Budget planning for your Hawaii vacation but unsure about what you can expect to shell out in 2023? While estimates can prove helpful, there’s nothing like comparing real life dollar amounts.
In July 2023, I tracked every penny I spent during my 10-day Hawaii vacation. Here’s how much cash I ended up spending — and how I spent it.
After logging my receipts, I broke down my Hawaii vacation expenses into five categories: transportation, lodging, food, tours and activities, and souvenirs.
About my Hawaii trip
As someone who travels to Maui regularly, I don’t usually spend like the average tourist. I don’t typically sign up for tours or other pricey activities such as luau shows (unless I’m writing a review).
However, I recently visited Maui with three family members who haven’t been to Maui for several years. I decided to document all of my expenses during this family trip to share what a typical trip to Maui could cost.
For this family vacation, we stayed a total of 10 nights in Hawaii. While we spent most of our time on Maui, we island hopped to Oahu for an overnight visit with a family member who lives there.
What I spent on transportation
Some expenses, such as the rental car and parking, were shared among the group. The airfare and rideshare from home to the airport were mine alone.
|Car to airport||Uber rideshare||$106.75||$92.83 + tip|
|Round trip airfare to Maui from Seattle||Alaska Airlines||$566.84||I used a $400 voucher from a previous flight credit, so I was charged $166.84|
|Car rental||Dollar Rent A Car||$275.52|
|Fuel for rental car||Shell Gas||$60.40||$4.65/gallon|
|Round trip airfare from Maui to Oahu||Hawaiian Airlines||$96.81||Includes $10 for premium seat|
|Parking at Maui’s Kahului Airport for Oahu island hop||Kahului (OGG) Airport parking||$15|
Transportation total: $1,121
What I would have spent on lodging
We’re fortunate enough to own a vacation rental condo in Kihei, so I didn’t pay for lodging on this trip. However, I did pay a $175 cleaning fee after my stay.
What would I have expected to pay if I were to rent out the same type of vacation rental? Another unit in my building rented out for a total of $3,543.63 for the same 10 nights when we stayed. This total is inclusive of all fees. Here’s the cost breakdown:
|Nightly rate||$2,693.00||$269.30 x 10 nights|
|Damage protection fee||$30.00|
|Taxes||$525.63||17.4% transient accommodation tax|
The lodging fees are typical for vacation rentals in the area. At some resorts, you may also have to pay for parking during your stay. Parking was included in our community.
While hotel or resort stays tend to have fewer line item fees (you typically don’t pay a damage protection fee, a service fee, or a cleaning fee at a hotel, for example), I’ve found that the overall cost to stay at a hotel tends to be higher.
Lodging value total: $3,544 value
How much I spent on food while in Hawaii
While lodging and airfare often dominates the vacation budget for Hawaii, how much you spend on food can easily overtake any careful financial plans for your trip.
During our 10-day stay on Maui (and overnight in Oahu), I spent just under $600 on food. That breaks down to $60.00 per day, or $20 per meal.
I wasn’t trying to stick to a specific food budget, per se. But my family’s travel style is a slow, casual pace. That translated to more meals at grab-and-go eateries and fewer meals at upscale restaurants that require a reservation.
These are the circumstances behind my daily food expense on this trip:
- We didn’t eat at sit-down restaurants every day. Instead, we opted for food trucks, grocery store meals, and deli counters for hearty plate lunches.
- I don’t drink alcohol, so I ordered water with every meal.
- We had use of a kitchen at our condo, so we opted to reheat leftovers for some meals rather than buying breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day.
- Sharing some of the larger meals helped lower the food cost — and kept food waste to a minimum.
- During our overnight stay on Oahu, we stayed at a family member’s home and ate out only once.
- We splurged a few times. On one day, we had lunch at Mama’s Fish House. On another day, we enjoyed the breakfast buffet at DUO (at the Four Seasons in Wailea).
Related: Is Mama’s Fish House worth the cost? Read our honest review of the popular restaurant.
