During your visit to the islands, you might experience Hawaii shopping mania. What is it? Well, since you are probably going to fall in love with Hawaii, your impulse will be to buy everything to take home with you.
Have you ever noticed that many of the things you buy on vacation end up in the trash or collecting dust in a box or in your closet? I don't want that to happen to the things you buy in Hawaii.
Wouldn't you rather spend your money on unique Hawaiian gifts that others will truly appreciate? Let me help you live the true Hawaii shopping experience...We'll simply call it "Hawaii shopping".
Hawaii Shopping--Food Items
One of the things you will find most enjoyable about your trip is the variety of food available. Don't be shy to try new things...Hawaii is extremely unique in the wide range of cuisine that is offered.
See what you like and then...Why not fill up your Hawaii shopping cart with a taste of the islands? Who knows? You may even discover your new favorite food!
Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that grows coffee. Kona coffee is world renowned. Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy a fresh taste of the islands at home?...Or imagine how thrilled your guests would be to be served coffee from Hawaii at your next dinner party.
100% pure Kona coffee can be rather expensive ($18 for a 10 oz bag), but you can get Kona blends for a fraction of that. The blends are available in some exotic unique flavors.
Listen to some of these...vanilla macadamia nut, chocolate macadamia nut, and coconut. During the holiday season, they also come in specially decorated bags so they make the perfect stocking stuffer.
Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee Company and Lion Coffee are two of the popular brands (Lion has a little stronger taste between the two).
You can find these at any of the local grocery stores. I shop for mine at Longs Drug Stores or Costco (a warehouse type store like Sam's Club).
Longs can be found on Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island. Longs has weekly sales from Sunday to Wednesday.
Costco has warehouses on Oahu (3 locations soon to be 4...YEH!), Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island.
- Fresh Island Fruit
Exotic tropical fruit is unbelievably juicy, tasty, and sweet.
However, before any of it can leave Hawaii, it needs to be treated or quarantined to protect U.S. agriculture from pests such as the fruit fly.
Hawaii is the only state under federal fruit fly quarantine. What this means is that only fruit that is specially treated can be taken off of the islands.
Here are some mouth watering fruits to try on your visit. The ones with asteriks can be bought to export.
- *Papaya* (pictured)
- Passion Fruit or Lilikoi
- Apple Bananas
For a truly authentic Hawaii shopping experience, stop at the one of the fruit stands along the side of the road. The fruit will be really fresh (like off the tree this morning), and you will help support the local farmers.
Of course, you can find fresh fruit at the local grocery stores too.
The Dole Plantation on Oahu (www.dole-plantation.com) sells pineapple and papaya that have already been treated, so you can take them home with you, or have them shipped directly.
- Salad Dressing
Hawaii is home to some of the most original and best-tasting salad dressings in the world. They are the creative creations of Hawaii's world class chefs.
Try to imagine how these flavors taste...
- Pineapple-Shoyu (locals call soy sauce shoyu)
- Maui Onion Ponzu
- Creamy Oriental Dressing from chef Sam Choy
- Creamy Papaya Seed Dressing
Besides using on salads, these dressings can be used as marinades which will make your barbeque the envy of the neighborhood.
My favorite is the "Swiss Inn Salad Dressing". I'm a little biased because I worked at the Swiss Inn Restaurant for six years...and let me tell you...this dressing sold like crazy.
The Swiss Inn was voted among Hawaii's Top 20 for over 10 years. The now retired owner and chef, Martin Wyss, a recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Hawaii Culinary Hall of Fame, created the salad dressing.
Martin and his wife, Jeanie, now manufacture and market their salad dressing throughout Oahu. They can be found at Longs Drugs Stores, Times Supermarkets, and Foodland.
Note--As of this writing, The Swiss Inn salad dressing needs to be refrigerated so it should be enjoyed only while you are IN Hawaii.
The other dressings can be taken home for your enjoyment and can be found at Longs Drugs Stores and the local supermarkets.
- Jams and Jelly
With such great fruit in Hawaii, you are bound to have great jams and jelly. Try some when you eat out and buy the ones you like to take home with you.
Some local favorites are Guava and Passion Fruit (Lilikoi). Guava jelly is so popular a local musician wrote a song about it (Seriously!). Maybe you'll even hear it on one of the local radio stations while you're out "Hawaii shopping".
You can find these at any grocery store or Longs Drugs Stores.
- Macadamia Nuts
What else can you say about these famous nuts? Not only are they delicious but they are extremely good for you.
They are cholesterol free, and contain 80% monounsaturated or "good" fat, which is more than even olive oil. Studies have also suggested that including macadamia nuts as a part of your healthy diet may help reduce harmful cholesterol, high blood pressure and the risk of coronary heart disease.
They come in every flavor imaginable such as dry-roasted, chocolate-covered, honey-roasted, and Maui onion and garlic so you've gotta try some.
They can be bought almost anywhere. I've found the best prices at Costco and Longs Drug Stores.
Clothes is one of the most obvious and popular things to buy. Let me give you a few suggestions on "Hawaii shopping" for clothes here.
