Finding Short-Term Work and Cheap Places to Stay in Hawaii

January 7, 2007 by
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Jobs in Hawaii

Dear Lisa

I was surfing the web for info on Hawaii when I came across your great website. I’m a 19 year old girl currently living in Brussels, who’s planning on going to Hawaii from september ’07 and staying for approx two or three months (90 days is maximum on a travel visa). My plan is to buy a plane ticket, book an acommondation for a week or two and then figure out what to do next.. My question is; how difficult is it to get a job on Hawaii? Thinking of jobs like bartender, lifeguard, waitress – basically whatever to get some cash. And is it absolutely necessary with a U.S work permit (which is kinda stressfull to get in my country), or is it possible to get work, and get paid in cash, and work – well, you get the picture.. “illegaly”.

My other question; is it possible to find a place to stay for 2-3 months? Obviously I can’t stay in an hotel or something pricey for such a long period of time. Is it possible to live somewhere for free if you help about, work for them etc ? Do you have any helpful advice?

I would really appreciate it if you would take time to answer my questions.
Thanks for a great site and happy new year by the way!

Well, especially right now, it’s pretty darn easy to get a job. Employees are *desperate* to hire because there are many more jobs than people right now. I don’t think you’ll have a problem. Unfortunately, I know NOTHING about getting a job under the table :).

Update! Now, in 2009, unemployment is going up a bit, so employers are probably not quite so desperate to hire anyone … but the rest of this post still stands, and in a few years employers will be desperate to hire again 🙂

I’ve never done it and I just don’t even know where one would start. I think that what you need is to get in on the Hawaii hostel scene. Hostels are places where people can stay for a while for free or cheap and they probably would be able to give you advice on where to get work. Start here: (hawaii hostels search at google) if you don’t know anything about hostels, and look for a forum where maybe you can get a contact before you come. Good luck! Have a great time! Lisa

I am a 21 year old college student who is considering moving to Hawaii to live for the summer 09 May-August. I just got back to Vermont, where I study and grew up, from a 5 month exchange in Sweden. While I was in Sweden I fell in love with a student who lives in Mexico. The distance is killing us and we both want to move some where new for the summer just to be together and work. I need some advice as to where to start looking.

I have a lot of waitressing experience in the US and a job of this manner would be fine for both of us. Mostly we just want to be together and experience a new place. Which island would you recommend we consider moving to? Do you think it pertinent that he apply for a working visa? Do many people move there just for the summer? Are there any local websites we could check for job listings and, most importantly, housing?

Well, I would say anyplace on Oahu, most places on Maui, or maybe even Kailua-Kona on the Big Island – although Honolulu-Waikiki, Oahu is your most obvious choice. I don’t want to advise on the visa – I don’t know anything about visas. People move here just for a few months all the time.

Craigslist is getting pretty big here – so check the Hawaii craigslist listings and the newspaper classifieds of whichever island you decide. Best of luck to you! Lisa

Honolulu advertiser classifieds


28 Comments on Finding Short-Term Work and Cheap Places to Stay in Hawaii

  1. jessica on Mon, 22nd Jan 2007 6:21 am
  2. I was wondering are there any summer work programs for college students? I am looking to stay in a hotel and work for the summer and I was wondering if there are any hotel jobs where you can work at the hotel and stay for free. I am a college student and I remember one of my moms friends doing something similar while she was in college. Does anything like this still exist?

  3. Lorin on Wed, 31st Jan 2007 5:31 am
  4. You should check out wwoofing (willing workers on organic farms)there are several in Hawaii

  5. Lisa on Wed, 14th Feb 2007 11:07 pm
  6. Ellen from Belgium sent me this question:

    I would like to stay in Oahu for a while, like a sort of vacation. But I don’t want to stay in a hotel. So my question to you is if you can find people or families who wouldn’t mind to have a stranger in their house for a while? I would like to stay at the North Shore, so I can learn to surf. I’m aware of the fact that this probabely isn’t your job, but I have no idea where I can find chatboxes or adresses to get in contact with local people.

    and I replied:

    I know of no such program or website and I am really reluctant to even look into it for you, because I can only imagine how people looking to take advantage of other people might find their way into such programs. You may want to look into Backpackers Hostel on the North Shore: or look into wwoofing (I cannot vouch for the validity or safeness of this, I am just passing on what someone else suggested)

  7. SUMMER on Sat, 30th Jun 2007 12:13 am
  8. This is the website lisa needs: They list people offering a place to stay in their homes. I haven’t used them, but was thinking about it for my next trip.

