Discover the 6 Towns With the Cheapest Gas in Hawaii

Written by Shreya Agrawal
Published: October 8, 2023
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Hawaii is a paradise in the Pacific that has breathtaking landscapes as well as a unique island culture. Yet, it’s no secret that living in this tropical paradise comes with a price tag, and that includes the cost of gasoline. Gasoline prices in Hawaii are consistently among the highest in the United States due to the state’s isolated location and dependence on imported oil. However, there are pockets of relief for those residents and visitors who seek out the best deals. In this article, we’ll explore the top six towns in Hawaii where you can find the cheapest gas and uncover the factors that influence these prices.

1. Pearl City – Sam’s Club

Pearl Harbor

Aerial view of Pearl Harbor, Oahu island, Hawaii

©sphraner/iStock via Getty Images

Pearl City, located on the island of Oahu, is part of the Honolulu metropolitan area. Sam’s Club, a membership-based retail store chain, has one of the lowest gasoline prices in the area.

Regular Gas Price: $4.18 per gallon at Sam’s Club.

Warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club can negotiate bulk purchasing deals with fuel suppliers, allowing them to offer lower prices to their members. While a membership fee is required, the potential savings on gasoline, as well as other purchases, can make it a worthwhile investment. Finally, lower gasoline prices can alleviate the financial burden on Pearl City’s residents, making everyday commuting and travel more affordable. If you’re ever on Oahu, make sure to stop by Sam’s Club to refuel.

2. Iwilei – Costco

Kalihi Valley Honanlulu Hawaii Houses in valley mountains sunny with cloud's

Dirt road Kalihi Valley Honanlulu Hawaii Houses in valley mountains sunny with cloud’s

©Beth Motzfeldt/iStock via Getty Images

Iwilei is a district in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Costco Wholesale, a popular membership-based retail store, provides competitive gasoline prices.

Regular Gas Price: $4.19 per gallon at Costco.

Similar to Sam’s Club, Costco’s membership model allows for cost-effective bulk purchasing of gasoline. Costco often partners with credit card companies to provide additional savings for members who use specific credit cards to purchase fuel. Lower fuel prices at Costco can significantly benefit both residents and businesses in Iwilei, thus contributing to reduced transportation costs.

3. Waipio – Costco

Waipio valley lookout on Hawaii Big Island

Waipio valley lookout on Hawaii Big Island

©Vacclav/iStock via Getty Images

The town of Waipio, located on the island of Oahu, is another town that benefits from Costco’s competitive gasoline prices.

Regular Gas Price: $4.19 per gallon at Costco.

Costco’s strategic placement of stores across the Hawaiian islands ensures that residents in various towns, including Waipio, can access affordable gasoline as well as other items. Lower gasoline prices ease the financial strain on families living in Waipio, thus making it more affordable for parents to commute to work and children to attend school and extracurricular activities.

4. Kahului – Safeway

An aerial view of a Maui beach

Aerial view of Kahului, Maui, Hawaii

©unclegene/iStock via Getty Images

Kahului is the largest town on the island of Maui. Safeway, a well-known supermarket chain, has the most competitive gasoline prices in this town.

Regular Gas Price: $4.19 per gallon at Safeway.

Safeway often has fuel rewards programs that allow shoppers to accumulate discounts on gasoline when making purchases at the supermarket. Thus, residents of Kahului who regularly shop at Safeway can enjoy the convenience of combining their grocery shopping along with saving on gasoline.

5. Schofield Barracks – AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service)

Beautiful afternoon at the Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii

Beautiful afternoon at the Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii

©Frank Lee/iStock via Getty Images

Schofield Barracks is an army base on the island of Oahu. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) provides gasoline services to military personnel and their families, offering very competitive prices.

Regular Gas Price: $4.49 per gallon at AAFES.

