1. Flower Lei
Fresh, fragrant and delicate, there could not be more delightful experience than to get or give a classic Hawaiian icon. Lei has been a part of the fabric of the islands and a fundamental part of the Hawaiian culture since the beginning of time. Besides, where else in the world does an airport greeting include such a lovely touch. Lei come in many varieties and types. Some of the plain and unscented ones are perfect for men and those with flower sensitivities. Fragrant blossoms are perfect for brides and mothers, while there are special “open weave” lei for expectant mothers. Expect a fresh lei to run anywhere between $5-$40.
Those wanting to purchase a lei to take home for friends and family, there is a perfect spot tucked away in the Honolulu International airport to do this. The lei stands are sandwiched between the parking structure and the inter-island terminal, and are easily accessible just before the rental car return area. Open 24 hours a day, several stalls offer simple to extravagant designs. Since there are agricultural restrictions to transporting some island flowers to the mainland, be sure to tell the lei seller that the lei is for someone on the mainland. The lei stands are also located at 300 Rodgers Boulevard.
2. Koa Accessories
One of the most precious gifts one can take home from Hawaii to family or a friend is something made from the wood of the majestic Hawaiian Koa trees. Grown only in Hawaii, this tree fills the forests of the Big Island. Known as some of the hardest and rarest wood in the world, the trees they especially valued for their rich orange color and iridescent grain. Koa is the wood of choice for ocean going outrigger canoes and paddles. The price of Koa continues to escalate each year, so purchasing even a handcrafted item is a worthy purchase that will increase in value over the years. Expect to pay from $40 and up for a small Koa box, and $220 and up for a large one.
There are several stores and outlets that sell Koa wood accessories. One can even find them at craft fairs and even swap meets. However, the very best place to find a wide section of artisan quality accessories is any Martin and MacArthur store on Oahu. Martin and MacArthur’s items are high quality Koa and not the lesser inexpensive Koa-like acacia wood from Northern California. All items are designed and crafted in the Oahu factory and for every piece of furniture that is purchased, a Koa tree is planted on the slopes of Mauna Kea. Martin and MacArthur has several locations throughout the islands, however, the most convenient to Waikiki hotels and resorts is located in the Sheraton Waikiki hotel at 2255 Kalakaua Avenue.
3. Hawaiian Jewelry
There is probably nothing more special than a beautiful gold bangle or engraved ring that is traditional and classic. A Hawaiian heritage bracelet is one of the most precious items that a young girl can have and the most precious heirloom gift that has been known to be passed down in families for generations. The designs are a throwback to the Victorian era, precisely, the Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 when Queen Kapiolani and Princess Liliuokalani received enameled bracelets while attending the ceremonies in England. The designs of the bangles have evolved from traditional Victorian styles to more modern and cultural designs. Expect items to range in price anywhere from $20 to $8,000.
There are several jewelry stores on Oahu that specialize in Hawaiian Heritage jewelry, but none more accommodating and service-oriented than Royal Hawaiian Heritage Jewelry. The collection includes everything, from wedding sets to pendants to island inspired earrings and chains. However, the bracelets are truly the specialty items. Many come to custom order that special heirloom bracelet, personalize it in black enamel and even have it diamond studded. Royal Hawaii Heritage Jewelry’s factory is located on Oahu in the heart of Downtown Honolulu. There, designers will create a bracelet to your specifications in the matter of hours. You can find Royal Hawaiian heritage Jewelry at 1130 Bishop Street.
4. Hawaiian Print Fabric
Hawaiian print fabric runs the gamut from richly colorful and bold to more subtle and traditional prints. For those who are aficionados of the Hawaiian print or those who are looking for that perfect accent for a Hawaiian-themed décor or special occasion or casual fashion, fabrics can be found in many shops on Oahu. Many will be surprised to hear that there is a thing called fabric etiquette when it comes to aloha fashion. Smaller, subtler prints are typically for men who routinely wear aloha shirts in business settings, while the more colorful and bold colors are considered appropriate for casual wear. Ladies know that aloha chic means well-tailored, fitted and tasteful. Prices start at $6 and up per yard of fabric.
For those in search of that perfect Hawaiian print to satisfy your creative urges, there is no place better than Fabric mart near the top of Kalakaua Avenue. This busy two-story shop has a dizzying array of colors and fabric blends unlike any other in the islands, if not the world. Arrive prepared with preferences, because, otherwise, a visit to this store can leave you more confused than confident. This shop is located along Kalakaua Avenue, between Kanunu and Makaloa Streets, just a couple of miles from Waikiki resorts and hotels. The address is 1631 Kalakaua Avenue. They are open seven days a week.
