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With its beautiful beaches, tropical climate, and aloha spirit, Hawaii is a dream vacation destination for many. But enjoying paradise usually comes with a hefty price tag, especially when it comes to dining and food costs.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Food prices in Hawaii are about 25-60% higher compared to the U.S. mainland, with grocery items costing 1.5 to 2 times more. You can expect to pay around $7-12 for fast food combo meals, $15-30 at casual restaurants, and $30-60 at finer dining establishments per entrée.

Overview of Food Prices in Hawaii

Hawaii is one of the most expensive states for grocery shopping. On average, food costs are 25% to 60% higher compared to cities on the mainland U.S., according to the local University of Hawaii. So how much more are Hawaii residents paying for basic food items?

Here is a comparison of average prices in Honolulu versus major mainland cities:

Food Item Honolulu Price Mainland Average Price Price Difference
Gallon of milk $5.29 $3.27 +61%
Loaf of bread $4.39 $2.44 +79%
Dozen eggs $4.99 $2.71 +84%
Pound of chicken breast $4.83 $3.73 +29%

As shown above, from dairy to produce, Honolulu sees much higher prices compared to costs on the U.S. mainland.

What factors drive up food costs?

There are several unique reasons why food pricing is steep for Hawaiian residents and tourists:

  • High shipping costs. Over 85-90% of consumable goods in Hawaii are imported. With Hawaii’s remote island location, freight transportation leads to marked-up costs.
  • Lack of local agriculture. At one time Hawaii was self-sufficient agriculturally. But increased urbanization of land has reduced food production yields over time.
  • Dependence on tourism. Restaurants and hotels catering to Hawaii’s 10+ million annual visitors charge inflated prices that drive up overall food costs.
  • Limited wholesale suppliers compared to the mainland U.S. also lead to less competitive pricing in grocery stores.

Tips for saving money on dining

While Hawaii will always carry premium prices due to import costs and tourism demand, residents can still find savings on food using the following tips:

  • Buy local produce from farmer’s markets and roadside farm stands
  • Shop at big-box stores like Costco or Sam’s Club to buy non-perishables in bulk
  • Look for supermarkets running weekly sales promotions on meats, dairy and packaged goods
  • Split entrees when eating out or take advantage of happy hour deals
  • Consider lodging with full kitchens to prepare quick meals

With strategic grocery shopping and selective dining options, vacationing families and Hawaii citizens can offset some of the premium food costs inflicted by the state’s unique island ecosystem and booming tourism industry.

Grocery Store Prices in Hawaii

Price comparison of common grocery items

Grocery prices in Hawaii are significantly higher than the national average. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for grocery items in Honolulu are around 29% higher than the average U.S. city.

Some common reasons include Hawaii’s remote location far from the mainland and the high cost of transporting perishable goods by ship or plane.

For example, a gallon of whole milk costs on average $5.29 in Honolulu versus the U.S. average of $3.27. Other major price differences include eggs ($4.39 vs $1.66 per dozen), white bread ($2.99 vs $1.66 per loaf) and chicken breasts ($4.99 vs $3.73 per pound).[1]

When planning a vacation or move to Hawaii, visitors should account for the significantly higher grocery costs. Searching for deals, buying in bulk, shopping at discount chains and sticking to in-season local produce can help offset the price tag.

Also read: Why Is Shipping To Hawaii So Expensive?

Cheapest grocery stores

For Hawaii residents and visitors looking to save on groceries, discount supermarket chains typically offer the best prices. Stores like Walmart, Costco and Safeway provide low prices on pantry staples, household goods and more.

According to a price comparison analysis, a typical grocery run costs around 15-20% less at Walmart versus a mainstream chain like Foodland. Additionally, buying in bulk at warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club helps lower overall food costs for larger families or groups.

Beyond the major chains, local discount markets often run weekly specials on produce and packaged goods. Checking newspaper circulars and stores like Food Pantry and Shima’s Market can yield good finds too.

Farmer’s markets and fruit stands

In addition to grocery stores, Hawaii has a wealth of farmers’ markets and fruit stands that offer fresh tropical produce straight from the islands at good prices.

Popular picks like the KCC Farmers Market and Ala Moana Farmers Market bring locally grown fruit, vegetables, baked goods, flowers and crafts straight to Honolulu neighborhoods.

Visiting farmers’ markets is a great way for visitors and locals to soak up island culture while scoring deals on Hawaiian favorites like pineapples, lilikoi (passionfruit), coconuts, and more. Prices often beat or match the grocery chains, while supporting small local farms.

Beyond scheduled farmers’ market days, roadside fruit stands dot the Hawaiian islands, displaying fresh exotic produce. Stopping by these honor-system establishments is a treat for seasoned locals and wide-eyed tourists alike.

Also read: How Much Are Groceries In Hawaii?

Restaurant Price Ranges in Hawaii

Fast Food & Quick Bites

Hawaii has all the popular US fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and KFC. A typical fast food meal costs $6-12 depending on the items ordered. For example, a Big Mac Extra Value Meal at McDonald’s is around $8.

Local favorites like L&L Hawaiian Barbecue have plate lunch specials from $8-15 featuring main dishes like teriyaki chicken, short ribs, and mahi mahi with rice and macaroni salad.

There are also many reasonably priced Asian eateries for quick stir fry plates and noodle or rice bowls. At chains like Marugame Udon and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers expect to pay $10-15 per person.

Popular shave ice dessert shops like Waiola and Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice offer refreshing treats for under $5.

Casual Restaurant Meals

Casual locally-owned restaurants have entrée prices generally ranging from $12-25. This category encompasses most of the mom-and-pop restaurants across the islands serving dishes embracing Hawaii’s unique fusion of cultures and flavors.

For example, Ahi poke bowls at eateries like Maguro Brothers cost $13-18 showcasing fresh cuts of yellowfin tuna.

Finer Dining Establishments

Upscale Hawaiian restaurants generally price entrées from $25-40. The ingredients tend to be higher quality with more attention to creative preparations and artful presentation. Menus highlight surf and turf featuring fine cuts of meat and the fresh catch of the day.

On Maui, contemporary Hawaii regional cuisine restaurant Merriman’s Kapalua offers mains like macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi for $32 and a 12oz filet mignon for $52. Tasting menus at the most exclusive restaurants in Waikiki or on Hawaii’s outer islands can cost over $100-$200 per person.

Also read: The Ultimate Guide To Hawai’I’S Best Local Foods


To summarize, you can expect to pay between 25-60% more for the same food items in Hawaii compared to the mainland U.S. Staple groceries will likely cost 1.5 to 2 times more across stores. Restaurant meals range from $7 fast food combo deals to $60 surf-and-turf entrees at upscale resort dining rooms.

Use grocery delivery services, choose cheaper restaurants, split plates, and take advantage of happy hour deals to save. With stunning views and fresh local flavors, dining in Hawaii is worth the splurge!

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