Maui isn’t known for great deals on food, unless you’re a local and can grow an avocado tree on your property.
So where does a tourist go to stretch their dollar? Where the locals shop!
The easiest (and closest to the airport) option is the one and only Costco on Maui.
It is only about half a mile from the Kahului Airport (540 Haleakala Hwy, Kahului, HI 96732).
Maui Costco Must-Haves
We always go to Costco, even on short trips.
We pick up all our food, supplies and obligatory gifts at the neighbourhood Costco. And yes, they have that essential Adoboloco Pineapple Hot Sauce. Look for poke in the deli section.
And the Maui Costco also sells premium liquor and alcohol for a better price than at your mainland liquor store.
Stocking Up at Costco for the Week (Or Your Length-of-Stay)
Yes, Costco is known for bulk buys and massive amounts of food. But there are smaller, ready-made portions for your evening’s dinner, or you can assess the amenities at your rental to figure out what you might want to buy. Before you go on a mass buying spree at Costco, ask yourself some questions:
- Are you staying in a hotel room that has a fridge and hot plate?
- Are you renting an AirBNB with a full kitchen?
- For how long is your stay on Maui?
- Will you eat most of your meals at your place, or go out to eat every day? Perhaps you would prefer to eat breakfast at your residence, then go out and explore, grabbing food later (or packing a lunch)
These are logistical things you need to know before you go on a grocery shopping spree. Once you know your constraints, stocking up appropriately is easy.
Maui Costco Groceries: Is it Worth the Trip for Two People?
If you plan your trip right, you can safely load up at Costco on the way from the airport and not have to worry about wasting time on your vacation to go out and run errands later, especially if your accommodations are a distance away from grocery stores (not that Maui is that huge).
But I get it. Some people are worried about wasting food (or eating the same thing too many days in a row) if they stop to stock up at Costco.
Example: Costco Strategy for Two People for Two Weeks
Consider your normal routine. Do you usually make the majority of your breakfasts and lunches at home, and occasionally go out to eat for supper?
Maybe on your vacation you want to keep a similar routine, except eat out one meal a day. Sometimes it is nice to go for a walk and pick up a smoothie, or get a little fancy for dinner. Whatever you choose, you can make Costco work for you.
Some smart items to buy at Costco, without overbuying:
If you make your own lunches and breakfasts, buy your usual items. Suggestions:
- Toms english muffins
- tortilla chips
- locally made salsa
- poke and sashimi
- ready-made salads
- pre-made dinners
- If you have a freezer: freeze some meat, veggies, bread or bakery goods.
- A large frozen lasagna can be made into two meals.
- A Costco-famous cheap roasted chicken can serve two or three meals.
- Costco’s ready-made large salads or other dishes are excellent meals when you don’t want to spend a lot of time prepping food while on vacation.
For items that are in bulk or not at Costco, make a list after shopping at Costco and pick up those items at a local grocery store or farmers market.
When to Skip Costco on Maui
Of course, if you want to keep it simple (since Costco can take up time due to the size of the store and not being familiar with where things are), then just use the other grocery stores, especially if there are some near your accommodations. The costs won’t be that much different and maybe you want to pick things up as your vacation progresses.
Foodland, Star Market, Safeway Options
Things like lunch meat, mayo, veggies for grilling, and coffee creamer you might as well pick up at Star Market or Safeway, along with shampoo and conditioner or other personal items you didn’t want to pack.
Foodland is notable for their awesome poke selection and the fresh bread. Foodland also sometimes has the best prices on trinkets like kukui necklaces and magnets. Their musubi shopping bags double as unique gifts for your weird friends.
Make a point of going to Yee’s Orchard & Fruit Stand (in Kihei), other farmers markets, and the swap meet for other veggies and fruits.
If you’re exhausted from the journey to Maui and don’t feel like going to Costco the first day, just head to a local grocery store or restaurant (keep your luggage in the trunk)… or get a take-out snack from Costco’s outside food court!
The Costco foodcourt is just as easy and only a fraction of the cost of any other restaurant. Not fancy, but the serving size hits the spot.
And you do not need a Costco membership to use the food court.
Just head to the east side of Costco and you’ll find the food court. (Follow the wild chicken.)
Take-Out Costco Food Options
If you time your flight arrival right, you can go straight from the plane to your car to Costco.
- Grab a hot dog combo or pizza or salad and smoothie for the world’s cheapest post-flight lunch, and then after feeling satiated and getting excited for your trip, you might feel inspired to pick up the things mentioned above:
- The usual staples plus some snacking delights:
- choice snack foods
- bread for sandwiches
- bagged salads
- mango salsa
- tortilla chips
- chicken, still just $4.99! Have the chicken the next day as well, in sandwiches, or tossed on a salad (Costco’s salads are great!)
- duty-free alcohol
- frozen meals or microwave dinners, if that’s your style.
While Costco is a great place for convenience and inexpensive staples for meal options, be sure to partake of the local fare while in Maui.
When to Go to the Costco in Kahului
If you need gas, Costco gas is usually a much better deal than other offerings (but you need a Costco membership, remember).
Again, running into Costco for a pre-made dinner or salads is easy, as long as you’re there when the lineups to check-out aren’t crazy… which on Maui, they never really are (despite how packed the parking lot may look).
Even the weekend crowds are not as bad as you might expect. For the quietest shopping experience, head to Costco after 7pm.
If you are landing late at night and are staying on the west part of Maui, combine a trip to Costco with a trip to Iao Valley, or even a trip Upcountry.
Do You Have to Be a Member to Shop at the Costco in Maui?
Except for prescriptions and alcohol and the food court, you have to be a member to shop or buy gas at Costco. If a member buys a gift card for you, you can use that Costco USD cash card without a membership.
And note: Costco in the USA takes VISA as their credit card, not Mastercard like in Canada.