Bali and Hawaii are both tropical, exotic destinations. Bali is mostly Hindu with a unique culture that is extremely welcoming, and Hawaii has a strong Polynesian and American influence, rendering it a melting pot of cultures.
We help you solve the question of whether you should visit Bali or Hawaii for your next break by comparing price, style of accommodation, family activities, romance, food and more.
TL;DR: Our verdict
Bali wins this round as it's cheaper and easier to get to with more direct services on budget airlines. While its scenery is just as serene as Hawaii's, its tourist/dry season runs slightly longer allowing you to bask in its beauty for more months in the year. The main down sides is that transport is less frequent than on Hawaii and the cuisine is less varied.
Underwater views of Bali, Indonesia Image: Unsplash
Underwater views of Hawaii Image: Unsplash
Which is better for cost?
The cost for a holiday in Bali compared to Hawaii is unquestionably different. Bali is by far cheaper with food starting at just $3 per meal compared to Hawaii's $20 dishes.
Most destinations in Hawaii also require a rental car, which averages $54 per day, whereas in Bali, a daily car rental is $20 and a scooter rental is $5 per day.
Prices also vary significantly on Hawaii depending on which island you're on. For example, Oahu is mid-range, Molokai is the cheapest and Maui the most expensive. Don’t forget that taxes are on top of the prices that you see in Hawaii.
Flights (average paid, according to Skyscanner)
From Darwin: $277
From Sydney: $753
From Melbourne: $749
From Brisbane: $643
From Sydney: $848
From Melbourne: $848
From Brisbane: $1,039
All flights mentioned are to Honolulu
Hotels (3-star hotel)
From $13 per night. Prices obtained from Hotels Finder for a stay on 1 February 2020
From $161 per night. Prices obtained from Hotels Finder for a stay on 1 February 2020
Prices obtained on 9 April 2019. Food and meal prices obtained from Numbeo.
Winner. If you’re looking to stretch your dollars as far as possible, then Bali is the clear choice. In Bali, you can have fun in the sun for longer and cheaper.
How do flights compare from Australia?
Cost. It's generally cheaper to get to Bali than to Hawaii from all major Australian cities. For example, you can get from Sydney to Bali for $211 one way, but to get to Hawaii, it'll cost you closer to $281.
Airlines. More airlines offer direct flights to Bali than to Hawaii. You can book direct flights to Bali from various major Australian cities on AirAsia (ex. Perth only), Jetstar, Qantas, Garuda Indonesia, Virgin Australia, Batik Air and Malindo Air. To Hawaii, your only direct options are with Qantas, Hawaiian Airlines and Jetstar.
Airports. Bali only has one international airport: Denpasar International. Hawaii has numerous. Most flights departing Australia land in Honolulu on Oahu; however, Hawaiian Airlines also flies to Kahului or Kapalua on Maui Island, Kona or Hilo on Hawaii Island, Lihue on Kauai Island, Hoolehua on Molokai Island and Lanai City on Lanai Island.
Flight duration. Direct flights to Bali from Sydney take 6 hours and 40 minutes while flights to Honolulu take 9 hours and 35 minutes.
Flight times and frequency. Most airlines only fly once per day to both Bali and Hawaii. As more airlines fly to Bali direct, you've a touch more options to get in. At the time of writing (April 2019), there aren't any overnight flights to Bali; however, the majority of Hawaii flights are overnight, which could help save a night's accommodation and allow you to fly out after the work day.
Winner. Bali is cheaper and quicker to fly to than Hawaii. You also have a wider variety of airlines and there are more flights available daily.
Compare flight prices for Bali and Hawaii now
The 5-star Conrad, Bali Image: Supplied
The 5-star Royal Hawaiian Resort, Waikiki Image: Supplied
Which is better for hotels?
Bali and Hawaii both offer accommodation options that range from budget to luxury.
Bali is the cheaper of the two with hostels starting at $10 a night, homestays at $15, hotels at $30 and entire villas for $100. Luxury hotels and resorts can cost upwards of $500.
Hawaii doesn’t offer villas like Bali, but it does offer everything else. Hostel prices are comparable to prices in Sydney or Melbourne, starting at $40 per night. Budget hotels start at $100 and mid-range to high-end hotels or resorts at $240. Like Bali, it’s possible to spend upwards of $500 per night for more luxurious options.
Winner. Bali is cheaper and offers entire villas to rent, which is great for family and group travel. For exact prices, search Hotels Finder.
Things to do
Which is better for nightlife?
Nightlife in Bali is world-class and brings in DJs from around the world. If that's not your style, you can opt to hit up a beach bar or lounge overlooking the ocean. Whichever way you like to party, Bali has the place for it. Seminyak, Kuta and Canggu are the best-known areas in Bali for nightlife. You can get amongst the best of them with a bar hopping tour.
Hawaii has a much more laid-back vibe. Live music is common, and you may even find some local tunes being played on a ukulele. To please the dance-music lovers, nightclubs are plentiful in Honolulu on Oahu. To do things a little differently why not try a party bike bar tour?/
Winner. We like having options, so we’d book a ticket to Bali for nightlife alone.
