Hawaii vs. Bali (Which Island is Better to Visit?)

So you’re planning a once in a lifetime trip to a tropical island destination, and you’ve whittled your selection down to Hawaii and Bali. But now you’re stuck and can’t decide between the two.

Both destinations offer amazing possibilities, amazing beaches, and amazing scenery, but what about the finer details? What about accommodation? Food? The weather even? Bali is certainly more exotic, but is Hawaii more adventurous? And will I prefer the familiar American-influenced culture of Hawaii or the totally different world of Bali?

Well this is where you’re in luck, because we’ve put our heads together and worked out the following guide to pit the two destinations together to see which one comes out on top. We’ll be making the two battle it out over accommodation, food, the weather, their beaches, the cost of living and the available entertainment, so hopefully we can help you come to a decision and get you onto the next step of planning your trip right away.

So without further ado, lets get going!

Hawaii vs Bali, Round 1: Accommodation

hawaii hotel

Kicking things off with accommodation, you’ll find the average cost per night in Hawaii is around $167 (£133) per person, or $331 (£264) per night for your standard two person room. Typically speaking you won’t find much below $80 (£64) per night on Hilo, which most would consider to be the cheapest island. On the more expensive side of the coin, the cheapest you’ll find on Lanai will be $200 (£160) a night, with some incredibly luxurious places going for more than $1,000 (£800).

For those really looking to budget, hostels tend to go for around $30 (£24) to $40 (£32) per person, and there’s plenty that can be found just about anywhere.

In Bali however, you’ll be looking at an average of Rp522,617 (£30) per night per person, or Rp1,045,234 (£58) for the typical two person room.

For a basic hotel room you’ll be looking at Rp150,000 (£8) a night. Mid range accommodation will sit somewhere between Rp150,000 (£8) and Rp500,000 (£28), and high end luxury accommodation will be anything onwards from there.

The Winner: Bali

This is an easy one, and since both offer basically the exact same range and variety in types of accommodation, we’ll let this one be settled on price. Even the budget accommodation in Hawaii is around 8 times the price that it is in Bali, and you could stay somewhere incredibly fancy in Bali for the price of just a mid-ranged or even budget hotel in Hawaii. Indonesia is one of the most affordable countries in the world, and Hawaii one of the most expensive states in the US.

Hawaii vs Bali, Round 2: Food

hawaii food

When out dining in Hawaii, you’ll find a great mix of Hawaiian, Asian-Pacific, Portuguese and American foods, along with an abundance of seafood and local beef shipped in straight from Maui. Locally grown coffee is also available, along with popular tropical fruits such as papaya, guavas, mango, bananas and pineapple.

Those on a budget will find plenty of choice from food courts and lunch wagons, and those looking for something spectacular will want to check out a luau. These aren’t cheap, usually costing around $50 to $100 (£40 to £80) per person, and can be pretty touristy, but you’ll find some amazing buffet food, and get to enjoy some amazing traditional Hawaiian entertainment while you eat.

Bali on the other hand will likely already be up at the top of any food enthusiast’s list of places to visit. While the food may be a little on the spicy side for some, you’re definitely not going to be spoiled for choice. Whether you’re looking for local delicacies, western cuisine, something posh or something homely, Bali has it all.

Much like Hawaii you’ll find some great local foods at their food carts, known to locals as “kaki lima”, and many travellers are often surprised to find much better food at places like these or other smaller restaurants that far surpasses the fare at any fancy restaurant. It also goes without saying that the price is obviously a lot better too.

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The Winner: Bali

This is a tough one, and will probably come down to everyone’s personal tastes and appetites. Both offer amazing variety, and some especially amazing seafood due to being surrounded by the ocean, but Bali edges it with its especially favourable costs. The most expensive 5 course meal you could possibly find in all of Bali will probably set you back somewhere around Rp1,000,000 (£55), which likely won’t even cover the cost of your entry to a luau.

Hawaii vs Bali, Round 3: Weather

surfing uluwatu

Temperatures in Hawaii are pretty stable all year round, ranging from an average of 23 degrees in the coldest month of January, with highs of 26 and lows of 20, to 27 degrees in the warmest month of August, with highs of 29 and lows of 24.

When it comes to rainfall November is typically the wettest, with an average 124mm throughout the month. August is usually the driest, and if you’re looking for long days, May through to July has you covered with an average of 11 hours of sunshine. By comparison, you can expect around 8 hours of daylight in December through to February.

Bali is more or less the same, if not ever so slightly more uniform (if you thought that was even possible). The average temperature changes by just two degrees all year, with 9 of the 12 months of the year all averaging 27 degrees. The warmest month of the year in Bali is May, which sees an average temperature of 28 degrees, with a high of 33 and a low of 23. This is contrasted by January and February being the coldest months, with an average temperature of 26, with highs of 29 and lows of 23.

The wettest month that Bali has going for it is January, which sees an average of 99mm of rain each year. July and August are the driest months, which typically see about 40mm of rain each.

