Updated: March 1, 2023
When most of us think of a Hawaii vacation, the last thing on our minds is the budget. Instead, we’re thinking about white sand beaches and sipping on margaritas by the pool!
However, the reality is, having a budget is important for making the most of your vacation and coming back with enough money left to pay the bills!
If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, this guide is for you. We’ll go over the average Hawaii cost for food, accommodation, airfare, and more. Plus, we’ll throw in some money saving tips to help you keep your trip to Hawaii cost as low as possible.
Trip to Hawaii Cost: A Quick Breakdown
This article is based on a cost breakdown of a one week trip to Hawaii at a decent hotel. Here are some other quick cost estimates for different kinds of travelers:
- How much does a trip to Hawaii cost for a solo traveler in a hostel: $1,000
- How much does a Hawaii vacation cost for a solo traveler in a hotel: $2,000
- How much is a trip to Hawaii for 2 in a luxury hotel: $5,000
- How much does a trip to Hawaii cost for a family of four in a hotel: $13,000
What You’ll Spend Money on During Your Hawaii Vacation
The first part of planning your trip to Hawaii cost is to know exactly what you’ll be spending your money on. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need to spend money on airfare, accommodation, food, activities, and transportation.
With that in mind, how much do you need to budget to visit Hawaii?
Well, in general, you’re going to want an average of about $4000 per week, depending on where you’re staying and which island you’re visiting on your Hawaii vacation. To make it a bit easier to understand, here’s a basic overview of about how much you’ll spend on each of these categories on your trip:
- Accommodation Costs: around $2000
- Food and Drinks: around $550
- Roundtrip airfare: around $1000
- Activities and day tours: around $300
- Transportation and car rentals: around $250
Remember, these aren’t fixed costs. Things like the number of people you’re traveling with, the island you’re staying on, and the season you visit can all affect how much a trip to Hawaii winds up costing.
Flight Costs to Visit Hawaii
Flight and hotel costs are some of the biggest expenses you’ll have for a Hawaii vacation.
Average roundtrip airfare to Hawaii can cost $1000 per person, depending on where you’re coming from. From the East Coast U.S, you’re likely to have to pay anywhere from $600-$1000 depending on the season.
In contrast, if you’re traveling from the west coast cities in the United States, say San Francisco, you can get direct flights for much lower, sometimes as low as $199.
One thing to remember is that plane tickets to Hawaii can get really expensive during the holidays and peak seasons. During holidays and high season, tickets can as much as double, making what would be an average trip to Hawaii much more expensive. Avoid booking around Christmas, New Year’s, Spring Break, and summer vacation when school’s out if you want to save a little money.
Tips for Getting the Best Prices on Airplane Tickets
If you’re on a tight budget and are looking to save some money on airlines, you’re in luck. There are a couple of travel tips you can make use of to get the best deals on flights.
For one thing, booking airfare is best on Tuesdays or Wednesdays when the prices are low. Sights like Skyscanner.com will help pull costs from different airlines and compare them so that you can get the best airfare prices.
Besides using third-party sites like SkyScanner, you can also check out budget airlines. A couple of budget airlines that fly to Hawaii include:
- Southwest Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
These airlines normally offer cheap roundtrip tickets, although you may have to make up for the low prices by paying more for luggage and seats.
Another tip is to look for flights with layovers to your chosen island. For instance, if you’re heading to Big Island instead of Oahu, you might be able to score cheaper flights with a multi-day layover in Honolulu. Although you won’t get directly to your final destination, you can add an extra stop to your Hawaii trip and get a chance to check out an extra island on your vacation!
Combining neighboring island flights can also be done with international flights. Moreover, this can also help increase your total international baggage allowance.
If you’re traveling from Hawaii to Australia via Hawaiian Airlines, for example, you can check in two pieces of 32 kg luggage and one carry-on bag weighing 11.5 kg. The baggage allowance is generous enough to fit all your shopping purchases, avoiding extra-baggage charges.
The result is that you get more luggage for a lower price, and you get to check out two islands instead of one without making your trip to the Hawaiian islands more expensive.
Hotel Costs for a Vacation to Hawaii
When it comes to knowing how much is a trip to Hawaii, one thing you should know about planning Hawaii vacations is that hotel prices are what’s likely to really eat into your budget.
Prices for a hotel room in Hawaii vary depending on whether you’re staying at one of the many luxury hotels or are going for something like hostels or vacation rentals.
As a general estimate, you can pay anywhere from $96-$600 per night. Hostels are on the lower end of this spectrum, while resorts tend to be on the higher end.
Although hostels have a lower price per room, the luxury resorts offer better access to beaches as well as amenities, such as free hotel transfers or fitness centers, pools, and on-site restaurants.
Another thing to think about is that resorts are often better suited for a family vacation. Many of them offer kids activities, which can give the parents a break while the young ones are well looked after by resort staff.
