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Waikiki on a budget
Finding the best values on Oahu's most bustling beach
Almost-perfect weather, golden beaches, and outstanding shopping make Waikiki Beach (in Honolulu, on Oahu) a global hotspot. With such renown come prices that reflect Waikiki’s overwhelming popularity. In other words, most of the town ain’t cheap.
While it is fun to splurge, it is even more fun to feel like you are getting the best value possible when traveling. To help you achieve that objective, here are, in our opinion, some of the best values in Waikiki. The most famous urban beach on Oahu is doable on a budget, you just need to know where to look.
Best value airport transfer to Waikiki: Expedia’s Shared Shuttle
Airport transfers from Honolulu to Waikiki run the gamut of pricing, which makes it challenging to determine which option provides the best value. Because we like it when everything is taken care of prior to arrival (we leave the last-minute decisions for more exciting things), we prefer to book our Honolulu airport transfer ahead of time, with Expedia’s Shared Shuttle.
For less than the price of a taxi for two, this van gives you the comfort of a Mercedes-Benz shuttle, a lei greeting, and the confidence that comes with booking through Expedia.
Viewfinder Tip: Book a flight and hotel package through Expedia and, in many cases, get the flight for practically free.
One would expect that a recently renovated, design-forward hotel in Waikiki would be pretty pricy. Not so with the Shoreline Hotel. Even though the hotel is located just a block away from Waikiki Beach and smack in the middle of the area’s best shopping, it is surprisingly easy on the wallet.
On a recent visit, we enjoyed a large, well-decorated room with a full couch and partial ocean view. We also appreciated that the hotel didn’t charge extra for Internet access, despite the fact that the rate was considerably lower than similar Waikiki accommodations.
We have not been to Japan yet, but if the udon at Marakume Udon is even close to what is served there, Japan must be a magical place. Fortunately for us, we do make it to Waikiki often and always treat ourselves to Marakume Udon’s thick, meaty udon noodles in rich umami broth. We recommend the ontama bukkake udon, which comes topped with a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg. Make sure to come early or well after the lunchtime rush, as this noodle shop draws lines that can snake around the block.
In a part of the world where cocktails are a value at US$15, it is almost unbelievable that there is a bar in Waikiki where you can get a pitcher of Mai Tais for US$12. But that’s Hula’s. Even harder to believe is that same bar has one of the beach’s best views of Diamond Head. Hula’s definitely caters to the LGBT community, but is welcoming to all. We always make it a point to stop by for inexpensive drinks, great conversations, and fun dance music.
Best value sweet treats in Waikiki: Henry’s Place
In the shadow of the Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk sits a completely unassuming, bodega-like shop. Don’t be fooled by its appearance or the cooler full of Styrofoam cups; behind that low-budget exterior is the richest ice cream on the island: Henry’s Place. We recommend that you grab some of the fresh mango or acai ice cream, plop yourself on one of the benches out front, and indulge in a not-too-sweet but absolutely decadent frozen treat. You won’t spend a fortune, but you’ll be living large.
How do you save money while traveling?
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