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Hawaii is a unique state renowned for its lush tropical landscapes, vibrant culture and laid-back island paradise lifestyle that draws in millions of visitors each year. With limited land area and high demand for Hawaii real estate, property values continue rising making one wonder – what is Hawaii actually worth?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The total estimated value of Hawaii is over $110 billion when accounting for the value of all land, buildings, infrastructure and its economy according to recent analysis.

In this in-depth article we will analyze the worth of Hawaii from different angles to arrive at a holistic view including: breakdown of land prices across the islands, valuation of infrastructure, buildings and housing stock, size and value of Hawaii’s economy and export products and the tremendous value derived from Hawaii’s culture and brand image globally.

Land Valuations Across the Hawaiian Islands

Overview of Land Ownership in Hawaii

The majority of land in Hawaii is owned by the state, federal government, or large private landowners. According to the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the state owns around 1.3 million acres across the islands.

The federal government, mainly consisting of military bases and national parks, owns around 427,000 acres. Large private landowners like Alexander & Baldwin own over 88,000 acres.

This leaves only around 4% of Hawaii’s total land area in private ownership. With high demand for real estate and limited supply, land prices in Hawaii can be exceptionally high compared to the rest of the United States.

Prices also vary greatly depending on which island and region the land is located.

Oahu Land Valuations and Prices

As the most populous Hawaiian island, Oahu has the highest demand for private land. Vacant residential lots on Oahu can range from $300,000 to over $1 million depending on location and size. In posh neighborhoods and luxury resort areas, prices per square foot can exceed $1,000.

Commercial land valuations on Oahu also demand a premium. In urban Honolulu near hotels and attractions, commercial land can trade for over $900 per square foot. Demand remains high as Oahu continues to see strong tourism and population growth.

Maui Land Valuations

The second most visited Hawaiian island after Oahu, Maui is well-known for its world-class resorts and golf courses. Not surprisingly, Maui boasts some of the highest land valuations in Hawaii.

In exclusive enclaves like Wailea and Makena where luxury homes dot the coastline, vacant residential lots easily fetch $500+ per square foot. And entitlements allowing for hotel development command even higher premiums approaching $1,000 per square foot.

One resort developer recently paid over $200 million for a 23-acre site in Wailea to build a Ritz-Carlton. At a price tag of around $9 million per acre, it exemplifies the sky-high valuations developers will pay for prime land on Maui.

Kauai and Big Island Land Value Breakdowns

While not seeing valuations quite as lofty as Maui and Oahu, land prices on Kauai and the Island of Hawaii (Big Island) remain strong thanks to increasing interest from luxury buyers and developers.

Island Land Type Price per Acre
Kauai Oceanfront Residential $5M+
Big Island Subdivision Potential $500K-$1M

Hanalei Bay on Kauai’s north shore and the Kohala Coast on the Big Island’s west side are emerging as luxury second home and retirement destinations. This is steadily lifting values, especially for larger parcels suitable for estate homes, boutique resorts or private clubs catering to the ultra-wealthy.

Infrastructure Asset Value in Hawaii

Valuing Transportation Infrastructure

Hawaii’s transportation infrastructure includes airports, harbors, highways, bridges and transit systems. The total replacement value of Hawaii’s airports is estimated at $7.6 billion, with Honolulu International Airport accounting for $4.3 billion.

The state also has 12 deep draft commercial harbors valued at $2.1 billion. The replacement cost of Hawaii’s highway system is roughly $8.5 billion. This includes 1,100 miles of state highways, 2,450 bridges and 31 tunnels.

Water Management Systems Worth

The valuation of Hawaii’s water management infrastructure considers dams, reservoirs, pipelines and treatment facilities. The state has 132 regulated dams with an estimated asset value of $652 million.

Major water systems like those serving Honolulu and Hawaii Island carry a replacement cost between $3-7 billion. These vital systems transport, treat and deliver clean water statewide.

Energy Infrastructure Assets

As an isolated island system, Hawaii’s electricity infrastructure to generate and distribute power statewide represents critical public assets. The valuation considers power plants, substations, utility poles and miles of transmission lines.

Hawaii’s electric grid infrastructure has a replacement cost of over $10 billion. With the state’s renewable energy push, solar farms and wind turbine installations are adding to the total asset value.

Valuation of Public Service Infrastructure

Other public infrastructure assets in Hawaii include government buildings like the State Capitol, public schools, colleges, hospitals, parks, prisons and emergency response facilities. These public assets provide essential services for residents and visitors.

Though difficult to quantify, the replacement value likely ranges from $25-40 billion. Well-maintained public infrastructure promotes civic pride and enhances real estate values.

Building and Housing Stock Value

Residential Home Values Across Hawaii

Home values in Hawaii have seen steady growth over the past decade. According to analysis from Zillow, the median home value in Hawaii reached $617,000 as of November 2022, representing a 101.3% increase over the last 10 years.

There is significant variation in home values depending on location. Honolulu County has the highest median home value at $820,000. Rural counties like Hawaii County have lower median values around $375,000. Within counties, prices also vary greatly by neighborhood.

Driving high home values statewide are limited housing inventory and high demand. Hawaii’s unique island geography physically constrains the construction of new homes. And the islands remain an extremely popular destination for domestic transplants and foreign investment buyers.

Commercial Real Estate Market Value

In addition to high-value residential properties, Hawaii also hosts valuable commercial real estate assets.

