Much of what there is to do in Maui revolves around manufactured tourist activities: Parasailing, jet skiing, diving, snorkeling tours, zip lining, to name a few. Activities don’t come cheap, but there are a few ways you can save on them. Most of the methods listed below will work anywhere in Hawaii:
1. A3H Gold Card/Shaka Club Membership. At first, the A3H card seems like a gimmick – similar to those coupon books you buy for $30+ that you either lose or can’t find any decent coupons in. However that is not the case with this card. Your membership covers up to four people and gets you savings of up to 25% on popular activities.
Membership also makes you eligible to purchase owner’s tickets, which are half priced activities donated by companies in lieu of membership dues. Owner’s tickets are made available at the beginning of each month and while most of the popular activities get sold out, I was able to book two SNUBA diving packages and a Jet Ski rental for 50% off. Keep in mind though, that your activities voucher will be delivered electronically within 1-2 business days and you’ll then have to contact the vendor to book your activity. I was able to arrange a booking with the SNUBA vendor despite the fact that my voucher had not yet arrived. Not all vendors will be this generous.
You can see which activities have owners tickets available by visiting Hawaiifun.org.
2. Book online/directly with the operator. Before purchasing the A3H Gold Card, we booked a few activities through the hotel concierge, including parasailing. As we got off the boat, the guy manning the
umbrella booth at the beach offered us a 20% discount on our next excursion and told us to make sure we always booked directly with the company for the best rates.
3. Early bird discounts. If you book your activities online, you’ll also get a chance to check out the early bird discounts. West Maui Parasail (which I don’t personally recommend) offers $5 off if you take the first boat in the morning or sail out at noon. Many snorkeling exhibitions and tour operators will offer similar early bird discounts.
4. Ask for a discount. After I explained the A3H card/Shaka Club membership to my brother-in-law, he headed down to the jet ski rental booth. When he explained that someone he knew had purchased owner’s tickets at half price using the card, the guy manning the rental booth gave him the same discount on the spot. Throughout our stay, it became clear that if you asked for a better price, you’d get one. The activities operators would rather have your business at a discounted price than not at all.
5. Timeshare presentations. You’ll see these timeshare booths everywhere: By the beach, all around Front Street, and everywhere in between. Except, they’re primarily marketed as discount activities booths. They’ll offer you up to 80% off on pretty much any activity you can imagine, in exchange for attending a time share presentation. I believe these presentations are between 2-6 hours long. I chatted up one of these booths on Front Street out of curiosity. I was on a working trip, so whatever free moment I had, I wasn’t planning on spending in a conference room or being given the grand tour of a condo I had no interest in purchasing.
The sales rep led quite a convincing pitch. In addition to offering me a deeply discounted parasailing package, she promised me half off all other activities after I attended the presentation. She went on to say that I could do all of my activities before attending the presentation. The way she went about explaining this to me, I felt she was insinuating that I wouldn’t actually have to attend the time share presentation to get the discounts. Still, I had no intention of getting tangled up in something shady, so I took her card and thanked her.
If you’re going to do alot of activities, they’re going to add up fast. Getting up to 80% off sounds like a good deal, but from what I hear, these time share presentations can be aggressive and unpleasant. Personally, I try to avoid situations like this when I’m supposed to be on vacation. A better alternative is to get the A3H Gold Card and buy your owner’s tickets ahead of time. They’re released once a month and can be used for up to a year after purchase.
Do you have any tips for saving money on activities in Maui or elsewhere in Hawaii?