How Much Does It Cost To Go To Maui?

By Robb Engen | March 5, 2020 |

Maui is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. We spent a week in Maui this February and can confirm that this Hawaiian island is indeed spectacular. A popular vacation spot for western Canadians (and Americans) looking to escape the cold, Maui isn’t just an endless string of breathtaking beaches. It also offers adventures on land, in the water, and in the sky.

Let’s be clear upfront: Maui is expensive. How much it costs depends on how long you plan to stay and what you plan to do. In this post I’ll breakdown the costs for staying in Maui for six nights, which is how long we stayed with our family of four. Some people stay much longer, so adjust your costs accordingly. Here’s how much it costs to go to Maui:

Maui Trip Costs

I track all of our spending, so I have a really good handle on exactly how much we spent on airfare, accommodations, car rental, groceries, dining, and entertainment.

Note that we booked our flights and our car rental with Aeroplan miles. That’s not possible for everyone, so I’ll also breakdown the cost of airfare by using the average cost to fly to Maui on Air Canada or WestJet, and the cost of a rental car using Budget.

These costs are in Canadian dollars:

How much we spentEstimated Cost (w/o points)
Airfare180,000 Aeroplan Miles + $588$2,900
Accommodations$3,068 (Airbnb)$3,000+
Car Rental31,500 Aeroplan Miles$400
Groceries (inc. alcohol)$789$700
Dining$362$400
Entertainment$686$500
Total$5,493$7,900

Now that I’ve revealed our budget you can see exactly how expensive Maui can be for a family of four staying for six nights. It’s not just the cost of getting there or staying there. Everything is more expensive in Maui. Then factor in the CAD to USD exchange rate (which I’ve done in the above chart) and you can add another 30% to your total costs.

It’s possible to reduce these costs, as we did, by using travel rewards points. I’d suggest at the minimum looking into the best Aeroplan credit cards, some of which give out a welcome bonus of 15,000 – 20,000 Aeroplan miles upon first purchase. That’s like free money!

More frequent travellers might look to a premium travel credit card such as the American Express Platinum card, which comes with a $699 annual fee but whose perks include a $200 annual travel credit, plus 60,000 Membership Rewards Points once you meet their minimum spending threshold.

Membership Rewards are the most valuable travel rewards currency because they can not only be used to pay for purchases on your card, but also transfer 1:1 to Aeroplan.

Airfare:

The flight time from Calgary to Maui is approximately seven hours. We originally booked a direct flight via Air Canada that would have arrived in Maui around 7pm – enough time to hit Costco before it closes at 8pm (more on that later).

Instead, a few months before our trip, we got a notification from Aeroplan that our flight changed and would now connect in Vancouver. That set us back a couple of hours and we didn’t end up arriving in Maui until 9:30pm.

Travellers might look to book through WestJet, which offers a non-stop flight departing Calgary at 1pm and arriving in Maui at 3:30pm. In hindsight we would have preferred this option as it would have given us time to get settled and enjoy our first night in Maui.

The average cost of airfare for a family of four on either WestJet or Air Canada is $2,900. That’s a steep price to pay, so if you can mitigate the cost with Aeroplan miles or with WestJet Dollars (check out the WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard) then you can save a ton of money on your trip to Maui.

Accommodations:

Maui Accommodations

We much prefer staying at Airbnbs vs hotels when travelling with our kids. First of all, a condo or apartment is often cheaper than a hotel You also get more room, plus your own kitchen so you can prepare meals and not have to eat out all the time.

That said, nothing is cheap when it comes to accommodations in Maui. We spent $3,068 CAD for six nights in an ocean-front condo at a resort north of Lahaina. I later found a cheaper condo in the same resort (no ocean-front view) for about $450 per night ($2,700), so it is possible to save a bit on accommodations if you make some sacrifices on location or view.

Hotels were much more expensive, ranging from $524 per night to $800+ per night. Hotels in Wailea were charging $700+ USD per night, whereas the hotels in Kaanapali (where we stayed) were in the $500 range. The best value we found for families was the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, which cost $468 USD per night.

