Cheapest Hawaiian Island To Live/Retire vs To Fly to vs To Rent a Car ... and 5 more

Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria, Eng, Alma

Annexed by the United States in 1898, the Hawaiian Islands used to be called the Sandwich Islands, a name given to them by Captain James Cook, after the First Lord of the Admiralty, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. The islands were formed by a hotspot in the earth's crust, where magma from the mantle leaks up and out, creating new basaltic crust. As the Pacific plate moves over the asthenosphere, a new island forms as the old islands leave the hotspot. The Big Island, now over the hotspot is home to Kilauea, a volcano which has been erupting since 1983.

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But volcanoes aren't the only thing Hawaii is known for: its tropical climate, stunning beauty and epic waves bring millions of tourists to her shores every year. In fact, 2014 saw 8.3 million tourists visit the islands, a new record.

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Method 1: To Live/Retire

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If you're thinking about moving to Hawaii to start fresh or to retire, you have to understand that most things cost more there because Hawaii is made up of a chain of islands. Anything not grown or made on the islands must be brought over by boat or airplane, which makes everything from gasoline to pop tarts cost more. As a matter of fact, gasoline costs 75 cents more and groceries cost 66 percent more than they do on the mainland. One way to reduce the cost of living in Hawaii is to eat less pre-packaged food and more locally grown and raised food, as well as reducing the amount of driving you to do.

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Regarding rents and property values, the most affordable island is the Big Island, and specifically the town of Hilo. The median property value in Hilo is $300,000, which is low compared to $700,000 on Oahu, and the median income there is $52,000. Quite popular with retirees, the median age is about 42 years old, a positive sign than retiring there is doable.

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Other benefits to Hilo include that almost everything is within walking distance, from grocery stores to parks, to medical care so you can save on gas, and an extremely low unemployment rate, which as of February of 2017 was just 2.8 percent. The community is very friendly, and there are plenty of volunteer opportunities to help out and meet other people, as well.

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There is plenty to see and do in and around Hilo, as well. It is close to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, so if you have an interest in volcanoes, living there gives you endless opportunities to see active ones up close and to learn more about them. The city center has plenty of shops, museums, and art galleries, so when you're done looking at lava for the day, you can get some culture. One important cultural tradition is the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival

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Method 2: To Fly to

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Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so you're going to have to either hop on a boat or a plane. Since you probably don't have weeks to spend en route, the odds are that you'll be flying there. There is no real answer for which island is the cheapest to fly to because there are so many variables involved in airline pricing, such as season, the price of oil, and whether or not any airlines are offering specials on tickets. However, there are some ways to lessen the cost you pay for airline tickets, even to Hawaii:

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  1. 1
    Try to be as flexible as possible
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    Be open to flight times early in the morning or late at night, and to flights with at least one stop. The more flexible you are, the better your chances of finding a great deal on tickets.
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  2. 2
    Always try to book your tickets well in advance of your departure date
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    Airline tickets bought on the same day or within a week of departure will always be more expensive unless you are willing to fly standby.
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  3. 3
    Fly during the middle of the week
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    Weekend flights are always in high demand, while tickets in the middle of the work week are less so. Try to fly on Tuesdays or Wednesdays for the cheapest pricing.
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  4. 4
    Use SkyScanner
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    SkyScanner searches all of the airlines to find the best flights that fit your situation. You can sort by price and number of stops, among other criteria, and you can even book directly from within the app.
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Method 3: To Rent a Car

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Like everything else in Hawaii, the cost to rent a car varies a lot; however, there are a couple of companies that have made a business out of getting discounted rates from most of the major rental car companies and offering them to tourists. All you need to do is browse their websites for the make and model of the car you want to rent, and the location where you want to pick it up, and you can book the rental right there on the site. Here are two of them:

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  • Discount Hawaii Car Rental (discounthawaiirrental.com).
  • Hawaii Car Rentals (Hawaiicarrentals.net)

Method 4: For Resorts

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There are reasonably priced resorts all over Hawaii, and if you go during the off-season, many will have deals that make their rates even cheaper. All Inclusive Resorts offer a good value because food, drinks, and onsite entertainment are covered in the price of your room. If you ate most of your meals at the resort, you could save quite a bit of money to use on other things while you're on your trip, such as going on a boat ride, going scuba diving, or even swimming with sharks. Here are two examples of awesome resorts with affordable pricing:

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  1. 1
    Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, Waikiki, Oahu
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    The highlight of this resort is Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, a 5-acre saltwater lagoon beside Duke Kahanamoku Beach. Go swimming or snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, or paddle boarding in its protected turquoise waters. If you prefer to swim in fresh water, there are five pools on the property, as well, including one with the longest water slide in Waikiki. It has 20 restaurants on site, ranging from gourmet feasts to casual beachside dining, and nightly entertainment featuring authentic Hawaiian music from such performers as Henry Kapono, Olomana, the Piranha Brothers, and Little Albert.
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  2. 2
    Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Space, Lahaina Maui
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    Located in the town of Lahaina on the island of Maui, this Four Diamond resort has over 800 rooms, most of which have private balconies from which you can look out on the beautiful Pacific Ocean with your special someone. Enjoy its half-acre pool, indulge in lomilomi massage, and bask in the sun on the beach or by the pool before dining at one of its 10 restaurants, including Japengo, which was voted Maui's best Asian restaurant. The resort's sprawling 40 acres of gardens and pools is home to a many species of animals, including African Blackfooted Penguins, a species that thrives in warm temperatures. Take advantage of the wildlife tours every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during which you will meet Spike, an African Crowned Crane, who has been living in the resort since 1980. Other birds you will see include swans, flamingos, and parrots, and of course, the penguins.
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Method 5: For Private Rentals

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If you have a large family or you want a more intimate setting for your vacation, renting a private home makes sense, both economically and otherwise. For less than the cost of a single room at one of the hotels or resorts, you can live quite comfortably in a private residence. However, you will have the additional expense of feeding yourself and your family, so keep that in mind.

