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The 9.3 million people who visited Hawaii last year paid more for their hotels. So will you

The 9.3 million people who visited Hawaii last year paid more for their hotels. So will you
Paddle-boarders float just off Waikiki. Although Oahu remains the most-visited island in Hawaii, last year’s biggest surges in tourists were on three other islands. (Danny Sepkowski / Hawaii Tourism Authority)

Hawaii received a record 9.3 million visitors last year, a 4.6% increase from 2016. Oahu, home to Waikiki and its world-famous beach, draws the most tourists, but neighbor islands recorded the biggest increases in the number of visitors in 2017.

With more people vacationing in Hawaii came a jump in the average hotel room cost too.

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The average daily room price in 2017 climbed to $264 a night, up $10 from the previous year. Last year marked the sixth straight year in which the average room price increased.

Plus this year, visitors will pay 1% more than they did in 2017, thanks to a room tax that took effect Jan. 1. The statewide Transient Accommodations Tax will be used for a light-rail project on Oahu.

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The Hamakua Coast, on the northeastern side of the island of Hawaii, north of Hilo, doesn’t draw as many visitors as the much drier Kona Coast, but its abundant rainfall creates lush valleys and shoreline.
The Hamakua Coast, on the northeastern side of the island of Hawaii, north of Hilo, doesn’t draw as many visitors as the much drier Kona Coast, but its abundant rainfall creates lush valleys and shoreline. (Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority)

The island of Hawaii experienced the biggest growth last year. Nearly 1.8 million travelers explored the island during 2017, a 14% increase from the previous year. Visitor spending was up nearly 15%.

Better known to locals than to tourists, Kua Beach sits amid the lava rock that's common along the Big Island’s leeward coast. The beach is a short drive north of Kona International Airport.
Better known to locals than to tourists, Kua Beach sits amid the lava rock that's common along the Big Island’s leeward coast. The beach is a short drive north of Kona International Airport. (Jay Jones)

Officials at the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which compiled the figures, credited the tourism boost to the increased number of flights — from the U.S. mainland and Japan — to Hawaii Island.

The second-largest increase in visitors was on Kauai, where the number of arrivals grew 7.5% to nearly 1.3 million tourists. Maui hosted more than 2.7 million tourists, a 4.1% gain.

Oahu's visitor count also grew by 4.1%. Its total number of tourists, nearly 5.7 million, eclipses that of the other islands.

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Surfers walk along Waikiki Beach against a gorgeous backdrop of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. Oahu remains by far the most visited island in the state of Hawaii.
Surfers walk along Waikiki Beach against a gorgeous backdrop of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. Oahu remains by far the most visited island in the state of Hawaii. (Daeja Fallas)

Despite the upswing in tourists, hotel revenue dropped slightly last year in Waikiki. In contrast, revenue jumped 11.7% on the island of Hawaii. Maui and Kauai's revenue growth jumped more than 8%.

An artist’s rendering shows what rooms at the Waikiki Beachcomber will look like once renovations are completed. While construction is underway, special room rates are available.
An artist’s rendering shows what rooms at the Waikiki Beachcomber will look like once renovations are completed. While construction is underway, special room rates are available. (Outrigger Hotels)

Rooms below the average $264 a night can be found.

Waikiki's newest hotel, the Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger, celebrated an unofficial opening Feb. 1.

It has been in the midst of a $25-million renovation that's expected to be completed late this summer. The hotel, which opened in 1970, most recently was branded as a Holiday Inn.

Rates in February start at $259 a night, but guests may find it advantageous to book the Beachcomber Experience Package, which costs $289 and includes a daily $50 food and beverage credit, plus other perks such as free Wi-Fi.

The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui’s remote North Shore turns 25 this year. The resort is undergoing a multimillion-dollar facelift.
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui’s remote North Shore turns 25 this year. The resort is undergoing a multimillion-dollar facelift. (Ritz-Carlton)

Expect to pay considerably more at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui. To celebrate the North Shore resort's 25th anniversary, it is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation.

Visitors this year will enjoy remodeled guest rooms as well as changes to the lobby and pool areas. Kai Café, a grab-and-go for breakfast and lunch stop, recently opened as part of the renovations.

Overlooking the ocean, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua’s Royal Pacific Lanai is a cozy spot at which to unwind with a good book and a cup of tea.
Overlooking the ocean, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua’s Royal Pacific Lanai is a cozy spot at which to unwind with a good book and a cup of tea. (Ritz-Carlton)

In a check Tuesday of the hotel's online rate calendar, the cheapest room price in February was $489 a night on Feb. 22. Rooms on other nights start at between $984 and $1,424.

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UPDATES:

11:14 a.m.: This article was update with information about Hawaii's Transient Accommodations Tax.

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