Cheapest Groceries in Maui: Know Before You Go

by | Jan 17, 2020 | Affordable Hawaii, Maui, Planning, Where to Eat

Before we moved to Maui, we made a budget for our expected living expenses. Living in paradise can be expensive, so we increased our grocery budget by 125%. We were so innocent then.

Maui grocery prices are 168% higher than the average mainland grocery prices for eggs, milk, bread, etc. The cheapest groceries in Maui, in order, are at Costco, Walmart, Target, Island Grocery Depot, and Safeway. The expensive grocery stores are Times Market, Foodland, and ABC Stores.

Our monthly food budget was blown by our second week on the island. We started to daydream of Whole Foods prices on the mainland. We needed a strategy to keep our Maui grocery shopping costs down. 

So we shopped all the big retailers, local supermarkets, and convenience stores to price compare groceries. 

Here is what we found for the cheapest groceries in Maui and a simple way to buy the cheapest groceries to stock your condo or hotel room.

Cheapest Groceries in Maui

Maui locals have the skills to keep their food budget in check. Skills learned from a thrifty auntie or for sheer survival. They know where to find the cheapest local eggs (Island Grocery Depot) and then drive 30-minutes for the cheapest toilet paper (Costco). 

Maui sits in the middle of the Pacific, 2,471 miles away from California. One expects to pay higher prices for groceries on Maui. 168% higher may have just knocked you off your feet. It sure surprised us.

How can these Maui grocery stores justify $3 for a can of corn or $7.99 for a loaf of locally baked bread?

Groceries are going to be expensive but how can you reduce your cost. Our top recommendation is to go to Costco for your groceries. (See our strategy for buying cheap groceries for your condo below.)

Costco is hands down the cheapest bulk-food grocer in Maui. 

Buying a gallon of cream cheese isn’t the best option for many who come out on vacation. Even if you are staying more than 10-days you will need some essentials from a local market. 

Target and Walmart are the cheapest department store grocers in Maui. 

If you are staying or driving through Kahului in Central Maui, your cheapest option for groceries will be Target and Walmart. Target’s private label brand Good & Gather outcompetes any of the national brands sold on the island. 

Visitors don’t stay in Central Maui though so Target and Walmart will not be your neighborhood grocer. To stock your condo after a Costco run or if you want some basics for your hotel room, a local supermarket will be your best option. 

What local Maui supermarket is the cheapest?

We went on the hunt for the cheapest supermarket groceries in Maui. We went to 4 local grocery stores and a pharmacy (Longs Drugs) to price shop 12 common items to find a consistent, lowest cost grocer in the mix. We also scoured their weekly flyers to see the deals they offered. 

Our price shopping concluded that Island Grocery Depot has the cheapest groceries in Maui. 

Here is our analysis.

Cheapest Grocery Store Maui is Island Grocery Depot

How Much Groceries Cost in Maui: The Research

You may be saying “no way” to my 168% number. I also thought it was too high but the numbers speak for themselves.

We looked at two grocery price sources in our research. First, the monthly grocery bills from us and some of our family-friends on the island. Second, we price shopped 5 local grocery stores and Costco to get real prices of a basket of groceries. 

Our monthly grocery bill hovers around $1,500/month. That is our eat-at-home food costs for two adults and a toddler on Maui. The toddler, our son Henry, eats what we eat plus some toddler snacks like Puffs from Target. We did a reality check on our food cost by checking with our Maui friends who have 1 to 2 children. Our numbers jive (unfortunately for our budget).

The average family of 4 with two toddlers on the mainland spends between $564 (thrifty) to $1,100 (liberal) per month on groceries. The Official USDA Food Plan for Cost of Food at Home in November 2019 provides all the numbers. 

I compared our $1,500 grocery bill to the USDA moderate-cost plan of $889.90. That equates to 168% higher to buy groceries in Maui compared to the American national average.

168% is a conservative number for the following reasons.

🍍 We follow our strategy below to keep our food prices low (more of a USDA low-cost plan

🍍 We significantly reduced eating meat in Hawaii due to the cost, health reasons, and personal choice.

🍍 We don’t have a family of 4 but a family of 3

The second part of our research was checking physical prices with a little field research.

