Should you visit Oahu or Big Island of Hawaii?
If you're trying to decide where to visit between Oahu or Big Island of Hawaii, this travel cost comparison can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.
Hawaii is the epitome of paradise, and at the heart of paradise is the island of O'ahu (or Oahu). While it's only the third largest of the Hawaiian islands, O'ahu, or "the gathering place," is the most populous in the state with approximately 976,000 people calling O'ahu home, many of which live in the capital city of Honolulu.
Big Island of Hawaii
What comes to mind when someone says, "Hawaii"? Probably sandy beaches, coconut drinks and lazy days of tanning. It's a dream destination for those who want to get away, but the island of Hawai'i, or the Big Island as it's most commonly called, has so much more to offer than a place to catch up on your latest novel.
At 93 miles across, and a population of 185 thousand, the Big Island was once a large exporter of sugarcane. After its final plantation closed in 1996, tourism became the backbone of Hawai'i Island's economy. More recently, the Big Island has become the focus for sustainable tourism – visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on your destination.
Which city is cheaper, Big Island of Hawaii or Oahu?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Oahu is $266, while the average daily cost in Big Island of Hawaii is $206. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Oahu and Big Island of Hawaii in more detail.
The prices for places to stay in Oahu can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $190, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $380.
The prices for places to stay in Big Island of Hawaii can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $90, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $180.
Hotel or hostel for one person
Big Island of Hawaii $90
Typical double-occupancy room
Big Island of Hawaii
The average traveler spends about $42 per day in Oahu for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.
The price of a meal in Big Island of Hawaii can vary widely. However, the average price for food per day is $85 per person, and a typical meal will cost around $34 based on the spending of previous visitors. Less expensive dining options can be found by eating street food or at fast food restaurants.
Meals for one day
Big Island of Hawaii $85
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Oahu
For Oahu, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Honolulu Food Tour: Eat Like a Local:
Honolulu Food Tour: Best of Chinatown:
Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Oahu than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $17 on transportation in Oahu on average per day.
To get around in Big Island of Hawaii, the average visitor spends $30 per day, per person. This includes the costs of taxi rides and private drivers as well as public transportation, which tends to be much more affordable.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Oahu
Also for Oahu, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Private Honolulu Transfer: Cruise Port to Airport or Hotel:
Private Departure Transfer: Oahu Hotels or Honolulu Cruise Terminal to Honolulu International Airport:
Sightseeing expenses in Oahu, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $22 per day, per person.
In Big Island of Hawaii, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $28 per person, per day.
Tours and Activities in Oahu
For Oahu, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
Best of Private Tour:
Customizable Island Tours Tours on Oahu:
Family Majestic Private Circle Island Tour:
Half Day Oahu Combo Adventure: Bike, Sail and Snorkel:
Intimate WWII: Honor our Heroes and Historic Honolulu Tour With Lunch:
Kualoa Ranch - Taste of Kualoa Farm Trolley Tour:
LGBTQ Friendly Semi-Private Circle Island Adventure:
Magic Island Trikke Tour:
Oahu Personalized Private Tour:
Oahu Private Honeymooners and Lovers Tour:
Oahu Private tour start from North Shore:
Oahu Shore Excursion: Rainforest Hiking Adventure:
Typically, people visiting Oahu spend on average $5.18 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Big Island of Hawaii, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $26.
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Oahu and Big Island of Hawaii, we can see that Oahu is more expensive. And not only is Big Island of Hawaii much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Big Island of Hawaii would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Big Island of Hawaii and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Oahu would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Oahu than you might in Big Island of Hawaii.
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