A $10,000 Two-Week Hawaiian Honeymoon

Welcome to Away Game, a Refinery29 series where we tag along as real millennial women embark on trips around the world and track their travel expenses down to the last cent. Here, we offer a detailed, intimate account of when, where, and how our peers spend their vacation days and disposable income: all the meals, adventures, indulgences, setbacks, and surprises.
This week's travel diary: A 26-year-old marketing manager whose husband surprised her with a secret honeymoon fund so the couple could take their dream vacation.
Age: 26
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Salary: $75,000
My Husband's Salary: $55,000
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Trip Location: Hawaiian Islands – Oahu, Kauai, and Maui
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Annual # Of Vacation Days: 20
My Husband's Annual # Of Vacation Days: 13
Trip Length: 14 days
Travel Companion: My husband
Transportation
Flights:
Roundtrip NYC to Oahu: $1,726.62
Oahu to Kauai: $178.76
Kauai to Maui: $228.96
Maui to Oahu: $190.76
Rental Cars:
Oahu: $308.73
Kauai: $127.01
Maui: $498
Total: $3258.84
Accommodations
Oahu: Airbnb in Ewa beach = $653.30 for 4 nights
Kauai: Airbnb in Princeville = $0 for 1 night (A record-breaking storm caused a flood so Airbnb fully refunded us.)
Koala Landing Resort = $766 for 2 nights
Maui: Wailea Beach Resort, Marriott = $2999.58 for 6 nights
Total: $4418.88
Pre-Vacation Spending
Toiletries: $75
Manicure & Pedicure: $30
Brazilian Wax: $90
Airplane Pillow: $39.99
Balayage & Haircut: $350
Spray Tan: $30
Total: $614.99

Day One

3 p.m. — We land in Oahu after a long 11-hour flight from NYC and eagerly rush to pick up our rental car. The line is long, so I use the time to contact our Airbnb host to let her know the status on our approximate arrival. She warns us about the notorious Oahu traffic and boy, is she right. It takes us 50 minutes to travel 8 miles.
5 p.m. – We settle in and then go to dinner at Tianos, known for the best prime rib on the island. My husband orders the garlic shrimp with mash potatoes and I order the prime rib with a side salad. $51.50
8 p.m. – After a well-deserved food coma, we head back to the Airbnb and fall fast asleep after the long day of travel.
Daily Total: $51.50

Day Two

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8 a.m. — Jet lag is on our side and we wake up nice and early to explore the North side of the island today. We make our way to the Byodo-In Temple to start the trip off in a peaceful, zen environment. Within the temple, we are greeted by a huge Buddha statue and lit incense for our departed loved ones; we take in the beautiful scenery. $10
10:30 a.m. — We drive 20 minutes to the Kualoa Ranch where we have an excursion to do a two-hour horseback riding tour planned. I’m a bit nervous in the beginning since this is my first time on a horse, but I quickly bond with my horse Loka and start to feel comfortable. We ride past several movie sets and admire the grace of how perfect the volcanic mountains look around us. $260
2:30 p.m. — All of our friends told us to check out Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck during our time in Oahu. It’s probably the best Scampi I’ve ever had. Nothing beats shrimp that’s marinated in garlic and oil for over 24 hours! $18
3:30 p.m. — We stop by several beaches along the coast, watching surfers take on waves at the infamous Banzai Pipeline beach. They make riding a wave look so damn easy, but before we know it, our stomachs are growling again.
5:30 p.m. — Dinnertime at a super cute local spot called Ted’s Bakery, which is featured in the movie Blue Crush. The portions are huge and the staff is so friendly. I order the short ribs and chocolate cream pie. Everything tastes homemade and I’m crazy-full afterwards. We can only scarf down half of our meal so we pack the rest up to take home. $35
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Daily Total: $323