Maui Grocery Prices: Buying the Basics

Need to know how much eggs are in Maui? How much does a gallon of milk cost in Maui? These are the grocery basics that may not make sense to buy at Costco.

Or you if you need to top-up your pantry during your trip, expect to pay this amount for the basics at a local supermarket.

I was shocked when I saw the price of a dozen eggs and a stick of butter when I first moved to Maui. I know I’m not alone as I’ve seen tourists’ facial expressions while shopping. 

Here are the average prices of eggs, milk, bread, and butter from the four largest supermarkets in Maui. Prices as of January-2020.

  • A dozen large eggs cost $4.82 in Maui.
  • A gallon of milk costs $6.34 in Maui.
  • A loaf of bread costs $7.99  in Maui.
  • 4 sticks of butter cost $6.09 in Maui.

For the above prices, we selected the middle-tiered brand (usually the same brand and product from each grocer), avoided sale prices, and selected the same type of food (e.g., whole milk, salted butter, large eggs, etc).

These four items and other items we selected matched with being 150% to 200% higher than average food prices in America. We checked industry websites for average late 2019 prices, like this one from the egg industry.

These four items weren’t all of our research. We had more in our shopping baskets.

The cost of a gallon of milk in Maui 2020

A gallon of milk at the Maui supermarkets averaged $6.34. Prices vary as in this picture from Safeway milk is $8.99 a gallon and on sale for $6.99 for the top brand.

Table of Maui Groceries: Price Comparisons

Erica and I went to four of the largest and most common supermarkets on Maui plus Longs Drugs and Costco to compare prices.

Maui Grocery Price Comparison Team

Henry and Jordan ready to do Maui grocery price field research in Safeway.

We looked at the price for 12 common groceries people would purchase on vacation. When possible, we compared apples-to-apples by using the same popular brand and size. 

The four supermarkets are located in the resort areas on the westside and southside of Maui. Some have locations in Kahului and Wailuku in central Maui also. 

We don’t compare Longs Drugs and Costco to the supermarkets as they provide a stark difference in brands and sizes. It wasn’t fair to include them in the averages.

Cheapest Groceries in Maui Food Prices Table

In the Maui supermarket price comparison table above, you will see that Island Grocery Depot had the lowest cost grocery basket. Island Grocery Depot’s grocery basket was $69.28, 14% cheaper than the most expensive Foodland grocery basket.

Island Grocery Depot is a locally-owned supermarket with locations in Kahului and Lahaina.

If you are not staying near an Island Grocery Depot, then most likely a Safeway will be in your neighborhood. Safeway was the second cheapest grocery store in Maui.

Safeway’s grocery basket was $73.78 compared to Foodland at $78.68, the most expensive. 

Per our research, Foodland is 7% more expensive than Safeway.

For Foodland and Safeway you must sign up to their membership club to get the discounts but that takes 30 seconds at checkout.

Island Grocery Depot does not require you to sign-up to get their sales price.

Second Cheapest Groceries Maui Safeway

Maui Costco Grocery Prices

Costco Maui has the cheapest groceries on the island, by far. If you are staying more than 5-days in your condo it is worth your time to shop at Costco.

Even if you want snacks for your hotel room like chips and salsa, beer, wine, and dips then go to Maui Costco as it will be significantly cheaper than a local supermarket.

As you can see in our table below, Costco’s bulk food is usually twice as large as the Maui supermarket sizes. For example, bread is sold in 2-loaf bags and cereal is in 2-bag boxes. The prices are still competitive.

A Costco membership is required of course. If you don’t have a Costco membership then do a shopping run at Walmart or Target in Kahului, near the airport, as they will be cheaper than the supermarkets near your condo or resort.

Costco Maui Food Prices Table

Maui Costco cheapest groceries

Maui Costco is similar in look, feel, and products as manland Costcos but they have some local brands and more beach gear.

Maui Target Grocery Prices

Maui’s Walmart and Target will be your second cheapest groceries on the island. Both stores are located in Kahului off Airport Road, 11-minutes (3-miles) from the airport. Big your favorite and head over.

