Is Hawaii or Costa Rica Better for Your Next Vacation?

traveller Budget Wayfarers

Choosing between Hawaii vs Costa Rica for a holiday can be daunting. The gorgeous vacation destinations offer equally amazing opportunities for enjoying serenity and adventure, all in one place.

Let us help you make a choice between Hawaii and Costa Rica, based on an honest and in-depth comparison of the two tropical paradises.

Hawaii Versus Costa Rica

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Let us begin by taking a quick comparison of Hawaii and Costa Rica on travel metrics:  


USA, North America

Costa Rica

Central America



Costa Rica



7-14 days

Costa Rica

7-10 days


3900 USD

Costa Rica

1400 USD


Very Good 

Costa Rica

Very Good



Costa Rica



Hawaiian & Fusion

Costa Rica

Local & International


Very Good

Costa Rica

Very Good



Costa Rica

Very Good


Very Good 

Costa Rica



Budget-Friendly to Luxurious 

Costa Rica

Budget-Friendly to Luxurious 



Costa Rica




Costa Rica

Very Good


Very Good

Costa Rica

Very Good

Now that you have a clear idea about Hawaii and Costa Rica, let us delve deeper into each of these attributes:

Comparing the Location & Geographical Setting of Hawaii vs Costa Rica

Hawaii is a part of the United States and is located in the Pacific Ocean. Overall, there are 132 Islands out of which 6 Islands are open to visitors. Hawaii is quite accessible and well connected to the rest of the world.

Hawaii has wonderful geographic diversity which includes waterfalls, volcanoes, tropical beaches, beautiful marine life, and coastal areas that are a few kilometres away from each other. 

Costa Rica is a country located in Central America. There are over 30 islands, out of which 5 islands are more popular amongst visitors. The country is well connected via flights from all major countries in the world.

Costa Rica is known for its endemic wildlife and biodiversity which includes rainforests and animals of different kinds such as sloths, monkeys, turtles and more. The landscape includes tropical beaches, waterfalls, lagoons, and mountain slopes.

Best Time to Visit & Climate in Hawaii Vs Costa Rica 

Hawaii experiences uniform weather throughout the year. However, since there is a lot of landscape diversity, you might experience weather changes while going from one place to another. This makes the island pretty unique.

If you are heading toward Hawaii, the best time to plan your trip is between Mid April to Mid December when there are the least rains and the temperature is 23 to 32 degrees.

Costa Rica experiences two seasons – winter and summer. While the winter season is dry with lower rainfall, in the summer season there is plenty of rainfall, especially in the rainforest regions.

The best time to visit Costa Rica is from Mid December to April when the season is dry and there is plenty of sunshine. You can even plan to travel in May, June or November to experience greenery.

Hawaii vs costa rica landscape

Costa Rica offers a diverse landscape to visitors so you must be prepared to spend at least a week here

Ideal Number of Days For Vacation in Hawaii Vs Costa Rica

Hawaii is large in size and has plenty of major attractions on different islands that a traveller can explore. Therefore, we would recommend you spend at least a week and enjoy the major attractions,  but the better choice will be around 2 weeks.

Costa Rica is very diverse and has excellent sightseeing spots and plenty of opportunities for exploration. From forests to volcanoes and wildlife, a visitor will find plenty of things vying for their time. Therefore, it is recommended for you to spend at least a week making the best of your trip.

VERDICT: Both Hawaii and Costa Rica have plenty of opportunities for adventure & sightseeing, so you need a minimum of one week to explore them

Which is Cheaper For Travellers – Hawaii or Costa Rica? 

The cost of travelling to Hawaii can range between 2800 – 6000 USD for two people travelling for a week. The cost would depend on your choice of stay the time of the year you travel and your choice of transportation. Since around new year’s time, Hawaii is jam-packed, it can get extremely expensive. 

Here’s the cost breakdown of Hawaii – 

Cost of Food/ Day

25-100 USD

Hotel Cost/ Night  

100-350 USD

Transportation Cost/ Day

50-200 USD

The overall 7-day trip cost to Costa Rica for two people can range between 500 – 2800 USD.  Overall the food, accommodations, transport, and miscellaneous expenses are quite affordable in Costa Rica when compared to Hawaii.

