Honolulu, Hawaii is a beautiful and fun place to visit but, according to the TripAdvisor TripIndex report for 2013 that was just released, it is also the most expensive city in America for travel plans.
The report pulled together average costs for an overnight stay at a 4-star hotel, a round trip taxi ride, dinner for 2 with a bottle of wine, and cocktails for two. Honolulu earned its title of most expensive with a total cost for all 4 items of $504.94, followed closely by New York City at $505.25.
The Hawaiian city also had the highest average cost for a hotel room at $389.36, which was almost $20 more than a night in New York and $250 more than an average night’s stay in Las Vegas.
In addition, “you can spend 1 night in a hotel in Honolulu or 2 nights in a hotel in Miami for nearly the same price,” notes the report.
I don’t doubt these figures, but I also take any claim of “best, worst, or most” with a grain of salt. I’ve visited Honolulu twice for business and managed to find a very cost-effective, clean, near-everything hotel. In fact, one night rates for the Aqua Palm Waikiki currently start at just $135 plus tax (with a AAA discount).
It isn’t a 4-star hotel, but its price is well below the average rates listed in the TripAdvisor report. Just as with every travel trip, it’s important to research ahead of time and to comparison shop.
Interestingly, it was the TripAdvisor website that first introduced me to the Aqua Palm. It looked great for the money and the reviews really sold me on this hidden gem.
My co-worker wasn’t so sure and ended up booking the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, which is gorgeous — and is featured in almost every other episode of Hawaii 5-0. But it is also spread out, costs between $239 and $300 per night, and charges for all sorts of incidentals, including for Wi-Fi and a $25 per day “resort charge.”
On the other hand, the Aqua Hotel was less expensive and had a roof-top pool, free Wi-Fi, small balconies off the rooms, beautiful flowers everywhere, and even a weekly “Manager’s Reception” happy hour event in their lobby with live music, snacks, and free samples of their signature cocktail.
Even more convenient: it is right across a narrow street from the Hilton Hawaiian Village. This means it was very easy to grab my towel and walk over and enjoy the ocean-side sandy spots that fronted the resort (the beach is open to the public), or shop in their stores or eat at their restaurants.
Their pool is off limits to everyone except for resort guests, but I already had access to my own and didn’t mind that rule at all. One night I even walked over and met my colleague on the beach for their weekly fireworks display over the ocean. And I felt perfectly safe walking back to my hotel afterwards because both the resort and the street I needed to cross were very well lit.
I enjoyed the location so much during my first trip to the islands that I made sure to re-book there on my second trip. It was 2 years later but still provided all of the cost-efficient and comfortable amenities I had discovered before. It was definitely worth a toast from a raised coconut glass of Island Punch.
Bottom line: Hawaii is expensive but do-able if you shop around!