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How Much Did You Spend On Backpacking In Hawaii


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Marjorie Daye



Backpacking in Hawaii is a dream come true for many adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. With its stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, and vibrant culture, it’s no wonder that Hawaii is a top destination for backpackers from around the world. However, before embarking on your backpacking journey, it’s essential to have a clear idea of the expenses you might incur during your stay in the Aloha State.


From accommodation to transportation, food, and activities, this article will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the costs associated with backpacking in Hawaii. Whether you’re planning a short trip or an extended stay, understanding the potential expenses will help you budget effectively and make the most of your time in this tropical paradise.


Keep in mind that the costs mentioned in this article are approximate and can vary depending on your travel preferences and the specific islands you visit. The intent is to give you a general idea of what to expect and how to plan your budget accordingly.


So, get ready to dive into the stunning landscapes, immerse yourself in the local culture, and indulge in exciting adventures as we explore the expenses involved in backpacking in Hawaii!


Accommodation expenses

When it comes to accommodation in Hawaii, you have a range of options to choose from. Whether you prefer the comfort of a hotel or the camaraderie of a hostel, there is something for every type of backpacker.


Hotels: If you’re looking for a bit of luxury and privacy, hotels in Hawaii offer a wide range of amenities and prices. From budget-friendly options to high-end resorts, the cost of a hotel room can range anywhere from $100 to $500 per night, depending on the location and season.


Hostels: For those on a tighter budget or looking to meet fellow travelers, hostels are a popular choice. Dormitory-style accommodations can cost as low as $30 to $50 per night, making it an affordable option for backpackers. Keep in mind that some hostels also offer private rooms, but these come at a higher cost.


Vacation rentals: Another popular option in Hawaii is vacation rentals. These can range from apartments and cottages to beachfront villas. Depending on the size and location, prices can vary greatly. Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $400 per night for a vacation rental.


Camping: If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, camping is a fantastic way to experience Hawaii’s natural beauty on a budget. Many of the state parks offer designated campsites, and the cost is usually around $10 to $20 per night. However, keep in mind that camping permits may be required, and availability can vary, so plan ahead.


It’s also important to note that accommodation prices can fluctuate based on the time of year. Peak tourist seasons, such as summer and major holidays, tend to be more expensive. Therefore, booking in advance or being flexible with your travel dates can help you secure better deals.


Additionally, consider the location of your accommodation. The more popular tourist destinations, such as Waikiki in Oahu or Lahaina in Maui, tend to have higher prices compared to smaller towns or less frequented areas. However, staying in these popular areas can also offer convenience and easy access to attractions.


Overall, with careful planning and research, you can find accommodation options that suit your budget while enjoying the beauty of the islands. Now that you have an idea of the potential costs for accommodation, let’s move on to the next expense category: transportation.


Transportation costs

Getting around the Hawaiian islands requires a bit of planning, as the transportation options vary from one island to another. Here are some of the common methods of transportation and their associated costs for backpackers in Hawaii:


Inter-island flights: If you plan on exploring multiple islands during your backpacking trip, inter-island flights are a convenient and efficient way to travel. The cost of these flights can vary depending on the airline, time of booking, and demand. On average, expect to pay around $100 to $300 per one-way ticket, with prices increasing during peak travel seasons.


Public transportation: Each island in Hawaii has its own public transportation system, typically consisting of buses. The cost of bus fares can range from $2 to $5 per ride, depending on the distance traveled and the specific island. Bus schedules and routes may vary, so it’s important to check the local transportation authority’s website for up-to-date information.


Rental cars: Renting a car can provide you with the flexibility to explore the islands at your own pace. Rental prices vary depending on the type of car, rental duration, and availability. On average, expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $100 per day. It’s worth noting that parking fees may apply in popular tourist areas.


Motorcycle or scooter rentals: For a more adventurous experience and to navigate through traffic more easily, you can consider renting a motorcycle or scooter. The cost of these rentals can range from $50 to $100 per day, depending on the type of vehicle and rental duration. However, ensure that you have the necessary license and experience to operate these vehicles safely.


Bicycles: Many of the Hawaiian islands offer bike rentals for backpackers who prefer to explore on two wheels. The cost of bicycle rentals varies depending on the location and duration of the rental. On average, expect to pay around $10 to $30 per day.


