How Much Does A Trip To Hawaii Cost – Full Breakdown
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Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches, tropical climate, diverse culture, and natural beauty.
However, given how remote the islands of Hawaii are, visiting can be significantly more expensive than some other popular US vacation destinations.
One week in Hawaii is likely to cost you anywhere between $2,000 and $3,500 per person, depending on the island you visit and the level of luxury you opt for. This includes; flights, accommodation (based on two people sharing), transport, food, and attractions.
Having just spent one week in Oahu, Hawaii we figured it would be good to break down an average estimate of costs to help you plan your trip accordingly.
The cost of visiting certain islands in Hawaii is going to be significantly more (or significantly less) when compared to others.
As such before we dive into the numbers (and you dive into planning your trip!) it’s a good idea to have an understanding as to what islands are going to require the top-end (and beyond) of our estimates.
known for its rural and rustic atmosphere, Molokai is one of the least developed and least touristy islands, with a slower pace of life.
There aren’t many accommodation options available here for tourists when compared to some of the other islands. However, on average accommodation is cheaper when compared to a similar level on other Hawaiian islands.
Another quiet and sparsely populated island, Lanai is a great choice for travellers seeking a more secluded and off-the-beaten-path experience.
Much like Molokai, accommodation options here for tourists are limited. However, on average accommodation is cheaper when compared to a similar level on other Hawaiian islands.
Big Island (Hawaii)
The largest of the Hawaiian islands, the Big Island offers a wide range of accommodations and activities to suit different budgets, from luxury resorts to more affordable options.
often referred to as the “Garden Island,” Kauai is known for its lush landscapes and outdoor adventures, and offers a range of accommodations from more affordable options to high-end resorts.
Home to the state capital of Honolulu, Oahu is the most populous and urban of the Hawaiian islands, with a wide range of accommodations and activities to suit different budgets.
However, some areas of the island, such as the North Shore, can be quite expensive.
Known for its stunning natural beauty, Maui is considered one of the top destinations in Hawaii for its world-class beaches, stunning landscapes, and outdoor activities.
However, it’s also known to be the most expensive Hawaiian island to visit, due in part to its popularity among luxury travellers.
The cost of your flights from the mainland US to Hawaii is going to be one of your largest expenses and will vary dramatically depending on where you’re travelling from and when you’re looking to travel.
As such, flights from the west coast (closer to Hawaii) are often cheaper than flights from the east coast (further from Hawaii).
Furthermore, while flights to Hawaii are available from multiple cities and states across the US, more than 25% of flights leave from LAX.
This means that depending on where you’re travelling from, you may end up connecting to a flight in LAX.
The airlines currently offering flights to Hawaii include;
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Delta Airlines
We typically find Hawaiian Airlines to be the cheapest and to have the most comprehensive network of flights to the Hawaiian islands.
Flights: $300 – $800 per person, round trip.
How To Save Money On Flights To Hawaii
While flights are one of the largest expenses your Hawaii vacation is likely to incur, it’s also one of the easiest expenses to save money on.
Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates
Flying on weekdays or during off-peak season (September to mid-December) can often result in lower prices.
Consider Connecting Flights
While a connecting flight can lead to extra hassle, it can also lead to significant savings.
Look for flights that connect in west coast cities such as Los Angeles or San Francisco since both of these cities are major hubs for flights to Hawaii.
Use Travel Reward Credit Cards
Consider using a travel rewards credit card to earn points or miles for your favourite airline. These can be redeemed towards future flights, both to Hawaii and other destinations around the world.
Accommodation in Hawaii can be pricey, especially if you’re looking for high-end luxury, beachfront access and ocean views.
However, there are a variety of accommodation options available on most Hawaiian islands that can fit different budgets. These include; hostels, vacation rentals, and mid-range hotels.
That being said, the cost of all types of accommodation in Hawaii will vary greatly depending on;
- The island
- Time of year
- Accommodation type (e.g., hotel, hostel, vacation rental)
- Location (e.g., beachfront, city centre)
- Amenities and services offered (e.g. pool, spa, breakfast)
For example, a budget hotel room in Honolulu can cost around $100 per night, while a high-end resort in Maui can cost several hundred dollars per night.
Doing research and comparing prices for different options can help you find the right balance between cost and comfort for your trip.
Hotel Room: $2,400 (based on two people sharing ($1,200 per person) per week.
How To Save Money On Accommodation In Hawaii
If you’re travelling on a budget, there are several ways you can save money on accommodation in Hawaii.
Book In Advance
Booking in advance is one of the best ways to save money on hotels.
Being a fairly expensive destination, Hawaii’s most affordable accommodation tends to book up quickly. As such, the further in advance, your book, the greater range of options you’ll find available.
It’s also key to spend time comparing these options to find the real bargains and hidden gems.
Book A Vacation Package
Booking a vacation package can be an effective way of saving money on your trip.
Check sites such as Expedia for the best value packages. These require you to book flights and accommodation in one booking. You can often add on airport transfers and attraction tickets too.
That being said, booking this way isn’t always cheaper. Make sure to compare the package against booking each component separately to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.