T-shirts are always a great thing to buy for yourself or as gifts.
On Oahu, you can get some great deals (3 for $20) at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. It is a giant flea market that is a fun Hawaii shopping experience for everyone. It operates on Wednesday and weekend mornings at the Aloha Stadium.
On Maui, they have a swap meet every Saturday in Kahului.
Another very popular item is aloha shirts. I would suggest you buy aloha wear from stores the locals shop at. This way, you know you are getting quality stuff while "Hawaii shopping". Enjoy this short video on Hawaiian fashion designer Sig Zane...
Some other popular and reputable brands are Tori Richard, Kahala, and Reyn Spooner. Good quality aloha wear is not cheap though. Aloha shirts from these designers will run at least $50 and women's dresses will run at least $70.
Some good places to shop for casual island wear are:
- The department stores like Macy's. The local department store chain, Liberty House, was bought out by Macy's and they've kept it "local style".
- Surf shops like Local Motion, Hawaiian Island Creations, and Town & Country.
- On Oahu, a good store for aloha attire is Reyn's. Every year, they come out with an annual Pro Bowl aloha shirt.
For that golfer that you know, get them a golf shirt from one of the world famous golf courses. Here are some suggestions:
- The Sony Open is played at Waialae Country Club on Oahu.
- The Mercedes Open is played at Kapalua on Maui.
- The Grand Slam of Golf is played at Poipu Bay on Kauai.
One of the most unique Hawaiian gifts you can buy while "Hawaii shopping" is Hawaiian Heirloom Jewelry.
What is Hawaiian Heirloom Jewelry? It is custom hand-engraved bracelets, rings, and pendants. Each piece showcases designs inspired by Hawaii's tropical flora. Most people put their name on it either in English or Hawaiian (kuuipo is Hawaiian for sweetheart).
It is a very popular among locals. If you look, you will notice most local women have one or more of the bracelets as well as a ring or a pendant.
They can take anywhere from about one to three weeks to make so you can order ahead of time and pick it up when you are there. Otherwise, you can order when you are there and have it shipped to you.
There are many retailers so be wary of sub-par products. You can generally judge quality by weight. The cheaper products will feel hollow and light. The better products will feel more solid.
The shops I can recommend from experience are:
--They are a wholesaler that makes Hawaiian Heirloom jewelry for many of the big stores in Hawaii.
- Royal Hawaiian Heritage Jewelry (www.rhhj.com)
Hawaiian Leis and Flowers
Hawaii is home to some of the most exquisite flowers and plants in the world...which of course brings us to the making of the famous Hawaiian lei.
In fact, there may not be a more recognized symbol of Hawaii than the lei. The history of the lei goes all the way back to the ancient Hawaiians when chiefs used them for many sacred purposes.
When tourism came to Hawaii in the early 1900s, lei use became widespread to include locals (kama'aina) and visitors (malahini) alike...just like it is today.
Today, lei giving is almost automatic at certain special occasions like graduations, weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries. If my graduation picture was not so old (before digital cameras), I would show you how I, like most graduates, could barely see because the leis were piled so high on my neck.
So if you are planning a wedding, ordering some Hawaiian leis would create a beautiful island atmosphere. My wife and I got married in Minnesota and we had leis shipped up for the wedding party and some of our family. Or maybe you are planning a luau or a 50th birthday party...these would all be great occasions for lei giving.
Click here if you are interested in getting fresh Hawaiian leis and flowers delivered straight to your doorstep from the orchid capital of the world...Hilo, on the Big Island.
I think this is one of the best things you can buy while "Hawaii shopping". Hawaiian music is a mixture of folk, country, reggae, and pop. It borrows from various world genres but also has its own unique island personality. The music can range from ballads to lullabies to instrumentals to reggae-pop.Enjoy the short video below about Hawaiian music and culture...
An example of its mass appeal is the song, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," performed by the late Hawaiian musician, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. This song was featured on the hit television series, Party of Five and the movies, Finding Forrestor and 50 First Dates.
Why is Hawaiian music such a great thing to buy while "Hawaii shopping?"
Well, not only does Hawaiian music have great melodies...The lyrics talk about the island experience. They talk about the sights that you see, the flowers that you smell, the ocean that you hear, the cuisine that you taste, and the sand that you touch.
In other words, the music will involve all of your senses. I once read that music is the only medium that uses both sides of your brain. So listening to Hawaiian music can actually put you back in Hawaii!
While you are there, you can tune into Hawaiian music at KCCN FM100 (kccnfm100.com), or KINE FM105. You can also listen to KCCN FM100 online at www.kccnfm100.com so you can listen at home too! In fact, that is what I am listening to at this moment...:)
Hawaii also has a great local Christian radio station called "The Fish" at FM95.5.
You can buy Hawaiian music at any of the local music stores or I usually look at Costco. Otherwise, Hawaiian music can be found online at Amazon.com or iTunes.
If you would like to listen to some Hawaiian music while you browse this site, click here.
I hope you enjoy your Hawaii shopping experience. If you would like to share other "Hawaii shopping" ideas, feel free to
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