It’s important to factor transportation costs into your budget, as they can add up quickly, especially if you plan on frequent island hopping or relying on private transportation. Consider your travel itinerary, the modes of transportation that best suit your needs, and balance the expenses with your overall budget.


Now that we’ve covered accommodation and transportation costs, let’s move on to the next essential aspect of backpacking in Hawaii: food and drink expenses.


Food and drink expenses

Exploring the culinary delights of Hawaii is an essential part of any backpacking experience. From fresh seafood to traditional local dishes, the islands offer a diverse range of flavors to satisfy every palate. Here are some key points to consider when budgeting for food and drink expenses:


Restaurants and cafes: Dining out at restaurants and cafes can be a delightful way to indulge in the local cuisine. Prices can vary depending on the establishment and the location. Expect to spend around $15 to $30 per meal at mid-range restaurants. For a more budget-friendly option, look for local plate lunch spots or food trucks, where you can find delicious meals for around $10 or less.


Grocery stores and markets: If you’re looking to save money on food, buying groceries from local stores and markets is a great option. You can find a wide variety of fresh produce, snacks, and ingredients to prepare your own meals. On average, budget around $50 to $100 per week for groceries, depending on your eating habits and the cost of living on the specific island.


Happy hours and drink specials: Hawaii is known for its tropical cocktails and refreshing beverages. Taking advantage of happy hours and drink specials can help you save on your overall beverage expenses. Many bars and restaurants offer discounted prices during certain hours of the day, so keep an eye out for these deals.


Local delicacies and food trucks: Don’t miss the chance to try some of Hawaii’s local delicacies and food truck offerings. From poke bowls to shave ice and malasadas, these tasty treats are often affordable and provide an authentic taste of the islands.


It’s also worth noting that tipping is customary in Hawaii, generally around 15-20% of the total bill. Keep this in mind when budgeting for your meals to ensure you include the gratuity.


Overall, the cost of food and drink in Hawaii can vary depending on your dining preferences and choices. By balancing dining out with grocery shopping and exploring local food truck options, you can enjoy the culinary delights of Hawaii without breaking the bank.


Now that we’ve covered accommodation, transportation, and food and drink expenses, let’s move on to the next aspect of budgeting for backpacking in Hawaii: activities and excursions.


Activities and excursions

Hawaii offers a plethora of activities and excursions that allow you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and culture of the islands. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural exploration, there are options for every budget. Here are some popular activities and their estimated costs:


Hiking and nature exploration: Hawaii boasts stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Many hiking trails are free to access, allowing you to experience the beauty of the islands without spending a dime. For guided hikes or tours, prices can range from $50 to $150, depending on the duration and difficulty level.


Water activities: Hawaii is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life. Snorkeling and diving are popular activities, and equipment rentals can range from $10 to $30 per day. Guided boat tours and whale watching excursions can cost around $100 to $200, depending on the duration and location.


Surfing lessons: If you’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, Hawaii is the perfect place to give it a try. Surfing lessons typically range from $50 to $100 per person for a group lesson, and private lessons can cost anywhere from $100 to $200.


Luaus and cultural experiences: Hawaii’s rich Polynesian culture is best experienced through traditional luaus and cultural performances. Prices for luaus can vary depending on the package and location, ranging from $100 to $200 per person. Attending cultural events or visiting museums may have admission fees ranging from $10 to $25.


Volcano tours: If you’re visiting the Big Island, exploring the volcanoes and lava fields is a must-do experience. Guided volcano tours can range from $100 to $200, and helicopter tours offer a unique perspective but come at a higher cost of around $200 to $400 per person.


Sightseeing and scenic drives: Many of Hawaii’s natural attractions, such as waterfalls, beaches, and viewpoints, are free to visit. Renting a car or joining a guided tour can enhance your experience, but it’s also possible to create your own self-guided tours and enjoy the scenic beauty at no additional cost.


Keep in mind that prices can vary based on factors such as location, duration, and the specific tour operator. It’s always a good idea to compare prices, read reviews, and book in advance to secure the best deals and availability.


Now that we’ve explored the activities and excursions, let’s move on to the final consideration: miscellaneous expenses.


