I’ve said it thousands of times in the comments. And we hear you. The cost of vacations in Hawaii has skyrocketed. We just experienced this ourselves on a visit last week to the Big Island. The price of the same accommodations has increased by about 300% compared to the pre-Covid period. Fabulous. At the same time, prices for airline tickets between the islands have fallen to $39 each way.
Increases in the cost of Hawaii vacations fall across the full range of trip expenses. It includes transportation (especially rental cars), hotels, food, and Hawaiian activities. We go so far as to say that Hawaii vacations have become synonymous with being expensive and better compared to international vacation costs rather than domestic costs.
It is said that Americans tend to allocate 2% of their annual budget to vacations. That’s according to the latest federal government statistics. But Hawaii is in a union in its own right, and those budgets are now out the window in most cases.
How We Saved Our Vacation In Hawaii On The Big Island.
Instead of booking massages for $300 or more at the hotel spa, we totally opted for the Hokulani Massage Academy in Waimea, where apprentice massages are $45 an hour and an hour professional massages $75. We also ordered a microwave in our hotel to enjoy lanai from the grocery store instead of eating an expensive meal out every night. With that said, we did splurge and dine at the Canoe House one night, which we thoroughly enjoyed and will probably review based on the food, location, ambiance and creativity.
Another saving was checking and re-checking the car rental rates before our trip. We wrote about this experience specifically in our savings of an additional 25% on car rentals in Hawaii. It wasn’t Costco.
We also had sticker shock while trying to get an Uber at some point. The 12-mile trek was first priced at $179, and we’ll tell you what happened in another funny but alarming article.
So while airfare and hotel prices may or may not fluctuate, you can save on activities and dining by getting creative and doing online research. If you have any tips on how to save on your Hawaii vacation, please share them with others in the comments below, as prices soar to new highs.
What is the average cost per day for a moderate 7-night vacation in Hawaii for two?
- Accommodation: $2,800 (at the end of the economic scale).
- Air Transportation: $1,200 (may be more or less depending on the location).
- Car rental: $800 (varies significantly with season and other factors).
- Food and Beverages: $1,400 (with one main meal out per day).
Estimated total average cost: $6,200 per week.
With 2,500 to 5,000 miles of airfare and the highest cost of accommodations in the United States, Hawaii vacations are different from most domestic flights. Total costs can vary greatly depending on how you travel, where you stay, eat, and what you do. Older Hawaiian vacationers tend to spend more. We’ve seen estimates that retirees or those close to retirement spend up to 4 times more on Hawaiian vacations than, say, people in their 20s.
Will you now avoid Hawaii for more affordable vacations?
Hawaii vacation costs here have risen faster than we see anywhere else. Take even restaurants, for example. They raised their prices because of food, supplies, shipping, insurance, and fuel costs. Perhaps that is the truth, given what we see here at Costco and other stores here in Hawaii. Prices are higher here than anywhere else. This is partly due to the distance it takes everything to get to Hawaii.
How hard are tour operators in Hawaii to attract and retain employees?
Then there is the cost of people. It is very difficult to attract employees to the travel industry in Hawaii after Covid. This problem does not appear to be improving. We still find companies suddenly shut down when the right employees don’t show up.
Higher airfares are also coming, except for these specific routes.
The cost of flights to Hawaii is rising. Economy airfares to Hawaii went up less, while extra legroom and business class went up a lot more. Prices for these premium offerings have gone up over 100% since pre-Covid, based on our own examination.
The exception to airfare increases is on those routes where intense competition between Hawaii and the Southwest continues to suppress price increases. This includes Hawaiian flights from California cities and primarily inter-island flights. On these routes, it’s still easy to find Hawaiian airline tickets worth about $300 or less, including all taxes and fees. In this case, for two people, the average cost may be at $600 or less.
Start planning your Hawaii trip with Hawaii Hotels to find any options of value.
Since hotel rates in Hawaii are the highest in the US, start researching value options there before buying your flight ticket. Revenge travel, after the pandemic, has allowed these rates to rise to levels never seen before.
On your editors’ visit to the Big Island this week, we found hotel rates have gone up several times since they were last there before Covid. For example, we once wrote about staying at the oceanfront Kona Tiki Hotel on the Big Island, when the rate was $69 a night. Checking rates today, the same room starts at $309 per night for a two-star budget hotel. On the Kohala Coast, prices for oceanfront resorts have risen hundreds of percent.
Hawaii hotels/vacation rentals are the number one expense. This can now cost at least five times the cost of airfare in Hawaii.
With the highest rates of hotel stays in the United States, an average of 7 nights vacation stays in Hawaii, including all taxes and fees, will likely come in at $3,000 or more. And if you’re heading to Maui, keep in mind that Wailea hotels still get daily rates in the $1,000 range. So you can expect 7 nights with taxes and fees to reach $8,500 or more.
These estimates are also conservative. We recently checked prices on South Maui properties for January and found Andaz and Four Seasons, for example, starting at about $2,000 per night. Low-cost properties, such as Aston Maui Hill, were asking for $1,098 in January.
Remember that Hawaii hotels have dynamic pricing and tend to adjust rates daily and seasonally.
Have you ever thought about a 7-night NCL cruise visiting four islands?
The current price starts at $1,449 per person and includes your room, dining, entertainment, Wi-Fi, and free ground trips. Your editors have taken this cruise twice and highly recommend it. When you add the cost of a 7 nights vacation for two, it’s an attractive 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 recently?
This is just another example of over-the-counter costs. The cost of flowers in Hawaii has become prohibitive. It was hard to get flowers all at once and cheap. It is also likely due to the lack of labor to grow flowers on the island. So if you want a cheap orchid, it can still be found. If you want anything else, get ready for sticker shock. We also chose not to buy a beach towel at the Big Island hotel, which cost $117 with taxes. seriously?
Now it’s your turn to comment. Surprised by the costs in Hawaii? What did you do to save money?