Plan ahead and cut your Hawaii trip costs in half

Aloha! Hawaii has always been the perfect vacation destination, as evidenced by the 1.7 million people who visit every year. So, whether it’s summer, spring, winter or autumn wherever you are, it’s always a great time to visit the islands.

The weather is perfect, the scenery is first class, the people are friendly and the islands offer non-stop vacations. There is only one question: can you afford a trip to Hawaii?

How much is a trip to Hawaii for a family of four?

Our cost estimate for an average Hawaii trip of $8,969 is based on the following assumptions:

  • You are flying from Los Angeles, California to Oahu, Honolulu.
  • You are a family of four
  • You check in to the hotel
  • This is a 7 day vacation in Hawaii.
  • You will receive a rental car
  • You will book at least two excursions

These assumptions may not fit your specific situation, but they will give you a good budget base for your trip. There are so many things in Hawaii that you won’t want to do without a clear budget.

Hawaii Trip Breakdown for a Family of Four

Here’s a breakdown of the estimated $8,969 cost to visit Hawaii for seven days:

  • Airfare: $2,349
  • Hotel: $1652
  • Car rental: $968
  • Food: $2,100
  • Events: $1900

If you don’t have that much money earmarked for your trip to Hawaii, don’t worry. We’ll look at ways to cut costs to suit your budget.

The islands you visit, the time of year you travel to Hawaii, and your activities all affect overall spending.

Flight to Hawaii

If you don’t live in Hawaii, you will have to fly there. If you are planning a summer vacation, you need to book your tickets as early as possible as airfare goes up during the summer months.

To get the ticket price of $2349, we checked the flight search engine for the cheapest airline. While it’s best to check airline websites directly, it’s worth checking out a few search engines.

Some of them include:

  • kayak
  • Google flights
  • skyscanner
  • expedition

We recommend starting this process weeks or months before you plan to travel to Hawaii. According to Travel and Leisure, the best time to buy an air ticket to Hawaii is 64 days before departure.

For our search, the best flight we found cost $588 round trip per person ($2349 total for four people) on American Airlines.

How to save money on a flight to Hawaii

Believe it or not, flying to Hawaii is absolutely free. (You still have to pay $5.60 in taxes for a one-way ticket.) How is this possible? Use airline miles or credit card points to book tickets.

Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on your credit card to earn enough points for free flights to Hawaii.

How much is a hotel in Hawaii

Again, if you don’t have people waiting to take you on vacation in Hawaii, you’ll have to pay rent. We checked the lowest rates at several popular hotels in Hawaii and estimated them at $1,652 for seven days.

Here are some of the factors we took into account when pricing a hotel:

  • Family
  • At least 4-star reviews on TripAdvisor
  • Free WiFi
  • Swimming pool and restaurant

The best hotel deal that meets these criteria is $236 per night at the Queen Kapiolani Hotel.

Other alternative hotels and prices include:

  • Hotel LaCroix Waikiki $2,149
  • Hotel Ala Moana $1,843
  • Ohana Waikiki $1813

Note that hotel prices fluctuate depending on how full they are, the size of the room you choose and other perks, but this figure will help you figure out what budget you’re on. Oahu, especially Waikiki Beach, is one of the cheapest areas to live in Hawaii.

Of course, Hawaii has plenty of luxury resorts. If this is your priority, then you need to adjust your budget accordingly. However, it is possible to stay at a beach resort and stick to your Hawaii vacation budget with some research.

How to save money on a hotel in Hawaii

It may surprise you, but did you know that you can also book a hotel stay on the beach and pay absolutely nothing? It’s nothing, not even taxes or resort fees.

Again, credit card points allow you to book your entire stay, and while some hotels in Hawaii charge a resort fee, others, like the Hyatt Regency and Hilton Hawaiian Village, don’t. If you learn how to use Travel Points to your advantage by booking free hotel stays, you can reduce the cost of living in your vacation budget.

You can even schedule an island trip with free flights and hotels to visit more than one Hawaiian island!

Car rental in Hawaii

Renting a car can be expensive, but worth it if you can afford it. By renting a car, you can drive around the entire island to see and explore the sights.