In theory, your cheapest way to grocery shop for your Maui vacation would be to go to Maui Costco and then get the smaller items at Target or Walmart. I say “in theory” because taking the family to two stores after a long flight sounds pretty miserable to me. But you can make that call.

I recommend you go to Costco, check-in to your condo or hotel, and then head to Safeway or another local grocery store. Or you can drive the 30 to 45-minutes back to Target or Walmart to get your remaining groceries. 

The Maui Walmart and Target are not superstores but they do have all the groceries you need, including fresh produce. 

For baby food, Target has the best selection of baby food on Maui. Go to Target for your baby’s needs for your Maui vacation. 

We didn’t price shop at Walmart but we did at Target. Target’s basket of 12 items clocked in at a record low $53.78. That is $21.10 cheaper than the average basket of goods from Maui supermarkets. Maybe that price difference will make you want to stop at Target before you head to your condo. 

Maui Target Grocery Prices

Maui Target Cheap Groceries Shoppping

Our baby, now toddler Henry, enjoys the baby food selection at Maui Target, the best baby food selection on the island.

Maui Longs Drugs Grocery Prices

Why did we go to a pharmacy for food? Because we are hunting for the cheapest groceries in Maui. Longs Drugs has beer, wine, dry goods, and a small produce section. 

Longs Drugs doesn’t carry the highest quality brands but their small produce section (one cooler) is delivered daily and they have everything you need to stock your condo or hotel room. 

Longs Drugs and their parent company CVS have stores all over the island.

If you are a thrifty shopper, Longs Drugs has the best grocery prices in your local Maui neighborhood. 

Our price research proved there are good deals at Longs Drugs on Maui. The condiments and snacks were especially cheap at Longs Drugs. While they were not the cheapest grocery store, they did offer some very low discounts.

Longs Drugs Maui Food Prices Table

Maui Grocery Stores’ Weekly Ads

The prices in our Maui grocery basket table are not the sales price. All these stores offered good deals on these common items. 

For example, milk, bread, and beer were always on sale. Milk was $2 cheaper at times and the 12-pack of Kona beer averaged $17 to $19 with sales.

Check out these Maui grocery store weekly deals to get a flavor of the actual prices you will pay or grab these flyers before you go shopping in Maui.

Reminder, for Foodland and Safeway you must sign up to their member club to get the discounts but that takes 30 seconds at checkout.

Organic and Local Food Prices in Maui

We did not compare organic and local food prices. See the pictures below to get an idea of organic produce from Safeway, as examples.

The supermarkets, excluding Time Market, carry organic produce and organic pantry items. The same organic brands are in Maui as there are on the mainland. 

 

Maui Local Produce Prices

Safeway Maui’s local produce selection (Jan-2020).

Maui Organic Produce Prices

Safeway Maui’s organic produce selection (Jan-2020).

Where to Buy Groceries in Maui

Maui has a plethora of stores to buy groceries. Within a few miles of your condo, you will most likely have a couple of supermarkets and three to four convenience stores. 

Grocery prices in Maui are highest around the tourist destinations and at the quick-e-marts. Just like the mainland, they will tax the tourists and locals for convenience.

The main tourist areas are the westside of Maui from Lahaina to Kapalua (includes Kaanapali) and the southside of Maui between Kihei and Wailea.

You will find a selection of supermarkets like Safeway and Foodland and convenience stores like ABC Stores and Whalers General Store around Lahaina and Kihei that provide everything you need. 

The shopping hub of the island is in Central Maui near Wailuku and Kahului. Here you will find the big-box grocery stores like Walmart, Costco, and Target. You will also find the health-conscious grocery stores like Down to Earth and Whole Foods. 

Locals, who don’t work or live in Central Maui, will make bi-weekly or monthly food runs to Kahului to get grocery deals or their favorite organic items. This is what we do.

Here are the major or most popular Maui grocery stores. Dollar signs are used to denote their general grocery prices relative to Maui. 

One dollar sign denotes the cheapest groceries while four dollar signs mean you will walk out with one bag of items worth $100 if you get some sales.

