Why Doesn’t Every Travel Nurse Go to Hawaii?

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
May 20, 2020
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Hawaii is understandably at the top of many travel nurses’ bucket lists. Warm tropical weather, exotic locations, and natural beauty all around make it a dream destination. So why isn’t every travel nurse flocking to Hawaii for their assignments?

If you’re new to the world of travel nursing, or are just trying to learn more about the intricacies of finding an assignment, Hawaii is an illustrative example of everything you need to consider when finding a travel nursing assignment. We’ll discuss the three main considerations for an assignment in Hawaii, and you can make a more informed decision whether this dream destination is the right choice for your next assignment!


In our society, supply and demand dictate the price that an individual will pay for a good or service. So, with so many nurses eager to take an assignment in Hawaii, there is a high supply of travel nurses willing to take an assignment on the islands. However, Hawaii’s demand for travel nurses is lower than average, due to their below-average population in relation to other U.S. states. This imbalance of supply and demand drives down the prices that facilities & agencies pay travel nurses to take an assignment.

Hawaii’s pay rates are some of the lowest you’ll see, due to the abundance of travel nurses who will take a travel nursing assignment there just for the experience of living in Hawaii for a few months. Since many nurses take up travel nursing to make more than their permanent counterparts, this can be a turn-off for nurses looking to make the most money possible while traveling.


Hawaii is consistently rated as one of the most expensive states to live in the U.S. year after year. There are many reasons for this — the most obvious being that Hawaii is an island. This means that every single item that can’t be produced on the islands has to be imported. This includes most food (groceries are 66% more expensive in Hawaii than the average state), toilet paper, and utilities like gas.

Housing is also limited on the islands, which drives up the price to around three times the average rate across the United States. This can cut your already low pay rates to a razor-thin margin. Energy costs are also high — all the petroleum that powers the electrical grids on the island are imported, leading to high utility bills every month.


Many travel nurses travel from one assignment to another in their own personal car. However, for obvious reasons (namely the ocean), driving to an assignment in Hawaii is impossible. It’s possible to have your car transported to Hawaii via freight, but this can be prohibitively expensive and usually isn’t worth the trouble.

That leaves travel nurses with two options: rent a car while on assignment in Hawaii, which can be expensive due to the many travelers coming for a vacation and renting cars. The second option is a little more unconventional. Some travel nurses will buy an old, inexpensive car during their assignment, and then sell it before they leave for their next assignment. This can be less expensive than renting a car overall, but comes with a lot more headaches.  

As you can see, there are a few significant hurdles to taking a travel nursing assignment in Hawaii. However, don’t be discouraged — many travel nurses are able to take a travel nursing assignment in Hawaii and break even on all their costs. And now that you understand the different costs and factors that go into the pay and cost of a travel nursing assignment, you can make an educated assessment of travel nursing opportunities all across the United States.

Many nurses will maximize the above factors, by traveling to areas where demand for nurses is high and cost of living is low, to get the most take-home dollars possible.

Health Carousel Travel Nursing

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Interested in how the pay stacks up in other states not on this list? Our trusty Super Nurse sidekicks are standing by to answer any questions you have. Click below to get information on opportunities in other states!

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