Day Three

5 a.m. — We are set to explore the South side of the island! Jet lag is still on our side so we wake up before dawn and drive down to Hanauma Bay to watch the sunrise. Admission before 7 a.m. is free and since no one is at the bay at this time, we have it all to ourselves. We go snorkeling and see over seven different types of fish – including the state fish, humuhumunukunukuapua'a (say that five times fast. Hell, say it one time fast).
1 p.m. – Time for some food and brews. We check out Kona Brewery, which has a beautiful setting nestled in a local Marina. We order a flight each to try all of the different beers $35
3 p.m. – We hike up Diamond Head mountain. The intensity level is minimal, but you still break a good sweat and feel accomplished afterwards! A lengthy set of steep stairs makes me sing the Rocky theme song, as my husband encourages fellow hikers to make to the top. $15
7p.m. – We head back to our Airbnb located right off the beach and finish our leftovers from Ted’s Bakery.
Daily Total: $50

Day Four

7 a.m. — I wake up with the worst sore throat ever and google the closest urgent care in the area so I can nip it in the bud. We get there as soon as it opens and pick up my prescription all within an hour. You’d never get that kind of speedy service in New York! $31.99
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9 a.m – Our Airbnb host suggests we check out Kountry Kitchen for breakfast. The menu online seemed like a simple eatery but when we get there we see the menu is filled with trendy breakfast foods (hello, chocolate bacon waffles!) Our server is so friendly and she congratulates us on our honeymoon. $35
11 a.m. – My husband is a first responder so we make sure to pay our respects at the Pearl Harbor Museum and Arizona Memorial, which is both humbling and beautiful. We decide to tour the Bofin Submarine and the Missouri Battleship. Both are incredibly impressive in different ways and the museum is also super clean given the amount of traffic it sees. $84
3 p.m. – As avid Food Network watchers, we check out Fresh Catch to try Poke for the first time. If you’re going to talk your picky eater of a husband into trying Poke, make sure it’s here. It’s the best bite of the trip! The favors are so explosive and perfectly balanced; you forget you’re eating a bowl of raw fish. $13
5 p.m. – You can’t go to Oahu without seeing Waikiki. It’s pretty much 5th Ave meets Coney Island, with luxury design stores to your left and the waves crashing on the beach to your right. A friend suggested we go to Duke's for dinner, and we made reservations a week prior knowing we were going on a Friday night just in time for the sunset. My husband must have told them we were there for our honeymoon because they give us the best table right by the boardwalk, close to the live musicians. They also give us the most delicious macadamia ice cream cake for dessert, on the house. $129.
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Daily Total: $292.99

Day Five

12 p.m. — We spend the morning packing up before catching our flight to our next island, Kauai. We grab lunch at the airport and make bets as to how short the flight will be. I win the bet guessing a total of less than 30 minutes (the flight takes a whopping 27 minutes). $12.99
2 p.m. – We pick up our rental car, which takes about three tries because each car they give us has some sort of brake issue.
5 p.m. – Kauai is known for being the garden isle, and you don’t get a garden without rain. The rain is coming down pretty hard so we look up a casual restaurant with good reviews to grab dinner. We go to the Garden Island Grille for some pork tacos and burgers. $35
7 p.m. – We drive to our Airbnb on the North side of the island and do some laundry. The rain is pouring down and the storm is right in our neighborhood. We call it a night and try to sleep through the storm so we can enjoy the activities we have planned tomorrow!
Daily Total: $47.99

