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Northwest Traveler

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

June 6, 2013 at 11:01 PM

A nice rediscovery: Even Hawaii’s best beaches are free

Visitors at a roadside beach park south of Lahaina, on Maui, enjoy the free show of local kids surfing. (Photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

Visitors at a roadside park south of Lahaina, on Maui, enjoy the free show of local kids surfing. (Photo by Brian J. Cantwell/The Seattle Times)

A couple days on Maui have brought back to me how expensive everything can be — from the $4.59/gallon gasoline to the $5.99-a-pound butter and $14 cocktails — but it’s also heartening to be reminded that by state law all of Hawaii’s beaches are public, which means that when your holiday cash feels stretched, you can always take a day off from the tourist traps, put together some sandwiches and head for the beach.

If an island getaway doesn’t feel like it fits your budget once you’ve priced resorts and beachside condos, take a look at the places that aren’t right on the beach. And remember that Maui, for example, has loads of little beachfront parks with picnic tables and barbecue grills, so even if you don’t have a condo with a kitchen, you don’t have to pay restaurant prices for every meal.

Thursday, my lunch was a chicken-salad sandwich and a chilled can of Hawaiian Sun passion-fruit drink (nectar of the island gods, if you haven’t tried it) at Honokowai Beach Park, with a view of sloping shores of Lanai and Molokai. It was the same ocean panorama — with Pacific waters transitioning from indigo to blueberry to spearmint green — for which folks were paying top dollar at Kaanapali resorts, on the next beach to the south. There was a cooling breeze, it was 88 degrees and it was hard not to grin.

Nor does your day at the beach have to be in a public park. Even Hawaii’s fanciest resorts must provide public access to their beachfront. Sometimes you have to look carefully, but you’ll find it.

Just a happy reminder that America’s paradise doesn’t have to be pricey.

0 Comments | More in Hawaii | Topics: budget holiday, free beaches, Hawaii

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