Let’s try to figure an approximate cost for the average one week Hawaiian vacation for two people. This will give you an idea which you can then multiply or divide by people or days to suit your particular situation.
My answer is $3,770 – read below for explanation why.
(flight prices are high right now – summer and gas prices, so add $200 per person for my current estimate)
Flight to Hawaii
This obviously will vary by where you are flying from. I’m going to pick the current price of a West Coast flight to Honolulu and the current cost of a Chicago flight to Honolulu and average them to use as our flight cost. If you are interested in general ongoing Hawaii flight discussions, check out my Hawaii Flight Prices Blog. Expedia Fare Tracker shows a generally average price of $400 from LA and $700 for the month of April. We’ll average that into $550 per person.
(Remember, this will be different depending on where you are flying from, what time of the year it is, and if you have any miles or flight certificates.)
So, approximate flight price for two people is $1100
What if I want to fly to a neighbor Island?
Well, traditionally you would have to fly to Oahu, and then take a flight to the neighbor island, for $70 or so one way. However, these days there are more and more flights directly into every other major airport in Hawaii, so maybe you can fly direct for about the same. I recommend Hawaiian airlines for neighbor island flights.
Hotel or Lodging prices
Well, obviously what you pay will depend on where you stay. Let’s assume you’ll be staying in a hotel, at a moderate price … say $160 a night, $175 once you figure in taxes and fees, etc. Here’s my page on the best hotels in Hawaii, IMO.
So, approximate lodging price for two people for 7 nights is $1225
You’ve gotta eat, and this can really get expensive. One time we stayed in Waikiki for a week at a hotel with a kitchenette. As soon as we got there we dropped $180 or so at a grocery store. (see my post on hawaii food prices here) I was a little blown away by this much money for a week’s worth of food, especially since we were still going to eat out a few times.
All in all we probably ended up spending about $250 on meals for two adults and a two year old.
Well, we also recently went to Las Vegas for a week and did NOT stay in a place with a kitchen. That was much worse. First of all, eating out every meal for 7 days is really not any fun. Secondly, we spent much more — probably almost $500. Think about it – breakfast was $20 at a very reasonably priced buffet, lunch at Quiznos or subway still ran us $25 dollars or so once you add in drinks, and we spent as much as $50 for dinner each night.
Let’s say $15 for breakfast, $20 for lunch, and $30 for dinner every day – that’s $65, so $455.
— okay, when I first wrote this I was a bit more spendthrift than I am now so let’s amend this to $5 for breakfast, $10 for lunch, $20 for dinner – adjust up and down as necessary, add $5 for drinks and snacks and that’s $40 a day, and only $280 for the week – so subtract $175 from the total per person
Well, every beach in Hawaii is free, except for Hanauma bay. So, hanging out on the beach or in the hotel pool is free. However, if you want to surf or snorkel, or scuba, or go on a cruise, etc – those are not free.
Let’s say you spend two days just hanging out and spend no money, then you spend two days doing inexpensive things like snorkeling or going to a museum or park ($40) and then you spend 4 days doing things like dinner cruises, scuba lessons, helicopter tours, etc. Say $500 total. This is very conservative.
I’m keeping it this low because visitors who are concerned about their budget can easily keep it under this and still have a great time, but most people probably spend much more.
So $540 for activities
Renting a car?
Renting a car is not always necessary, but I imagine most people do. Let’s add in $450 for a car
Total a typical Hawaiian vacation might run you: $3,770 with a car $3,320, without.
A vacationer sent my his expenditure sheet for a couple- thanks Tony! His does not include food costs.
