๐Ÿ’ฐ My 2024 Hawaii Trip Cost: A Budget Breakdown

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

Hawaii, an island known for beautiful beaches and friendly locals, can be visited with a budget of $95 to $250 a day.

My almost two-week trip to Hawaii, which included visits 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

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Is Hawaii Expensive To Travel To?

Hawaii is the most expensive state in the United States to travel to. The island relies on imported goods, has a high cost of living, and offers expensive tourist hot spots and accommodations due to high demand.

Oahu, Hawaii’s most budget-friendly island, is more expensive than many other Caribbean island destinations.

However, Maui, Hawaii’s most expensive island, is cheaper than some of the US’s most expensive cities (e.g., New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Key West).

๐Ÿ๏ธ Is Hawaii Cheaper Than Puerto Rico for Vacation?

If youโ€™re looking for an island escape within the US territory, Puerto Rico is cheaper than Hawaii for a vacation. It isnโ€™t easy to visit Hawaii for less than $200 per day, but thatโ€™s doable in Puerto Rico.

On average, Puerto Rico is about $50 per day cheaper than even Oโ€™ahu, Hawaiiโ€™s most budget-friendly island.

I took a trip to Puerto Rico and Hawaii within a few months of each other. I visited the former during its high season and the latter during its low season. Puerto Rico was still cheaper than Hawaii per day. Hereโ€™s how my daily budget compared between the two:

DestinationDaily Budget
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ท Puerto Rico$182
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Hawaii$209
Hawaii vs. Puerto Rico Trip Daily Budget

See all my daily budget for each destination I’ve visited.

How Much Is a Trip to Hawaii?

This section covers estimated trip costs depending on your travel style. I share my actual travel expenses further below.

๐ŸŽ’ Budget Traveler โ€“ Hawaii Trip Cost

A budget traveler can expect to spend approximately $95 per day or $475 for five days of travel in Hawaii, excluding flights.

Here’s what a budget traveler’s cost breakdown can look like:

CategoryCost per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$50
๐Ÿ— Food$20
๐Ÿš™ Transportation$15
๐ŸŒ‹ Entertainment$10
Hawaii Budget for a Budget Traveler

Traveling Hawaii on a Budget

To travel to Hawaii on a budget, here are some things youโ€™ll need to do:

  • ๐Ÿ๏ธ Island Choice โ€“ Travel to Oahu, Hawaii’s cheapest island. Here are 10 great things to do on Oahu that my friend Matt recommends.
  • ๐Ÿ  Accommodation โ€“ Housing in Hawaii is expensive. A dorm-style hostel or budget hotel typically costs $50 a night in Oahu and jumps to about $60 a night in Maui. A private room increases to $100 per night in some areas during the peak season.
  • ๐Ÿš™ Transportation โ€“ Getting around Hawaii without a car is hard, and car rentals can be expensive. You can take advantage of the limited public transportation to minimize gas and rental costs, but keep in mind that the full Hawaiian experience requires a car.
  • ๐Ÿ— Food โ€“ To keep 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. You can 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.
Food truck park in Maui.
  • ๐ŸŒ‹ Entertainment โ€“ Tours and activities are usually $50 or more in Hawaii, so enjoy the many free natural attractions where you’ll only need to pay for parking occasionally. Most of Hawaii’s national parks have an entrance fee, but not all do.
  • โ˜€๏ธ Travel Season โ€“ The best time to travel to Hawaii for 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.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-Range Budget Traveler โ€“ Hawaii Trip Cost

A mid-range budget traveler like myself can expect to spend approximately $250 per day or $1,250 for five days of travel in Hawaii, excluding flights. I break down my trip expenses by travel category below.

