Souvenir Shopping, Honolulu (Self Guided)

It would be a pity to leave Honolulu without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Honolulu, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
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Souvenir Shopping Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping
Guide Location: USA » Honolulu (See other walking tours in Honolulu)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.8 km
Author: Daniel
Martin and MacArthur

1) Martin and MacArthur

What to buy here: Koa Accessories. 

One of the more precious gifts one can take home 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. 

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 at 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 flagship store is located at the Ward Centre at 1200 Ala Moana Boulevard. Store Hours are: Monday through Saturday 10AM-9PM, Sundays 10AM-6PM.
Long’s Drug Store

2) Long’s Drug Store

What to buy here: 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 in the islands these bottles of oil offer the perfect addition to a Macadamia nut pesto, salad dressing and sautéed fish. Remember, this item must be placed in check baggage for travel, no exceptions.

A single bottle of oil is listed at around $10. 

Although a bottle of the 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, 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. Store hours are: Monday – Sunday: 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Maui Divers Jewelry

3) Maui Divers Jewelry

What to buy here: 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 is 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. 

Although many shops and boutiques on Oahu offer a limited quantity of black pearls, there is no shop more accommodating than Maui Divers Jewelry. Located in several in the very heart of Honolulu, Maui Divers has been in business since 1958 where they 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 during the hours of 9:00AM and 3:00PM. Visitors to the design center can opt for a free stop at the Ala Moana Shopping Center via Maui Divers shuttle before returning to Waikiki hotels.
Fabric Mart

4) Fabric Mart

What to buy here: 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 more subtle 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.

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 a 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. Store hours are: Monday - Friday 9 am-6 pm.
Bob’s Ukulele

5) Bob’s Ukulele

What to buy here: Ukulele. 

What has come to be an icon of Hawaii and Hawaiian music is not a Hawaiian instrument at all! Brought to Hawaii by Portuguese who arrived by ship in the early 1900’s 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 factory in the islands, but by far the most popular on Oahu include Kamaka and Koaloha. Today, Hawaii has embraced the ukulele in song and celebration. Expect a genuine high quality Hawaii made ukulele to range anywhere between $500 and $7000 dollars. 

Before heading out to scour the factories for that perfect musical instrument, a stop at Bob’s Ukulele at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. They offer a huge selection of everything from soprano to concert and tenor models. They offer the casual or serious shopper a wide variety of woods and styles. Kamaka and Koaloha are well represented in their inventory. Store hours are daily 10AM-10PM.

6) ABC

What to buy here: Koloa Rum 

With origins on the Garden Island, Koloa Rum is the first and only rum distillery on Kauai. Opened since 2009, the rum distillery is located in Kalaheo where traditional methods of using 1210 gallon copper pots, columns and condensers built in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are still used. The equipment was refurbished then shipped to Hawaii 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 or to replace 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 are open late into the evening and are always well-lit and welcoming. You can find one of numerous shops at the Hyatt Regency at Waikiki at 2424 Kalakaua Avenue. Store hours are: 6:00AM - 12:00AM.

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Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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Pineapples, surfing, flower garlands and colorful shirts are the most distinct things coming to mind in association with Hawaii. Still, when it's time to go leisurely-pleasurely in the remotest part of the United States, it is good to know what is there exactly worth picking up in Honolulu, as...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Honolulu for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Honolulu has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Honolulu, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.