MIA to HNL, HNL to MIA $1,289.80
HNL to KOA $182.56
KOA to LIH $194.56
LIH to HNL $150.00
Total Hawaiian Airlines: $527.12
Total Flight Expenses: $1,816.92
Honolulu, Ohau: Sheraton Waikiki Hotel ($882.36) $441.11
Volcano, Big Island: Kate’s Bungalow ($412.22) $206.11
Kona, Big Island: SURF & RACQUET CLUB ($994.23) $497.12
Lihue, Kauai: The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort ($78.00) $39.00
Total Hotels Expenses: $1,183.34
Honolulu: Hertz Rental Car ($142.15) $71.08
Kona: Alamo Rental Car ($151.57) $75.79
Lihue: Alamo Rental Car ($260.08) $130.04
Total Rental Car Expenses: $276.90
Total Flights, Hotels & Rental Cars Expenses: $3,277.16
Hawaiian Islands Tours
Total Costs For Honolulu Tours: $0.00
Blue Hawaiian Heli (Circle of Fire Tour) ($871.21) $435.61
Mauna Kea Summit Adventures ($668.72) $334.36
Total Cost For Kona/Hilo Tours: $769.97
Blue Hawaiian Helicoper Tour (Kauai ECO Adventure) $479.80
Total Cost For Lihue Tours: $479.80
Total Hawaiian Islands Tours Expenses: $1,249.77
Grand Total Hawaiian Vacation Cost Per Couple: $4,526.92
Total Cost Per Person: $2,263.46
I welcome your comments on what your vacation did cost or will cost.
I got some great comments on the old vacation costs page – I’m adding them in below
kelly c: It appears that Tony’s breakout often adds the per person rate into the per couple total. When I add up his figures I get $8578 per couple or $4289 per person.
travelcupid: We are going to Kauai in Feb flying from Detroit. The flights will be about 10 hours long excluding lay over in Denver and LA This is how much I have spent so far for tickets for two people and hotels/condo. We are going for 20 days: Airplane tickets bought 3 months in advance about $530 pp total about $1060 First three nights for hotel at Kauai Inn (excellent review in tripadvisor)69.99 p/n total $209.97 + tax 2/5-2/12 at a resort won a bid on Ebay (great reviews) $390.00 including taxes and cleaning fees. 2/12 – 2/22 $500 for 10 nights including taxes and cleaning fees in a condo found on craigslist. The guy who rents it will be on a long vacation so he is subletting it out. Talked with owners, feel very comfortable and pictures of the units are beautiful. I’ll let you know if I’m happy when I come back. SO for three weeks our vacation will cost us for two peaople flight+hotel/condo about $1660.00. All condos and hotels have either a kitchenette or full kitchen.
Scott: Thanks … this helps give some good insight on prices. My wife and I are traveling in March. I bought our flights with miles, so we’ll just have to pay for baggage – taking one bag ($25 each way). We’re spending a week on Oahu at her parent’s time share so we’re just paying the maintenance fee ($500). We’ve added two nights on Maui. I bought a package deal (flight+hotel) on bookit.com for about $1,000 (I splurged). I bought an Entertainment book on eBay and found so many coupons to use ($20).
Add in whale watching ($100), Polynesian Culture Center ($200 – splurged but used a coupon), massages ($100), rental cars from Hotwire ($200 Oahu, $100 Maui), and food (budgeting $600). That’s $2870 for a couple. And we’re staying at a 5-star resort, renting a convertible, splurging on PCC and massages.
Rachel: We travel to Oahu a lot and don’t spend nearly as much as posted. One thing to keep in mind when going there (or anywhere really) is high season vs low season. We generally travel low season because we don’t have kids or a work schedule that restricts us from certain times. Here’s the cost of last three trips: . 5 nights in October- stayed at Outrigger on the beach with ocean view room; flights from Portland, Or to HNL= $1800 for two. Not sure what we spent out of pocket, but we are more spend thrift with our money and generally dont buy cocktails at restaurants, but make our own in our room. . 8 nights in October- stayed at the Sheraton Waikiki. We splurged more for this trip and got an ocean front room which we were upgraded to a suite. Flight from PDX to HNL= $2400 for two. . We are going back this June and renting a condo with another couple on the Waikiki Beach Walk. 7 nights including air= $1526 per couple. . Costs can get high if you go crazy and not be mindful of what you are paying. We travel a lot and we didn’t think what we paid to eat in HA was any different than what we have paid in FL, Vegas, PHX, etc. If you have expensive tastes, it can be expensive quick- that’s no joke. But if you are more mindful about costs, you can easily vacation to Hawaii for a decent amount. . Shrimp trucks- a must! Generally, $11-12 per plate. Cheeseburgers in Paradise- $8-10 a burger. Side of fries for two= $4 Jimmy Buffets- burgers under $10. Drinks what you would expect to pay at most places. California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory- $10-$15 an entree if ordering more conservative (burgers, sandwhiches, etc) . Hope that helps anyone out looking for moderate costs. The best thing about Hawaii- all the great activities are virtually free! The beaches are the best spot to be!
