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With over 130 islands that make up the Hawaiian archipelago, island hopping between these tropical paradises is a dream for many travelers. But traveling between islands can add up, especially with airfare, accommodations, food, and activities.

So how much should you budget for an island-hopping adventure in Hawaii?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Island hopping in Hawaii can cost anywhere from $100 to $500+ per day per person, with most budget to moderate trips averaging around $250 per day per person when you factor in inter-island flights, hotels, food, and activities.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the costs of island hopping in Hawaii and provide tips to help you visit multiple islands without breaking the bank.

Inter-Island Flights

Cost of inter-island flights

When island hopping in Hawaii, one of the biggest expenses is typically airfare between the islands. Flight prices can vary widely depending on factors like peak travel seasons, how far in advance you book, and whether you opt for budget carriers like Southwest Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines.

For example, a one-way flight from Honolulu on Oahu to Kahului on Maui can range from around $69 during slower seasons to over $250 during the busy summer and holidays. Generally, flights booked at least a few weeks in advance will be cheaper than last-minute bookings.

Here’s a rough breakdown of average flight costs between Hawaiian Islands:

  • Oahu to Maui: $100-$250 roundtrip
  • Oahu to Hawaii Island: $200-$400 roundtrip
  • Oahu to Kauai: $150-$350 roundtrip
  • Maui to Hawaii Island: $250-$500 roundtrip
  • Maui to Kauai: $250-$450 roundtrip

As you can see, inter-island flights can really add up, especially if you’re visiting multiple islands. Luckily, there are some money-saving tips…

Tips for saving on flights

Book early. Prices typically start going up about three months in advance, so lock in your flights as early as you can.Be flexible with dates. Flying on less popular days like Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays can lead to big savings compared to peak days.Watch for sales. Airlines like Hawaiian Airlines frequently run specials, so sign up for email alerts. Southwest Airlines also has excellent inter-island sale fares to watch for.Fly budget carriers. Airlines like Southwest, Mokulele, and Sun Country offer cheaper inter-island flights, though they have fewer amenities.Bundle your tickets. Booking inter-island flights together rather than separately can unlock deals.Use miles for tickets. Frequent flyer programs on Hawaiian, Delta, United and others allow you to redeem miles for island-hopping flights.

By planning ahead and looking for deals, you can help offset the typically high cost of inter-island airfare in Hawaii. Safe travels and enjoy island hopping in paradise!



When island hopping in Hawaii, hotels often provide the most convenient and comfortable place to stay. Major hotel chains have properties on most of the main islands, generally located in prime beachfront spots.

While convenient, these hotels can be quite pricey, with nightly rates ranging from $250-500+ at upscale resorts. More affordable local hotels and motels are available as well, averaging $100-250 per night.

Vacation Rentals

For travelers looking to save money or have more space, vacation home and condo rentals can be a great lodging option. According to HomeToGo’s 2022 data, the average weekly rental rate for a 2-bedroom home in Hawaii is around $2,300.

The extra space and amenities like kitchens can offset the higher upfront costs for groups and longer stays. Rentals are also often located in more residential areas, providing a quieter and more authentic island experience.

Hostels & Guesthouses

Backpackers and solo travelers can find accommodation on the cheap at Hawaii’s hostels and guesthouses. Nightly rates average only $25-40 per person. While lacking in luxuries, hostel dorms and private rooms put you in a social environment to meet other travelers.

Guesthouses offer simple yet comfortable private rooms in a more intimate setting. Both provide great bang for your buck while island hopping on a budget.


For the ultimate budget way to experience Hawaii’s natural splendor, camping is an option on most islands. While state/county operated campgrounds have nightly fees from $5-45 for a site, free backcountry camping is also allowed in certain wilderness areas and beaches.

Between tent sites and cabins, Hawaii’s campgrounds offer amenities like BBQ pits, laundry, shared bathrooms and cooking facilities to make roughing it a little smoother.

Tips for Saving on Accommodations

  • Travel in the off/shoulder seasons for lower hotel rates.
  • Consider a vacation rental split among friends.
  • Check hostel private rooms for affordable comfort.
  • Use rewards points for free hotel nights.
  • Look for resort fee waivers and free night promotions at hotels.


Restaurant meals

Eating out at restaurants in Hawaii can get quite expensive, especially if you’re visiting the popular tourist areas. A meal at a casual sit-down restaurant will likely cost around $15-25 per entrée. At fancier establishments, entrées can easily top $30-50 per person.

For comparison, the average cost of a meal in a mid-range restaurant in a major U.S. city is about $15 per person (according to Numbeo data).

