You’ve seen ads for Hawaii featuring photos of beautiful white sand beaches, palm trees and the bluest of blue water. Now you want to go, but you have no idea how much a trip to Hawaii costs. Where do you start?
In this article, I’m providing you with the easy-to-use estimates to calculate your personal Hawaii trip budget. It can’t be exact, but it will give you a rough idea of how much to start budgeting for a Hawaii vacation.
Before we jump to the calculator, it’s worthwhile to discuss why there’s not an easy answer when it comes to determining a Hawaii vacation budget. The challenges are that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer since multiple factors influence the budget.
Let’s look at some of the main factors that influence a Hawaii vacation budget:
- When you go to Hawaii. Some dates/times are cheaper than others. When demand is down, so are the price of flights and hotels. See my post on the best time to go to Hawaii for tips.
- How far you’re flying. For example, West Coast flights are generally cheaper than Mid-west or East Coast flights because there is less distance, i.e. less fuel and cost.
- Whether you typically prefer budget, mid-range or luxury hotels.
- The length of your stay.
- Whether you prefer fine dining or eating on the cheap.
- Whether you want to go on guided tours or you’re willing to create your own tours.
I could go on with more examples, but these factors are the biggies. Hopefully, you can see that there’s no easy answer when someone asks me how much money do they need to go to Hawaii.
Though we can’t wave a magic want to determine your perfect budget for a Hawaii trip, you can review the following numbers to generate your budget to Hawaii. Just remember, these are rough numbers that can vary from city to city, island to island, etc.
I recommend that you print out this page to follow along for estimating your cost to visit Hawaii. At the bottom of this post, you will see an icon to generate a printer-friendly version of this page.
As I mentioned, fares vary but they are mostly dependent upon how far you’re flying and when you’re flying. You can always use a fare finder to determine a more exact estimate from your home airport. I really like the simplicity of CheapAir.com for finding fare estimates. For rough numbers, estimate the cost of flights (including taxes and fees) as follows:
- East Coast to Hawaii – $900 per person (Note: we fly from the East Coast to Hawaii. Over our many trips to Hawaii, we’ve spent as little as $575 and as much as $1250 per person.)
- Mid-West – $750 per person
- West- Coast – $475 per person
To estimate your flight costs:
______ cost per person x ______ number of travelers = ______ estimated cost of flights
The cost of accommodations mostly vary based on the type of property – budget to luxury. (In our many trips to Hawaii, we’ve paid as little as $150 per night to as much as $525 or more.) For 2013, the statewide Hawaii hotel rate was $227 per night. [We’ll update this number when 2014 data is released sometime in 2015.] You can find hotels and condos that are fairly nice and clean for less than the average — especially if you are willing to book a room or condo without an ocean view. (See our article for advice on saving money on Hawaii accommodations.) You can also spend quite a bit more if you’re aiming for a luxury Hawaii vacation.
In addition to the hotel rate, don’t forget to add taxes, which might surprise you at a rate of 13.416%. So, to that $227 average hotel rate add another $30.45 for taxes for a total of $257.45.
To estimate your cost for lodging using the statewide average follow this formula:
$257.45 (avg cost/night) x ______ number of nights x ______number of rooms you need = _______ estimated cost of accommodations
(Of course you can spend more or less than $257.45 per night, but that gives you a starting point to estimate the cost to stay in Hawaii.)
You will most likely want a rental car for Hawaii sightseeing adventures. If you are staying on Lanai or in Waikiki, you might not need a rental car, but for all other Hawaii destinations, I highly recommend getting a rental car. (See more about where we advise renting a car in Hawaii.)
Depending on what you rent and which method of booking, rental car rates will vary. See our tips for saving money on rental cars in Hawaii.
Including taxes, you can use a rough number of $40 per day for an economy or mid-sized car. To estimate your cost for renting a car, use this formula:
$40 per day x _______ number of days = _______ estimated cost of rental car
Estimating the cost to dine in Hawaii is yet another one of those factors that can range from a little to a lot. As a rough round number, I think estimating $70 per person per day is doable without skimping too much or overdoing it. (See our tips for saving money on dining and meals in Hawaii.) That would be $15 for breakfast, $15 for lunch, and $40 for dinner. (By the way, it’s not unheard of to drop $25 or more for breakfast or lunch at high-end Hawaii resorts.)
To estimate your budget for meals, use this formula:
$70 per person per day x _______ number of people x _______ number of nights = ________ estimated cost for meals
Total Budget for Your Hawaii Vacation
Now, add up each of the four estimates to get your budget.
Estimated cost of flights _______
Estimated cost of accommodations _______
Estimated cost of rental car _______
Estimated cost for meals ________
______________ = Your rough budget to vacation in Hawaii
Example Budget for a Couple Traveling to Hawaii from the East Coast for a Week
Now, using the numbers above, I calculated the following for a 7-night Hawaii vacation for two people flying from the East Coast.
Flights = $900 per person x 2 people = $1,800
Accommodations = $257.45 per night x 7 nights = $1,802
Rental car = $40 per day x 8 days = $320 (I use eight days instead of seven since most times the return hour is later than pick up.)
Dining = $70 per person per day x 2 people x 7 days = $980
The grand total for this example is $4,902.
Other Expenses to Consider
These estimates do not include:
- Guided tours, such as helicopter tours, guided hikes, snorkeling excursions, etc. Hawaii offers many free and inexpensive things to see and do. Check out our post with advice on saving money on Hawaii vacation tours and activities.
- Resort fees and/or parking fees which some hotels charge while others don’t. Be sure to determine parking costs as you consider your accommodation options. Parking fees in Waikiki and Ko Olina on Oahu and Kaanapali and Wailea on Maui can be particularly expensive.
- Spa treatments (See our article for 7 tips for getting the most out of your Hawaii spa experience.)
- Rental car refueling costs. Gas costs depend on the length of your stay and how much you plan to explore by car. Just one word of caution, Hawaii’s gas prices are higher than the US Mainland.
- Island hopping in Hawaii via ferry or plane
I want to reiterate that your exact costs depend on your preferences and a bit of luck. You might catch an airfare sale and save $100 to $300 per person. You might find a hotel deal that includes breakfast. I could go on and on.
You can definitely spend less in each of the main categories. On the flip side, you can certainly spend more – a lot more. It’s all up to you. I just wanted to provide rough numbers that are, in my opinion, realistic, middle of the road costs.
How much money do you budget when you go to Hawaii? What is your length of stay with that budget?