Since we have four kids, our overall costs would be a little higher than the average family-size, so let’s explore how much it would cost for a trip with two children.
Total Cost for Family Vacation to Honolulu, Oahu
7-day trip to Hawaii will cost $13,268. This is our proposed budget and it allows for a comfortable trip including a few paid tours. For a super-tight budget trip, you could estimate around $6,000 but this would entail finding super-saver flights, using public transportation, eating low-cost meals, experiencing free activities, and staying in a hostel, cheaper rental condo, or with a friend. Of course, you could always upgrade any part of the trip and a luxury vacation in Hawaii could easily cost $30,000+. There are many variables and we give specific examples, so add and subtract as you need, but $13,268 should give you a nice, memorable vacation in Hawaii.
Here are the information our budget is based on. We’ll go into more details below.
|Total Cost of the Trip||$13,268|
|Activities and Tours||$2,546|
As of March 26, 2022, domestic travelers entering Hawaii do not need to have any COVID-related information, such as negative test or proof of vaccination.
With everyone itching to make up for the last 2 years of lost vacation time and the idea of “revenge travel” buzzing in our ears, it is certain that Hawaii as a major tourist destination will be affected by these trends. There has already been a huge uptick in the number of tourists to Hawaii as well as an increase in costs of travel so expect some of these prices to change, be prepared for a price hike, and double-check your own costs as you plan your vacation.
A Trip to Hawaii: Cost Breakdown for a Family of Four
Here are the assumptions we made for our budget scenario to give you an idea of where our costs are coming from:
DATES: 6-day and 7-night trip (We picked June 25 – July 2, 2022 since it’s usually a high-travel time in Hawaii and a popular season for families with children on summer break. All costs will usually be higher during this time as well.)
LOCATION: Round trip flight between Minneapolis, Minnesota (MSP) to Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL)
WHO: Four persons, two adults and two children (aged 12, 8)
LODGING: Mid-range hotel stay
TRANSPORTATION: car rental
Okay, now let’s jump into the details!
Cost of Flights to Honolulu
We just used Expedia to find the best flight options. If you use points or look for flight deals, this cost might change.
The total flight cost for a family of four is $4,568. This breaks down to $1,142 per person including children. The actual cost was $1,162 per adult and slight discount for each child.
United Airlines and Delta gave comparable prices with Delta costing $7 more per person.
In actuality, this price will probably vary the most depending on what city your family is flying out from. This one is also a biggie, because it’s such a big portion of the total trip cost. If you don’t have exact travel dates in mind, once in a while, you can catch a great deal on flights. We have a friend in Minnesota who loves traveling to Hawaii so much that every time they get an itch (and some vacation time), they just start looking for cheap flights, find them, and book them. At the time, their criteria was $500 roundtrip under. After that, they would just make the rest of the vacation happen.
Many flight routes to Hawaii were cancelled in 2020 and not all have resumed service yet. It was a strange the last couple of years because while there were not as many travelers to Hawaii, there were also not a lot of flights as before, which created even more variation in pricing. Some airlines would offer some really good deals, but because there weren’t a lot of flights available, once those cheap tickets were gone, only pretty expensive flights were left.
As more airlines resume their routes to Hawaii, we are starting to see flight costs going back to normal with the occasional special deals.
In terms of airlines that fly to Hawaii, United Airlines and Delta are the major carriers with Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines often offering cheaper fares. We’ve flown all the above mentioned airlines and they all worked fine for us. I’m sure you have a preferred airline, so go ahead and pick your choice, but, if a connection is made via one of the smaller carriers, I wouldn’t be too concerned with it. For basic economy seats, we didn’t notice much of a difference between airlines and the amenities they offered.
Cost of Hotels on Oahu
We did a search using a mix of Google, Expedia, and Hotels.com for hotel cost comparisons. Prices will vary between ocean or non-ocean views, number of beds, etc. and there are additional taxes and per day resort fees as well.
The total hotel cost for a family of four is $4,474.00.
For our scenario, we booked one room with two double beds and a partial ocean view. All our hotel picks for this budget scenario include the taxes and resort fees in the total hotel cost.
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort $4474.00
- The Sheraton Waikiki $4437.00
- The Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations (suite with full kitchen) $3410.00
- Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort $4093.00
These three locations are not in Waikiki and you would most likely need a car during your stay:
- The Kahala Hotel & Resort $6836.00
- Turtle Bay Resort $7799.00
- Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa SOLD OUT for our travel dates
For a family with children, Aulani is usually a top choice so here are two alternate examples just to give you an idea of pricing for this popular resort. Since this summer is already sold out, we looked into a stay for the summer of 2023 to get a similar approximate cost. The hotel cost for June 24 – July 1, 2023 is $6474.00. We also checked into a non-peak season option for 2022 and if you booked a hotel room at Aulani for October 15 – 21, 2022, the cost for a hotel room is quite a bit less at $3,584.
