Are you planning your first trip to Hawaii and are confused about the tipping etiquette in Hawaii? Keep scrolling to get answers to all your questions about tipping in Hawaii!
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I think one of the trickiest things about traveling is knowing whether or not you’re supposed to tip people.
My family travels internationally a lot and we always feel really awkward when it’s not clear if it’s expected (or considered rude) to leave a tip with people in the service industry.
Since Hawaii gets a lot of international tourists as well as Mainlanders who aren’t frequent travelers, I thought I’d write up a quick cheat sheet about tipping in Hawaii.
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Top Questions about Tipping in Hawaii
Tipping is a big part of American culture. Part of it is because most people in the service industry earn less than minimum wage. That’s because businesses are counting on servers getting part of their paycheck via gratuities. It’s especially important to tip in Hawaii because the cost of living is really high.
The standard tipping amount for adequate service is 15% and you can tip 20-25% for outstanding service. It can come across as insulting to tip less than 15% for service.
Absolutely. Try to tip with cash whenever possible to ensure your server actually gets the money. Sometimes tips via credit card never make it to the server. Plus, there isn’t a card fee with cash so you know your server is getting the full amount.
Ultimate Guide to Tipping in Hawaii
How Much to Tip a Tour Guide
There are so many types of tours in Hawaii that there isn’t really a standard tipping rate.
You can always use 20% of the tour price as a rule of thumb, but I think it really depends on how you feel about the tour, the length, and whether it’s private or a group tour.
Private Tours in Hawaii
If it’s a private tour or your tour guide gave you a lot of personalized attention or assistance, you’ll probably want to tip the full 20% (or more.)
Group Tours in Hawaii
But, if it’s a big group tour and it felt more like just transportation instead of an actual tour, you might want to tip less.
Some tour operators give a little plug for you to rate them online after your tour and there’s usually an opportunity to give them a tip as you leave.
Other times, you might want to just hand them some cash on your way out.
Boat Tours in Hawaii
If you book a snorkeling tour or sunset sail, you’ll probably want to tip about $10-$20 depending on the length of the tip.
Usually, you can just give it to whoever is saying goodbye to guests at the end of the tour.
Hawaii Helicopter Tours
If you do a helicopter tour in Hawaii, plan on tipping about $10/hour per person.
Free Tours in Hawaii
There are some cool walking tours and docent-led tours in Hawaii that don’t have a fee.
If the tour is run by a non-profit, tipping is definitely appreciated.
Who Do You Tip at Your Hotel?
One question that we often have is trying to figure out which hotel workers we need to tip. It can feel a bit overwhelming.
While you don’t need to tip Front Desk workers, there are a few you do need to tip.
If you have the bellhop bring up your bags, you should tip them about $2 per item. Yes, that includes strollers and car seats.
Same goes for when you check out.
If you happen to use the hotel concierge for more than a basic question, you should tip a few dollars.
You’ll want to tip more depending on how much energy goes into helping you. If they need to do research or you have a lot of special requests, tip more.
You’ll want to leave around $5 per day in an obvious spot (like an envelope that says “housekeeping” on it) for housecleaning service.
The person who cleans your room might change from day to day, so it’s best if you can leave cash each day instead of a lump sum at the end.
If you happen to order room service during your Hawaii hotel stay, you’ll want to give the person who brought it up a few bucks.
Make sure to read the room service menu fine print. A lot of time, the gratuity is already included.
Tipping in Hawaii Restaurants
While the cost of food in Hawaii is more expensive than on the Mainland, you’ll want to make sure you factor tips for food in your Hawaii budget.
The only time you don’t need to tip is at a national fast food chain, like McDonald’s. We still tip at local fast food places, like L&L.
Cafes and Food Trucks
If you are getting grab and go food or drinks (or yummy Hawaiian shave ice), there’s probably going to be a tip jar on the counter.
Just throw in a few bucks or the change after paying. It doesn’t have to be exact, but try to have it semi-close to the 15-20% range.
When ordering drinks at the bars in Hawaii, it’s customary to tip about $1 per drink. And you’ll want to tip on any food you order.
Sit Down Restaurants
If you are eating at a Hawaii restaurant, you’ll definitely want to make sure to leave a 15-20% tip. And remember it’s always best to tip with cash.
Restaurants with Live Music
A lot of the restaurants in Hawaii offer live music during Happy Hour or throughout dinner.
While tipping musicians isn’t technically required, it’s usually what people do. This is especially true if you request a song.
The amount is totally up to you. We usually see what kind of cash we have and then tip anywhere from $5 to $20, depending on how long we stay.
Depending on how you plan on getting around Hawaii, you’ll probably want to budget a little for tips.
At the Airport
If you take advantage of curbside baggage check at the airport, you’ll want to tip the handler $1-$2 per bag.
This one is kind of murky. If you are pretty self-sufficient and don’t require any assistance, you don’t need to leave a tip.
However, if your driver helps you load or unload luggage, strollers, car seats, etc you’ll want to tip about $2 per item. And be sure to thank them!
If you use Uber, it’s pretty easy to leave a tip within the app.
For a taxi driver, usually people tip about 15% on their card if everything went well. If you’re paying cash, you can always just tell them to keep the change.
Tipping Valet in Hawaii
If you rent a car in Hawaii and end up valet parking at your hotel or at a restaurant, you’ll need to tip the valet a few dollars.
We usually tip the person who brings the car back to us.
Additional Hawaii Tipping Advice
While the above covers the vast majority of people you’ll want to tip in Hawaii, I’ve got a few more specialty cases below.
If you plan on enjoying spa service in Hawaii, like a massage or getting your hair/nails done, the standard tipping is about 20%.
I’m a huge advocate about hiring a professional vacation photographer in Hawaii. It’s the best way to guarantee gorgeous Hawaii family photos.
We usually just give them cash after the shoot or sometimes we invite them out to a restaurant and cover their meal.
If you are getting married in Hawaii, you’ll want to tip anyone involved. That includes your wedding officiant, photographer, musicians, caterers, etc.
Ok, so I think that covers just about everyone you’d want to tip in Hawaii. Basically, it’s anyone who provides a service to you.
And if you are in doubt, just ask!
The bottom line is that you’ll want to either bring a lot of cash with you or plan on getting cash in Hawaii.
Cash is king is definitely the best way of tipping in Hawaii to ensure that the money goes to the people you give it to.