With eight major islands that make up the picturesque state of Hawaii, each has their own unique charm. For example, for those looking to learn about Hawaii’s traditions with a backdrop of magnificent sunsets and dormant volcanoes Maui is great for student trips. With an ocean center, a forest reserve, the Old Lahaina Luau, and many others, Maui has a lot to teach curious minds.

Meanwhile, the island of Oahu offers a more urban Hawaiian experience with lots of accessible activities. With a rich cultural heritage deeply intertwined with Polynesian voyagers who discovered and settled in Hawaii, there are countless historic landmarks, ancient ruins, and sacred sites to be explored in Hawaii’s third-largest island. Another aspect that makes Oahu popular, especially among younger travelers, is its road trip-friendly nature. Despite being a busy island, Oahu can easily be explored by car in under a day—making it perfect for students pressed for time and money. If you’re a student hoping to enjoy a road trip in Oahu, here’s a handy guide to help you out.

 Plan an itinerary ahead of time

planning an itinerary


The biggest benefit of planning an itinerary ahead of time, especially for budget-conscious travelers like students, is the effective management of limited resources—mainly money and time. This is especially true for places like Oahu, which have a lot of must-see destinations and activities unique to the island. By thoroughly researching and creating a well-structured itinerary, you can ensure that everything in your trip aligns with your budget while allowing you to make the most of your journey.

In addition, planning an itinerary ahead of time may allow you to come across discount websites, coupon books, or tourist guidebooks that offer discounted rates for popular activities and attractions. For staying at the beach, services like Hawaii Beach Cabana rent out cabanas and other beach equipment for affordable prices. Travel agencies like Paradise Cruising LLC offer water activities, and activity providers like Action Tour Guide offer self-guided driving tours, most of which have promotional discounts during midweek and off seasons like spring and fall. Investing time into planning and finding cost-efficient options like these can significantly reduce your expenses.

Rent a budget-friendly vehicle

The choice of vehicle plays one of the biggest roles in road trips, especially for budget-friendly ones. While it may be tempting to enjoy the Hawaiian breeze in luxurious cars with sunroofs, these high-end options can significantly increase rental costs. Instead, consider renting a compact or midsize vehicle that offers the necessary comfort and convenience for a road trip. Luckily, renting a car at Honolulu airport is very accessible and has a wide array of options for tourists to choose from. Visitors need only visit the CONRAC Consolidated Car Rental Facility, wherein they can easily sign up and rent from a number of trusted rental companies with different vehicle offerings.

For smaller groups of students, economy vehicles like the Hyundai Accent or Mitsubishi Mirage can seat up to 4 people and carry a few standard-sized pieces of luggage in the trunk. For much bigger groups, there are also compact and mid-sized SUVs like the Buick Encore and Toyota Rav4, respectively, which can seat 5 to 8 people and have larger luggage space depending on the headcount. While Oahu has well-maintained main roads, smaller vehicles like these can easily navigate through both urban areas and off-the-beaten-path destinations. This will ensure both an enjoyable and economical journey.

Take advantage of free attractions

Take advantage of free attractions

Several attractions that showcase Oahu’s natural and cultural wonders are actually open to tourists at no charge, which makes it perfect for students on a budget. Hike the trail leading to Diamond Head State Monument, participate in water activities like kayaking and snorkeling at Waimea Valley, and explore the numerous stunning beaches. You can also see the coral reefs and abundant marine life at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, but make sure to visit on days when they charge no entrance fee. These places provide cost-free opportunities for exploration and offer a great way to immerse yourself in the island’s beauty without spending a lot.

In addition, Oahu boasts numerous picturesque locations open to the public, such as Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden, perfect for picnic and beach activities. Instead of splurging on expensive dining options, take advantage of the scenic picnic spots and public beaches where you can relax, enjoy self-prepared meals, and experience the island’s natural beauty free of charge.