Believe it or not, Hawaii is the most expensive city to live in for locals. However, this doesn’t mean that visitors to the Hawaiian islands need to unwillingly assume that they will be charged an arm and a leg for everything they shop for, explore, and eat. If you carefully choose the city you stay in, you can explore Hawaii on the same terms as those paying $1,000 per night for a hotel room.
The cheapest cities to stay at in Hawaii are Pāhoa, Mountain View, Honoka’a, Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Kea’au, Līhu’e, Wailuku, Honolulu, Volcano, Kaunakakai, Hawi, Waimea, Kaluhui, Lāhainā, Kapa’a, Kīhei, and Kapolei.
In the rest of this article, I’ll cover the above cities in greater detail and highlight some of the most affordable places to stay in each location. If you can relate to the phrase “shoestring lifestyle,” this is a post you don’t want to miss. Let’s get started.
1. Pāhoa, Hawai’i Island
The most affordable city to stay in for a vacation or business trip may very well be Pāhoa. Located along the eastern tip of the Island of Hawaii (known as the “Big Island” for being the largest amongst the Hawaiian islands), the city of Pāhoa is home to some of the cheapest establishments to stay at in Hawaii.
With a bit of looking around, you can find accommodation options priced as low as $50 per night. The Hawaiian Naturist Park is a prime example. Sitting just 7 miles from the volcanic national park, this establishment charges about $50 per night (this figure is based on the most current mid-August 2022 pricing).
2. Mountain View, Hawai’i Island
The second most affordable city to stay at when visiting Hawaii edges closer to the volcanoes of the Big Island at a city called Mountain View. With a bit of searching, you can find a place to stay for less than $100 per night.
For instance, at Pele’s Hana ‘Ana Hostel, it would only cost you $77 per night to enjoy the flexibility of driving around the majestic island and experiencing all that there is to see, explore, and eat!
3. Honoka’a, Hawai’i Island
The city of Honoka’a sits along the northern coast of the Big Island, roughly equidistant from Hilo and Kailua-Kona 一 two of the biggest focal points of the island.
According to the current pricing, you can stay at the Waipi’o Lodge for as little as $91 per night.
4. Hilo, Hawai’i Island
The fourth most affordable city to stay in Hawaii happens to be Hilo. The capital city of the Big Island boasts an impressive roster of accommodation options across one of the widest spectrums of prices and experiential offerings.
Some of the most affordable places to spend the night in Hilo include:
Slightly more expensive but still amongst the most affordable accommodation options within the city of Hilo include:
- The Hilltop Legacy Vacation Rental at $170 per night
- The Hilo Hawaiian Hotel at $180 per night
- The SCP Hilo Hotel at $209 per night
- The Hilo Honu Inn at $225 per night.
Note: The above figures are per August 2022 prices.
5. Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i Island
While Hilo occupies the eastern coastal tip of the Big Island, Kailua-Kona occupies the western coastal tip of the island. These two cities are situated directly across from one another on any good map of the Big Island. Unfortunately, there are no direct roads connecting them.
Kailua-Kona is brimming with attractions for visitors and locals alike, and you can explore all the city and its surroundings have to offer without breaking the bank. There are many accommodation options in and within the city’s immediate vicinity.
Three of the most affordable ones include:
- The Aeolian Ranch at $99 per night
- The Pineapple Park Hostel (in Kealakekua, 10 miles south of Kailua-Kona) at $120 per night
- The Plumeria Grove Cottage (in Captain Cook, just south of Kealakekua) at $129 per night.
A more expensive yet affordable in the grand scheme of things is the highly popular Kona Seaside Hotel, priced at $206 per night.
6. Kea’au, Hawai’i Island
In between Pāhoa and Hilo stands another affordable city on the Big Island where tourists may stay to make the most out of their travels. This conveniently located city of Kea’au features the Ocean Breeze Inn, which costs just a very reasonable $109 per night under the current pricing.
With a bit of searching, you can find other options with nighly pricing around the 100-dollar mark.
7. Līhu’e, Kaua’i Island
The most affordable city to spend the night outside of the Big Island might be Līhu’e. This is the second largest city on the southeastern coast of the Island of Kaua’i, and it’s a big plus for travelers that it boasts its own trans-Pacific airport.
8. Wailuku, Māui Island
Located on the northern coastline of the Island of Māui, Wailuku is another city outside of the Big Island that offers some of the most affordable accommodations in the State of Hawai’i.
On average, vacation rentals are priced at $36 per night, but you might have to spend more if you’re eyeing a luxurious stay.
The Northshore Hostel is a great option for anyone looking for a bit of luxury at a reasonable price. Pricing starts at $159 per night. While that might seem a bit steep compared to the average price of vacation rentals, staying here gives you access to breathtaking sights and unique dining experiences within a short distance from the city.
9. Honolulu, O’ahu
The state capital of Honolulu on the Island of O’ahu is famed for being the top touristic hotspot of Waikiki. Recently, some newer hotels have been serving the area in the vicinity of the busy Honolulu International Airport.
