๐Ÿ’ฐ Trip to Hawaii Cost: 2023 Travel Expense Breakdown

A woman in a bikini standing ankle-deep at the edge of a clear, blue ocean.

Known for its beautiful beaches and friendly people, Hawaii is an expensive US state that can be visited with a budget of $90 to $300 a day.

My almost two-week trip to Hawaii, which included a visit to Maui and the Big Island, cost a total of $2,761. In this post, I share:

  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected travel costs
  • ๐Ÿ’ก Budgeting tips
  • ๐Ÿ’ต How much cash to bring
  • โœˆ๏ธ My trip’s costs by category
  • ๐Ÿ“ My trip’s costs by islands

Disclosure: Lists By Lukiih is readers-supported. If you buy through an affiliate link on this post, I may earn a small commission. Thanks!

Is Hawaii Expensive To Travel To?

Hawaii is an expensive island to visit. It ranks as the most expensive state in the United States to travel to and has one of the highest cost of living.

Oahu, Hawaii’s most budget-friendly island, is more expensive than many other Caribbean island destinations. That said, Maui, Hawaii’s most expensive island, is cheaper than visiting some of the United States’ most expensive cities (e.g., New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Key West).

For a cheaper island destination that’s within the US territory, consider visiting Puerto Rico instead.

I took a trip to Puerto Rico and Hawaii within a few months of each other. Here’s how my daily budget compared between the two:

DestinationDaily Budget
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ท Puerto Rico$182
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Hawaii$208
Hawaii vs. Puerto Rico Trip Daily Budget

Hawaii is one of the most expensive vacations I’ve taken. Here’s how my Hawaii trip cost compares to the costs of other popular destinations I’ve visited:

DestinationDaily Budget
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iceland$306
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ท Costa Rica$233
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Hawaii$208
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฟ Belize$207
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ท Puerto Rico$182
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ช Peru$156
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain$155
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan$145
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy$131
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ Cambodia$123
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น Portugal$116
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan$102
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ Vietnam$86
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand$77
Daily Budget for Popular Destinations

How Much Is a Trip to Hawaii?

Here’s how much money you can expect to spend in Hawaii on a daily basis and during a one-week trip, depending on your travel style.

๐ŸŽ’ Hawaii Trip Cost for a Budget Traveler

A budget traveler can expect to spend approximately $90 per day or $630 for one week of travel in Hawaii, excluding flights.

To travel on a budget in Hawaii, here are some things you can do:

  • Island Choice: Consider traveling to the island of Oahu, Hawaii’s cheapest island. Here are 10 great things to do on Oahu that my friend, Matt, recommends.
  • Season: The best time to travel to Hawaii to get the best deals is during the off-season, which runs from April to mid-June and September through mid-October.

The summer months in Hawaii are a popular time to visit, but the travel peak season runs from December to March when visitors are escaping their home country’s winters.

  • Accommodation: Accommodation costs in Hawaii are very expensive. Consider staying at a hostel in Hawaii, which is generally $60 or more per night. A private room at a hostel can shoot up to $100 per night in some areas during the peak season.
  • Food: To keep your food costs under $15 a meal, eat at budget-friendly options like local establishments, food trucks (there are many in Hawaii), and fast food chains like L&L. Also, consider shopping at grocery stores, like Foodland, to make your own meals.
People sitting at several tables under a large canopy with food trucks on the side.
A food truck park in Maui.
  • Transportation: It’s hard to get around Hawaii without a car and car rentals can be expensive. You can aim to take advantage of Hawaii’s limited public transportation to minimize gas and rental costs, but keep in mind that the full Hawaiian experience requires a car.
  • Attractions: Tours and activities are usually $50 or more in Hawaii, so enjoy Hawaii’s many free natural attractions where you’ll only need to pay for parking on some occasions. Also, note that most of Hawaii’s national parks have an entrance fee, but not all do.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Hawaii Trip Cost for a Mid-Range Budget Traveler

A mid-range budget traveler, such as myself, can expect to spend approximately $250 to $300 per day or $1,750 to $2,100 for one week of travel in Hawaii, excluding flights.