Supermarkets on Maui

  • Costco $
  • Target $$
  • Walmart $$
  • Foodland $$$
  • Foodland Farms $$$
  • Safeway $$$
  • Times Supermarket $$$
  • Island Grocery Depot $$$

Maui’s Health-Conscience Grocers

  • Mana Foods in Paia $$
  • Down to Earth in Kahului $$$
  • Whole Foods in Wailuku $$$
  • Farmers Market Maui $$$

Maui’s Convenience Stores

  • ABC Stores $$$$
  • Longs Drugs $$
  • CVS Pharmacy $$
  • Whalers General Store $$$$

I’m only showing the major convenience stores that are on every corner. Maui has dozens of cute, family-operated, convenience stores all over the island. Some are even favorite spots for tourists and worth visiting like Ulupalakua Ranch Store in Upcountry Maui and hot dog lovers flock to the Fukushima Store in Haiku and Olowalu General Store in Olowalu. 

If you are on a road trip, especially in upcountry, stop by one of these family-run stores for a quick bite.

Buying Cheap Groceries in Maui: A Simple Strategy

The trick to buying the cheapest groceries in Maui is having a strategy. Grocery shopping on your vacation shouldn’t be a complicated strategy but have a game plan for when you land.  

If you are planning your vacation to Maui from thousands of miles away and have never been to the island, knowing where and how much to budget for groceries over a 7-day stay is challenging. Your family has to eat and you have no intention of going out every night. 

For those staying in a condo or renting a house, this grocery shopping strategy is for you. 

The average length of stay in Hawaii in 2019 was 8 days. You will need groceries for the week, let’s figure out how to buy them.

Related article:

If you are staying in a hotel, there are some take-away nuggets to stop you from going to the local convenience store when you tire of the $30 breakfast.

Here is a 2 step, simple strategy to cut your grocery bills while staying in Maui. This will leave more spending money for happy hour and prevent you from shopping all over the island.

1. Costco Grocery Run: If you have a membership card, go to Costco for the majority of your items. Costco is a 6-minute drive (1.7 miles) from Kahului Airport. 

Buy bulk as it makes sense at Costco. Costco is bulk but grocery basics and easy to cook vacation food makes sense to buy at Costco if staying for a week with a family or two couples.

2. Supermarket Grocery Run: Once you get settled in your condo, run to your local Safeway store to pick up things you missed, sundries, or wasn’t reasonable to buy in bulk. 

I’m using the second cheapest supermarket Safeway in my strategy. Reminder, Island Grocery Depot was the cheapest grocery store per our research. Island Grocery Depot has everything and more for your condo but Safeway has a deli counter, more of a selection of brands, and is in more locations so I’m using them for convenience. 

Maui has 4 Safeway stores: 

  • Wailuku in Central Maui
  • Kahului in Central Maui (near the airport and Costco)
  • Lahaina in West Maui
  • Kihei in South Maui

To rehash the Maui condo grocery buying strategy, your first stop on Maui will be at Costco. 

Step two, once you get settled into your condo and get a lay of the land, head to your local Safeway supermarket to pick up everything you are missing. 

Tips to Implement the Shopping Strategy

If the kids are starving after the flight, Maui Costco Food Court costs the same on Maui as the mainland. Grab a $1.50 hot dog plus soda or a $1.65 Very Berry Sundae to keep the kids happy. 

There is also a large food truck court across from the Costco gas station full of local food (grindz) for $12 to $20 a plate. My favorites are Thai Mee Up and Kalei’s Lunch Box.

Alternative Maui Grocery Shopping Strategy

You can even buy cheaper sundries and smaller groceries by going to Walmart or Target. They are not superstores but the Maui stores do have a large grocery section (frozen, refrigerated, pantry). 

Walmart and Target have cheaper groceries than Island Grocery Depot and Safeway but they are located near the airport in Kahului, while your condo is most likely 40 to 60 minutes away. 

A closer grocery store that has good deals is Longs Drugs. While mainly a pharmacy, they stock fruit, vegetables, pantry items, beer, liquor, and have a refrigerator section. Longs Drugs is cheaper than the larger supermarkets albeit less of a selection.

Going to Costco and then Target or Longs Drugs for groceries after you land in Maui is not a good start to your trip. Save your sanity and keep your travel colleagues (translation: family) happy by only making one stop on the first day for groceries.

