- How much does a trip to Hawaii cost? Price and estimated budget
Hawaii is a dream destination, and with good reason! It's a safe bet that you'll fall in love with the islands of Hawaii at first sight, but you might as well be warned from the outset: Hawaii is an expensive destination, especially if you want to enjoy local activities or stay in one of the beautiful resorts by the ocean. To give you an idea, the state of Hawaii is the one with the highest cost of living in the USA. So to succumb to Hawaii's charms, you'll need to put your hand in your wallet. But to what extent?
To give you an idea of the price of a trip to Hawaii and help you prepare your budget, we're going to detail the different types of expenditure and the budget to allow for each of them, not forgetting our tips for bringing the bill down. Prices are voluntarily mostly given in $USD so as not to be impacted by the regularly fluctuating exchange rate.
1The average price of a trip to Hawaii
On average, for a 3-week trip to Hawaii, you'll need to budget between $4,000 to $5,000/person(based on a 2-person stay), price including flights, accommodation (mid-range condo rental), domestic flights, car rental for each island and meals. To this budget should be added any excursions, the price of parking lots or pay parks. On a daily basis, this comes to around 220$/person/day.
But beware, this is an average price, as the price of your trip to Hawaii will depend greatly on the length of your stayand the level of services of the accommodation/transportation you choose. You may also consider that this budget will be larger if you plan to travel during the high season (mid-June to mid-August and Christmas/New Year) when the price of domestic flights, hotels and car rentals will be higher. You can also largely reduce this average cost if you opt for the camping solution and do your daily shopping at the supermarket to avoid expensive restaurants.
If you want to go through a travel agency, you should know that the price of a trip prepared by a professional will be higher than if you make your itinerary and reservations yourself. For example, count on around $6,000/person for a 3-week trip in 3-star hotels, bearing in mind that you'll need to add flights and meals and some optional activities. In the end, the bill can quickly approach $8,000for an all-inclusive package tour for two people.
Hawaii is an easily accessible and remotely bookable destination. So if your budget is limited, I encourage you to take the time to prepare and book your stay yourself. And that's just as well, because here you'll find a comprehensive guide and hundreds of articles to help you plan the trip of your dreams :-)
2Price of a plane ticket to Hawaii
Contrary to what you might think, your airfare to Hawaii won't be your biggest expense. If you plan well enough in advance and scan the promotions, you'll be able to find a very attractively priced ticket. Finally, overall, airfares to Hawaii are back to pre-Covid levels. I haven't seen any major increases or decreases since tourism picked up again, although ticket prices still tend to rise in line with inflation.
From Canada or the USA
Several Low Cost airlines operate flights from the USA (mainland) to Hawaii. As a result, it's possible to regularly find affordable fares especially since the arrival of Southwest on the Hawaiian market. Expect prices from $270 return from a few west coast cities and $500 return for the east coast, excepting Toronto which benefits from very attractive prices to Hawaii. Occasionally, some promos get tickets as low as $200 roundtrip for the West Coast and$400 roundtrip for the East Coast.
From Canada, promotions at $500 roundtrip happen a few times a year from Montreal. From Vancouver, prices sometimes drop to $300.
As an example, we paid $400/person for the multi-destination trip Seattle - Kona (Big Island) - Los Angeles from August 12 to 24, 2022, and purchased only 15 days before from Hawaiian Airlines and United.
On average, prices for a flight to Hawaii from Europe are in the 900€ return range. This can rise into the 1200€ range or even higher during the traditional summer school vacations and Christmas celebrations. However it's not uncommon for airlines to promote to Hawaii during the middle and low seasons. For example, if you look at the prices, you can find flights in the €750 range from Europe, with prices as low as €400 return on special offers from airlines like Condor.
Our tip for lower prices
It's possible to buy 2 separate tickets: the first to a city on the west coast of the USA or Canada (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oackland, San Jose, Seattle, Vancouver...), then a second to Hawaii. This could save you a nice sum on your round trip, especially since Southwest is serving Hawaii with very affordable fares and baggage included, departing from a few cities in California at the moment. So with this combination, count on fares in the 600€-700€ roundtrip range from Europe.
But beware, in the case of tickets purchased separately, the connection is no longer guaranteed between your flights. If your first flight is delayed, you won't be reimbursed if you miss the next one. This means that you need to allow enough time for your stopover to be completed safely, or even spend a night on site.