Here is the cost breakdown of Costa Rica- 

Cost of Food/ Day

7-15 USD

Hotel Cost/ Night  

74-150 USD

Transportation Cost/ Day

15-150 USD

VERDICT: If you are looking for a budget-friendly trip then Costa Rica will be your best bet.

Hawaii vs Puerto Rico Beach

The black sand beach Punalu’u Beach Park is the most famous one on the Big Island in Hawaii

Hawaii versus Costa Rica – Which One has Better Beaches? 

Hawaii is well-known for its pristine white, black, green and red sandy beaches with crystal clear waters. Most beaches in Hawaii witness a lot of crowds but it is not entirely impossible to find the serene and secluded ones. 

Most beaches in Hawaii are open to the public and are very well developed and maintained which makes it suitable for all age groups.

Costa Rica has beautiful grey and white sand beaches with calm waters. All beaches here are public but their location can make them difficult to access. So, travelling from one beach to another can be a hassle.

Beaches in Costa Rica are mostly untouched, undeveloped, and natural. therefore you will find them to be less crowded and tranquil.

VERDICT: Costa Rica has more secluded and remote beaches while Hawaii has more accessible and well-maintained beaches.

Hawaii Vs Bahamas Things to Do

Hawaii is not only about beaches. There is plenty to explore including waterfalls like Wailua Falls

Which is Best for Sightseeing – Hawaii or Costa Rica? 

Hawaii is well-known for its diverse landscapes, beautiful beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls, splash water parks, caves and historical sites.

Major attractions in Hawaii:

  • Na-Pali Coast
  • Pearl Harbour
  • Waimea Canyon
  • Polynesian Cultural Center
  • Diamond Head
  • Honolulu Museum of Art
  • Waikiki Aquarium
  • Nahuku- Thurston Lava Tube
  • Spouting Horn
  • Mauna Kea
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Costa Rica is primarily known for its wildlife and natural beauty. You can visit, national parks, waterfalls, volcanoes, cloud forests, adventure parks and more on your visit to this exquisite country. 

Major attractions in Costa Rica:

  • Venado Caves
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest 
  • Rio Celeste
  • Tortuguero National Park
  • Arenal Volcano National Park 
  • La Paz Waterfall National Park
  • National Theater 
  • Dominical

VERDICT: Both Hawaii and Costa Rica are amazing places for sightseeing. 

Hawaii Vs Costa Rica – Which is the More Thrilling Adventure Activities?

Hawaii is one of the most adventurous places you will ever visit.  There are mesmerising beaches for waterssports, national parks for hiking and trails, witnessing active volcanoes, waterfalls, cruises, horse rides, cultural attractions,  hiking trails, etc. 

Water activities in Hawaii are by far many that you will fully enjoy. These involve deep-sea fishing, parasailing, boat racing, diving, mountain tubing, surfing, sailing, scuba diving, whale watching and kayaking. 

In Costa Rica, there is no dearth of things to do.You can go on thrilling adventures like ATV tours, volcano hikes, ziplining, walk on hanging bridges, visiting waterfalls, hot springs, exploring nature in the national parks more. 

When in Costa Rica, you can go river rafting through the streams in the forest, horse racing, and zip-lining through the rainforests with ginormous trees. You can also enjoy the delectable foods of the Costa Ricans. Don’t forget to flow to Arenal volcano, Costa Rica’s most spectacular volcano! The hummingbirds are a delight to watch, all colorful and graceful. Watch out for the iguanas

Costa Rica also offers multiple water activities that are unique and thrilling. This includes whitewater rafting, surfing, kayaking, sport fishing tour, kite surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, snorkelling, and stand up paddling. 

VERDICT: Both Hawaii and Costa Rica are amazing adventure spots. 

Costa Rica Wildlife

Costa Rica provides you an unparalleled eco-experience an a chance to see animals like the sloths in their natural habitat

Is Hawaii or Costa Rica Better For Exploring Nature & Wildlife? 

Hawaii is one of the most ecologically diverse states in the United States. The rainforests and the oceans are home to a large variety of land and sea animals.

