In 2021, Hawaii had 6,777,498 visitors, spending an average of 9 – 10 days. The visitors spent approximately $10.3 billion, a drop of about 26.6% from the 2019 expenditure estimated to have been $17.7 billion from a little over 10 million visitors.
How much money you bring to Hawaii depends on when you go, where, and how long you stay, but you should budget for at least $274 per person per day. In 2021, each visitor spent an average of $199 daily, up 1.4% from $196 in 2019. The average daily hotel price per couple is $341.
In this article, I’ll discuss how much you’ll need when visiting Hawaii in more detail. I’ll also look at how you can cut costs and steer clear of activities that will increase your spending significantly. If you’re looking to travel on a budget, make sure to keep reading until the end.
How Much Money You Need for Your Stay in Hawaii
Hawaii’s white idyllic beaches, rich culture, great food, and attractive scenery attract millions of people from within the US and the rest of the world each year. As you plan your vacation, you need to look into the best months to visit and how timing can affect how much money you’ll need to bring to Hawaii.
Most of your budget will go to your accommodation. Fortunately, Hawaii offers many accommodation options, so how much you spend will depend on your preference. Hotels, timeshares, and vacation rentals are the most expensive.
However, the period you go to Hawaii will also determine how much you will spend on accommodation.
- Hotel rates are highest from mid-December to the New Year in major Hawaii islands. Maui has the most luxurious hotels and gorgeous beaches. It is also not as crowded as some of the other islands. However, you will spend more on accommodation.
- Peak season is usually expensive because of the high demand for accommodation and other amenities. Mid-December to mid-April is usually considered the peak season.
- July to August is not considered busy in Hawaii, but it usually attracts decent crowds. The high demand from guests on summer vacation causes a steep rise in accommodation rates.
- The off-peak season usually falls between March to early May. September to late November is also a great period for lower accommodation rates.
During the peak season, Maui’s average daily hotel rate is $500 – $880 plus taxes. If you’re staying for a week, expect to spend $3,500 and above on your hotel stay. You can save on your accommodation costs by renting an Airbnb condo. A one-bedroom condo costs anywhere from $135 – $215 plus taxes per night.
When renting an Airbnb condo, you need to find out if there are any additional costs. For example, there may be service fees, occupancy taxes, and cleaning fees.
Oahu is the cheapest island to visit in Hawaii, with an average daily accommodation rate of $240. Vacation rentals are slightly cheaper, at an average rate of $190 a day plus a 3% tax rate.
You can save quite a bit if you went camping instead of staying in a hotel. Most of the camping grounds are on Hawaii Island (The Big Island) and Honolulu. However, you can still find somewhere to camp on any of the other islands.
Some campsites are free, while others charge a minimal fee. For example, some sites charge $30 for a campsite for up to 10 people. If you’re going as a group, this is a great bargain. Some places, like the Nepali Coast State Wilderness Park in Kauai, charge $30 per person per night.
This video offers great insights regarding how much you should bring to Hawaii and what you can do to save money.
The resort and parking fees are easily forgotten, but they quickly add up, increasing your expenses significantly. Resort fees vary per hotel, depending on the location, rating, and available amenities.
The average resort fees are $12 – $46 per night. So, if you’re there for a week, expect to spend anywhere between $84 – $322. This fee gives you access to all the facilities in the hotel, including the gym, spa, and pool. However, some spa services are charged separately, so you need to find out what is covered in the resort fees.
Unfortunately, resort fees are not optional. When you check in to the hotel, find out about the resort fees and what happens if you choose not to use the facilities. To be safe, it is best to budget for these unforeseen expenses.
The other fee that will easily increase your holiday expenses is the parking fee. These fees vary from place to place. Some hotels in Hawaii don’t charge their guests. Others have low-cost parking, while others have a high fee.
|Location||5 – 4 star hotel daily parking fees||3 – star hotel daily parking fees|
|Oahu||$35 – $50 + tax||$20 – $30 + tax|
|Maui||$20 – $35 + tax||$9 – $20 + tax|
|Kauai||$20 – $35 + tax||Free – $20 + tax|
|Big Island||$25 – $45 + tax||Free – $30 + tax|
24-hour parking fees for hotels and condos in Hawaii
Some hotels have their parking fees included in the resort fees. Besides the hotel parking rates, you also need to have extra for street parking. For example, parking meters in Waikiki cost $1.50 per hour.
Parking fees are subject to taxes and sometimes tips, so remember this as you budget for your trip to Hawaii.
How do you intend to move around Hawaii? Will you be using bus tours, a shuttle, a taxi, or renting a car? Most visitors rent a car for their entire stay or a few days. Unfortunately, just like the price for hotels, car rental charges fluctuate depending on demand and the availability of vehicles.
According to Auto Rental News, Maui has some of the highest car hire rates in Hawaii, costing an average of $139 a day and $972 a week. Kauai’s average car rental charge is $57 – $87 daily and $399 – $607 weekly.
Car rates vary depending on the car you are renting and the season. A luxury car will cost significantly more, upwards of thousands of dollars for a week.
You can get around Hawaii without a car. However, a car rental is handy because it gives you greater flexibility when exploring the volcanoes, beaches, hiking trails, and waterfalls across Hawaii.
You can get lower car rental prices following these tips:
- Check what deals you can get from large car rental chains, like Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise. They have greater price flexibility than smaller companies which do not have as high a turnover as the larger companies.
- Compare prices from multiple car rental sites, like kayak.com and discount Hawaii car rental, to find one offering lower rates.
- Monitor the prices for any changes before your trip.
- Book a car with the option of free cancellation. This way, if you get a better price, you can cancel the booking without losing money.
