January 2, 2018

How much does it cost to go to Hawaii? 2018 money-saving tips for a trip to Hawaii for two :: budget travel

How much does it cost to go to Hawaii? How to save money on vacation a trip to Hawaii for two.


How much money an average trip to Hawaii costs is hard to say definitively because there are a lot of factors that can make your Hawaii vacation cheaper or more expensive.

Whether you’re planning an annual family vacation, destination wedding, honeymoon, or anniversary trip in 2018, here are just a few of those reasons that can influence the cost of a trip to Hawaii:

  • The time of year you go to Hawaii
  • When you buy the big-ticket items (flights and accommodation)
  • Where you are flying from
  • How many people are in your family
  • Which Hawaiian islands you go to (Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island)
  • How long your Hawaii vacation is
  • What type of things you want to do in Hawaii
  • What type of place you want to stay at in Hawaii
  • How much of a budget traveler vs luxury traveler you want to be, or somewhere in between!

But, to at least get you started to give you at least some idea, listed below is pretty much the absolute minimum it costs to go to Hawaii, and from here, the expenses will go up.

Of course, there are always exceptions, but in general here are some price points to expect.

So for this sample Hawaii budget, this is what’s considered:

  • Trip for two
  • 7-day vacation (6 nights)
  • Going to the Hawaiian island of Oahu only
  • Flying out of California
  • Active travelers, and don’t mind tons of walking! 😉
  • Budget travelers

These are really popular guidebooks for planning a trip to any of the Hawaiian islands!

Here’s how to get a free Hawaii travel guide from the Hawaii state tourism department.

Total Hawaii trip cost for two: $1,900 minimum

This $2,000 price tag for the cost of a trip to Hawaii includes:

Yes, if your timing is right, and you really want to make it happen, you can go to Hawaii for under $2,000! Well, if you fit the profile of the above considerations. 😉 Which means that a trip to Hawaii might end up costing you more than that.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t include anything that you may want to buy to bring on vacation, like clothes you might want to wear in Hawaii and things you might want to pack for Hawaii.

things to do in hawaii | map >>  best snorkeling spotsbest beachesbest hikeshawaiian culture activities

4 things you just may want for your trip to Hawaii!

It’s never too early to start planning. 😉

  1. Walking + Hiking: These types of travel sandals that’ll be less hot than shoes while still giving you comfort and traction on the trails
  2. Beach + Snorkeling: These types of beach outfits – These types of UV protection shirts – These types of beach shoes to protect your feet from coral reef and hidden rocks!
  3. Out and about in style: Matching Hawaiian outfits because… why not 😉
  4. Air travel: These types of suitcases so you can pack light, travel in comfort, and save money!

So, how much would a trip to Hawaii cost for two?

Let’s break it down for a one week Hawaii vacation…

Flight to Hawaii

How much does it cost to go to Hawaii: Cheap flights

San Jose to Honolulu for two: $900

Generally speaking, flying from the west coast will naturally get you the cheapest flights to Hawaii. And you might be able to find flights to Hawaii from San Jose at $400 per person.

How far is Hawaii from California? The flight from California to Hawaii is about a 5-6 hour long direct flight.

Alaska Airlines tends to offer some of the cheapest prices, and Hawaiian Airlines and American Airlines can be competitive too.

In June 2017, United Airlines announced that it will be adding more flights to Hawaii from Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco starting in December. This is good news for the cost to go to Hawaii in 2018! Well, it’s good news for cheaper flights, but it may also mean that demand for hotels will be higher. 😉

And on top of that, Southwest Airlines announced in October 2017 that it will start flying to Hawaii for the very first time! This may also mean cheaper flights to Hawaii from California, since that’s where it seems Southwest may start their Hawaiian island flight services, according to one prediction. Plans for Southwest Airlines are to start selling tickets to Hawaii in 2018.

