TOP 10 CHEAP THINGS TO DO WHEN VISITING MAUI ON A BUDGET
Let’s be honest- Maui is anything but a cheap destination. After paying for airfare, accommodations, and a rental car, budget travelers are lucky to have much leftover to enjoy the island. However, the beautiful thing about the Valley Isle is that it doesn’t have to cost a whole lot to enjoy once you’re here.
Between the beaches, happy hours, hikes, and food trucks, here are the top 10 cheapest things to do while enjoying your time on Maui.
1. Beach it!
Maui has more miles of swimmable beaches than any other Hawaiian Island, and it costs nothing to savor them (that is, unless you visit a beach in a state park or nature reserve, like Makena or Waiʻanapanapa’s black sand beach). All corners of the island are studded with beaches, and you don’t need more than a towel, some sunscreen, shade, and some snacks and drinks to relish an all-day beach day. Better yet, go beach hopping to truly get your beach fix.
Cost: Free to $12
If you pack your own snorkel gear, this coveted Maui activity is entirely void of cost (depending on which location you choose, as parking in the Keoneoio Nature Reserve- a popular snorkeling spot- will run you a few bucks). Otherwise, a gear rental from Boss Frog’s costs $12 per day. The best free, off-the-beach snorkeling locations are Maluaka Beach in Makena, Honolua Bay near Kapalua, and Olowalu Beach off Honoapiilani Highway.
While hiking in national and state parks will cost you, most trails in the state Na Ala Hele trail network are completely free and open to public use. The trail system includes the lush Waiheʻe Ridge Trail, the forested Kahakapao Loop Trail in Makawao, the rugged trek through a lava plain on the Hoapili Trail, and numerous others.
4. Swap Meet/Farmers Markets
Cost: Free to enter plus budget shopping purchases
Every Saturday morning, the Maui Swap Meet and Upcountry Farmers Market set up shop in Kahului and Pukalani, respectively. The Maui Swap Meet is an unparalleled budget shopping experience, with 200 vendors peddling bargain deals on anything from jewelry to clothing to fresh fruit. Up the hill in Pukalani, the Upcountry Farmers Market is rife with fresh, local produce that won’t break the bank like it might at Safeway. The Upcountry Farmers Market is also stocked with unique goods, cheap and tasty eats, and unabashed local character.
5. Happy hour
$18 cocktails, be gone! Happy hours on Maui are a treasure trove for cheap beverages. On the West Side, look no further than the Dirty Monkey in Lahaina, where you’ll find a steady flow of discounted draft beers and $6 well cocktails from 3 pm to 6 pm. Over on the North Shore, Milagros in Paia boasts one of the best happy hours on the Valley Isle- $4 draft beers, $5 margaritas, and $6 daily food specials. However, we can’t forget Monkeypod Wailea over on the south side. From 3:30 pm to 5 pm daily, you can score $4 off Monkeypod’s famous mai tais and discounts on other drinks and food.
6. Food Trucks
Cost: $6-$20 per plate
It might not be Mama’s Fish House, but some of Maui’s top culinary talents deliver affordable, scrumptious eats out of humble food trucks. From Hana to Honokowai, food truck lots are found across the island. For economical Thai eats, set your sights on Thai Mee Up. Thai Mee Up has two locations in Pukalani near Longs and in Kahului across from Costco. A heaping bowl of green curry will run you about $10, and a plate of pad thai will only set you back $11. Alternatively, visitors can get their fresh fish fix at Like Poke. A quarter-pound of ala carte poke from this popular food truck comes in at $6, while you can expect to pay $15 for a half-pound poke bowl and two scoops of rice. Like Poke is located across from Costco as well.
7. Ulupalakua and Maui Wine
Want to be bougie on a budget? It’s more than possible. Wine tastings aren’t typically thought of as a budget activity, but with $12 wine flights, a visit to Maui Wine can be classified as economical. Embark on the leisurely drive to this rural winery, and you’ll be met with views of undulating green pastures, vibrant purple jacaranda trees, and the south Maui coast. If you have the funds to spare after your tasting, pick up a $15 bottle of sweet pineapple wine, a mouthwatering burger from next-door Ulupalakua Ranch Store, and head to nearby Sun-Yat Sen Park to soak in the views.
8. Aliʻi Kula Lavender Farm
Cost: Free with canned goods or $3 entry
Nestled into the slopes of Upcountry Maui sits the 13.5-acre Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. The farm is lined with tidy rows of lavender, olive trees, hydrangeas, proteas, and best of all, boasts panoramic views of the West Maui Mountains and dual coastlines. The farm’s entry fee is waived with a donation of one non-perishable food item per person- otherwise, expect to pay $3 each for general admission. While wandering the expansive grounds is free, budget travelers be warned- Ali’i Kula Lavender’s gift shop is well stocked, and it’s ultra-tempting to spend untold amounts of money on lavender-infused goodies.
9. Haleakala National Park
Cost: $30 per car
At $30 per car to enter, a visit to Haleakala National Park is one of the most expensive activities on our list- if you’re a solo traveler. However, split four ways, admission only runs $7.50 per person. Nevertheless, Haleakala National Park’s grandeur is not to be missed. Spend an afternoon exploring the summit district- from the conifer forest at Hosmer Grove to the unearthly Haleakala Crater basin. Then, stick around for an unreal sunset and, if you can bear the dropping temperatures, the best stargazing on the island. As a bonus, entry to the park is good for three days, which means if you’re quick, you can use your same pass to gain free entry into the Kipahulu District of the park. So, travelers, hop to it! The Pools of Oheo and the Pipiwai Trail are waiting.
10. The Road to Hana
Cost: Tank of Gas
As gas prices skyrocket, it’s hard to call the Road to Hana a budget activity! Yet, the road itself is void of tolls and entrance fees, and it doesn’t take much more than fuel costs to enjoy the drive. While there are parks and stops along the way that charge for entry, there are a handful of free places to get out and stretch your legs. A fee-free itinerary looks something like this: a quick hike at Waikamoi Ridge Trail, a mosey around Keanae Peninsula (where you should splurge on Auntie Sandy’s banana bread and a kalua pork sandwich), a dip in a waterfall-fed pool at Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park, and a beach pit-stop at Hamoa Beach. Check out Hana Ranch Store for cheap eats, where the local kids’ fare of choice- hot dogs and chili and rice bowls- won’t run you more than a few dollars. Lastly, don’t forget your national park pass to enter the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park.