3Price of domestic flights in Hawaii
The price of domestic flights is an expense to consider when traveling to Hawaii. Chances are you'll have to travel from island to island, and the more islands you do, the higher the bill. The average is around 3 islands on a 2-3 week trip, but it's not uncommon to visit all 4 main islands on a trip of 3 weeks or more.
Overall prices are stable all year round. Expect to pay between $29 and $80 for each domestic flight with the exception of the end-of-year holidays when prices tend to double (mid-December to early January). Note also that a flight between Kauai and Big Island is bound to be more expensive than a flight between Oahu and Maui.
Our tips for saving money on domestic flights
- If you're planning to visit several islands, consider taking a multi-destination flight when you come to the archipelago, which will save you a domestic flight. Their prices are generally the same as classic round-trip flights, and the 4 main islands all have international airports.
- If you choose to travel with Southwest, the posted price includes free of charge 2 checked baggage items. Finally, prices sometimes tend to fluctuate with promotional operations at discounted prices several times a year. If you find a weekday one-way ticket for $29 or $39, don't delay in booking!
- If you choose to travel with Hawaiian Airlines, be aware that prices on domestic routes tend to rise rather than fluctuate. For this reason, remember to book your flights as soon as possible. You can benefit from a $10 discount on your checked baggage if you consider subscribing before you check in to the Hawaiian Miles loyalty program, membership of which is free (not to be confused with the payment card. It is possible to associate your membership number with your reservation after ticket purchase, as long as check-in has not been completed. Please note that the purchase of hold baggage is only possible once at the airport on the automatic kiosks (it is not possible to include it when purchasing tickets online).
4Budget accommodation in Hawaii
Accommodation-wise, expect relatively high prices compared to the rest of the USA and especially since COVID! In fact, the health crisis has strongly impacted the islands of the archipelago and accommodation prices have almost doubled since 2019 (except on Oahu, where the increase has been more reasonable). This increase concerns all types of accommodation, so unfortunately you won't escape it, and knowing that property prices have followed suit with a dizzying rise, there's not much chance of prices returning to their former levels, even if I think a slight drop remains conceivable in the months/years to come.
As the range of accommodation on the islands is so varied, prices fall within a very wide range depending on the type of accommodation and the level of comfort required. In other words, the more atypical your accommodation, the higher the potential price. But let me reassure you, there are ways to lower the bill, such as renting a condo.
Hotel prices in Hawaii
For a classic, unpretentious stay in a 2-star hotel (sometimes without air-conditioning or shared bathroom), prices start at around $130/night on Big Island (on the Hilo side), followed by Oahu (from $150/night), then Kauai (from $190/night) and climb to Maui, where it'll be tough to get in.strong>$150/night), then Kauai (from $190/night) and climb to Maui, where it will be difficult to find accommodation for less than $230 without going through another type of accommodation.
More generally, for one night (double room) in a 2 or even 3-star hotel, count $160 on Honolulu (where you'll most likely have to add parking fees), $270 on Big Island (around Kona), $300 on Kauai and $320 on Maui.
For a luxury stay, honeymoon-style, prices can explode, because in Hawaii, luxury comes with a hefty price tag. For 4-star hotels and above, prices start from $350 per night for the cheapest, with an average around $500 per night, not forgetting to add taxes to be paid locally. In some very high-end establishments, prices soar beyond $1000 a night! You've been warned!
Youth hostels and Airbnb
If you're on a smaller budget or you're traveling alone, you can push open the door to youth hostels, which are pretty welcoming, but still very expensive, starting at $100/night for one person in a dormitory. Yes, you read that right! Here are some of the hostels in Hawaii.
On the Airbnb side, it's better but still very expensive (private individuals have adopted hotel prices) and you systematically have to add cleaning costs, which are substantial for short stays. Prices are extremely disparate and it's impossible to give a range here. Service charges are of the order of 15%. However, this may be profitable for multi-day stays (3 days and more).
You can also find vans at over $200/day, shared rooms at $80/night or single accommodations at slightly lower rates than hotels, but you're still in for some very expensive stuff.
The price of camping in Hawaii
For tight budgets, you can opt for camping. Expect to pay around $30/night for a pitch in State Parks. If you don't feel like bringing your camping gear, some people rent vehicles with all the necessary camping equipment for around $150/day.
Note that wild camping is strictly forbidden in Hawaii. Also take care to choose your campsites carefully, as some are unfortunately not all very well frequented. Choose campsites far from towns for greater peace and quiet. Most campsites are generally situated by the sea.