About My Hawaii Trip

To give context to the expenses below, here’s what you need to know about my trip:

  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธย 12 days โ€“ I spent 12 days in Hawaii visiting two islands:

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

  • โ˜€๏ธ Low season โ€“ 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 Group travel. I traveled with at least one other person at all times, so we were able to split some costs, such as housing.
  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ Mid-range budget โ€“ I consider myself a mid-range budget traveler, and these expenses reflect that. I donโ€™t aim to travel on a budget, but Iโ€™m thoughtful about how and where I spend.
  • ๐Ÿ€ Self-funded โ€“ My trips are self-funded, so I paid for everything listed below. None of my excursions or experiences are sponsored.

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

A woman standing on the cliff of red sand looking out at a turquoise ocean.
Maui in Hawaii.

Hawaii Trip’s Total Cost: $2,761

My almost two-week trip to Hawaii cost a total of $2,761, including flights.

See the highlights of my trip in these Maui and Big Island itineraries.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Cost Breakdown for Hawaii

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

CategoryCost% of TotalDaily Budget
โœˆ๏ธ Flights$2258%
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$1,66760%$139
๐Ÿ— Food$31511%$26
๐Ÿš™ Transportation$50819%$42
๐ŸŒ‹ Entertainment$462%$4
Hawaii Trip’s Cost Breakdown

๐Ÿ—“๏ธ Daily Budget in Hawaii: $209

My Hawaii trip cost $209 per day, excluding my round-trip flights from and to the United States.

Daily Budget
Excluding flights$209
Including flights$230
Hawaii Trip’s Cost Per Day

A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend about $250 per day in Hawaii. This generally entails splitting a mid-range hotel that costs $180 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: $225

Here’s how much my round-trip flight from the West Coast of the United States to Hawaii cost:

California โ†’ Maui$103
Big Island โ†’ California$123
Hawaii Tripโ€™s Flight Costs

A round-trip flight between the continental US and Hawaii that costs under $150 is considered cheap; those flights typically cost over $200.

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 others at all times.

Here are the accommodations I stayed at and how much I paid for each:

AccommodationTotal CostCost per Night
Maui resort$773$193
Maui hotel$422$106
Big Island Airbnb$473$118
Hawaii Trip’s Accommodation Costs

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.

A mid-range budget traveler can expect to spend about $60 per day on food in Hawaii.

Cheapest Meals in Hawaii

Here are the most affordable meals I ate during my trip:

Chicken plateL&L Hawaiian Barbecue (Big Island)$10
Rice and chicken bowlPanda Express (Maui)$12
Pancake and coffee808 Grindz Cafe (Big Island)$15
Cheapest Meals in Hawaii
A disposable container with fresh, raw fish and a bowl of rice.
Poke in Hawaii.

You can 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.

Most Expensive Meals in Hawaii

Here are the most expensive meals I ate during my trip:

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.
Paia Fish Market in Maui.

๐Ÿš™ Transportation Cost in Hawaii: $508

My average cost of transportation in Hawaii was $42 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 the transportation methods I took and how much I paid for each:

TransportationTotal CostCost Per Day
Car rental (Maui & Big Island)$370$31
Gas (Maui & Big Island)$73$6
Kahului Airport (Maui) โ†’ Kona Airport (Big Island)$39
Uber (Big Island)$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 the prices can drastically vary, depending on the level of inconvenience youโ€™re willing to accept.

  • Rental car โ€“ The best way to get around Hawaii is by renting a car; not having a rental car will limit your options. The average cost for a standard car is $30 per day, not including gas. Keep in mind that you’ll also typically have to pay $2 to $10 for parking in some areas.
  • Public transportation โ€“ 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.
  • Island hop โ€“ 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).

๐Ÿคฟ Entertainment Cost in Hawaii: $46

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

Here are all the activities and attractions I paid for 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.

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

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

Free Things To Do in Hawaii

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.

In Hawaii, tours and activities are usually $50 or more per person (for example, the popular manta ray snorkeling tour on the Big Island is generally $100 or more per person).

