Oahu on a budget

The most frequent question I get is “ How can we vacation in Oahu on a budget”? First of all I suggest you book a package deal that includes airfare and hotel. This will save you greatly. Try to travel in the fall or winter for fantastic savings. It doesn’t matter when you go, Oahu’s weather is always the same. I usually travel on a tight budget and I learned to do this by browsing websites just like this one . The first thing you should do is find cheap airfare or a cheap package deal. The best place to find the cheapest rates is BookingBuddy . You can check out flight and hotel prices by clicking the text link.  Another really good place to check out low airfare prices is my flight search.  you can price a flight at the link below.

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The first thing you must do when you get to Oahu is pick up ;the free booklets and magazines you will find at the airport and on the streets in Waikiki. These magazines or brochures are called “This week Oahu”, “101 Things To Do In Oahu”, “Spotlight Oahu” etc. These booklets are full of “two for one” coupons, free food, discounts and maps of the Waikiki / Honolulu area. These booklets are a great way to save money when you are visiting Oahu on a budget. Most hotels have a refrigerator and some have a coffee pot and microwave. When I go to Oahu on a budget, I always take a package of unopened frozen sliced ham in a container in my luggage. It is still cold when I get to the hotel. On my first day I walk to Ala Mona Shopping Center and go to longs and Foodland. I buy my lettuce, tomatoes and a 12 pack of soda. I usually also bring a few cup of soups, coffee and snacks. This is a really great way to save money. You can make a ham sandwich each day for lunch in your hotel, at the beach or a park. Cutting out one meal from a restaurant saves quite a bit. There are some good inexpensive places to eat in Waikiki on a budget. Besides McDonalds, Taco Bell, and other fast food chains, there are these inexpensive restaurants with very good food:


Generous all-you-can-eat buffets every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. The price is only $15.95 for adults and $9.95 for children under 12 years old.


These unfussy retro diners offer a short course in local style breakfasts, rice instead of potatoes, fish or Portuguese sausage instead of bacon, steaming bowls of noodles with generous portions, low prices, and pronounced flavors. Breakfast is served all day.
Big City Diner
1060 Auahi St.
Honolulu, HI.
In the Ward Entertainment Center
Phone: (808) 591-8891


If you are wondering what the aloha spirit is all about, check out this family owned local style restaurant in the industrial section of Kaneohe. Brothers Ricky and Jesse treat their guests like family. At breakfast, the signature dish is Macadamia nut pancakes. At lunch, Pulehu Ribs. They serve generous portions at family friendly prices.
Boots and Kimo’s Home-style Kitchen
1321 Hekili St., Ste. 102
Kaneohe, Hi.
Phone: (808) 263-7929


This restaurant is known for it’s uncommon variations on common breakfast themes (pancakes, eggs Benedict, French toast, home style fries and eggs), Lunch and dinner feature local style plate lunch and a diner style menu. This local favorite is in a hard to find Kailua office park.


This place is where the after work crowd gathers for potent margaritas and delicious pupus. The restaurant has wooden floors, colorful phootographs and lively paintings that create a festive setting. Compadres defines itself as “western cooking with a Mexican accent”. The menu includes: Fajitas, baby back ribs, pork carnitas and tortilla encrusted chicken.
Compadres Mexican Grill
1200 Ala Moana Blvd.
Honolulu, Hi.
Located in the Ward Center
Phone: (808) 591-8307


This place is one great café for people visiting Oahu on a budget that like healthier foods. This tasteful lunch spot offers a healthy menu that is hard to find in Honolulu. They have homemade soups, crostini of the day, innovative sandwiches garnished with fruit, and a hummus plate with fresh pita. The Café is located in Makiki Heights above the city, next to the contemporary museum.
The Contemporary Museum
2411 Makiki Heights Dr.
Honolulu, Hi
Phone: (808) 523-3362


This is a plate lunch place, a gourmet market, a deli, a bakery and an espresso bar all rolled into one. It is a five minute hop from Waikiki. A take out window offers grilled sandwiches or plates ranging from teriyaki beef to Portobello mushrooms. The deli is filled with heat and eat dishes that change daily. There are packaged Japanese bento lunchboxes, giant scones, enticing desserts and even a small wine selection. Diamond Head Market and Grill
3158 Monsarrat ave.
Honolulu, Hi
Phone: (808) 732-0077


Southern food is hard to come by in Hawaii. This restaurant is always crowded with military families and other southerners hungry for hush puppies, grits, barbecue and Dixie beer. This place can get loud, but it is family friendly with a sand box for the kids.
Dixie Grill
404 Ward Ave.
Honolulu, Hi
Phone: (808) 596-8359


This is a favorite of Waikiki hotel workers for it’s late hours (11:00pm till 2:00pm daily). This restaurant has a hearty, country style menu with a few island touches like tropical pancake syrups and fresh grilled fish. There is always a line to get in.
Eggs and Things
Hawaiian Monarch Hotel
1911-b Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, Hi.
Phone: (808) 949-0820


This restaurant is the little sister of Duke’s Waikiki downstairs. The restaurant resembles an open air Plantation summer home. It has stone flagged floors, warm wood, and floral prints. The food quality is really good. They offer standard items and steaks and grilled seafood for dinner. There is a great view of Diamond Head from the restaurant.
Hula Grill
Outrigger Waikiki On The Beach
2335 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, Hi.
Phone: (808) 923-4852