In Honolulu’s central business district, Class A office spaces fetch rents of approximately $4.50 per square foot monthly, adding up to over $50 per square foot in value. Meanwhile, premier shopping centers and strip retail command rents around $5.00 per square foot per month.

Hawaii’s visitor industry also creates demand for hotels and resorts, driving value for commercial properties tailored to tourism. High-end hotels in prime locations can sell for over $1 million per room.

Hotel and Resort Properties Value

Speaking of visitor accommodations, Hawaii contained over 73,000 hotel rooms statewide as of 2021 according to hotel data firm STR. At a conservative valuation of $250,000 per room, the aggregate value of Hawaii’s hotel supply totals over $18 billion.

In addition, Hawaii hosts many ultra-luxury resort properties that fetch far higher valuations. For example, the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Kapalua, Maui recently sold a unit for over $12 million. With hundreds of five-star rooms statewide, the high-end Hawaii resort market likely contributes over $5-10 billion in additional real estate value.

The Scale and Value of Hawaii’s Economy

Breakdown of Hawaii’s GDP

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Hawaii’s GDP in 2021 was approximately $100 billion. This measures the total value of goods and services produced in Hawaii. The breakdown shows that tourism and related industries contribute about 21% directly to GDP, but have an outsized impact across other sectors.

Real estate comprised 19% of GDP, while government made up about 17%. Meanwhile, education, healthcare, financial services, construction and agriculture made up other major portions.

Key Economic Drivers and Export Values

Tourism is by far Hawaii’s largest economic driver, with over 10 million visitors per year contributing billions in visitor spending. Hawaii’s stunning natural landscapes and idyllic weather make it an incredibly popular destination.

Outside of tourism, key exports driving economic value include agricultural products like coffee, macadamia nuts and tropical produce. Defense spending also contributes billions, owing to the many military bases located in Hawaii.

In 2021, Hawaii exported $783 million worth of goods globally. Top export categories were food/agriculture at $259 million, mineral fuel/oil exports at $226 million, and machinery including aircraft parts at $134 million.

While export values are modest compared to tourism revenue, local agricultural and manufacturing exports still positively impact Hawaii’s economy.

Impact of Tourism on Valuation

It’s impossible to overstate tourism’s effect on Hawaii. Pre-pandemic, tourism brought in over $17 billion in visitor spending per year. That fell to just $8 billion in 2020, showing how reliant the economy is on tourism.

With over 20% of jobs tied to tourism and related industries, visitor numbers hugely impact property values, local businesses, state tax revenue, infrastructure investment and more.

Billions in annual visitor spending sets sky-high property valuations in resort areas. For comparison, Hawaii’s median home price is around $900,000 compared to just $300,000 nationally. From an infrastructure perspective, supporting 10+ million annual visitors requires expanded airports, roadways, hotels and recreation.

Tourism makes Hawaii an incredibly valuable place to live, work and invest, even with the risks of relying heavily on one sector.

Quantifying Hawaii’s World Renowned Brand Value

Iconic Global Reputation and Image

As an archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii enjoys a near mythical status around the world. Its tropical beaches, active volcanoes, vibrant culture, and scenic landscapes give it an iconic global image that sparks wanderlust in travelers worldwide.

This reputation brings tremendous tourism revenue to the state.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, 10.4 million visitors spent $17.75 billion in Hawaii in 2021 alone. Over 219,000 jobs exist in Hawaii thanks to tourism, generating $2.07 billion in state tax revenue. Clearly, Hawaii’s global aura and one-of-a-kind identity drives huge economic value.

Culture and Lifestyle Adds Economic Value

Hawaii also derives tremendous brand equity from its unique Polynesian culture. From music and dance like hula to food like poke and artworks, Hawaii’s cultural soft power has enormous economic influence.

For example, the Aloha Festivals, celebrating Hawaiian culture, deliver $450 million in visitor spending annually. The Merrie Monarch Festival spotlighting hula sees $4 million in direct visitor spending for Hilo. Cultural pillars clearly enhance Hawaii’s brand strength.

Hawaii’s relaxed lifestyle also boosts its brand value. As an island paradise where life moves at a slower pace, Hawaii signals peace, joy, connection with nature, and the appeal of island living to the wider world.

With work-life balance becoming more crucial today, Hawaii’s brand echoes aspirations that register deeply in people.

Premium Pricing Thanks to Brand Power

Quantifiably, Hawaii captures incredible price premiums due to its brand dominance. Hotel rooms in Hawaii cost 218% more than the national average. Luxury real estate sells for 41% higher than other US luxury markets.

Item Hawaii Premium
Hotel rooms +218% vs national average
Luxury real estate +41% vs other US markets
Agriculture exports +15% for “Grown in Hawaii” label

The numbers speak clearly. Thanks to its cachet, mystique, identity, and symbolic associations, the Hawaii brand allows companies to charge more across categories from tourism to real estate to exports. This delivers tremendous value to the state each year.


As we’ve explored, Hawaii holds tremendous value ranging from multi-million dollar property valuations to the billions generated from tourism and exports. By evaluating Hawaii’s land, infrastructure, buildings, economy and global brand image – we estimate Hawaii’s total worth exceeds $110 billion.

While exact valuations fluctuate year to year, Hawaii will likely continue appreciating as demand rises, development continues and its iconic lifestyle and culture enrich the islands. The state’s wealth stretches far beyond just economics into the invaluable social and environmental assets that make Hawaii a truly priceless place.

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