for my car in Maui and Hertz awarded me massive points. So all in all I would definitely look into a reward system with the car rental company that you choose. To be super savvy - I always check EBATES for further cash back deals, coupons and rewards. I have gotten checks from Ebates from my vacation spending ($100 or more within 3 month period) just from purchasing car rentals and hotels through them, ie: money I was already going to spend. I consider $30 a day a pretty good price and thats the range I like to stick to for my rental cars, that means getting a Corolla pretty much every time.
Airbnb is my best friend! Honestly I was so skeptical about it at first, but I got over my fear ironically enough in Hawaii! Staying with our host Mike a few years back, made our trip extra special, with inside tips, a free ATV tour in Hana and he was even kind enough to let us use his National Park Pass. Give it a chance if you haven't yet - I will provide a $40 coupon on your first reservation at the bottom of this section for anyone interested. You can book an entire place or private room with kitchen access for making food as well as storing. I typically like to bring SOME food with me - like mac and cheese, peanut butter, oatmeal, mini alcohol bottles etc. I really should write a post on what kinds of foods I bring on my travels, because it gets ridiculous. Laugh all you want but it practically saved us in Wyoming one time when we legit didn't see any food stores for hours, in fact - that entire day.
Day 1: Arrive In Oahu mid afternoon:
After an entire day of flying I am always so exhausted, so I like to keep my first day pretty simple. Jump in the car - thank you Hertz - head to a local market for some food, check into my Airbnb and hit up the first beach I can find. Those mini bottles of alcohol I packed come in handy, so I am set on drinking my way into my first Hawaiian sunset. Malibu and pineapple juice while sun bathing and snorkeling is the plan for the rest of the day.
Cheap n' Savvy Tip: You are allowed 10 bottles of mini alcohol bottles IN your carry on. I always pack a few "minis" in my carry on (for the plane ride of course) and a bigger bottle in my checked bag with small cans of pineapple juice. Malibu, my rum of choice is in a plastic bottle, so this is perfect.
Day 2: Farmers Markets, Hikes and Drives:
Farmers markets are a big thing in Hawaii and you can get the best food on the cheap there! Look up to see if there will be any in your area before making your way to the hiking spots. There are a TON of awesome hikes to be had on Oahu. There's Diamond Head, Koko Head, Pill Box, Crouching Lion, the legal entry up to part of the Haiku Stairs and much much more. I don't have time to describe each of these hikes in this blog post, but if you look up "hikes on Oahu" you will find several. I plan on doing either Koko Head or the Pillbox hike - both offer amazing views and are moderate in time and difficulty. Hiking is free folks and it offers an incredible experience of being outdoors on the island, seeing amazing views and bonding time with your loved one!
After the hike, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens is on my list of places to go and you guessed it - it's $100% free. The gardens offer a surreal experience of being submerged in true Hawaiian beauty and I just have to see it! I'm also going to try my very hardest to make it to Lanikai Beach - depending on my energy level.
Day 3: Fall in love with Hawaii's Rich History:
There is only 1 palace in the states and it is the Lolani Palace in Oahu. The palace is the official residence of Hawaii's last monarchy - King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. The entry isn't free, but the concert every Friday is! The Royal Hawaiian Band presents free concerts on the Lolani Palace Grounds most Fridays from 12pm - 1pm. You can go to the official website to find their schedule. To gain entry onto the palace property is fairly cheap if you want to do the full tour. Tickets range $20 - $27 depending on the experience you're looking to get out of it. Matthew and I love art so we are planning to head to the Hawaii State Art Museum for the free entry as well as to view the finest collection of Hawaiian art on the islands. Afterwards we're straight chilling on Waikiki Beach for some sun, sand and snorkel as well as window shopping! The only thing I have to always purchase on my adventures are Christmas ornaments - always on the lookout for the best one!
Day 4: Go with the Flow:
The last day of any adventure is for driving around and site seeing. Hop in the car, turn the windows down, radio up and stop into every little place that looks interesting. I've gotten a lot of awesome jewelry and hair pieces on the islands at little stumbled upon markets. If you go on Google Maps, study the island and find the scenic spots for picture taking. Let your feet take you where they may!
*Aloha Ke Akua Chapel
*Pay respects at Valley Of The Temples and Byodo-in temple
*Kailua Beach Park
*Kualoa Regional Park (for the Jurassic Park glimpse without paying the price!)