When visiting friends and relatives asked where they should go to buy their Hawaii souvenirs I would tell the the International Market Place is the best place to go. This iconic open air market place in the heart of Waikiki was a maze of shops and kiosks selling every type of souvenir from T-shirts to magnets to pearls. After 56 years the market place has closed, in it’s place will be a brand new 3 story Saks Fifth Avenue and a shopping mall, which will more than likely fill up with more high end designer stores.
A Hawaiian vacation wasn’t complete without a visit to the International Market Place where one could load up on cheap souvenirs; t-shirts under $5, magnets for a couple of bucks, or even dip wooden tongs into a bucket of salt water to choose the oyster that contained the “perfect” pearl for $10. Everyone I’ve ever met who has been to Hawaii remembers this iconic landmark and the souvenirs they bought there. My own grandparents would visit us and insist on a trip to the market; my grandmother claimed it was the best place to buy those shaking hula dolls she gave out to all her friends back in New York.
It seems that Waikiki is looking more and more like New York’s Fifth Avenue and LA’s Rodeo Drive. With the market gone where are tourists to buy their souvenirs? If your idea of a souvenir is a $2000+ Gucci or Vuitton purse or a trinket or bauble from Tiffany’s or Cartier than a walk down Kalakaua Avenue or the Mall Level at Ala Moana Center will be your destination, but if you desire those shaking hula girls, matching Muu and Aloha shirt, or a kid’s T-shirt saying “My Tutu went to Hawaii and all she got me is this T-shirt” then your best bet would be one of the ABC Stores tucked in every corner around Waikiki or possibly a small shop along the Avenue, but even those are getting harder to find as the high rents are pricing them out of existence on Waikiki’s main drag.
Here are some alternatives for your souvenir shopping, you may have to venture further afield to find better prices.
There are 39 ABC Stores on Oahu with several on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.
They seemed to have literally cornered the market when it comes to Hawaiian souvenirs. You’ll find one along Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues, Waikiki’s main roads, and tucked into hotel lobbies and side streets.
I’d equate them to a convenience store gone Hawaiian. They carry everything from Postcards to chocolates, suntan oils to T-shirts, Aloha Wear to beach toys and more. Their prices are reasonable for the area a 2 oz. box of Chocolate covered macadamia nuts is $2.69. If you’re in a rush then really this would be the best place to pop into and pick up a few souvenirs.
Hilo Hattie’s is located in Ala Moana Center’s street level next to Barnes & Noble. They also have a location on Maui and on Kauai..
They simply have EVERYTHING in the way of Hawaiian souvenirs; clothing, sunglasses, tote bags, houseware, soaps, chocolates, candies, jewelry, fresh flowers and fruits, and more.
We’ve gone there to buy hula skirts and music to send to relatives on the mainland for their Luau themed parties. Their prices are fair specially in their clearance racks.
If you’re looking for bargains you might find some at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet in Aiea across the street from Pearl Harbor. The swap meet is open on weekends and Wednesday. You may want to coordinate a trip to the swap meet with a visit to Pearl Harbor.
This open air market is filled with hundreds of vendors selling everything from Aloha Wear to fresh zucchinis and everything in between. Locals shop here for fresh fruits and veggies, local snacks, and whatever else they may find.
If you’re looking for good quality chocolate covered macadamia nut candies, and other local treats you need to stop by Menehune Mac’s Chocolate factory on Waikamilo Road in Kalihi.
This locally owned and operated company makes their chocolates in small batches using the finest ingredients. Along with the standard Milk and Dark chocolate they have flavored chocolates, our favorite is the Pineapple Snow – mac nuts covered with pineapple flavored white chocolate. The factory offers factory tours on Saturdays and every participant makes their own small box of chocolates to take home. Cost of the tour is $10 and reservations are required. Click here for more info.
If you don’t have time to visit the factory you can find a limited selection of Menehune Mac products at Neiman Marcus at the Ala Moana Shopping Center and seasonal Kiosks at the local mall around the island during the holidays.
Another yummy souvenir are gourmet cookies from the Honolulu Cookie Company. They have many locations on Oahu and 3 on Maui.
Their signature pineapple shaped shortbread cookies are individually wrapped and come in a variety of local flavors including pineapple, coconut, mango, and lilikoi. You can buy them topped with a small hand placed square of dried fruit of dipped in milk, dark, or white chocolate.
If you’re looking for something different and want to try one of the favorite local snacks try some “li hing mui” crack seeds and other asian snacks. These are basically dried plums, cherries, or other fruit dipped or rolled in salt and other flavors. They are sort of sweet and tart and fruity.
Stop by one of Wholesale Unlimited’s 7 locations around Oahu for a great selection of crack seeds, cookies, jams, jellies, and other locally made treats.
The local Walmarts have a small section of Hawaiian souvenirs and treats.
There are 7 Walmarts on Oahu, 1 each on Maui and Kauai, and 2 on the Big Island of Hawaii.
For chocolates, coffees, and other Hawaiian treats you’ll usually find the best prices at Walmart.
Target also has a small section of Hawaiian souvenirs and treats. There are 2 Targets on Oahu and 1 each on Maui and The Big Island.
Kmart also has a small section of Hawaiian souvenirs and treats. They have 4 locations on Oahu, and 1 each on Maui, Kaui, and The Big Island.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
Longs Drugs a long time Hawaii company became part of the CVS chain a while back.
Though they are a CVS pharmacy they keep the name Longs Drugs on the islands.
They have a small section of Hawaiian treats and souvenirs at very reasonable prices, specially when they are on sale. There a many Longs Drugs located throughout the state.