Edited by Laura Hoot
As one of the most expensive states in the union, Hawaii is a destination for which some travelers save up for months - or even year. Maui is one of the state's most popular islands, yet there are a number of often overlooked attractions that can be enjoyed for free or nearly so. Harbor your Hawaii holiday in Kaanapali and check out these great money-saving locales to experience paradise on a budget:
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Cheap Kaanapali Attractions
- The Lahaina Restoration Foundation hosts free monthly concerts as part of their Hawaiian Music Series. Held on the Baldwin Home Museum Lawn every last Thursday, these events provide the perfect place to see Hawaiian artists in their element. Grab a few blankets, pick a spot on the lawn and enjoy the sounds of local talent. 120 Dickenson St, Lahaina, HI
- Whalers Village Mall is also home to the Whalers Village Museum. The museum focuses around the mid 19th century, when this area was a thriving whaling town. Here, you can see how cramped the quarters were in whaling ships in scale models and examine beautiful whale bone jewelry and utensils. Visitors who are interested in how humpback whales in the North Pacific fare today can speak with a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration volunteer on site. 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI
The Beauty Around You
- There's nothing quite like watching a moon set over the Pacific from Kaanapali, and locals favor this as one of the area's top attractions. Pick a clear late night during your stay to enjoy watching the moon set just a few hours before sunrise. A favorite beach spot includes the Kahekili Beach Park. 65 Kai Ala Dr, Lahaina, HI
Kaanapali Beach stretches for three glorious miles. While this beach is particularly popular, it's a great place to people-watch, and the perfect blue waters and sugar-like sands are some of the best on the island. While most lots are owned and make you pay, you can make a small purchase at one of the vendors at the Whalers Village to get your parking validated. 2525 Kaanapali Pkwy, Lahaina, HI
- For a quieter stretch of sand, head to Wahikuli County Wayside Park. Located between Lahaina and Kaanapali, this beach is smaller than Kaanapali, but much quieter during the weekdays, so you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon of snorkeling without fear of getting hit by a surfboard.
Dining in and around Kaanapali can be one of the easiest ways to spend too much money. However, some of the simplest, freshest meals are the least expensive, so as long as everyone can agree (or at least compromise) on what they'd like to eat for the meal, there's plenty of choices that will fill you up and still leave you with energy to burn on the waves.
Lunch and Dinner
- In addition to its classic Hawaiian fare, Maui is also known for its authentic Asian food. Star Noodle, located in Lahaina, offers affordable delights that are are always made from scratch. The eatery specializes in small plates that are meant to be shared, and range in price from three to 12 bucks. For those who are particularly rumbly in the stomach, a heaping bowl of ramen - made with freshly-cut noodles, poached egg, bamboo shoots and choi sum - is offered for a mere $12. We promise it will keep you full for hours, and you might even need to take some of it home for a second meal! 286 Kupuohi St, Maui, HI
- Ohana Tacos does Hawaiian-Mexican fusion right - and at a price that everyone can feel good about. Fish tacos are this small eatery's specialty, yet chicken, pork and vegetarian varieties are also available, all for between six to 10 bucks. Located near the northern end of Kaanapali Beach, Ohana Tacos is near an unassuming strip that could be easy to pass up. Be aware that this locale, like many smaller restaurants in the area, is cash only. 3600D Lower Honoapiilani Rd
- Penne Pasta Cafe's large servings of delicious pasta are almost always big enough to share, and for picky eaters, it is often a best bet. Although the prices upon first glance aren't surprisingly cheap, when split between a pair or two young children and one adult, it is quite the bargain. If you're eating here on a Friday night, be sure to try the special - fresh fish with pasta. It's simple, yet divine. 180 Dickenson St, Lahaina, H
- Bad Ass Coffee Company is a local chain that does it right - every bagel is served fresh and every cup of coffee perfectly hot and never bitter. This is the perfect place to grab a quick bite to eat before you head out for a day at the beach or traverse on the Kapalua Coastal Trail. 671 Front St, Lahaina, HI
- For the best of west Maui's local fruits, head to the Farmers Market at Honokowai. Fresh-squeezed juices made with everyone's favorite tropical fruits are available in wide supply, as well as freshly-baked muffins, breads and bagels. If you'd rather save some for another meal, you can also pick up locally-picked pineapples, sweet Maui onions and perfectly crunchy macadamia nuts - the latter of which makes a great snack! Best of all, you don't have to wait until Saturday or Sunday - this market is open every day starting at 7 a.m. 3636 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI
Coffee, Tea and Dessert
- Why not go straight to the source? Kaanapali offers the perfect weather for growing coffee, so you can head directly to one of the many area farms to see the beans and grab a pound of the local roast for $7 - the bag will last you through your stay and will cost much less than any daily espresso would.
- Sometimes, half the joy of a great cup of tea or coffee comes from the experience of the cafe. At Java Jazz and Soup Nutz, you'll be surrounded by some of the area's most unique creative minds, or at least their work. Here, you'll find everything from sculptures featuring plastic sharks and old dolls to folk art mosaics - there's always plenty of things to help your eyes wander. 3350 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, Lahaina, HI
Kaanapali is one of the world's most unique spots in the United States, so why would you want to pair this with a run-of-the-mill accommodation? To get the true feel of the local culture, check out one of the many alternative lodging options available in the area. Enjoy sweeping views of the Pacific from your oceanfront condo, which has all of the perks of a hotel - as well as a full kitchen and living room - for a fraction of the cost. Or, wake up to the sound of rustling palms and warm breezes with home rentals that are a bit more inland - however, you're never that far from the beach here.
Many Kaanapli beach rentals additionally feature their own in-house laundry facilities, so you can finish your wash while you're out on the beach and pack it up before you leave for home - no more huge loads to do post-vacation! After a long day of sightseeing, you and your traveling friends and family can all sink into a nice jacuzzi or hot tub.
Looking for more Kaanapali vacation deals? Here are some tips for saving big in this Hawaii hot spot:
- Getting up early is never a problem here. So if you're already a group of morning people, check out the number of early bird specials offered at area restaurants. Since most people on vacation don't get out and about until after 9 a.m., you can truly find some great deals by just getting to bed a few hours earlier each night. Fodors suggests eating a large breakfast and skipping lunch altogether - fresh fruit and smoothie stands are a common sight on Maui, so it's easy to get by with a quick snack at midday.
- Happy hours are prevalent on the island, so choose to indulge between the sweet spot of 3 to 5 p.m. and you'll be rewarded with much more affordable cocktails and beer.
- Think about scheduling your trip during the fall or spring to grab up the best deals on airfare. Due to the remote location of Hawaii, plane costs can be the most expensive part of the journey, so saving on transportation costs will give you more to work with once you actually arrive in Kaanapali.