Penny-pinching makes Hawaii affordable

LAHAINA, HAWAII – A white Chevy rental car makes a hairpin turn on a one-lane mountain road, revealing a breathtaking scene: a cliff jutting from the sea, splashed by spots of sun.

The cliff is only one of the incredible sights on the island of Maui, Hawaii. The island paradise is a popular vacation destination for the wealthy, but it is accessible to visitors on any budget – even college students.

Popular spring break destinations include Cancun, the Bahamas and Jamaica. But with some advanced planning, a jaunt to Maui can be surprisingly economical.

The most expensive part of the trip is the plane tickets, but bargains can be found. Try searching for ticket prices on Internet travel sites or in the travel section of the newspaper. Fares to Honolulu are available for around $450 a few months in advance. Search for deals including both the airfare and hotel accommodations.

Avoid expensive taxis in Honolulu. Instead, opt for the city’s public transportation system. Buses run regularly and cost a dollar. Hostels are an inexpensive alternative to hotels. Honolulu has two hostels, which provide a bed and a good night’s sleep for less than twenty dollars a night.

Honolulu is modern, but not new or exciting. Visitors are better off touring other parts of Oahu or heading for Hawaii’s other islands. There is no ferry service between the islands, but flights leave Honolulu every hour.

Flights are available to any of the Hawaiian islands. Vacationers can go to the island of Hawaii – the Big Island – for about $50. On that island, there is an active volcano and black sand beaches.

It costs about $160 to fly to Maui, an island of spectacular natural scenery, waterfalls, dormant volcanoes, resorts and golf courses.

The city of Lahaina is a great place to stay on Maui. Its numerous restaurants, bars and shops provide a good way to cap off a day on one of Maui’s beautiful beaches.

The Pioneer Inn, located in the heart of Lahaina, lacks the tennis courts and golf courses of the large resort hotels, but it does have a small pool and bar. The inn is one of Lahaina’s oldest buildings, dating from 1901. The inn recently was renovated and rooms start at $80 a night.

While Maui’s restaurants are spectacular, their prices do not fit into a small budget. Maui has many grocery stores with prices similar to those at the Watergate Safeway.

On Maui, a rental car is a must. The island’s spectacular mountain roads – a must-see – are only accessible by car. Maui also has a dormant volcano, numerous waterfalls and many pristine beaches, and though they are a long drive from the hotel, no visit to Maui is complete without visits to them. Rental cars are not cheap – $45 a day for renters under 25 – but they are a necessity.

With a little frugality, college students can spend spring break swimming in the bright blue waters of the South Pacific, gazing at Maui’s amazing red cliffs or sitting above the endless sea that stretches off into the horizon.

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