I break down my Hawaii travel expenses by category below.

About My Hawaii Trip

To give context to the expenses below, hereโ€™s what you need to know about my trip to Hawaii:

๐Ÿ—“๏ธ 12 days. I spent 12 days in Hawaii visiting two islands. I spent eight days on Maui and four days on the Big Island.

Maui is Hawaii’s second most popular destination and also the most expensive one. Oahu is Hawaii’s most visited island and the most affordable one.

โ˜€๏ธ Low season. I went to Hawaii in September, which is considered the low season.

Hawaii’s high season runs from December to March when visitors are escaping their winter months.

โœŒ๏ธ Non-solo traveler. I traveled with at least one other person at all times, so I was able to split accommodation, food, and transportation costs.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-range budget. I donโ€™t aim to travel on a budget, but Iโ€™m thoughtful about how and where I spend. I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler and these expenses reflect that.

All costs listed in this post are per person and in US dollars.

A woman standing on red sand with a very blue ocean in the background.
My trip in Hawaii started with the Road to Hana in Maui.

Hawaii Trip’s Total Cost: $2,761

My almost two-week trip to Hawaii cost a total of $2,761, including flights. My Hawaii vacation is one of the most expensive trips I’ve taken.

My trip’s highlights are featured in this 5-day Maui itinerary and 4-day Big Island itinerary.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Cost Breakdown for Hawaii

Here’s a quick overview of my Hawaii travel expenses by category:

CategoryCost% of Total CostCost Per Day
โœˆ๏ธ Flights$26410%
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$1,66760%$139
๐Ÿœ Food$31511%$26
๐Ÿš— Transportation$46917%$39
โญ Activities$462%$4
Hawaii Trip’s Cost Breakdown

๐Ÿ’ต Daily Budget in Hawaii: $208

My Hawaii trip cost $208 per day, excluding flights.

Daily Budget
Excluding flights$208
Including flights$230
Hawaii Trip’s Cost Per Day

A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend $250 to $330 per day in Hawaii. This generally entails splitting a mid-range hotel that costs $200 per night, eating at $ to $$ restaurants, renting a standard car every day, and doing a mix of free activities and paid tours.

โœˆ๏ธ Flight Cost to Hawaii: $264

My trip to Hawaii plane tickets cost:

  • $103 for Los Angeles’s airport (LAX) to Kahului Airport (OGG) on Maui
  • $39 for Maui’s airport to Kona International Airport (KOA) on the Big Island
  • $123 for the Big Island’s airport to San Jose’s airport (SJC) in California

The most expensive months to fly to Hawaii are June and July and the cheapest time to fly to Hawaii are September and October, according to Skyscanner.

If you plan to island-hop, know that flight tickets between Hawaiian islands are in the $50 to $100 range for one-way trips. $39, which is how much I paid to fly from Maui to the Big Island, is a great deal (I traveled during the low season).

๐Ÿ  Accommodation Cost in Hawaii: $1,667

My average cost of accommodation in Hawaii was $139 per night. I was able to split accommodations with one other person at all times.

Here are all the places I stayed at in Hawaii and how much I paid for each one:

AccommodationTotal CostCost Per Night
Maui Resort$773$193
Maui Hotel$422$106
Big Island Airbnb$473$118
Hawaii Trip’s Accommodation Costs

Hawaii’s accommodations are expensive. On Maui, the most expensive island, the average price of a mid-range hotel room is $200 per night. A budget hotel is usually at least $120 per night. Luxury hotels easily surpass $900 per night. On Oahu, the cheapest island, a mid-range hotel can be about $150 per night.

A view of a condo community with a pool in the middle surrounded by palm trees.
Castle Kamaole Sands in South Maui.

๐Ÿ› Food Cost in Hawaii: $315

My average cost of food in Hawaii was $26 per day.

The average meal in Hawaii costs $25 per person. You can aim to keep your meal cost low by eating at local establishments, fast food chains like L&L and food trucks. I recommend getting the affordable fresh poke at Foodland, a local Hawaiian grocery store.

