Are you dreaming of a mid-winter vacation to somewhere warm, wishing you could go exploring or surfing? Or perhaps you’re planning a big move and want to relocate permanently. If you’re wondering whether you should pick Hawai’i or Florida, our guide should help you decide.
Hawai’i and Florida offer stretches of awe-inspiring coastline, with beaches ranging from crowded and busy to hidden and quiet. With a wealth of wildlife and activities, there is plenty to see and do in both. Economically, it is cheaper to live in and visit Florida, while Hawai’i tends to be expensive.
Florida and Hawaii are both known for their warm, tropical climates and stretches of gorgeous beaches. While Hawai’i is an island paradise made up of a diverse archipelago, Florida is part of the mainland, making it easier to reach for most. So which is the better option to visit?
Hawai’i Vs. Florida
There’s no definitive answer regarding which is better as both are unique destinations, offering different opportunities for visitors. Whether you want a more laid-back escape or a pumping nightlife and lots of family-friendly entertainment, you may prefer one.
Hawaii is the only US state outside the North American mainland. This spectacular archipelago has long been a tourist destination with its stunning beaches, awe-inspiring volcanoes, and rich cultural heritage.
With its tropical climate and eastern trade winds, Hawaii keeps a fairly steady climate without vast temperature extremes, making it pleasant year-round. The main island of O’ahu is the most populous of the islands, and English and Hawai’ian are the main languages spoken.
The Hawai’ian cost of living is higher than many other American states, which is exacerbated by the cost of air trade and shipping goods to the islands. Culturally, Hawai’i has a strong Polynesian heritage but many cultural influences, including Filipino, Japanese, German, and Irish.
In contrast, Florida is in the southern part of the mainland but is home to some of the US’s most breathtaking white sand beaches, with a whopping 8,436 miles of coastline. Areas range from a humid, subtropical climate to a tropical climate, and it’s the warmest state in the United States.
Florida has become one of the fastest growing states, though it has the highest percentage of people over 65 and is a prime destination for retirees. Along with European ancestry, there is also a significant Hispanic, Black, and Asian population.
Hawai’i vs. Florida for Winter Travel
Both are beautiful, warm destinations with many cultural, natural, and economic offerings, but which is right for you?
Hawai’i and Florida may have come up on your list if you’re planning a winter vacation. Let’s compare what each state can offer travelers during winter.
Locals joke that Hawai’i only has two seasons – summer and winter. Winter is cooler and wetter, with an average daytime temperature of 78 °F, which is on par with many other states’ summer temperatures! In terms of warmth, that’s a win for many vacationers.
On the other hand, it gets rainy between November and April, and it’s better to visit the southern and western coasts of Maui, O’ahu, or Hawai’i Island; since Kauai gets the most rainfall, it might be better to avoid it in winter.
Florida’s winters are generally cooler, and though it’s known as the ‘Sunshine State,’ there have been rare snowfalls in winter. It’s generally rainier in summer than winter, and average winter temperatures vary across the state, but you can expect an average winter daytime temp of 66 °F.
The beaches stay warm, and you can still sunbathe even in January in Florida, making it an ideal winter destination for many.
Hawai’i vs. Florida for Surfing
Hawaii is the home of surfing, so it’s no surprise that if you’re keen on watersports, Hawaii is a number one destination. The ancient Polynesians invented surfing, but it thrived in Hawai’i, where it became known as the ‘sport of kings’ as only Hawai’ian royalty were allowed to surf!
You can get surfing lessons on nearly every Hawai’ian island, and more experienced surfers will be well accommodated by the massive winter swells generated by the Alaskan storms. The summer season sees milder surf, but there are still plenty of good beaches for intermediate surfing.
Florida also offers many top surfing spots, and some of the best surf areas can be found along the Treasure Coast. Palm Beach has some of the best surfing in Florida, and Sebastien Inlet is an icon of Florida surfing spots.
Beginners to the sport will be well served by New Smyrna Beach inlet, and several Florida surf schools offer lessons from beginner to advanced.
Hawai’i vs. Florida for Beaches
Hawai’i has some of the most spectacular and beautiful beaches in the world. If you’re looking for laid-back surf culture and a wide variety of public beaches, Hawai’i is the answer.
The islands have diverse beaches, from stretches of sparkling white sand to black sands, red, and even green. From beaches with volcanic rock to coasts lined with tropical forests, Hawai’ian beaches are an Instagram paradise, and you can find tranquil spots for swimming or rougher surf waves.
Florida has no shortage of stunning coastlines, ranging from secret hideaways to family-friendly beaches. The northwestern beaches usually have sparkling white sand, while you can find the clearest water in Siesta Key.
Swimming is perfect in summer; if you head further south, the waters stay warm enough for swimming all year round. There are also coral reefs and great places to go snorkeling. However, beaches can get busy, so head to spots like the Canaveral National Seashore to avoid crowds.
Hawai’i vs. Florida for Nature
For those travelers who want to explore nature, there are plenty of things to do in Hawai’i and Florida, and they will offer different experiences.
If you want everything from hidden beaches to tumbling waterfalls, volcanic sea mountains, canyons, and tropical rainforests, the Hawai’i archipelago will offer you a huge variety of natural wonders.
Regarding wildlife, Hawai’i is home to the Hawai’ian hoary bat, many species of dolphins and whales, monk seals, sea turtles, and an array of birdlife, including red-tailed tropicbirds, frigate birds, and Laysan Albatrosses. A birdwatcher’s paradise, the forests are home to stunning, rare forest birds.