From land to sea animals, you will find a decent variety of wildlife on these islands

Wildlife in Hawaii:

  • Tree Snails
  • Hoary Bat
  • Chameleons
  • Turtles
  • Geckos
  • Spinner Dolphins
  • Humpback Whales
  • Tiger sharks
  •  Manta rays
  • Monk Seals

Costa Rica is home to 6 percent biodiversity in the world. The islands hace rain forests, cloud forests, tropical dry forests, tropical beaches and these house some most unique plants and animals.

With hundreds of species of birds, reptiles and  mammals, the wildlife you see in Costa Rica, you won’t find in Hawaii.

Wildlife in Costa Rica:

  • Sloths
  • Tapir
  • Jaguars
  • Ocelots
  • Spider monkeys
  • Scarlet macaw
  • Peccary
  • King Vulture
  • Whales
  • Sharks 
  • Sea Turtles

VERDICT: Hawaii  does have a diverse landscpae and natural attractions, but Costa Rica takes the cake with its exotic biodiversity, 

Which Destination Is Best For Foodies – Hawaii or Costa Rica? 

Hawaian food has a string influency of Polynesian and American cuisine. This results in a blend of local flavours with international cuisines.

Hawaii is famous for “Plate lunch”, seafood tacos, Japanese-inspired Poke Bowl, shaved ice, Saimin and farm-grown fresh fruits like- Pineapple. 

Costa Rica’s cuisine strongly relies on three main ingredients – rice, beans and stir-fried vegetables. Fresh and vegetables are easily available add in all major tows, you will find internationail cuisines as well.

While in Costa Rica, try some local foods like Casado, Gallo Pinto (National food), Arroz Con Pollo , Coconut Flan, Corn Tortillas, etc. 

VERDICT: Both Hawaii and Costa Rica are good option for foodies but Costa Rica is comparatively cheaper. 

Hawaii vs Costa Rica For Shopaholics 

Hawaii will make your trip even more exciting and happening when you have lovely souvenirs to buy such as Macadamia nuts, Hawaiian quilts, special Hawaiian fruits, Aloha t-shirts, Kona coffee, Music, and Tropical fruit jams.

Recommended Places for Shopping in Hawaii: Queen’s Marketplace, Hawaiian boutiques, Keauhou Shopping center, Kona international market, Ali Gardens marketplace, etc. 

Carry home some lovely souvenirs of Costa Rica  such as Costa Rican Coffee, Cajetas de Leche, Cacique, Hot sauce, Chonete Hat, A Futbol Jersey, Bamboo Clothing, Stuffed animals, Costa Rican Wood Souvenirs, Jewellery, Books, Paintings, Costa Rican Chorreador etc is something you just cannot afford to miss. 

Recommended Places for Shopping in Costa Rica: Mercado Central, Mercado Nacional de Artesania (National Crafts Market), City Mall, Avenida Central, Galeria Numu, Central Farmer’s Market Escazu

VERDICT: Both Hawaii and Costa Rica offer opportunities for some uniques shopping.

Which Destination Has More Happening Nightlife – Hawaii or Costa Rica?

Hawaii is well-known for rocking nightlife with multiple activities to explore for travellers. Oahu has the best nightlife clubs. If you are looking for local pubs and lounges you can also head towards Waikiki, Honolulu and Chinatown. 

In addition to partying in Hawaii, you’ll enjoy more nighttime activities like sunset sailing, fireworks at Waikiki, star gazing and Luaus performances. 

Costa Rica has a diverse nightlife experience at the beaches. From pubs, clubs, local theatres, karaoke bars to concerts and shows. San hose and its surrounding areas have the best nightlife in Costa Rica. 

Apart from the bars and clubs you can also enjo different concerts and shows at the National Theater and stadium, enjoy kareoke nights and more.

VERDICT: Hawaii has more diverse and happening nightlife.

Hawaii vs costa Rica clean

In Costa Rica, you can experience ecotourism in the most serene and unspoiled environment

Safer & Cleaner Destination: Hawaii or Costa Rica?

Hawaii is a pretty safe travel destination for all kinds of travellers. However, you should be careful when travelling alone at night or in ssecluded ares, as you would do in any other part of the world.

When it comes to cleanliness, you won’t find much to complain either. Some of the cleanest areas are Honolulu and Kahului Wailuku Lahana. 

