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Old 10-16-2011, 10:42 AM
11,400 posts, read 47,354,851 times
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My first trip to Hawaii was fully paid for by others, and I was astounded at how much they spent for 3 meals per day for our two weeks. Breakfasts were around $12, Lunch $12-20, Dinner was $20-60, not including alcoholic beverages. That didn't include beverages during the day ... juices, water, soft drinks. I wasn't trying to stand out in the group by ordering the most expensive items, either ... like our group leader's son and D-I-L were doing; their tab most have been noticeably higher per person than mine which came close to $100/day (not including tips or any alcohol).

On my own trips to the islands, I stay in full-kitchen condo's and townhomes. Due to the diet I prefer to eat (essentially an Atkin's diet) ... and my wife's limited diet for health reasons (gluten intolerant) ... I make it a point to stop and shop at the local's market. I'm happy to cook what we normally eat and to pack lunches for us during the day. I found that most places we wanted to visit for daytime sightseeing had limited access to food ... hence very expensive choices only. We saved a bundle each day by eating local, fresh foods ... fruits/vegetables/breads and bringing our own beverages bought from a market. Plus we had the option to eat when we wanted because at prime lunch times, many places were mobbed and getting in (as well as service) was slow.

Yeah, I know ... "island time" is a whole different concept to mainlanders, but when you've got a limited amount of time at a site and you're burning daylight and it's lunch time and there's a two-hour time block that's about to disappear from your day ... it sure is nice to be able to set your own spread of food, eat, enjoy, and continue on with your explorations. Plus we had access to remote beaches where there weren't any food services available at all ... which would have otherwise been unusable to us unless we had packed in our own food for the day.

In our last trip to the islands, the only night we ate out was our last night on Oahu ... where we'd flown the island commuter from the Big Island so as to be able to make our return mainland flight in the AM in a leisurely manner. We found a very nice place within walking distance of our hotel, but still had to drop $75 (+ tip) for the two of us on a reasonalby memorable meal ... compared to the under $30/day budget we'd had for the prior two weeks where we ate very well every day. FWIW, we couldn't have eaten like that dinner for two weeks and not gained a huge amount of weight, let alone having to deal with the food allergy issues that would have surfaced by eating that way every day.

We also did very well by stopping at local farmer's stands and buying fresh locally raised foods ... one stop at a Big Island coffee farm, we got to visit with the owner and got to talking with him abour our farm/ranch. He really lightened up over that, and the next thing we knew, we were on his horses riding back to his citrus trees to check them out. He asked us if we liked avocado's ... certainly ... and he was proud to show off that portion of his place. Want an avocado? Sure ... they were two-pounders, tree ripened and served with a fresh lemon. Right there on the spot, just a pocket knife to cut the fruit and serve up wedges to be eaten by hand. Messy, but oh so good. A nice several hours spent and we got a tour of the private portion of the farm lands down to his beach front acreage on horseback ... at no charge. Wonderful!

We're not golfers or tennis players or into tourist trap type activities when we go places. We'd rather visit locals, learn local history and check out farms/ranches, horticulture, or maritime activity ... which leads us to a very different experience than most tourists have. Being able to fit in with local food and schedules makes all the difference in the world for us .... we get treated and accepted as locals would their friends instead of being "tourists" to be catered to. As a result, our ideas about what constitutes a "vacation" may be at great variance with what you expect or require ... for example, a poster above mentioned that they don't want to go on vacation to cook the same foods they do at home ... and other folk I know wouldn't consider it a "vacation" unless they were truly leaving all of the things they do at home at home; So be it ... you've got to tailor your expectations and requirements to your needs; if dining out is an essential part of your "vacation" plans, then be prepared to pay rather well in the tourist oriented areas of Hawaii. There's no "cheap" alternative in those areas ....

Last edited by sunsprit; 10-16-2011 at 11:08 AM..
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Old 10-16-2011, 11:42 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
27,381 posts, read 45,553,234 times
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While in HI, (or anywhere else) eat like a local or via grocery / farmers market / fruit stand.

This is especially good in areas that grow GOOD fruit (HI)!!! (I can survive on their pineapples, but their (HI) beef is terrible)

YMMV, but I can easily do grocery eating on $10 / day and eat very well (usually I limit to $3./day) hint.... I don't buy $2/# fruit... preferably $0.25/#... currently includes apples, melons, and several veggies)
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