Some ways to save on dining costs in Hawaii include:

  • Opt for lunch specials when available – these are usually a good deal cheaper than dinner
  • Choose plate lunch spots and casual local eateries rather than upscale restaurants in resort areas
  • Split meals or appetizers when dining in a group
  • Take advantage of happy hour deals for discounted pupus (appetizers) and drinks

Groceries & markets

Buying food from local supermarkets and farmers markets is a great way to curb your food spending in Hawaii. Grocery prices are generally higher compared to the U.S. mainland – you can expect to pay around 10-20% more for items at the supermarket according to the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

Here are some tips to keep grocery costs down:

  • Shop at local discount grocery chains like Foodland, Times, and Don Quijote rather than smaller convenience shops
  • Buy fresh produce from farmers markets and roadside farm stands
  • Look for sales and coupons when available
  • Stock up on shelf-stable items from big box stores like Costco before visiting more remote islands

Tips for saving on food

Other money-saving strategies for dining and food shopping in Hawaii include:

  • Pack snacks – bringing your own healthy snacks can save you money on pricey convenience store options
  • Rent a vacation rental – having a kitchen allows you to prepare some of your own meals
  • Research deals – check sites like Yelp for restaurants offering discounts or coupons
  • Drink local – opt for Kona coffee over pricier chains to save a few bucks on your morning cup of joe

By choosing more affordable dining and shopping options, packing snacks, and looking for deals, you can cut down your food costs substantially while island hopping in paradise.

Activities & Transportation

Rental cars

Renting a car is one of the most convenient ways to get around while island hopping in Hawaii. Major rental companies like Avis, Budget, Hertz, and National have locations across the islands. Rental car rates average around $50-70 per day, but deals can bring that down closer to $30-40 per day if you search sites like Kayak and Expedia.

When pricing rental cars, also consider:

  • Added fees for extra drivers, GPS, infant car seats, etc.
  • Getting the most fuel efficiency to save on gas costs
  • Whether it’s cheaper to rent from airport locations vs. city branches

Public transportation

Public buses and trolleys can connect many popular sights on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island for just a few dollars per ride. The Bus on Oahu offers unlimited day passes for $5.50, while the Maui Bus has routes across Maui, Lanai, and Molokai.

Though not extensive, public transit opens up cheaper touring options if you plan strategically.

Tours & activities

From snorkeling with sea turtles to waterfall rappelling tours, activities let you enjoyHawaii’s natural wonders guided by experts. Prices vary widely, but often run $80-250 per person for half to full-day excursions. To curb costs:

  • Look for bundled deals that combine multiple activities at a discount.
  • Inquire about child, local resident, and military discounts if applicable.
  • Consider splitting costs by joining public group tours.

Tips for saving on activities & transportation

Beyond snagging deals on rental cars and tours, you can save on island hopping transportation and fun in free or budget-friendly ways like:

Taking advantage of free hotel shuttles Using public beaches and parks for swimming, picnics, hikes instead of costly beach clubs
Trying free museum days offered at various cultural sites Sharing costs on rental cars, tours, and other activities with travel companions

Savvy trip planning centered on free attractions, discounted tours, and occasional splurges can make island hopping Hawaii affordable and still full of adventure.

Total Per Day Costs

When island hopping in Hawaii, the total costs per day can vary quite a bit depending on your travel style and preferences. Here is a breakdown of typical daily expenses:


Accommodations make up a significant portion of your daily expenditure in Hawaii. Hotel prices vary greatly among the islands, with luxury resorts on Maui or Kauai costing upward of $400-500 per night and hostels as low as $25 per night in Waikiki area. Average daily hotel rates are:

  • Oahu: $150-250
  • Maui: $250-400
  • Kauai: $200-350
  • Big Island: $150-250

Condos, Airbnbs, and vacation rentals can be more budget-friendly options, typically ranging from $100-250 per night across the islands.


Food costs depend enormously on if you dine out for all meals versus preparing some of your own. Cost per meal:

  • Inexpensive restaurant meal: $15
  • Mid-range restaurant meal: $25
  • Upscale/fine dining meal: $50+
  • Grocery shopping and preparing own meals: $15-25 per day

So realistically you can spend $20-40 a day on food up to $100+ if fine dining multiple times.


Getting between the Hawaiian Islands can add up, with short inter-island flights typically ranging $70-$120 each way. Ferries are cheaper but take much longer. Rental cars usually run $50-$80 per day.

Inter-island flight $70-$120 each way
Ferry ticket $60-$100 each way
Rental car $50-$80 per day

For reference, it takes about $300 in flights to hop between the 4 major islands (Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island).

Activities & Entertainment

Costs pile up quickly if you partake in paid attractions and activities. Popular options include:

  • Snorkel tour: $50-$150 per person
  • Whale watching cruise: $80-$150 per person
  • Luau feast & show: $100-$200 per person
  • Helicopter tour: $150-$400 per person
  • Zipline tour: $140-$230 per person

You can save by sticking to free sights and beaches. But most visitors splurge on at least a couple bigger activities.

Total Per Day

Putting it all together, a realistic per person budget is $200-$500 per day when island hopping, assuming a moderate standard of travel. This covers accommodation, car rental, food, inter-island flights, and some activities.

You can spend less by staying in hostels, preparing your own meals, and avoiding paid attractions. Or costsballoon toward $1,000+ per day if indulging in luxury resorts and high-end dining.

Use resources like Hawaii’s official tourism site and Hawaii Guide to estimate costs for your personalized trip length and interests.


Island hopping in Hawaii can seem expensive, but with smart planning you can visit multiple islands on almost any budget. Focus your spending on a few splurges you really care about, like a luau or snorkeling tour, and save money on flights, hotels, and food using the tips provided.

Plan your ideal Hawaii itinerary using our cost breakdown as a guide. And get ready for the trip of a lifetime exploring paradise!

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