Here’s what it’s like to travel on $150/day in Kauai

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Photo by Alex Schwab

A budget traveler's heavenly guide to Kauai

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Yes, Hawai’i is expensive, but it is entirely possible to enjoy Kauai on as little as $150 a day. With a bit of planning and a dash of flexibility, travelers can get to know the Garden Isle without emptying their wallets.

Budget Kauai: Beaches

Lucky for budget seekers, Kauai’s main attraction–those glorious beaches–are free. Some of the best beaches to explore include Poipu Beach Park, Hanalei Bay Beach, and Polihale Beach.

Outdoor Adventures in Kauai

Hiking is also free. Traverse the stunning Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon and the trails of Koke’e State Park. Get up here to early to watch the early morning sun over the spectacular Kalalau Valley. Adventurers can hike deep into the canyon, or go check out Hawai’i’s only redwood grove.

The Sunny South Shore

Though millionaires favor Poipu, it’s possible to have fun on her sunny shores for a pittance.

Breakfast at Joe’s on the Green. Cross the street to wander through Moir Gardens, a free succulent garden (quite the gardening feat in rainy Kauai).

Grab poke to enjoy at the mellow Beach House Beach. Spend a few minutes marveling over Spouting Horn (a blowhole that shoots waters high into the air).

Window shop at the Shops at Kukui’ula or enjoy a coconut scoop at Papalani Gelato. Burritos from Da Crack, and drinks at Lavas on Poipu Beach and you’re good to go.

Cultural Free Events

No need to spend a fortune on luaus. Most shopping centers also offer free hula shows, a favorite being the Thursday 5pm Tahitian hula show at Poipu Shopping Village.

The free Friday Hanapepe Art Night makes an entertaining pitstop. Live music, galleries open late, and food trucks line this historic West Shore town. Alternatively, sunset at Hanalei Pier invites slack key guitarists to serenade the sunset, surfers to brave the swell, families to frolic in the sand, and impromptu barbecues.

Wine and Dine

With a majority of the produce and goods shipped in, it’s understandable why common staples like peanut butter or milk run almost triple their mainland prices. It’s wise to rent a condo to do some of your own cooking.

Meander the wealth of farmers’ markets throughout the island. Pick up tropical delights for breakfast, and fresh veggies to cook at your condo.

Don’t want to cook? Some favorite spots for cheap eats include Duane’s Ono Char-Burger, Kilauea Fish Market, Pono Market, Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza, and Hamura Saimin Stand.

Sample free coffee at the Kauai Coffee Estate. Take a self-guided tour of the expansive coffee fields, learn about coffee, from the bean to the cup, and sample as much caffeine as you can handle. This makes a great pitstop on the way back from exploring Koke’e, or the West Shore beaches.

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Where to Stay on Kauai

Skip the posh resort and book a few nights at Rosewood just outside of Kapa’a’s main drag. This sweet Victorian house in the hills, provides a low-key retreat, complete with a gorgeous garden, outdoor showers, and breakfast (with some rooms).

Camping is also an option for budget seekers, especially at the stunning beaches like Haena Beach Park, or up in Koke’e. Know that you need a permit to camp, which you can obtain through the County Clerk or the State Parks department.

When to Go

Prices tend to be at their lowest during the “shoulder season” of Spring and Autumn–excluding major holidays. During this time flights, hotels and rental car rates are at their lowest.

Getting Around Kauai

If you don’t want to rent a car, the Kauai Bus offers service around the island. Fares are quite low, however, this is not the most dependable option to see all sites and attractions, renting a car is the most effective way to see the island.

Cyclists can hire road or mountain bikes through Outfitters Kauai. Just be cautious of driving on the roads as there are no bike lanes and people drive quite fast.

At A Glance

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