How much for a trip to Hawaii? (Budget calculator)

Hawaii trip cost calculator 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.

 

Flights

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

 

Accommodations

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.)

 

Rental Car

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

 

Dining

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:

 

Final Thoughts

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?


Ohana Beach Rentals

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

28 comments

  1. Thanks! This was helpful!!

  2. Informative post, Sheila! I would also add gratuity to the list of expenses. That can add up depending on how generous you want to be for housekeeping and the wait staff when dining out.

    For my upcoming Hawaii trip, I actually factored in my award miles that I’ve accrued over the last couple years. Luckily, I was able to use my miles to book my roundtrip airfare…saving up to $650 if I had paid for it.

  3. Very helpful, thanks for this. I think people underestimate how much things will cost and it’s important to sit down and go through a detailed list – including the little things you mention that they might not originally think of like souvenirs, tours, etc.

  4. its really helpful. Will let my friends know about it.

    thank you.

  5. Hey for the airfare cost the estimated flying cost you came up with is that for a round trip? or only to Hawii? I would love to know a how much I need for in a couple years Im planning to flyout there with my boyfriend!

  6. Very useful post, thanks!

  7. I just booked a trip to Kauai, HI for April, 2013 for 8 nights and 9 days. Roundtrip airfair, hotel and rental car, i even included resort fees, rental car taxes, and parking at the airport in my home state (Colorado). There are two of us going and NOT including meals,gas for rental car and souviners. Total was $3415.00. That is only $1707.74 a person. SO you can do alot cheaper if you look. My advice is find a reputable travel agent. They know of discounts that we cant find.. Have fun.!!

  8. Hi thank you for the great information. Will you happen to know if Nov is a good time to go to Hawaii? I know flights look like they go for cheaper, but I have no idea on the weather. Most likely to visit Maui. Thank you

  9. Chatch Fed and Almby

    Just starting our “three 50 year old gals” trip to Hawaii planning. Need all the advice we can get! this site is helpful for sure. Thanks so much.

  10. Hello everyone, I NEED HELP!!!!
    My cousin has invited me to visit her in Honolulu. I always thought I would visit her in the fall so I would always check for airfare flying from san diego to honolulu in the fall, but it looks like i wont be able to visit her until March 2015…. I had not researched tickets during sprink break in Hawaii and have no idea what the average decent price to pay is. Right now im looking at Hawaiian airlines $634 per person ..is this a good price to pay as they were as cheap as $350 during fall season just last year

  11. Sheila thank you for responding sooo quickly. I understand prices can go up or down, another family member went to honolulu from san diego for $900 last March and I really didnt believe it but then again he got his tickets 2 weeks before so I guess you never know right?

  12. Firstly…for first timers to Hawaii found this site superb. My better I/2 and I leave next week for 7 days on Oahu (Waikiki) followed by a week on Maui (Lahania). With business class flights there and back using airmiles ($7500 Cdn for $380 round trip). Hotel in Waikki with breakfast, $1248 taxes in, and Maui same price no breakfast. Airport transfers are the $23 (Oahu) bucks and 58 (Maui). Inter island flight 55 bucks. Plan travelling on bus tours/trolley bus etc…no plans to rent a car this time around. I have just retired at 52…and hope to get to know the islands well in the years ahead. Including via a cruise. Thanks again for putting the site together. It’s solidly bookmarked!

  13. Just finished planning and budgeting our first trip to Hawaii. It’ll only be a few days, and I’m going to take the cheapest route possible, if only to serve as a reference point for our next trip.

    With the flight/ hotel package, we’re paying 600 a person, leaving from California. Including meals, that brings us to about 1650. ( I don’t plan on skimping the meal budget, there has to be a limit to my frugality) I may rent a scooter to sight see or necessary travel, but I’m really hoping to not drive around too much, thus negating the rental car cost. This keeps us under 2,000 dollars. I’m still going to budget for 3,000, as I don’t want this trip to sour in the interest of saving money.

  14. Thanks for this post! I think this is a really good starting point when planning for a Hawaii trip. These are pretty typical middle of the road budgets. My husband and I just got back from a trip this month and saved significantly by using points for flights, renting a well equipped guest house in Kona (Big Island) for $110 a night and cooking all but 3 of our dinners over 10 days (2 travel days). Our actual amount spent for the full 10 days (including travel days) was:
    Flights: $20
    House Rental 8 nights (with cleaning and taxes): $1150
    Rental Car: $241
    Other Travel (airport parking + rental car gas): $180
    Food: $463
    Activities and Shopping (fishing charter, manta ray snorkel, tour, spa, tips, gifts: $1153
    Grand Total: $3207

    We intentionally saved significantly by getting groceries (and gas) at Costco and cooking our own dinners primary as well as staying in a rental guest house instead of a resort so we could splurge more on activities. I like the idea of using the numbers above to plan as a baseline with the idea that you can save if you are intentionally thrifty in some areas. I agree $50-$70 per person per day is very typical if you plan to eat every meal out. We spent $60 one night that we want out for sushi (without drinks) and even the really casual places like Pizza Hut are more expensive there (around $35 for 2 people including sodas).

  15. My husband and I took our honeymoon in Hawaii about a year ago and ended up spending over 7100$ between everything for 8 days. Your calculator is a great tool for a base estimate with the exception of excursion costs. If you plan on doing any excursions/sightseeing/surf lessons/pearl harbor/luaus… those can add up as quickly as food, especially if you do any helicopter rides (which avg 60$ per 10min). We split our time in Honolulu exploring Ohau and in Maui and spent probably and avg of 275$ (between us) a day on excursions alone, although I would estimate that 150-200$ a day is a more normal estimate for a couple, or 75-100$ per day per person.

    • Rebecca – yes, excursions do quickly add up! Thanks for adding your estimate for what you spent on tours. We do note in the article that tours are an extra expense to consider when budgeting a trip to Hawaii. However, many people don’t like going on guided tours, so including tour costs is not a Hawaii trip requirement/necessity. There are a ton of amazing things to see and do in Hawaii without ever going on paid tours. For example, seeing Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial is absolutely free, so there’s no need to pay a tour company to go to Pearl Harbor.

      Regarding luaus, it’s worth noting that a luau includes dinner, so in budgeting, either budget in a dinner or a luau, but not both.

  16. Sheila, I would like your input on a matter. I have never been to Hawaii, but have always longed to since a child. I would like to plan a trip there in the future, but I am not sure where to go. You see I am more interested in the more primitive parts of the land, as opposed to the more “touristy” part. I love the idea of the volcanos and wonderful hiking trails and being close to the naturalistic aspect of the country. But I still would like to be near some nice beaches. If you’ve seen enough of Hawaii maybe you can give me some input. Thanks!

  17. Thanks, for the value information.

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