MAUI (…on a budget!)

Each year when Maui sees that, ONCE AGAIN, it’s won the prestigious award of “Best Island in the World,” it gives all the restaurants, hotels and stores the thumbs-up to increase prices even more. (Or at least that’s how it plays out in my own mind.)

Whales, sea turtles, dolphins, waterfalls, forests, mountains and breathtaking hikes
are just a FEW of the reasons why Maui has held this title for TWENTY consecutive years! But it also explains why it seems impossible to visit this magical place on a budget.

But being a thrifty gal, I’ve discovered some really SIMPLE ways to experience paradise without going broke! Here’s a few tips:

During our walk to breakfast (iPhone)

* FOOD TRUCKS! Maui has some WONDERFUL food trucks and is ALWAYS our 1st stop once we leave the airport! (There’s a parking lot across Costco with several great food truck options. However, check hours!)
* Pack snacks and granola bars. Since all Maui’s food must be shipped in to their island, it’s naturally much more expensive to buy your favorite foods.
* Pack a refillable water bottle. Most resorts have fruit-infused water in the lobby where you can refill and save money throughout the day.
* HAPPY HOUR: Most restaurants offer discounted prices before the evening crowd. My favorite Happy Hour places are Monkey Pod and Japengo.
* GROCERY STORE: We always make a quick stop at the grocery store where we’re not eating out every meal.
* Discount cards from hotel. We’re always grabbing free appetizers or desserts using the discount cards given by the hotel lobby.
* Skip a meal! When in Maui, it’s a MUST to eat (at least ONCE) at Kihei Cafe! Not only is it INCREDIBLE food, there’s enough food to actually SKIP the next meal! We go at least once each visit and I’ve never been able to eat lunch after their AMAZING french toast breakfast (Portuguese sweet bread dipped in our decadent french toast batter … fresh n’ local Bananas & Macadamia Nuts with a coconut syrup.) Remember to bring CASH.

* Rental car: It’s nearly impossible to NOT rent a car when you’re on the most beautiful island in the world. However, you’ll probably save $$$ choosing a rental facility NOT at the airport.
* WALK: During our most recent trip, we skipped the rental car (and daily parking fees) and, as a result, ended-up making some of our BEST memories on FOOT!
* Trolly/Shuttle/Bikes: Many hotels and areas offer FREE services. Just ask!
* Bus: This is NOT for the faint-of-heart (nor a first-timer to Maui), but we purchased a public transit bus ticket ($4 a person per day) to get us all around the island. (Between the waiting time and confusion navigating bus numbers, many would say this is NOT worth the money you’ll save using Uber or renting a car.)

The BEST things are FREE!
* Bluetooth speakers + a FUN playlist = BEST.DAY.EVER!
* Beautiful hikes
* Hidden beach trails
* Turtle, whale and dolphin watching

* Explore on your OWN! Instead of spending all day with a group, save money by discovering Maui’s beauty on your OWN! Not only will you still see all the wonder, you’ll likely get to swim ALONE with a big sea turtle!
* If you’re taking a whale-watching tour, consider a smaller vessel. Not only will you possibly save money, you will probably end-up much closer to the whales than the larger boats.
* This is NOT for the faint-of-heart (nor the easily persuaded), however, if you’re willing to give up 90 minutes of your vacation, viewing a time-share presentation can save you LOTS of money on excursions! (Last year, in exchange for attending a 90-minute presentation, Matthew and I received (2) Helicopter Rides and (2) Whale Watching Tours.)

* Sign-up for notifications of deals with Expedia and other travel sites
* Consider using a credit card that will allow you to earn points for travel
* Consider your risk when paying a tiny-bit less for airfare. Although we knew better, we choose American Airlines based on price and ended-up losing an ENTIRE day due to their mistake. Our return flight was ALSO cancelled which ended-up costing us an extra travel day, PLUS added expense. (Currently, American Airlines is not reimbursing us at all for both of their mistakes and all of our extra expenses.)

* Cash
* Snacks
* Snorkel gear
* Water shoes
* Only the basics! You’ll spend most of your time in a bathing suit. No hair products required. (I always pack light enough where I can simply bring a ‘carry-on’ with me.)

If you have other tips, I’d love to hear!

Meanwhile, click HERE to read “Maui: Favorite Spots” with a list of Maui highlights!

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