15 Hidden Expenses To Watch Out For When Vacationing In Hawaii

15 Hidden Expenses to Watch Out for When Vacationing in Hawaii

Hawaii is often considered America's very own tropical paradise and this is not just because it's the only state with a tropical rainforest. Its near-perfect temperatures year-round, gorgeous beaches, friendly locals and incredibly varied scenery make the Aloha State a dream vacation destination. However, such places never come cheap.

Using the pool

Watch out for hidden resort fees which often include using the pool and access to towels and lounge chairs. Many places will include a daily fee that will cover such services, including Wi-Fi. It is usually about $30 a day.

Don’t rent a car from the airport

Public transportation is the cheapest way to travel around in Hawaii, but it's not always convenient. Most people rent a car.  Avoid doing that at an airport because you are going to have to pay an extra airport location fee. Most rental agencies will let you extend your rental day beyond 24hr for a small percentage but if this extends into an extra day, they will charge you the full $4.50-7.50 surcharge.


Parking is a problem in every state. Hawaii is no exception. Most places in Waikiki will charge  between $30 and $40 a day to allow guests to park. Think about whether you really need to rent a car and see if you can minimize the number of days you'll have to drive.

Food costs more

Food is imported from the mainland across the ocean which is why prices are higher. Shop at a farmer's market if you can. There is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables due to the tropical climate. Avoid tourist traps for dinner and make sure you're seated by 6 p.m. Many food joints offer discounted meals if you catch the early bird specials.

Transient Accommodation Tax

There is no escaping the TAT but many people forget to account for it when making budget plans. Operators of transient accommodations must pay the 6 percent TAT, and also the general excise tax at the rate of 4 percent. The TAT does not include separate charges for guest amenities such as meals and telephone calls.

Cleaning fees

You may choose to rent a condo to avoid hidden resort fees but don't forget the cleaning fee, which is not cheap. For example, you'll have to pay $135, excluding all other fees and taxes, if you rented a one-bedroom condo, and $175 for two-bedroom condo. The fees range from $60 to $200 depending on where you're staying.

All beaches are public and free

Hawaii's beaches belong to "no one and everyone." All beaches are public property. Regardless of whether you're staying at a high-end resort, you are welcome to go to the beach in front of it and save yourself extra daily fees.

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is free

Hawaii is a wonderful place with a lot of things to do. Many people opt for tours because its saves them time and effort by eliminating organization. But they don't always save people money. The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is included in many tours but it's free to the public. You just need to make a reservation.

Rent a surfboard

Avid surfers will want to go to Hawaii for some of the best breaks in the world and will want to bring their own boards. However, this may cost them a lot because airlines charge extra fees for such baggage. You can rent a board from Hawaii Surfboard Rentals for a minimum of two days for $40, and shipping is free.

Baggage fees

More and more airlines are charging higher bag fees if you pay them at the airport, as opposed to paying them in advance on the airline's website, according to Cheap Air. It is always recommended to check your flight in advance and see if you can pre-pay your bag fees. This will save you time at the airport as well. Also, consider shipping whatever equipment you have in advance. 

Bring cash

Don't count on ATMs; they are not everywhere. Hotels and airports don't have them and banks on the mainland usually don't have a lot of branches on any of the islands. You're likely going to end up withdrawing money from an independent ATM and the fees are sometimes around $5. Just bring cash. A lot of local venues don't take cards anyway.

Book about 50 days in advance

Book 47 days in advance. After analyzing 1.5 billion air fares, a CheapAir.com study found that in 2014 the best domestic fares were found booking, on average, 47 days in advance. This was based on a review of almost 5 million trips, covering 15,000 markets, watching fares booked between 1 and 320 days in advance.

Reconsider cruises

There is something about sunset dinners on the water that people can't resist. Such cruises are popular among tourists in Hawaii, but they are often more expensive that previous thought. The best part about the experience is the sunset, which happens to be free. So why do you want to spend more than $200-$300 for dinner? The price includes port fees and gratuity.

Use a ridesharing app

Being on an island does not mean that everything is close by. Taxis are not cheap. The fare from the Honolulu International Airport to Waikiki during non-rush hour periods is about $50, excluding the tip, but can go much higher if you hit traffic. You can use several ridesharing apps for a cheaper ride. Some even offer free first rides upon signing up.

Use coupons

Adventures are worth splurging on unless you can avoid it. Check Groupon and other sites for coupons. You are very likely to find discounts on activities like parasailing, swimming with dolphins, zip lining and even helicopter tours. Local newspapers can also be a good source for coupons. Brochures at the airport often contain free coupons.