AAFES, as a military retailer, often extends cost savings to military members and their families, including competitive fuel prices. So, this deal may not apply to everybody who visits or lives on the island. However, offering lower gasoline prices is a gesture of support for the military community, helping military families manage their budgets more effectively.

6. Hickam AFB – AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service)

Dusk on Hickam

Dusk on Hickam Beach, Hawaii

©Alexander Watkins/iStock via Getty Images

Similar to the Schofield Barracks, Hickam Air Force Base, located on the island of Oahu, benefits from AAFES’s competitive gasoline prices.

Regular Gas Price: $4.49 per gallon at AAFES.

The presence of AAFES at military installations like Hickam AFB ensures that service members have access to affordable gasoline. By offering lower gasoline prices, AAFES supports service members stationed at Hickam AFB, helping them manage their finances more effectively.

What Affects Gas Prices in Hawaii?

Gas prices in Hawaii are influenced by a combination of factors that are unique to the state due to its isolated location in the Pacific Ocean, its heavy reliance on imported oil, and the local market dynamics. Understanding these factors is crucial to grasp why gasoline prices in Hawaii are consistently higher than in many mainland states. Here are the key factors that affect gas prices in Hawaii:

Distance from Oil Sources

Hawaii is one of the most isolated landmasses on Earth, situated thousands of miles away from major oil production centers. The vast majority of the state’s oil is imported, primarily from Asia and the U.S. mainland. The sheer distance and transportation costs associated with shipping oil to Hawaii contribute significantly to the overall cost of gasoline.

Transportation Costs

Shipping and distribution costs account for a substantial portion of the gasoline price in Hawaii. The state relies on tanker ships to transport crude oil and refined gasoline to its ports. These costs are passed on to consumers at the pump.

Refining Costs

Hawaii has limited oil refining capacity, with just two refineries. This limited capacity means that the state must import a significant portion of its refined gasoline. As a result, Hawaii is often subject to price fluctuations in the global oil market, which can impact the cost of imported gasoline.

Taxes

Hawaii has relatively high state taxes on gasoline. These taxes are used to fund transportation infrastructure and maintenance but can also add to the overall cost of fuel.

Market Competition

The number of gasoline retailers and the level of competition in a given area can influence prices. In Hawaii, where competition may be limited in some regions, prices can be higher due to less competitive pressure.

Tourism Demand

Hawaii’s tourism industry also significantly impacts gasoline prices. When tourism is booming, demand for gasoline rises, which can lead to higher prices.

Exchange Rates

As oil is traded globally in U.S. dollars, fluctuations in exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and other currencies can impact the cost of imported oil and, consequently, gasoline prices in Hawaii.

Environmental Regulations

Hawaii has stringent environmental regulations that require the use of cleaner-burning gasoline formulations. These formulations can be more expensive to produce, adding to the cost at the pump.

Supply Disruptions

Any disruptions in the supply chain, whether due to natural disasters, transportation interruptions, or other factors, can also lead to temporary spikes in gasoline prices in Hawaii.

Local Regulations

Finally, local regulations, zoning laws, and permit requirements can also impact the cost of gasoline retailing. These factors may vary from one Hawaiian county to another.

Despite these challenges, efforts are ongoing to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil and transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. Initiatives include the development of renewable energy projects, the promotion of electric vehicles, and the improvement of public transportation systems.

Final Thoughts

While Hawaii’s gasoline prices are consistently among the highest in the United States due to the state’s geographical isolation and transportation costs, residents and visitors can find pockets of relief in towns like Pearl City, Waipio and Kahului. These towns benefit from various factors, including bulk buying power, membership-based pricing models, and military support. Thus, these lower gasoline prices not only ease the financial burden on residents but also help live a more affordable way of life in this tropical paradise.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © dronepicr / CC BY 2.0 – License / Original


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About the Author

Shreya is a climate scientist. She also studies paleontology and evolutionary biology. She enjoys reading all kinds of literature and listening to rock music in her free time.

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