Palm-fringed beachfronts of Bali Image: Getty Images
Bali has a number of beaches where you can kick back on a lounge chair and watch the waves roll in. There are black and white sand beaches, hidden coves and beaches with awesome waves for surfers.
Unfortunately, Bali is known to have busy beaches that are often covered in litter. You'll find quieter ones off the beaten path though.
Hawaii is world-renowned for its beaches and has everything to offer: white, black, red and green sand beaches exist across the eight islands. It doesn’t matter where you go, you can find a beach.
Some are totally secluded, such as the beaches on Molokai, while others are popular, such as the beaches on Oahu. Either way, you can swim, surf and snorkel at many spots across the state. Make a day of it with a tour to some of the most secluded beaches.
Winner. There’s no comparison, Hawaii’s world-famous beaches simply can’t be beat.
Which is better for a honeymoon?
Both destinations have romantic places to stay, scenic sites, resorts where you can be pampered and plenty of activities.
If price is not a major factor and you wish to have a honeymoon with tranquillity, quiet and relaxation, then Hawaii is your answer. Here you can leave the resort and cruise around without the hectic driving and honking you experience in Bali streets or locals attempting to sell you bracelets on the beach. Maui and Kauai are the top honeymoon islands in Hawaii.
That’s not to say that you can’t experience tranquillity in Bali. You just may not want to leave your resort. Bali is more exotic than Hawaii with culture being a big part of the reason why many travellers choose to visit it.
Winner. We love the idea of not overspending and having the option to choose between relaxation, adventure and culture, so Bali takes this round.
Which is better for families?
Adventure, culture and great food are available in both Bali and Hawaii. In terms of accommodation, you'll find it's super easy to rent full villas for families in Bali or apartments with kitchenettes in Hawaii.
Bali is the more exotic destination of the two, but Hawaii has more adventurous activities for active families. Hawaii is also more familiar with its American-influenced culture and is generally safer than Bali.
For younger families, the flight to Hawaii is also longer by three hours, which could mean all the difference for fidgety kids.
The best islands for families in Hawaii are Big Island and Oahu, and the best areas in Bali for families are Sanur and Nusa Dua.
Winner. Bali is better suited for younger families as the pace is slower and the flight time shorter. For families with older kids or teenagers, we know they’ll love the adventures to be had in Hawaii.
Bali vs Hawaii: Features compared
Sunrise volcano trek
Bali has no public transport system, so transport is limited to private drivers and some shuttles.
Hawaii has multiple public transport networks with buses. Ferries and flights are available between islands.
Best months to visit
Type of scenery/landscape
Airlines that fly there from Australia
Average flight cost from Australia, according to Skyscanner
$277 (Darwin, cheapest city to fly from)
$848 (Sydney, cheapest city to fly from)
All flights mentioned are to Honolulu
Indonesian cuisine mostly consists of rice, noodle or soup dishes. Dishes are typically fried and are packed with flavour.
Hawaiian cuisine varies significantly because of the influence of multiple cultures. Regular, western-style food is the most common along with traditional Hawaiian dishes that are typically fish or pork based.
Travel style best suited for
Bali vs Hawaii: Who won?
It's a tough decision but Bali takes this one. The flight time is shorter, meaning you'll hit the beaches faster. It might also be easier for families that have younger children who don't travel too well. It's cheaper to get to and to stay in, with on-the-ground costs about 50% or more less than in Hawaii. It's also more exotic and has a more lively nightlife than Hawaii.
Here's a list of both of their winning points:
More direct flight options
Cheaper flights and on-the-ground costs
More thriving nightlife
Shorter flight time, making it better for families with young kids
Longer dry season
Cleaner and less busy beaches
More adventurous activities
Better public transport
Wider variety of cuisines
Top Bali and Hawaii deals:
Up to 10% off fares with code
Valid for travel until on select dates. Includes 10% discount on elevate, getaway, freedom and business fares across Australia, Bali, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Port Moresby or Pacific Islands. T&Cs apply.
Save on snorkelling tours, Waterbom entry, whitewater rafting, Mount Batur hiking tours especially on holidays like Christmas, New Year's and more. Sample discount is for a day tour in Bali. T&Cs apply.
$2,000 off Spain, Cuba, Mexico & Dubai tour + return flights
Valid for travel on select dates between June - October 2020. Includes return flights from Melbourne, Sydney and more to Madrid, Barcelona, Mexico and Dubali. Get daily meals, hop-on and hop-off bus tours, airport transfers and more. T&Cs apply.
Bali villas, homestays, hotels and hostels from just $12 per night. Sample destinations in Bali include Jimbaran, Seminyak, Kuta, Denpasar, Legian and more. $12 sample price is for Vilarisi Hotel in Legian.
Destinations include Gold Coast, Port Douglas, Bali, Phuket, Fiji, Vietnam and Hawaii. Sample packages include a 5-night stay in Surfers Paradise for $299 (Regularly $579) and a 5-night package to Fiji for $999 (Regularly $2101),
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for Travel Weekly, Escape, Thomas Cook Magazine, Showpo, The Nibbler and Hostelworld. She was also the editor of kids magazine DMAG. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney and has visited over 50 countries (and counting). She has a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge of travel and helping readers stretch their dollars while on holiday.
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