After a few days of surfing in Waikiki or hiking Koko Head Crater, strap on your cutest walking shoes and hit the pavement. Find the perfect souvenir that will invoke memories of salty breezes and warm skin that don’t scream, “hula girl bobble head!” Although, those knickknacks are pretty fun, too.
Royal Hawaiian Center
Hawaiian royalty once spent their days in the heart of Waikiki, relaxing under more than 10,000 coconut trees. In the late 18th century, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop retired here. Today, Royal Hawaiian Center perpetuates Bishop’s commitment to Hawaiian education by offering complimentary cultural learning classes such as lei making, quilting, hula and ukulele. The Center spans three city blocks and offers more than 100 designer apparel and gifts. Find high-end retailers like Cartier, Salvatore Ferragamo, kate spade new york and Tory Burch as well as local shops such as Aloha Aina Boutique, Island Soap & Candle Works, and Koi Honolulu.
Ala Moana Center
Minneapolis has the Mall of America, Chicago has the Magnificent Mile, and Oahu has Ala Moana Center, the largest open-air mall in the world. Once a swampland, the Center transformed the coral-covered land in the mid-90s to the shopping mecca it is today. With almost 300 retailers and over 70 restaurants, it’d be impossible to hit every store in one day.
Found just west of Waikiki, the Center offers something for everyone. Lined kukui trees and koi ponds, shoppers can find high-end retailers like Chanel, Balenciaga and Harry Winston to big-name department stores like Nordstrom, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus to chain stores like Forever 21, Express, Gap, and Aldo. Located in the heart of the mall is the newly renovated Center Stage, which showcases over 800 performances a year. Once the stores have closed, several restaurants and bars keep the nightlife going.
Minutes away from Ala Moana Center, Ward Centers spans five city blocks, offering more than 130 stores, over 40 dining options, a 16-screen cinema and entertainment center. Sniff out designer deals at Nordstrom Rack or TJ Maxx, browse women’s fashion at boutiques like Eden in Love, Dolce and MisFortune Hawaii or find great island wear at T&C Surf Designs, Rix Islandwear and Cinnamon Girl. Island Olive Oil Company carries a wide selection of flavored extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars and offers make-your-own taster sets. Red Pineapple stocks an eclectic collection of knickknacks—find Dean and Deluca spices and rubs, stationary, soaps and household accessories. Stop for high tea at Monarch Tea Room, located within Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii, which not only carries Hawaiian cultural fiction and non-fiction books, but also jams and spices, jewelry, cards and crafts. After a day of shopping cardio, try craft brews at REAL, a gastropub. If you have a stomach of steel, try their spicy pickles, which are soaked marinated with ghost chili peppers.
Once home to fishing villages and salt ponds, then warehouses and mini strip malls, Kakaako is emerging as a creative hub for artists, creative thinkers and entrepreneurs. Tour colorful wall-sized murals and enjoy free Wi-Fi for nine city blocks.
Starting at Auahi Street, find modern kitchenware, jewelry and home décor at Quince, then check out modern home furnishings at PAD, curated by Trading Spaces interior designer Lauren Makk. Just a few steps away, try Paiko, a botanical boutique, featuring cut flowers, local seeds, minimalist vases and succulents galore. Nearby, check out Illest for men, women, and, kids clothing and accessories, with designs exclusive to Hawaii.
With a mix of high rises and brick buildings serving as a backdrop, Oahu’s downtown has the feel of a mini city. Near the historic Hawaii Theatre, explore a bevy of boutiques. Across the theatre, stop by Fighting Eel’s flagship headquarters and browse through a great selection of versatile beach and swimwear. Custom design your own t-shirt at Blank Canvas, then stop by House of Aria for wallet-friendly women’s fashion.
Stroll down Pauahi Street to Ginger13 and shop her namesake jewelry line, potted succulents and small gifts. Stop at Barrio Vintage to hunt a one-of-a-kind retro outfit, then check out Owens & Co. for everything from stationary, candles, home décor and jewelry. In4mation carries skate and street wear for men and women and are known for their popular “hi” t-shirts. Roberta Oaks carries fun patterns for women, men and children. Further ocean-side, head to Homecoming for men and women’s fashion, and drool over their extensive collection of Jeffrey Campbell shoes. Street parking can be tough to find in the downtown area, but the Waikiki Trolley Red Line stops in Chinatown every 40 minutes.
Home to King Kalakaua’s ostrich farm in the 19th century, Kaimuki is one of the oldest neighborhoods on Oahu. Just inland of Diamond Head, the largely residential community features a mix of businesses and new restaurants and shops. Kaimuki boasts a great restaurant district, with everything from cornflake French toast at Koko Head Café to warm garlic naan at Himalayan Kitchen to handcrafted black sesame scoops at Via Gelato. Interspersed between this restaurant haven is a healthy handful of specialty shops. Pick out an island-inspired onesie for keiki at Sugarcane, sort through locally made accessories at Drift or stock up on jewelry-making supplies at Bead It, Inc. Browse vintage Hawaiiana and collectibles at Surf ‘N Hula Hawaii and A Place of Vintage.
On Waialae Avenue, find Kahala Mall, a small neighborhood mall, featuring Macys, Whole Foods, over 100 specialty shops and restaurants and an eight-screen cinema. The indoor center is a great stop for boutique shopping without getting a sunburn. Try 33 Butterflies, Adore, Ohelo Road and In My Closet for women’s fashion. For men’s island wear, try Quiksilver Board Room or Reyn Spooner. Magnolia carries handpicked antique furniture, home furnishings and bath and body products. For gently loved consignment goods, try your luck at Pzazz to seek designer deals. The technologically inclined will be happy to recharge at The Apple Store, Gamestop and RadioShack.
Formerly home to sugarcane fields, Waikele is now a bargain-hunter's paradise. If you love unearthing designer deals, it’s worth taking the rental car or a round-trip shuttle to the Leeward side of the island to find great deals at Waikele Center and Waikele Premium Outlets. At Waikele Center, find a new wardrobe at Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Gap Factory Store and Old Navy Outlet. Just a block away, discover over 50 designer and name-brand outlet stores at Waikele Premium Outlets, featuring A|X Armani Exchange, Adidas, Barneys New York Outlet, BCBG Max Azria, Coach, Guess, kate spade new york, Nine West, Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th and more.