Our pick for our budget scenario was Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort for $4474.00 for both convenience and amenities. This resort is located on 22 acres of oceanfront right on Waikiki Beach and offers a lot of amenities such as cute boutique shops, a variety of casual and fine dining options, easy access to the beach, multiple pools and water slides, a natural lagoon, and even a free weekly Friday night fireworks show right on the beach. It’s probably the most “resort” style place in Waikiki. Since it’s located in Waikiki, it is also close to a few other beaches, Ala Moana Shopping Center, and you’ll have easy access to the Waikiki Trolley system. On a personal note, right in Hilton Hawaiian Village, there’s a famous local ice cream shop, Lappert’s, that kids really like (right off the road facing the ocean). They always HAD to get ice cream whenever we’d meet up with friends to watch the fireworks show from the lagoon but, of course, the ice cream is really yummy so we weren’t too hard to convince!
For our actual family of six, our top choice would be The Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations at $3410.00. With a suite that includes a full kitchen, this would give us the option to grab some items from Costco or a local market and make breakfast and a few other meals on our own. Also, that way we’re not paying $15.00 a pop for Mac and Cheese each time we go out to eat with our youngest one.
If you want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, then Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore (especially if you like golfing) or other options out in Ko Olina are great choices too. We have many friends – locals and visitors – who absolutely love Aulani. We’ve had a fun few nights stay there as well but as part of the Disney brand, it also can get quite pricey compared to other hotel options and usually when we travel, we like focusing our funds on activities and visiting as many places as possible. Of course, if you or someone in your family adores all things Disney, and you’d prefer the amenities of a resort, this might be a great option to consider too!
Cost of Rental Cars
Total cost for a rental car for seven days: $1,284
If you are planning to stay just in Waikiki, then you might be able to subtract some or all of this expense from your trip. You’ll need to keep in mind that separate from hotel cost, many hotels charge a daily parking fee. If you’re not planning on using a car every day, you might want to organize your vacation so you’re renting a vehicle just on the days you plan to drive around the island and utilize other means of transportation on the off-days. Each hotel has a different policy on car parking but many do charge an extra fee, so if you have a rental car for the full trip, you may end up paying per day just to fill a parking stall. It will be a good idea to check on the hotel policy while making your vacation plans as parking is often not cheap. If you have to pay an additional fee for the parking I would budget $35 – $65 per night. We’ve seen many people utilize public parking spaces nearby but because the area is high-traffic, public parking isn’t always guaranteed so, budget in as needed; one thing you don’t want to waste on a vacation is your time.
What do we recommend? We think you should get a rental car for at least a few days of your trip. There are a lot sights to see and places to visit and there are some stunning views that you can only get if you go somewhere by car or on a tour (which is also a good option).
Total cost for a rental car for seven days: $1,284
- Breakdown is:
- Car rental: $854 standard sedan / $1488 minivan
- Parking: $330 for seven days
- Fuel: $100
Activities and Tours
Total costs of activities and tours for a family of four: $2,546
Honestly, even if you are shooting for a super low budget vacation, I’d recommend trying to do at least one activity. This is probably where you will find the most bang for your buck. Even when we didn’t have much money, when we took the plunge to go on some tours, we were quite happy with them (I’d say 90% of the time. There were few occasions where we didn’t think the activity was worth the money.) For example, we didn’t really know what to make of it for a dolphin-watching tour. We just thought it will be like looking at a dolphin picture or it might be exciting for the first spotting, but honestly, we are glad we went on the tour, because we still talk about it after 6 years. Also, when I took my aunts to Polynesian Cultural Center, they were really reluctant. They thought it was going to be a boring historical site seeing (think visiting an open field where there was supposed to be a palace long time ago and there is just grass there) and some reenactments, but they were glad that they spent the day there.
If you want to keep the vacation low budget, there are tons of free activities or nearly free activities that you can do on Oahu. Even if you spend your entire vacation in Waikiki, hitting the beach or exploring the shops and restaurants, you’ll still have a blast. Within the Waikiki and Honolulu area, you can easily hop on a bus to visit the nearby Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island, walk around Ala Moana Shopping Center – the largest outdoor mall in the world, or hop over to Chinatown. Even within Waikiki, there are a number of free activities available, from swimming on the beach, to taking a free historical tour at the Moana Surfrider Hotel, to watching a complimentary hula show and staying for the Hawaiian cultural activities open to the public and hosted by several hotels in the area, and, of course, there’s the free Friday night fireworks hosted by the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Of course, there are tons of fun activities that have ticket or entry costs, but if you’re traveling to Hawaii and can fit it in your budget, we definitely recommend taking advantage of at least a few guided tours and paid activities.
