Hawaii is a bucket-list destination not just for its natural beauty and big waves but also for its price tag. Getting there is expensive, especially for travelers who don’t live on the West Coast of the U.S., and spending multiple nights can get pricey for everyone. Good weather year-round means there’s no true “off season” in Hawaii, and these days even “budget” hot spots like Waikiki Beach are getting more expensive.
That’s the bad news.
The good news? You can still totally afford Hawaii.
I’ve uncovered several cheap hotels in Hawaii that offer some real savings, plus easy access to all the magic the Aloha State has to discover, leaving you more money for things like mai tais, luaus, and catamaran cruises with dolphins.
I compared prices for November and December stays at a number of affordable hotels in Hawaii and picked those that offer a unique Aloha State experience.
Cheap Hotels in Oahu
Although it’s pricier than in years past, Oahu’s Waikiki Beach is still the best place to find cheap hotels in Hawaii. While some bemoan it as a manufactured paradise—and it can definitely get crowded and touristy—it offers lots of value, a great location, and an amazing beach at your fingertips (or toes).
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel is a great place to start. The hotel itself is fun and modern, with surfboards in the lobby and a relaxed but lively atmosphere geared toward the younger crowd at the pool and bar. Most rooms have ocean views, which generally come at a premium on this stretch of Waikiki.
Vive Hotel Waikiki
Rooms at the Vive Hotel Waikiki may be on the small side, but its location—just two blocks from Waikiki Beach—and moderate rates make up for it. You can relax in the welcoming lobby, where you can borrow a book from the library, play one of the hotel’s board games, or grab a drink from the 24-hour tea and coffee station. Towels, chairs, and boogie boards are available to take to the beach, and each room has a tablet for guests to use.
Book it: Get prices for Vive Hotel Waikiki
Coconut Waikiki Hotel
Located about a 10-minute walk from the beach, the family-friendly Coconut Waikiki makes up for its less convenient location with fun extras such as a game room and a popcorn machine in the lobby. Most rooms have kitchenettes, so you can save even more money by making a few of your own meals. Even if you’re in a room without a kitchenette, you can grill up a quick dinner in the hotel’s communal BBQ area.
Book it: Get prices for Coconut Waikiki Hotel
Cheap Hotels in Maui
With golden-sand beaches and the twisting Road to Hana, Maui is an exciting destination for outdoorsy types and romance seekers. The sheer diversity of things to do is what draws visitors to its shores—luckily, you don’t have to spend a lot to be among their numbers. I found two hotel possibilities on Maui that offer surprising savings.
Ka’anapali Beach Hotel
The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, on 11 acres alongside Ka’anapali Beach, is a good jumping-off point for your island adventures. Located near Lahaina, the resort earns its four stars from TripAdvisor (SmarterTravel’s parent company) for convenience and price alike. Also worth mentioning? A great reef just offshore gets you a priceless personal encounter with sea turtles, rays, and tropical fish in a rainbow of colors. The hotel is on the older side, but rooms are spacious, clean, and bright—in every way, traditionally Hawaiian.
Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger
Outrigger, a Hawaii-based retailer of inexpensive resorts in tropical places (Guam, Fiji, Mauritius, and so on), operates Napili Shores in Lahaina. Studios and one-bedroom condos have full kitchens and private lanais, perfect for getting wide-angle views of the Pacific and the islands of Molokai and Lanai on the horizon. The resort has pools, BBQ facilities, and even a giant checkerboard game.
Cheap Hotels on the Big Island (Hawaii)
Home to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Big Island is the place to be for hikers, trekkers, campers, and explorers. There’s a lot of legroom on this large island, with a sense of wide-open spaces among the extreme geological features.
Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel
If you want a beachfront resort experience without paying a mint, consider King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, a Marriott property. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of the shops and restaurants of downtown Kona. The hotel recently added an Adult Fun Zone that features a variety of complimentary games such as bocce ball, corn hole, and table tennis. Also on site are a yoga studio, tennis center, infinity pool, and hot tub.
Kohala Village Inn
For travelers who prefer intimate accommodations to big resorts, the Kohala Village Inn is an appealing and affordable option. The 18 plantation-style guest rooms are clean and simply furnished, with mini-refrigerators and free Wi-Fi. The inn is part of a nonprofit organization that also includes a pub serving food grown by local farmers and a center for community activities such as dance, fitness, and art classes. A stay here offers a peek into life in a laid-back town in the northern part of the Big Island.
Book it: Get prices for Kohala Village Inn
Cheap Hotels in Kauai
Kauai is called the Garden Isle because of its undiscovered charm and lush natural scenery. It’s also popular among the honeymooning crowd, which means one thing: Kauai can get very expensive. Staying in a condo with kitchen facilities is one good way to save a few bucks.
Garden Island Inn Hotel
A friendly motel near Kalapaki Beach and the Lihue airport, the Garden Island Inn Hotel packs value into every stay. All rooms include kitchenettes, free Wi-Fi, and daily fresh-cut flowers from the inn’s gardens. There are plenty of goodies for guests to borrow, including golf clubs, beach chairs, ice chests, DVDs, and beach towels. You can walk to restaurants and the beach, and nearby attractions include Wailua Falls and the Kauai Museum.
Castle Kaha Lani
Looking for a little more space? Consider the one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos at Castle Kaha Lani, also in the Lihue area. All units include full kitchen facilities and private balconies, and laundry machines are available on site. The property is next door to Lydgate Beach Park, which has two protected lagoons where children can swim safely. There’s also a 2.5-mile paved coastal path for walking, jogging, or bike riding.
Book it: Get prices for Castle Kaha Lani
For more ideas, see The 10 Best Kauai Hotels for Every Budget.
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Sarah Schlichter contributed to this story. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.
Editor’s Note: This story was first written in 2014. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.