Tips for Lowering Average Costs on Accommodations
If you want to save a bit of money on hotel prices, it pays to know the cheapest time to travel. During the off-season, from September to early December and from February to early April, you can often score lower prices than you would during the summer months.
You can also stay in Hawaii’s less expensive areas. For instance, hotels away from Waikiki Beach are more affordable on Oahu than resorts along Kalakaua Avenue. Or, if you opt for a hotel on the West Side of Oahu instead of in Waikiki, you may also find the prices of your Hawaii hotel are a bit more affordable.
Another hack is to get rooms with either no views, partial ocean-view, or city views. Since you’ll likely be spending most of your days out, there’s nothing wrong with getting no-view rooms to spend the night.
Finally, one way to keep the average cost of a hotel for one week down is to stay on cheaper islands. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Maui is the most expensive island. As a result, you might find more affordable accommodations staying on Oahu, Big Island, or Kauai, for example.
Food and Beverage for a Hawaiian Vacation
After considering airfare and hotel accommodations, food should be next on the list. You might be surprised to find that eating out on the Hawaiian island can be expensive. Even cheap eats like food trucks can quickly add up.
To give you a rough estimate, you will likely spend around $50 to $100 for lunch or dinner. But, prices vary depending on your chosen restaurant and the location you’re eating in. It also depends on the type of food you eat.
For more upscale dining, you’re likely to find options on the beachfront, in the resorts, and on the Kalakaua Avenue in Oahu. However, if you head further into town and away from the main shopping district, you can find slightly cheaper eats.
Tips for Saving Money on Food Costs in Hawaii
One way you can save money on food is by not always heading out to eat during your entire vacation. You can get affordable food options at Walmart or Costco, where you can check out various bargain-priced groceries. These supermarkets would normally have budget-eating options and fast food chains.
Farmer’s market in Hawaii allows you to get cheap vegetables and fruits that are still fresh. The market also features homemade baked goods and local Hawaiian food delicacies that are way cheaper than in the grocery.
Other savvy ways to save money include bringing your own alcohol to restaurants with bottle service. This can help save you some cash on your meal, and you’ll only have to pay a small corkage fee.
Cost of Activities and Day Tours on a Hawaii Vacation
One of the best ways to really have your dream vacation in Hawaii is to get out and explore what the Hawaiian islands have to offer in terms of activities.
Regardless of which Hawaiian island you visit, the state is packed with things to do and explore. However, some of these activities cost more than others.
To help you estimate costs, you’re likely to spend anywhere from $0 – $400 on activities in Hawaii. Here are a couple of top-rated activities in Hawaii and their average price:
- Scuba diving: from $150 per person
- Hawaii Luau: from $150
- Oahu Jurassic Park Tour: from $52
- Maui Road-Driving to Hana Tour: from $200
- Hawaii Sunset Sail: from $75
- Kauai Helicopter Tours over Na Pali Coast: from $400
- Snorkeling with Manta Rays on Big Island: from $140
Besides these activities, you can also book private tours through most resorts and hotels. Things like the Polynesian Cultural Center Ali’i Luau Package or the Maitai Catamaran’s Sunset Sail give you a stress-free way to explore the Hawaiian islands and check out multiple activities at once.
Travel Tips for Saving Money on Activities in Hawaii
When you’re on a limited budget, there are activities you can do for free! Hiking at one of the many state parks or national parks in Hawaii is one. Or, many of the beaches are public access, meaning you can take a picnic or go for a swim without having to pay anything.
Some resorts also offer free snorkel equipment and paddleboard rentals, which you can take advantage of if you want to enjoy watersports.
If you do want to enjoy some paid activities in Hawaii, however, there are plenty of options that are lower cost. For example, you can visit the basement museum at Iolani Palace for just $5, instead of doing the full palace tour for $25. Or, you can head to the Pearl Harbor monument, where the grounds are free to walk around as long as you don’t go into any of the exhibits.
We also recommend booking your tickets in advance because they are cheaper. Most activities and tour companies offer promotional discounts when you book ahead. You can also go in groups to get group discount. This is particular great for big families visiting Hawaii.
Transportation in Hawaii Costs
If you’re staying in Hawaii for more than a day or two, you’re going to want to think about how you’ll get around the island.
While you’re welcome to just hang out on your resort, there’s so much to see and do around the islands that it’s worth it to budget for transportation.
Transportation in Hawaii is generally speaking, pretty cheap, with public transportation costing as little as $2 per ride. On the other hand, if you choose to look into rental cars, rental car fees can range from $45-$150 per day. For a one week trip, that means you’ll spend anywhere from $350 to $1000 per week.
