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Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

Fairview Park, Ohio
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Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

It's a little funny, but I haven't even popped the question yet to my girlfriend, but it's a foregone conclusion to us and everyone who knows us that we're going to end up together. Even funnier is that a lot of wedding and honeymoon plans have been tossed around. Don't worry folks, I plan to ask the big one next month.

OK! On to the topic at hand. We're not swimming in money, and it's important to us that we're frugal, but we also recognize that once-in-a-lifetime trips only happen, well, once in a lifetime. I beat cancer about a year and a half ago and I know all too well how fleeting time is, and we both have Hawaii on our bucket list. What better way to cross that off the list by sharing our first big adventure together as newlyweds?

Did some research and we agree that Kauai speaks to us the best. We're not big on city life, we prefer the quieter countryside rife with natural beauty and Kauai apparently has that in spades. I've already been looking on vrbo and found some great prices for what seems to be great places (with a grill, of course).

Can you suggest a great off-peak travel time to Kauai? I was thinking possibly October (not this year, in 2015), but the date is very flexible.

Some great ways to save money? Airfare, alas, is the one thing we can't control and realize it costs a near fortune. If I'm lucky, my folks will help pay as a present.

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1. Re: Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

Hawaii can be expensive when you take into account:

- Roundtrip airfare

- Hotel / condo PLUS accommodations tax (13.416%) PLUS any parking or resort or cleaning fees.

- Rental car (including all of the taxes and fees) and gas

- Any entertainment & activities (luau, snorkeling trip, whale watch, helicopter tour, surfing lessons, snorkel equipment rentals, etc. - all optional but nice if you can afford it)

- Food and drink

- Any shopping/souvenirs

- Etc.

Packages are going to be simpler, of course, but you might be able to get better deals going "a la carte."

Thoughts on making Hawaii affordable:

* Demand is usually lower in the shoulder seasons on Hawaii (May, Sept, Oct, Nov before Thanksgiving, Dec before Xmas). Also attractions, etc. will tend to be less crowded. Just make sure you avoid Thanksgiving week as some people make that entire week their Hawaiian vacation. Christmas break, mid-winter break, spring break, the summer can all be very very busy.

* Use Google Flights to figure out the best dates to go using their calendar feature, and be flexible about traveling mid-week. Wednesday to Wednesday or something similar might end up being your best option.

* Sign up for the Alaska Airlines Visa card and get a $99 companion fare (before taxes and fees) with any coach round-trip fare. Great option if you live somewhere serviced by Alaskan Airlines / on the West Coast. Depends if you are short on funds but willing to take longer & possibly more connections to actually GET to Hawaii.

* If you or someone you know has an American Express card with some Membership Rewards points available, they can easily be turned into airline miles with major carriers. Perhaps as a wedding gift?

* You can book a rental car easily yourself via DiscountHawaiiCarRental.com (click "Reserve Yourself"). They are a middleman with the major agencies (Alamo, Avis, etc.) Re-check rental car rates periodically as they sometimes randomly drop. Do not pre-pay for your rental car, or pre-pay for gas. If you check frequently, you can probably find a good deal, or at least see the price drop. You can always re-book and get the lower rate for free. Sign up for the rental agency's loyalty program, too, you may be able to skip the check-in line. Check the fine print if you want a 2nd driver (sometimes this is free only through the loyalty program). You will want a car unless only staying in Honolulu on Oahu. Most people pick up and drop off at the airport.

* Get the smallest rental car that can fit your party and your luggage. Compact/economy will be fine. Parking spaces can be very small on Hawaiian islands.

* Are you a Costco member? If you are staying for a while and/or have a lot of people, consider shopping for groceries at Costco. Items are much cheaper at Costco than at the local shops on Hawaii because Costco caps its markups at 14 percent regardless of product or location, although freight is added to the prices in Hawaii.

* You can also rent your car via Costco Travel. And it can be much cheaper that way. They are also a middleman with the big name agencies.

* Fill up your car's gas tank at Costco when on the island. Gas can be up to 30-50 cents cheaper at Costco (NOTE: they only take payment via debit, Amex, or Costco gift card only) on Hawaii. You can check for recent gas prices on Hawaiigasprices.com.

