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Hawaii is always on the short list of dream destinations for a relaxing beach vacation. But a potential trip to paradise doesn’t happen without first asking the critical question: How much is a vacation to Hawaii?
The answer can vary depending on where you stay and when you travel. What does that mean? Well, we have crunched the numbers to give you a better idea of how much you can expect to spend and get you better prepared for your next Hawaiian vacation. Let’s take a look.
Estimated Hawaii trip cost
We looked closely at the estimated costs of a 10-night trip for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) during the peak summer travel season and a seven-night trip for that same family during the shoulder season.
Here are the hypotheticals supporting these dollar figures:
Travel to Honolulu on the island of Oahu, the most popular island for visitors to Hawaii.
Round-trip flights for four from Los Angeles.
A peak trip assumes a June 25, 2023, departure. A shoulder-season trip assumes a May 8, 2023, departure.
We used three different property types to assess price estimates. They are:
The beachfront four-star resort: Hilton Hawaiian Village.
The three-star hotel: Holiday Inn Express Waikiki.
A condo: Various Waikiki units on Vrbo.com.
Totals include resort fees. Those are:
$50 per night at the four-star resort.
$25 per night at the three-star hotel.
All management and cleaning fees at the condo units.
Totals include parking costs of:
$65 per day at the four-star resort.
$45 per day at the three-star hotel.
Parking is not included in condo totals (varies by building/unit).
Meals include nightly dinners of about $225, with drinks, taxes and tips.
At a four-star resort, meal estimates include breakfasts and lunches totaling about $100 per day.
Costs at a three-star hotel, which includes free breakfast, include only lunches totaling about $50 per day.
Tightly budgeted meals assume cutting meal costs by 60% with cheap eats and/or preparing meals.
Activities for the 10-night trip include a snorkeling excursion, surfing lessons, a Pearl Harbor visit and a day at a water park. For the seven-night trip: snorkeling, the Pearl Harbor visit and a day at a water park.
Economy rental car reserved through DiscountHawaiiCarRental.com or Turo.com.
$5-a-day tip for housekeepers.
» Learn more: The best times to visit Hawaii by travel style
With the information outlined above, here are our estimated budgets.
10-night trip, peak summer travel season
$12,296: Four-star beachfront resort, with a 10-day rental car.
$9,286: Three-star hotel, with a 10-minute walk to the beach and a five-day rental car.
$6,261 Low-cost condo with walking distance to the beach, tightly budgeted meals and a five-day rental car.
Seven-night trip, shoulder season
$7,602: Four-star beachfront resort, with a seven-day rental car.
$5,792: Three-star hotel, with a 10-minute walk to beach, and a rental car for two days.
$3,892: Low-cost condo with walking distance to the beach, tightly budgeted meals and a two-day rental car.
Can you beat these numbers? Definitely. Here are tips on how to save on your vacation to Hawaii.
» Learn more: The best island in Hawaii to visit for the first time
How to cut your Hawaii vacation costs
Stay on the beach or rent a car every day, but don’t do both
Does your idea of a great vacation involve hitting the open road to explore every corner of the island? Then don’t pay premium Hawaii prices for a hotel on the beach. On the other hand, if your dream trip involves tons of time lounging on the sand and splashing in the pool, don’t pay $75 a day for a rental car plus $65 a day to park when it’s just going to sit there.
Waikiki is home to about 85 hotels — all within walking distance of a car rental agency.
So it’s easy to get a car for part of your trip. Select “Waikiki” instead of “Honolulu airport” as your pick-up and drop-off location for your rental car. If you pick the car up in the morning and then drop it off at the end of the day, you can save a night’s worth of parking costs, cutting down your trip cost.
The downside to this strategy is you may have to wait in a long line to get your car. So send one adult to pick up the vehicle in the morning while the rest of the crew gets ready for the day. And don’t forget to include airport transfers in your budget. Budget about $50 each way, including tip, for a taxi or rideshare between Waikiki and Honolulu airport.
If your family of four has a nice dinner at the world-famous Duke’s Waikiki, including cocktails for the adults, an appetizer and a Hula Pie dessert to share, you’ll spend about $225, including taxes and tip. Of course, the beachfront views, tiki torches and aloha spirit are worth it. But you don’t have to spend that much every night.
Step away from the beach and meals get much cheaper. For example, the outstanding burgers at Cheeseburger Waikiki are about $18, as opposed to the $36 fish at Duke’s. In addition, pizza joints, super-affordable ramen houses, authentic Hawaiian diners such as Rainbow Drive-In, chains such as Denny’s and IHOP, and fast-food restaurants including McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway can bring your meal costs way down.
Or, swing into one of the many ABC Stores to pick up packaged salads, sandwiches, yogurt, snacks, drinks or some spam musubi (a slice of grilled Spam sandwiched between or on top of a block of rice, wrapped in nori) to fill up on the cheap. More affordable yet, you can buy cereal, coffee, milk, sandwich meats and bread to prepare breakfasts and lunches at your hotel or condo.
Consider a condo
It’s not hard to find a vacation rental just a few minutes from the beach for much cheaper than you’d pay for a hotel.
For example, we found a condo on VRBO for 10 nights for $1,618 plus tax, for a total of $1,887. And that’s during peak summer travel.
For a seven-day rental during the shoulder season, you can cut your total accommodations cost down to about $1,000.
Many condos have kitchens, too, so you could save a ton by making eggs or pancakes for breakfast, spaghetti for dinner and even packing sandwiches for lunches while you’re out and about.
Pay with points and miles
The question “How much is a trip to Hawaii” has a much more appealing answer if you pay using airline miles, hotel points or credit card points — which can erase hundreds or even thousands of dollars from your trip cost. For more info on how to maximize your points, be sure to check out these articles:
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
If you want to go to Hawaii …
So, how much does it cost to go to Hawaii? It can be very expensive. Hidden costs like resort fees and exorbitant parking prices can easily break the budget. But there are ways to save on the cost of a vacation to Hawaii. Traveling before or after the peak summer season can save considerably. In addition, don’t pay a premium to stay on the beach if you won’t take full advantage of that location. But don’t pay up to $65 a night to park a car because you’re splashing around the pool for several days.
To save big, consider a condo where you can cook meals to save on dining. With these simple strategies, your answer to the question “How much is a vacation to Hawaii?” is one that fits your budget.
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