See for yourself how much your flight to Hawaii might cost from where you live:

  • Cheapoair flight search: Compare a bunch of airlines at once. It’ll also search combinations of partner airlines to look for the best flight deals to Hawaii. There’s also a good chance you can get a discount on your first booking. Search for flights here.
  • Kiwi flight search: This also compares a bunch of airlines at once. This is perfect if you have flexible dates and want to get an idea of the cheapest time to fly to Hawaii with the assortment of tools available. Search for flights here.
  • Hawaiian Airlines monthly calendar: When you go to search for flights directly on the Hawaiian Airlines website, right near the search button, select the price calendar or price chart. This lets you see the cheapest prices to fly in the whole month. You can also check the price calendar to see the cheapest dates to fly to Hawaii, and then use the other flight search engines to check more airlines for those dates. If Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t fly from a city near you, try searching any west coast airport just to get an idea.

Also be sure to see whether the flight itinerary will require you to stop in another city. If a flight with a layover vs a direct flight has a price difference of $20, you may consider that extra cost to be worth it to have a direct flight to Hawaii to minimize travel time.

Extra time at an airport for a layover could also mean extra money you spend in the way of airport food. You can bring your own food (carry-on friendly!) but if you don’t, airport food is typically expensive!

You will also want to look at the time of arrival into Honolulu airport. You might not like the idea of arriving to an unfamiliar city at night.

When you’re thinking about what to pack for Hawaii, try to pack light without any big containers of liquids so you can avoid any extra baggage fees.

Most airlines will charge you from the first checked bag, but look into this once you’ve booked your flight. (Or before, if you definitely will be checking in a bag, so you can compare total price of the flight with baggage fees.)

And pick these seats on your flight to Honolulu airport to have the best chance of aerial views of Oahu!

How to find the cheapest flights Hawaii

If you’re ready to start really thinking about booking your flight, have a look at this step-by-step guide on how to find the cheapest time to fly to Hawaii.

Place to stay in Hawaii

How much does it cost to go to Hawaii: Vacation rentals instead of hotels as cheap places to stay

Vacation rental: $450

This is based on paying $75 per night on these types of vacation rentals on Oahu. (Find a referral link there to get up to a $40 discount on your booking to save more money on your trip to Hawaii!)

It could be possible for you to find nightly rates that are closer to $60 if your timing is good! If you’re going solo to Hawaii, you may be able to find rentals for under $50 a night. This means your cost for accommodation becomes closer to $300.

If you are taking a trip to Hawaii as a family of 4 or 5, it could be possible for you to find vacation homes in the $450 price range as well. But again, this will depend much on your timing and what you’re looking for.

Have a look to see what’s available a few months out to get a little bit of an idea with the types of rental properties available and what the cheaper rentals are like.

Vacation rentals in Hawaii tend to be a cheaper option than the popular Waikiki Beach hotels, making accommodation a great area to save money! So take a look.

Hawaii vacation package with flight + hotel + car rental

Or, if you’re not feeling the airbnb thing, getting a package deal and bundling up your flight, hotel, and car rental could be a good way to save a few extra dollars too. You can search for Hawaii vacation packages here. Once again, there’s a good chance you can get a discount off your first booking.

Eating in Hawaii

How much does it cost to go to Hawaii: Cheap food

Food for two: $250

Staying at a vacation rental also gives you the chance to save some money on food too. Find a rental in Hawaii that will give you kitchen access so you can cook food instead of eating out all the time.

Head to the grocery store in Hawaii: Foodland, Safeway, Times Supermarket

Before you leave for Hawaii, look for some grocery stores that are located close to where you’re staying so you know where to go. Foodland, Safeway, and Times Supermarket are considered to be more of the discount grocery stores. You can sign up for the loyalty cards when you’re at the cash register to save a few more dollars.

While making your own food will likely come out to be cheaper than eating out, the prices for almost all groceries in Hawaii are probably higher than what you pay at home.

Cheap meal idea #1

To save money, make things like pasta. As an example, flavor it with tomato paste diluted with water, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Your vacation rental host may have some of these seasonings available for use. You can buy jars of pasta sauce in Hawaii too, but tomato paste is usually cheaper. You may consider bringing dried pasta from home, and if you do so, make it elbow macaroni to get more food for less space in your suitcase.

