Inspired by the book How to Travel the World for $50 a Day from one of our favorite travel writers, Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt, we have come up with some great tips to turn one of the most expensive destinations into a much more manageable budget destination. Although we couldn’t quite make $50/day in Maui work with lodging, activities, transportation and food, we found that Maui for $60 a day can still afford you a great time and great company with a view.
After researching all budget hotels, condos and hostels on the island, your best option for lodging is:
Located in the convenient and central town of Wailuku, you can get from the airport to the hostel (and vice versa) for $2 by riding the Maui public bus. Dorm rooms start at $35.25 and include free daily tours around the island, free internet and computer use, free pancake breakfasts every morning, free keg parties every Friday, a hot tub, a garden with hammocks and picnic tables, pool tables, grills, and a large shared kitchen. Foreign passport or departing ticket from Maui required.
Total Cost/Day (excluding deposit, taxes and one time $10 key fee): $35.25 for dorm room
Alternate Option: Aloha Surf Hostel in Paia
Complimentary daily tours on Banana Bungalow’s passenger vans include trips to some of the most scenic and fun parts of the island, including Iao Valley, the Road to Hana, West Maui & Lahaina, snorkeling at Turtle Town, whale watching (seasonal), Paia Town, Haleakala Volcano and Makena “Big” Beach. It is customary to tip the guides as well.
Other free activities around the island include:
- Friday Town Parties – Each Friday of the month, the Maui County Office of Economic Development hosts a free party in different Maui towns. Great food trucks, live music, local goods, crafts and people watching. 1st Friday – Wailuku; 2nd Friday – Lahaina; 3rd Friday – Makawao; 4th Friday – Kihei
- Relax under the Banyan Tree – Grab a book, some shave ice and head down to Lahaina’s famous banyan tree for a nice, relaxing time in the shade.
- Whale Watch – You don’t have to take a boat tour to see the whales during whale season. Grab yourself a spot on the beach, keep your eyes open, and check out this guide for the best whale watching spots from shore.
- Maui’s Winery – What’s better than wine tasting in paradise? Wine tasting for free! The only local Maui winery offers complimentary tasting with a view from 10am to 5:30pm daily. Visit them online.
- Cirque du Sunday – Every 2nd Sunday of the month, Emerald City Trapeze hosts a free aerial show in Lahaina, including live music, food vendors, and an outdoor movie on the lawn.
- Hula Show – Every Tuesday and Thursday, the Lahaina Cannery Mall hosts a free hula show at 7pm. Stop by for a free, fun show before heading down to Front Street.
- Starry Night Cinema – If you’re staying in Wailuku, a convenient and fun option is the monthly free outdoor movie under the stars hosted by the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC). Check their schedule online.
- Watch the Surfers – Surfers of all kinds on Maui mean serious business. Watch some of the best in the world take on the waves (and wind) at Jaws, Ho’okipa, North Kihei and Honolua Bay.
- Wailea on Wednesdays – Every Wednesday, the Shops at Wailea host a free live music event from 6:30 to 8pm. Enjoy shopping, restaurant specials and gallery receptions with artists. Visit them online.
- Take a Hike – Enjoy the outdoors in Maui! From Iao Valley to Hana to Kapalua, there’s always something to be discovered. Read a list of the Top 4 Recommended Maui Hikes.
- Visit the Beaches – What’s a trip to Maui without a little beach hopping? Check out this Beach Guide for suggestions on all parts of the island.
- Lahaina Historic Trail – Take a free walking tour of Lahaina Town, where you’ll learn more about the rich history of the former capital of Hawaii. See the online guide.
- Watch the Sunset – Pack a blanket and a beverage and head out for a truly spectacular Maui pastime. Best in South and West Maui areas, but great from anywhere!
Total Cost/Day: $5 tip for Banana Bungalow driver
- Public Bus – Single rides are $2, but the better deal is to buy a daily unlimited pass for $4. Be aware that the busses don’t run late at night or very often (once every hour to an hour and a half), but they do go to the most popular spots around the island, including to/from the airport. Luggage limits; no surfboards allowed. See bus routes and schedules here.
- Carpool Maui – While we haven’t heard much about this service, it might be worth sending an email to see what you can find.
- Taxis – There are several cab companies around the island, and while we don’t recommend them for long distances, they might be your best option for late-night or emergency transportation.
- Hitchhiking – While hitchhiking is illegal on Maui, you’ll still see plenty of people doing it. Read this Guideline to Hitchhiking in Maui and remember to use proper caution.
Total Cost/Day: $4 for Unlimited Day Bus Pass
The total per day without food is $44.25, leaving you only $15.75 for meals. While Banana Bungalow does serve free pancake breakfasts every morning (woohoo!), you still have less than $16 for lunch and dinner. If you really know where to look, however, that’s not a problem!
South Maui – Kihei
- Shaka Pizza – $3 – $4 for pizza by the slice
- Horhitos Mobile Taqueria – $2 – $3 individual tacos
- 808 Deli – $6 gourmet hot dogs, $7.50 – $9 salads, sandwiches and paninis
- Kihei Caffe – Lunch and breakfast items from $3.95 – $10.95 (huge portions)
- Stewart’s Burgers – Delicious burgers from $7 – $11
- Taqueria Cruz – $5 lunch plate, $7 dinner plate, BYOB
West Maui – Lahaina
- Breakwall Shave Ice – Breakfast, sandwiches and entrees from $3.50 – $8
- Commercial Mexicana Store – $2.50 enchiladas a la carte
- Aloha Mixed Plate – Mixed plates, noodles, burgers, sandwiches and salads from $5.50
- Star Noodle – Asian lunch and dinner specialties from $6 – $15
North Maui – Paia & Haiku
- Mana Foods – Great selection of freshly-made hot and cold bar selections
- Paia Fish Market – Huge portions starting from $9.95
- Cafe des Amis – French, Mediterranean and Indian cuisine with great happy hour specials
- Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe – Large portions of amazing Thai food from a food truck in Haiku
Central Maui – Kahului & Wailuku
- Da Kitchen – Huge portions of tasty local plates
- Saigon Cafe – Authentic Vietnamese food at affordable prices
- Tasty Crust – Breakfast, lunch and dinner from $3 – $15
- Ba-Le Sandwiches & Bakery – Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and local-style selections
Upcountry Maui – Kula & Makawao
- Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grill – Hot dogs, elk burgers, plate lunches and sandwiches from $3 – $14
- Grandma’s Coffee House – Delicious breakfast and lunch specialties
- T. Komoda Store & Bakery – Try the cream puffs, stick donuts and guava malasadas!
While we couldn’t quite manage $50/day, we still think $60/day is a great price for paradise! What are your favorite budget options on Maui? Let us know and we will add them to the list!