This is a guide for tipping in Hawaii. It will ease your anxiety over who, when and how much to tip in Hawaii.
America has a customary practice of tipping, that is, giving a gratuity (gift of money) in exchange for good service. For locals tipping is automatic, but for visitors, it can be confusing and sometimes intimidating.
Even though I was fully briefed on tipping before landing in the Hawaiian Islands, I would still get nervous about it. I was constantly second-guessing “Am I doing this right?”.
Don’t stress! By the time you finish reading this, you’ll be able to tip in Hawaii like a pro.
Why Tipping in Hawaii is Important
To get you in the right mindset about tipping it helps to understand why the practice is so important.
In a nutshell, average salaries in the United States are low. For example, it’s not unusual for wait staff to earn US$18,000 per year, and tips are how they make up the difference. Sadly, this is just the way it is.
The good news is service levels in America tend to be much higher than in other parts of the world, as employees seek to ‘earn’ the best tip possible.
How to Tip in Hawaii
- $1-2 per bag to anyone handling luggage. Porters are the guys carrying your bags! Tip Porters after they carry/deliver your bags to your car or room. If you store your luggage, tip the Concierge when you return to pick-up your bags.
- $1-2 to anyone calling you a Taxi. Tip them before you hop in the Taxi or when they go to open the Taxi door.
- Tip 10-15% of the total fare (plus $1-2 per bag if the Taxi Driver also handled your luggage). Pay at the end of the ride. Uber/Lyft will prompt you on the app to ask if you’d like to add a tip, I’ll usually add a flat $1-3.
Valet Parking Attendants
- $2-5 on top of the parking fee. Tip the Valet Parking Attendant when he delivers the car back to you.
- $1-2 hotel room/$5 multi-room apartment per day. Place the tip on the bedside table or pillow every morning of your stay. Share some aloha by adding a mahalo (thank you) note!
- $1-2 to the Bartender per drink ordered. If buying single drinks at the bar, tip with each purchase (add a little extra to the first drink for more attentive service after that). If keeping a bar tab open, tip at the end when you closeout.
- Tip 15-20% of the meal cost at Cafés, Bars, and Restaurants. Always tip in Hawaii when you get the check (bill). If charging a card they’ll ring up the meal cost, and when the receipt returns for your signature this is when you can add on the tip, or leave cash for the tip portion. We still tip for takeaway meals, but usually a lower 10%. If you grab a coffee, there’s usually a tip jar at the cash register to throw in some change.
- $5 for half-day tours/$10 for full-day tours. Gratuities are expected for Guides on tours, activities and experiences. Tip at the end of the tour directly to the Guide, and if you have a separate Driver tip them the same amount.
- Ballpark $10-20. This really comes down to personal preferences based on the type of service/how long/costs. I give my Hairdresser an extra $20 every visit and my Nail Technician an extra $10. For Massage Therapy they usually state the expected gratuity, it’s usually pretty steep around 20%.
- Ballpark $1-20. This depends on how generous you are. Entertainers including musicians will almost always have a tip jar and giving a gratuity at any time during the performance is always appreciated and feels good!
When in Doubt
The people of Hawaii, especially those who work in the tourism industry, are very friendly. When in doubt my best advice is to simply ask for their guidance on how to tip in Hawaii. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “G’day, I’m from Australia and we aren’t used to tipping. How much is appropriate in this situation?”. Trust me, they’re always happy to assist!
TIP: Some restaurants go as far as suggesting the tip percentage and amounts on the check (bill), this is handy for making quick calculations. Others automatically add the recommended gratuity to the total. Review your receipts closely, you may not need to add an additional tip if it’s already been included.
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