Hawaii is one of the most exciting, popular, enigmatic and fun destinations to ever exist in the world. With the most outstanding beaches, serene sea shores, interesting islands and a unique cultural vibe, this island nation makes for one great experience for all kinds of travelers.
But as everyone who might have researched a li’l about this lavish island destination knows, it isn’t a place where you could hold back on your expenses.
And today, we discuss why is Hawaii so expensive and what all makes it one of the most expensive places to live and to visit.
Table of Contents
8 Reasons why is Hawaii so expensive?
First reason why is Hawaii so expensive has to be the remote location of the island nation.
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and being thousands of miles away from the U.S. Mainland, Hawaii is a destination where everything needs to be shipped or flown into.
This increases the transportation costs. And the isolation also limits the availability of resources, this increases the prices for everyday goods and services.
The geographical isolation is one of the most important element when it comes to Hawaii being a costly place to visit or live in.
Popular Tourist Destination
As we all know, the entire world knows about Hawaii. We have seen it in beautiful pictures, videos and even as a backdrop to expensive cinema.
Hawaii is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist destination in the world. With the unbeatable natural beauty, pristine beaches and fascinating cultural immersion, this destination attracts thousands of visitors every year even after being one among the most expensive places.
But with high tourist footfalls, comes high demand for accommodation, activities, transfers and dining options as well.
This high demand goes off-the-charts when it is the peak season for the place i.e. from mid-December to March.
This acts as another essential element for the query: Why is Hawaii so expensive.
High Cost of Housing
The third element which makes Hawaii an expensive destination to visit or live in is its housing costs.
Due to limited land availability and a strong demand, Hawaii is consistently ranking among the highest in the United States.
Locals as well as visitors feel the pinch of the competitive real estate market with rent and property prices far exceeding the national average.
One of the major reasons why is Hawaii so expensive is its high cost of housing, which also acts as a challenging factor for people trying to live in the wonderous islands.
During the time that we see today, it is essential for nature-driven destinations across the world to establish a sustainable tourism efforts or preservation efforts to save its unique natural ecosystem.
Hawaii’s commitment to preserve its natural environment and cultural heritage has literally a high price to pay.
Strict preservation efforts as well as the environmental regulations are all very good activities which make the unique islands of Hawaii to remain a pristine paradise on earth.
But these activities or efforts demand high financial investments – which in turn impacts the overall cost of living and traveling in and around the destination.
Higher Shipping Costs | The Jones Act
There is this act known as the Jones Act which regulates that all goods being shipped between the United States ports must be transported on American-flagged vessels only.
This means that most goods must be shipped from the mainland, which drives up the shipping costs to a much higher extent. Which significantly becomes a reason why is Hawaii so expensive.
The act makes the competition for shipping vessels become lesser when serving Hawaii, which also means that there are much lesser options for shipping companies to choose from. This drives up the shipping costs as well.
Other than being known for its beautiful landscapes, warm climate all year round and a vibrant culture – Hawaii also has a reputation of having some of the highest taxes in the United States.
From the general excise tax (GET) and the transient accommodations tax (TAT) which are both levied on a wide range of goods and services, including accommodations & dining to other taxes like: personal income tax, property tax, vehicle registration fees, fuel taxes, etc.
This factor contributes significantly to become another reason why is Hawaii so expensive.
Strict Zoning Regulations
Due to the reason mentioned above regarding the preservation efforts to save the natural beauty and prevent overdevelopment in Hawaii – there are various zoning regulations which are setup in this island-state which limits its land use and development.
Although the efforts protect the environment, they also contribute to a significant increase in the property prices due to scarcity of the land.
Following are some of the impacts of zoning regulations in Hawaii being an expensive destination:
- Land Preservation
- Limited Development Opportunities
- Affordable Housing Challenges
Summer Year-Round Weather
When you look at the fact with a traveler’s POV, it is like a dream-come-true to witness the year-round tropical climate which Hawaii has.
But when you see deeply inside, this is another major reason why Hawaii is so expensive and you understand how this is an essential element in increasing the living and traveling costs of the place.
The summer year-round weather demands for cooling, electricity, water and other essential elements which lead to higher utility bills.
Moreover, this pleasant weather attracts retirees and people seeking a comfy retirement option, which even more increases the high housing demands, which in turn increases the costs.
Budget-friendly options for visiting Hawaii
Now that you know Why is Hawaii so expensive, but still want to, at least once in life, explore the beautiful landscapes, you can still do that if you plan your vacation right and let go of all the lavish desires you must-have connected Hawaii with.
Visiting a destination is not about living in the luxury suites, having those expensive wine tasting sessions and other stuff like that. To explore a destination at its best, be it one of the most expensive places in the world, is to try and look for a more budgeted option to explore the place.
Here are some budget-friendly options for your Hawaiian Adventure:
Travel During the Off-Peak Season:
Visiting Hawaii during the off-season, which typically falls in spring and fall, can save you a significant amount on flight bookings and accommodations.
The off-season for Hawaii falls during the months of: From April to mid-June & From August to mid-December.
- If you want to experience a time to travel to Hawaii when the accommodation costs are at its budgeting best, you must come here in the month of November or the beginning days of December (except for Thanksgiving).
Look for Flight Deals:
If you seek lower flight rates, then you shall plan your visit to this marvelous tropical land in the months: April, May, September & October.
- Keep your eye out for flight deals, and always be flexible with your travel dates.
- Consider flying into less popular airports like Kahului Airport on Maui (not the character from the movie Moana).
- If you have reward points or airline miles, consider using them to offset the cost of flights or accommodations.
Stay in Budget Accommodations:
- Opt for budget-friendly stay options like hostels, guesthouses or vacation rentals from AirBnB or Vrbo.
- Many islands in Hawaii offer camping grounds. You can have a budget-friendly camping in there for a marvelous experience.
Cook Your Meals:
- The food is shipped into the island nation from the States, which make it very expensive. It is a better choice for cooking your own meals whenever possible.
- Shop at local markets and grocery stores to buy affordable, fresh produce & local good.
Use Public Transportation:
Instead of renting a vehicle, use public transports and travel with groups to save a sufficient amount while traveling in Hawaii. Many areas have cost-effective buses and trolley.
Explore Free and Low-Cost Activities:
If you don’t want to spend less on accommodation, you must opt for budget-friendly or free activities to experience in Hawaiian islands.
Have a leisurely day at one of the many beautiful beaches, go hiking in state parks, explore cultural attractions, walk along the streets.
Cheapest Island in Hawaii to Visit
The Big Island is said to be the most budget-friendly option when it comes to Hawaii. With low cost of living, lowest fair market rents and lowest yearly expenses, this island is the cheapest island in Hawaii.
To wrap it up
While the breathtaking beauty and unique culture of Hawaiian islands is undoubtedly worth the expense, it is essential for all travelers and potential residents to understand the factors which make you understand Why is Hawaii so Expensive.
Geographical isolation, popularity as a tourist destination, high housing costs, preservation efforts, shipping costs, taxes, the zoning regulations and the year-round summer all play important roles in Hawaii’s expense.
Despite the challenges, Hawaii’s allure continues to draw thousands of visitors willing to pay the premium for a slice of paradise in the Pacific Paradise.
If you do not have the expenses, you can still visit the island by looking at the few options which I talked about in this blog post for budget-friendly options.
Or, you can read this blog post for finding out the best budget-travel hacks to save money while traveling.
Aloha & Mohalo for reading this blog. Share if you liked it. Tell me in the comment box below if you have or want to visit Hawaii. Comment down below if you want a full blown budget trip to Hawaii article to plan ahead, I can make it happen.
That’s All Folks!