* Do you have Safeway supermarkets where you are? Bring your Safeway loyalty card OR the phone number of someone who is signed up, the loyalty program will work in Hawaii as well. Or sign up for Foodland's loyalty program as well while you're here. Foodland is a local supermarket chain. Your condo keys might come with the loyalty program tag already.

* One way to bring down the price is to rent a condo via VBRO.com. Many, many condo owners go through VBRO and rent out their units for much of the year when they're not living in them. Renting directly via an owner is usually cheaper than a management company and you can be assured of the exact unit you're getting. Never wire money, though, and scrutinize the reviews. Mind the minimum stay, 13.42% accommodations tax, and any cleaning fees. Make sure the owner has a tax ID listed and someone who can be there if something goes wrong. Some owners will also give a discount or waive the cleaning fee for longer stays so it is advantageous to stay longer. This is one of the way we like to keep costs down. HOWEVER, if there's something wrong with the unit, it's harder to switch or find somewhere else to stay.

* If you want to save money in Hawaii, overall, stay at a place that is not right on a beach or right near a beach. Beachfront and oceanfront, with a view, will be more expensive than across the beach with no view or a partial view.

* Renting a condo can be cheaper much than a hotel room because you can buy groceries, make your own breakfasts and picnic lunches, use the grill to make dinner, make drinks whenever you want, have easy access to cold soda, and you can do laundry while you're there. If you pack right, you can make do with only carry on luggage, saving on checked bag fees as well, since you'll plan to do laundry while you're there. Most condos have a fridge, blender, toaster, microwave, stove, oven, utensils, plates and flatware, pots and pans, etc. as well as a few communal grills for the complex.

* Rent a condo that is a studio and not a 1 BR, if you are only two people and don't really need that much room/door to the bedroom. The price difference can really add up if you're paying $40 more a night for a 1 BR unit.

* Go out and have cheap drinks and appetizers during various "aloha" or happy hours.

* Sign up for the Chase Hyatt Credit card and get 2 free nights after you spend $1000 in the first 3 months. The 2 free nights can be redeemed at various Hyatt hotels on Hawaii. If each of you signs up, you can earn 4 free nights (for a standard room)! Maybe you can use one to pay for wedding expenses.

* Eat cheap and local. Take out and eat on your lanai (balcony/patio). Simple breakfasts of local fruit, bagels with lilikoi cream cheese, cereal, coffee, or cooking your own eggs/bacon/toast at your condo. I like to make French toast with Hawaiian sweet bread, coconut syrup, and lilikoi butter. Lunch can be a takeout Hawaiian plate lunch or an ahi poke bowl.

* Many couples now do a honeymoon registry in lieu or in addition to a normal wedding registry, where friends and family can pay for dinners out, boat trips, etc.

* And don't forget that watching the sunrise and sunset are also free!

Edited: 18 July 2014, 03:57
2. Re: Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

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3. Re: Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

Nice tips Kathryn! You've given me great ideas for our trip.

Big Island, Hawaii
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4. Re: Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

I would definitely go in either Mid- May or early October as those are usually still good weather for the most gorgeous north shore and It's not high season...however, it's interesting...I usually travel to Kauai in September or October and have been for years. I got a little late to my planning this year, and even though it was almost six months out, my top ten lodging choices on the north shore were already booked for September. So I then went to October and still wound up with something like my third or fourth choice. I'm still very happy though as I got a great place on Hanalei Bay at the low season rate, and we can stay longer since it's over my kid's Fall Break. I met a property manager the other day from Kauai who said her north shore listings were completely booked for October and had been for months, and that there were several weddings happening in mid October. I was really surprised as I always thought of it as being such a slow period (it's super slow on the Big Island).

Anyway, you're still probably going to have better airfare and rates in those May or October times, but I guess my point is, you really can't book too early. I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger as soon as you find a halfway decent airfare and a place you love.

Fairview Park, Ohio
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5. Re: Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

Wow! Thanks for all that info! I'll certainly check into some of those options you mentioned. I am not, alas, a Costco member, but I am a AAA member (21 years and running, that helps, right?). I saw some pretty good rental car prices through them. Not much in the way of airfare, unfortunately.