Cheap meal idea #2

While not the healthiest of options, pasta-roni or rice-a-roni type of dishes can make for easy and cheap food in Hawaii. You can probably find it for $1 at your home grocery store on sale, so be on the lookout for it. Knorr has these in a pouch instead of a box so they will take up less space in your luggage.

Make it at night ahead of time, wait for it to cool down, and then put the cooked food in a ziplock bag, then the fridge, so you can have it as a picnic lunch the next day!

The pouch says it includes multiple servings, but when you’re quite active throughout the day, the whole thing makes for a good meal for a single person. Try this at home first to see if you like it.

And when carrying it in your daypack like one of these cheaper ones (or this daypack that’s for hiking), it’s also a good idea to put the food with an extra layer like with a plastic bag or a ziplock storage bag to protect against any spillage.

Spend money on fruits and veggies

But also spend a few extra dollars on fresh produce or frozen vegetables to make sure you’re not completely neglecting healthy eating. You want to make sure you have plenty of energy during your Hawaii vacation!

Food that’s special to Hawaii to spend money on

Another area you may want to spend a few extra dollars:

Leonard’s kind of near Diamond Head and Matsumoto’s on the North Shore are popular tourist points of interest. And there is a Paina Cafe location near the popular attractions of Hanauma Bay for snorkeling and Koko Head for hiking. Dole Plantation you may consider fitting in on your way to the North Shore from Waikiki.

Of course, cost of food also depends on your appetite! And the more active you are in Hawaii, the more you may want to eat! If it goes with your food, like pasta or rice, add canola oil to your food to give you more calories. This can help so you don’t get hungry as easily, so you’re not feeling like you’re depriving yourself or that you need to buy more food.

Activities in Hawaii

How much does it cost to go to Hawaii: Cheap activities and things to do

Activities for two: $115

Much of this cost of activities in Oahu are for bus tickets.

If you like hiking, snorkeling, or just lazing on the beach, there are plenty of budget activities with free and cheap things to do in Hawaii!

Some activities do require more time in transit on the bus when you’re in Hawaii on a budget, but not renting a car when you are two people can often mean money saved. The bus costs $5 for a single day pass. Here’s more about taking the bus on Oahu.

Oahu is really the most convenient Hawaiian island to take the bus to get around to different places of interest for tourists. In this aspect, it makes Oahu a budget-friendly island when it comes to a Hawaii vacation.

You may consider renting a car for one day to do a drive around Oahu, but that’s not included in this sample Hawaii trip for two. Renting a car can be around $40-50, and your total cost will also depend on how much gas you use up. Also consider that parking fees in Waikiki can add up, but you may be able to avoid those fees with a vacation rental in a residential neighborhood! See all of the perks that come with these types of vacation rentals that help you save money? 😉

As a start, next are some sample days that can help you to stay on budget in Hawaii.

The costs below include bus tickets and admission fees, if there are any.

Since the bus will be $5 per person, consider that each trip will cost a minimum of $10 for two if you’re not staying within walking distance of any of your activities. This is also assuming that you’re staying somewhere within walking distance of Waikiki.

Also, while there is snorkel rental on Oahu available, you may want to bring your own snorkeling gear.

Here are tips on what to bring for a snorkeling trip.

And, buy or rent snorkel gear?

So now, here is how much some days in Hawaii may cost you, with the price listed being the total for two people:

What other budget-friendly activities are there in Hawaii?

Well, good thing there’s this Oahu map for you to explore! 😉

Hiking trails

Snorkeling spots


Hawaiian culture activities

Things to do in Oahu by bus

things to do in oahu | map >> waikiki – east oahunorth shorecentral oahu

How much does it cost to go to Hawaii? Oahu map with cheap things to do in Oahu, Hawaii.

Wherever you go, always leave for your activities with tons of water! It will help you stay SAFE in the hot weather!

Some possible ways to carry your water:

Here are more tips for hiking in Hawaii.

And here are tips for snorkeling in Hawaii.

