After seeing not one but TWO of my blogger friends posting that they were in Honolulu for the holidays, I felt compelled to create a shopping map of one of the towns I know best in the world. (I didn’t live there for 4 years for just the pineapples ya know! [the affordable ones are the ones flown in from the Philippines BTW])
The thing that always got my goat about shopping maps of Honolulu/Waikiki was that the ones distributed there are all sponsored by various corporations – so they leave off a whole slew of great places and instead list a bunch of stores that are way beyond the average person’s price point or not selling fashion, or completely untargeted, or an attempt to corral the Japanese tourists. The stores aren’t good, trendy, cute, affordable – or even unique…what you got on those maps are the stores that cater to the tourists with Aloha shirts, Hawaiian jewelry crafted in precious metals, kukui nut and shell necklaces, leis, coconut bras, crappy touristy gifts, t-shirts with “Hawaii” or “I got Lei’d” on them that shrink after 2 washings (thank you ABC stores), muumuus, personalized mugs, dog shirts…and on the other end of the spectrum, Gucci, Fendi, Chanel, etc. (Actually I find the Japanese tourist shopping maps a little more extensive/exhaustive in shop listings than the English-language ones, just my 2cents there.)
You can also get an individual map of each shopping center on the island – but you have no idea which stores are worth a visit and which you should pass up. Those maps are so misleading! You have a map that says “Shopping in Waikiki” and you end up walking to a store thinking that it’s worth visiting…then find the same pile of junk you found at the store you were just in. A waste of time, in my opinion!
Having lived there for enough time to accumulate all the above touristy crap I can tell you I definitely don’t want more of it! And if you go there, one trip down to the ABC store on the corner or to Hilo Hattie’s will definitely suffice for the tourist in ya. (Better yet – buy at Hilo Hattie’s online or the ABC Store online – and ship it to you at home.) You’re only there for a short time – do you really need to look at more aloha-print shirts??
And the high-priced designer stores? Sure, I’ve been dragged into them by my mother-in-law when she buys three pairs of the same shoes in all the different colorways at Salvatore Ferragamo been lucky enough to visit a few…but why bother? I can’t afford anything in those stores – and the designer stuff is so much cheaper on the internet – whether on Ebay or Gilt or even at a Saks online 70% off sale. (In Hawaii, the designer stuff is about 15 – 35% more than it is in other parts of the U.S.!!) So not worth wasting a Hawaiian minute stopping in, even to look! (And trust me, there’s nothing exclusive to those stores in Waikiki that you can’t find elsewhere…except maybe J. Crew on-the-island…yes that’s the real name of the J. Crew store at Ala Moana Shopping Center…must find out more regarding this anomaly.)
Anyway, unless you’re Japanese loaded, are you really going to visit Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and St. John’s in paradise???
Do you really want to spend an entire day just at one mall?
Well, in case you do or are loaded or want one of those corporate-sponsored maps that lists everything indiscriminately and leaves off all the neat trendy boutiques who didn’t want to fork over the cash for inclusion in said maps, you can check this out here or this here (but you have to click on the individual maps of each shopping center to view them.) Why can’t there just be one single map with everything cool on it???? Okay, there is – a printed map – available in Waikiki. Not on the internet – why, I have no idea. (someone please correct me if I’m wrong???!)
Well, I made one. Here ya go.
(I have failed to list the souvenir-y, gift-y places like The International Marketplace, ABC Stores, Hilo Hattie, Hula Supply Center, King’s Village, Island Treasures Antique Mall, Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, or the Aloha Flea Market (a larger pile of dirtier crap I have not found elsewhere in the world) – because the clothing/accessories at those places is nothing to go out of your way for. If you have a few extra minutes, stop by to say you at least went…but otherwise, those are not places that warrant extra shopping visits, IMHO.)
Ah yes – and for you crafty DIY people – you may want to check out Fabric Mart, Bead It! (Kailua), Kaimuki Dry Goods, Ben Franklin’s, Craft Supply of Honolulu, The Bead Gallery at Ward Centre, or Isle Knits…though all the shops listed about have prices way beyond what you would pay on the mainland for pretty much the same items. (Though if you’re hankering for aloha-print cotton fabrics, Fabric Mart is your best bet – and likely cheaper than on the mainland.)
…and a couple nail art items; I couldn’t resist.
(click for full-size; this thing’s gigantic)
Hope this helps you guys on a trip there!!
Any stores I’ve neglected on the map that you think are a must-see? (I haven’t been back in a year, so I may be a little out of date – I did google “waikiki shopping” to get the most up-to-date, ridiculously untargeted, mapless information I could find:-)
Have fun and aloha!
I wish I had this post when I was in Hawaii last year! Oh well…now I have an excuse to go back. Thanks for the shopping info!
I don't know if I will ever get to Honolulu myself, it is it fabulous that you not only shared your insights on shopping there, but came up with a map. This is awesome!
yes! I agree, I wish I would have had this a month ago! I loved Hawaii and those amazing pinapples that I ate everyday! I spent most of my money at ABC stores, for gifts for friends back home. I did find some interesting (and unique to Texas)shell jewelry at the international market though. But I will definatly take your map if i ever get to go back!
Gosh! Sorry Anonymous & Donna…it just occurred to me to put together a map the other day – instead of drawing all over a printout from Google maps and adding in all the places I love to go. Sorry I was a little late! Yes, International Marketplace has alot of unique, interesting (and often overpriced!) Hawaiian-made items – good for gifts or “island-style” fashion. I didn't really include it on my map since it's on every tourist map you can think of…and I guess when I go to Hawaii I avoid the stuff that screams “I got this in Hawaii!!” and go for other things that I can't find in Oregon or on the internet. If you lived in New York, though – you have a wealth of shopping at your fingertips – so you may not be as impressed with the stores I've put on my map as “must-see” places. Well, to each his own!
Kathryn: No problem! If you ever get to go – grab one of the touristy maps the hotel provides to get your gifts/souvenirs/tourist Hawaiian stuff – and use my map for the chic, trendy stores! Can't go wrong there!
Thanks for your comments!