We’ve updated Hawaii vacation cost estimates and created a Hawaii trip budget calculator. For the update, click this link.
Gulp! AAA says Hawaii vacations cost $793 per couple per day. Um – who on earth is compiling this data and have they ever been to Hawaii? Somebody is smoking some wacky backy if they think it’s going to cost a couple $793 per day for food and lodging alone. Honestly, in all our trips to Hawaii, we’ve never even come close to spending that amount per day. If you are staying at the Four Seasons on Maui or the Big Island, you could approach nearly $800 a day, but that is by no means near an average stay in Hawaii.
AAA based their estimates on hotel rack rates. Nobody pays rack rates.Click here to calculate your Hawaii vacation budget
Once again, please note that the following data is from 2008, we have updated more recently in late 2012 with more recent data — click this link to see the more recent post on what to budget for Hawaii.
The following information is for reference purposes only:
Let’s use some real data to estimate an average lodging and food budget. According to the latest hotel data, the average cost of a hotel room in Hawaii is $199 per night. For reference, we paid $150 per night for a nicely furnished, fully equipped, two-bedroom condo on the luxurious Kohala Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island less than two months ago. It’s not too difficult to find hotel rates for under $200 per night. You can save a bundle on accomodations, see my article, Save Money on Hawaii Vacation Accommodations.
For meals, I’d estimate an average cost per couple as follows:
- Breakfast – average of $18 per person based on ordering breakfast in a resort from an a la carte breakfast menu. So the total cost per couple would be $36. You can definitely get breakfast for well under $18 per person. Check out these tips for saving money on breakfasts in Hawaii.
- Lunch – average of $20 per person, which would be $40 per couple. Again, this is basing the cost on resort hotel restaurant prices. If you’re out and about sight-seeing, you can definitely find deli sandwiches or a good local spot for lunch for under $10 per person.
- Dinner – average of $50 per person, which would be $100 per couple. I’m assuming resort prices for at least an entree each and sharing dessert. You might even be able to squeeze in some cocktails, too. You’ll find the most variation with dinner pricing. To save money while having a very special dinner, make plans for a sunset picnic on a Hawaii beach.
- Find several more tips and tricks for saving money on dining in Hawaii.
Of course, you could spend more or less, but I’m putting an average cost based on what I think is easily achievable at resort hotel prices. You can eat much cheaper than these prices outside of the hotel. From our travels to Hawaii, we would rarely spend that much money on meals.
So now let’s look at the total cost for lodging and meals:
Lodging: $199 per day
Meals: $176 per day
Total: $375 per day per couple (not per person)
So, $375 per day is a far cry from $792 per day. Wouldn’t you agree?
On top of lodging and food, remember that you have to get to Hawaii. Flights to Hawaii will definitely vary from person to person depending on your departure city and fluctuating fuel costs. Use these tips to help you save on airfare to Hawaii.
Rental cars are relatively inexpensive in Hawaii. For budgeting purposes, I’d estimate $35 per day for rental car. See these strategies for saving money on rental cars in Hawaii.
To round out your vacation, you might want to go to a luau or take a helicopter tour, so check out these tour expense trimming ideas: Saving Money on Hawaii Vacation Tours & Activities
I’ve written many articles on how to save money on your Hawaii vacation. My money saving strategies that will have you laughing at AAA. To find those articles conveniently packaged in one spot, see Top Tips for Saving Money on Your Hawaii Vacation. You’ll find strategies that will help you make the most of your vacation budget and time. Hawaii definitely doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
I often post excellent deals here at Go Visit Hawaii, which will help you achieve a Hawaii vacation for far less than AAA’s estimate. (If you haven’t already, consider subscribing to my free updates via e-mail or RSS so that you’ll stay on top of the best deals.) Since I’ve been to all the islands, I’ve got a good perspective on where the nice places are and where you might want to steer clear of. Rest assured, I’ll never suggest you stay at the YMCA or a roach motel.
Once again, be sure to check our updates for Hawaii vacation cost estimating.