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With its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and incredible natural wonders, Hawaii is a dream destination for many travelers. But planning a trip to the scenic islands also means budgeting for what can often be an expensive getaway, especially in popular tourist areas. So how do the costs of visiting Hawaii compare to a trip to the big city of New York? Let’s break it down.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Hawaii is generally more expensive for things like accommodation, groceries, dining out and rental cars. However, attractions and airfare can be comparable to New York City.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the typical costs travelers can expect in both destinations for lodging, food, transportation, attractions and more. We’ll also consider when you might find deals and how you can plan a Hawaiian vacation on a budget. Whether you’re headed to the Big Apple or the islands, use this advice to keep your next trip within your means.

Accommodation Costs


When it comes to hotels, both Hawaii and New York offer a wide range of options to suit different budgets. In Hawaii, you can find luxury resorts with stunning ocean views, but they often come with a hefty price tag. On the other hand, New York City is known for its iconic and luxurious hotels, particularly in areas like Manhattan. However, the cost of staying in a hotel in New York City can be quite high, especially during peak tourist seasons. It’s worth noting that prices can vary significantly depending on the location and the time of year.

Vacation Rentals

If you’re looking for a more affordable accommodation option, vacation rentals can be a great choice in both Hawaii and New York. In Hawaii, you’ll find a wide selection of vacation rentals ranging from cozy beachfront cottages to spacious villas. These rentals often come with amenities like fully equipped kitchens and private pools, providing a home-like experience for travelers. Similarly, in New York, vacation rentals offer an alternative to expensive hotels, allowing visitors to stay in neighborhoods outside of the city center at a more affordable price.


For budget-conscious travelers, hostels are a popular option in both Hawaii and New York. Hostels provide affordable accommodation in shared dormitory-style rooms, allowing you to save money while still enjoying a comfortable stay. In Hawaii, there are several hostels located across the islands, providing a great opportunity to meet fellow travelers and explore the local culture. In New York, hostels can be found in various neighborhoods, catering to backpackers and budget travelers.

It’s important to note that accommodation costs can vary greatly depending on the specific location, time of year, and the level of luxury you’re looking for. It’s recommended to compare prices and read reviews before making a decision.

Food Costs


When it comes to grocery shopping, the cost of food can vary between Hawaii and New York. Hawaii is an island state, which means that many of its groceries need to be imported. This can lead to higher prices compared to mainland states like New York. In addition, the limited agricultural land in Hawaii contributes to a higher cost of locally produced food items. However, it’s important to note that not all groceries are more expensive in Hawaii. Certain items like tropical fruits and seafood can be more affordable due to their abundance in the region.

Dining Out

Dining out in Hawaii can be a delightful experience, with a wide range of restaurants offering diverse cuisines influenced by the state’s multicultural population. However, dining out in Hawaii tends to be more expensive compared to New York. The cost of ingredients and rent for restaurants are higher in Hawaii, which is reflected in the menu prices. Additionally, the high demand from tourists contributes to the higher prices. Nevertheless, the quality and freshness of ingredients, as well as the unique dining experiences, make it worth exploring the local food scene.

According to the Numbeo database, which collects user-contributed data on the cost of living in different cities, the average cost of groceries in Honolulu, Hawaii, is approximately 32% higher than in New York City. Similarly, the average cost for a meal at a mid-range restaurant in Honolulu is about 16% higher than in New York City. These figures give us a general idea of the price differences between the two locations, but it’s important to keep in mind that prices can vary depending on the specific area and establishment.


When comparing the cost of living in Hawaii and New York, transportation is an important factor to consider. Let’s take a closer look at the various transportation options in both locations:


Getting to Hawaii from the mainland usually involves a long flight, which can be quite expensive. Airfare prices to Hawaii tend to be higher compared to flying to New York. However, it’s worth noting that airfare prices can vary greatly depending on the time of year, availability, and airline promotions. It’s always a good idea to compare prices from different airlines and book in advance to get the best deal. Websites like Kayak and Skyscanner can help you find affordable flights.

