Is Hawaii expensive? Average Cost of Travel

Is Hawaii Expensive? Average Cost of Travel to Hawaii

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Hawaii is every tourist’s dream destination. You can’t help but fall in love with the state’s beautiful coastlines, skylines, mountain ranges, amazing weather, and abundant side attractions. The Island state is among the most beautiful places in the world.
But is Hawaii expensive? How expensive a visit to Hawaii can get depends on the locations you want to visit, the duration of your stay, your choice of accommodation and many other factors. Visiting Hawaii requires proper preparation and planning to get the best deals and enjoy your holiday without breaking the bank.

Is Hawaii Expensive to Holiday?

The short answer to this question is Yes, while the long answer is it depends. Hawaii is one of the world's most expensive places to visit and the most expensive state in the US. From accommodation to transport down to food, prices in Hawaii are generally higher than the national average.
Within the state, the living expenses vary across Hawaiian islands. Generally speaking, Oahu is the most expensive island to visit. This article covers all you need to know about the cost of a trip to Hawaii, from airfare to accommodation, food, and side attractions. It’ll help you draw your budget and plan adequately.

How Expensive Is a Trip to Hawaii? Let's Break it Down

How Much Does a Trip to Hawaii Cost on Average?

A trip to Hawaii costs an average of $2000 to $3500 for one person. However, the actual cost of a Hawaii visit depends on several factors. A luxury trip costs way more than a budget trip. The choice of lodging, local transportation, inter-island airfares, tourist attractions, and stay duration are some factors that determine how much your trip will cost.

How Much Money Do You Need for Hawaii? Average Daily & Weekly Cost

Daily expenses in Hawaii include food, accommodation, transportation, and tourist attractions. The average daily expenditure for one person is between $300 to $500, and a week’s trip will cost between $2100 to $3500. Two weeks trip for a solo traveller costs between $4200 to $7000.
The average costs of couples trips are slightly cheaper than that of two solo trips because of shared accommodation and transportation (rental car). A one-week couple trip costs between $3600 to $6000 while two weeks couple trip costs between $7200 to $12,000.

Cost of Flights to Hawaii: How Much Is a Plane Ticket to Hawaii?

Flight tickets will take a huge chunk of your travel budget, particularly international flights. You can get direct flights from any city within the US, but flights from the west are less expensive than flights from the East and Midwest. Flight tickets from West Coast states cost $500 on average, while those from the East Coast cost an average of $920. To find the best deals, it’s best to book two to three months in advance.
Direct flights are not available from outside the US. You’ll find good deals on multiple airlines' websites if you're coming from Europe or Australia. A round trip from London’s Heathrow airport to Honolulu International Airport on Lufthansa (economy) costs £987 on average, while Virgin Atlantic flights to Honolulu from London cost £1,038. You can get flights on multiple airlines from £700 to £800. Westjet offers the cheapest flights with round trips from Heathrow to Kahului airport, costing an average of £682.
You should also factor in the cost of checking in baggage and airport parking (if applicable) as it is not included in the ticket cost.

Accommodation Prices

The accommodation cost depends on your choice of lodging. Like everything else in Hawaii, hotel prices are higher during peak tourist seasons than during shoulder seasons. Hotel rooms in beachfront 4-star resorts cost $380 to $450 per night on average, while 3-star hotels cost an average of $280 to $350 per night.
Vacation rentals are a cheaper alternative to hotels and resorts. You can get Airbnb private rooms from $45 to $90 per night. Entire guesthouses and apartments in Puna, Hawaii county cost between $81 and $170 per night. Luxury beachfront homes can cost up to $1000 per night. Keep in mind that the tax rate of rental homes ranges from 18% to 25%.
However, some of Hawaii's islands have imposed new restrictions on short-term rentals. Hawaii’s most popular island, Oahu, recently passed a law making 90 days the minimum duration for short-term rentals. So, you won’t be able to rent a vacation home on the island if you’re not staying for at least 3 months.
Hostels and camping are the most affordable accommodation types if you're visiting Hawaii on a budget. Hostel costs between $35 and $75 per night on Hawaii’s islands. If you’re making the trip as a couple or in a small group, you could consider camping n one of Hawaii’s parks. Camping permits cost $52 for a 5-day site and $32 for a 3-day site. The ticket allows a maximum of 10 persons, 2 tents, and 3 vehicles per site.

Is Hawaii Expensive to Eat Out? - The Cost of Food at Markets and Supermarkets

Feeding in Hawaii can be very expensive, especially eating out. The average price of food and drink for one person per day in a Hawaiian restaurant is around $70. One way to save money if you’re on a budget is to eat locally. You can get a local dish from food trucks or local markets for $15 per meal, making a total of $45 per day. It is an opportunity to try out many of Hawaii’s great food.
If you’re staying in a rental home, cooking will save you the cost of eating out. You can shop for ingredients and fresh vegetables at farmer’s markets at significantly lower prices than in supermarkets. Items not manufactured locally generally cost more.
Tax on alcohol is high in Hawaii, so if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to limit your alcohol purchase to the barest minimum. A drink in a regular restaurant or bar costs about $10 to $15, and the average price of a bottle of wine is $20 to $30.

