Tips on how to tip in Hawai’i

bar at outrigger reef on the beachOne of the puzzles that first-time visitors to Hawai’i are often faced with is tipping…do you have to?…how much should you give?…can you offend by tipping? For many of us tipping is a foreign culture, so here are a few clues to help with the giving of gratuities…

1. When to tip:

Generally you tip when someone has provided good service – a taxi driver who got you there smoothly, a porter who looked after your luggage or a bartender who pours a good brew. These are the type of jobs that rely heavily on tips for their income, whereas other service jobs, like bus drivers, shop assistants or bank clerks, get paid a wage that doesn’t require tips to fill in the gaps. Tipping a professional, such as a dentist or hotel manager, is probably considered offensive, so use your own judgement, as in some cases people just want to do something nice and don’t expect to be paid for it.

2. How much to tip:

Firstly, check if gratuities are included, especially if you’re in a group. Some higher-class establishments will add your 20% tip to the bill, and even family dining venues have been known to include the tip.

Here’s the general rule of thumb for appropriate amounts to tip, thanks to

Restaurants: 15-20%.
Bar: $0.50-$1 US per drink
Housekeeping: $1 US per bed, per night
Luggage porters: $1 US per bag
Doorman: $1 US for calling a taxi
Room Service: 10-15% of the total bill
Taxi: 15% of fare

3. Do you have to tip:

The simple answer, NO. These days many locals will tell you that they only tip when they have received good service, and if they are not looked after, then there is no tip. Plus locals insist that the service must be exceptional to give top dollar. So it is at your discretion, remembering that to make a minimum wage many staff still rely heavily on tips.

Saying thanks for good service can be complex these days, so if you’ve got your own tips on tipping we’d love you to share in the comments.


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