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Hawaii is famously (or infamously) expensive. It is the most expensive state in the United States, normally having the highest cost of fuel and other categories. On the other hand, the cheapest state to spend a vacation in is the Southern state of Mississippi. Honolulu is the capital and largest city in Hawaii and a dream destination for many people.

If one is looking for a budget-friendly vacation, then don't go to Hawaii - there are much more affordable options like Bali, Thailand, the Philippines, or closer to home, some destinations in the Caribbean and Central America. But if one's heart is set on exploring the most far-flung state in the country, then how much money will one need? What is the budget one will have to plan on for visiting Honolulu?


Hawaii Is A Very Expensive State

According to numbeo.com, the cost of living in Honolulu is somewhat comparable to that of New York City. Consumer prices are around 2% higher in Honolulu, and grocery prices are 13% higher compared to the Big Apple. That being said, rent is around 36% lower than the infamously expensive NYC rent.

As of the time of writing (July 2022), according to AAA Gas Prices, Hawaii has the second most expensive gasoline prices in the nation (just behind California). Sometimes Hawaii has the most expensive gas prices.

  • Gasoline Per Gallon: $5.60 (Regular Grade)

Out of interest, the states with the lowest prices are all the Southern states - from North Carolina to Texas at $4.10-$4.40 per gallon.

Hawaii is more expensive than the national average in almost every category. With the national average being set at a score of 100, Hawaii has a cost of living of 176.6 (higher numbers mean it's more expensive). It is more expensive in terms of electricity, groceries, transportation, and utilities and much more expensive than the cost of housing. It is only a little cheaper in the cost of healthcare.

As expensive as Honolulu is, it is not actually the most expensive in the world (or in the USA, as NYC is more expensive). The most expensive city in the world is Tel Aviv in Israel.

Related: Tourist In Australia? Here's How Much To Budget For Your First Time There

How Much Money Is Needed For A Trip To Honolulu?

According to Budgetyourtrip.com, one will need around $227 per day on vacation in Honolulu (this is the average daily price based on other visitors' expenses). Of course, if one would like to do lots of activities and see different sights, that could be much higher.

  • Daily Expense: $227 Average Expense

Visitors typically spend around $42 each day for meals (this can be mitigated by having self-catering accommodation and going to the supermarket). They also spend around $21 a day on local transportation.

Hotels in Honolulu are not cheap either; they are an average of around $292 a day for a couple.

One can expect a trip to Honolulu for two for a week to cost in the ballpark of around $3,176.

Weekly Expenses:

  • Per Person: $1,588
  • Per Couple: $3,176

Monthly Expenses:

  • Per Person: $6,806
  • Per Couple: $13,610

Taking a look at these expenses, Honolulu is likely to be out of the price range of most families looking for a vacation.

Related: Thinking Of A Permanent Vacation? These Are the Most Affordable Cities To Live In During 2021

How To Mitigate The Expenses In Honolulu?

Hawaii is an expensive destination, but still, expenses can be mitigated by planning ahead and cutting down on optional expenses. The cheapest times to fly to Hawaii are normally in late spring and early fall - that's the months of April, September, and October.

  • Cheapest Months For Flights: April, September, October

Another hack is to book the tickets so that one is arriving and departing on the weekdays and not the weekends.

  • Avoid: Xmas/New Years & School Recess Periods

Conversely, the most expensive times are often the last two weeks of December and the first week of January. If one is on a budget, don't even think about going to Hawaii over Christmas and New Year (hotel rates also soar). Other peak times are when the kids are in school recess for the summer and spring breaks.

  • Tip: Consider Self-Catering Accommodation on Airbnb

Other ways to save on costs are to look for alternative accommodation (consider Airbnb etc.) and be willing to accept accommodation in less than optimal locations. Airbnb is also typically self-catering, so one can save on food costs as well.