Way ahead of you on the vrbo and renting a studio, my honey and I are perfectly fine with that. We'd be outside the majority of the time anyway! I spied some great deals there, like about 600 for the week.

Honeymoon registry, gonna take that idea. Thanks again!

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6. Re: Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

I agree with Shea. May and October is so nice. Late Sept too.

Kauai can be as inexpensive as you want it to be. Its the activities that add up. I know many future married couples that are now including honeymoon help with their registry. I just gave a friend's daughter a snorkel/booze cruise on Maui for her wedding gift.

Here's the thing....the closer to the beach, the higher the rate (usually). Major hotels are expensive. Keep checking condos. Just remember its all about the view on Kauai. Coming back after a busy day and watching the sunset is very romantic. Get a view!

Kauai, Hawaii
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7. Re: Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

I like May. Lots of flowers blooming and scenting the air.

Kaua`i doesn't have to be expensive. Avoid high-end destination resorts. Eat at the small, local restaurants. Get a condo so you can at least have breakfast in. We always did that, plus evening wine on the lanai. You don't have to do the expensive, paid activities to keep busy on Kaua`i, although it's THE place for a helicopter tour. If you don't have to be on a swimming beach, you can find lodging for good prices on the east side. You're going to want to be out and exploring the island in any case. For real economy try the Garden Island Inn (a short walk to a nice beach) or the Kaua`i Inn. Other options would be Kaua`i Beach Resort, although you really do have to drive everywhere; Kapa`a Sands, a lovely little condo complex on the ocean; possibly the Kaua`i Coast Resort (Beachboy). Islander on the Beach can be inexpensive, but you won't be able to do much about food there.

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8. Re: Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

We haven't paid for a plane ticket to Kauai since our first trip in 2004 (that includes flying 6 of us on United last fall and 4 of us on United and 2 on AA next Feb) - if you have decent credit you and your SO can both apply for the United credit card and get enough miles for two round trip tickets. **the current offer is only 30K miles so don't apply for that one - there are all kinds of "tricks" to find a higher mileage version of the card, PM me if you want details.**

The trick with using frequent flyer miles is to travel at off-peak times (you've already got that covered) and off-peak days, and look at flying into HNL instead of LIH - I can't believe I found tickets DEN-LAX-HNL for February on a Saturday as I was expecting to have to travel Mon-Thur.

Otherwise Kathryn and others have given you great ideas. Also ask around if anyone in your family has a timeshare they're not using - perhaps they would gift you the use of that for your honeymoon. There are a variety of timeshare properties on island ranging from fabulous to good-enough so if that becomes an option I say go for it.

I agree with PZP - if you can only budget for one activity, make it helicopter tour. That is still my husband's favorite Kauai memory.

Fairview Park, Ohio
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9. Re: Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

Thanks again! Definitely looking into those tips and tricks. The only problem that I find with applying to any airline credit cards is that one has to spend money to get those miles and then use the perk to get a cheap ticket. I don't foresee us traveling on off-peak days either, most likely Sunday to Saturday, and with Memorial Day on that Monday to boot, which I realize probably jacks up the prices a bit.

That's airfare, but now I have another question: What part of Kauai should we stay on? After doing some research, it looks like the northern part, possibly Hanalei Bay, is ideal due to gorgeous vistas and beaches and proximity to Waimea Canyon, and other points of interests.

Your thoughts?

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10. Re: Honeymooning in Kauai, ideal off-peak time and lodging

Most rewards cards have some sort of sign up bonus these days. You could sign up for a more general rewards or travel bonus card (Capital One? Amex?) and put ALL your expenses on there. Gas, groceries, etc. and get money back and put into a "Hawaii" fund.

Hanalei is gorgeous, if you specify a nightly lodging budget before taxes and fees, the posters here can help identify good places to stay.

Here's a thread that may help:


However, it's a long drive to Waimea Canyon--you cannot make a loop around the island. You'll have to go through east and south Kauai to get there.

Do you have a good map of Kauai? Or a guidebook? I like Kauai Revealed (though it's been controversial in the past for recommending trespassing on private property) for the maps.

Edited: 20 July 2014, 14:07