๐Ÿ๏ธ Free Things To Do on Maui

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

  • Road to Hana โ€“ Maui’s second most popular activity, the Road to Hana 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.
  • Kihei Beach โ€“ Kihei Beach is a decent snorkeling area with tide pools to explore.
  • Papalaua Beach โ€“ This is a local spot with strong waves.
  • Honokeana Cove โ€“ This is a popular and beautiful snorkeling spot.
  • Honolau Bay โ€“ Another popular and beautiful snorkeling spot, Honolau Bay 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.
๐Ÿข Free Things To Do on the Big Island

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

  • Kapalua Coastal Trail โ€“ This is a scenic, easy trail with beautiful ocean views.
  • Captain Cook Monument Trail โ€“ Captain Cook is a medium-difficult trail that leads to clear and stunning snorkeling.
  • Kilauea Iki โ€“ This is a hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. At the crater, you can walk over a solidified lava lake.
  • Punalu’u Black Sand Beach โ€“ This beach is known to have sea turtles resting.
  • Kukio Bay โ€“ 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

Below are my trip expense breakdowns for Maui and the Big Island. These two major islands are often featured in first-timers’ travel itineraries.

๐Ÿ–๏ธ Maui Trip’s Total Cost: $1,890

During my eight-day trip to Maui, I averagedย $237 in daily travel expenses.

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

CategoryTotal CostCost Per Day
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$1,195$149
๐Ÿ— Food$223$28
๐Ÿš™ Transportation$333$42
๐ŸŒ‹ Entertainment$46$6
Maui Trip’s Costs by Category

See great things to do on Maui.

A woman holding a dragon fruit next to a dragon fruit cactus.
The Maui 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.

๐Ÿคฟ Big Island Trip’s Total Cost: $862

During my four-day trip to the Big Island, I averagedย $215 in daily travel expenses.

I spent $0 on entertainment and primarily enjoyed hiking and snorkeling the beautiful beaches on the Big Island.

CategoryTotal CostDaily Budget
๐Ÿ  Accommodation$473$118
๐Ÿ— Food$92$23
๐Ÿš™ Transportation$136$34
๐Ÿ๏ธ Entertainment$0$0
Big Island Trip’s Costs by Category

Check out great things to do on the Big Island.

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

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

Do You Need Cash in Hawaii?

Like other places in the United States, Hawaii has an excellent credit card infrastructure, so youโ€™ll only need to carry a bit of cash.

Below are tips on bringing and using cash in Hawaii.

๐Ÿง 1. Carry about $50 worth of cash per day in Hawaii.

On a typical day, a mid-range budget traveler in Hawaii will need about $50 in cash to cover food and attractions. At a minimum, $50 will cover a meal for two people from vendors on the side of the road.

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

๐Ÿ’ต 2. Certain places in Hawaii are cash-only.

While credit cards are commonly used in Hawaii, I still had to use cash a few times during my trip. Here are some of the places that were cash-only in Hawaii:

  • Local food stalls โ€“ Huli Huli Chicken on the Road to Hana was cash-only and cost about $20 per person.
  • Food trucks โ€“ Hawaii has popular food truck areas, and I went to several that were all cash-only.
  • Markets โ€“ For example, Maui Swap Meet has a $0.50 admissions fee that’s cash-only, and some vendors at Maui Gift and Craft prefer cash.
  • Tipping โ€“ Tipping service workers is typically done with cash.
An open-air market with a sign that says "50 cents".
Maui Swap Meet.

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

Like the rest of the United States, a 10% to 20% tip is customary and expected in Hawaii. Good service should receive a 15% to 18% tip, and exceptional service should receive a 20% tip.

  • Dining out โ€“ A 15% to 20% tip is standard for tourists and locals.
  • Valets โ€“ A $2 tip is standard when they bring your car to you.
  • Tours โ€“ A 10% tip is standard for a group tour, and 15% to 20% is standard for private tours.
  • Massages and spas โ€“ A 10% to 20% tip is standard for these places.

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, an itinerary, a packing list, and a map with key places pinned.

The trip planner is built on Notion, which 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 Big Island trip planner.
Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of Maui trip planner.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below.

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