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Whether looking for summertime adventures or a winter escape, hitting the beach is a great way to make incredible memories.
Because of their popularity and ease of booking flights, two destinations stand out among vacationers: Hawaii and the Bahamas. However, when comparing the Bahamas to Hawaii, there are many differences that you need to know.
The main differences between the Bahamas versus Hawaii are the need for a passport and distance. Hawaii is part of the United States, while the Bahamas is not. West Coast travelers often prefer Hawaii, while the Bahamas is easier to get to from the East Coast.
Let's see what sets these two paradise locations apart.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
How to get to Hawaii vs. the Bahamas
Most major domestic airlines offer flights to these popular destinations. However, one option may be much closer and easier, depending on where you live. You may also have to contend with airline routes and time zones that will affect flight options.
Flights to Hawaii
If you live on the West Coast, deciding between vacationing in the Bahamas versus Hawaii may be easy. Hawaii and the Bahamas are about the same distance from California, but the flight options to Hawaii may make it much more desirable.
There are also several airline redemption sweet spots that make it even more tempting. For example, you can book flights to Hawaii from several California airports for just 13,000 Avios (British Airways points) each way.
With Southwest Airlines entering the market, many airlines lowered their cash prices to compete. Southwest offers flights starting at $124 each way from Los Angeles.
Once in Hawaii, you can easily hop between the islands with cheap flights on Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines and others. Southwest offers flights starting at just $39 each way.
» Learn more: 6 airlines that fly to Hawaii
Flights to the Bahamas
Flying to the Bahamas is harder for West Coast residents but much easier for those living on the East Coast. There are many flight deals and the cost is much less versus Hawaii.
Award flights to the Bahamas start at just 10,000 miles in Economy or 20,000 miles in First Class on American Airlines. This makes the Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations a popular winter escape.
The downside of the Bahamas is that you need a passport to get there. It is more difficult to arrange a last-minute vacation if you don't have a passport because passport applications can take several months to process.
Where to stay for your Bahamas vs. Hawaii vacation
When weighing the Bahamas versus Hawaii, choosing between hotels might be difficult because there are many fantastic options. Depending on the length of your stay, the cost of your accommodations may be greater than the cost of the flight. However, you can save a lot of money on your vacation using hotel points. Let's look at some popular choices.
Hotels in Hawaii
There are six major Hawaiian islands, each with its own unique attractions and experiences. Hotel options vary based on which island you choose. However, most major hotel brands are available on each of these islands.
In Honolulu, for example, you can book any of these hotels using points:
Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach — from 15,000 World of Hyatt points (or use a Hyatt credit card annual free night certificate).
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort — from 70,000 Hilton Honors points.
The Laylow, Autograph Collection — from 58,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
Holiday Inn Express Waikiki — from 34,000 points (or use an IHG credit card annual free night certificate).
» Learn more: The best Hilton Hotels in Hawaii to book with points
Hotels in the Bahamas
There are fewer options for redeeming hotel points in the Bahamas versus Hawaii. The major tourist destination in the Bahamas is Nassau. This is also where you'll find popular hotels where you can redeem points.
Atlantis — several buildings available, with rates starting at 44,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
Grand Hyatt Baha Mar — from 21,000 World of Hyatt points.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Nassau — from 32,000 points (or use an IHG credit card annual free night certificate).
Hilton at Resorts World Bimini — from 60,000 points per night.
» Learn more: The best World of Hyatt hotels in the Caribbean
The best time to visit Hawaii vs. the Bahamas
Travel dates can help you decide between Hawaii versus the Bahamas. These islands are similar distances from the equator, so their weather and seasons are similar. However, there are some significant differences.
Hawaii weather and terrain
Although Hawaii offers primarily tropical weather, its terrain offers multiple climate options. Hawaii features numerous mountains formed by volcanoes, some almost 14,000 feet tall. Its lush landscape and natural canopies also provide an escape from the tropical heat.
On average, Hawaiian temperatures only vary about six degrees throughout the year. The range from a low in the mid-70s during the winter to a peak in the low-80s in September. However, the tallest mountain peaks experience significant weather events, including temperatures in the 90s, winter blizzards and thunderstorms.
Hawaii is rarely affected by hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean. It rains an average of 25 to 30 inches annually, with the heaviest rains occurring from October to April.
» Learn more: The best times to visit Hawaii
Weather in the Bahamas
Located in the Caribbean, the Bahamas has fairly consistent weather throughout the year. Its peak temperatures of the upper-80s occur from early June to early October. Winter temperatures drop to highs in the upper-70s. January is the coldest month of the year, with lows of 70 degrees and highs of 79.
It doesn't rain that often in the Bahamas. October is its rainiest month, with an average of seven days of rain, while December is the driest, with just two days of rain.
The Bahamas faces extreme seasonality with its humidity. From June to October, the humidity can be described as "oppressive" or "miserable," affecting how much you enjoy your vacation. However, spending time in the pool or ocean can minimize the impact.
The Bahamas vs. Hawaii honeymoon destination
Both destinations have natural beauty, gorgeous beaches and amazing hotels. It's no wonder that many couples consider the Bahamas versus Hawaii for their honeymoon celebration. Whether you want to explore the island or relax on the beach, each destination is ideal for a honeymoon.
Because the climate is more reliable throughout the year, Hawaii may be a better honeymoon destination than the Bahamas. Many weddings occur over the summer, peak hurricane season in the Atlantic. You wouldn't want the stress of a hurricane impacting your honeymoon.
Winter is a much better time to visit the Caribbean if that matches your wedding planning.
Hawaii vs. the Bahamas: Which is the better choice?
Choosing between the Bahamas versus Hawaii is a tough choice for many travelers. While both islands offer many appealing features, your decision is often based on where you live and if you have a passport.
Hawaii is a U.S. state which does not require a passport for travel, while you must have a passport to visit the Bahamas. Traveling to Hawaii is much easier from the West Coast, and many East Coast travelers can get to the Bahamas easily.
Hawaii offers more hotel redemption options and multiple climates among its numerous islands versus the Bahamas. The U.S. dollar is the primary currency, and amenities such as roads, restaurants and hospitals are up to U.S. standards.
The Bahamas has its currency, but prices are pegged to the U.S. dollar, so prices are the same in both currencies. While the Bahamas has many modern conveniences, you may not have the same choices for dining, attractions or medical needs during your visit.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card