This is how much you'll need to visit Hawaii.
General: DIY / How-To
We get this question a lot from visitors who want to see the islands, "How much will it cost me to vacation in Hawaii?" It's not cheap, but it can be a lot less expensive than most people think if done correctly. Let's go over the big costs you need to plan and budget for.
The first big cost in a Hawaiian vacation is getting to the Hawaiian Islands. This varies based on the season and demand as well as your starting location. There are plenty of deals to be had but let's go over some rough airfare prices based on per person and round trip.
If you're coming from the east coast you can expect to pay around $700 to $1,200. Airline tickets from the midwest can range in the $700 to $1,100 range. If you're closer on the west coast, you can snag tickets in the $500 to $700 range. The key here is to shop around, plan in advance, and watch for deals. Read more about the Best & Cheapest Time To Book & Travel To Hawaii.
There is a huge range of options when it comes to lodging. The first is the type of property that you want: hotel or condo / house. The next thing is the class level of that property which ranges from budget to luxury. The third variable is location and proximity to the beach. The fourth is the type of view you have: ocean or city / garden / mountain.
A hotel often has a higher per night cost compared to a condo / house, but a condo / house often has a minimum stay requirement. Properties right on the beach are often more expensive than those that are inland a bit. Anything with an ocean view is likely to be pricier than an equivalent non-ocean view.
On top of the nightly rate that you pay, you'll also be paying taxes. If you're at a hotel or resort then expect a daily "resort fee" (see Hotel & Resort Fees & Taxes) of around $20-$30 per night. Got a car to park? That may add on $10 to $30 per night! If you chose a condo or house you may have a $200 to $400 cleaning fee as well.
So how do you budget this? Well, if you're at a high end resort you could be spending $500+ per night. If you're at a lower class hotel you could get by under $200 per night total. Our experience tells us that most people are somewhere in the middle so we suggest budgeting around $300 per night.
Do you even need a rental car? In most cases, we'd say yes! To learn more about this topic please read Do I Need A Rental Car In Hawaii? and Do I Need To Rent A Car In Waikiki?.
Rentals cars can be a pretty decent deal, or they can be ridiculously expensive. A lot just depends on the season you travel due to simple supply and demand economics. I've rented cars in Hawaii for close to $20 a day but I've also paid three times that for a similar car at a peak time.
The first rule on renting a car is to shop around. I've saved over 50% just by shopping around as one renter had prices twice as higher as another. Twice! The second rule is to get an economy car if possible.
Unless you have a lot of people and need a big car, a smaller car is the way to go. Small cars are cheaper, get better fuel economy, are easier to drive on our smaller streets, and way easier to park in our tiny parking garages and spots (yes, our parking spots are smaller than many mainland parking spots).
Budget around $40 per day for a rental car and you should be okay. If you're staying or parking in Waikiki then you'll also want to read up on Free & Cheap Waikiki Parking.
Food & Dining
Half the fun of a vacation is eating at restaurants and sampling new cuisine. This adds up fast and eating in Hawaii is more expensive than most mainland states.
The solution? If you're at a condo / house you can make many meals yourself and just eat out less. If you're in a hotel, try buying some fruit or cereal from a grocery store or Costco and eat breakfast in your hotel room. This will save a lot of money and time each day. For lunch do something fast and cheap and spend your food money at dinner.
Look for happy hour deals if you plan to enjoy some cocktails. When eating out, stick with water rather than tea or soda which can run $3-$4 at many restaurants here. Avoid hotel restaurants as these are notoriously expensive. Get out and look for local places with cheaper prices, they're everywhere.
It all adds up so you can save a lot on dining out if you are careful. As for a daily meal budget? I would budget $75 per adult per day and $30 per child per day (and don't forget that Tipping is expected at table service restaurants here).
This one is tough because of the variables involved. It all depends on what type of vacationer you are. If you like to hike, hang out at the beach, and just explore then you're in luck because those are generally free activities. If you like to zipline, go on boat tours, take surf lessons, and so on then you could drop several hundred dollars per day.
It just all depends on your travel style as well as how many priced activities you want to do in your time here. Want even more savings on your activities? Then read Free Things To Do In Hawaii.
Hopefully these tips will help you save some of your hard earned cash when you take your Hawaiian vacation. For more tips be sure to also read Hawaii Vacationing On A Budget and Make Your Impossible Trip Happen With These 10 Tips To Save Cash.
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