It really does cost more to live in the land of beaches and sunshine. “Households in Honolulu spent $66,100 for housing in 2016-2017, about 11% more than our national average. Food was the next highest expenditure, with 15.4% of household budgets, compared to 12.7% nationally.”
Yet, when we visit, we find hotel rooms for about the same cost as any large city in the U.S. And we spend far less on food, since we tend to “eat local” most of the time. We also do a barbecue or two while here. I notice car rentals have increased the most, followed by gasoline, and entrance to parks and entertainment.
After many visits, I do not see visiting Hawaii as any more expensive than other large American cities. Again, getting from island to island is expensive, as are car rentals and gas. Public transportation is limited to circling the island, as in Oahu, or some city buses on the outer islands. Parking is usually at a premium as well, in high traffic areas.
Golf is certainly more expensive here, though I do not golf anymore. But other excursions and rentals are pricey, including renting bicycles, ziplining, sailing/snorkeling trips, whale watching, and water sports equipment rentals. Thankfully, we do our early morning walks, and most of the places we stay have a gym on site.
The biggest expenditure is always shopping related. We love to bring home gifts for people back home. One of those items is always coffee. We love Hawaiian coffee! And our latest favorite is the flavored ones, like the vanilla macadamia by Kauai Coffee. Here is our little coffee secret. We love the Peet’s French Roast, so we add a teaspoon or two of the vanilla macadamia for just a hint of flavor. Please don’t tell anyone!
We love the flea markets or weekly farmer’s markets here as well. It is impossible to visit one and not buy anything! And our favorite is the one in Honolulu, at the Aloha Stadium Market on weekends. We can always find something to buy, whether gifts or snacks.
Speaking of food, the islands offer many snacks and treats not available on the mainland. Some of our favorites: manapua (pork bun), shave ice (snow cone), mac cookies (Kauai Cookie is our fav), and spam musubi. Some are even healthy, like the papayas, fruit smoothies, and pineapple treats.
just a bit of advice: stay away from the expensive restaurants. Play the muni golf courses, like Wailua on Kauai. (PS: They found two bodies on the beach near the golf course). And take advantage of any freebies your hotel, condo, or timeshare offers.