Public Transportation

Both Hawaii and New York have well-developed public transportation systems. In New York, the subway and buses are the most common modes of public transport, offering convenient and relatively affordable options for getting around the city. In Hawaii, the public transportation system is not as extensive. However, the bus system on the main islands of Oahu and Maui can still be a cost-effective way to travel if you plan your itinerary accordingly. Keep in mind that public transportation fares may vary depending on the distance traveled and the type of pass or ticket purchased.

Rental Cars

Renting a car is a popular option for exploring both Hawaii and New York. In Hawaii, having a rental car can provide the flexibility to visit different parts of the islands at your convenience. However, rental car prices in Hawaii tend to be higher compared to New York due to the limited availability and high demand. It’s advisable to book your rental car in advance and compare prices from different car rental companies to get the best rates. Websites like and Kayak can help you find affordable options.

Taxis & Ride Shares

Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are widely available in both Hawaii and New York. In New York, taxis are a common mode of transportation, but they can be more expensive compared to ride-sharing services. In Hawaii, ride-sharing services are more commonly used due to the limited availability of taxis. It’s important to keep in mind that prices for taxis and ride-shares can vary depending on the distance traveled, time of day, and surge pricing during peak hours. Comparing prices and using fare estimate tools provided by the ride-sharing apps can help you plan your budget accordingly.


Museums & Exhibits

When it comes to museums and exhibits, both Hawaii and New York offer a wide range of options to explore. In New York, you can visit world-renowned museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of Modern Art. These institutions house priceless artifacts and masterpieces from various cultures and time periods. On the other hand, Hawaii is home to unique museums that showcase the rich history and culture of the islands. The Bishop Museum in Honolulu is a must-visit, as it houses an extensive collection of Hawaiian artifacts and documents. The Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu is another popular attraction, where you can learn about the diverse Polynesian cultures through exhibits and live performances. While New York may have more famous museums, Hawaii offers a different cultural experience that cannot be found elsewhere.

National Parks & Monuments

Both Hawaii and New York boast stunning national parks and monuments that showcase the beauty of nature. In Hawaii, you can explore the breathtaking landscapes of Haleakala National Park in Maui or the volcanic wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. These parks offer hiking trails, scenic drives, and opportunities to witness unique geological formations. In New York, you have the iconic Statue of Liberty National Monument, where you can take a ferry to Liberty Island and learn about the history of this symbol of freedom. Additionally, you can visit the stunning Niagara Falls, which is shared by both the United States and Canada. While Hawaii’s national parks offer a more tropical and volcanic experience, New York’s attractions provide a blend of natural and historical significance.


Both Hawaii and New York offer a wide variety of tours to cater to different interests and preferences. In New York, you can take a guided tour of iconic landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Times Square, and Central Park. These tours provide insights into the history and significance of these famous sites. In Hawaii, you have the opportunity to take unique tours such as snorkeling trips to explore the vibrant coral reefs, helicopter rides over the stunning landscapes, or traditional luaus to experience the local culture. These tours allow you to immerse yourself in the beauty and traditions of the islands. Whether you prefer exploring urban landmarks or indulging in natural wonders, both Hawaii and New York have an abundance of tour options to choose from.

When to Visit for Deals

Planning a trip to either Hawaii or New York City can be an exciting but expensive endeavor. However, with careful consideration of the timing of your visit, you can find great deals and save money on your travel expenses. Here are some tips on when to visit each destination to snag the best deals.

Best Times for Airfare Sales

If you’re looking to score a great deal on airfare, timing is key. Both Hawaii and New York City have specific times of the year when airlines tend to offer discounted rates. In general, the best times to find airfare sales to Hawaii are during the shoulder seasons, which fall between the peak seasons. These shoulder seasons typically occur in the spring and fall, when demand for flights is lower.

