Hawaii March 19, 2017
The Unforgettable Hawaii Road Trip To Take When You’re On A Budget
The Hawaiian Islands are notoriously expensive, and whether you live in Hawaii or are attempting to plan your next vacation, it can be difficult to stay on budget. Luckily, the Hawaiian Islands are home to countless free or cheap activities. I mean, just look around: Hawaii is home to more natural beauty than any other American state, most of which is free to explore. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you’ll love this epic road trip that should cost approximately $20 per person, plus gas.
epic road trip stops at 10 of Hawaii’s best attractions, beaches, and lookout points, and clocks in at only 87 miles and three hours of drive time – perfect for your next Saturday off!
1. We’ll start with a visit to the famous USS Arizona Memorial.
This incredible piece of American history will simultaneously leave you breathless and break your heart for the 1,102 sailors and marines who were killed during the fateful and tragic Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Visiting the memorial is a somber experience, and one that will certainly remind you not only of the delicacy of life, but also of the monumental sacrifice made by the United States Armed Forces. Tickets are free, but limited, so you should show up early or reserve your tickets online the day before.
2. Drive to the summit of Mount Tantalus.
This two-lane, ten-mile loop features a series of steep inclines, hairpin turns and blind corners that challenge even the most skilled drivers in the smallest cars you can find. The views of Honolulu from the Tantalus Lookout are well worth the slightly nerve-wracking drive - on a clear day, you can see everything from Diamond Head and Waikiki to the east and Honolulu International Airport and Pearl Harbor to the west.
3. Check out Oahu’s southeastern shore, including the Halona Cove and Blowhole.
During periods of high tide and strong winds, rolling waves crash into the shore and shoot sea spray into the air through a cave, acting as a sort of geyser. Nearby is a small rocky cove, which has been featured in films like Pirates of the Caribbean and 50 First Dates. Despite its Hollywood fame, the only way to reach the stunning cove is via a short but rocky descent.
4. Stop at Sandy’s Beach Park to fly a kite or catch some waves.
Just past Halona Cove + Blowhole is Sandy’s – as the locals call it – a beach with year-round crushing shore break that has resulted in many wanna-be bodysurfers with sprains, neck compressions and broken bones. But as long as you're careful, the beautiful beach can be the backdrop for some wonderful Hawaii memories.
5. Have a picnic lunch at the summit of the Lanikai Pillboxes.
A short hike up to three old U.S. Marine pillboxes on Oahu’s east side provide views of Kailua Bay, Kaneohe and beyond. This one-mile hike not only provides stunning views of Windward Oahu – but a glimpse into World War II history as well. During the 1940s, the structures were equipped with telescopes, and soldiers would keep watch for enemy ships and send all relevant information back to Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station. Not up for hiking? Simply enjoy your picnic at the nearby Lanikai Beach.
6. Check out the breathtaking Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden.
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens is a little-known 400-acre natural oasis tucked away in Kaneohe perfect for an afternoon stroll. Ho’omaluhia is also home to countless walking and bike trails, a day use area, campgrounds, and a visitor center with an exhibition hall, workshop and botanical library. The garden is open daily, and is free to the public.
7. Visit the stunning Byodo-In Temple.
Located on Oahu’s lush windward coast at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains is the Byodo-In Temple, a small-scale replica of a famous temple in Japan that is more than 950 years old. The non-denominational shrine was dedicated in 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. The beautiful grounds include stunning statues, a large reflecting pond, meditation areas, and small waterfalls.
8. Hit up the Laie Point State Wayside for stunning views of the Windward Coast.
Off the beaten path, on Oahu’s northeastern tip, is Laie Point State Wayside, a small point that juts into the Pacific Ocean and offers up an incredible vista of the Ko’olau mountain range.
9. Grab dinner at one of the many food trucks found in Kahuku.
Kahuku is known for its plethora of roadside shrimp shacks and epic food trucks. If you aren’t sure where to stop, we recommend Giovanni’s: this is by far the most famous spot here, and the perfect eatery for a casual dinner while traveling along Kamehameha Highway.
10. Enjoy a signature Hawaiian sunset at the aptly named Sunset Beach.
Because who doesn't want to end their epic (and cheap!) Oahu road trip with a magical Hawaiian sunset at a beach named for its killer sunset views?
Total cost of your trip: $3 for entry into the Byodo-In Temple and $10 for dinner in Kahuku, plus the cost of a picnic lunch and gas for your vehicle. Who says Hawaii has to be expensive?