The cost of my trip to Hawaii

Since I regularly publish my finances of van-life I was asked by more than a few of you to publish the finances of my Hawaii trip. As usual, I am happy to do so. I expected the trip to cost me about $1,500 when it was all said and done, which most people will consider very cheap. I do not.

My actual spending…

Round trip airfare (Delta) $                 435
Rental car ( $                 259
Dining $                 155
Groceries $                 117
Gas $                   82
Camping/Hostels $                   67
Entertainment $                   52
Entrance fees $                   40
Gifts $                   28
Total $             1,235

I have since realized that I could have done this same trip in a slightly different way and saved a few more dollars. If I had it all to do again;

First, I would not have gone for eleven days. Seven or Eight days would have been the sweet spot. The final two days I did little to nothing, and I could have easily done more each of the other days. Less time on the island means less time spent in food (either groceries or dining) those extra days.
= $30-50 food costs

Second, I would not have rented a car. My primary reason to rent a car was to camp out of it and avoid the cost of a hotel. However, it was so difficult to car-camp on the island (no campgrounds, few streets to boondock) I ended up staying two nights in Hostels, and four nights with a host. Buses can take you anywhere you want to go on the island with a little research, and hitch-hiking is quite common as well. Without the $259 rental car cost and $82 in fuel, I could easily stay all 7 nights at a hostel and still had money left over if I did not wish to stay on a strangers couch.
= $150 is savings using hostels
= $340 in savings using

Instead of a $1235 – eleven day – trip to Hawaii, I could have done the same trip in seven days for $850 – $1050… if I had to do it all over again of course.

Two Volcanoes – Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa


My second to last day on the island was spent checking off one final box on my list. While I had driven and explored the entire circumference of the island along the roughly 200 miles of highway that circumnavigate the island, I had failed to drive the 50 miles of highway that crosses between two of the three volcanoes that make up the island; Mauna Kea to the north and Mauna Loa in the center. Both stand over 13,000 feet tall with Mauna Kea having just a few feet over Mauna Loa to claim the highest point on the island.

A 4wd road allows access to the top of Kauna Kea, which made it inaccessible to me, but Mauna Loa has a 18-mile paved road leading to it’s 11,000 foot observatory, offering a most spectacular view of Mauna Kea just a few miles away. Never in my life have I gone from sea-level to 11,000 feet in such a short period of time (about 1 hour), and even though I am accustomed to living at 5,000 feet and hiking at 10-11,000 feet regularly (a 6,000 foot transition), my body could not deal with the change that an 11,000 foot transition had for me. I was only just able to snap a few pictures before having to drive back down to avoid the risk of passing out up there all by myself.

IMG_1557 IMG_1554IMG_1559

The view of Mauna Kea from the top of Mauna Loa.


Pu’Ukohola Heiau National Historic Site

Pu’Ukohola Heiau National Historic Site was the final feature I visited on the island and the 4th (and final) National Park on the big island. The site preserves the ruins of the last major Ancient Hawaiian temple, and other historic sites.

The Temple on the Hill of the Whale was built by hand, involving thousands of people, with no mortar, in less than a year. The red stones were transported by a human chain about 14 miles long, from Pololū Valley to this site.


Temple on the Hill of the Whale


Full-timing in a van while exploring the country