Food in Hawaii is expensive. There is no way around it. There are ways to save, but towards the end of our trip, our options became limited due to Hurricane Lane.
Why we spent $20 on Pancakes to go
Let me start with the $20 pancakes. When everything was closing due to the hurricane, most restaurants shut down. Even Starbucks and McDonalds were closed down. Some of the hotel restaurants would only serve you if you were staying with them. The only options we could find was Burger King and IHOP nearby.
IHOP had a limited menu while they were open which means all deals were gone. One order of chicken strips and two orders of pancakes for Joni, Cheyenne and I were just shy of $60 on the pickup order. Under normal circumstances, there are some cheaper options.
Food in Hawaii – Food Trucks
Food trucks are very common throughout the island. We had grabbed food at a couple of these along with some excellent snacks. Cheyenne fell in love with the ‘rolled ice cream.’ I preferred to stick with the ‘Hawaiian Shaved Ice.’ Don’t call it a slushie; it is so much more than that.
If you find yourself up on the North Shore in Haleiwa during your site seeing, make sure you stop in at Matsumoto‘s Shaved Ice. The line is usually long, but it is so much more than a slushie. Also, make sure to add the condensed milk as it adds such a sweet option to it. Well worth the wait.
Fast Food Options
They do have fast food in Hawaii as well. Jack in the Box, Burger King and McDonald’s were close by the hotel we stayed at and found around Waikiki. Cheyenne and I would walk down to McDonald’s for a $1.50 ice cream cone to help us cool down. The costs are higher than back in the 48 states, but it was cheaper than some of the sit-down restaurants. Some of the ‘dollar menu’ items are still cheaper, so there is a lower cost alternative.
We did also do IHOP on the cheap for one meal also. IHOP loves to have them monthly specials they advertise for all their locations throughout the US. We found them to be the same cost as the ones back in Wisconsin. By getting the pancakes that were on special at that time instead of the general menu pancakes, it was the difference between $5 for breakfast for one of us compared to $18-20.
Convenience Stores for Quick Food in Hawaii
Cheyenne also learned about “ABC Stores.” They are a set of convenience stores throughout Hawaii and in Las Vegas. If you pick up snacks and munchies here and bring them to your hotel, it saves on the urge for the expensive snacks throughout the day.
We also brought some snacks from home in our luggage. Granola Bars and trail mix help cut out the snacking between meals. This is a great way to pay less for food in Hawaii.
Koko Head Cafe
Sometimes though you do have to splurge, especially when we are talking about food in Hawaii. Cheyenne and I have found our new favorite restaurant. Cheyenne likes to remind me that I always let her pick where to eat for her birthday and she keeps telling me now its one of the local restaurant that a friend of ours recommended to us on Ohau.
Sooner or later Cheyenne should come to terms that she is not going back to Hawaii for her birthday. If you have a chance, there is a small local joint that serves breakfast and lunch called Koko Head Cafe. We loved it so much; we had to go here twice. Cheyenne would keep trying to steal from my plate.
To get an idea of the indulgence for breakfast, the meal of choice for Cheyenne was Cornflake Crusted French Toast with Billionaires Bacon, Pepper Maple Syrup and Frosted Flake Gelato. This eating experience and the fantastic food is worth the effort to go off the beaten path.
If you find yourself staying close to Waikiki Beach, MAC 24/7 is within walking distance to most of the hotels in the area. It is located in one of the Hilton Properties and featured on Man Vs. Food. You will find some of the best pancakes for breakfast here.
No matter where you get food in Hawaii, we hope you have an AMAZING time! If you have or find other local places to eat or tips others can use, please comment below!