Military family travel to Hawaii: 11 affordable places to stay

Bellows Beach, a military recreation facility on Oahu (courtesy Cadet X on Flickr CC)If you are considering a vacation to Hawaii with the kids but think that it might be too expensive, there are plenty of ways to save money on your hotel bill if Mom, Dad (or both) are in the military.

In addition to all of the military lodging and resorts described below, always ask to see if a military discount is offered at civilian hotels.

The Outrigger hotels and resorts have a military travel page on their Web site, for example.

These days, money is tight in the islands because tourism traffic has dropped considerably….good deals abound and in most cases, all you have to do is ask.

Oahu Lodging for Service Families

Waikiki —  The big kahuna is the Hale Koa Hotel, right on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.  Since 1975 it has been  “a first class hotel and recreation facility at affordable prices for military members and their families.”  I stayed there with my family a few years back and found excellent amenities (a small PX in the lobby, self-service laundry facilities, nice pools and here’s a military Mom’s blog post about the Hale Koa Luau) plus a convenient location downtown.  Reserve as far in advance as you can (up to a year) on their Web site or by calling 800-367-6027 (in CONUS) or 808-955-0555 in Hawaii.

Other Oahu military hotels and lodging (for access to these you’ll probably want a rental car….)

Close To Or On The Beach

***   The Pililaau Army Recreation Center (PARC) on the usually-always-sunny Waianae, or Leeward, coast, has beachfront cabins, an equipment rental facility and a small shopette.

***  Also towards the Leeward side are the MWR Barbers Point Beach Cottages – be prepared, a lot of the amplifying info (eligibility, application, etc.) is on clunky PDFs.

***  Some of the very nicest Hawaii getaway places are on the Windward side at the Bellows Air Force Station beach cabins; they are wildly popular and fill up very quickly, but the Waimanalo Bay setting is lovely. Camping is available, too.

***  At the Marine Corps base Kaneohe Bay, you’ll find the Lodge at Kaneohe Bay and some beachfront cottages (close to breeding grounds for monk seals and sea turtles.)

Inland Oahu

***  Near the Arizona Memorial and other Pearl Harbor tourist attractions, the Pearl Harbor Navy Lodge is worth a try; it is close to a massive Navy exchange and commissary (buy your macadamias/gifts there instead of out in town, and ship them home from the base post office!)

***  I am appalled at the apparent lack of a decent Web site for the Royal Alaka’i at Hickam Air Force Base, but Hickam is very roughly in the same area as Pearl Harbor and the rates look cheaper than the Navy Lodge.

***  Tripler Lodging fills with people who have family (or appointments themselves) at nearby Tripler Medical Center, but they might have space-available rooms.

***  The Inn at Schofield Barracks is pretty far inland; rather than use their rather primitive online reservation system, I’d pick up the phone and call instead.

Big Island Lodging for Service Families

***   Kilauea Military Camp — this is a Joint Service Recreation Center that is located in a mountainous (often quite cool) setting right inside in the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. You can’t beat that for being in the center of the action!  There are ninety one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages and apartments, restaurants, a Recreation Lodge and even golf. Arrange to fly into the Hilo airport; it’s much closer to Kilauea than the Kona airport on the other side of the island.

For a personalized tour of the volcanoes by a native guide, I recommend Warren Costa’s company Native Guide Hawaii, based on my very positive experience with him during the So Much More Hawaii blogger’s tour.

Kauai Lodging for Service Families

***  Barking Sands Beach Cottages on Kauai (at the Pacific Missile Range Facility or PMRF)  —  If you and the family want to get away from it all like Robinson Crusoe on the sunny western side of the island, this is the place.  There are 12 oceanfront cottages and 6 set back a bit with “ocean view,” plus a small restaurant, shopette and tours/recreation center.

Although it is a beautiful beach and pristine area, it is a long drive to much of anywhere, so you may wish to spend a few days at Barking Sands simply unwinding (and maybe hiking Waimea Canyon) then shift to another part of the island for more access to restaurants and activities.

As a Navy veteran myself (my husband is as well) I hope that Service members and their families find this list helpful. Please let me know in the comments if I’ve missed anything.