Honolulu, Hawaii: How to Travel for Free

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Honolulu, Hawaii: How to Travel for Free

We just got back from a relaxing trip to Honolulu (a great escape from the 40 degree winter here in NYC :0).


The best part was that we didn’t pay a dime for either our flight and hotel – and we stayed at the Hilton in Waikiki Beach for four nights, which is nothing to sneeze at. We did this using the rewards points we got as a sign-up bonus from our credit cards.

Credit Card Rewards Points

In my last post, I talked about the best way to exchange money abroad. In this, I will go into rewards points. Many credit cards offer great sign-up bonuses in the form of miles or hotel points. If you have good credit and are reasonably well-organized, you can subsidize a great deal of your travel using these sign-up bonuses. For this Hawaii trip, we both signed up for the following two cards last year in preparation:

  1. The Barclays Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard:  this card gives you 35,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.
  2. The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card: when you apply for this card through ThePointsGuy, you can get 75,000 Hilton HHonors points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

Another great thing about reward miles – if you end up with more miles than you need, you can sell them to various companies. For example, here’s a place where you can sell your Lufthansa Miles.

When you can’t use your miles to book a flight, shop around for cheap deals on a site like Globehunters.

Traveling Around Oahu

Honolulu is a wonderful city to visit on its own, but Oahu is also a beautiful island (of course, it’s Hawaii). Whether you’re on a tight budget or you just love traveling the local way, the public bus system is a great way to see the rest of the island. One word of warning, you do need to have exact change ($2.50 per trip with two transfers allowed!).

Line 55 will take you from the Ala Moana shopping mall in Honolulu to Waimea Beach and Valley. It’s about a two hour ride each way.

Take Line 57 from Ala Moana to Line 65 to get to the North Shore and a beautiful replica of the Byodo-In Temple (the original is in Japan of course). The trip is about one and half hours because of the transfer. You can also board Line 65 directly in Downtown Honolulu at Alakea and South King Streets.


Byodo-In Temple

I also found this post on how to travel around the whole island by bus. I didn’t do this, but if you’re more intrepid than I check it out.

The Hawaii Supreme Court

For those with a love of island travel, also check out Katie’s post on Bali.



I was raised in a tight-knit Midwestern family with a strong commitment to service. An architect by training, I currently work in affordable housing finance. Prior to moving to NYC, I lived in Nicaragua for two years and have also spent time in West Africa and the Middle East. I started this blog as a way to catalog musings on travel and everyday life around the world.