5. Black Pearls
These Pacific pearls are beautiful and come in a myriad of sizes and tones. One should take their time when picking out that special pearl, since the variety of colors and shades make it much more than simply black. Hues range from charcoal to swirls of turquoise, aubergine, olive and even chocolate. There are many places where one can browse the limitless variety of pearls. Designs and setting range from tropical-inspired diamond-studded 24 karat gold to large pendants of sterling silver. Whatever you choose to be your pearl, be sure it’s shopped for carefully with particular emphasis on the uniqueness of the pearl itself. Prices range from $100 to $11,000 or more.
Although there are many shops and boutiques that offer a limited quantity of black pearls, there is no shop more accommodating than Maui Divers Jewelry. Located in the very heart of Honolulu, Maui Divers has been in business since 1958, started out as a couple of deep sea divers harvesting black, pink, red and gold coral off the waters of Lahaina. Today, they are known as the largest manufacturer of coral jewelry in the world. The company offers free shuttle to and from the Waikiki area for those who would like to visit the jewelry factory and showroom. You can find Maui Divers Jewelry in several locations in Waikiki or at their main location via complimentary shuttle at 1520 Liona Street.
6. Macadamia Nut Oil
Many have long been enamored with the meaty thick-shelled Macadamia nut for over a generation. The meaty nuts have a reputation for being the most elite of nuts in the world and for their abilities to lower cholesterol, when eaten regularly. However, more recently, many, including everyone from the gourmet to the casual kitchen chef, have discovered Macadamia Nut Oil. Extracted and processed on the islands, these bottles of oil offer the perfect addition to a Macadamia nut pesto, salad dressing and sautéed fish. A single bottle of oil is retailed at around $10.
Although a bottle of this rich flavored pale colored oil can be found at high-end specialty stores and tourist boutiques, it’s best to seek out one of the more favorite places where locals go to find realistic prices and a grand variety of items, from toothpaste to tequila. Any islander will tell you that Long’s Drug Stores is the go-to place for everything and anything at reasonable prices. Yes, it was recently purchased by CVS, but this popular store still has retained that special local appeal. Visit Long’s Drug Store in the Ala Moana Shopping Center at 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard.
What has come to be an icon of Hawaii and Hawaiian music is not a Hawaiian instrument at all! This guitar was brought to Hawaii by Portuguese who arrived by ship in the early 1900s to work the many ranches located throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Along with the ukulele, the Pukiki were also credited with bringing the twangy sounds of the steel guitar to the islands. There are many ukulele factories on the islands, but by far the most popular of them on Oahu are Kamaka and Koaloha. Today, Hawaii has embraced the ukulele in song and celebration. Expect a genuine high-quality Hawaii-made ukulele to range in price anywhere between $500 and $7000 dollars.
Before heading out to scour the factories for that perfect musical instrument, stop at Bob’s Ukulele at the Waikiki Beach Marriott. They offer a huge selection of everything, from soprano to concert and tenor models. The small shop is just across the street from Kuhio Beach and a few steps from most of Waikiki’s hotels and resorts. They offer the casual or serious shopper a wide variety of woods and styles. Kamaka and Koaloha are well represented in their inventory. The store is located in the shopping arcade on the ground level. Metered street parking is available along Ohua Avenue. The address is 2552 Kalakaua Avenue.
8. Koloa Rum
With origins on the Garden Island, Koloa Rum is the first and only rum distillery on Kauai. Open since 2009, the distillery is located in Kalaheo and still applies traditional methods of using 1210 gallon copper pots, columns and condensers built in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1947 and refurbished to produce Hawaii’s only rum. Kauai’s fresh tropical rainwater and sugar cane are the secret to the flavorful White, Gold, Dark and Spice Rum. Expect to pay between $30 and $40 for a 750 ml bottle. This item must be placed in check baggage for travel, no exceptions.
Many, who visit the islands, return home with a simple plastic white shopping bag with the bold blue letters “ABC Stores” emblazoned on the front. Returning visitors know that one can always depend on the ABC store for everything, from the daily newspaper to replacing that bottle of sun block that was confiscated at the TSA security checkpoint. The store is a very convenient place for finding necessities and gifts at reasonable prices. The shops are seemingly located on every street corner in Waikiki and are open late into the evening, always well-lit and welcoming. You can find one of many at the Hyatt Regency in Waikiki at 2424 Kalakaua Avenue.
