Maui on a Budget | Maui Ocean Center

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Maui on a Budget: Tips for Affordable Travel

February 29, 2024

Maui is a dream destination for many, but it’s no secret that it can be an expensive place to visit. However, with careful planning and a bit of flexibility, it is possible to have an amazing vacation on Maui without breaking the bank.

Off-Peak Travel

Consider visiting Maui during the off-peak season. The off-peak months in Maui are usually from mid-April through to the late summer and before Thanksgiving. During these months, you can expect to find lower prices on flights, hotels, and rental cars, as well as fewer crowds at popular attractions.


Off-peak travel is a great option for those who want to save money and avoid the crowds. You’ll be able to enjoy all that Maui has to offer without having to deal with long lines or crowded beaches. Additionally, the weather during the off-peak months is still warm and sunny, making it a great time to visit 


For everything you need to know about traveling to Maui during the fall click here!

Things to Do in Maui on a Budget

Discover a budget-friendly side of the island by taking advantage of the plethora of hiking trails, beaches, and scenic drives. You’ll also want to make sure to check for free events happening during your visit, such as local festivals, concerts, or cultural events. Here are some ideas to kick start your planning.

Maui Friday Town Parties

Maui Friday Town Parties are held every Friday in a different town on the island, and they’re free to attend. They’re community-minded and kid-friendly, and include retailers, local artisans, delicious food, and energetic music. Each party has a heartwarming, small-town feel, and the shops and galleries stay open late for the event. Make sure to stay up to date on their Facebook page to find more free fun.

hiking maui

Maui has tons of beautiful hiking trails that are free to explore. Whether you’re traveling with kids, or your significant other, hiking is an easy win for people of all ages! Some of the most popular ones include:

Pipiwai Trail

This trail is located in the Hāna district and is known for its stunning bamboo forest, waterfalls, and pools. The trail is approximately 4 miles round trip and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. It’s rated as moderate in difficulty and is suitable for hikers of all ages.


Waiheʻe Ridge Trail

This trail is located in the West Maui Mountains and offers panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding valleys. The trail is approximately 4 miles round trip and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. It’s rated as moderate in difficulty and is suitable for hikers of all ages.


Kapalua Coastal Trail 

This trail is located in Kapalua and offers stunning views of the ocean and coastline. The trail is approximately 3.5 miles round trip and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. It’s rated as easy in difficulty and is suitable for hikers of all ages.

Snorkeling With Turtles

Snorkeling with our local Honu (sea turtles) is a popular activity on Maui, and there are many beaches where you can see them. The Honu are active year-round, but certain times may offer better visibility and increased chances of encounters. Mornings are generally preferred when the waters are calmer, and visibility is at its peak. However, turtles can be spotted at any time of the day, so don’t hesitate to explore the underwater wonders whenever you’re inclined.


Our favorite spot is, ʻĀhihi Kīnaʻu, a marine sanctuary located on Maui’s southwestern shore.  This natural reserve, named after the daughter of one of Maui’s chiefs, is renowned for its vibrant coral reefs, diverse marine life, and crystal-clear waters. ʻĀhihi Kīnaʻu features several coves and bays that are ideal for snorkeling. A popular spot is the Ahihi Bay, where calm, shallow waters offer a fantastic snorkeling experience for individuals of various skill levels.


Beyond its marine treasures, ʻĀhihi Kīnaʻu showcases the geological and cultural history of Maui. The lava rock formations and remnants of ancient Hawaiian settlements provide a glimpse into the island’s past, adding cultural significance to the natural reserve. So you’re really getting a two for one at this local sanctuary!


If you’re planning to snorkel at ʻĀhihi Kīnaʻu with the hope of seeing sea turtles, it’s advisable to practice responsible snorkeling. Keep a respectful distance from the turtles, avoid touching them or their resting places, and observe them quietly without causing any disturbance. Please also keep in mind our delicate coral reefs. Use reef-safe sunscreen and adhere to local regulations and guidelines to ensure the well-being of both visitors and the natural surroundings. Visitors should familiarize themselves with any rules set forth by authorities.

For more information on spotting sea turtles read our blog on the best beaches to find Sea turtles, here:

To save a couple of bucks make sure to bring your own snorkel gear!

Maui Swap Meet

The Maui Swap Meet is an outdoor market held every Saturday from 7 AM to 1 PM at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College in Kahului. The market has been a local institution since 1981 and is loved by both residents and tourists alike. You can find a variety of locally made crafts, jewelry, clothing, and fresh produce at affordable prices. There are over 200 vendors and thousands of customers who show up every Saturday morning, making it a bustling and lively event.

The Maui Swap Meet is a great place to find unique souvenirs and gifts to take home with you. You can also sample some of the delicious local food and drinks that are available at the market. Admission is only $0.50 per person, and children under 12 are free. There is plenty of free parking available, but be sure to park in the correct area.

The Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

The Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is a beautiful 13.5-acre farm located in Kula, Maui. The farm was started in 2001 by Ali’i Chang, who converted an old protea farm and then expanded it continuously. The farm is located in the foothills of Mount Haleakalā and is home to 45 varieties of lavender, as well as olive trees, hydrangea, and more.