Miscellaneous expenses

While budgeting for your backpacking trip to Hawaii, it’s essential to consider miscellaneous expenses that may arise during your stay. These expenses may vary based on personal preferences and circumstances, but here are some common miscellaneous costs to keep in mind:


Travel insurance: It’s highly recommended to have travel insurance to protect yourself against unexpected events, such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, or lost luggage. The cost of travel insurance varies depending on the coverage and duration of your trip, but on average, expect to pay around 4-8% of your total trip cost.


Sim cards and internet access: Staying connected while traveling is important for many backpackers. Purchasing a local sim card or a portable Wi-Fi device can provide you with internet access throughout your trip. The cost of a sim card can range from $20 to $50, depending on the data plan and duration of usage.


Souvenirs and gifts: It’s natural to want to bring back a memento or gifts for friends and family from your Hawaiian adventure. Budgeting for souvenirs and gifts is a personal choice, but it’s wise to set aside some funds for this purpose.


Laundry services: If you’re staying in Hawaii for an extended period or engaging in outdoor activities, laundry expenses might come up. While some accommodations offer laundry facilities, others may require you to use paid services. The cost of laundry services can range from $5 to $15 per load.


Incidental expenses: It’s always a good idea to have some extra funds available for unexpected expenses or spur-of-the-moment activities. This can include things like taxi fares, parking fees, entrance fees for attractions not previously planned, or any additional costs that may arise.


It’s important to remember that these miscellaneous expenses can add up, so it’s wise to budget accordingly. Assess your needs and preferences, research the costs in advance, and allocate a suitable amount in your overall budget.


Now that we’ve covered the various expenses involved in backpacking in Hawaii, let’s summarize and calculate the total cost of your adventure in the next section.


Total cost of backpacking in Hawaii

Now that we’ve looked at all the different expenses involved in backpacking in Hawaii, let’s tally up the total cost. It’s important to note that the following figures are approximate and can vary depending on your travel style and preferences. Here’s an overview of the estimated costs:


Accommodation: Depending on your choice of accommodation, budget around $50 to $200 per night, with an average of $100 per night.


Transportation: Inter-island flights can range from $100 to $300 per one-way ticket. Public transportation costs around $2 to $5 per ride, while rental cars range from $40 to $100 per day.


Food and drink: Dining out at mid-range restaurants can cost around $15 to $30 per meal, while groceries can amount to $50 to $100 per week.


Activities and excursions: The total cost for activities and excursions in Hawaii will depend on your preferences and the number of experiences you choose to indulge in. On average, budget around $100 to $300 per week.


Miscellaneous expenses: This category includes travel insurance, sim cards, laundry services, souvenirs, and incidental expenses. Budget around 10-15% of your total trip cost for these miscellaneous expenses.


Based on these estimates, a rough total cost for backpacking in Hawaii can range from $1,500 to $3,500 per person for a two-week trip. This estimate includes mid-range accommodations, moderate dining choices, a mix of transportation options, and a variety of popular activities and excursions.


Remember, these figures are approximate and can vary depending on your travel style, choices, and the specific islands you visit. It’s always a good idea to create a detailed budget based on your own preferences and research the costs for your specific travel dates and locations.


By planning and budgeting ahead, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable backpacking experience in Hawaii without putting unnecessary strain on your finances. Now, it’s time to pack your bags, embrace the Aloha spirit, and embark on an extraordinary adventure in the beautiful Hawaiian islands!



Backpacking in Hawaii is an incredible experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the islands and indulge in a vibrant culture. While it’s important to plan and budget accordingly, the memories and adventures you’ll create are priceless.


From the stunning landscapes and pristine beaches to the rich Polynesian heritage and world-class cuisine, Hawaii offers something for every backpacker. By considering the expenses involved in accommodation, transportation, food, activities, and miscellaneous costs, you can create a realistic budget that aligns with your travel goals and preferences.


Remember to be flexible and open to exploring different options to optimize your budget without compromising on the experiences you desire. Look for deals and discounts, consider off-peak travel seasons, and make use of local resources to get the most value for your money.


Lastly, don’t forget to keep an eye on your expenses as you travel. Track your spending and adjust your budget if necessary to ensure you stay within your means. And most importantly, savor every moment of your backpacking journey in Hawaii, as the memories you’ll make will last a lifetime.


So, prepare to experience the beauty of the islands, embrace the aloha spirit, and embark on a remarkable adventure in the paradise that is Hawaii. Happy backpacking!