What to Buy at the Maui Costco

ImageMany Maui visitors like to swing by the Maui Costco right after they get off the plane. (At the first major intersection, look for the red stripe along the building on your left at Diary Road. ) Things cost about 10% more than at other Costco’s which is not bad considering you’re on an island. Although we’ve blogged before on the advantages of shopping at Costco, here are some specific things we like to buy:

  1. Coffee. At the time of this posting a two pound bag of Maui Coffee Roaster beans is $16. Other brands are also available at good prices. You can grind the beans near the checkout stands. Just ask your cashier. (We also keep a grinder in our condo for those that prefer a “daily grind”.)
  2. Booze. The liquor seems super cheap to us, but not the wine. Places such as Long Drugs and WalMart have better wine prices and a larger selection. Beer tends to be a bit cheaper at Costco.
  3. Sushi and poke’! That’s right. The Maui Costco has a sushi/poke’ bar. We like the Spicey Tuna. (see photo)  Hint: Buy something frozen (such as chicken) and use it to keep perishables cold til you reach your destination.
  4. Milk and yogurt. Cheaper at Costco, but in general, dairy products on Maui are very expensive. Think about whether you will really use the Costco sizes of these products in the tropics. You haven’t saved money if you end up throwing it away.
  5. Gasoline. You won’t need this when you first arrive, but if you need gas while here and you’re going to be anywhere near Costco, it’s a whopping forty to ninety! cents less per gallon.
  6. Juice and water. Hawaii has a five cent container deposit, so buy a few large containers, not a bunch of little ones. (Note: Maui’s water comes from the mountains and we find the water at our condo quite good. We do not buy bottled water and provide refillable water bottles at the condo.)
  7.  Fresh fish/meats/ lunch meats/cheeses…all a good deal.
  8. Pre-cooked pulled pork in the deli section. Just heat and serve. We like to make a bunch of cole-slaw and dress it with bar b q sauce on a hamburger roll. It’s Hawaiian!
  9. Bread/hamburger rolls/bagels. Much cheaper and very useful if your condo has a gas grill (like ours.)
  10. Chips and salsa!
  11. Pineapples! Maui pineapples are $3. Sliced and grilled is wonderful.

Like our list? Feel free to print it and take it with you to Costco. If there is there is something you’ve bought at the Maui Costco you think we should add to the list, please comment below.

COSTCO on Maui: so many reasons to shop there

If you don’t have a Costco membership and you are going to Maui, you might want to purchase one on-line before you go. There are SO many reasons why:

  1. A nice selection of high quality, reasonably priced, fresh, wild-caught Hawaiian fish such as Opaka Paka, Ono, Mahi Mahi, Marlin, not to mention Sashimi grade Ahi! Selection depends on the season.
  2. Car rentals from all the big companies are discounted when reserved on line through the Costco website. (See our post Where’s the best place to rent a car on Maui?)
  3. As of late 2012, gas at their brand new station was at least 30 cents cheaper per gallon than at most other places.
  4. Food and other items are almost the same price as those at our Costco in Washington State. (See our other postings in the category “Shop Like A Local” to understand how expensive food can be, but does not have to be, on Maui.)
  5. There is a large section of Hawaiian made items you can take home as gifts.
  6. Cheap booze!
  7. Aloha shirts are only $20!
  8. A HUGE supply of beach towels, snorkel gear, beach chairs, umbrellas, etc. NOTE:  you won’t need these things if you stay at our condo, Maui Vista 2418. We supply all that as well as detergents, cleaning supplies, and paper products from, you guessed it, Costco!

A word to those that love fresh local produce: Costco carries a few local items, but see our post Rowena’s Farmers Market is No Ka Oi (The best!). You can’t do any better than Rowena’s in our opinion. Otherwise, Costco is well worth a stop.

Where’s the best place to rent a car on Maui?

At Maui Vista 2418 we’re often asked, “Where’s the best place to rent a car?” The answer depends on your needs. If you want a shiny new car and the convenience of renting directly from the airport, we highly recommend going through Costco’s website. If you’re not already a member, the savings will probably cover the cost of your membership and then you can shop at Costco when you pass it on your way to our condo! (You can join Costco on line at www.costco.com .) Although renting from the airport is convenient, it costs more because the airport tax is added to the price and, after all, convenience costs money.

Alternatively, you might consider a local vendor with airport shuttle service. Kihei Rent A Car is a locally owned company with airport service. http://www.kiheirentacar.com/index.html Book early because this business is popular among those in the know and they do run out of cars.

The cars at Kihei Rent A Car are not sparkling new, but they do the job at a good price. Although it will be tempting to rent the oldest models, drivers are hard on rental cars and we recommend renting the newest model year available. We’ve also heard stories of Kihei Rent A Car not getting upset if you return the car with a small  scratch or bumper ding. This claim is supported on their website, something we’ve never seen on any major carrier’s site: 

“Fewer Fines ~ Realistic Usage Expectations Kihei Rent A Car is a truly unique car rental organization on Maui. Through our years of experience in the industry, we have found that customers who rent new cars (like those models offered by the larger mainland companies) often regret their decision. Hawaii’s many terrains can be very unfriendly to automobiles. Upon returning their vehicles, rental customers often encounter hefty fines for blemished exteriors and soiled interiors as a result of touring the wild Hawaiian environs. Since our cars are used, we are not as strict when it comes to small dings and scratches.”

Regardless of where you rent your car, if you’re a Costco member and in the area, buy gas at Costco. As of late 2012, it was thirty to forty cents per gallon cheaper than most other gas stations. That’s a savings of $5 to $7 per tank!

Shop Like a Local: Buying Souvenirs on Maui

Many stores on Maui sell the exact same souvenirs, but at different prices. We’re talking about T-shirts, key chains, jewelry, and other nick-knacks.

If you want to buy souvenirs within walking distance of Maui Vista 2418, the cheapest place for mass produced items is at the ABC store just a couple blocks to the south on South Kihei Road.

If you want locally made items within walking distance, walk a few blocks north on South Kihei Road and check out the small open mall of vendors. Here you can find home-made soaps, necklaces, custom photos, and even a store of Maui-made food products. (There are actually two open malls with vendors. This picture is of the larger one, located a block north of the Kihei Caffe. If you like, check them both out.)

If you don’t mind driving a bit, consider Long Drugs which is about 1.5 miles north on South Kihei Road. You will find a few Maui made products and many of the same items that are sold in the ABC store, but for less money.

Closer to the airport, you can find the same products again at Walmart. It has a huge selection of souvenirs on the left-hand side of the store (just past the McDonald’s). The prices are very good but, like those in the ABC store and Longs Drugs, most of the products are not made on Maui.

If you’re going for mass quantities of macadamia nut products or aloha shirts, you might consider Costco which is also near the airport. Unfortunately, unlike some mainland Costco’s, this one doesn’t provide day passes – so you have to be a member to shop.

If you want to take pineapples home, we have one renter who told us she bought 100 pounds from Mr. Pineapple. She said they were fabulous and the on-line reviews say the same. Mr. Pineapple (located at 370 Dairy Road on your way to the airport) guarantees the airlines will allow you to check their products as luggage FOR FREE – although if you find one as large as the one in this photo you could have a problem. You might also find a 10% off coupon for Mr. Pineapple on line.

The bottom line: when it comes to buying souvenirs on Maui, it pays to shop around.