Note that to obtain permission to camp in State Parks or County Parks, you'll need to acquire a permit from the County knowing that each island has its own regulations. Permit applications must be made in advance via forms depending on the area where the campsite is located. The system is explained on each island's official website. There are also private campsites located outside the parks, but there are quite few of these.
The right plan: rent a condo in Hawaii
What's a condo? They are small apartments or houses in condominiums, made available by their owners. They come in all sizes, from the small studio room economy to the 3-bedroom house. It's an excellent alternative to hotels and a great choice for staying within a budget I'd call "reasonable". Condos are comfortable with nice amenities (garden, pool, close ocean, beach and picnic equipment...) and are usually managed by a janitor company who looks after maintenance and security. This is the solution we have chosen for our stays in 2018, 2019 and 2022.
The big advantage of renting a condo is that you'll always have a kitchen, or at the very least a fridge and microwave. This way you can cook at home and lower your budget (restaurants are very expensive in Hawaii). In most cases, a parking space is allocated with the rental and it can also happen that owners leave all their beach equipment (towels, games, fins and masks, cooler, chairs...) which is still super convenient, especially for kids!
And what's the price of a condo in Hawaii? Prices start around $120/night and remain lower than hotels. A rental is generally worthwhile from 3 days and even more so if you're staying longer or with your family. Below 3 nights, it's pretty unlikely to be rented to you and the end-of-stay cleaning fee won't be advantageous. Of course, all linen, towels and toiletries are provided.
During our last stay in Hawaii of 12 days in August 2022, we were thus able to rent a condo for 4 people in Kona, 100m from the sea with ocean view, one bedroom with a King Size, a living room with sofa bed, a state-of-the-art, fully equipped kitchen, a large covered balcony (lanai) with sea view, a parking space and a sea-facing pool for $166/night. That's still a budget, but given the amenities, it's completely worth the price! For this, we went through Kona Vacation Rentals and were very pleased with the service. If there are only 2 of you, or with a small child, renting a small studio will be much cheaper (from $100/night).
To find a condo, you can visit VRBO, Booking or go through local rental agencies because the prices charged are generally lower (you'll find plenty by searching for "Hawaii vacation rentals" in your favorite search engine).
5The budget for food in Hawaii
Here's a factor not to be overlooked: the cost of food is very expensive in Hawaii, which is mainly due to the fact that the archipelago is located right in the middle of the Pacific and the supply of the majority of foodstuffs has to be done by plane or boat.
Restaurant prices are very high in Hawaii, bearing in mind that you'll need to add between 15 and 20% tip depending on the quality of service. On average count $50 for a restaurant meal with service bearing in mind that prices can vary from simple to triple depending on the restaurant you go to.
But fortunately there are plenty of small snacks or trucks where you can eat for less (on average $15-20 dish + drink) usually served in cardboard trays.
For ice cream lovers, also count on average $5to $8 for a Shave Ice, the unavoidable Hawaiian flavored crushed ice.
Our tip for eating local and cheap in Hawaii
For fans of raw fish, be aware that you can buy Ahi bowls (bowls of hot rice topped with marinated raw fish), a Hawaiian specialty for around $10 a bowl at supermarkets like Safeway, Big Save or Foodland.
To do this, head to the back of the store, where you'll discover an entire shelf of fish (salmon or tuna) in a variety of flavors. You can choose either to order a "bowl", or take rice and fish separately.
Shopping at the market or supermarket
If you want to reduce the price of your trip to Hawaii we recommend shopping in markets and supermarkets. The market option is the first to go if you want to eat good local produce but not necessarily cheaper than in a supermarket. These markets are called "farmers markets"because local growers come there to sell their fruit. Some are very popular, like the farmers market in Hilo on Big Island. Count $5 to $6 for a pineapple, which will give you an idea of local prices... (fruit prices have also doubled since 2019...)
At the supermarket prices will be higher than on the mainland. Some products are even overpriced there, like milk, packets of potato chips, cakes... basically all the products that can't be made locally. You'll have to completely rethink your diet if you want to stay within a decent budget. Chicken remains a good option.
Finally, we noticed that supermarket prices varied from island to island, with Kauai being the most expensive.
Our tips for saving money when shopping
- Some stores have preferential prices for certain types of product: For example, we found a gallon of mineral water at $1.25 at Big Save Market, while the same brand sold for $2.50 at Foodland and $3.50 at Safeway. Another example is pineapples, at $0.89 a pound at Safeway and often much more expensive elsewhere. In some cases, we even found huge discrepancies for certain products, ranging from simple to double depending on the store.