Again, you can lower the costs somewhat by using a hotel rewards card like Marriott’s Bonvoy Card. That said, most Maui hotels in the Marriott family fall into the category 7 range, which costs 60,000 to 70,000 points per night.

Related: Exactly how I redeemed more than 1 million points for travel

Car Rental

Renting a car in Maui is quite an interesting procedure. Well, renting the car was fine – I reserved an economy sized car from Budget through the Aeroplan website. The full cost would have been around $400 and included unlimited mileage.

Once we got the the Maui airport we could walk or take a short shuttle ride to the car rental centre – a massive complex filled with all the major rental car companies.

We found the Budget rental office (with one person working) and once we checked in we made our way down to a parkade, picked up a key from a mailbox, found the car and took off. No inspection or anything (I made sure to take pictures of the vehicle).

Returning the car was just as interesting. We arrived at the car rental centre and were greeted by a Budget employee who pointed us to a parking spot, checked the fuel level, and sent us on our way.

Our condo was a good 45 minute drive from the Maui airport. I’d say renting a car is an absolute must for getting around Maui, even if you only plan to hang out at the beach or in the pool.

Groceries

Maui groceries

We had every intention to do our grocery shopping at Costco before we drove to our condo (it’s close to the airport). Unfortunately, with the flight change, we arrived after Costco had closed. We thought it was too far to drive back there the next day, so we did our grocery shopping at a Safeway instead, which was just a few minutes south in Lahaina.

Safeway is typically expensive in Canada. It was even more so in Maui. I’m talking $12 USD for strawberries expensive.

$487 later we had enough groceries (and beer) to last a few days. We had to go back mid-way through our stay for another $200 grocery shopping trip. The rest of our grocery bill was spent picking up fruit at a nearby farmer’s market, plus some odds and ends at the local ABC store.

Next time we visit Maui we’ll make sure we arrive with plenty of time to visit Costco and stock up on groceries.

All that said, buying groceries – even at Safeway – still saved us a ton of money versus eating out at restaurants every meal.

Dining

We didn’t prepare all of our meals at home. We’re on vacation, after all, and it’s always nice to check out the restaurants in new places and see how the locals eat and prepare their food.

One complication is that our family has recently gone vegan, which means finding suitable restaurants and meals that cater to a plant-based diet can be a challenge. Not in Maui, though! We found a couple of great vegan restaurants nearby. One was called a’a Roots, which was a great lunch spot. The other was called Moku Roots, which was so good we went back again for lunch the day we left.

Restaurants weren’t overly expensive compared to anywhere else we’ve travelled. The pain point (for us Canadians) is the exchange rate, which adds 30% to every bill. That’s why we tried to limit the number of times we went out to eat, instead opting to prepare our meals at home.

Entertainment

Old Lahaina Luau

Our trip to Maui was about escaping the cold for a week and relaxing in the sun. For the most part, we couldn’t get our kids out of the resort pool or off the beach. It was amazing!

Still, we heard that you can’t visit Maui without going to a Luau. We researched the best luau’s in Maui and found the Old Lahaina Luau was not only the best, but also located right nearby our resort. We booked a front-row reservation and had an amazing experience watching the history of the Hawaiian people told through the traditional hula dance.

The luau was expensive – it cost $500 for the four of us – but it was a worthwhile one-time experience.

The other top attraction in Maui is the Ocean Center aquarium. It’s located near the airport so we saved this attraction for our last day in Maui. I’m not generally a fan of aquariums, but the Maui Ocean Center was terrific. The highlight was a mic’d up diver answering questions inside a 750,000 gallon open ocean exhibit filled with sharks, stingrays, and hundreds of fish.

We bought our tickets on Expedia.ca so I could pay in Canadian dollars and use some TD Rewards points. Tickets were $129 CAD for the four of us.