What I ate in a day on Maui
What did I eat during our trip, specifically? This is the actual breakdown of what I spent on food during a few of the days while on Maui.
|July 08||Breakfast||Two cinnamon rolls with walnuts and cream cheese||The Cinnamon Roll Place, Kihei||$16.45||Split between four people|
|Lunch||Sushi roll and spam musubi||Island Gourmet Market, Wailea||$12.68|
|Dinner||Bento box and lilikoi pie||Kitoko food truck at South Maui Gardens, Kihei||$33.00|
|July 09||Pre-breakfast||Donuts||Maui Ono Donuts food truck, Kihei||$7.85|
|Breakfast||Big Kahuna omelet||Nalu’s South Shore Grill, Kihei||$18.00|
|Snack||Tapioca (2) from the grab-and-go refrigerated section||Island Gourmet Market, Wailea||$6.23||Shared the second with another person|
|Dinner||Fish tacos||Coconut’s Fish Cafe||$20.00||This large meal could have been shared with another person|
|July 11||Breakfast||Donuts||Maui Ono Donuts||$16.17||I split the donuts with my niece|
|Lunch||Sit-down lunch||Mama’s Fish House, Paia||$134.18||Includes tip; We split the meal 3 ways, but there were 4 people in our party|
|Snack||Shave ice||Ululani’s, Kihei||$8.81|
|Dinner/Dessert||Sweet and savory pies||Maui Pie||$68.89||Shared between the 4 of us, with leftovers for later meals|
For the most part, I generally spent around $50 to $60 per day on food. But splurging on a fancy meal at Mama’s Fish House multiplies that day’s food total.
While spending a few days on Oahu with family helped lower my food cost slightly, there were a few times during the trip when I paid for more than just my meal. For example, I bought a few large pies and quiches from Maui Pie to split among our group. Because of these infrequent instances when I picked up a meal for everyone, the overall food budget for the trip balanced out to what I would have spent if I didn’t travel to Oahu to be treated to family meals.
Food total: $600
Tour and activity costs on Maui
Tours are another category that can make a drastic impact on your Hawaii vacation budget. Luau show tickets run $150 to $300 per person on Maui. Snorkeling tours and whale watching tours start at around $150 per person. Even a basic farm tour can set you back $75 per person.
On this trip, we opted for a private snorkeling and stand up paddle (SUP) tour with a local operator. I paid $175.16, which included tax. Our guide took photos during our snorkel and SUP tour, which we paid $50 for. We also decided to tip our guide $50 after the tour.
As an aside, we visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial while on Oahu. We didn’t book a tour, so I didn’t spend any money for this activity.
Related reading: Want to visit Pearl Harbor from Maui without a tour guide? Here’s how.
Tour/activity total: $275
What I spent on souvenirs and gifts
While I typically don’t buy much in the way of souvenirs when I travel, I splurged a bit on this trip. Not only did I buy a few things for myself, but I also bought some small gifts to send back to family members who didn’t join us on this trip.
Prices listed include sales tax of 4.166%.
|Quick drying hat for paddle boarding||$41.66|
|Kihei beach t-shirt||$31.24|
|Layered wood art from CocoNene, Lahaina||$156.25|
|Food gifts from Tutu’s Pantry, Kihei (spice rubs and pancake mix)||$25.00|
|Souvenir gifts from Island Gourmet Market, Wailea (plush toys, Hello Kitty tote bag, hair ties)||$61.12|
|Plumeria cuttings (2) from the Navy Exchange, Oahu||$11.98|
Souvenir and gifts total: $327
How much my Hawaii vacation cost (July 2023)
My actual expenditure was less than what’s listed in the total cost, primarily because we stayed at our vacation rental. However, you could argue “loss of use” as a cost, so I’ve included the value of the stay in my totals below.
Maui vacation total cost: $5,867 (my actual spend was $1,823 due to airline vouchers, use of my vacation rental, and shared car rental expense with others in my travel party)
Estimated cost for two people to vacation on Maui in 2023
Wondering what the cost estimate for two people would be based on my actual budget data? Using my receipt totals, here’s what the vacation would cost if there were two of us:
10-day Maui vacation budget breakdown for 2 people
|Rideshare to the airport||$106.75|
|Round trip tickets from Seattle to Maui||$1,133.68|
|Fuel for rental car||$60.40|
|Round trip airfare from Maui to Oahu||$193.62|
|Parking at Maui’s Kahului Airport for Oahu island hop||$15|
|Vacation condo rental||$3,544|
|Food ($60 per person per day)||$1,200|
|Maui vacation budget for 2 (2023)||$7,728.97|