Cheapest Meals in Hawaii

Here are the cheapest meals I had in Hawaii:

Chicken plateL&L Hawaiian Barbecue (Big Island)$10
Rice & chicken bowlPanda Express (Maui)$12
Pancake & coffee808 Grindz Cafe (Big Island)$15
Cheapest Meals in Hawaii

Most Expensive Meals in Hawaii

Here are the most expensive meals I had in Hawaii:

Fish filletPaia Fish Market (Maui)$28
Pad Thai noodlesKiri Thai (Big Island)$22
Chicken plateHuli Huli Chicken (Maui)$18
Most Expensive Meals in Hawaii
A plate with a grilled fish fillet and some salad underneath.
A typical meal at Paia Fish Market on Maui.
A disposable container with fresh, raw fish and a bowl of rice.
Poke is a traditional dish in Hawaii that you’ll find in many places.

๐Ÿš™ Transportation Cost in Hawaii: $469

My average cost of transportation in Hawaii was $39 per day. I split rental cars with other travelers and had to use Uber once since I had a different departure time than others.

Here are all the transportation methods I took in Hawaii and how much I paid for each:

TransportationTotal CostCost Per Day
Car rental (Maui & Big Island)$370$31
Gas (Maui & Big Island)$73$6
Uber (to Big Island’s airport)$21
Twin Falls parking (Maui)$5
Hawaii Trip’s Transportation Costs

Expected Costs of Transportation in Hawaii

There are several ways to get around Hawaii and they can drastically vary in price, depending on how much inconvenience you’re willing to take on.

  • The best way to get around Hawaii is by driving a rental car and the average cost for a standard car is $30 per day, not including gas. Not having a rental car will limit what places you can get to. Keep in mind that you’ll also typically have to pay $2 to $10 for parking in some areas.
  • All Hawaiian islands have at least some bus public transportation system. Oahu has a decent bike-sharing system where you can pay $12 for unlimited rides for 24 hours. Maui has a limited bus system and it costs $2 for a one-way bus ride.

๐Ÿคฟ Entertainment Cost in Hawaii: $46

My average cost of activities in Hawaii was $4 per day. Unlike many of my other trips, I didn’t spend much on attractions in Hawaii. I primarily did free activities and enjoyed the island’s natural beauty.

Here are all the activities I paid for in Hawaii and how much each cost:

Dragon fruit farm tour (Maui)$45
Haleakalฤ Sunrise (Maui)$1*
Hawaii Trip’s Entertainment Costs

The Haleakalฤ sunrise, Maui’s most popular activity, has a $30 entrance fee, but I brought my Nationals Park Pass, which waived the cost. Instead, I only had to pay the $1 reservation fee.

Learn how to catch the epic Haleakalฤ sunrise (or sunset).

A woman standing on a mountain with clouds and a sunrise in the background.
The highlight of my Hawaii trip: Haleakalฤ sunrise.

Free Activities and Attractions in Hawaii

Tours and activities are usually $50 or more in Hawaii (the popular manta ray snorkeling tour on the Big Island is usually $100 or more per person).

If you’re on a tight budget, a great way to save money is to enjoy Hawaii’s many free natural attractions where you’ll only need to pay parking fees if necessary.

Free Activities on Maui

Here are all the activities I did in Maui that were free:

  • Road to Hana, Maui’s second most popular activity, is a two-day road trip featuring waterfalls, hikes, and more. There’s no entrance fee, but you have to pay for parking and a rental car.

Check out all 40+ stops on the Road to Hana.

  • Kihei Beach is a decent snorkeling area that also has tide pools to explore.
  • Papalaua Beach is a local spot with strong waves.
  • Honokeana Cove is a popular and beautiful snorkeling spot.
  • Honolau Bay is another popular and beautiful snorkeling spot that gets crowded if you don’t get there early.
A view of a blue ocean water with a sailboat and people snorkeling.
Honolau Bay in Maui.
Free Activities on the Big Island

Here are all the activities I did on the Big Island that were free:

  • Kapalua Coastal Trail is a scenic easy trail with beautiful views into the ocean.
  • Captain Cook Monument Trail is a medium-difficult trail that leads to clear and stunning snorkeling.
  • Kilauea Iki is a hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where you get to walk over a solidified lava lake at the crater.
  • Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is a beach where I got to see some sea turtles resting.
  • Kukio Bay is a non-crowded snorkeling spot where I saw a sea turtle swimming in the ocean.
Captain Cook leads to Kealakekua Bay.

