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A Guide to Traveling Hawaii on a Budget

Hawaii, with its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, beckons adventurers from around the globe. Among its captivating islands, the Big Island stands out for its diverse terrain, ranging from lush rainforests to volcanic deserts. While exploring this paradise may seem like an expensive endeavor, with careful planning and a sense of adventure, it’s entirely possible to experience the magic of the Big Island without breaking the bank. One of the best ways to do so? Traveling in a campervan. Here's a guide to traversing the Big Island on a budget, complete with five savvy hacks to keep costs down.

a woman laying in a campervan from sun + salt campervans in Hawaii with white walls on a bed overlooking a green tree withe the beach and ocean in the background.
Our Campervan Shirley at Kohana'iki Beach Campground

1. Opt for Off-Peak Seasons

Timing is everything when it comes to budget travel in Hawaii. Avoiding peak tourist seasons can significantly reduce expenses on accommodation, activities, and even rental rates for campervans. Consider visiting during the shoulder seasons, such as spring or fall, when the weather is still delightful, but crowds are thinner, and prices are more budget-friendly. Not only will you save money, but you'll also have a more intimate experience with the island's natural wonders.

2. Choose a Budget-Friendly Campervan Rental

Campervans offer the perfect blend of convenience and affordability for exploring the Big Island. Instead of shelling out for expensive hotels or resorts, you can enjoy the freedom of having your accommodation on wheels. Look for local rental companies (like us! Sun + Salt Campervans) that offer budget-friendly campervans. Often, smaller outfits provide more competitive rates compared to larger, commercial rental chains. Don't forget to inquire about any discounts or deals for extended rentals, further maximizing your savings.

When selecting your campervan, maximize your savings by checking for hidden fees like: a limit on the # of free miles you get in a day (our rentals have unlimited mileage), high cleaning fees (ours is $125) and excessive fees for things like GE Tax and payment processing.

All of our fees are transparent, honest, and reasonable. Find them when you book a campervan with us.

3. Embrace Free and Low-Cost Activities

The Big Island spoils visitors with a plethora of natural wonders that won't cost you a dime to enjoy. From hiking to hidden waterfalls and stargazing atop Mauna Kea to snorkeling in vibrant coral reefs, there's an abundance of free or low-cost activities to fill your days. Take advantage of public beaches, scenic overlooks, and hiking trails, and immerse yourself in the island's breathtaking beauty without spending a fortune. Check out this post for more free and low-cost activities for an affordable itinerary on the big island.

4. Cook Your Meals and Shop Local

Eating out three meals a day can quickly drain your travel budget, especially in tourist-heavy areas. Save money by cooking your meals in your campervan's kitchenette or utilizing communal grills at campgrounds. Visit local farmers' markets and grocery stores to stock up on fresh produce, locally sourced meats, and other essentials. Not only will you save money, but you'll also have the opportunity to sample the island's delicious tropical fruits and authentic culinary delights.

5. Utilize Free Camping Options

While traditional campgrounds often come with fees, Hawaii offers several low-cost camping options for budget-conscious travelers. When you book with us, we provide a map of designated county and state parks that provide camping facilities at a fraction of the cost of private campgrounds. Additionally, some beaches allow overnight camping for a nominal fee. Just be sure to familiarize yourself with the local regulations and practice Leave No Trace principles to help preserve Hawaii's pristine environment for future generations.

Traveling to the Big Island of Hawaii in a campervan on a budget is not only feasible but also incredibly rewarding. By following these five hacks and embracing a spirit of adventure, you can explore the island's majestic landscapes, vibrant culture, and unparalleled beauty without spending a ton of money. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an unforgettable Hawaiian adventure that won't break the bank.


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