There's a surprisingly large number of visitors to Hawaii who do not tip appropriately and many that do not tip at all. Tipping in Hawaii is not only the right thing to do, but it is also absolutely essential for the livelihood of the local residents who work in the service industry.
Located in the South Pacific, where on many islands tipping is not required, Hawaii is a U.S. state and you should tip just like you would anywhere else in the United States. In fact, consider a little more generosity to offset the very high cost of living in Hawaii.
So, then, whom should you tip in Hawaii, and how much should you give? There is no definitive answer, but a few general guidelines will help you tip appropriately.
At the Airport
Most folks who arrive in the islands proceed directly to the luggage claim area and pick up their own bags. They then proceed to the rental car area, hotel shuttle, limo, or taxi. But when you are flying into and out of Hawaii, there are plenty of opportunities to get help with your bags and navigate the airport.
- Arrival: If you use the services of a luggage handler, you should tip $1 to $2 per bag. If you take a shuttle bus to the car rental area, you should tip the shuttle driver $1 a bag minimum, if you get help loading and unloading your bags from the shuttle.
- Departure: If you take a shuttle bus from the car rental area, you should tip the shuttle driver $1 a bag minimum, if they help load and unload your bags from the shuttle. If you utilize curbside check-in or use the services of a luggage handler, you should tip $1 to $2 per bag.
Taxis, Limos, and Hotel Shuttles
If you're not renting a car, you'll need to budget for transportation tips. For taxi and limousine drivers, tip at least 15 percent of the cost of the trip. If you use a courtesy hotel or resort shuttle, $1 to $2 per bag is the minimum, or a few dollars if you have only carry-on luggage.
Hotel or Resort
Tipping hotel staff in Hawaii follows the general norms of most locations, from delivering your bags after you check in to pulling your rental car around after you check out.
- Bellmen: If you utilize a bellman to take your bags to your room on arrival or from your room on checkout, you should tip at least $2 per bag. Tip $5 for 2 bags and $10 for anything more. Keep in mind that the bell staff has a great memory—the more you tip, the more they are inclined to do special favors during your stay.
- Front desk: No tip is required for the staff member who checks you in.
- Concierge: Generally no tip is required, but if a special service or special reservation is secured, a tip is always welcome.
- Parking attendant/valet: If you valet park, you should tip $2 to $3 each time you retrieve your car. No tip is required when you leave your car when you return to the hotel or resort. If the attendant gets you a cab, a tip of $2 is appropriate.
- Hotel housekeeping staff: Tip $2 per day and more if housekeeping does a really excellent job. Leave the tip in an envelope on the bureau marked "Housekeeping" or hand the envelope to the housekeeper if he or she is on the floor when you depart.
- Room service: Read your room service menu carefully. Most resorts build in a 15 to 20 percent tip in the bill. If not, then add the appropriate tip.
Restaurant or Bar
If you are dining at a sit-down restaurant or drinking at a bar, a tip of 15 to 20 percent is appropriate, just like on the mainland. If by some chance you check a coat, a dollar or two is appropriate when you pick up your coat.
If you are eating at a lunch stand, shrimp truck, or any similar take-out location, they will generally have a tip jar where a couple of dollars per person is appropriate. There is no need to tip at a nationally owned take-out fast food restaurant.
This is the one area where most visitors fall short. They either don't tip their tour guide or leave a totally inadequate tip. It's also the hardest area to state definitively how much to tip since tour costs vary widely and the 15 to 20 percent rule simply doesn't apply in most cases.
- Group tours that last one to two hours: A tip of $5 per person minimum is generally appropriate.
- Group tours that last two to four hours: A tip of $10 per person minimum is generally appropriate.
- Group tours that last four hours to a full day: A tip of $20 per person minimum is generally appropriate.
- Helicopter tours: A tip of $10 per person to the pilot for a one hour flight is generally appropriate. If the pilot is very friendly and especially knowledgeable, tip $20.
- Boat/sailing/catamaran tours: Most sailings last three to four hours, less for a sunset sail. Hand $10 to one of the crew upon departure, more for longer sailings or if the crew has been especially helpful.
- Customized/individual tours: You will need to decide what you feel is appropriate based on the services rendered. Here the 15 to 20 percent rule is generally applicable.