Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Price of Paradise

Oh yeah. It's expensive. Our cost for a week in paradise:

Airfare and car rental (package deal): $1200
2 BR Cottage (including cleaning fee): $1349
Bars and Restaurants (including takeout): $533
Groceries (including things like sunscreen, shampoo, charcoal) $412
Activities/Entertainment: $541
Souvenirs/Gifts: $415
Gas: $50

Total: $4500


Airfare/car rental: we booked though Hotwire several months ahead of time. We got a decent price, I think-- but nothing spectacular. And when I tried to change our ticket (still with a few months notice) to give us a few more days there, Hotwire told me I'd have to pay an extra $300 fee PLUS another $1200 for the tickets (on top of what we were already paying). Needless to say, I didn't change the ticket. Just out of curiosity (because can a plane ticket really go up that much?) I checked with the airline (Hawaiian) to see if the airfare on that flight had increased. And no, it hadn't-- tickets were still available at the original price. So basically-- if I'd just booked directly through the the airline, I would have spent the same amount of money, but I would have been able to make changes to my ticket. Beware of Hotwire!

Accomodations: We found ours on Vacation rentals tend to be less expensive than hotels, plus if you have a kitchen you can save a little money by making your own meals. The high season starts around mid- June, and many rentals (including ours) jack up the prices then. You can save a few hundred dollars a week by visiting in the off season.

Restaurants: This is where a lot of the money goes. We ate breakfast at home every day, and dinner at home about half the time. Still, we managed to spend a lot in this category. A couple of ice cream cones at Lappert's will run you $14. Lunch-- even something casual-- will be around $25 for two (if you're not drinking.) Shave ice is $4. Our bill for 4 Mai Tais at Tahiti Nui (which is not by any means a swanky place) was $46 with tip.

Groceries: My husband and I don't eat meat, milk, or eggs, so our food costs might be lower than normal. On the other hand, we do like to drink, so that brings the cost back up. I normally don't eat fish, but I made an exception for Hawaii-- so our costs included a couple visits to the Dolphin Fish Market in Hanalei, which I highly recommend. The salespeople are great; just tell 'em what you like and how hungry you are, and they'll set you up. They've got some great condiments and sides, too--take a look in the fridge. Foodland is your best bet for groceries, unless you've got enough people with you to justify Costco. They even have a good selection of our favorite soy-based products, like Morningstar "sausage", and some good deals on California wine ($14 for Seghesio Zinfandel-- less than I pay at home in California.) Be sure to get a discount card-- you can pick one up from Customer Service right before you check out. Big Save in Hanalei is known by the locals as "Big Spend"-- enough said. The prices at Papaya Natural Foods in Hanalei were insane: ($17.00 a pound for coffee, $5 for a baggie of salad greens) and we found the quality of their offerings to be inferior to Foodland, where you can also get organic produce.

Activites/Entertainment: For us, this included renting snorkeling equipment and buying a beach chair, an underwater camera, and some water socks. In this category we also included books (since we spent a lot of time reading) and our helicopter tour.

Souvenirs/Gifts: Like everything else, you aren't going to get away cheap here. Of course, you don't have to buy anything. But you'll want to.

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