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Go ahead: Try the ahi and the 'Loco Moco'

The Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island's Kohala Coast.
The Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island's Kohala Coast.
By Debbi K. Kickham and William D. Kickham
Globe Correspondents / January 18, 2009
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Even in Hawaii there are ways to achieve high luxury on a low budget. Here are some budget-friendly tips for vacationing on Maui, the Big Island, and Oahu.

MAUI

  • In Wailea on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. the Shops at Wailea throw a kind of party. Live-island music starts at 7 in the courtyard. Galleries host artist signings; some stores serve champagne, and restaurants such as Tommy Bahama's offer specials.
  • If you're in Lahaina on Friday night, you're in luck. On Front Street, the shopping mecca, 7-10 is Art Night, when visitors stroll from gallery to gallery viewing works, meeting artists, and sampling refreshments. Maui's art scene is world-renowned, and Lahaina has been called the art capital of the Pacific.
  • Whaler's Village in Kaanapali presents two free shows of Polynesian and Tahitian dancing and Japanese taiko drumming from 7-9 nightly.
  • Take a couples-only nighttime Tour of the Stars at Hyatt Regency Maui on Fridays and Saturdays at 11. Included are champagne, strawberries, and a guided tour of the skies with "Great White," the hotel's 16-inch high-powered telescope. Cost is $35 for nonhotel guests, $30 for guests. 200 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina, 808-661-1234, www.hyatt.com.
  • Leilani's on Kaanapali beach offers live island rock 'n' roll plus discounted drinks on Fridays from 2:30-5 p.m. Downstairs, in the outdoor cafe, try $12 fish tacos. 2435 Kaanapali Pkwy., 808-661-4495, www.leilanis.com.
  • Get first-class souvenirs at coach prices at the outdoor market opposite Kalama Park in Kihei 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily. You'll find handmade paper products, ornaments, koa-wood photo holders, clothes, soaps, and more.
  • Alexander's in Kihei offers among the island's lowest prices (starting at $7.25) for excellent broiled or fried dinners of ono, ahi, and mahi mahi, served with rice or fries and homemade sauces. 1913 South Kihei Road, Kihei, 808-874-0788.
  • Lahaina Shores Beach Resort has oceanfront studios with kitchen and private lanai. Through 2009, if you book a studio mountain-view room, you get a free upgrade to a studio oceanfront unit, plus the seventh night free. 475 Front St., Lahaina, 808-661-3339, 800-642-6284, www.lahainashores.com.
  • The Outrigger Aina Nalu right in Lahaina Town recently underwent a million-dollar renovation. It doesn't have a beach or a fitness facility but it does have two pools outfitted with cabanas-for-two and cushioned lounge chairs. This two-story plantation-style condo is just a five-minute walk to Front Street. Rates start at $189. 808-667-9766, 800-688-7444; www.outriggerainanalu.com.
  • The Maui Accommodations Guide (mauiaccommodations.com) has introduced a free e-mail newsletter listing discounts and special offers from various properties. The guide features more than 100 hotels, resorts, condos, homes, villas, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts. To subscribe, visit the website or e-mail MauiAccom@aol.com and put "Subscribe to E-Alert" in the subject line. For a free print guide call 800-221-6118.

BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII

  • On Sunday mornings, take a free art tour at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, famous for its collection of Pacific and Asian arts and artifacts, originally gathered for Laurance Rockefeller. 62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive, 866-977-4589, www.PrinceResortsHawaii.com.
  • At The Fairmont Orchid, learn about the beach and get a free snorkel lesson. The property also offers free tours of the Puako Petroglyph Preserve and historic Keanapou Fishpond, and botanical tours that emphasize native Hawaiian plants. One North Kaniku Drive, Kohala Coast, 800-845-9905, www.fairmont.com/orchid.
  • Stroll the Ali'i Gardens Marketplace, an open-air Kona market held Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. where you can shop for island merchandise, bargains, and inexpensive souvenirs. 75-6129 Ali'i Drive, two miles south of Kailua Pier, www.aliigardens.com.
  • Create your own customized coffee with special label and picture. The $30 per person tour at Ueshima Coffee Co. includes eight ounces of green Kona that you roast yourself. 75-5568 Mamalahoa Highway, Holualoa, 888-822-5662.
  • Quinn's Almost By The Sea offers great meals at affordable prices. Try the fish and chips ($9.95) made with fresh mahi-mahi fried in Quinn's batter, with homemade tartar sauce and fries. 75-5655-A Palani Road, Kailua-Kona, 808-329-3822.
  • Do what the locals do: Lunch on a "Loco Moco," a hamburger, egg, rice, and salad covered in brown gravy, for $7.29 at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. 315 Makaala St., Hilo, 808-935-3888.
  • See the best show in town at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where the 4,000-foot Kilauea volcano has erupted since 1983. Entrance to the Kilauea Visitors Center is $10 per car. 808-985-6000.
  • You'll thrill when you see the famed Kona sunsets from the privacy of your lanai at the Kona Bali Kai, an affordable condominium in historic Kailua-Kona. The resort features swimming pool, barbecue area with picnic tables, and wireless Internet access in the lobby and all rooms. Accommodations start at $117 per night through April 10. 76-6246 Ali'i Drive, 800-367-5004, www.castleresorts.com.

OAHU

  • You'll never forget your visit to USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, the tomb of many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on Dec. 7, 1941. Free; donations accepted. 808-422-0561.
  • Hawaii through time is the theme of free historical tours at the Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa and Waikiki's first hotel, held Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5 p.m. 2365 Kalakaua Ave., 808-923-3111, www.Moana-surfrider.com.
  • Take an outrigger canoe ride in front of the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, adults $15, children under age 12 $10. 2335 Kalakaua Ave., 808-542-0608, www.outriggerwaikiki.com.
  • Watch major-league surfers (and kite-surfers) at Banzai Beach. Later, share a famous shave ice treat at Matsumoto's, $1.75. 66-087 Kamehameha Highway, 808-637-4872, www.Matsumotoshaveice.com.
  • Duke's Waikiki is a monument to Duke Kahanamoku, the gold-medal-winning swimmer who introduced surfing to the world. This fun-loving restaurant at the Outrigger Waikiki has affordable entrees (starting at $19.95 for shrimp scampi) and great people-watching. 2335 Kalakaua Ave., 808-922-2268, www.dukeswaikiki.com.
  • The OHANA Waikiki Beachcomber rocked when the late Don Ho used to perform here, and now it's better than ever, thanks to a $21 million renovation. Plus, the property located in the center of Waikiki is just steps from the beach. Rates start at $139 per night. 2300 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, 866-968-8744, www.Ohanahotels.com.
  • This year Hawaii celebrates its 50th year of statehood. In light of that milestone, Aqua Hotels and Resorts has announced a "Nifty to be 50 Statehood Special" valid at all 12 of its Waikiki properties through the end of the year: $50 for the first night with a minimum three-night stay. Additional nights start at $119 at Aqua Boutique hotels and $89 at Aqua Lite properties. 866-406-2782, www.aquaresorts.com.

Debbi K. Kickham can be reached at debbikkickham@hotmail.com and William D. Kickham at williamdkickham@hotmail.com.

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