Oahu offers a wide variety of interesting tours, programs, outings, and classes. You can take lessons for surfing or snorkeling, try an outrigger canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddle board, or even take a ride on a submarine scooter. What about horse-back riding in a valley and along the coast or hiring a tour guide to take you around the island? There are a number of boating activities as well, from dolphin or whale-watching, to sunset cruises, to deep-sea fishing, or even swimming with sharks! Ride an ATV, take a helicopter ride, go parasailing! Actually, my cousin’s Must-Do item while visiting Hawaii was skydiving. In his case, he had to go to the dive spot twice because it was canceled the first time due to the weather; so you’ll need to take that into account for outdoor activities too.
For the sake of the budget scenario, let’s just say you will be doing 4 activities on this trip. These would be our sample picks:*
- A Complete Historic Sites of Pearl Harbor Tour (includes hotel pick up): $699
- Polynesian Cultural Center guided tour, Luau buffet, and evening show: $704
- Kualoa Ranch multi passenger ATV tour (there’s also a similar tour on horse-back): $430 (Adult $144.95 & Child 5-12 $69.95)
- Dolphin-Watching Boat Tour (includes hotel pick up): $713.00 (Adult $189, Child 2-11 $146)
*Please note that taxes and fees may not be included in these costs. Oahu’s General Excise Tax is 4.712% and there may be other fees on some tours.
And now the (MY) most important part…
Cost of Food
Total food cost for a family of four for seven days: $1,680
This one was a surprise one for us when we first moved to Hawaii…food is expensive here. Taking into account that as a visitor, your family of four will be eating out for 7 days, this will roughly equal 21 meals and it does add up. Of course, just like other factors, there are a lot of considerations, but none of the other factors have as diverse a number of variables as food. While some families are okay with fast food, some are adamantly against it. As a kid growing up in Hawaii with vegetarian friends, I’d have to say that vegetarian options in the 90s were slim (to none!), but nowadays, we have everything from raw food vegan fare and even steakhouses usually have vegetarian options available. As a word of caution, if you have certain allergies, make sure to ask the restaurants about their ingredients. Restaurants should and often will have their allergens listed clearly, but we did have a situation a few years ago with our son and his peanut allergy because the item wasn’t clearly listed as containing peanuts. Even the waiter didn’t realize that one of the ingredients was a spoonful of peanut butter (and honestly, we couldn’t taste it!) so it took our son a few bites to realize he was having an allergic reaction.
That being said, here’s our experience when we travel. With four kids we have two that will happily try a variety of locale fare and two kids that will find the closest equivalent to chicken nuggets, burgers, or mac and cheese wherever we eat. Our youngest always get excited when they see McDonald’s or Burger King, so once or twice on a trip, we just let them enjoy their fast food fix. But, for the rest of the meals, we’ll actively look for a mix of famous places, some popular local places, and some hole-in-the-wall places. For our dinners out we can usually budget around $80 for a family of six for meals that we can comfortably enjoy. Most people are going to say that’s not enough in Hawaii and if each person gets their own individual appetizers, entrees, drinks and desserts, they’ll probably be right, but we often come under that amount. In our case, we often share appetizers, we usually split 1-2 desserts, and we try to discourage ordering too much food and take-out boxes (especially while living out of hotels); we take this into consideration when figuring out the quantities of food we order.
To help figure out your family’s food budget, most restaurants on Oahu have Yelp or Google pictures of their menus available so it’s pretty easy to figure out the cost per person for a specific eatery and, of course, if your family enjoys primarily fine dining, the food costs may be substantially higher; for example, a nice dinner at Roy’s Waikiki for a family of four could easily run over $200, not including drinks.
For the purpose of this article and our budget for a family of 4 on a mid-ranged vacation, we would estimate food to cost about $70 per day for an adult and $50 per child ages 8-12. This would take into consideration that some days, meals might be spam musubis from 7-11 lunch and local plate lunches for dinner, while other days might be a fresh catch-of-the-day fish entree for lunch, Korean BBQ for dinner, and malasadas for dessert. Overall, while planning your trip, expect that things are generally going to cost a little more over here. We were surprised to find that a quart of milk here was just as expensive as a gallon of milk in Minnesota. We were surprised that a box of cereal will cost $7 or $8 when we were so used to buying them for $3. No, it’s not people trying to rip off tourists; almost everything has to be imported from somewhere else in the country or around the world and local land is expensive, so stuff just costs more. If anything, blame the politicians who created the law that everything being imported via ship has to go through select ports on mainland first (the biggest one for Hawaii shipments being Los Angeles) and then come to Hawaii. Can you imagine a shipment container from Australia has to pass by Hawaii, but can’t stop in Hawaii, and has to go to LA, and then make it back to Hawaii? Ha! How is that for efficiency? (wow, I digressed here!)
We hope this information provided you with some insight and that you have a better idea of what to budget for on your trip to Hawaii. Maybe we’ll bump into each other someday.