Vactioning in Honolulu on a Student’s Budget

by Stephanie Sibille

Photos by Lyndsey Matthews
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I planned my trip to Hawaii last June for a shocking reason: it was the least expensive travel option I could find. Having just finished a semester abroad in Australia, I was looking for a way to ease back into “real world.” Oahu seemed to offer everything I wanted: warm weather, pristine beaches, palm trees, and of course, killer surf. More importantly, unlike Fiji—my other return option—I was able to book a hostel on Waikiki Beach that offered free airport transportation. The bus ride to the hostel passed many of the lovely aquamarine waters that Oahu has to offer, and my stomach fluttered with excitement for what the next few days would hold.

The Waikiki Beachside Hostel was a true backpackers’ experience. My multishare, coed dorm room had six beds that were filled with different guests every night.

I had anticipated that I would spend most of the time relaxing on Waikiki—especially given my budget— but Oahu has so much to offer. There is a fairly inexpensive bus system that circumnavigates the island, which offers a four-day, unlimited pass for about $20. I took advantage of this opportunity in order to see as much of Hawaii as I could.

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Take the time to relax on Waikiki Beach.

The North Shore is typically known for its tremendous surf and beaches, but the summer season caused the water to be flatter than what I expected.

I went to Waimea Bay and was met with unbelievable white sand beaches and crystal clear water that complimented a nearly cloudless sky. However, the main attraction is located on the western side of the beach. A set of rocks—most likely formed by volcanic activity— protrude about twenty feet into the air and line an unusually deep section of water, making this an ideal place for cliff jumping. Across the street sits a waterfall that offers swimming opportunities worth every penny of the $8 admission price. I was also able to hike out to Diamond Head and surf all along Waikiki.

Dinners were at the Ala Moana Center food court, which offers many dining selections at reasonable prices in the largest shopping center on the island of Oahu. My evenings ended with walks along the main drag, where I observed everything from French breakdancers to a spray paint artist.

I left Oahu at the end of my four-day stay feeling ready to attack the mainland. I only spent about $150 during my stay (excluding airfare), knowing full-well that there was still plenty of island to be explored. Next time you’re on the lookout for an island getaway, don’t let Hawaii’s pricey reputation scare you off.

Waikiki Beachside Hostel: $25.90/ night for a coed six-bed room including a full kitchen, ensuite bathroom and free continental breakfast. (808 ) 923-9566/ WaikikiBeachsideHostel.com/ 2556 Lemon Rd. Honolulu, HI 96815

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