Is Hawaii Expensive: A Travel Budget Guide

Is Hawaii Expensive: A Travel Budget Guide

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October 13, 2021
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Hawaii is on the bucket list of many travelers, and whether it’s their endless white sandy beaches or laid-back island vibe that makes people want to go, it’s probably on yours as well.

A trip to Hawaii can be costly though if you don’t know what you’re doing, and being prepared with a budget is the smartest approach.

Is Hawaii expensive to visit? Hawaii is one of the most expensive states in the US to vacation to, with accommodation and food being the highest costs you’ll incur.

There are some ways to cut costs like traveling during the low season and choosing the right islands to visit.

The idyllic region of Hawaii is regarded as an expensive travel destination in some regards, but it doesn’t have to be.

With some careful planning and our guide to creating a budget that’ll cover all of your costs, you’ll enjoy an economically friendly Hawaiian vacation without missing a thing.

Standard Travel Costs to Hawaii

Standard Travel Costs to Hawaii

During the planning stages of your trip, you’ll need to think about which island or islands you want to visit.

There are six islands that encompass Hawaii, including Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Oahu is regarded as the cheapest of the islands to visit and Maui the most expensive, which could lead you towards your decision.

To get to Hawaii, you’ll take a plane from mainland USA, and usually land at Honolulu International Airport, which is on the island of Oahu.

Flights vary in price depending on the time of year, with the cheapest months being August, September, and October.

The average flight to the island can cost anywhere from $150 to $500 depending on where you depart from.

Once you’ve landed in Hawaii, you might also need an inter-island flight to reach your final destination, which is cheap and easy if you book in advance.

Accommodation Options

Accommodation Options

Although beautiful, the accommodation in Hawaii is known for being pricey, and this is where you can blow through most of your budget.

Staying at a resort or hotel on one of the islands will usually cost around $170 for one night for a single person during high season and down to $120 per night in low season, but you might be able to find a deal using longer-term vacation rentals or an Airbnb.

The cheapest way to see Hawaii is by staying in campsites and bringing along your camping gear.

You can find a beautiful location at one of their many campgrounds with lots of amenities on-site views like no other, while still only paying $10 a night for each person in your party.

Dining Out and Drinking

Dining Out and Drinking

Another huge cost to factor into your Hawaiian holiday is the food you’ll be eating, with the state being notorious for higher-than-most prices.

An average day in Hawaii can cost between $15 and $50 for a single person to eat, and even more if you plan on splurging at a nice restaurant.

To save money, look for local farmer’s markets where you can find stalls selling fresh foods and local delicacies.

There are street vendors on every island with food that rivals that of a restaurant anyway, and if you’re staying somewhere with cooking facilities, you can save even more.

A night in the town on one of Hawaii’s islands is expensive, and thanks to their high tax rate on alcohol, it’s not wise to drink at a bar or restaurant if you’re trying to save money.

A glass of wine can cost up to $17 and a beer $9, so grab yourself a six-pack from an ABC store or grocery store and enjoy a much cheaper buzz.

Other Costs of a Trip to Hawaii

Other Costs of a Trip to Hawaii

With your food, drink, and accommodation covered, you’ll want to think about the other costs of a trip to Hawaii.

These are some other things to factor in when creating a budget and tailoring it exactly to your needs.

  • Local transport: Some people choose to hire a car to get them around the island but it’s not needed if you’re trying to save money. Most of the islands have a good public transports system, but make sure you avoid costly taxis.
  • Sightseeing and activities: There are cheaper options for hiking, swimming, and seeing natural sights compared to some of the paid activities, so you don’t have to spend a fortune here if you don’t want to.
  • Everyday costs: Medical supplies, snacks, and bottled water can be expensive here. Wait until you’re near a more budget friendly supermarket and stock up on what’s needed to save money.
  • Tips: You can expect to pay around 10 – 20% of gratuities on most purchases and services, so make sure you’ve factored in this extra money on top of the rest of your costs.

Tips for Traveling Cheaply

Tips for Traveling Cheaply

Hawaii might be renowned as a more expensive travel destination, but if you’re smart enough, it doesn’t have to be the same for you.

We’ve got some helpful hints that can save you money and ensure you don’t break your budget on the island.

  • Look for free activities: It costs nothing to go lay on the beach in Hawaii or take a trek up one of its famous volcanic mountains. You can spend an entire vacation without paying a cent to a tour guide and still have a world of fun.
  • Choose a cheaper island: Some of the islands are considerably cheaper than others, like Oahu, and even more so when you travel during the low season. Do your research and look at accommodation options and how they compare on each of their islands for the time you’re wanting to visit and base your holiday around that.
  • Get everything from the supermarket: Find a large supermarket chain and do all of your shopping there, including getting any beers you want to drink or bottled water. Having this all ready to go can save huge amounts of cash rather than buying things at convenience stores when you need them.
  • Seek out discounts: There are plenty of opportunities in Hawaii to use discount cards and coupons just as we do back on the mainland. Spend months leading up to your vacation to research what discounts might be available for restaurants, accommodation, activities, food, and drinks.
  • Utilize the kitchen: Although it might seem more expensive to book a rental or room that has a kitchen in it, the savings you make from being able to cook there will more than pay for themselves. Do a big grocery shop the day you arrive and use a meal plan to make sure every meal is organized ahead of time.
  • Travel with others: As relaxing as it sounds to take a tropical getaway by yourself, you can save lots of money when you travel in a group. This allows you to share costs for rental cars, tickets for tours, accommodation, food, and more, so bring your friends along and save.

Island Hopping on a Budget

There are plenty of good reasons why Hawaii is at the top of the must-visit list for tourists, and many are happy to pay the higher price just to get there.

With some savvy searching and tips on saving money while you’re there, you can plan a getaway to the endless beaches of Hawaii without ever going over budget.

Related Questions

Hawaii is arguably America’s best tourist spot and home to some of the most relaxing vibes around.

If you’ve never been before and are planning a visit to Hawaii, read on for a few FAQs and our expert answers to find out the basics.

Is Hawaii Just One Island?

There are six islands that make up Hawaii, including the Big Island of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, and Kauai, each offering something unique.

Mau is the most popular tourist destination of the islands but also the most expensive, which makes it harder to visit if you’re traveling on a restricted budget.

Does Hawaii Have Its Own Language?

Does Hawaii Have Its Own Language?

Hawaii has two official languages, including Olelo Hawai’i which is their native language, and English.

With both of these, Hawaii is considered the only state in the US that has two languages, but most tourists will find that the Hawaiian locals can easily communicate with them in English.

How Long Should You Stay in Hawaii?

If you can afford it, planning a Hawaiian vacation that lasts at least 10 days is the best way to see everything.

There are lots of different islands and sights to see, as well as needing some recovery time if you’re getting over jetlag, so you don’t want to cut your trip too short if you don’t have to.

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