The longest days in Bali will be in January through to April, each averaging around 9 hours of daylight. The shortest days are July and August, each seeing 6 hours of daylight.

The Winner: Tie

Both Hawaii and Bali are pretty much identical in this regard. We could pit Hawaii’s extra 2 and a half centimetres of Hawaii’s rainiest month against Bali’s one or two less hours of sunshine, but that hardly seems fair.

Hawaii vs Bali, Round 4: Beaches

hawaii beach

Hawaii is famed the world over for it’s amazing beaches, with all sorts to be found over its eight islands, whether you want a white beach, a black beach, a green beach or a red beach; any colour you could want. In fact, there’s just about nowhere you can turn in Hawaii where you won’t come across a stunning beach.

Many of the beaches you’ll find in Hawaii are completely secluded and out of the way too, especially on Molokai. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with more of a lively atmosphere, you’ll find popular beaches on Oahu. Whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s peace, atmosphere, or somewhere to surf, swim or snorkel, you’ll find no end of beaches to choose from across the whole state.

When it comes to Bali’s beaches, there’s plenty of choice if you’re looking for somewhere to relax and take in the waves, whether you’re after white sand, black sand, places with amazing hidden coves or somewhere to surf.

What lets Bali down though is the littering. Many beaches in Bali can be pretty busy, and many people unfortunately leave behind a lot of unsightly litter. If you take the time and effort to go a little out of the way though you’ll find some much quieter options.

The Winner: Hawaii

When it comes to comparing beaches, none compare to the true beauty that Hawaii has on offer, no matter what kind of beach experience you’re looking for. Of course Bali has many amazing beaches to offer too, but Hawaii narrowly edges this one out.

Also Read  Maui vs Big Island: Which Hawaiian Destination Is Better?

Hawaii vs Bali, Round 5: Cost of Living

The cost of living in Hawaii might leave you feeling a little pale, as it’s estimated that those living in the state need to be earning around $122,000 in order to live comfortably. Hawaii is the most expensive state to live in in the whole of the US, and the high costs make their way into just about everything.

Another factor you’ll always have to consider when going to anywhere in the US is the incredibly high costs of healthcare, as this can sneak up on many and leave them in serious debt for years or even lifetimes, even with medical insurance. Make sure you’ve got yourself well covered if you’re looking for an extended stay or move to the island.

You’ll find the cost of living much more agreeable in Bali. The typical monthly cost of living in Bali comes in around Rp9,406,000 (£520) to Rp24,600,000 (£1,361), making Bali is an especially cheap country to live in, especially when compared to the US (and even more especially Hawaii). Even living in the most expensive parts of Bali you’re looking at a maximum of around Rp29,000,000 (£1,600) a month.

The Winner: Bali

Ultimately your own lifestyle will be the biggest deciding factor with this one, but it’s clear to see that Bali is head and shoulders above Hawaii when it comes to affordability and the cost of living.

Hawaii vs Bali, Round 6: Entertainment

entertainment diving

There’s a lot to see and do over Hawaii’s 8 islands, especially for the more adventurous out there. You’ll find plenty of hikes and diving excursions to keep you entertained, along with volcano helicopter tours, surfing lessons, or whale watching. There are some truly breath taking sights to take in around Hawaii too, along with all sorts of nature and wildlife unique to the state that you’ll definitely not want to miss.

Nightlife in Hawaii is pretty laid back, with plenty of live music around to enjoy. You’ll likely even come across a local or two sitting around playing a ukulele.

There’s really no end to the amazing things you can see and do in Bali; far more than you could fit into any one trip. Those who love to see ancient historical sites will love all of the temples and cultural sites, and there are some amazingly picturesque sights to be seen over the amazing rice fields all around the country. The beaches are also not to be missed, and you’ll find some of the best surfing in the whole world here in Bali.

In terms of nightlife Bali’s is world-renowned, with a party going on just about everywhere. You’ll find plenty of beach bars to keep you occupied in the evenings, or even stunning lounges that overlook the ocean. Whatever your favourite brand of nightlife is, you’re sure to find it in Bali.

The Winner: Bali

For sheer amount of choice and amazing nightlife, Bali hands down has to win this one.

Hawaii vs. Bali: The Winner

ubud bali

After running the numbers we have to crown Bali as the victor. It’s a tough one, and his isn’t to say that Hawaii isn’t one of the most amazing destinations on the planet that absolutely shouldn’t be missed, but with the sheer raft of things to do, the amazing scenery, a world famous nightlife scene that’s second to none, amazing dining options and incredible affordability, Bali just about edges its way out on top to become the winner.

For the most part though the two offer a lot of similarities. Both are picturesque tropical island destinations with all sorts of amazing things to see and do and experience, and both just happen to be famed for their surfing.

No matter which one you choose though we can guarantee you’ll have an amazing time, but for our money, it has to be Bali.

More Bali Travel Guides:      

The Best Viewpoints in Bali
3 Weeks in Bali Itinerary
Snakes in Bali
One Week in Hawaii


James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers