Paradise on the Cheap: Budget Travel in Kauai

Vacation in Kauai doesn't have to cost a fortune. Here's how you experience Kauai without breaking the bank.
Vacation in Kauai doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here’s how you experience Kauai without breaking the bank.
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Thumb through the glossy pages of Condé Nast Traveler magazine and the Hawaiian island of Kauai appears to be a rather upscale destination. Indeed, this island has many of the high-end corporate-owned hotels one expects to find in Hawaii. There is no shortage of well-healed tourists padding around the marble foyer of the Princeville Hotel in Tommy Bahama–brand silk resort wear.

Yet Kauai, by nature, is a laid-back, shirt-off, toes-in-the-sand island. Locals don’t normally pay US$ 350 a night for a room or US$ 70 for dinner, and you needn’t either. If you have more sense than dollars, with a bit of advance planning and knowledge of the island, you can keep costs down and enjoy the best of Kauai.

As with any Pacific island, your greatest cost is just getting there. Airfares to Kauai are not always cheap, so look around for the best deals from the U.S. West Coast. Check Hawaiian Airlines for discount fares from major West Coast cities, Las Vegas or Phoenix.

Kauai, Hawai’i’s Garden Island, has a different shade of green for every day of the week. Photo by Jon Letman
Kauai, Hawai’i’s Garden Island, has a different shade of green for every day of the week. Photo by Jon Letman

Once on Kauai, you can limit expenses by watching where you eat, stay and play. Admittedly, Kauai’s hotels are not cheap, with average daily rates hovering just below US$ 200 a night.

Add on pricey meals of fresh seafood, Hawaiian-style luau feasts, and activities like whale-watching cruises and flight-seeing by helicopter and you have yourself a not-so-inexpensive holiday.

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  1. Thanks for the great tips on low cost activities and food while visiting Kauai. I guess you just have to do some research. I did find a way to lower costs while visiting. I like to stay in vacation rental condos or houses. Since I travel with my family of four it allows us to sread out more and save on meal costs. We just stop at the discounts grocery store on the way in and make most of our meals in, since we’ve got a full kitchen.


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