Day Six

3 a.m. — The storm is at its peak and is unbelievably loud and strong. We toss and turn all night due to the booming thunder and lightning. A trip to the bathroom ends with me finding our Airbnb is starting to flood. We disconnect all items plugged into the outlet, put down towels to soak up the water and start making arrangements to stay in the South shore, where it known to be much drier. The unexpected resort reservation leads to an additional trip cost.
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10 a.m. — Airbnb Customer Service helps us receive a full refund on our original booking and we head out to get breakfast once the storm ends. We decide to try Jack In the Box, since there are none on the East coast. It’s not half bad, but we don’t think we are missing out on much. We go to check in early in to our new hotel, Koala Landing Resort. $17
2 p.m. – Much needed drinks are in order as we’ve had a crazy 24 hours in Kauai so far. My husband and I have a few Long Board beers and munch on coconut shrimp. We end up telling our waitress why we had to make such a last minute reservation to the resort. To cheer us up she gives us a free round and a free molten lava cake for dessert! The day is looking better already. $79.48
4 p.m. – After a whirlwind of a day, we swim and lounge around the resort. We try shaved ice for the first time, which is like the snow cone's older, cooler brother. $5
6 p.m. – We grab dinner at the resort’s restaurant, try out some free Mai Tais and order an arugula pizza and chipotle burger to share. $61.82
Daily Total: $163.30

Day Seven

10 a.m. – Thankfully we made a helicopter tour excursion reservation in advance, because almost all of the hiking we had originally planned to do on the island is a bust due to the storm. The helicopter tour of the island allows us to still view all of the island’s beauty and reach areas of the island that are unattainable via car. However, 40 minutes into the tour, motion sickness kicks in and I start counting down the minutes for it to end. My husband fully enjoys himself though, and I’m glad he does since this was the island he was looking forward to visiting the most. The smile on his face makes up for the motion sickness I feel. $400
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2 p.m. – After motion sickness calms down, we hit up a lot filled with various food trucks. We decide to split an order of BBQ ribs, pulled pork, and mac n’ cheese from D’Greens BBQ. I am still dreaming about the ribs… $20
3 p.m. – Swimming, lounging, and sipping cocktails are on repeat at our resort. We meet a few other honeymooners and we all share our Kauai storm experiences. We learn mudslides and flooding caused a lot of people to lose their homes, and are officially feeling like jerks for complaining about the flood we experienced in our Airbnb. A donation to Red Cross is in order after learning of such travesties $50.
6 p.m. – The weather is still horrible so we stay local and eat at the restaurant in the resort again. I order a Hawaiian Cobb salad and my husband orders the pork sliders. We hang by the bar the rest of the night and order a round of Mai Tais. $48
Daily Total: $518

Day Eight

10 a.m. – We pack our things to head to our flight to Maui, but not without some fun in the sun first. We have one last swim at the resort and then make our way to drop off our rental car.
3 p.m. – We land in Maui after a 50-minute delay due to weather conditions. We pick up the rental car and quickly head to our resort! Maui is our last island and it’s the one we anticipated the most because of the beautiful beaches, romantic environment, and perfect combination of adventure and relaxation.
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4 p.m. – This is the island where we decided to splurge and stay in a luxury resort for the last leg of the trip. We check into the resort, get beautiful leis placed around us, and the resort gives us vouchers for four free Mai Tais and a free breakfast buffet voucher after overhearing our Kauai storm experience.
5 p.m. – Our room has a beautiful ocean view – then again every view in Hawaii is breathtaking. We hit up the east side of the island to go to Lahaniana and walk the strip of trendy restaurants and shops. We decide to go to Aloha Mixed Plate because it is open the latest; we aren’t used to places closing at 9 p.m. at all! $45
9p.m. – Time for bed because we have quite the early day tomorrow…
Daily Total: $45

