Is Hawaii an Overrated Travel Destination?

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Hawaii is home to some remarkable attractions from volcanic mountains to the diverse aqua life.

Thanks to this beauty, and the native surfing culture, among many more things, Hawaii has become a very popular travel destination.

So, is the trip worth it, or is Hawaii an overrated travel destination?

Keep reading to find out.

Is Hawaii an Overrated Travel Destination?

Hawaii is a famous travel destination.

Hawaii paradise
Hawaii tropical paradise

It is highly coveted and receives millions of visitors annually. For this reason, it is very likely to get overhyped, which translates to higher prices.

For instance, a solo trip to an alternative destination like Miami will be significantly cheaper.

Note we do not dispute that Hawaii is a beautiful tropical island with amazing cultures, landscapes, and awesome places to visit. However, it is very expensive to visit.

Despite the cost and the COVID-19 pandemic almost bringing the island to a standstill, the number of visitors to Hawaii has constantly increased.

For Example – Around 1,180,000 tourists visited the island in 2021, compared to the 493,000 who toured in 2020.

Therefore, there is no denying that a trip to Hawaii is a dream for many people.

Views Hawaii green fields Kauai
Hawaii green fields Kauai

The island also has many awards and accolades including:

  • TripAdvisor awarded Hawaii Forest and Trail a certificate of excellence.
  • The Hawaii Convention even got the Center of Excellence, Safe Site Designee, and a distinctive achievement award.
  • Maui island has been named the best US travel destination for the 7th consecutive year at the Travel Weekly Annual Readers Choice Awards.

When planning a Hawaii trip, start a few months earlier.

This way, you can choose the island to visit, where to stay, plan your journey and even get an airline/cruise ticket in time.

Despite doing this, you will still spend at least $2,000 as a solo traveler or around $4,371 for a family of 4.

Why Do People Love Hawaii

Most people would relish the opportunity to visit Hawaii at least once.

The island is packed with beautiful oceans, never-ending ranges of volcanic mountains, endless oceans, and, of course, beautiful people.

Other things that Hawaii has to offer include the following.

1. The Beaches

Hawaii is a chain of islands.

So, regardless of where you choose to stay for the period of your visit, you will have unlimited access to magnificent beaches.

Waikiki beach Hawaii
Waikiki beach

The island has every type of beach known to man, from white, red, and black sand beaches. 

You can even visit popular shorelines in Hawaii, where only footpaths are the only guide.

And honestly, it might be hard to pick one beach for the winner of this contest.

However, there are some top selections including:

  • Oahu Beaches – Including Waikiki and Waimea Bay, Ehukai, Hale’iwa Ali’i Beach, and Sunset beach
  • Maui Beaches- The most famous ones (and perfect for swimming) include Makena beach, Polo, Wailea, and Kaanapali beach, among many others.
  • Kumimi Beach
  • Hilo Beaches
  • Kohala beaches
  • Punalu’u Black sand beaches.
  • Oneloa Beach
  • Mauna Kea Beach
  • Hookipa Beach

2. Polynesian Culture

The Hawaiian people are the top attractions of the island.

Their culture, embodied in the Polynesian cultural center, makes it Hawaii’s #1 tourist attraction.

A visit to the island will allow you to interact one-on-one with the unique island cultures of Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, and Aotearoa.

You can experience these cultures without visiting the Culture Center.

But it does make it more interesting to see all the 6 unique cultures of Hawaii in one place.

The Hawaiian people culture
The Hawaiian people

This is because you can learn about their origin, which dates back to the islands of Southeast Asia, and their beliefs and personalities.

At the Polynesian Culture Center, you can listen to songs that originate from these cultures, dance to their music, and even marvel at their fire-filled performances.

The art originating from the Polynesian people will blow your mind.

They are similar to what you might have seen on Maui, from Moana, or the real-life Maui, Dwayne-The Rock-Johnson.

The art, often engraved into their skin as tattoos, plays cultural and social roles in their societies.

You can also buy Hawaiian quilts at the Polynesian Cultural Center, with distinctive floral designs sawn into white backgrounds.

In Hawaii – You can also experience the roots of the Polynesian people when you see their rock and wood carvings. The most famous rock carvings are the Moai, which depict monolithic human figures dating back to the 1500s.

Finally, you can enjoy the food the Polynesian people have to offer.

Their recipes range from all corners of the Polynesian triangle.

Most recipes use seafood, with sea urchins and abalone being common ingredients.

3. Landscapes

Hawaii was born out of volcanic activity.

The island came to be thanks to the 5 volcanoes still standing tall in the area.

