The rumors are true – grocery shopping in Hawaii will shock you. You’ll want to buy different things and you’ll notice a change in your grocery costs when you move to the islands.

I remember this when I was grocery shopping at home, after not having been home for a year, and was shocked by the outstanding price of eggs!

The price difference about grocery shopping in Hawaii

The price difference is going to be the biggest shock.  I couldn’t get a dozen eggs for cheaper than $6 at Foodland. Foodland is a local grocery chain in Hawaii.  They have their own farms with their own produce, so it’s high quality food.  That could contribute to the food price.  I haven’t shopped at a cheap Walmart on island.  That’s primarily because the area that Walmart is located in on O’ahu is in a dense, traffic packed, area.  I try to avoid it as much as possible.  It’s not convenient.  It’s more comfortable to go to a local grocery store in my neighborhood that’s not as packed.  Your grocery bill in general will increase, though.  Hawaii’s excise tax does a good job at adding several subliminal, implicit taxes to the “sales tax.”  If you check your receipts, the sales tax is only “4%,” however there are so many additional fees and taxes tacked onto the initial price so that the base price of the item is much higher in the islands compared to mainland cities.  

Fresh island fruits all year round when grocery shopping in Hawaii

Hawaii offers delicious fresh island fruits all year round, such as papaya and mangoes.  I never knew fruits could have seasons until I moved to the mainland and there wasn’t as many strawberries at the grocery stores during the winter.  The fresh fruits are amazing.  I haven’t found fruits that taste as good as they do in Hawaii anywhere else. You’ll be buying fruits more often in the islands, especially when you learn how to make your own fruit bowls!  

grocery shopping in Hawaii

Fruit Bowls are abundant in the islands. Image Copyright Celina Ma Photography. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Different priorities when grocery shopping in Hawaii

You’ll have different priorities because the primary choice for protein in the islands is raw fish.  I’m not talking about decorated sushi with designs, I’m talking about raw marinated fish.  Poke.  You’ll want poke for dinner every night when you first move here.  So instead of making chicken for dinner, a cheap alternative, you’ll want poke.  You’ll notice your priorities change.  Of course this is an optional, lifestyle change.  It all depends on your preference, but it’s something to be aware of. 

grocery shopping in Hawaii

Poke bowls are similar to plate lunches in that the whole meal is encompassed in one plate.
Ahi tuna Poke by Openmalware.exe is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original.

You’ll want colder food when grocery shopping in Hawaii

The tropical temperatures in Hawaii will affect your grocery shopping list.  You’ll want cold smoothies, cold snacks, and cooler drinks more often.  Because there’s no winter time, you won’t want to buy hot soup for dinner.  Or maybe you will.  But for the most part, you’ll want cooler things.  For example, on the mainland, there’s no way I’m drinking an ice cold smoothie in the middle of January.  It’s so cold that I’ll just want to come home from work and have something warm.  However in Hawaii, you’ll want a smoothie every day because that’s just the trend. 

grocery shopping in Hawaii

One of my favorite pictures at the beach! . Image Copyright CyberCom, Inc.