You’ve said it thousands of times in the comments. And we hear you. The cost of vacationing in Hawaii has increased tremendously. We just experienced it ourselves during last week’s visit to the Big Island. The price of the same housing has increased by around 300% compared to before Covid. Wow. At the same time, inter-island air fares have dropped to $39 each way.
Increases in the cost of Hawaii vacations run the gamut of travel spending. It includes transportation (and especially car rental), hotels, food, and Hawaiian activities. We would go so far as to say that Hawaii vacations have become synonymous with high prices and are best compared to international vacation costs rather than domestic costs.
It is said that Americans tend to spend about 2% of their annual budget on vacations. This is according to the latest statistics from the federal government. But Hawaii is in a league of its own, and those budgets are now exceeded in most cases.
How we saved on our Big Island Hawaii vacation.
Instead of booking massages for $300 or more at the hotel spa, we both opted for the Hokulani Massage Academy in Waimea, where apprentice massage rates are $45 for an hour and a professional massage d an hour is $75. We also requested a microwave at our hotel to enjoy a meal on the veranda at the grocery store rather than an expensive meal at the restaurant every night. That said, we splurged and ate at Canoe House one night, which we thoroughly enjoyed and may revisit depending on the food, location, ambiance and creativity.
Another saving was checking and rechecking car rental prices before our trip. We wrote about this experience specifically in We Saved Extra 25% On Hawaii Car Rental. It wasn’t Costco.
We also had sticker shock trying to get an Uber at one point. The 12-mile trip was originally priced at $179, and we’ll let you know what happened in another humorous yet revealing article.
So while airfare and hotel prices may or may not fluctuate, you can save on activities and meals by getting creative and researching online. If you have any tips on how you saved on your Hawaii vacation, share them with others in the comments below as prices have hit new highs.
What is the average cost of a moderate 7-night vacation to Hawaii for two today?
- Accommodation: $2,800 (i.e. at the economic end of the scale).
- Airfare: $1,200 (may be more or less depending on location).
- Car rental: $800 (varies considerably depending on season and other factors).
- Food and beverages: $1,400 (with one moderate main meal per day).
Estimated total average cost: $6,200 per week.
Due to the cost of airfare to travel 2,500 to 5,000 miles and the highest cost of accommodation in the United States, vacations in Hawaii are different from most domestic travel. Total costs can vary greatly depending on how you travel, where you stay and eat, and what you do. Older Hawaii vacationers tend to spend more. We’ve seen estimates that those in or nearing retirement spend up to 4 times more on Hawaii vacations than those in their 20s, for example.
Are you now going to flee Hawaii for a more affordable vacation?
Hawaii vacation costs here have been rising faster than we see elsewhere. Take even restaurants, for example. They raised their prices due to the costs of food, supplies, shipping, insurance, and fuel. That’s probably the truth, given what we’re seeing here at Costco and other stores here in Hawaii. Prices have risen more here than elsewhere. This is partly due to the distance everything has to travel to get to Hawaii.
Is it difficult for Hawaii tourism businesses to attract and retain employees?
Then there is the cost of people. Attracting travel industry employees to Hawaii post-Covid is extremely difficult. And this problem doesn’t seem to get better. We still find businesses suddenly shut down when the right staff fails to show up for work.
Higher airfares are also coming, except for these specific routes.
The cost of flights to Hawaii is on the rise. Economy class airfares to Hawaii increased less, while extra legroom and business class increased much more. These premium offers have increased by more than 100% on average since pre-Covid, based on our own verifications.
The exception to airfare increases are routes where extreme competition between Hawaii and the Southwest continues to suppress price increases. This mainly includes flights to Hawaii from cities in California and inter-island flights. On these routes, it’s still easy to find airfares to Hawaii around RT$300, or less, including taxes and fees. In this case, for two people, the average cost may be equal to or less than $600.
Start planning your trip to Hawaii with Hawaii hotels to find all the value options.
Since hotel rates in Hawaii are the highest in the United States, start looking for value options there before buying plane tickets. Revenge travel, post-pandemic, has driven these rates to levels never seen before.
During your editors’ visit to the Big Island this week, we found that hotel rates had increased several times since their last visit before Covid. For example, we once wrote about staying at the Kona Tiki Beachfront Hotel on the Big Island, when it was $69 a night. When checking rates today, that same room starts at $309 a night for a two-star budget hotel. On the Kohala Coast, prices for beachfront resorts have increased by hundreds of percent.
Hotels/vacation rentals in Hawaii are the number one expense. It can now cost at least five times more than airfare to Hawaii.
With the highest hotel accommodation rates in the United States, accommodation for an average 7-night Hawaii vacation, including taxes and fees, will likely cost $3,000 or more. And if you’re heading to Maui, keep in mind that hotels in Wailea still have daily rates in the $1,000 range. So you can expect a 7-night stay with taxes and fees to net you $8,500 or more.
These estimates are also conservative. We recently checked South Maui property rates for January and found Andaz and Four Seasons, for example, starting at almost $2,000 per night. Lower-end properties, such as Aston Maui Hill, were asking $1,098 in January.
Remember that hotels in Hawaii have dynamic prices and tend to adjust prices daily and seasonally.
Have you ever considered the 7-night NCL cruise visiting four islands?
Current pricing starts at $1,449 per person and includes your room, meals, entertainment, Wi-Fi and complimentary shore excursions. Your editors have done this cruise twice and highly recommend it. When you add up the cost of a 7 night vacation for two, it’s a great option to save money and visit Big Island, Oahu, Maui and Kauai. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun.
Have you tried buying a lei in Hawaii lately?
This is just another example of skyrocketing costs. The cost of flowers in Hawaii has become extreme. Once ubiquitous and inexpensive, flowers are hard to come by. Probably due to lack of manpower for island floriculture. We also opted out of purchasing a beach towel at our Big Island hotel, which was $117 with tax. Seriously?
Now it’s your turn to comment. Were you surprised by the costs in Hawaii? What did you do to save money?