These include:

  • Hualalai
  • Kilauea
  • Kohala
  • Mauna Loa
  • and Mauna Kea

And since some of these volcanoes are still active, Hawaii continues to grow.

It also comes as no surprise that Hawaii is home to the world’s largest active volcanic mountain, Kilauea.

Landscapes in Hawaii
Beautiful landscapes in Hawaii

The ridges connecting these mountains make Hawaii a true paradise.

The topography of these islands will leave you in awe of everything, from lava deserts to craggy ocean cliffs.

And whether you want to take a hike up the bamboo forests into the volcanic mountains or spend your afternoon in the tropical coastal areas, you have the best choices in Hawaii.

There are misty plateaus, snow-capped mountains, endless oceans, and waterfalls.

You can watch the water flow through cliffs and create beautiful waterfalls at Manoa Falls, Wailua Falls, Kahiwa, Pu’uka’oku, or Opaeka’a Falls.

On a Lucky Day – You may even see scenes from Hollywood movies like Jumanji and Jurassic Park.

4. Historical Sites

Hawaii has seen generations come and go.

As such, you can surely catch some breathtaking historical sites, ranging from traditional settlements to abandoned mills.

10-story lighthouse in Honolulu
Aloha tower

You can see lighthouses and royal residences, and so much more.

Some of the famous historical sites you can visit when touring Hawaii include:

  • Aloha Tower – This 10-story lighthouse in Honolulu has guided hundreds of ships to shore. It stands 184 feet above the ground and was the tallest building in Hawaii for over 40 years.
  • US Naval Base – Standing strong in Pearl Bay, the US Naval base is a reminder of the horrors of 1941, which saw over 2,400 people die.
  • National memorial cemetery of the Pacific is another registered historic place in Hawaii, where late United States Armed Forces members are laid to rest.
  • Diamond Head State Monument – Serving as Hawaii’s most recognized landmark, you can hike up and down the diamond head state monument at the eastern edge of Waikiki’s coastline. The crater dates back over 300,000 years ago due to volcanic action.

5. Botanical Gardens

Arial views of Hawaii show the island as one large botanical garden.

The ground views are no different.

Everywhere you turn, there is always a picturesque background.

The Ho'omaluhia Botanical garden Hawaii
The Ho’omaluhia Botanical garden in Oahu

And while the island is truly beautiful, there are botanical reserves that you must visit when you tour Hawaii including:

  • The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden in Hilo.
  • The Botanical World Adventures, which lies a few miles from the Mauna Kea volcanic mountains.
  • The Ho’omaluhia Botanical garden in Oahu, created by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
  • The Foster Botanical Garden near Chinatown in Honolulu.

6. National parks

Hawaii is home to over 50 state parks, but only 9 are honored as national parks.

You can find monuments, beautiful wildlife, and landscapes in these national parks.

At the top of the list of national parks you can visit is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

This park is home to two of the state’s most active volcanoes and the largest on the island.

In the valleys of these mountains, you can witness firsthand the most destructive yet creative lava flows.

Mountaines Haleakala National Park
Haleakala National Park

Second, on the list is the Haleakala national park.

The mountains in the park go as high as 10,000 feet off the ground, which means you view some breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.

The Kalaupapa national historical park is another attraction in Hawaii.

Sadly, the park hosts an isolated colony of natives that still suffer from Hansen’s disease.

Is Visiting Hawaii Expensive?

As mentioned, traveling to Hawaii can be a little expensive compared to other tropical islands.

A 7-day trip would cost a solo traveler anything between $2,989 and $4,000, depending on when you visit the island.

Let us break down this cost.

1. Airfare

The amount you pay for an air ticket to Hawaii will vary depending on the season.

Luckily, it is a famous travel destination, and there are always deals.

Hawaii airfare deals tips
Cost Hawaii airfare

If you want to save, you can visit the islands during the autumn or fall seasons.

This is because summer and holiday months spike the prices.

An average air ticket from New York to Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, with Hawaiian Airlines will cost you about $900 for a round trip in economy.

2. Accommodation

Accommodations in Hawaii come in a wide range.

You can stay in a budget Airbnb hostel along Waikiki Beachside for $150 a night.

If you are working on a bigger budget, you can choose to stay in a $ 200-a-night midrange hotel or go bigger with a luxury suite at The Royal Hawaiian for $435-a-night.

3. Foods and Drinks

Food and drinks in Hawaii will be the largest contributors to your travel budget.

Hawaii food cost and tips
Delicious seafood Hawaii

Even groceries on the island cost more than you are used to buying back home. Therefore, eating cheap is a challenge for tourists in Hawaii.

However, the island has some amazing foods.

