When planning your Hawaiian vacation you will probably want to set a budget. But we realize that you really may not know what a good budget would be. This page will help you figure out what things will cost and what not to forget in your budget plans. Once you have your budget you can decide if your dates are feasible, how much you need to save each month, and if you can splurge on that luxury activity when you get there.
Your budget can vary greatly depending on what you do, how far you have to travel there, your mode of travel, what level of experiences you want to have on the islands, whether you want to stay on the beach or just nearby, how long you are staying, and more. We’ll go through each section and help guide you to find the right numbers to add to your budget.
Each section below will take you through all the areas that your most likely to experience on your Hawaiian vacation. We’ll take you through flights, hotels, arrival, transportation, activities, food, and a whole lot of smaller and sometimes optional items for you to consider. Once you’re done you should have a much better idea of what you need to plan for. We look forward to hearing about your Hawaiian Vacation.
One of the 3 largest items in your budget will most likely be your flights. This is the way that almost everyone gets to Hawaii and the only way we recommend doing so. The only other way is by boat, and that means you’ll be at sea for about 3-4 days each way, wasting a week of vacation that could be spent on the islands having fun. To set your budget for your flights, head over to Google Flights and do a quick search from your location to the island that you are thinking about visiting. At this point you are just looking for an idea on the cost. If your dates are too far out and there are no flights for those dates, just pick a date about 4 months out and find the cost for that time.
Next, add at least $25, but possibly $50 for one optional piece of luggage. While it is possible to go completely carry on (and some valid reasons to do so), you will most likely be purchasing souvenirs in Hawaii to bring back, also having 1 checked bag allows you to send all those liquids that you cant get otherwise.
Don’t forget taxes, and any upgrades you may want. For example, if flying by Delta we recommend upgrading at least to the main cabin (cost of $25) so you can sit by your companions while traveling to Hawaii. It’s a long flight to be squished between 2 strangers.
Finally don’t forget any taxes and other fees. Add all this with your cost of the flight for your total flight cost.
We’ve seen round trip flights for as low as $450 from Las Vegas, and about as high as you can imagine. Hawaiian Airlines has some very nice seats that actually recline 180 degrees. If your budget allows, that may be a nice treat so you arrive relaxed in Hawaii.
There are several options for how you want to stay. Hotel, Motel, Hostel, Timeshare rental, Home Rental, or even camping.
You could stay in a high end resort, which has many of the amenities like a pool, being close to beaches, etc. but usually do not have things like a kitchen. If you choose this option, your food budget may be a little higher, but a hotel or resort can be exactly what you need. The average price for a 3 star hotel is about $350. We’ve seen some under $200 and for ones with the best features you could be looking at $600 or more. We don’t recommend skimping here, you’ll be spending a lot of time here. We normally recommend finding something for around $300 a night for 2 people. Don’t forget taxes though, that can add another $40 to that cost.
Another option is to purchase a timeshare rental. You can find great options at tug2.net marketplace. You are not required to go to any timeshare presentations with a rental. We’ve done this several times and you get great quality resorts for just a little more than a hotel would cost.
Other options include home or condo rentals. You can get some of these through sites like airbnb.com and the average that we’ve seen is still around $200 a night per couple after fees. This option also allows you to have a kitchen so you can eat breakfast before you leave, and perhaps even pack a lunch to keep your food costs lower.
Finally there are some options for camping. Rules for camping vary so check where you want to go and what those costs may be. This is usually the cheapest option.
This is an option that we truly recommend. When you arrive in Hawaii there will be many people who are being greeted and given a flower lei as the way to welcome you to the islands. This stems back for ages, and is something that we really recommend. Other vendors offer other upgrades in the type of lei you’ll receive. Some are flowers, some shells, and some even have nuts (not edible).
This will apply to you if you are planning to visit more than 1 island on your trip. There’s no means of travel between islands other than flights (or chartering your own boat). The only alternative was a ferry that got shut down due to environmental impact on the whales. We certainly do NOT want to cause the whales to go anywhere else so we’ll manage. The cost is fairly inexpensive, between $55 to $120 per flight. You can book a flight with Hawaiian Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, or SouthWest Airlines. However, unlike in the past where you’d normally have to purchase an island flight on all travel outside Oahu, most commercial flights will now have options directly onto the island you are planning on visiting and we recommend that option in most cases. The exceptions are Molokai and Lanai, which are the only two islands that do have a ferry.
You’ll need to get around once you get there. On some trips, if you plan on staying at the hotel other than when you book excursions (who will usually pick you up), you could do without a car at all. However, in our experience this can end up being a more expensive option if you plan on doing very much (even if you plan on being at the beach, are you going to want to do the same beach?).
Our recommendation is to book a car rental. First, it will allow you to do some island tours on your own (we can show you some options), go to multiple beaches, and be able to explore the islands. Vehicle rental competition is brutal on the islands, which is in your favor, it keeps the prices lower. You can rent a small car for about $500-$800 a week (about $200 of this is taxes and fees). You can even rent a convertible for just over $700 which we definitely recommend on some island tours like the Road to Hana, just remember not to heave the top down as it does rain in Hawaii (to keep the islands green). Or a jeep if you plan on going anywhere back country.
See a list of Car Rental companies here
Along with your car you will have other driving expenses. If you are parking at a resort you may have daily parking fees, and many places around the island will have parking fees as well. If you plan on going into any National Parks you may have entrance fees (usually pretty low). The biggest part of this budget line will be your fuel. Depending on where you are driving to, you could expect an average of about $50 a day in gas. With the other fees, we recommend estimating about $70 a day for this category per vehicle.