  9. Danielle on Sun, 29th Jul 2007 5:37 pm
  10. I’m a 21 year old college student. And I was thinking about traveling over to Maui next summer and get a waitressing job. I do have experience. Do you have any suggestions about cheaps places or locations to work?

  11. Lisa on Sun, 29th Jul 2007 5:41 pm
  12. Try Lahaina or Wailuku – Kahului

  13. Jon on Sat, 1st Sep 2007 12:16 am
  14. Hey – I’m a 21 year old, who will be graduating college in December, and was wondering how to go about finding a job a as a bartender or waiter in Hawaii for about 6 months? Me and my cousin also 21 year old are looking for a hotel/resort where they would put us up in maybe staff quarters or something. Any ideas on where to start?

  15. tom on Fri, 25th Jan 2008 8:23 pm
  16. I’m thinking about going to the big island for about 6-8 months for work. would like to find an organic farm with camping or small lodging, with a little pay and food in exchange for work, other possibilities; restarunt work, labor,would like to be close to a raw food community or farmers mkt.

  17. Kim In Woo on Sun, 21st Dec 2008 5:55 am
  18. Hi Lisa,
    Well I’m a Korean college student in Japan and I am planning to go to Hawaii in late Februrary, and stay till March. I was wondering if there is any kind of job I can do for that short period of time? And if there is anything I can do to help my studies in Tourism, Thanks a lot

  19. Lisa on Mon, 22nd Dec 2008 9:01 pm
  20. Hi Kim – I would try waitressing or some other job that has a high turnover and low barrier to entry.

    As for tourism .. you could volunteer somewhere – a museum or national park. or hang out at the busiest touristy place on the island you are visiting. Talk to the people that are trying to lure the tourists in. Look for friendly open people that will help you and train you just cuz you are there and nice.

  21. Jon Biehl on Tue, 30th Dec 2008 7:15 am
  22. How does $500/mo. sound for a “cheap place to stay for one adventurous student?”

    I have an ad for a sailboat for sale at La Mariana Sailing Club on Sand Island. A student could bicycle to Waikiki or the downtown area in less than a half hour.

    I’m buying another boat and fixing it up…….so, this would work for me “transitionally,” taking care of the additional slip rent.

    Hmmmmm…..something to think about perhaps. See this ad:

    J. Biehl
    (Lic. C.G. Captain, US Merchant Marine)

  23. Sinead Martin on Mon, 2nd Mar 2009 1:03 pm
  24. Hey Kim,
    I’m a final year student in a university in Ireland studing english, politics and sociology. I will be visiting Hawaii, Waikiki this summer from May to September on a J1 visa and really hope to find work for those months. Any advice you could give me would be much appreciated! Sinead

  25. Lindsey on Tue, 3rd Mar 2009 2:46 am
  26. Hello,
    I’m planning on moving my family to Hawaii from Michigan where the economy sucks. We both have several years experiencing bartending and even some management experience, I was wondering if you have any advice as far as where to look for a job and a place to live. I’d really like to have those things lined up prior to arriving. Also I have a 12 year old son and need to make sure I’m in a decent spot for him also. I have not chosen an island yet either so any advice you have on any of this, I need some ideas on where to look and the cheapest way to get started. Any ideas you can give me would be sooooo much appreciated.
    Thank you sooooo much!

  27. kyle on Mon, 22nd Jun 2009 9:00 pm
  28. hey i was thinking about moveing to hawaii. i was looking to find an inexspensive place to live and a decent job but i dont know where to start looking. i just want something close to the beach to hit the waves and a decent job to help pay the bills. i was hopeing you could point me in the right directions

  29. Lisa on Tue, 23rd Jun 2009 6:45 am
  30. Hi Lyndsey and Kyle – inexpensive in Hawaii. Doesn’t really exist. Hilo and Puna are the most inexpensive places on all of the islands but the jobs aren’t there. Honolulu is good cuz there are lots of jobs and no need for a car. … Kailua-Kona is another place to look into. Check the Honolulu (hawaii) craigslist and all the newspapers for ideas. Here’s a cost of living in Hilo and Kona article: – maybe it will help.

  31. carrie bostic on Thu, 23rd Jul 2009 4:52 am
  32. hi…. I currently have j1 girls from russia renting rooms in my house.. they go for 700 or 800 a month for a bedroom.. My house is a 3 bedroom on Maui right in the heart of Lahaina on Maui. I would like to know how to get the word out to these j1 students looking for a nice place to live while here on Maui.
    Carrie Bostic

  33. Kristen on Thu, 30th Jul 2009 11:54 pm
  34. Hello,
    I am planning on moving to hawaii for a few months. I was hoping to find temporary work this fall that offers housing. I have found farm work but nothing really besides that. I have plenty of customer service experience as well as waitressing. Do you know of resorts that offer housing for staff?

