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Now that we’ve moved to Hawaii, our friends are a bit more interested in visiting us. They love hanging out with us, I’m sure, but they are looking for a cheap trip to Hawaii. We can tell because they always drop into the conversation, “so, how much does a hawaii trip cost?”
There’s a big range when estimating a hawaii trip cost. This Tripadvisor thread has people saying costs from $1,500 per person to $15,000 per person. We estimate a mid-range, family of 4 trip to Hawaii cost $11,000 for 10 days in 2020, in the summer, leaving from the west coast.
The breakdown for a mid-range expenses, 10-day trip for a family of 4 to Hawaii is in the table below. Read below for the ranges and explanations for airfare, local transportation, food, and accomodations.
We like to make our travel dollars stretch so check out below for our 3 ways to save money when taking the family to Hawaii in 2020.
How much does an average trip to Hawaii cost?
While we did have a lot of visitors when we lived in London, it was usually a solo traveller who was passing through on their way to another spot or who was working in town and wanted to spend a few extra days with us.
But Hawaii is a more realistic destination for our friends with kids.
While we love hosting (really, we do), we currently live in a 2 bedroom condo. So if you’re coming out and visiting with your family of four, we love you but you’re not going to be staying with us. (To make it up to these friends we’ll show them around the island, give them the best recommendations, and have them over for pupus.)
But that leaves the question, how much does a trip to Hawaii cost for a family of four?
We can do this the cheap way, the expensive way, or (my favorite) the cost-effective, but still really nice way.
There’s such a big range when talking about a trip to Hawaii. This Tripadvisor thread has people weighing in with prices from $1,500 per person to $15,000 per person. And it’s 12 years old so counting inflation…yikes.
Hawaii family vacation cost estimate assumptions
Let’s break this down a little to get a better average.
We’ll assume the following with our cost estimate to give you context and for comparables:
- you’re a family of four
- flying from San Francisco
- planning a trip to Oahu and Maui
- duration of 10 nights
- June holiday
Average airfare to Hawaii
Where you’re coming from is going to be a big determinant of your travel costs. Are you flying from California during the winter? Things are going to be cheaper. Flying from the northeast during the summer? That’s going to be a hefty plane ticket.
For our example, with some advanced planning you can expect to pay around $400-$500 per person for the roundtrip flight from San Francisco to Honolulu. Flying into Honolulu and out of Kahului, Maui may cost just a little more.
Island hopping will usually add around another $100 to the total.
This brings total cost of airfare Hawaii to be $2,000 – $2,400 for your party of four.
If you’re traveling from the east coast, you might want to add another $1,200 total to that estimate.
Don’t worry, we’ll get to ways to save below. We’re just getting cost info now.
Average rental car price in Hawaii
Rental cars in Hawaii can be expensive (I mean, rental cars everywhere are expensive, right?). But like with all travel costs, there’s a range. You can find deals with a rent a wreck for $25 per day. But if you’re going for a more traditional rental car option, you’re looking at $50+ per day for a midsized vehicle.
We’ll estimate Hawaii car rental cost to be $500.
And trust me, there’s so much good stuff going on around the island outside of your resort, you’d be doing your traveling heart a disservice by skipping it.
Rent the car. Save money elsewhere.
Average hotel price in Hawaii
Once you get to Oahu, you’ll have a wide range of places to stay. From budget-friendly hotels away from the beach to the Disney Aulani resort.
If you’re treating your kids to a Disney experience, expect to pay around $650 for a room that sleeps four over the summer. Spending your first five nights there will put the total at $3,250.
Turtle Bay on the North Shore will probably cost you an average of $350 a night during that same time period. Head down to Waikiki and you can find rooms for $250/night.
Total Oahu hotel costs: $1,250 -$3,250
Once you’re done on Oahu, you head to Maui for the remaining five nights. The prices don’t get any cheaper on Maui — in fact, there are a number of luxury hotels in that $500+ range. For example, The Grand Wailea is $750/night.
In Ka’anapali on the west side, you’ll find hotels in the $250+/night range.
Total Maui hotel costs: $1,250 – $3,250.