From seafood to meat and fruit bowls, the area has everything. Breakfast costs between $10 and $15, while lunch costs as much as $20.

If you order dinner and drinks, you should be ready to part with $50, bringing the total for your food and drinks to about $90 per day.

4. Entry fees

Most of the attraction sites are cheap.

For instance, the Foster Botanical Garden charges a maximum of $5 for adults.

However, if you plan more engaging activities like swimming with wild dolphins or snorkeling, you should spare $80-$100 per day during your visit.

5. Local transportation

Once you arrive in Honolulu, the local transportation cost will vary depending on where you are going.

Hawaii transportation cost
Hawaii transportation tips

If you intend to stay in Honolulu, you can spare $5 for a daily ticket.

A rental car is your best and most convenient option if you travel further to the North Shore.

However, you will have to pay $40 per day and parking fees in most resorts.

Go into detail about how much tourists spend when visiting the island. Be as detailed as possible and provide actual figures.

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Are There Cheaper Alternative Travel Destinations Similar To Hawaii

A 7-day trip to Hawaii will cost you approximately $3,000.

However, this does not mean you should cancel your vacation because visiting Hawaii is too expensive.

Instead, if you are on a budget, consider going to these places.

1. Barbados 

Our first alternative is Barbados.

For starters, accommodation in Barbados is a lot cheaper compared to Hawaii.

Visit Barbados cost
Visiting Barbados 

For $300-a-night, you can get a luxury suite on the West Coast, and for less than $150-a-night, you can stay at a nature retreat off the south coast.

Local transportation costs $1 per ride, while taxis charge about $5.

However, rental cars are also as expensive, and you can get a private driver for $40-$50 per hour.

For Food – You can choose to pay for an all-inclusive trip and have the hotel provide food, or you can be explorative and eat the diverse foods and drinks served in the streets of Barbados. For this, $40 per day is sufficient.

2. Miami, Florida

If you travel alone to Miami, you can expect to spend at least $1,600 for a 7-day vacation.

Your air ticket will be the biggest contributor to your budget.

However, these prices will differ depending on your location and the time you visit Miami.

Miami beach
Miami Florida Beach

Accommodation on the coastline ranges from $55 to $248 per night for hostels and about $160-$1000 per night for entire homes.

For food and drinks, $48-$100 will be sufficient for one day.

However, if you have a larger budget, you can spend about $410 on a fine dining establishment for dinner.

The bottom line, you will pay at least $27 for your meals.

The cost of entertainment differs, depending on the activities.

If you want to hike the bamboo and fern mountains, you should budget for a little more than the day you go surfing on the beach.

3. Bali

The air ticket to Bali will probably be the biggest expenditure on your trip.

This is because it might cost you about $850 for your flight if you are flying from North America.

Visiting Indonesia or Vietnam
Bali Indonesia

However, you can reduce costs if you travel during an off-peak season.

Accommodation in Bali comes in a wide variety. You can find anything from luxury villas to single beds and shared dorm rooms.

Luckily – These accommodations are cheap, with a nice 3-star rated hotel costing $80-$120 a night. This price can drop as low as $20 per night for a hostel or go as high as $460 a night in luxury hotels.

Since Bali has no public transit, local transportation can be a little expensive.

However, you can get a motorbike and easily move around for $20-$30 per week.

Sticking with local cuisines is the way to go for food and drinks. You only pay about $2 per meal.

Remarkably, breakfast is included in the hotel, villa, or hostel fee, and lunch and dinner can cost as low as $10 or $25.

4. Galápagos Islands

Galapagos islands are located off the east coast of Ecuador.

You can get there on a cruise or fly.

A round-trip flight from New York in economy class will cost you at least $1110, depending on the season you visit.

Galápagos Islands Ecuador
Alternative travel to Galápagos Islands

Accommodation can go for as low as $52 for a single-person hostel or $104 for 2 people.

To move around, you can either go on public transportation or hire a taxi, which is costlier.

For instance, you can expect to spend about $43 daily on taxis, subways, and local buses.

Food in the Galapagos islands is available in a wide variety. You can choose depending on what you feel.

Local cuisines are the cheapest, and breakfast tops dinner and lunch.

An average meal in the Galapagos islands costs about $11 per person, bringing your total expenditure to about $27 per day on food and drink.

Final Thought

Hawaii is indeed a tropical paradise.

The chain of islands is home to exquisite beaches, active volcanoes that spill into the ocean, and many more attractions.

And since the islands are particularly famous, the cost of your vacation will be overrated.

However, if you are on a budget, you can visit other tropical islands with beautiful coastlines, cultures, and even landscapes for lower prices.

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