Whale watching is a popular activity in Maui and February is prime whale-watching season. Expect to pay about $50 per person for a 2-3 hour whale watching excursion. With our ocean-front property we were fortunate enough to see humpback whales swimming by and breaching the water pretty much all day, every day.

If you don’t have those views, you might want to take a once in a lifetime whale watching tour – you’re guaranteed to see these whales up close.

Final thoughts

How much does it cost to go to Maui? If you use travel rewards points and spend wisely you can spend six nights in Maui for around $5,000 CAD. Without points, and paying the average cost of everything from airfare to accommodations, car rental, food & beverage, and entertainment, you can expect a trip to Maui to cost nearly $8,000 for a family of four.

Yes, Maui is an expensive holiday. But after spending six nights in Maui paradise I can confidently say we’ll be back. This time with the goal to spend less than $5,000 over six nights.

Best Air Miles Credit Cards In Canada

By Robb Engen | December 13, 2019 | Comments Off on Best Air Miles Credit Cards In Canada

The best Air Miles credit cards in Canada offer big incentives like a juicy sign-up bonus, VIP airport lounge access, complimentary passes, flight discounts, not to mention earning additional Air Miles every time you swipe your card. Redeeming Air Miles has its challenges, no doubt, but there are some redemption sweet spots where Air Miles can still have incredible value.

Several years ago, Air Miles introduced two ways to collect and redeem points. The first is Dream Miles, which is the traditional way to earn and redeem Air Miles for travel rewards. The second is Cash Miles, which is a way for collectors to earn and spend Miles quickly – redeeming them in as little as $10 (95 Air Miles) increments on groceries, gas, movies, and more.

Related: Best Aeroplan Credit Cards In Canada

Note that you can’t transfer existing Air Miles from Dream Miles to Cash Miles, and vice-versa. You need to set your collection preference ahead of time.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the best Air Miles credit cards in Canada. Air Miles has co-branded credit cards with BMO and American Express.

Best Air Miles Credit Cards

BMO Air Miles Credit Cards

BMO and Air Miles have a lengthy history that dates back several decades. Not only do they have an extensive credit card line-up featuring three personal Air Miles credit cards and two small business Air Miles credit cards, BMO also offers Air Miles through one of its chequing accounts.

Here’s a look at BMO’s Air Miles credit card portfolio:

BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard

The top Air Miles credit card in Canada is BMO’s Air Miles World Elite MasterCard. No other Air Miles credit card offers 1 Mile for every dollar spent. Plus, check out these benefits:

  • Complimentary membership in MasterCard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey, with exclusive VIP access, plus two annual complimentary passes
  • 15% discount on all flights in North America booked with Air Miles with no blackout periods
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Travel and Medical protection offering 15 days of Out of Province / Out of Country Emergency Medical protection up to $2 million, Collision Damage Waiver on rental cars, and more
  • $120 annual fee

Applicants must have a minimum $80,000 (individual) or $150,000 (household) annual income to be eligible for this premium MasterCard.

The best time to apply is when BMO offers a welcome bonus of 3,000 Air Miles (1,000 miles after first purchase, plus 2,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months) and waives the $120 annual fee in the first year.

BMO Air Miles World MasterCard

Sandwiched between the World Elite version and the no annual fee version is the BMO Air Miles World MasterCard (the gold one). Cardholders earn 1 Air Mile for every $15 spent, plus the following benefits:

  • Complimentary membership in MasterCard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey
  • 1.25x Bonus Miles at Shell, and 1.5x at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car, plus up to 25% off rentals at select locations
  • 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil shows touring Canada, and 20% off resident shows in Las Vegas
  • purchase protection and extended warranty on most items bought with your card
  • Coverage for Car Rental Collision Damage, Unexpected Return Home, Common Carrier Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance, and more
  • $99 annual fee

Applicants must have a minimum $60,000 (individual) or $100,000 (household) annual income to be eligible for this MasterCard.

The best time to apply for this card is when BMO offers a welcome bonus of 1,500 Air Miles and waives the annual fee in the first year.

