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Maui Car Rental Rates Stay Soft for Spring Break 2024

March 24, 2024 - Is Maui a "Spring Break" destination? In normal years, there is a surge in visitor arrivals during the period around Spring Break and Easter, at the end of March and beginning of April. This is usually reflected in a surge in Maui car rental rates. 

This year, with the end of March approaching, the expected surge is maybe less pronounced or not there at all. 

Possibly the closure of the town of Lahaina, still recovering from the devastating wildfire of last summer, and the prevalence of record-high accommodation rates have put a dent in the influx of budget-minded college students and young adults. Lahaina with its bars, clubs, and restaurants, has long been a focal point for reveling and partying, rivaling Oahu's Waikiki despite being much smaller in size. And, as we've covered in a previous blog post, hotel and condo rates have surged following the wildfires. Has Maui lost its draw for Spring Breakers? Spring Break comes but once a years, so we'll have to wait until next year, and maybe a few years after that, before we can tell. One year does not make a trend. 

Are accommodations the only thing whose cost has gone out of range for the average young adult hoping to enjoy Spring Break in Maui? No. This week, the cost of a burger, onion rings and fries from a fast-casual place was $32, a burrito and soft drink from a food truck was $19, a well drink cocktail at a dive bar was $12. We sampled these prices just in the name of scientific/economic research, normally they would be out of our budget, too. 

At some point, Maui is bound to experience a Laffer curve effect. As everyone knows, the Laffer curve underpins trickle-down economic theory, asserting that dropping tax rates brings increased tax revenues. Will increased cost of everything in Maui bring with it increased revenue for all the greedy capitalist landlords and business owners who are jacking prices up like there is no tomorrow? Or will it lead to a collapse in demand, and a decline in revenue? This is another question that will take some time to answer. And if this does happen, will dropping prices again bring back increased revenue, or will it be too late, Maui having lost its spot in the sun? 

Can Maui hold on to its position at or near the top of the Conde Nast ranking of best island destinations, or will there be a changing of the guard?

Our weekly survey of Maui rental car rates, for a one week rental beginning Monday 3/25, shows only a small change in the lowest advertised rates from car rental companies listed on the travel aggregator sites.
Off-airport (with shuttle) $238.11 (up ~$20)
Airport Rentacar Center $373.56 (down ~$15)
Source: rentalcars.com

Where will Maui's rental car rates be one year from now, for Spring Break 2025? To quote the great baseball catcher, coach, and folk philosopher Yogi Berra, "it's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

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