Your budget could vary widely in this area. Do you plan on taking advantage of all the activities offered? Do you plan on one or more flight tours. We recommend budgeting at least $125 per day per person for things like snorkeling trips, whale watching tours, luaus, bike tours, parasailing, ziplining, and more. You’ll need to increase that if you plan on doing things like helicopter tours or doing more than one thing per day. You can decrease it slightly if you plan on spending a lot of time on the beach (we recommend spending at least a day or two relaxing), or if you plan to go out on your own on driving tours.
For some of you, you won’t return to the islands for many years and for some not at all (we’re very sorry), so make the most of your trip. We don’t recommend overbooking, so make sure to plan for some downtime, but budget enough to experience much of what the islands have to offer.
The cost of food can vary depending on your lifestyle. However, the cost of food at the grocery store can be high compared to the mainland, so be prepared for expenses regarding your food. If you plan on eating out every meal, we recommend budgeting about $150 a day per person. You can reduce that if you have a kitchen in your place of lodging, so you could have breakfast, and even pack a lunch. We do recommend experiencing some of the island food while you are here. In the case that you prepare some food at home, and taking into account that cost, you would still expect to budget about $50 per person per day. Food at luaus and on other excursions may be covered in your activity costs, so you can take that into consideration as well. We recommend budgeting about $100 a day if you plan to eat out some, but prepare some of your own meals (especially lunches), and perhaps cook some breakfasts at home (we actually bought a toaster on one of our trips and used that each morning).
On our Packing List you’ll find that you will need a few things to bring with you. We recommend purchasing some ahead of time, and some on the island, but either way you need to budget for all the items you do not have. Take a look at the list and note which ones you need to purchase, and put the total of all supplies in this section.
We recommend picking up a few things when you first get to the island, such as towels, shirts, hat, etc. (see packing list). Bring money for that. You (or your spouse) may also want to do a little shopping while you are there, and you’ll probably want to pick up an item or two, perhaps ship a few pineapples back home. You should budget at least some for shopping. We’d suggest a minimum of $100 per person, but if you really like to shop, you’d better add a little to that.
We recommend at least trying the Lomi Lomi Massage while you are on the islands. Of course this category could vary widely, we recommend starting with $120 per person for 1 massage and going from there.
Whether we like it or not, there are certain financial risks when traveling. These risks vary from the inconvenient, like a delayed suitcase, to something much more substantial, like a hurricane hitting the Hawaiian islands just before your departure. A travel insurance plan can cover losses incurred by your big Hawaiian vacation. The cost can vary depending upon your personal requirements, but usually averages about 5% of your trip cost.
If you are bringing kids to the islands you have the option to have them taken care of by an approved care service. We recommend care.com but the choice is ultimately up to you. If you add child care, expect about $10 an hour per child.
No, we don’t expect you to bring your pets with you, although for some you may. This is to remind you that you may need to get boarding for your pet back home. Again, care.com is a good option. Another option is rover.com. Cost would be roughly $30 a day.
There is an option that can replace your accommodations and food budget (for the most part). That would be to take an inter island cruise. The only cruise we know about is the Pride of America by NCL. You can get a room for about $1,600 for the week (per person), but upgrading to a balcony will allow you to experience the Na Pali Coast on Kauai and the Volcano on Hawaii from your own room. It’s also nice to be able to sit there and listen to the beach. We took this cruise and it was a great way to see all the islands, but it’s not a good way to really interact with them as you only spend 1 or 2 days in each island. When you take into account that you have to pay this per person (so about $3,200) it’s also not the best value option, but it includes housing and food, so it’s not too bad. It does offer a neat perspective of all the islands on one trip. Check it out at https://hawaiianplanner.com/discover/information/details/norwegian-cruise-pride-of-america
Your budget is ultimately up to you, but it can vary widely. Using this guide you can hopefully narrow it down. We also recommending adding a small amount to a contingency fund, for things that go over your estimate and for unforeseen events. A good estimate for a trip for 2 to Hawaii for 7 days, 6 nights would be between $4,000 - $10,000.
Extreme Budget Conscious Sample Budget for 2 for 7 days
|Flights (per person)||$500||$1,000|
|Lei Greeting (per person)||-||-|
|Lodging (Resort, per couple, per night for 6 nights)||$150||$900|
|Inter Island Flights (per person, one-way flight)||-||-|
|Transportation (compact car, per week, no insurance)||$200||$200|
|Parking Fees, National Park Fees and Fuel (per group, per day, 6 days)||$35||$210|
|Activities (per person for 2 days, free things on other days)||$75||$300|
|Food (per person, per day, 6 days)||$75||$900|
|Shopping and Souvenirs (in total)||-||$100|
|Supplies (in total)||-||$50|
|Child Care (none)||-||-|
|Pet Care (none)||-||-|
Budget with increased activities, Resort accommodations for 2 for 10 days
|Flights (per person)||$550||$1,100|
|Lei Greeting (per person)||$25||$50|
|Lodging (Resort, per couple, per night for 6 nights)||$390||$2,340|
|Inter Island Flights (per person, one-way flight)||-||-|
|Transportation (Jeep or convertible, per group, per week, & insurance)||$800||$800|
|Parking Fees, National Park Fees, and Fuel (per group, per day)||$35||$350|
|Activities (per person for 5 days)||$120||$1,200|
|Food (per person, per day, 6 days)||$125||$1,500|
|Shopping and Souvenirs (in total)||-||$200|
|Supplies (in total)||-||$100|
|Spa (Lomi Lomi Massage)||$150||$300|
|Child Care (none)||-||-|
|Pet Care (none)||-||-|