Practical Information

How much does it cost to vacation in Hawaii? Obviously, costs can vary wildly depending on how you experience Hawaii. Backpackers can get by for under $100 per day including lodging, food, and activity spending. The table below should help you estimate the cost of your trip.

Cost of Hawaii
Transport Costs
Car Rental $30+ per day
Fuel $4.25/gallon Oahu (higher on other islands)
Public Transport $2.50 bus fare, $3.20 per mile in a cab + $3.10 drop fee
Meals & Lodging
Hotel  $100-$300+ per night (varies from location & hotel amenities)
Restaurants $15-$40+ per person per meal 
Coffee $2.50-$4.75 per cup
Milk $5-$7 per gallon
Beer $8+ for a six pack
Bread $3-$6 per loaf
Cheese $3+ prepackaged (12 slices)
Beach Free (except Hanauma Bay)
Trips & Tours $30-$100+ per person per tour













Note: Prices are on average and current as of 2011. All prices are in US Dollars. Prices may vary.

Local Time = Hawaii Standard Time (HST)

Hawaii does not observe daylight savings time. In fact, Hawaii has its own time zone known as Hawaiian Standard Time. Since Hawaii is a mere 20 degrees north of the equator, the islands experience near 12 hour days all year with the sun rising and setting around 6:30 local time.

You may also notice that things simply move slower in Hawaii. This is commonly known as being on 'Island Time' where everything moves at an unhurried pace. My suggestion is to embrace it. You are here to relax and let go.


In Hawaii, tap water is safe to drink and is often served in local restaurants. However, bottled water is readily available in grocery stores, mini marts, and ABC stores.


Tipping standards in Hawaii are in general the same as in the continental United States. When staying in a hotel in Hawaii you can tip staff $1 or $2 per bag, turndown service, valet use, and housekeeping staff. When dining in a restaurant it is expected to tip 15-20% for first-rate service. However, when dining at a hotel or restaurant in a resort area such as Waikiki, gratuity is sometimes already included. If this is the case, it will be itemized near the bottom of the bill.

Tipping is not necessary, but often appreciated, at shrimp shacks or similar walk up locations that serve plate lunches or 'local grinds'.

Tour guides often work for tips. Tip $3 to $5 dollars per person or 10-15% of the total cost of the Hawaii tour for a tour guide that was extremely knowledgeable, enhanced your experience through their upbeat attitude, or just made you laugh. Sometimes, gratuity is included in the cost of the tour and if this is the case it should be noted when you have made your purchase.

Remember that tipping is discretionary, not mandatory and the above numbers are only guides.  

Beach Safety

Sun Exposure

Due to Hawaii's proximity to the equator, the sun is much stronger than anywhere else in the US or Europe, averaging 6-7 on the UV scale in winter and 9+ during summertime. Use sunscreen often, as a bad burn can ruin your holiday. Check today's UV index in Hawaii.

UV Rating Time until Burn Precautions
1-2 Low 1 hr + Low danger of UV damage for the average person.
3-5 Moderate 45 min Risk of harm from UV is moderate. Cover up or stay in shade mid-day when the sun is the strongest.
6-7 High 30 min Apply sunscreen with min SPF of 15. Wear sunglasses and note sun rays are strongest between 10am-4pm.
8-10 Very High 20-25 min Apply sunscreen and wear a shirt or covering, sunglasses, and a hat.
11+ Extreme < 15 min Take all precautions as skin can burn in minutes. Seek shade, avoid sun exposure between 10am-4pm. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and long sleeved shirt.
Portuguese Man of War

A small jellyfish with long, trailing tentacles who can inflict a painful sting. They have a small air sac that allows them to float near the water's surface and are at the mercy of the wind, which can blow them towards the shoreline into unwary swimmers. If stung, remove tentacle and rinse well in a nearby freshwater shower. Applying an icepack will dull the pain.


Yes, Hawaii has sharks but you have a greater chance of finding a seashell full of pearls than getting attacked by a curious shark. Don't imitate a seal or flailing fish and you'll reduce your chances of attack to nearly zero. If you happen to see a shark, which I have yet to do in my years in Hawaii, except during a shark encounter tour, swim away slowly. A shark will not be interested in this behavior.

Bargaining or Haggeling

Hawaii has set prices for goods and services, and bargaining for a lower price is not done. The exeption to this rule would be at flea markets, swap meets, or at the International Marketplace in Waikiki (food prices are set, but you may bargain for souveniers and clothing).

Business Hours

Most shops, restaurants, and stores are open every day from 9am - 9pm (roughly). Businesses in Waikiki tend to open earlier and close later, while rural areas might open later and close early. Most bars close by 2am, although some stay open until 4am. 

Post Office Hours

All post offices are closed on Sundays and some are even closed on Saturdays. Most open between 9am-10am and close between 4pm-5pm, Monday through Friday.


The area code for the entire state of Hawaii is 808. To dial Hawaii from an international location dial 011-808 and the local 7 digit number.


January 1st - New Year's Day
January, 3rd Monday - Martin Luther King Day
February, 3rd Monday - President's Day
May, Last Monday - Memorial Day
July 4th - Independence Day
September, 1st Monday - Labor Day
October, 2nd Monday - Columbus Day
November, 4th Thursday - Thanksgiving
December 24th - Christmas Eve
December 25th - Christmas Day
December 31st - New Year's Eve

Post Offices will be closed on these days. Many of the holidays listed above are heavy travel periods and may be subject to higher rates.