BMO Air Miles MasterCard

A no annual fee card, the BMO Air Miles MasterCard still packs plenty of punch for collectors. Cardholders get 2x the Air Miles for every $20 spent at participating Air Miles partners, and 1 mile for every $20 spent everywhere else.

You’ll also get:

  • up to 25% off at National and Alamo at participating locations
  • purchase protection and extended warranty on most items bought with your card
  • 15% off admission to Cirque du Soleil shows touring Canada, and 20% off resident shows in Las Vegas
  • $0 annual fee

The best time to apply for this card is when BMO offers a welcome bonus of 800 Air Miles.

American Express Air Miles Credit Cards

American Express and Air Miles is another partnership with a long history. In fact, my first rewards card was an American Express Air Miles card, which I used back in the day when Costco solely accepted American Express cards. Those were the days!

Today, American Express offers three versions of Air Miles credit cards: a no-fee version, a platinum version, and a fancy “reserve” version. Here’s a look at the American Express line-up of Air Miles credit cards:

American Express Air Miles Reserve Credit Card

This…is something. A card that appeals to the luxury traveller in all of us is all about exclusive benefits and status. Cardholders will earn 1 Air Mile for every $10 spent at Air Miles partners, plus at grocery stores, gas stations, and drug stores. Earn 1 Air Mile for every $15 spent elsewhere.

In addition, the American Express Air Miles Reserve Credit Card is the only Air Miles Credit Card that provides these exclusive benefits: Air Miles FlexFly Redemptions, the Companion Flight Benefit, the choice to redeem Miles for flight taxes and fees, and waived Air Miles flight administration fee.

This card comes with a premium annual fee of $299.

Travel benefits:

  • Air Miles FlexFly, a Reserve exclusive
  • Exclusive Annual Companion Flight Benefit
  • Redeem Miles for flight taxes and fees – another Reserve exclusive
  • Air Miles Business Class Seats
  • Priority Pass – Worldwide Airport Lounge Access
  • Waived Air Miles Flight Administration Fee
  • Toronto Pearson Priority Security Lane

Travel and Shopping Coverage:

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
  • $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance
  • Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
  • Flight Delay Insurance
  • Baggage Delay Insurance
  • Hotel Burglary Insurance
  • Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan
  • Purchase Protection Plan

The best time to apply for this high-end card is when American Express offers a welcome bonus of 3,800 Air Miles.

American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit Card

A more traditional “premium” travel rewards credit card, the American Express Air Miles Platinum credit card offers the best earn rate of 1 Mile for every $5 in card purchases, up to $30,000 annually, on eligible food & drinks and eligible gas & transit in Canada, and 1 Mile for every $10 in card purchases everywhere else.

In addition, once per calendar year, use your Dream Miles to book your first single flight or package vacation through airmiles.ca or vacations.airmiles.ca, and get Bonus Miles equivalent to 25% of the net number of Miles used (up to a maximum of 750 Bonus Miles).

Other benefits include:

  • Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
  • $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance
  • Purchase Protection Plan
  • Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan

Get this card when American Express offers a welcome bonus of up to 3,500 Air Miles.

American Express Air Miles Credit Card

American Express also has a no annual fee version in its Air Miles line-up, where cardholders can enjoy an earn rate of 1 Mile for every $15 spent at Air Miles sponsors and 1 Mile for every $20 spent everywhere else.

Cardholders also receive the following benefits:

  • $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance
  • Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan
  • Purchase Protection Plan

New cardholders can earn a bonus of 500 Air Miles when they spend $500 within the first three months.

Final Thoughts

Air Miles still offers good value for collectors who either know where to find the sweet spots for travel redemptions (flights and hotels), or for those who exclusively collect and redeem Air Miles Cash Miles for free groceries, gas, and entertainment.

The best Air Miles credit cards allow collectors to double-dip when shopping at Air Miles partner locations – a quick way to boost your reward miles balance. Add in the potential for earning a juicy welcome bonus and you could be well on your way to a dream vacation.