9. Kona Coffee
There are few things more enjoyable to take home for family and friends than a pound of Kona coffee beans from Hawaii. Grown on the slopes of the Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii, more recently, there have been several offerings of smaller local farms growing on the islands of Maui, Kauai and even Molokai. Hawaii is the only coffee growing state in the USA and the selection of coffee is vast. Be aware that all Kona Coffee is not created equal. Those who are not coffee snobs will delight in the flavored and blended coffees that contain just 10 percent Kona, while others will insist on the more expensive 100 percent pure gourmet Kona which has that famous smooth rich creamy flavor. Expect a bag of blend to cost up to $6 a pound, while the pure - up to $35 a pound.
Kona Coffee can be found at many places around the island, from the swap meet at the Aloha Stadium to all of the big box and warehouse stores. However, for those who want to find all the coffee one needs to take home, short of taking a trip to the Big Island, a stop at any ABC Store in Hawaii will certainly be the best and most convenient option. Located on almost every corner in Waikiki, this wonderful store has a collection of the most popular brands of 100 percent and blended Kona coffee. The ABC shops are open late into the evening and are always well-lit and welcoming. You can find one of many at the Hyatt Regency in Waikiki at 2424 Kalakaua Avenue.
10. Macadamia Nuts
Sweet or salty macadamia nuts are strong favorites among nut lovers. Known as the finest nut in the world, they are famous for their heart-friendly, cholesterol-lowering properties. Grown primarily on the Big Island of Hawaii, they can be found on Oahu in a myriad of ways. Some of the more popular ways are small cans of salted and flavor nuts, but they can also be from raw and unshelled, stirred into ice cream and topped on pancakes. Most find that a box of chocolate-covered nuts makes a perfect gift for friends and family back home. Whatever you choose, opt for whole nuts instead of pieces. Expect a box of chocolate-covered macadamia to run between $5 and $20.
There are many places where one can load up on Mac nuts, but there is no place better than Hilo Hattie. With two locations on Oahu and several on the neighboring islands, Hilo Hattie is an island institution that started many years ago as an aloha wear manufacturer. Today, they offer a incredible variety of nuts that range from chocolate-covered to caramel crunch, even wasabi and Maui onion tins. Hilo Hattie also offers several discount coupons in local visitor publications.
It is located at Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd #1254.
11. Hawaiian Quilts – Classic and Traditional Styles
The world of Hawaiian quilts are filled with colorful patterns that depict nature, royalty and even political events, typically made of a neutral background shade with the design in colors ranging from deep neutrals to bright festive hues. Lovingly hand-stitched by one or more artisans, a bed-size quilt can take a year or more to complete. The handcrafted quilts feature unique designs, created by the quilters themselves, and often reflect the level of skill and creativity of the quilter. For those who expect an original handmade quilt, prices range from $100, for a pillow cover, to $8,000 investment in a king-size bed quilt. TIP: when purchasing handmade quilts, be sure that they are not, in fact, the much cheaper and poorer quality mass-produced quilts imported from the Philippines.
There are several Oahu stores that offer genuine Hawaiian handmade quilts for sale along with Hawaiian quilt pattern kits and more. However, for an inexperienced shopper, it is best to first visit a reputable shop where one can browse through the multitude of designs, sizes and quality samples prior to purchasing that heirloom quality quilt. One of the best places to start is the Hawaiian Quilt Collection at the Hyatt Regency in Waikiki. Located across the street from the famous beach, this small shop is located on the second level, adjacent to the waterfall. Be sure to express your desire for original handmade products. The address is 2424 Kalakaua Avenue.
12. Tropical Fruit Preserves and Butters
The Hawaiian Island is a fabulous place, particularly, when it comes to fresh fruits. Islanders have a steady seasonal supply of fresh mangoes, bananas, papaya, oranges and pineapple that thrill taste buds, are low in fat and full of vitamins. Today, many have taken to their kitchens to jar these fabulous fruits into jams and jellies that have become rather favorite lately among new and returning Hawaii visitors. Some of the preserves are simple and straightforward, including strawberry and mango, while others are irresistible combinations, such as pineapple and papaya, mango orange and, most notably, passion fruit or lilikoi butter. A jar of this tasteful bounty is in the range of $7-$10 and must be placed in check baggage for travel, no exceptions.
These jars of preserves can be easily found at local stores, including Long’s Drug Stores, ABC stores and even Wal-Mart, however, the very best place to make that treasured purchase for friends and family back home is at the weekly Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market at 4303 Diamond Head Road. Open between 7:30 and 11:00 hours on Saturday mornings, this collection of stalls is where some of the best of Hawaiian food and farm trends are born. Although one can find several vendors selling preserves, there is no doubt that the folks at Honomu Jams and Jellies from the Big Island offer the widest variety and creative combinations.