Cost Breakdown by Island in Hawaii

Here are my trip expense breakdowns for Maui and the Big Island, the two Hawaiian islands I visited.

๐Ÿ–๏ธ Maui Cost Breakdown

I spent a total of $1,890 for eight days in Maui, so my average cost was $237 per day.

I stayed at Hyatt Regency Resort for a wedding and split a mid-range hotel, Castle Kamaole Sands, with several people before staying at the resort. I had a rental car every day and did mostly free activities except for a dragon fruit farm tour.

Maui is Hawaii’s most expensive island, and an average day there can easily be $300 for a mid-range budget traveler.

CategoryTotal CostCost Per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$1,195$149
๐Ÿ Food$223$28
๐Ÿš— Transportation$333$42
โญ Activities$46$6
Maui Trip’s Costs by Category

See great things to do on Maui and how to pack for a trip there.

A woman standing next to a sign that says it's dangerous to approach the waterfall in the background.
A waterfall in Maui.

๐Ÿคฟ Big Island Cost Breakdown

I spent a total of $862 for four days on the Big Island, so my average cost was $215 per day.

The Big Island is neither the most expensive nor the cheapest island in Hawaii and you can expect to spend $200 per day for a mid-range budget trip.

CategoryTotal CostCost Per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$473$118
๐Ÿ Food$92$23
๐Ÿš— Transportation$136$34
Big Island Trip’s Costs by Category

Check out great things to do on the Big Island.

A woman standing on black rocks with a sun setting into the ocean in the background.
Sunset at the Big Island, Hawaii.

Do You Need Cash in Hawaii?

Hawaii, like many US states, has a good credit card infrastructure system, but you’ll still need cash for certain places, so bring some cash.

Here are some tips on bringing and using cash in Hawaii:

๐Ÿ’ต 1. Certain places in Hawaii are cash-only.

Some places in Hawaii where you’ll need cash include:

  • Small, local food stalls on the Road to Hana (e.g., Huli Huli Chicken, where you’ll need at least $20 per person)
  • Certain food trucks (Hawaii has popular food truck areas)
  • Markets (e.g., Maui Swap Meet has a $0.50 admissions fee, some vendors at Maui Gift and Craft prefer cash)
  • Tipping tour guides or other service workers
An open-air market with a sign that says "50 cents".
Maui Swap Meet has a 50-cent admission fee.

๐Ÿง 2. Bring at least $50 worth of cash to Hawaii.

Bringing $50 worth of cash will, at a minimum, cover a meal for two people from vendors on the side of the road.

I kept my cash in my crossbody pouch, but if you want extra protection against pickpocketing, carry a hidden money belt instead.

๐Ÿ’ฐ 3. Tipping is customary and expected in Hawaii.

Like everywhere in the United States, tipping is customary and expected in Hawaii. In general, good service should receive a 15+% tip and exceptional service should receive a 20+% tip.

  • At restaurants, a 15% to 20% tip is normal for tourists and locals.
  • For valets, a $2 tip is standard when they bring your car to you.
  • For tours, a 10% tip is standard for a group tour and 15% to 20% is standard for private tours.
  • For massages and spas, a 10$ to 20% tip is standard.

Hawaii Trip Planner

To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planner below and use it as a starting point. The planner has country-specific travel information as well as an itinerary, packing list, and map with key places pinned.

The trip planner is built on Notion, which is what I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.

Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of the Maui trip planning template (built on Notion).
Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of the Big Island trip planning template (built on Notion).

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.

๐Ÿง‹ This site is run entirely by me, Lukiih. I spend hours researching each destination to ensure its accuracy. If you find my tips helpful, say thanks by buying me bubble tea!

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