Stay In A Vacation Rental
While the overall cost of a vacation rental may be higher than a hotel room, there are several ways that staying in a vacation rental can actually help you save money.
- Cooking meals: One of the biggest advantages of a vacation rental is having access to a kitchen as eating out in Hawaii can be expensive.
- Free parking: Many vacation rentals offer free parking, which can be a huge money-saver in Hawaii where parking can be expensive, especially in touristy areas.
- Group travel: Sharing the cost of a larger vacation rental with a group can be a more affordable option than booking multiple hotel rooms.
Look Out For Resort Fees
Many hotels, especially luxury hotels will charge a resort fee. This can be a hidden $35 or more additional charge per night on the cost of your hotel.
As such we recommend reading the fine print, and ensuring that if you do book a hotel with a resort fee you benefit from the amenities and facilities which you’re paying for.
Avoid Summer Months
The summer months and spring break in particular are incredibly popular times in Hawaii.
As a result, the average cost not just of accommodation but of flights and attractions will increase dramatically.
Hotel rooms that were $150 a night, will jump to $300, while hotel rooms at $300 a night can easily jump to $500.
As such we highly recommend avoiding these times wherever possible.
There are two key types of domestic transport you need to consider when budgeting for your trip to Hawaii – travelling between islands and travelling within the islands
The amount you’ll spend on domestic travel in Hawaii will greatly depend on whether you plan to stay on one Hawaiian island or want to explore a few different islands during your trip.
In simple terms – the more you move between islands, the more you’ll spend on transport.
While there are different options available for travelling between the islands of Hawaii (including ferries and cruises) inter-island flights are generally the fastest and most convenient option.
However, while inter-island flights are quick, they can still be incredibly expensive at $100 to $200 per person, one-way on average.
The airlines currently offering inter-island domestic flights include;
- Mokulele Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
Travelling Around The Islands Of Hawaii
Once you’ve chosen your island(s) you’ll want to consider how you’re going to get around.
The vast majority of travellers choose to rent a car, as this gives them the freedom and flexibility to explore the island on their own schedule and discover some of the lesser-known attractions that may not be accessible by public transportation.
Rental cars are available at most major airports and in many cities and towns across the islands. However, they have increased dramatically in recent years.
📍 Pro Tip: During our most recent trip to Oahu, Hawaii we opted to use the peer-to-peer rental car service Turo intead of a traditional rental car company as it was significantly cheaper.
Of course, the cost of the rental car itself isn’t the only thing you’ll want to consider when budgeting for your trip to Hawaii.
Alongside this, you’ll also need to think about gas, tolls and parking fees.
Parking is notoriously expensive in the most densely populated areas of some islands (general parking Waikiki in Oahu can be as much as $35 per night) which is where finding accommodation that’s slightly more expensive but offers complimentary parking may be worthwhile.
Alternatively, public transportation, such as buses and shuttles, is available on most of the islands in Hawaii.
This can be a more affordable option, but may be less convenient and may not allow you to reach some of the more remote or off-the-beaten-path destinations.
Instead, I’d opt to use this alongside any tourist trolleys (available in areas more popular with tourists on selected islands), ride-share services, tours and rental cars to achieve the best value for money.
Taxis & Ride-Share Services
Another, often more favourable option is to use ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft. However, this will depend on the island you’re visiting as not all islands operate this service (or at least in volume).
Private & Group Tours
If you don’t have long in Oahu (three or four days), or don’t fancy taking multiple road trips around the island then a dedicated bus tour of the island, visiting the most popular sights may be the best option.
This highly-rated bus tour lasts seven hours and covers Oahu’s natural wonders, cultural sites, surfing spots, and shopping meccas.
Domestic Transport: $200 – $500 per person per week.
How To Save Money On Domestic Transport In Hawaii
You can use several different cost-cutting methods to save on the cost of transport in Hawaii. These include;
Book Inter-Island Flights In Advance
If you’re planning on travelling between islands in Hawaii then try to book your inter-island flights as far in advance as possible.
Booking in advance will allow you to take advantage of early bird discounts and special offers that may not be available if you book closer to your travel date.
It also helps to secure your preferred flight times and seats, which can be especially important during peak travel seasons when flights tend to fill up quickly.
Compare The Cost Of Car Rentals
With the costs associated with hiring a car ever increasing in Hawaii, it’s a good idea to compare different car rental companies to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Be sure to compare the total cost rather than just the cost of the car per day, since many companies will charge different rates for extras such as insurance.
Book Accommodation With Free Parking
If you’re hiring a car during your trip to Hawaii then look to book accommodation that offers complimentary guest parking.
While the overall cost of this accommodation option may be higher, it may actually work out cheaper when compared to the cost of a cheaper hotel and parking separately.
Reduce Your Car Rental Duration
Depending on the duration of your trip and other personal circumstances you could also consider not renting a car for your entire vacation and instead consolidating your driving days to a set number.
We did this during our recent trip to Oahu. We spent seven nights on the island but only hired a car for four.
During those four days, we then explored the island of Oahu to its fullest and maximised the use of the car. Then during the remaining three, we explored Waikiki on foot and took an Uber to / from the airport.