- Take dishes whose date is about to expire. There's usually -30% to -50% on them.
- Supermarket chains such as Safeway or Foodland have a loyalty card system that will enable you to get very substantial discounts on certain products. Don't hesitate to ask for the loyalty card at the checkout on your first visit, it's free.
6Budget for getting around Hawaii
Except on the island of Oahu where it's possible to use the bus network as long as you stay in town, we strongly recommend renting a car to get around the islands.
The price of a car rental in Hawaii
Surprisingly, car rental prices in Hawaii have largely dropped since the Covid crisis to 2019 levels. Rates start at $35-50/day for the rental of a small city car off-season and increase according to the type of vehicle chosen, the period, the rental company or intermediary chosen. The average price of a car rental in Hawaii is around $65/day in low and mid-season, and approaches $80/day during summer and the holiday season.
Our tip for cheaper car hire
To find a cheap car rental in Hawaii, don't hesitate to take a tour of Discount Hawaii Car Rental. This is a very reliable reservation center that was founded in 1999. Thanks to their local history, their prices are probably the most competitive in the archipelago. We systematically rent our cars with them every time you return to Hawaii, and we've never found a professional rental company cheaper.
Gas prices in Hawaii
Expect to pay more for fuel than on the mainland. To give you an idea, gasoline costs around $5 a gallon (October 2022 rate). As with many things, prices vary by island and area. To find the cheapest gas, don't hesitate to check out the GasBuddy website or app.
7Prices for activities and visits in Hawaii
It's hard to go to Hawaii without enjoying some activities in the archipelago. You may want to take a helicopter flight, take a boat trip, attend a Luau or do one of the many sporting activities available in the Hawaiian Islands.
But having fun in Hawaii comes at a price, because when you say Hawaii, you say expensive! So expect to put your hand in your wallet if you decide to indulge in a little excursion or activity, and all the more so since here too, prices have sometimes doubled since 2019...
It's hard to put a price list here, such is the sheer number of activities and excursions. But by way of information, you should know that helicopter tours start at $350 ($170 if you prefer a small plane of the Cessna/Air Van type). To see Manta rays it will be from $160 and renting a kayak will cost you in the $100 per person for the day. You'll have understood that the bill will rise quickly, while not forgetting that tipping is recommended for supervised excursions.
But fortunately, the vast majority of State Parks and County Parks located in the archipelago are free, even if the trend since last year has been towards pay parking. In fact, more and more payment terminals are springing up on the various State Park parking lots (which sometimes include beaches), generally at $15 a day ticket.
As for the 3 National Parks, they are paying:
- Volcanoes NP: $30, 7-day pass for 1 vehicle
- Haleakala NP: $30, 3-day pass for 1 vehicle
- Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Historical Park: $20, 7-day pass for 1 vehicle
If you plan to visit all 3 parks, the annual Hawaii Tri-park pass is sold for $55 at the entrances to each park, and which will allow you unlimited access for 1 year in the 3 National Parks listed above. Note that the America the beautiful pass is accepted in Hawaii's National Parks and will be very useful if you combine visiting Hawaii with other mainland parks.
There are also many paying spots on Oahu, a victim of its crowds. By way of example:
- Hanauma Bay State Park (Oahu): $25 per adult + $3 parking fee
- Diamond Head State Monument (Oahu): $5 per person or $10 per car
- Waimea Valley (Oahu): $25 per adult / $14 per child
- Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden (Big Island): $25 per adult / $12 per child
- Pearl Harbor (Oahu): access to the memorial is free, but admission to tours and museums ranges from $22 to $30. There are many passes available, see our dedicated article: Pearl Harbor: everything you need to know to organize your visit.
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We are Sandrine and Flo, French thirty-somethings. In 2019 we quit everything to live our dream, become nomads and travel around the world. We left with our baby, Lena, who was only 5 months old at the time. After a first trip around the Pacific Ocean by plane and a long 3 months stay in Hawaii, we left to discover Iceland for 3 months on board our 4WD pickup truck and truck camper. Then we continued our adventure in North America.
Today, if we can continue this adventure, it is above all thanks to our blog, Smartrippers! We created it one day in 2016, with the desire to share our good travel tips, without thinking that it would lead us there! We have developed it a lot over the years and have become experts on our 3 favorite destinations: Hawaii, Iceland and the American West. We now guide you to these destinations to help you plan the trip of your dreams!
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