Florida has a huge range of animal species and has one of the highest biodiversity rates in the United States, so if you’re keen on nature and wildlife, you’ll want to visit. With its wide range of habitats, Florida supports species as diverse as panthers, manatees, otters, alligators, anoles, and turtles.
Florida has everything from beaches to swamps to underwater cave systems. More than 450 species of birds have been recorded, making it the perfect destination for those keen on birdwatching.
Regarding natural wonders, Florida has huge expanses of the coast and over 700 natural freshwater springs, barrier reefs, waterfalls, and the world-renowned Everglades.
Hawai’i vs. Florida for Romantic Holidays
Hawai’i is often considered a premium honeymoon destination for those looking for a romantic destination. With a languid atmosphere, picturesque beaches, and plenty of hidden coves where you can escape to be alone, it’s no surprise it remains one of the top spots for romantic holidays.
Whether you’re planning long walks on the beach or relaxing in the comfort of a top-class resort while enjoying island hospitality. Fairmont Orchid has become one of the most popular places for a romantic getaway, with 32 acres of stunning gardens and a lagoon with sea turtles.
Romantic holidays are becoming increasingly popular in Florida, and couples looking to take a quick getaway on the mainland are increasingly heading to its stunning tropical beaches and resorts. With Florida offering a host of outdoor and nightlife activities, it’s a great romantic destination.
For those looking for a paradise that caters to only adults, then Little Palm Island resort and spa is a gem. Located just off the Florida Keys coastline, this private island offers romantic couples an experience like no other, with privacy, luxury, and unbelievable views.
Hawai’i vs. Florida for Nightlife
Nightlife in the two destinations has a distinctly different feel, with Hawaii leading the way in a more relaxed, island-style take with tiki bars and live music. In contrast, Florida leads the way with everything from comedy clubs and restaurants to bars and gay nightlife.
In Hawai’i, you’ll find most of your nightlife options on the main island of O’ahu. Head to Honolulu to experience Hawai’ian bars with their tiki torches and stereotypical island décor. Check out the famous original tiki bar, made popular in shows like Magnum PI – La Mariana Restaurant and Bar.
There are many bars and restaurants along the waterfront, and many of them have live music at night. Local taverns showcase musicians and karaoke, and the crowds love to dance. Honolulu also has upscale nightclubs with DJs keeping the crowds bouncing until the small hours.
Florida has more to offer in terms of large cities, so expect more variety when it comes to nightlife. Downtown Orlando will have everything you want, whether you’re in the mood for craft cocktail bars, nightclubs, live music, or gay clubbing.
With plenty of cafes and restaurants offering all kinds of cuisine and places to go, like comedy clubs and theatres, Orlando wins in terms of the range and extent if it’s the nightlife you’re looking for.
Hawai’i vs. Florida for Cheaper Vacation
Cost is a big factor when planning a trip, so it’s important we look at how Florida and Hawai’i stack up against each other. Depending on where you are, flights may be one of your biggest expenses. The cost of your flights will vary by season, and it’s worth looking for deals from various airlines.
If you’re going to Hawai’i for a week and traveling as part of a couple, you can expect to pay around $3,839. The average daily cost for a person on vacation in Hawai’i is $274. The more upmarket your holiday, the more you will expect to pay.
Hawai’i’s economy is based very much on tourism so expect high prices for activities, though it’s possible to enjoy many aspects for free, such as exploring the beaches.
In Florida, a week’s vacation for a couple will likely set you back about $2,704, with the average daily cost per person working out as $193. While this is cheaper than Hawai’i, you can easily spend more, depending on luxury accommodation, food, and alcohol.
If you plan to participate in many activities and entertainment, this cost will go up significantly. However, you can plan budget trips to Florida, and by using public transport and staying in hostels or B&Bs, you can keep costs lower.
Hawai’i vs. Florida for Cost of Living
On the other hand, what if you’re looking to make a permanent move? How does the cost of living compare between Hawai’i and Florida – and are there employment opportunities in either?
To live comfortably in Hawai’i, it’s suggested that you earn an annual salary of $122,000, and the cost of living is considered some of the highest in the US. Considering that the minimum wage in Hawai’i is $10.10, which would give you $20,200 annually, this shows the problem.
House prices are very high in Hawai’i, and many prices can be inflated due to tourism. However, there are cheaper places to stay if you look at the less busy islands, and locals often enjoy ‘local prices,’ which can help keep costs down.
In Florida, you can live comfortably on a much lower salary, and Floridians enjoy the 32nd lowest cost of living in America. An average cost of living would be $43,615 annually. Your life in Florida will be very comfortable if you earn above this.
House and rental prices are much lower in Florida than they are in Hawai’i, which makes Florida a more appealing option for many people with families.
Hawai’i vs. Florida for Employment
Unless you’re planning on moving to retire, you will need to know what employment opportunities are available.
Hawai’i is known for tourism and its military as the top employment avenues, but there is also work for registered nurses, preschool teachers, and computer support specialists. However, there are still fewer jobs available in Hawai’i than in comparison to Florida.
In Florida, one of the most in-demand jobs is for registered nurses, but it is also the 20th highest state regarding the unemployment rate. Many jobs are available in sales, real estate, and customer service, and the best place for finding work is in Tampa, which is experiencing good job growth.
Whether going on a whirlwind vacation or planning a big move, Hawai’i and Florida have much to offer. There are economic downsides to Hawai’i, but it also offers an incredible laid-back island life, which may suit you better.
Florida is generally easier to access, has more employment opportunities, and can offer a cheaper tourist destination, but finding a private island idyll will come at a price. Both destinations have gorgeous beaches, amazing wildlife, and many coastal tourist attractions.