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I've heard Maui described by every person who has ever been as "paradise". I've been a lot of places, so I assumed this was an exaggeration.
Maui is dreamy. The glittering sand, waves crashing over chiseled rocks, swaying palms, and dazzling sun make for the most picturesque vacation. It's also expensive. Accommodations and food are notoriously high. Of course, this is one of the downfalls of being a remote island chain in the Pacific; it costs a lot to get goods to you.
If you're deciding where to stay on your next Maui vacation, you will be inundated with options. There are seemingly endless hotels and vacation rentals to choose from. Should you opt for a hotel with the large pool, concierge service, and on-site dining? Or what about the quiet, tucked away airbnb with gorgeous views and a fully stocked kitchen?
As of April 2022, the average daily rate of a hotel room in the state of Hawaii was $371 (remember this is in peak season), according to the Hawaii Tourism authority. In comparison, the average daily rate for a vacation rental in the same month was $291. If booking a 7 night vacation, staying in a vacation rental has a potential cost savings of $560. The extra benefit of an airbnb? A vacation rental allows you to skip the daily resort fees and parking fees that can add up to an astronomical number at a hotel.
The cost savings can be further compounded if you have a larger group that would have required multiple hotel rooms. We traveled with a group of 6 adults, and ultimately opted for a 3 bedroom/2 bath airbnb rather than three separate hotel rooms. To check out our actual airbnb, which was amazing, click here. It featured a lanai with insane views and a facility pool.
Not only do you save money on the accommodations itself, but having access to a kitchen can also save you a ton. If eating out, Hawaii.com suggests you budget the following amounts per meal for your trip:
In my opinion, those estimates are quite low. Particularly if you're eating at some of the most popular and iconic restaurants on the island, $55/person for a meal is quite average. If you're hitting the food truck parks (which are super cool), you may be able to stick with a price point of $15-25/person.
The alternative is preparing meals at your vacation rental, if you opt for one. Of course, grocery prices are substantially higher in Hawaii than even notoriously high COL states on the mainland. It won't be inexpensive to make your own meals, but will still reduce the cost of your trip.
Pro tip - make a pitstop at Costco when you leave the airport. Although the prices are slightly higher, the difference is less than at other grocery stores. Plus, the food at the counter is the same price everywhere! Can't go wrong with that all beef hot dog.
We opted to eat dinners out, and make breakfast/lunch at our airbnb. It was the perfect blend of cost savings and experiencing the local dining scene.