When you think of coming to Hawaii, shopping is (probably) not the first thing you’d put on your list of things to do. Most people head to the beaches, enjoy the great nightlife, or visit many of the cultural and historical attractions that the islands have to offer.
Shopping can almost be an afterthought, done on your way home when you realize you promised Aunt Jackie that tiki mug, a hawaiian shirt for your grandpa, or a variety of knick knacks to take home to friends. There are actually more places to shop than you realize in Hawaii, so keep those eyes peeled for deals!
Hawaii’s shopping malls are naturally a great place to start browsing for items to take home. Because of our gorgeous weather, many are open-air, like Ala Moana Shopping Center on Oahu, which is the largest in the country! You may be surprised to see national brands that you can find back home, including anchor tenants like Macy’s, Sears, Target, Walmart, Nordstrom’s, or Neiman Marcus. However, most shopping centers in Hawaii will often have a mix of locally owned stores and boutiques among the more familiar brands. Many malls often have keiki talent shows or local performances too, so you can enjoy free entertainment while you shop. And when it’s time to refuel, food courts will show off the diversity of Hawaii’s populations with a variety of ethnic options side-by-side.
Besides being a great photo op and a delicious source for local produce, baked goods, and prepared food items, Hawaii’s farmer’s markets will have an abundance of gift items to take home, including local honey, salad dressings, and other foodie finds. Talk story with the vendors for recipes and ways to use the products, and get the scoop on their favorite stores, boutiques, and other things to do with your time in Hawaii.
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Hawaii has a strong contingent of local crafters who produce beautiful, handmade items for you to enjoy. Artisans craft items such as hand-woven hats, koa wood bowls, musical instruments like ukulele, and more. You will find original jewelry pieces using local shells, hand-stitched quilts, and Hawaiian Christmas ornaments among the treasures at local craft fairs. Keep your eyes out for notices on these events, they are often held at local elementary schools, hotels, and other venues. You can even find local items on Etsy.com by searching for items in Hawaii.
Fashion is alive and well in Hawaii, especially after local boy Andy South appeared on the hit reality show Project Runway. Hawaii has a handful of talented designers with boutiques and retail locations throughout the islands. Small shops, including those that sell swimwear and other clothing items can often be found around the main shopping areas (but away from the major shopping centers.) A popular local blog for all things fashionable is Lei Chic.
ABC Stores and Grocery Stores
This may seem like an odd suggestion for a place to shop in Hawaii, but you will definitely notice that ABC stores are ubiquitous in Hawaii, especially in tourist areas such as Waikiki. While you can definitely find an assortment of kitschy Hawaiian trinkets here, upon closer inspection, you’ll also notice “Made in Hawaii” goods (food items in particular are popular here) including candies, salad dressings, jewelry, and other items that can make great souvenirs. Not to mention, you can stock up on your basics, like sunscreen and bottled water while you’re there! Grocery stores will also have an ethnic food aisle, and popular local snacks such as crack seed or candies will be easy to find. Whole Foods stores on Oahu and Maui also take care to feature local vendors whenever possible. A local chain of drugstores called Longs (now owned by CVS) is another great place to stock up on local products. I even saw a SPAM cookbook the last time I was in Longs!
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>> Read more about Farmers Markets in Hawaii
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>> Shopping Shuttles and Trolleys in Waikiki
>> Read more Things to Do in Hawaii
>> Airfare to Hawaii
>> Search current Hawaii Travel Deals