Kamaaina Rates: A Guide To Hawaii's Best Discounts (2024)

It’s the perk that Hawaii travelers dream of: Kamaaina rates. These discounts are offered at certain hotels, restaurants, and activities. The draw is undeniable. Of course you want to save money on a pricey Hawaii vacation. But these discounts are exclusive – available only for Hawaii residents.

Does that make kamaaina rates unfair? Are the savings even enough to worry about? Everybody has opinions about these discounts, and nearly everyone wants to save money on their vacation. That may leave you wondering all about kamaaina discounts, and how they could affect your trip – whether you’re a resident looking for a quick getaway or a far-off traveler arriving for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

Kamaaina Rates

Kamaaina rates are discounts for local Hawaii residents. These special prices are typically offered at hotels and activities, but you may see kamaaina discounts at restaurants, boutiques, and special events, too. Sometimes it can be tough to navigate kamaaina rates and understand where they’re offered and how to take advantage of them. That’s where we come in.

Ahead, we’ll outline all the need-to-know info about kamaaina rates along with savings that everyone can take advantage of. Keep reading to learn more!

What Is a Kamaaina?

Before we talk more about Kamaaina rates, let’s understand what a kamaaina is. In Hawaii, Kamaaina means to a resident of the state. It translates to “child of the land,” and today, it’s used to describe anyone who lives in Hawaii, regardless of racial background or ancestry.

I typically just hear kamaaina in two situations: when someone is asking for a locals-only discount, or when a politician is explaining their connection to Hawaii (For example, they may say they are a third-generation kamaaina to clarify that they are not Native Hawaiian but have a decades-long background in the state). Otherwise, it’s not a word that’s used conversationally too much.

But, everyone in Hawaii knows what it means, especially when it comes to kamaaina rates.

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Why Are Kamaaina Rates Important?

Hawaii is an expensive place. It costs a lot to live or visit here. After all, food, hotels, travel, and activities are all pricier than other locations and destinations.

And while tourists have to deal with these prices during their visits, residents are stuck with them throughout everyday life.

Most visitors we encounter are very understanding about kamaaina rates. But still, some get pretty upset about them. They perceive it as a markup for tourists, which isn’t how it works.

You have to remember that even a quick trip to a neighbor island gets extremely expensive. It takes just 30 minutes to fly from Maui to Oahu, but you still have to get a rental car, a hotel (if you’re staying overnight), and food. These expenses occur whether we’re traveling inter-island for a vacation, a family event, or a medical appointment.

Kamaaina rates alleviate a small bit of the financial burden of traveling inter-island. Sure, it’s still expensive, but the discounts make it a little more possible for us to do what we need (and want!) to do beyond our home island.

Where Are Discounts Offered

Kamaaina rates are common at hotels. Most of the ones on Oahu allow you to see the Kamaaina rate online, but many neighbor island resorts require you to call. I don’t see too many kamaaina offers on Airbnb or vacation rentals, but you may be able to get a discount at local inns.

Some restaurants also offer kamaaina discounts, especially higher-end restaurants located inside resorts. We recommend calling ahead to see about Kamaaina rates at restaurants, and remember to tell your server before they bring out your bill.

Kamaaina also can get special rates on rental cars, though you may need to call to secure these prices.

Local boutiques often offer kamaaina discounts on clothes, souvenirs, and other goods, but you will need to ask about it at checkout.

And Hawaii activities will also offer kamaaina discounts. You may be able to secure a good deal year-round, but many will offer special limited-time rates during the slow tourism season. So, if you’re a resident and ever want to go ziplining, snorkeling, or walking through a Hawaii botanical garden, check and see what kind of Kamaaina rates are available for you.

How Much Are Discounts

Kamaaina discounts will probably save someone 5-30% on standard prices. Hotels may offer deeper discounts during the slow season.

Hotels may also offer free/discounted parking for kamaaina, discounted resort fees, or other perks.

Restaurants and activities may offer a flat discount or a buy-one-get-one deal.

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Can a Visitor Get a Kamaaina Rate?

Kamaaina Rates are only available to Hawaii residents. You’ll have to present a Hawaii ID to take advantage of the discounts.

So, if you’re a visitor and see the option online to book a deal at a kamaaina rate, skip over it. If you select that option, you’ll be asked for your Hawaii ID when you arrive. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to pay for the rest of the standard rate (and be that person).

Other Ways to Save Money In Hawaii

Just because a visitor doesn’t qualify for kamaaina rates doesn’t mean you can’t find good deals during your vacation. Hawaii has lots of budget-friendly options and deals available to anyone. Here are some great places to look for discounts as a Hawaii vacationer.

  • Restaurants and bars often have great happy hour deals for visitors looking for an afternoon drink.
  • Costco, Sam’s Club, and Safeway often have significantly lower gas prices – usually up to 50 cents a gallon less than other spots.
  • Work with a Hawaii-based travel agent to get the best deals on hotels, activities, and other vacation bookings.
  • Hotels often offer deeper discounts during slower travel times (especially in the fall). Look for options that allow you to get a 5th or 6th night free or save a certain percentage on rooms.
  • Choose free or cheap Hawaii activities, like beach days, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, hiking, and entertainment at shopping centers.
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More to Know about Kamaaina Rates

Kamaaina rates aren’t mandated by law in Hawaii. They’re simply a discount that some businesses choose to offer. You’ll often see kamaaina rates as a marketing tactic. It will draw in business during slow tourism times and build relationships with the community.

Businesses will almost always ask for your ID in order to extend the discount to you. And they rarely offer it freely – you’ll have to ask if they have a kamaaina rate. In my experience, when I ask nicely and have my ID ready, they’ll either happily apply the discount or kindly tell me they don’t have a discount.

If you’re a Hawaii resident taking advantage of a kamaaina rate at a restaurant or activity, remember to tip based on the full price before your discount.

Great Travel Plans for Everyone

Here at Hawaii Aloha Travel, we’re eager to help plan unforgettable vacations. When you work with us, you can let us know your vision and priorities for your trip. Maybe you want to save as much money as possible (even if you don’t qualify for a kamaaina rate), or maybe you want a trip that’s as simple and relaxed as possible. Or maybe, a little bit of both.

We can’t wait to hear from you and create an incredible Hawaii vacation that you’ll love.

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Kamaaina Rates: A Guide To Hawaii's Best Discounts (2024)
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