That brings your total hotel costs for the 10-day stay to $2,500 – $6,500+.
Recommended spending money for Hawaii
Ok you’ve perfectly planned your trip so far to stay within budget. You’ve picked the perfect hotel that isn’t too expensive but also comes with amenities you know you need (like a great pool). You’ve scoured the internet for the flight that is going to save you $300.
And then you land in Hawaii.
Your budget is about to be put to the test because food on the island is not cheap. Not even a little bit.
Estimated cost of food for 10 days
Depending on the restaurant (and how much you drink) you can expect to pay between $50 and $100 per person for dinner. If your kids still eat off the kids menu, estimate $15 – $20.
Lunch out will probably be a bit cheaper and you can expect $20-$30 per person, again depending on the type of restaurant.
To have a fairly comfortable food budget, I’d say expect to spend $75 per adult per day and $30 per child if you’re staying at a resort.
That brings your food total to $2,100 for your 10-day stay.
Thankfully food is one of those vacation line items that can fluctuate wildly. Tips on how to seriously cut back are below.
Estimated cost of activities in Hawaii
While you’re here there is plenty to do. You can hike (free!), snorkel (really cheap!), attend a luau (kind of pricey), or do a full day excursion on a boat (definitely not cheap). There may be days where you spend nothing and other days where you spend handsomely to do a two hour surf lesson.
As an average, give yourself:
$1,500 for a family of four for activities.
Total recommended spending money (food and activities) estimate: $3,600
So where does that leave our total?
A mid-range, summer trip for a family of four to Hawaii for 10 days will be $11,000.
That is not exactly a budget friendly trip.
How to save money on your family trip to Hawaii
Luckily, there are ways to spend much, much less on your trip. Let’s go over a few:
1. Use credit card points
I’m currently planning a week long trip for us to visit the big island, and points are going to be our best friend. While we do get some discounts by being Hawaii residents, there’s no better discount than free. Jordan and I have a few credit cards that give us great rewards and we cash in our points strategically through the year. We’re going to use them for a few free nights, which should save us $600-$750.
We used this site to compare and select our favorite travel rewards credit card.
Another great option if you can plan ahead is to build up points and cash them in for flights. Typically you’ll see a more valuable conversion using points on airfare. Build up enough points and get the Southwest companion ticket or see if you can qualify for bonuses with Hawaiian Airlines card offerings. You might not get all four tickets for free, but getting one or two paid for will cut your costs down significantly.
2. Travel during cheaper seasons
Don’t come to the islands during summer or over Christmas and New Years’ expecting deals. They just don’t exist out here during that time. Plan a trip in February or March and you’ll find some great deals.
Timing is everything with a cheap trip to Hawaii. And if you need to work around school schedules, see if you can get creative. In elementary school, I missed a week of classroom work for a trip to Maui. We packed homework and I gave a report to my class upon my return. In high school, we would leave for the airport hours after the last day of school ended, because we could still get some decent deals leaving a week before everyone else.
3. Rent a vacation home
A vacation home rental won’t necessarily be cheaper than a hotel, but you can save a bundle on food. Groceries are still extremely expensive, but if you have a Costco membership and your rental car, you can save big during a 10 day trip. Eat out a few times but cook the rest of your meals at home. That could easily save you $1,000.
4. Stick to one island
If you’ve come all this way and you are set on seeing more than one island, do it. At the end of the day, it’s not going to save your budget tremendously to stay put. But if you don’t care about visiting multiple spots, stick to one island. You’ll save the inter-island airfare and likely get a slightly better rate on your rental car, which could add up to $600.
Firm up your family of 4 trip to Hawaii cost
Time to do your own math.
Now that you have an idea of what a trip to Hawaii would cost your family of four, price it out based on your interests.
By adjusting this estimate based on your preferences, you could find that you spend a lot more or a lot less. But really, these islands are worth a trip.
Erica Gellerman is a CPA, MBA, personal finance writer, and founder of The Worth Project: personal finance and family travel. website. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Money, Business Insider, The Everygirl, The Everymom, and Lifehacker. When she's not writing about personal finance you can find Erica exploring Europe from her temporary home base in London.
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