The farm is open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, and admission is $3 per person. You can take a guided walking tour of the farm, which takes about 30-40 minutes and costs $12 per person. The tour includes a visit to the lavender fields, gardens, and gift shop, where you can purchase a variety of lavender products, including soap, lotion, and gourmet seasoning.


The farm also offers a variety of workshops and events throughout the year, including lei-making workshops, lavender beauty workshops, and more.

The Lāhainā Banyan Tree

The Lāhainā Banyan Tree is a banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) located in the town of Lāhainā on the island of Maui, Hawaiʻi. The tree was planted in 1873 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first American Protestant mission in Maui. It was a gift from missionaries in India and was only 8 feet tall when it was planted. Today, the tree has grown to over 60 feet tall and has a canopy that covers an area of about 0.66 acres. It has 16 major trunks apart from the main trunk, making it one of the largest banyan trees in the world.


The Lāhainā Banyan Tree is located in the Courthouse Square, which is now known as the Banyan Tree Park. The park is managed by the County of Maui and the Lāhainā Restoration Foundation. The tree is a popular tourist attraction and is visited by thousands of people every year. The tree is open to the public and can be visited at any time. It’s a great place to take a break from the sun and enjoy the shade of the tree’s canopy. Consider grabbing some lunch to go and setting up a picnic underneath the tree or on the grass close by.


There is parking available near the tree. The closest parking lot is located behind the Wharf Cinema Center, which is the 3-story shopping center across from the Banyan Tree Park. There is also a parking lot at the Outlets of Maui.

The Ke’anae Arboretum

The Ke’anae Arboretum is a 6-acre botanical garden and arboretum located on the Hāna Highway, about 1 mile west of Ke’anae, Maui, Hawaiʻi. The land on which the arboretum sits was used to farm food, medicine, and fiber-producing plants before the 1940s. From 1946 until the mid-1950s, it became an agricultural work site for prisoners at Ke’anae Prison Camp. It was established as an arboretum in 1971.


The arboretum lies alongside the Pi’ina’au Stream on leveled terraces built hundreds of years ago by Hawaiians for growing taro, a mainstay of their diet. A 0.6-mile paved walkway takes visitors through timber, fruit, and ornamental trees from tropical regions around the world, many of which are marked with name plates. Inside the arboretum, you can find some 150 varieties of tropical plants, including taro.


The arboretum is open to the public and admission is free. There are no facilities or amenities at this stop, so expect to spend 30 minutes to an hour here.

Discover a Hidden Beach

Maui has some of the best beaches in the world but did you know they also have some off-the-beaten-path beaches? Try discovering and finding one of Maui’s hidden beaches located throughout the island. 


Haycraft Beach is a secluded beach located in our very own Māʻalaea Harbor. It’s accessible via a short hike and is a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Māʻalaea is also home to some of the best shopping and whale watching tours Maui has to offer. The Maui Ocean Center is also proudly located there so when you’re at Haycraft Beach make sure to slot in some time to explore the harbor shops. 


Haycraft Beach is a hidden gem that’s not as well-known as some of the other beaches on Maui The beach is approximately 100 feet long and 50 feet wide, and it’s a great place to escape the crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet. The beach is also a popular spot for fishing and surfing.


Please note that there are no facilities or amenities at this beach, so be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks. Also, be sure to check the weather and surf conditions before heading out, as the beach can be dangerous during certain times of the year.


Secret Beach, also known as Mākena Cove, is also a local favorite. It’s a small, crescent-shaped beach located in Mākena. The beach is known for its beautiful white sand and turquoise waters, and it’s a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling.


Again, this beach is a bit of a hike to get to (15 minutes), but it’s definitely worth it. You’ll need to park along the road and hike down a steep trail. The trail can be a bit challenging, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.

Hit Up A Food Truck

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly meal option without compromising flavor, Maui’s food truck scene is exactly what you’ve been looking for! Some argue that Maui’s food trucks can even offer a more authentic experience compared to some restaurants. The smaller, often family-run operations may showcase traditional recipes and preparation methods, providing a genuine taste of local flavors.


The food trucks are located throughout the island and strategically located in scenic spots, providing not just delicious food but also stunning views of the island’s landscapes. It’s an opportunity to enjoy your meal in a picturesque setting. Our recommendations:


Horhitos Mobile Taqueria: This food truck is known for its Mexican food, including lengua tacos and pork belly tacos. The burrito has received mixed reviews, but the price is considered reasonable and fair by guests. The food truck is located in Kihei and is open every day from 10 am to 9 pm 1.


Mo ‘Ono Hawaiʻi Food Truck: This food truck is known for its Hawaiian food, including poke bowls, kalua pork, and loco moco. The food truck is located in Kahului and is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm.


Geste Shrimp Truck: Ready for the best garlic shrimp and coconut shrimp you’ll every have? Geste’s is your spot. The food truck is located in Kahului and is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm.


Jawz Tacos: This food truck is known for its delicious fish tacos and burritos. It’s located in Kihei and open every day from 11 am to 8 pm.

Da Nani Pirates: Known for its Hawaiian food, including kalua pork, teriyaki chicken, and garlic shrimp. The food truck is located in Lāhainā and is open every day from 11 am to 7 pm 5.


By combining these tips and planning ahead, you can enjoy the beauty of Maui without straining your budget. Remember to be flexible with your plans and embrace the laid-back, natural beauty of the island.


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