You will also be able to come and go wherever you want without depending on public transport schedules or waiting for a taxi. After all, creating your own laid-back plan is part of the allure of visiting Hawaii.

You will likely spend between $80 and $120 per day renting a mid-range car for 7 days. At the time of writing, the lowest price on Hotwire is $84/day or $588/week. You can also use other car rental search platforms such as Discount Hawaii Car Rental, Turo or Kayak.

In addition to car rental fees, you also have to consider parking and gasoline. Most hotels charge for parking. Expect to spend up to $40 a day on hotel parking ($280 a week). If you plan to explore the island on a daily basis, expect to spend about $100 a week on gas.

With parking and gas included, the total cost of renting a car rises to $968 for a week’s vacation in Hawaii.

Food and Beverage Budgeting in Hawaii

If you are adventurous and plan to try as many Hawaiian dishes as you can, plan your budget accordingly. Food on the island is expensive, and planning ahead will help you avoid impulse purchases. You can also buy cheap food from some grocery stores and food trucks, so if you want to cut down on food costs, look for inexpensive eateries before your trip.

We used the family friendly restaurant as the basis for our prices to determine the overall cost of food and drink. Sweet E’s Cafe in Honolulu is a popular place for families. They serve breakfast, brunch and dinner. Using their prices as a guideline, we have estimated a daily cost of $70 per adult and $35 per child on the children’s menu.

So the total is roughly $2,100 for a meal for four people for seven days in Oahu. You can find ways to save on food if you know it will be a significant part of your budget. It’s all about proper planning and then having fun.

Entertainment and excursions in Hawaii

While world-class white sand beaches are the main reason most people want to visit Hawaii, there is plenty to do while on vacation. Some of these activities are free, while others are inexpensive; pick and choose what activities you do based on your budget.

A trip to Hawaii would not be complete without taking part in noteworthy activities such as snorkeling, hiking, whale watching, waterfall chasing, swimming with turtles, sailing at sunset, and finding the perfect Hawaiian luau for your family.

There’s a lot to do in Hawaii for a short seven-day stay, so pack your bags and get ready to have some fun!

A family luau like the Ca Moana Luau at Marine Life Park is a great example of an excursion you might want to book. You will need to budget $149 for an adult or $596 for four people (children get ticket discounts).

Another excursion is the popular Jurassic Park Tour at Ranch Kualoa. Expect to spend $139.95 per adult for this two-hour adventure. That’s a total of $559.80 for a family of four. Based on these estimates, you can expect to spend at least $1,155 for two tours.

This estimate does not include additional actions. The total cost will depend on which activities you book. If you’re planning to book multiple excursions during your seven-day vacation in Hawaii, a budget of $1,900-$3,500 or more is perfectly reasonable for a family of four.

How to save money on excursions in Hawaii

Vacationers wishing to attend multiple tours and activities should consider purchasing a Go Pass to book excursions. For example, the Oahu Go Pass costs about the same as a ticket to most premier luaus. It includes many popular activities at no extra charge, including Ka Moana Luau.

By taking advantage of deals like the Go Pass, you can save a lot of money by offering plenty of activities to fill your daily itinerary.

Some popular Hawaiian tours (both free and paid):

  • Snorkeling with turtles
  • USS Arizona Memorial Tour
  • Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center
  • See the sunset from Haleakala National Park
  • Learn to surf at the famous Waikiki beach.
  • Diamond Head hike on Oahu
  • Drive on the road to Hana
  • Enjoy the nightlife at your oceanfront resort
  • Take a helicopter flight over the rainforest

Final Thoughts

Planning helps keep the cost of your trip to Hawaii low. Consider alternatives, such as using credit card points to pay for flights and hotel stays. Use the Go City Pass for your excursions. With some planning, you can cut your Hawaii trip costs in half.

Whether you’re visiting Maui, the Big Island of Hawaii, Oahu, or Kauai, there’s so much to see and do while on vacation in Hawaii. Whatever your budget, the spirit of Aloha and many unique adventures await you.

This post originally appeared on Savoteur.

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