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.
- 💰 Expected travel costs
- 💡 Budgeting tips
- 💵 How much cash to bring
- ✈️ My trip’s costs by category
- 📍 My trip’s costs by islands
- Is Hawaii Expensive?
- How Much Is a Trip?
- About My Trip
- Total Trip Cost: $2,761
- Cost Breakdown by Island
- Do You Need Cash in Hawaii?
- Hawaii Trip Planner
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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:
|🇵🇷 Puerto Rico||$182|
💰 Trip Daily Budget for Popular Destinations
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:
|🇨🇷 Costa Rica||$233|
|🇵🇷 Puerto Rico||$182|
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.
🎒 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.
- 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.
💰 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, here’s what you need to know about my trip to Hawaii:
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.
☀️ 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.
✌️ 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.
💰 Mid-range budget. I don’t aim to travel on a budget, but I’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.
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.
💰 Cost Breakdown for Hawaii
Here’s a quick overview of my Hawaii travel expenses by category:
|Category||Cost||% of Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
💵 Daily Budget in Hawaii: $208
My Hawaii trip cost $208 per day, excluding flights.
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.
✈️ 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).
🏠 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:
|Accommodation||Total Cost||Cost Per Night|
|Big Island Airbnb||$473||$118|
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.
🍛 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 plate||L&L Hawaiian Barbecue (Big Island)||$10|
|Rice & chicken bowl||Panda Express (Maui)||$12|
|Pancake & coffee||808 Grindz Cafe (Big Island)||$15|
Most Expensive Meals in Hawaii
Here are the most expensive meals I had in Hawaii:
|Fish fillet||Paia Fish Market (Maui)||$28|
|Pad Thai noodles||Kiri Thai (Big Island)||$22|
|Chicken plate||Huli Huli Chicken (Maui)||$18|
🚙 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:
|Transportation||Total Cost||Cost 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||–|
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.
🤿 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|
|Haleakalā Sunrise (Maui)||$1*|
The Haleakalā 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.
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.
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.
Cost Breakdown by Island in Hawaii
Here are my trip expense breakdowns for Maui and the Big Island, the two Hawaiian islands I visited.
🏖️ 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.
|Category||Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
🤿 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.
|Category||Total Cost||Cost Per Day|
Check out great things to do on the Big Island.
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:
💵 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
🏧 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.
💰 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.
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.
Hawaii Travel Guides
- 💰 Trip to Hawaii Cost: 2023 Travel Expense Breakdown
- 🏝️ Maui Amazing 5-Day Itinerary + Great Things To Do
- 🌋 Big Island Epic 4-Day Itinerary + Great Things To Do
- ☀️ How To See the Haleakalā Sunrise: Tips + What To Know
- 🚗 Road to Hana Guide: Map, Great Stops + Is it Dangerous?
- 🤿 Hiking Captain Cook to Snorkel in Kealakekua Bay Guide
- 🎒 Complete Maui Packing List: Tips + What To Bring
🧋 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!