Cost of Transportation in Hawaii

You’ll have to move around Hawaii to visit its attractions during your stay, and transportation in Hawaii is quite expensive. There are no trams or trains; buses are the only means of public transport within each island. The Big Island and Oahu have reliable bus networks. If you want to go on inter-island tours, you’ll have to go by air or ferry as there are no provisions for road transport between islands.
Bus travel saves costs, especially if you’re on a budget. The average price of bus tickets on the Big Island is between $2 and $10, depending on your destination. But car rentals are best if you want more freedom in exploring all the island attractions. Although renting a car will cost you more, you’ll be able to explore the Island at your pace. Car rental companies typically charge between $50 and $75 per day.
When budgeting for car rental, remember you will have to spend money on gas and parking fees. You can check for facilities that offer free packing, but they’re usually far from attraction sites, and you might have to trek a bit. Vacation home rentals come with free parking space, saving you the cost of hotel parking.

Island Hopping in Hawaii

Every Hawaii island has unique attractions and scenery, so island hopping is common among tourists. If you want to go island hopping in Hawaii, you’ll have to make an extra travel budget for flights because the only way to move from one island to another is by air.
Hawaiian airlines, Moukele Airlines, and Southwest Airlines offer inter-island airline services between the six airports across Hawaii’s major islands. Flight tickets between the main islands range between $70 to $150 for a round trip. Inter-island flights take from 20 minutes to 2.5 hours.
Hawaii also has an inter-island ferry system, but its operations are limited. The Maui-Lanai Expedition Ferry is the only inter-island ferry and runs only between Maui and Lanai Islands. A ferry ticket costs $30, and the trip takes about an hour.

How Expensive Are Leisure and Activities in Hawaii?

Hawaii is rife with attractions and leisure activities. Their prices vary across the islands, with attractions in Oahu being the most expensive. The Island state has 3 National Parks and numerous state and county parks, as well as plenty of white beaches. While the beaches are all accessible, not all the parks are free. Most state and county parks are free, but you’ll have to pay for parking. The National Parks, however, are not free. You’ll have to pay an entry fee to access the park.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Haleakala National Park charge $30 per vehicle, valid for 7 days and 3 days, respectively. The pass admits all the occupants of the vehicle. If you’re entering via public transport or cycling, the cost goes up to $15 per person. Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Historical Park is the most expensive national Park. Entry costs $120 per vehicle with 7 days validity?
Pearl Habor National Memorial is one of Oahu's most popular tourist destinations. Entrance is free, but access to its museums costs from $15 to $40. Hanauma Bay State Park is another popular attraction. Admission costs $12 per person with a $3 parking fee.

Pro Tip: When Is the Least Expensive Time to Go to Hawaii?

The shoulder seasons of April to May and September to October are the least expensive times to visit Hawaii. Visitors troop into the state in summer and winter, making those times more expensive and crowded. Spring and fall see the smallest tourist crowds, airfare and accommodations are cheaper, plus the weather is much better. Planning your trip for these seasons will save you lots of costs.

Do You Need a Visa to Visit Hawaii?

You’ll need a valid travel document, such as a visa or ESTA to visit Hawaii if you're a foreign national. The application fees for Hawaii visas vary, with the cheapest one being $160. ESTA is available to citizens of the countries that are part of the US Visa Waiver Program. Most European countries are part of the VWP, and their citizens do not require a visa to visit Hawaii. Citizens of Australia are eligible to apply for the ESTA too.
An ESTA grants you entry into Hawaii (and the US in general) for tourism and business purposes for a maximum of 90 days at a time. The travel authorisation is valid for two years or at your passport's expiration if it expires before the two years. It does not permit you to work or study in Hawaii. You’ll need to apply for a student or employment visa for that.
The ESTA application process is easy. Simply complete the ESTA online application form. You’ll be required to provide basic details such as name, date of birth, address, passport details and some eligibility questions. It usually takes less than 15 minutes to complete the form and is often processed between a few hours and a few days.

So, How Expensive Is Hawaii? The Takeaway

Although the state is known to be an expensive tourist destination, it is only as expensive as you want it to be. There are several ways of saving money during your stay.
Cooking your meals or buying meals from local food stands instead of restaurants is a great way to eat cheaply. To reduce the cost of accommodation, you could opt for hostels, camp out, or share a rental home with friends. Using the public transportation system or splitting car rental costs with friends will save you costs on transportation.
Shopping at local markets instead of supermarkets is also a good way to save money. Don’t forget to take advantage of the free attractions such as the beaches and hiking trails. Travelling with your own beach gear will also save you the cost of hiring one whenever you go to the beach.

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.


Breakfast in Hawaii costs $15 on average, lunch about $25, and dinner $45 in restaurants. You’ll get cheaper meals at local food stands.
It depends on how long you’re staying and your preferred choice of accommodation, transportation, and attractions. On average, you should budget between $1500 and $2000 for a 3-day trip.
The state generates much of its revenue from tourism and the hospitality industry. The constant presence of tourists is partly responsible for the high cost of living in the state.
If you're going on a solo trip to Hawaii for 10 days, you should take at least $4000.

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