The sheer number of more affordable accommodation options in Honolulu is far too numerous to mention each and every one of them in this article, but here’s a partial list of great establishments divided into two price categories:
Affordable Hotels in Honolulu for $200 Per Night or Less
- Stay Hotel Waikīkī at $161 per night
- Waikiki Sand Villa Hotel at $177 per night
- Luana Waikiki Hotel & Suites at $178 per night
- Airport Honolulu Hotel at $179 per night
- Bamboo Waikiki Hotel at $179 per night
- Pagoda Hotel at $179 per night
- The Equus at $190 per night
- Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort at as low as $197 per night on occasion
- Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra at $199 per night
Affordable Hotels in Honolulu for Just Over $200 Per Night
- ‘Ilima Hotel at $201 per night
- Ohia Waikiki Studio Suites at $206 per night
- Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Waikiki at $208 per night
- Waikīkī Grand Hotel at $209 per night
- The Modern Honolulu by Diamond Resorts at $212 per night
- Shoreline Hotel Waikiki at $214 per night
- Aqua Palms Waikiki at $222 per night
- The Imperial Hawaii Resort at $224 per night
10. Volcano, Hawai’i Island
Volcano is a city on the Big Island where the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located. It’s a great place to capture dozens of phenomenal photos and cross a highly memorable experience like no other off the bucket list.
The accommodation options in Volcano are more costly than in nearby cities of Pāhoa and Mountain View because they’re so close to the national park. However, they’re not priced anywhere near the top end of the typical price range.
As of August 2022, three of the most affordable places to stay in Volcano are:
11. Kaunakakai, Moloka’i Island
The most affordable city outside the “big four” Hawaiian islands is Kaunakakai on the Island of Moloka’i (the fifth largest Hawaiian island). Two of the most affordable places to stay in Kaunakakai are the Moloka’i Shores at $169 per night and the Hotel Moloka’i at $200 per night.
12. Hawi, Hawai’i Island
The city of Hawi on the northernmost tip of the Big Island is another attractive place to consider staying for a visit to the Hawaiian islands.
Namely, the Aloha Boutique Hotel in Hawi offers a unique experience of the Big Island from a slightly more unconventional perspective for a relatively modest price of $179 per night.
13. Waimea, Hawai’i Island
Sitting between the previously mentioned cities of Honoka’a and Hawi is the city of Waimea on the Big Island. The average cost of vacation rentals here is about $116 per night, but luxurious accommodation options cost upwards of $200.
If you’re shopping in the luxury category, you might want to check out the Waimea Country Lodge. It might be more expensive than the cheapest options in the cities mentioned above, but it offers a surprisingly updated interior to a more countryside exterior facade at $205 per night.
14. Kahului, Maui Island
Cities with airports tend to offer some of the most affordable accommodation options in Hawaii, and Kahului is no different.
The city of Kahului not only features the main airport of the Island of Maui but also serves as the island’s business center. It offers several popular and relatively more affordable places to spend the night as travelers fulfill their Maui activities.
15. Lāhainā, Maui Island
The touristic gem of Lāhainā is one of the most frequently visited cities on the island of Maui. According to the Lahaina Town Guide, as many as 80% of tourists visit this city on their travels to Maui. While it certainly has a lot to offer in terms of attractions, tourists’ love for this city has a lot to do with its multitude of appreciably affordable accommodation options.
Some of these affordable places to stay include:
- The Kā’anapali Ocean Inn at $221 per night.
- The Makai Sunset Inn at $269 per night.
- The Napili Sunset Beachfront Resort at $296 per night.
16. Kapa’a, Kaua’i Island
During the development phases of the island of Kaua’i, the major cities were chosen to be clustered along the eastern coast side due to their proximity to the remainder of the Hawaiian islands. Thus, it is not at all surprising that the city of Kapa’a is also located along the eastern coast of Kaua’i.
While it’s not the most affordable city in Kaua’i, Kapa’a still offers great accommodation options, such as the Plantation Hale Suites (priced as low as $228 per night during their occasional 20% off deals) and the Kauai Shores Hotel (priced at $252 per night).
17. Kīhei, Maui Island
Just north of the considerably more expensive city of Waimea on the island of Maui is Kihei, a city that offers a gateway to activities and dining options ranging from the unique and inexpensive to the captivating and upscale.
While it is not easy to come by an affordable place to stay in this neck of the woods, Kīhei does offer the What a Wonderful World Bed and Breakfast at $266 per night.
18. Kapolei, O’ahu Island
A city undergoing great redevelopment in recent years on the island of O’ahu, Kapolei is also known by locals as the “second city” due to its rise to prominence as the big city on the western side of the island.
The accommodation options in Kapolei are not quite as affordable as many of the options in Honolulu. However, there are still some great establishments to stay at while exploring the vast offerings of O’ahu.
Some possibilities are:
- The Hampton Inn & Suites Oahu/Kapolei at $268 per night
- The Residence Inn by Marriott Oahu Kapolei at $285 per night during occasional 25% off discounts
- The Embassy Suites by Hilton Oahu Kapolei at $286 per night.