Our recent trip to Hawaii was a much-improved experience from our multiple mis-adventures in Alaska, from which I got lots of blog fodder and treated you to a running saga of that ill-fated trip a few months ago. This time, we didn’t even get Covid! But we did get a bad case of sticker shock.

Although I have been to Hawaii previously, the last time almost twenty-five years ago, I didn’t remember how expensive it is. Or maybe it has become exponentially more expensive through the years. Anyway, we were ill-prepared for the extraordinary outlay of cash. Thankfully, we have credit cards.

The first night, we ate at a little carry-out hole-in-the-wall that featured barbecued sandwiches. Apparently, what I consider barbecue and what Hawaiians consider barbecue are two different things, but no matter. The meal was acceptable, although we ate it outside at a picnic table that featured a view of the parking lot in the strip mall where the restaurant was located, and it came with a price tag of around seventy dollars. When I pay seventy dollars for a meal at home, which isn’t often, I generally expect fine dining and ambiance. Even simple sandwiches in Hawaii cost, on average, around sixteen dollars. We also learned that even the carry-out hole-in-the-wall restaurants, of which there many, added a generous tip to the bill. Oh well, we would just have to grin and fork over the money if we wanted to eat. Of course, it would have been considerably cheaper had we not had Younger Son, the human garbage disposal, with us. Hubby and I figured that feeding him cost us at least two-thirds more than what it would have cost the two of us by ourselves.

After dinner, we hit the grocery store to pick up breakfast items and snacks. We generally eat breakfast in our condo to save a little money, but we got gob-smacked with the cost of groceries. A box of generic cereal cost $8.00. Name brands cost $10.00 or more. We realized we could live without snacks, and got the bare minimum to survive for breakfast. The bottom line ran around $80.00 for one sack of groceries. The term “tighten our belts” became more meaningful—except to Younger Son, who did not get the concept, and was constantly hungry.

Around the mid-week, we made another scary foray into the grocery store. This time, I spied a display of pineapples with a large sign that read $1.59. WOW! $1.59 for a pineapple! Well, of course, we were in Hawaii, where pineapples are grown. It would only make sense that they were so cheap compared to everything else. I selected the largest pineapple I could find, thrilled with my bargain after being sucker-punched all week with the high cost of eating. At the cash register, I soon realized my mistake. The pineapple cost $1.59 per pound. I am used to the cost of a pineapple on the mainland being the cost of the entire pineapple, not per pound. As we exited the store, I went back to look at the display. Sure enough, at the bottom of the sign, in tiny print, hidden under a pineapple leaf, it did say “per pound.” I should have moved the pineapple leaf out of the way to read the small print at the bottom of the sign. It just didn’t occur to me.

Over fifty years ago, my father had a business convention in Hawaii. My mother, older brother, and I accompanied him, and spent an extra week touring the islands. My mother, ever the queen of economy, having lived through the Great Depression, bought a book called, “Hawaii on $5.00 a day.” She read it judiciously, steering us to the cheapest places to eat and sleep. At one flea-bag hotel she found through her extensive research, we came away with bed bug bites. But the hotel was a bargain.

I can’t even imagine what this book would be called today. Hawaii on $1000 a day? I imagine that price could be knocked down a little, provided one wanted to pick that week to start a diet. But I draw the line at bed bugs.