Once a chef in one of the city’s best known fine dining restaurants, Nico Chaiz opened a place of his own, where he could work the hours he wanted to work and serve regular people, who love good food at reasonable prices. He decided to open next to The Honolulu Fish Auction, where he could get fresh fish. The café has received universal critical acclaim for it’s upscale plate lunches of seaweed crusted tuna steaks and the fish and egg breakfasts.
Nicos At Pier 38
1133 N. Nimitz Hwy.
Pier 38
Honolulu Hi.
Phone: (808) 540-1377


The South Shore Grill is just a couple of minutes outside of Waikiki on Monsarrat. This is a great place to eat before going sightseeing for the day. The ample portions are very inexpensive. This is not your regular plate lunch. They offer Ciabatta bread sandwiches, entrée salads, and stuffed burritos.
South Shore Grill
3114 Monsarrat Ave
Honolulu, Hi.
(808) 734-0229


This restaurant only offers three items: Burger, fries and shakes, but they make these three items very, very well. The burgers are beefy, the fries are crispy and perfect and the shakes are rich and sweet. There are now three locations in Oahu.
In Waikiki
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers
134 Kapahulu Ave.
Honolulu, Hi.
(808) 926-3444


This place is a great place to eat. It is a regular old fashioned coffee shop that gets very busy. The offer a great plate lunch for hearty eaters. Most checks are under $9.00 and they offer a $1.95 kids menu. This diner is open 24 hours per day 365 days per year.
Wailana Coffee House
Wailana Condominium ground floor
1860 Ala Moana Blvd (corner of Ena Road and Ala Moana Blvd)
Honolulu, Hi
Phone: (808) 9551674

With the meals out of the way, lets concentrate on activities, attractions and shopping. Even though you are in Oahu on a budget, there is still a lot of things to see and do, even for those on a really tight budget. If you want to go shopping in Waikiki on a budget, I suggest you go to Duke’s lane or King’s alley next to the International Marketplace. Walk through the whole alley before you buy anything. The prices change from booth to booth. Don’t settle on the first price, haggle. If you really want to save, I suggest that the only place you should shop is at the Aloha Flea Market. You can catch the bus to the flea market on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, or you can catch the Aloha flea market shuttle for about $6.00 round trip. This is probably the best way to shop in Oahu on a budget. You will find Aloha shirts for $10.00 and Hawaiian dresses for $10.00. You will find high quality items for really great prices. I would also suggest that you go early and walk over and see Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri first. You can do two things in the same day and save more money. Pearl Harbor is only about 1 block away and admission is free. Go to Pearl Harbor first, because it fills up quickly.

Now let’s talk about Discovering Oahu’s adventures that won’t bust you budget:

1) A great patriotic adventure you can do in Oahu on a budget is to visit Pearl Harbor and tour the USS Arizona Memorial, The USS Missouri and the USS Bowfin museum. Admission to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial are free and you can catch the bus to Pearl Harbor from Waikiki for about $1.50.

2) There are no private beaches on Oahu, so you can enjoy any of Oahu's best beaches, I suggest Lanikai Beach or Kailua Beach. These beaches are also reachable by bus for about $1.50.

3) Kahuku Golf Course offers golf for about $20.00 per round.

4) The US Army Museum located in Waikiki at Fort Derussy shows how important the roll of Hawaii played in keeping the United States safe in World War I, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam. This is a great museum to visit while in Oahu on a budget because Admission is Free. Located on the beach in Waikiki close to the Hale Koa hotel.

5) Even if you are in Oahu on a budget, you have to snorkel. There are a lot of places on the beach in Waikiki that offer snorkeling equipment for about $10.00 per day.

6) Queen Emma Summer Palace contains an impressive collection of personal artifacts that belonged to the Royal Family. Admission is $5.00 for adults and children are free.

7) Nature walks and hiking are fun ways to get fresh air and exercise while discovering Oahu and it’s environment. There are a lot of easy to access state trails with easy to moderate challenge levels. Most trails are free, but some have a $1.00 or $2.00 use fee. I suggest Manoa falls or Diamond Head, both are close to Waikiki Hotels.

8) Discover Oahu on a budget with a narrated walking tour of historic downtown Honolulu. You will see Iolani Palace, the Mission House Museum, King Kamehameha Statue and many other historic landmarks. The Mission House Museum offers narrated walking tours for about $15.00 per person. You can also walk the Landmarks on your own Free. The bus to downtown Honolulu costs about $1.50.

9) Queen Kapiolani Park is a beautiful and peaceful park full of activities. Take a picnic lunch and visit the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium. Both are a lot of fun and very educational. You can also just spend the day flying a kite in the park or visit the Waikiki Shell to see if there is any free entertainment. What a great way to discover Oahu on a budget. In the evening on the way back to your hotel, stop at Kuhio Beach for the torch lighting ceremony and a free very authentic hula show. This begins at sunset.

10) The Waikiki Trolley is a narrated tour that stops at historic landmarks and popular shopping centers. A one day pass costs $15.00 and you can get on and off as much as you want. What a great way to see Oahu on a budget

11) Rent a car and discover Oahu and it’s more remote areas. You can get a car rental and drive around the island and see all of Oahu on a budget for about $50.00 including gas.

12) Visit one of Oahu’s many botanical gardens. It is well worth the nominal charge to get in and you get some really great photo opportunities.

As you can see, just because you are in Oahu on a budget, doesn't mean you cannot find plenty to do and see. Study the free brochures and magazines and let your imagination run free. You will find even more ideas of things to do in Oahu on a budget. The link below has a great deal for seeing and doing a lot of great things for one low price. Have a great trip.

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