Roaming vs local Sims when visit Hawaii

Here’s a breakdown of roaming vs. local SIM cards when visiting Hawaii to help you decide which is best for you:


  • Convenience: Its convenient when you visit continental US, but in Hawaii the connection is some kind of limited, so the carriers filter the roaming access.
  • Potential for High Costs: Roaming charges in Hawaii can be very expensive, with data charges being particularly high. Be sure to check with your carrier for specific rates and potential data caps.
  • Limited Control: You won’t have control over data usage and may incur unexpected charges.
  • Not convenient to make reservations, call taxi drivers, concierges, some APPS require a local number.
  • The priority for connection to any network is always at the bottom of the priority list, that includes postpaid clients, pre-paid plans, MVNO’s and then Roaming services.
  • Mobile Virtual Network Operator, a wireless communications company that offers mobile services using the infrastructure of a licensed mobile operator (MNO). MVNOs don’t own the wireless network infrastructure or a mobile spectrum license, so they lease it from an MNO and buy access to its services in bulk at a discount. MVNOs then sell mobile services under their own brand name, often at lower prices than traditional MNOs because they don’t have to build or maintain their own infrastructure. MVNOs can also offer more customized services than MNOs.

Local SIM Card:

  • Cost-Effective: Local SIM cards in Hawaii typically offer significantly cheaper data plans compared to roaming charges.
  • Local Phone Number: A local SIM card gives you a temporary Hawaiian phone number, which can be useful for making local calls or receiving texts with verification codes, useful for reservations, tour guides, concierges, taxi drivers and some APPS.
  • Easy Setup: You could purchase an eSIM card and activate it remotely a day before your trip and enjoy your plan upon arrival.

Here are some additional factors to consider:

  • Length of Stay: Ask for travel plans, Hoku Wireless offers 10 days or less plans, especially for tourists.
  • Data Usage: Heavy data users will benefit significantly from the lower costs of local SIM cards.
  • Phone Compatibility: Ensure your phone is unlocked and compatible with local GSM networks in Hawaii.

Here’s a quick comparison table:

FeatureRoamingLocal SIM Card
CostPotentially HighLower Cost
Local Phone NumberNoYes
Data AllowanceLimited (depending on plan)Varies from 10Gb to Unlimited