For New York City, the best time to find airfare deals is during the winter months, specifically from January to March. This is considered the off-peak season for tourism in the city, leading to lower airfare prices. Keep an eye out for sales and promotions during this time to save money on your flight.

Hawaii’s Low Season

Hawaii has a low season, also known as the “off-peak” season, when visitors can find more affordable accommodations and activities. This period generally occurs from September to November and from February to May. During these months, you can often find discounted hotel rates and vacation packages. Additionally, attractions and popular sites are less crowded, allowing for a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.

If you’re looking to save even more money, consider visiting the Hawaiian islands during weekdays instead of weekends. This can often result in lower rates for accommodations and activities, as many tourists prefer to travel on weekends.

New York City Off-Season

New York City also has an off-season, typically during the winter months when the weather can be cold and less appealing to some travelers. However, this is a great time to visit if you’re looking for deals. Many hotels offer discounted rates during this time, and attractions such as Broadway shows often have special promotions and discounts available.

Additionally, consider visiting New York City in January and February after the holiday season has ended. During this time, you can often find lower hotel rates and enjoy shorter lines at popular tourist spots.

Remember, the specific deals and discounts available may vary from year to year, so it’s always a good idea to do some research and compare prices before booking your trip. Websites such as Kayak and Skyscanner can be valuable resources for finding the best airfare and hotel deals.

By planning your trip to Hawaii or New York City during the best times for deals, you can enjoy your vacation without breaking the bank. So start researching and get ready to embark on an amazing adventure!

Tips for Saving Money

Traveling can be an amazing experience, but it can also be expensive. Whether you’re planning a trip to Hawaii or New York, it’s always a good idea to think about ways to save money. Here are some tips that can help you keep your travel expenses in check:

Look for Packages

One way to save money on your trip is to look for travel packages that include flights, accommodations, and activities. Many websites offer discounted packages that can help you save a significant amount of money. For example, websites like Expedia and Travelocity often have great deals on Hawaii and New York packages. By bundling your travel expenses, you can save both time and money.

Cook Some Meals

Eating out can quickly add up and become a major expense during your trip. Consider cooking some of your meals instead. If you’re staying in a hotel or vacation rental with a kitchen, take advantage of it. Buying groceries and cooking your own meals can save you a substantial amount of money. Plus, it can be a fun experience to try out local recipes and ingredients!

Use Public Transportation

Transportation costs can also be a significant part of your travel expenses. Instead of relying solely on taxis or rental cars, consider using public transportation. Many cities have efficient and affordable public transportation systems that can take you to popular attractions and landmarks. In New York, for example, the subway is a convenient and cost-effective way to get around the city. By using public transportation, you can save money on parking fees and avoid the stress of navigating through unfamiliar streets.

Visit Free Attractions

While Hawaii and New York are known for their incredible attractions, not all of them come with a hefty price tag. Take the time to research and visit free attractions in both destinations. Whether it’s exploring public parks, visiting museums with free admission days, or enjoying the natural beauty of the surroundings, you can have a great time without spending a fortune. For example, in New York, Central Park is a vast green oasis in the middle of the city that offers free activities and beautiful views. By exploring these free attractions, you can have an amazing experience while keeping your budget intact.

Remember, saving money doesn’t mean compromising on the quality of your trip. With a little planning and creativity, you can enjoy all that Hawaii or New York have to offer without breaking the bank. So go ahead and start planning your budget-friendly adventure!


While Hawaiʻi is certainly a pricier destination due to its remote location in the middle of the Pacific, travelers willing to look for deals and go during the low season can still keep costs reasonable on the islands. With strategic planning, you can take advantage of free attractions, cheaper lodging rates, and reduced airfares to fit Hawaii into your vacation budget. And while New York City offers plenty of free entertainment and public transit options, it too has greater availability and lower prices in the winter off-season. By knowing when to visit, where to stay and how to get around, you can make both of these incredible locales achievable destinations, no matter your budget.

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