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Like resorts, private rentals vary in cost depending on size and amenities. Affordable rentals can be found on every island in Hawaii with just a little searching online. Services such as AirBnB and VacationRentals make finding them as easy a clicking your mouse or swiping your finger on your phone's screen. Here are a couple of examples:

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  1. 1
    Oceanside Delight, Hilo
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    This is a one bedroom, one bathroom condominium in the city of Hilo on the Big Island. Enjoy the swimming pool right beside the beach and views of the ocean from the balcony. The beach is within steps of your front door, where you can work on your tan or go swimming with the sea turtles.
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  2. 2
    Hailias Hideaway, Big Island
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    This three bedroom, three bathroom home sleeps six people, making it perfect for a large family to spread out in. Located just five minutes from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the home makes a perfect home base to explore the wonders of the island's active volcanoes. Equipped with a full kitchen with new appliances and granite counter tops, it will feel like your home away from home. Renters also get 15 percent off a helicopter tour.
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Method 6: For a Family Reunion

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Hawaii is the perfect place to host a family reunion that your relatives will never forget. Make memories filled with surfing, swimming, snorkeling, or just the joy of relaxing together with your family in a beautiful setting. One way to get a good deal on hotel rooms is to ask for the group rate, especially if your family gathering includes more than 10 people. Here are two examples of affordable accommodations where you can host an awesome family reunion without breaking the bank:

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  1. 1
    Marriot's Kaua'I Beach Club Resort, Lihue Kauai
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    This resort is perfect for family reunions because it has villas that will sleep up to six people; you can save money by putting several family members up in a single unit. You and your family can relax around the 26,000 square-foot swimming pool while the young ones have fun splashing in the water, and if any of your relatives love to golf, they will go crazy over the championship golf course on the property. The girls in the family can bond while indulging in some pampering at the spa where they can have massages, body wraps, and mani-pedis.
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  2. 2
    Sunset Paradise, Kona on the Big Island
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    For a private family gathering, this lovely home sleeps 16 people in six bedrooms and four bathrooms. It has a pool on the grounds, and the beach is just 3 miles away. The home has a fully equipped kitchen so that you can have fun preparing meals together or have a barbecue on the grill out by the pool. There, you have an amazing view of Kamoa point and Holualoa Bay. There are a washer and dryer in the home, so you don't have to worry about finding a laundromat, and the home is close to grocery and drugstores. Nearby is Kahalauu Beach Park, which is great for snorkeling, and if you want to see a perfect white sand beach, it doesn't get much better than the aptly named White Sand Beach Park.
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Method 7: For a Wedding

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You have dreamed of having a wedding in Hawaii ever since you saw those old Elvis movies and Love Boat episodes. While you may think that a Hawaiian wedding is out of your price range, you'd be surprised at how affordable one can be if you shop around. Here are two examples of affordable Hawaiian resorts where you can have the wedding of your dreams:

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    Aston Kaanapali Shores, Lahaina, Maui
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    Not only does this resort offer full wedding services, including hosting the reception, catering, and everything involved with the ceremony, but it also has plenty of room to accommodate your guests without draining your budget. All of its guest rooms are suites with fully equipped kitchens and washers and dryers; save money by sleeping three or more guests in the two or three bedroom suites. Also, you may qualify for the group rate if you have enough people. The resort gives you a choice of where you want to have the ceremony: choose between a romantic gazebo or the beach with the sound of the waves crashing in the background.
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    Royal Kona Resort, Kona on the Big Island
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    For choices on where to hold the ceremony and the reception, the Royal Kona Resort is hard to beat. Choose from between seven venues, including a beautiful lagoon, covered pavilion, romantic gazebo, the beach, and more. The resort's wedding coordinators will take care of everything related to the reception and the ceremony so that you can relax and enjoy your special day. Even better, no matter how many or few guests you invite, there is no minimum required to take advantage of the resort's group discounts.
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Method 8: For a Family Vacation

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Every family should visit the Hawaiian Islands at least once. The swaying palms, cloud-studded blue skies, and rolling surf make it an idyllic retreat for people of all ages. Thankfully, a family Hawaiian vacation is not as expensive as you think. With just a little searching, you can find the right place to stay and have a great time with your family.

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  1. 1
    Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, Honolulu, Oahu
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    This resort is perfect for families because it is near the Kuhio section of Waikiki Beach, the most family-friendly area. Most rooms have a private balcony with an ocean view, and the resort hosts fun activities for the young ones while the adults pamper themselves with a massage or a nap on the beach.
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  2. 2
    NorthShore Shark Adventures, Haleiwa Harbor
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    The opportunity to get up close and personal with the dangerous but beautiful denizens of the deep is an experience not to be missed. You and your family will be taken out in the ocean where you will be placed in a shark cage. From behind the safety of its bars, you and your children will watch the sharks appear out of the murky depths. Closer and closer they come until they brush past it, the force of their tails making it bob in their wake. The company guarantees that you will see sharks or you pay nothing. As a bonus, on the way out to the sharks, you will see dolphins leaping out of the ocean, and if you're there in the winter, you may even see Humpback Whales.
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For More Information

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There are a number of forums and blogs on the Internet where you can get information from other travelers about their experiences in Hawaii. If you join, you can ask questions and participate in discussions to get a better understanding of what to expect from your trip.

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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please post in the comments section below.

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Categories : Travel & Leisure

Recent edits by: Eng, Maria, Kathy McGraw

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