Day Nine

3 a.m.- Told ya it was an early rise! We are so stoked to see the sunrise over the highest summit in the Haleakalā National Park, which is over 10,000 feet above sea level. The ride there is pretty interesting, very windy and tight turns but my husband is a wonderful driver and he takes each turn with caution and ease. We pay an entrance fee at the park and drive to the highest point in the summit. $25
5 a.m. – We bundle up as temps are around 40 degrees and join everyone at the lookout point. As the sun approaches above the cloud horizon, it is a wild moment and we are in complete awe.
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9 a.m. – We drive back to the resort, munch on some free mini muffins and fruits they have at reception and get a much needed nap in before our fancy night out.
3 p.m. – After a long nap, it is time for our Luau at Feast at Lele! We first stroll around Lahaina and then make our wait to the Luau, where we are greeted with a choice of three drinks (guava juice, Mai Tais or Mango Juleps) and fresh leis. Our waiter is super chill and compliments the impressive nautical-themed sleeve my husband has on his left leg. He walks us through the menu, a 5-course experience where you travel through several Polynesian islands through food and drink. The dances and ceremonies throughout the show are reflective of each culture and you get a better sense of how the Hawaiian islands were founded and blossomed. $286
9 p.m. – The Luau ends in a thrilling fire dance and we tip our waiter graciously as he’s been so attentive to our needs. $66
Daily Total: $377

Day Ten

7 a.m. – We get picked up at our resort to go on the Road to Hana! We pack bathing suits, towels, snorkel masks, water shoes, granola bars, water, and all things anti-nausea as we’ve heard the roads can lead to motion sickness. We are pleasantly greeted by our tour guide and meet two other couples in the luxury van along for the tour. We all introduce ourselves, where we are from, what islands we’ve been or are going to, etc. $400
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12 p.m. – Lunch is provided with our tour fee. Fish tacos, chicken tacos, pasta salad, Maui pineapple, and chocolate brownies are served family style and everyone on the tour is very friendly. After lunch we hit up black sand beaches, red sand beaches, and stop to see more stunning cliffs and wondrous waterfalls for the rest of the afternoon. I am very happy we didn’t drive the Road to Hana ourselves because I don’t think we would’ve enjoyed the views having to keep such caution on the road itself.
6 p.m. – We arrive at our resort, shower, and get ready to go out to dinner. We go to Peggy Sue's, a 1950s diner themed restaurant for a burger and milkshake. The kona coffee ice cream brings back sweet childhood memories and my husband and I reflect on our childhoods. $40
Daily Total: $440

Day Eleven

10 a.m. – Head to the breakfast buffet for our free breakfast voucher, compliments of the resort upon check-in. The buffet has an assortment of hot dishes, pastries, fruits, cereals, and a cold platter. We indulge for sure.
1 p.m. – We pack our bags and head to Charlye Young beach. It is the perfect combination of lax waves, graham cracker crumb-like sand, and blue skies. We spend the day playing in the water, making fun go-pro videos, and sun soaking. We also realize we skipped lunch given we were still full from breakfast.
5 p.m. We walk along town and buy souvenirs for friends and family. Seven boxes of Aloha Chocolate Macadamia nuts, one tiki cup, two sets of assorted Hawaiian jams, ten postcards, and two serving platters later, we check out and head back to the resort. $91.55.
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6p.m. – After we shower off and get ready for dinner, we head to Coconut Fish Cafe for shrimp tacos! They are the best shrimp tacos we’ve ever had. They’re messy, flavor-packed, and oh-so delicious. Once dinner wraps up, we hang out on our balcony for the rest of the night, listening to the waves crash. $31
Daily Total: $122.55

Day Twelve

10 a.m. – Time to explore the North Shore of Maui! Baldwin Beach is known for its waves, so we check out surfers.
1 p.m. – Everyone we talked to about Maui told us to go to Mama’s Fish House for lunch or dinner. I made reservations before the trip even began and I am so happy I did. The place serves over 1,000 guests a day and is packed, but beautifully decorated, giving it a homely yet elegant vibe. We order Mai Tais, I order the Traditional Hawaiian (Mahimahi, Ahi and Boar) and my husband orders the special of the day including a Mahimahi curry stew. Everything is delicious and we leave perfectly happy. $165
4 p.m. – We stop by Sugar Beach Bake Shop for pies and we are overwhelmed with all of the deliciousness staring back at us in the glass casing. We decide to go for the coconut cream pie and the chocolate peanut butter pie. No regrets! $13
Daily Total: $178