Costa Rica on the whole is quite peaceful and safe. Although there are some areas that are not safe for tourists. Petty crimes like tourist scams,  pickpocketing are quite common, so make sure you take adequate precautions. 

Costa Rica is one of the 5th cleanest countries in the world and known for beautiful greenery and wildlife. Some of the cleanest places are Limon, Parrita, Puntarenas, and Guanacaste where you will find gorgeous & clean beaches. 

VERDICT: While Hawaii fares better in terms of safety, Costa Rica does better in cleanliness

Hawaii versus Costa Rica – Which One has Budget-Friendly Accommodation?

Hawaii has a wide range of budget accommodations such as hostels, private lodges, budget vintage hotels, and vacation rental hotels. 

Cost of Stying Per Night in Hawaii:

  • Hotels: 96 -450 USD
  • Vacation rentals: 250 -450 USD
  • Hostels: 30- 60 USD
  • Guesthouses: 65-130 USD

Costa Rica, on the other hand, offers incredible budget accommodation. You will find backpacking hostels, guesthouses, vacation rentals and lodges that suit your needs

Cost of Stying Per Night in Costa Rica:

  • Hotels: 30-65 USD
  • Lodges: 80-120 USD
  • Vacation Rentals: 25-100 USD
  • Cottages: 35-195 USD
  • Chalets: 50-350 USD

VERDICT: Costa Roca offers a way better & more affordable stay as compared to Hawaii. 

Which Offers More Ease of Travel: Hawaii or Costa Rica? 

Hawaii has pretty good interconnectivity between and within the islands for travellers. You can hire a taxi, private limo, or rent cars to travel between the islands. Although public transport is available but its penetration is not that great.

Costa Rica has plenty of options to get around and is quite reliable and navigable. You can take a bus, shuttle, taxis, uber and car rentals. Also, renting a car in Costa Rica is much cheaper than it is in Hawaii.

VERDICT: Costa Rica offers reasonable transport services and is more convenient for travellers. 

Hawaii vs costa Rica family vacation

You can have a really great and adventurous time with your family in Costa Rica & Hawaii

Is Hawaii or Costa Rica Good for Family Vacation?

Hawaii is an amazing place for a family vacation. You can go for a hike, enjoy the cruise, go snorkelling or surfing, swim with sea turtles, and explore other adventure activities.

If you are travelling with kids, Hawaii is more  accessible, well-equipped, and developed which makes travelling with little one easy. Also, there are no issues with safety and Hawaii does offer family-friendly accommodation.

Costa Rica is also a popular holiday destinations for families with an excellent eco-tourism system. You can explore jungles, gorgeous beaches, go bird watching, visit volcanoes, hot springs and cloud forests and much more. 

However, if you are travelling with very young kids, you might face issues with accessibility in some regions.

Verdict: Whileboth Hawaii & Costa Rica are ideal for familiess, Hawaii is better for families with very young children.  

Hawaii Vs Costa Rica as Honeymoon Destinations 

Hawaii is a perfect holiday destination for newlyweds. You can enjoy white, pink, and black sandy beaches, enjoy underwater dives, and fantastic resorts for couples in Maui, Oahu, and Lanai. FOr couples who wish to have a great beach experience wth luxuries and amenities, Hawaii is the perfect spot.

Costa Rica is also a pretty good choice for  honeymoon couples. You can choose beautiful beaches, hotels, lodges, luxury spas, enjoy tranquil waterfalls, go hiking, and lush jungles. It is best suited for couples who wish to spend time in the unspoilt natural paradise and like some adventure.

VERDICT: Both Hawaii and Costa Rica are wonderful places for a honeymoon 

Hawaii Vs Costa Rica: The Final Verdict

Costa Rica is hands down wins here and one of the popular holiday destinations for all kinds of travellers even for honeymoon couples.

Also, it is ideal for those who love nature, wildlife, cleanliness, greenery, and majestic waterfalls to relax in a peaceful place away from noisy crowds.

Hawaii is also a good choice is you are looking for gorgeous beaches, modern amenities and lots of adventure activities. Also, if you are planning to visit Hawaii, get ready to spend more.

Let us know in the comment section below, which one will you be visiting.

Happy Wayfaring!


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