13. Tedeschi Pineapple Wine
With only two wineries present on the Hawaiian Islands, the making of wine is not nearly to the scale of the more well-known wine producing regions of the world. However, a visit to Tedeschi Winery in Ulupalakua Maui will not disappoint. The upcountry setting offers panoramic views and cool nights that yield a peaceful setting and a steady supply of island-grown wines. One of the more popular wines for gift giving is the Hula O Maui. Expert crafting of fresh pineapples and cool, clear waters from the slopes of Haleakala bring hints of grapefruit, lime and grapefruit, along with a gentle sparkle. Expect to spend $25 for a single bottle. This item must be placed in check baggage for travel, no exceptions.
This sparkling wine can be found at many specialty stores in and around Waikiki, however, since one bottle is the same as another, many will find that a stop at Long’s Drugs Store will be well worth the valuable vacation time. Shoppers at Long’s will be rewarded with realistic prices. The store is quite popular and the islanders know it’s the best place to find a grand variety of items, from toothpaste to tequila. Any islander will tell you that Long’s Drug Stores is the go-to place for everything and anything at reasonable prices. Yes, it was recently purchased by CVS, but this popular store still has retained that special local appeal. Visit Long’s Drug Store in the Ala Moana Shopping Center at 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard.
14. Hawaiian Music CDs
Many still perceive Hawaiian music as ancient chants filled with drum beats, luau music with steel guitars and even tunes that Elvis Presley made famous. Hawaiian music has continued to evolve, over the years, to include a myriad of styles, such as the kahiko chants of ancient Hawaii to the soft lyrical tunes of the modern auwana and slack key styles of Hawaii’s guitar masters, and the upbeat tunes of ukulele songsters. Hawaii’s music culture grows annually and, in recent years, has made notable gains in the world music scene, including Grammy awards. Today, Hawaiian music CDs are readily available for between $15-$20 apiece.
There is no place better in the world to find Hawaiian music than the islands themselves. For those who are interested in the top selling and most popular recording, a visit to Hilo Hattie will be vacation time well spent. With two locations on Oahu and several on the neighboring islands, Hilo Hattie is an island institution that started many years ago as an aloha wear manufacturer. Today, their music collection includes everything from the popular to the classic tunes of Hawaii. Hilo Hattie also offers several discount coupons in local visitor publications.
It is located at Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd #1254, Honolulu, HI 96814, United States.
15. Aloha Wear
Many still think that aloha wear is too colorful, too bright and tacky, but things have changed since those Magnum PI days. Although one can easily find bargain rack prints that are too colorful and bold, today Aloha Shirts, along with women’s dresses, are very stylish with modern designs and lay emphasis on subtle, textured fabrics and embroidery that make them quite fashionable. Don’t overlook fashions for the children, family matching prints and even babies. Tip: When buying for a special occasion, remember that the subtle prints usually lend to more formal occasions, while brighter and more colorful are for more casual occasions. Expect to pay between $50 and $150 for quality aloha wear.
There are many places where one can wander racks and racks of bright and colorful aloha wear, but there is no place better than Hilo Hattie. With two locations on Oahu and several on the neighbor islands, Hilo Hattie is an island institution that started many years ago as an aloha wear manufacturer. Today, they offer several lines of aloha wear that range from the simple and casual to the elegant and formal. Hilo Hattie also offers several discount coupons in local visitor publications.
It is located at Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd #1254, Honolulu, HI 96814, United States.
16. Longboard Island Larger
One of the many stellar creations from the Big Island’s Kona Brewing Company, this silky beer is a distinct Hawaiian-made beverage pleasure. The folks at the Brewery say that the formulation requires a five–week cold fermentation process, which results in a golden straw-colored beer with a subtle spicy aroma and malty body. A bottle of this lightly carbonated creamy beer has been known to hold its own against grilled steak or chicken, pizza or alone with a tropical Hawaiian sunset. Expect a six-pack to run between $12-$14 dollars.
Although a bottle of the some of the island’s best beer can be found at any oceanfront or hotel bar in Waikiki, there is nothing like grabbing a six-pack on hand to quell the craving. Any islander will tell you that Long’s Drug Stores is the go-to place for grand variety of items, from toothpaste to tequila. Long’s has an excellent liquor department and regular weekly sales make shopping there a perfect way to stall sticker shock in its tracks. Although it was recently purchased by CVS, this popular store still has retained that special local appeal. Visit Long’s Drug Store in the Ala Moana Shopping Center at 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard.