Maui on a budget

Learn to surrender in a whole new way with an economical exploration of this Hawaiian island.

Words Danica Joy

Maui is known for its 70-plus micro-climates and topographical variations. Think beach, lush jungle and huge volcanoes. Home to some of the world’s wealthiest people (Oprah lives there) this island boasts abundance in many ways. This can be intimidating and confronting (while we were there, the average Airbnb was NZ$700 per night). So, rather than cancelling our flights, we surrendered our trust to the universe and packed a tiny tent, ready to explore another view of Maui. We’ve done the hard work, so now you can enjoy Maui in an authentic way – without having to remortgage your house.


Rent your gear from Snorkel Bob’s for only a couple of dollars per day and find yourself some turtles to swim with. snorkelbob.com

Craft beers

You’ll find Maui Brewing Co.’s beers all over Maui. The brewery itself is worth a visit, where you can do 45-minute guided tours, including a tasting of their flagship beers.

Eating out and about

Eat your breakfast and listen to live music at Paia Bay Coffee. Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop offers burgers, pies and pastries and was one of our favourite places to eat.

Cute little towns

Paia has lots of surf stores, cute coffee spots and quirky shops. Makawao is a little town boasting art, craft and pretty shops.

Car hire

Maui is a big little island. You really need a car to explore. Upon arriving in Maui, you can hire a car from the airport for around US$60 plus taxes. For a much more affordable option, book a car with Kimos Rent-a-Car. We hired a car for around US$30 per day. kimosrentacar.com


We were lucky enough to visit the Island during whale migration season (December to May), during which time these mighty mammals may play close enough to the shore so
you can easily spot them from the beach. 

Tent life

Camp Olowalu is a 30-minute drive from Kahului airport. You’ll pay US$24 per night, per person for a lovely campsite with your own picnic table. This place is right on the beach and well known for its snorkelling. campolowalu.com


Soulasana (right by Wholefoods) helps you reset once you arrive. soulasanayoga.com

Epic sunsets

For US$25 to enter the Haleakalā National Park, take a drive to the volcano. Pack some seriously warm gear (think puffer jackets and beanies) as the summit is above the clouds at over 3000-metre elevation. You can drive right to the summit and it will be a sunset you never forget. 

Stock up on some goodies at Wholefoods

This place has a huge amount of organics, fresh salads and epic food bars. You can order a freshly made pizza by the slice for a sweet US$4. Its a mecca for vegans as they have every plant-based option you can dream up. It was so nice to have a supply of fresh fruit, bread, nuts and salads rather than eating out for every meal while on the road. 

Road to Hāna

This is a very popular drive at the eastern end of the island, taking you deep into the jungle. It’s often wet and known for its hundreds of bridges and waterfalls. Be sure to pack food, water and wet-weather gear – once you start the drive, there is very little along the way (just a couple of food trucks with lots of banana bread!).


Air New Zealand fly direct from Auckland to Honululu. On arrival, you can walk to the domestic airport (3-4 minutes) and grab a flight to Maui with Hawaiian Airlines. The flight to Kahului Airport on Maui will take 40 minutes for around US$90-$100. Think of it more like a connecting bus service as flights are scheduled for every 30-45 minutes.


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