Just remember that if you do choose to get a car rental in Hawaii, you’ll need to be aware of parking fees. Parking fees around the cities cost just a few dollars per hour. Or, you can get overnight rates if you need to store your vehicle somewhere.
Besides car rental and public transportation options, you can also take advantages of rideshare apps such as Lyft and Uber. These apps are available on all five islands in Hawaii, and sometimes offer cheaper rates than standard taxis.
How to Save Money on Transportation in Hawaii
For those looking to save money while traveling around Hawaii, there are a couple of ways to cut costs.
For one thing, if you’re traveling solo or with your partner, you can choose to rent a scooter instead of getting a full car rental. Scooter rentals cost as little as $30 per day, and have up to a 100-mile range for gas. That means you can go from Waikiki Beach up to Oahu’s north shore without having to tank up!
Another way to save money on transportation during your Hawaii vacation is to ask your hotel about parking. Some hotels offer free overnight parking, which can help you save big on parking fees.
Factors to Consider When Planning Your Budget
When it comes to knowing the average trip to Hawaii cost, there a couple of factors to keep in mind when planning your budget. All of these will affect how much your trip costs overall.
Duration of Your Stay
The duration of your stay dictates how much you will be spending in Hawaii, and the longer you spend in the Hawaiian islands, the more you’re likely to spend.
On average, most people spend about a week in Hawaii. However, if you’re staying for longer, you may need to consider ways to lower the budget a little bit.
Number of People
Another thing to consider when setting your budget is how many travelers you’ll be going to Hawaii with. More travelers means that you’ll need more hotel rooms and larger vehicles for getting around the islands.
However, larger groups can also score you group discounts on activities. Just make sure to consider how many people you’ll be traveling with as you plan to avoid going over-budget.
Time of Year
Hawaii’s peak season is during the summer and winter months, with the islands typically getting the most visitors from June to the end of August. However, the whale migration season from mid-December to March normally means more tourists as well.
If you want to visit Hawaii on a budget, the cheapest seasons are spring and fall. Traveling during these months also means fewer tourists, so expect several places to be less crowded and more peaceful.
Besides big ticket expenses like flights, hotels, food, activities, and transportation, there are a couple of extra expenses you might want to keep in mind when planning your budget for your Hawaii vacation.
Remember to budget for souvenirs and extra purchases that you might want to make on your trip, such as photos from activities.
You may also want to consider travel insurance. Travel insurance can keep you covered in the event that you get sick while traveling in Hawaii, or can offer compensation if you have a delayed or canceled flight.
Things You Can Do For Free on Your Hawaii Vacation
They say, “the best things in life are free.” And even in Hawaii, there are many activities and tours you can try without having to spend cash.
For one thing, beaches and hiking trails abound on the Hawaiian islands. Although some of these, such as Diamond Head, require a minimal entrance fee, many of them are free to access.
Another free activity to try is to take in views of the islands at one of the lookouts scattered around the islands. A couple of fan-favorites include:
- Maui’s Ho’okipa Lookout
- Oahu’s Tantalus Lookout (Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park)
- Kauai’s Waimea Canyon Lookout
You can also enjoy regular events for free. For instance, you can watch authentic Hawaiian musicals and dance performances every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during sunset on Oahu Island on Kalakaua Avenue near the downtown shops. Or, you can head to Waikiki Beach for free fireworks displays every Friday night.
Alternatively, if you’re staying in Maui, its historic towns get rowdy every Friday night because of block parties. Here’s the monthly schedule for where each block party takes place:
- 1st Friday: Wailuku
- 2nd Friday: Lahaina
- 3rd Friday: Makawao
- 4th Friday: Kihei
On Big Island, you can enjoy complimentary classes, such as lei-making workshops, at the Volcano Arts Center. Or, if you’re staying on Kauai, you can enjoy the Art Walk and Hanapepe Festival every Friday night.
Finally, many shopping malls around the Hawaiian islands have regular events that you can enjoy for free. A few of the most popular ones include:
- Oahu: Ukulele PUAPUA at Collections of Waikiki holds daily complimentary ukulele lessons at the Sheraton Waikiki
- Maui: Lahaina Cannery Mall holds family magic shows and hula lessons
- Hawaii Island: The Kings Shops and Queens Marketplace features Movies Under the Stars, Ukulele Lessons, and Koi Fish Feeding Sessions
The Bottom Line
Generally speaking, a one week trip to Hawaii will cost you about $4000. However, prices vary considerably depending on the time of year, the number of people you travel with, and where you stay.
Keeping these things in mind can help you keep Hawaii costs low while still planning your dream vacation, whether it’s with your family or on your own.
Regardless of what budget you set, Hawaii is full of beautiful vistas and a wealth of activities that you can enjoy. Whether you’re planning an upscale outing or a budget-friendly getaway, the Hawaiian islands are ready to welcome you with a friendly, ‘aloha.’