How to avoid paying the “tourist tax” in Hawaii

That cheeseburger and fries you ordered was HOW MUCH?!? One of the downsides to vacationing in Hawaii that you always hear about is the outrageous prices of EVERYTHING. You’ve already spent thousands just getting to the island and now you have to sell your first born child just to afford lunch, no thanks. Especially in tourist towns like Lahaina or Hanalei you are going to run into this everywhere. Here is a list of the top 5 ways to avoid spending your entire year salary on your vacation to Hawaii.

#1 Pose as a local.

One of the best ways to cut costs when food shopping is to open up a card at the grocery store so you can receive the discounts they give to the regular customers. Just pick an address you saw somewhere and fill it in or make one up. No one is going to know the difference. The grocery stores jack up the prices for tourists knowing damn well they probably aren’t going to open a card. Also, know that they will not offer this option to you, you will need to ask them for it. However, you’ll need to find a Safeway or larger chain grocery mart. Smaller businesses may not have this option.

#2 bring your own snorkel gear/bum them.

The shops that sell and rent snorkeling equipment are insanely expensive. You can either buy snorkel gear at home and pack it in your suitcase or you can buy everything except the flippers at Walgreens in Lahaina. It is significantly cheaper. You will probably pay between $40-$50 there opposed to $90 a person at the snorkel equipment shop. Another option is to go down where the cruise ships are and find a beach nearby where all the tourists from the cruise ships are snorkeling. You will very likely be able to find snorkel gear for free.

#3 coupon like the god/goddess you are

Good ole coupons. You can find coupon books both in the airport and in your hotel. Check with the concierge if your hotel has one or your front desk representative. If no luck there, you can head to downtown Lahaina where there are literally coupon books for free you can pick up in stores and in little wire holders along the sidewalks. There are excursion deals/packages, and coupons for food that can help with the prices. We used this when we were in Kauai and were able to book a helicopter tour for half the normal price.

#4 eat less meals

It’s kind of obvious, but cut down to two large meals per day on your trip and if you’re super hungry stop at one of the road side stands all over the island and grab some banana bread. (Julia’s Best Banana Bread is by far my favorite. It literally melts in your mouth and you can have it delivered to your home back on the mainland. Click here to see their website.) So eat strategically and you will spend less money overall. If you’re still hungry after all that drink a couple cups of that good Kona coffee. Coffee is a natural appetite suppressant and that should help curb your appetite until you can eat again.

#5 stay in a condo

By staying in a condo at a resort you will automatically have more space and privacy to do as you please. Being in a condo means you don’t need to go out for every single meal of the day. This means you can cook in your condo. Choosing this option, you won’t need to add gratuity to your list of expenses. If you are also shopping at the grocery store with a local grocery card than you can get your food cheaper. Staying in a condo at a resort is also helpful because many of the necessities you might have to buy may be provided. Many resorts also have grills outside in common areas for guests to use so you can grill that ribeye steak you bought at Safeway instead of ordering it in a restaurant for three times the cost.

 

Do you have any additional tips or tricks you’ve used in Hawaii? Leave a comment!!

7 thoughts on “How to avoid paying the “tourist tax” in Hawaii

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