Recently, my husband and I vacationed in Hawaii. Using air miles, rental car and hotel points we were able to do the trip without putting a big dent in our wallets. We also made good use of the kitchen in our villa, choosing to cook most of our meals rather than dine out. While I’d like to say that we shopped in a number of different grocery stores in each of the islands we visited, the reality is we didn’t. Thanks to tips from other travelers Costco and Kmart were my two primary stores. Not surprisingly, like the mainland, both were jammed packed in the middle of a weekday afternoon with tourists and locals looking to stretch their food dollars in paradise.
It’s no secret that food in the islands can be expensive be it Hawaii or the Caribbean, but I was surprised to find significant price differences between warehouse clubs and traditional food stores in both Kauai and Maui. The savings was so steep at Costco it was actually worth it if you were not already a member to join just for that week. Hard liquor and beer in particular were much more competitively priced at Costco than, for example, Star Market or Safeway.
Did I need larger quantities of bagels (two for one or two pounds tortilla chips) for just a week? No, but simple math proved it was cheaper to buy at Costco and leave what we didn’t use behind for the housekeepers to enjoy than to shop in the grocery store. Plus, on vacation the last thing I want to do was shop multiple stores for groceries.
We did put the breaks on some purchases at Costco, due to extremely large sizes and cost (two 64-ounce cartons of orange juice, crackers and twin-pack condiments for example), but those were easily picked up at our next stop in Kmart where we initially intended on shopping for just for beach toys and a cooler, but couldn’t resist the chance to make one less trip and save money at the same time.
In case you’re wondering, sites like Trip Advisor post travel tips from others who have visited that destination and the Costco gem was mentioned several times. We did give Safeway a small amount of business, but only because it was the closest food store to where we were staying. Selection was modest and prices were high. While walking through their aisles it surprised me that the store had little in the way of private label (no O products in sight) nor any type of varied price tier. I would have thought with all of the competition convenience pricing would not have been as prevalent as it seemed to be.
I live in a tourist area and am familiar with grocers offering smaller assortments and charging more for it, but unlike where I live I had multiple choices in Hawaii within a few mile radius. By the way, for those of you that may remember my summer blog discussing my love/hate relationship with my local grocer with whom I begrudgingly shop, he apparently listened to my concerns because I found fajita mix on the shelf the other day. Small victory, but one nonetheless.