Day Thirteen

10 a.m. – The last day of a vacation is like the ultimate Sunday night. Wild anxiety over the realization that vacation is soon over strikes upon us. We have our chocolate peanut butter pie for breakfast, because why not?
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12 p.m. - We head to the airport for our final flights, drop off our car rental, and pick up lunch at Sammy’s. I order my last set of pork tacos and my husband gets the chicken avocado sandwich. We take a poll on Instagram to see if we should indulge in beers to give us liquid courage to get on the plane, back to reality. Followers vote yes (shocker) and we get a round. $45.50
Daily Total: $45.50
How did you pay for your trip?
The story is actually pretty sweet. Originally we weren't going to have a honeymoon because we were paying for the wedding ourselves and didn't have the funds to take one. However my husband surprised me with a savings account he started when he proposed. Because we had a two-year engagement trying to save up money for the honeymoon, that hidden honeymoon fund grew and grew to about $11,000. That is how we got to pay for our dream vacation!
How did you prepare for this trip?
My husband and I planned our two week honeymoon to Hawaii ourselves to help save costs by not using a travel agent. It took about three weeks to prepare from packing lists to flight tickets to car rentals and reservations at the hottest restaurants. We were given plenty of suggestions and advice from friends who have been to Hawaii for their honeymoon. We also read reviews online to help us understand what each island has to offer, especially since each island truly has its own personality.
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Do you think you got a good deal on your flights?
We booked our flights on Black Friday and felt we got the best deal available. My husband receives Hawaiian Airlines and AAdvantage Car Rental discounts with his employer so that added to our cost savings.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
I absolutely loved the Hale Summit Sunrise. It’s such a wild experience to view the world from that point of view and watch the sun casts in rays as a new day begins.
What was the best meal you ate while you were there?
Fresh Catch for poke bowls in Oahu – hands down!
Is there a tourist trap you wish you had avoided?
Road to Hana was a bit overrated for me. It’s illegal to stop on the road so you’re really just passing through the waterfalls and snapping pictures from your car. Search for Secret Beach in the South instead. It’s a hidden beach with a church to the right side, where many couples renew their vows privately.
What advice would you give someone who is traveling to the same location?
Maui: For choice of Luau, go to the Feast a Lele. It’s a 4-hour open bar and you get your own private table instead of sharing family style or buffet style. The single-party tables allows for a more intimate setting with your group, which when you’re on your honeymoon, is key.
Is there anything you would do differently in retrospect?
I would’ve stayed closer to Waikiki in Oahu because the traffic to go anywhere is horrendous! There are only three highways on the entire island so it causes bumper to bumper traffic at all times.
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I also would’ve stayed on the South end of Kauai, for obvious reasons.
Would you stay at your Airbnbs/hotels again?
Oahu: Yes, but wish it was a bit closer to Waikiki.
Kauai: No, to the Princeville Airbnb. Yes, to Koaloa Landing Resort.
Maui: Yes!!!
Where would you recommend staying based on your trip?
Oahu: Oahu is known for their traffic so stay close to Waikiki, but try to not stay in Waikiki itself because there is a lot of hustle and bustle.
Kauai Stay on the South part of the island, I repeat, stay in the South in Kauai! The North side receives so much rainfall and is susceptible to flooding.
Maui: Make this your last island and your longest stay. It’s the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure.
Is there anything you wished you had time to do, but didn’t?
I wish we did crater snorkeling in Maui.
Do you feel like you were there for the right length of time?
Who couldn’t use a handful of days more in Hawaii? The two weeks didn’t feel long enough, but I think that is because the weather wasn’t on our side in Kauai or Maui. It was abnormally overcast for most of those two islands and therefore our planned activities weren’t always achievable.
Away Game is meant to reflect individual women's experiences and does not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Open to tracking your travel expenses during an upcoming trip? Email us at traveldiary@refinery29.com.
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