Cruise to Hawaii on a Budget: 10 Cruise Tips for the Cost-Efficient Traveler

A hula troupe performs onboard a cruise to Hawaii.
A hula troupe performs onboard a cruise to Hawaii.

Are you thinking about taking a cruise to Hawaii but are worried about your wallet? These 10 cost-efficient travel tips will keep you well within a tight budget.

1. Take advantage of onboard cultural experiences.

Feel the onboard "spirit of aloha" through a variety of cultural experiences such as lei making, ukulele lessons, hula lessons, sarong-tying lessons, and native language courses. Take advantage of the live performances on ship from local musicians and the award-winning Halau Hula Olana dance troupe.

2. Stick your feet in the sand.

Unlike many other beaches around the US, Hawaiian beach access is free. Relaxing day Hawaii shore excursions to local favorite beaches, like Ka'anapali Beach on Maui, will leave you feeling refreshed and carefree.

3. Take a hike.

The Hawaiian Islands have a multitude of scenic trails you can follow. Let your feet guide you down a beaten path as your eyes take in the surrounding Hawaiian beauty. A local favorite is the waterfall hike to Ho'olwa Valley on Maui with local naturalists who specialize in the flora, fauna, and geology of the beautiful valley.

4. Choose full-day Hawaiian shore excursions to maximize your experience.

Several full-day Hawaii shore excursions allow you to sightsee with knowledgeable tour guides who will provide you with a deeper understanding of anywhere you visit. Try shore excursions with a twist — Kauai's Hollywood in Hawaii tour, for example, travels the Kauai shoreline viewing the beautiful backdrops to such movies as Jurassic Park and Blue Hawaii.

5. Budget for local food favorites.

Shave ice, ice cream, local chocolate, and coffee are island favorites that add some pep to your step while you're touring the islands. They also have the benefit of being less than $10. Set aside a daily budget to try these treats while you're in Hawaii.

6. Peruse online reviews.

Use online review services to find fantastic, inexpensive dining. A lot of the islands' hole-in-the-wall restaurants will surprise you.

7. Pack the incidentals.

Necessities such as sunscreen and toiletrees are not cheap on the islands. Leave room in your suitcase for these small sundries and you'll save money and time once you arrive.

8. Eat the best of local food.

Enjoy culinary delights such as seared yellowfin tuna on cucumber-fennel slaw, luau pork with apricot drippings, runner beans and smoked bacon fricassee, and other local favorites while you're on board. Pair them with tropical drinks like an ultimate mai tai and you'll experience the full tastes of Hawaii.

9. Plan your daily excursions ahead of time.

Booking your daily excursions in advance of your Hawaiian cruise will allow you to prepare for your entire trip, saving you the stress of having to budget daily allotments for costs like rental cars, food, or third-party tour companies.

10. Prioritize the experience, not the list.

While traveling, it's easy to become consumed by the idea of "seeing it all." You might stress yourself out by rushing from one thing to the next (e.g., surf lessons to plantation tours, golfing to snorkeling). Consider limiting each day to a few ideal experiences and give yourself plenty of time to rejuvenate. You are, after all, in Hawaii.