Protecting your trip to Hawaii with travel insurance

How much does it cost to go to Hawaii: Travel insurance

Travel insurance for two: $85

There are a few different factors that determine how much your travel insurance will be. Have a look here to see how much it would be for you.

There are also different levels of coverage. This price point is under the best coverage (top plan) that includes emergency medical, travel delays, baggage delays, as well as the trip cancellation and trip interruption that comes with the most basic plans.

This may seem like a lot to tack on to your cost of a trip to Hawaii, but you’re likely planning your Hawaii vacation months ahead of time. You just can’t predict what will happen during that time. And for during your vacation itself, the more active you are, the chance of something happening does increase a little.

And if something does happen to your flight itinerary or your luggage, or worse yet, to you, the amount that you spend on travel insurance can save you a ton of money! (And stress!) So be sure to look into it!

The extras

How much does it cost to go to Hawaii: Souvenirs and Hawaiian gifts

Extras: $100

There are probably things that you will come across when you’re in Hawaii that you’ll want (or need) to spend money on. And for that, an extra $100 has been added in. How generous. 😉

One expense that you will be sure to have that wasn’t listed in any of the categories above is getting to and from the Honolulu airport. As a budget traveler, it is possible to take the bus to get to your vacation rental.

But if this is your plan, you need to travel with a backpack, as large suitcases are not allowed on the bus. You need to be able to sit it on your lap and not overflow into someone else’s space. Take a look at this backpack for women and this backpack for men. You can also likely get away with a carry-on suitcase on the bus, but do so at your own risk!

Otherwise, it really depends on where you’re staying, but you can likely expect to pay $30-40 for a taxi from the Honolulu airport to Waikiki or somewhere around there. And then you’ll need to pay the same to get back to the airport.

Calculating your own travel budget for a trip to Hawaii

This guide to a Hawaii travel budget isn’t meant to serve as a definitive guide at all. There are so many factors that can influence how much it will cost you to go to Hawaii. This ranges from what type of traveler you are to the timing of purchasing your flight and vacation rental.

But, hopefully it gives you a start in terms of things to think about!

Some of the estimates listed above may require you to try a little bit harder to stay within that price range. Some of the numbers in this Hawaii budget may initially seem unrealistic. Well, this mainly applies to food.

But again, if you plan ahead of time and are committed to saving money on a trip to Hawaii, it is possible!

Remember, this cost estimate also doesn’t include anything you’ll want to buy to bring to Hawaii. This can include things like snorkeling gear that you might want when you’re thinking about what to wear snorkeling and hiking gear that you might want when you’re thinking about what to wear hiking.



what to pack for hawaii >> what to wear snorkeling  – what to wear hiking – what to wear to a luau

things to do in oahu | map >> hikes | beaches – snorkeling | hawaiian culture | driving – bus || cheaper places to stay

hawaiian gifts

Best shoes for your active vacation

Hit search at the top for any of these items to get more variety on Amazon through these affiliate links!
- Walking: These types of hiking sandals. For walking in hot weather, they are more breathable than shoes, while still giving you necessary traction on the trails. Also see these travel sandals.
- Beach: These types of beach shoes. For beach walking, wading in the water, and rocky shorelines, they can prevent cuts from hidden rocks or when bumping into coral reef.

see more: what to wear hiking - what to wear snorkeling - what to wear on a cruise formal night

Best things to pack for active travel

- First-time snorkelers love full-face snorkeling masks.
- These UV protection shirts are a hit so you don't have to keep re-applying sunscreen and don't have to worry as much about getting sunburn!
- These types of small backpacks are perfect for a day out so you can carry essentials... and snacks!
- And these popular packing cubes can be a life-saver when you're traveling!

Don't get your valuables stolen when you travel

- On city excursions: This neck pouch that tons of people love. It makes it harder for money to be stolen, and RFID-blocking feature stops thieves from scanning your credit card info when they are close to you.
- At the beach: This type of pouch that you can easily take your wallet in the water with you, instead of leaving on the beach.