  35. Lisa on Fri, 31st Jul 2009 1:02 am
  36. No, I have not heard of this and don’t think resorts would. They are not hurting for staff. however, maybe if you contact some of the smaller hotels or apartment hotels you could ask around and get some leads.

  37. Michael Eldridge on Sat, 28th Aug 2010 1:49 am
  38. Hi Lisa,
    Im from Indiana and if u know anything about Indiana you’d know there are practically no jobs here. I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii and was told by a friend that he was hired by a hotel in Hawaii where they flew him out and gave him a room to stay in while he worked there. My question is. Do u know of any jobs u could turn me onto that do something like this and that wouldnt have a problem hiring me even though I have a felony for shop lifting? Thanks alot. i look forward to hearing from u.

  39. Lisa on Sun, 29th Aug 2010 4:52 am
  40. Hi Michael, No, sorry, I don’t. You could start watching craigslist and hawaii job boards and see if anything comes up – maybe start communicating with some potential employers. Also, have you looked into wwoofing? I have heard of farms putting people up in dorms and they may not care about your background.

  41. Hana on Tue, 15th Mar 2011 9:32 am
  42. Hi Lisa,

    thank you for your website, I found many interesting information here. Actually I am looking for summer job and I thought it would be nice to work in Hawaii. Do you have any idea, how much are employers hiring for the summer 2011? Is the economic crisis still there?
    Thanks, Hana

  43. Lisa on Tue, 15th Mar 2011 7:35 pm
  44. Hi Hana, I have never seen any ‘economic crisis’ so I’m not sure how to answer that. There will always be jobs, and summer is a good time to find them because visitor counts are up. you can start looking on Honolulu craigslist and in the star advertiser classifieds just to get an idea of what’s available – if you would want to do any of it. good luck!

  45. Jonathan Graham on Wed, 6th Apr 2011 3:47 am
  46. Hey Lisa, wow…it looks like I’m a little late on the whole moving to Hawaii and finding a summer job deal 🙂 I’m about to be 25 and I’m a sociology major who is looking for some adventure this summer. I thought Hawaii would be the perfect place to adventure this summer. I know I could get out there but it looks like everyones trying to get to Hawaii LOL. Nevertheless, I would love the adventure. My primary major is focused on social injustice and inequality (which probably doesn’t happen much in Hawaii) but if you still think it would be worth me spending money to work and adventure in Hawaii, please let me know. Thank you.

  47. Lisa on Wed, 6th Apr 2011 5:45 am
  48. Hi Jonathan, – don’t worry, there’s plenty of social justice issues in Hawaii 🙂 although I don’t know if you’ll be able to work in that field. Most peopel who go to Hawaii to work for the summer wait tables or do jobs like that. short term stuff 🙂 why not? I would go if I were you.

  49. Linda on Wed, 23rd May 2012 6:33 am
  50. I work at a luxury hotel in California. I have always dreamt of working at a hotel in Hawaii after traveling there when I was young. I’ve applied to tons of hotels in Hawaii online (all islands- four seasons, ritz, marriott, hyatt, etc) and have contacted HR reps via phone and email, etc.. but haven’t been able to get very far. Ideally I’d rather secure a job before moving there but I feel like employers might be hesitant to move forward because I currently reside in California. If I move without a job I would visit every hotel in person, resume in hand, and hopefully I could make more headway. Do you think there is a lot of competition for hotel jobs (front desk, guest service, server host, etc..) right now? Also, I have heard that hotels prefer to hire locals as employees. Do you find this to be true?

    Thank you for your help!!

  51. Lisa on Sun, 27th May 2012 4:22 am
  52. Hi Linda, there is is always a lot of competition for jobs in Hawaii, and you are right, I don’t think you will easily find a job from California. AND, hotels do seem to prefer to hire locals. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a job. If you do move here, don’t allow people to convince you that you won’t ever get hired because you are white. That can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  53. Yolanda on Sun, 16th Sep 2012 4:38 pm
  54. Hi Lisa! I’m looking to go to Hawaii maybe by next month of October and as many on here I really can’t afford to stay at a hotel. The length of my visit is unknown at this time. My son is going to have back surgery and I’m wanting to be there to help him out as he is there without family. He is in the army and just arrived there in April this year. He’s in Schofield Barracks. Could you point me in a direction of a very economical place or give me some suggestions? Thanks for your help!!

  55. Lisa on Mon, 17th Sep 2012 11:09 pm
  56. You could stay in a hostel, or ask him if he can reserve you a room at a military facility that charges based on the soldier’s rank.

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