The Maui Grocery Store Experience

Maui supermarket shopping is similar to grocery shopping on the mainland. We have our mix of local mom and pop stores, health-conscience stores like Whole Foods, and large superstores like Safeway and Walmart. You will find large, clean aisles organized in the same way as on the mainland.

The biggest difference is what is on the shelves. Maui grocery stores carry all the familiar national brands but they also have local brands and a heavy pacific-island influence on food. For example, soy sauce is called shoyu on the Hawaiian Islands. And the biggest shoyu brand is Aloha. 

Spam and rice are staples on the islands. You will find large bags of rice in the aisles and more types of Spam than you knew existed. Hawaiians consume 7-million cans of Spam every year, the most of any state.

Cheapest Groceries in Maui Spam

Spam doesn’t last long on the shelves on Maui.

Deli counters will have the usual fried chicken, deli meats, and mac and cheese but also have breakfast bento boxes with eggs, rice, and Portuguese sausage. Under the heat-lights, you will find Spam musubi – spam and sticky rice cooked in spices and vinegar wrapped in seaweed. Musubi is a favorite of mine for an afternoon snack.

Maui Musubi at Foodland

Delicious spam musubi at Foodland’s deli counter

The seafood counter will have poke of course. Poke is trending on the mainland finally. Get the freshest and best-made stuff at the local grocery stores. Tamura’s Market in Wailuku was the best poke winner by Maui Times in 2018. Foodland also has a diverse, fresh, and well-regarded poke counter.

Maui Cheap Groceries Poke Foodland

Poke flavors lined up at Foodland’s seafood counter.

The local brands and island flair make me love going to the smaller stores for their deli counters. Even the larger, local markets like Foodland feel like home to me thanks to the local brands.

Plastic bags are banned from grocery stores so you will be offered paper or have lots of options to buy a bag. 

One downside to grocery shopping on Maui is it never feels like enough registers are open. The lines can get long, especially during the busy seasons and holidays. Come early to avoid the crowds.

Maui Grocery Store Local Brands

Hawaiian local brands are worth trying.

POG Spilled in Maui

POG was shed on this dark day in a Maui Safeway.

Where to Buy Local Food

Maui is the breadbasket of the Hawaiian Islands. While sugar cane is no longer farmed, you can still buy a host of local produce from Upcountry and Hana farms. 

The big supermarkets like Safeway and Foodland have a cooler of local produce in their stores.

All grocery stores stock a wide selection of Maui coffee beans.

You can find a larger selection at the health-conscience stores like Down to Earth, Whole Foods, and Mana Foods. These stores are in north-central Maui.

Check out the Maui County Farm Bureau for more information buying local.

Grocery Delivery in Maui

Grocery delivery is a wonderful service. We used it every week when we lived in London as it was very common and a low additional cost (like a pound a delivery). 

Your vacation is already too short, why spend an hour racing through Costco and then other grocery stores. Maui Grocery Service and Demming’s Delivery Service are a local delivery company specializing in deliveries to condos and other managed properties. 

They shop at grocery stores we mention in this article.

Check out their websites for pricing and delivery information.

Thank You For Shopping

Thank you for visiting The Hawaii Vacation Guide! Have a wonderful stay in Hawaii.

0 Comments

Jordan Fromholz

Jordan Fromholz

Author

I'm the co-founder, with my wife Erica, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. I have a thing for photographing pineapples and learning to surf.

Related Articles You Will Find Fascinating

What’s the Best Hawaiian Island to Visit for Your First Time?

What’s the Best Hawaiian Island to Visit for Your First Time?

When you’re planning a trip to Hawaii for the first time, it can be confusing to understand what the difference is between all of the islands. And yes, they are very different. Each island offers something unique and it can be hard to understand what the best one for...

3 Easy Maui Hikes (plus a bonus historic walk)

3 Easy Maui Hikes (plus a bonus historic walk)

Escape the beach to explore Maui trails that you might have never found. From a lava field coastline hike to an Upcountry Maui forest stroll, check out these easy Maui hikes. With our toddler in tow, these are our favorite, easy Maui hikes. Kapalua Coastal Trail ‘Iao...