HAWAII, USA — If you're looking for flights to Hawaii and seeing some amazing deals out there - it may be too good to be true. While you can fly on the cheap to paradise, most car rentals cost more than the flight and travelers are finding dinner reservations are hard to come by.
"We've made many trips before and it was a lot different with COVID," said Sonia Krick.
Gene and Sonia Krick just flew back after spending four weeks in Maui. Before they left they started watching one-day-old youtube videos for the latest inside scoop.
"We decided 'we are going to start watching these videos, not just to find the best snorkeling places, but places to eat and ease of access,'" Sonia said.
Lodging is pricey. News 8 found Hawaii also has six of the 10 most expensive cities for car rentals and some are even sold out in December.
"I booked two weeks ahead of time - then canceled six hours [later] and rebooked it - I saved like $2,000 almost," Sonia said.
A more affordable option is Turo - it's like Airbnb for cars. The Hawaii Tourism Authority discourages renting cheap moving trucks or vans.
"As we parked a budget rent-a-van pulls up and these four guys pile out and they were yelling about the bargain they had and the fact they had a rental car," said Leslie Skelly who recently traveled to Maui.
Dinner reservations are also hard to come by or you can expect a two-hour wait. News 8's Neda Iranpour and her family made friends with the locals and found spots with no wait in Maui. Or, she suggested, doing take out on the beach, but she warned there's a line for pick up too.
"We would still do a light lunch from Costco because it was Hawaiian-made - just from Costco. And then we would do a dinner out at a mom-and-pop place like a food truck," said News 8's Marcella Lee.
Marcella is travel-savvy and she didn't let sold-out excursions deter her from some family fun.
"I would encourage people to not let the online booking system discourage them from doing something," she said. "Pick up the phone and maybe someone canceled last minute or they can work you in."
The most important piece of advice to enjoy paradise: plan ahead and plan for last-minute changes.
"You also have to plan for flexibility so I made sure everything I booked was refundable," said Skelly.
Hawaii has strict COVID protocols and proof of vaccination for indoor activities and restaurants. So remember to check the state's COVID-19 requirements and fill out all the paperwork before flying.
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