- Check all the extras that are likely to be billed above the car hire charges. Many car hire charges will skyrocket once additional fees, such as damage insurance, are added. You also need to find out how much more you will pay if you return the car with an empty tank when you take it with a full tank.
- Prepay when booking a car. Some agencies give discounted rates to clients who prepay for the car when booking.
When booking a car, you should ask about the cancellation policy. You should find out how much money you’d lose if you canceled the car reservation.
When renting a car, you also need to budget for fuel. The average price per gallon is $5.4.
If you intend to use public transportation, expect to spend an average of $30 a day per person. This cost will cater to the taxi, subway, and local bus fares. You can also use ride-sharing apps, like Uber and Lyft.
Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours
You can also opt for guided bus tours, which cost anywhere between $50 and $100, depending on the tour you choose. In some parts of Waikiki and Honolulu, you’ll discover hop-on hop-off trolley buses, which last an hour or 2 hours. The hop-on hop-off bus tours cost $25 or more.
Food and Drinks
Your food preference and lifestyle will impact the amount of money you should bring to Hawaii. Like in the other segments, Maui still tops the list of the most expensive destinations, even when it comes to food.
Plan to spend an average of $61 – $75 per day on food. Local restaurants have their meals priced at an average of $25 per person. However, if you go to high-end hotels for dinner, your meal could easily cross the $200 mark.
Fortunately, local restaurants around Hawaii charge anywhere between $8 – $55 depending on what you request. You can get drinks, including beer and specialty drinks, from $4 – $9.
You can reduce your food and drink costs by doing the following.
- Carry snacks when you are out exploring and enjoying the various activities.
- Limit visits to a restaurant to at least once a day.
- Rent a condo with a kitchen and then buy produce from a farmers market.
- Buy local dishes from food trucks.
- Instead of bottled water, drink tap water. Hawaii has safe water, so you can save quite a bit if you’re spending several days in Hawaii.
Tours and Activities
Besides the warm weather, Hawaii has so much to offer. From water sports, scenic views, and hiking tours. Some of these activities come with a hefty price tag, while others are free. As you budget for your stay in Hawaii, you should focus on the activities that capture your interest and how much you can expect to spend on them.
- Helicopter tours are some of the most expensive, with some around Maui costing $200 – $500. The price will depend on the sights and the tour duration.
- Whale watching is one of Maui’s treasures, offering some of the best sights in Hawaii. The best period for whale watching is mid-December – mid-May. The price range is $49 – $70 for adults and $35 – $45 for children. The price depends on the season and the number of people on the group tour.
- You can access the crystal clear beaches from any of the seven Hawaii islands (Honolulu, Maui, Niihau, Oahu, Big Island, Molokai, and Kahoolawe) at no cost.
- Hiking is another free or affordable activity you can partake in while in Hawaii. On the big island, explore the various volcanoes without taking the rocks. Hawaii has a rich culture and beliefs. Some people believe that taking the rock away will bring you bad luck.
- A visit to the famous waterfalls, including Manoa, Kahiwa, and Pu’uka’oku, will cost you nearly nothing. You may only need to pay $5 for parking if you rent a car.
- Museums sometimes offer free tours. For example, the Hawaii State Art Museum has free tours on the last Tuesday or first Friday of the month.
How To Save Money on a Trip to Hawaii
Although Hawaii is considered one of the most expensive destinations in the US, you can still save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by planning accordingly. While it is good to be prepared by having enough cash, there is no harm in cutting costs.
- Before renting a car, find out if you need one. Some places, like Waikiki and Honolulu, are walkable and will save you the money you would have spent renting a car.
- Use sites such as Autoslash, to help you find the best rates and coupons you can use to get better deals.
- Drive away from the tourist areas if you want to buy groceries at a better price.
- Go for an island that offers multiple accommodation options at competitive rates. Alternatively, find an island with free camping grounds.
- Use a local concierge as a guide instead of the tour operators with high overhead costs.
- Find out activities you can undertake at no cost. Examples include hiking, gallery hopping, and sunbathing at the beach.
- Hunt for coupons and discount cards. You may get great discounts on some tours and activities.
- Be strategic when planning your Hawaii vacation. Pick the season with the best accommodation rates, minimal crowds, and great airfare.
You may be able to save some costs if you travel alone to Hawaii. However, many people feel that you should travel with friends. Find out why by clicking the link.
Hawaii is an expensive destination that will cost thousands of dollars for a week’s stay. However, with proper planning, you can significantly reduce costs while enjoying everything Hawaii offers.
Prioritize activities that matter most to you, and whenever possible, go for free activities that provide equal pleasure and satisfaction. However, by the end of your stay in Hawaii, you’ll probably bask in joy without counting the losses.
- State Of Hawaii Department Of Business, Economic Development & Tourism: Visitor Spending for December 2021 Declined 5.5 Percent from Pre-pandemic December 2019
- Money We Have: How Much Does it Cost to go to Hawaii?
- Hawaii Guide: Best Time To Visit Hawaii
- Frommers: When to Go to Maui
- Maui Accommodations Guide: The Best Time to Visit Maui
- Resort Fee Checker: Resort Fees at Hotels in Hawaii, HI
- Maui’s Accommodation Guide: The Best Time to Visit Maui
- Aloha: Parking Fees at Hawaii Hotels & Condos
- Kayak: Cheap Car Rentals In Hawaii
- Discount Hawaii Car Rental: The Best Car Rental Rates for Your Hawaiian Vacation. Explore the Islands on Your Schedule
- Viator: Top Oahu Hop on Hop Off Buses
- Hawaii: Budgeting for Your Trip to Hawaii
- Love Big Island: Helicopter Tours on the Big Island
- Travel Channel: 8 Ways To Save Money On A Trip To Hawaii
- AutoSlash: Just Three Easy Steps To Save Your Car Rental