Attractions & Entertainment
Now that transport and accommodation are sorted, it’s time to start figuring out what you’ll be getting up to during your trip.
Hawaii certainly isn’t short of amazing things to see and do.
The amount you’ll spend on attractions and activities in Hawaii will depend on the type of traveller you are and the islands you plan on visiting.
Attractions & Entertainment: $100 – $1,000 per person per week.
- Visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial: $5
- Hike Diamond Head State Monument: $5
- Enjoy the beach and surf lessons in Waikiki: $100 – $250
- Watch the sunset at Haleiwa Beach Park: Free
- Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center: $60 – $250
- Kualoa Ranch: $50 – $250
- Road to Hana scenic drive: Free
- Snorkelling and scuba diving at Molokini Crater: $120 – $200
- Whale watching during the winter months: $40 – $100
- Visit Haleakala National Park: $15
- Take a helicopter tour of the island: $200 – $300
- Explore Waimea Canyon State Park: Free
- Take a boat tour of the Napali Coast: $150 – $250
- Hike the Kalalau Trail: Free
- Visit the Kauai Coffee Company: Free
- See the Wailua Falls: Free
Hawaii Island (the Big Island)
- Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: $15
- Snorkelling at Kealakekua Bay: $100 – $200
- Visit the Mauna Kea Observatories: Free
- See the black sand beach at Punaluu Beach Park: Free
- Take a scenic drive around the island: Free
- Visit Kalaupapa National Park: Free (requires a permit & tour)
- Take a mule ride to Kalaupapa Peninsula: $199
- Snorkel or kayak in the Halawa Valley: $60 – $100
- Visit the Molokai Plumeria Farm: Free
- See the Kamakou Preserve: Free
- Take a 4×4 off-road tour of the island: $150 – $200
- Visit the Garden of the Gods: Free
- Snorkel at Hulopoe Bay: Free
- Golf at the Manele Golf Course: $195 – $235
- Explore the Munro Trail: Free
How To Save Money On Attractions & Entertainment In Hawaii
The cost of attractions and entertainment in Hawaii can easily add up – especially since there are so many incredible things to see and do.
Luckily, there are a number of ways you can cut costs on these expenses to allow you to still experience everything Hawaii has to offer, even on a tight budget.
Free Things To Do
There are many free activities to enjoy in Hawaii, such as hiking, visiting beaches, and exploring the natural beauty of the islands.
Be sure to research these free activities and prioritise them within your itinerary.
Rent Equipment Instead Of Booking A Tour
For activities such as snorkelling or surfing, consider renting equipment instead of booking a tour.
While this will depend on the location and your experience, it’s well worth researching as it can save you money and give you more freedom to explore at your own pace.
Look For Deals & Discounts
Check online for coupons, discounts, and special offers for the activities you want to do. Many attractions and entertainment venues in Hawaii offer deals on certain days of the week outside of the high season.
Hawaii’s cuisine is a unique blend of different cultures, with influences from Asia, Polynesia, and the Americas.
The local dishes are fresh, and flavorful, and often feature ingredients that are only found in Hawaii, such as poi, kalua pork, and poke.
The cost of food in Hawaii is higher when compared to the mainland US. Both when it comes to eating out and buying food from grocery stores.
However, the amount you spend on food will still depend on whether you eat at fine dining establishments, food trucks or at your accommodation.
Some of the must-try dishes in Hawaii include;
- Spam musubi
- Loco moco
- Shaved ice
Food: $25 – $150 per person per day.
How To Save Money On Food In Hawaii
Food can really eat into (forgive the pun!) your Hawaii travel budget. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to keep meal costs down;
Cook At Your Accommodation
One big advantage to staying in accommodation with a kitchen (or even a basic kitchenette) is that you can save money on food by making your own meals.
Whether it’s a quick breakfast each morning or a simple dinner at the end of a long day, cooking at least one meal a day at your accommodation can drastically reduce your daily food budget.
Look For Accommodation With Free Breakfast
The cost of breakfast at a restaurant or in a cafe in Hawaii is often between $6 and $15 per person.
While this isn’t too bad for couples or solo travellers, the cost for families can soon add up.
As such, it’s often worth comparing the cost of accommodation offering a free breakfast with the total cost of accommodation plus breakfast when eaten out over the duration of your trip.
Skip The Alcohol
We know you’re on vacation, but alcoholic drinks are one of the most expensive things you can consume in Hawaii.
A pint of beer costs around $10, a cocktail is between $15 and $20, and the cheapest bottle of wine at most restaurants is usually $50+.
As such, by skipping (or limiting) the amount of alcohol you drink you’ll save a lot of money during your trip.
Avoid Convenience Stores
ABC Market has cornered the convenience store market in Hawaii which has led the food costs inside these stores to be significantly higher when compared to the likes of CVS, Target and Safeway.
As such we recommend avoiding these stores wherever possible in favour of larger, mainstream grocery stores.
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Thanks for stopping by! Do you have experience with this trip or want to share some of your own tips? We’d love to hear about it! Comment below and let’s chat!