Kate: It is great to read your information, Lisa, you are incredible. Thank you. What a gift! What I’ve learned from you and other smart travelers is: do your homework, do things far in advance, ask about everything, read the fine print, and also DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Google to your heart’s content. One link will lead to another to another and before you know it, it’s the next day! There’s a ton of info out there…sometimes it is consistent, sometimes not. . Right now, I’m planning a trip to Hawaii. My cousin and I are going to Oahu in mid-September for a week. We are both senior citizens, but unfortunately there’s no island discount offered for old fogeys (exception: Foodland offers 5% off on Thursdays: YIKES!!!). . I’ve already learned a lot and will do things differently next time. For one thing, I wish I’d planned on two full days of traveling. With the time change from the mainland, the first travel day is shot, even if you ARE leaving at 6 in the morning! Your trip home is a full day, too. And Priceline is anything but forgiving when they accept your bid. I could have spent literally $23 more total and booked a nonstop flight each way, via Hawaiian. With Priceline, I bid for and got Delta, and there’s a plane change mid-trip, both ways. I won’t do that again. So, at Priceline, I bid on airfare for one of us flying out of Phoenix, Arizona (just over $400) and one flying out of Oakland, California (just under $500), separately. Both air fare deals include taxes and fees, etc. Today, just 3 days later, the costs are much much higher, system-wide. We got lucky. But the time there will be 6 days, not 7. . I also bid at Priceline.com on the rental car and got a great deal ($133, including everything, for the week). I will bid a lot less next time. I’m factoring $67 for gas. . We bought our 3-day OAHU GO CARDS for $125 each, at the COSTCO website (they are otherwise $170 apiece). We will use it every other day (planning is intense for trying to achieve the best bang for your buck with those cards, I’ll tell ya), and on the days we don’t use them, we’re going to chill out on a different Oahu beach each day! The 3-day GO CARD: we picked Germaine’s Luau for one of the bonus evenings. We’re also going to do the Circle Island Tour, a catamaran breakfast cruise, snorkeling, stand up paddling, kayaking, hiking, canoeing, seeing the sets of LOST! and Jurassic Park, Diamond Head, and the Trolley. The rest of the time is mostly la dolce far niente! . We also signed up for free email notifications from Groupon.com and Hotdealshawaii.com. Everyday, there’s a new deal. I’m looking for restaurant deals, mainly. For example, we already got a $30 deal at G Sushi, for $15. If, by the time September rolls around, we find half-price deals like that, we’ll be happy. . After spending most of the day searching the web for suitable accommodations, I found a gonga one-bedroom, full kitchen, condo (Waikiki Banyan), very very high floor, ocean view, balcony, the works, at a good price. I called the owner and asked for a discount on top of that (we’re a couple of well-mannered grandmothers after all), and we’re getting the 7 nights for $700, and it INCLUDES cleaning fee, taxes, FREE parking, amenities galore, like a swimming pool deck with a view, and a 60-second walk to Waikiki Beach. We got lucky here. But after 18 hours of research, maybe it was more skill than fortune? . You can get Honolulu Safeway and Foodland ads online, and make your grocery list before you leave! Groceries will probably cost $100 for the week for the two of us. I’ll arrive 3 hours earlier than my cousin, so I’ll do the food shopping, then return to HNL to pick her up. . We’re going to prepare our own breakfasts AND dinners each day, and we’ll just splurge on lunches, which are much less costly than dinners, as you know. . During the evenings, after dinner, we will stroll down to the beaches, and maybe get dessert somewhere fancy. We’re figuring $20 apiece on lunch (tip included), but maybe less if those coupon deals come through; or, we may split a single order if the plates are large enough; and $5 apiece on after-dinner sweets. . So, let’s see: for the two of us for one week in a fabulous location ($700), round-trip airfare ($900), with numerous things to do every other day ($250), beach bumming the rest of the time; mid-day meals at restaurants ($200); a luau during one of the evenings; nightly desserts the rest of the time ($50); a rental car (figure $67 for gas); $100 incidentals; $100 for groceries. This all totals $2,250, or $1,125 for each of us. ALL INCLUSIVE. Not bad in my book, in which Lisa gets an A Plus! Mahalo, Lisa, you and your readers made a big difference. Aloha, all!