Tiki mugs are likely the most sought after non-edible “souvenir” on Oahu. Because of the demand you’d think that the island would be littered with these Polynesian treasures. But in all reality, they can be a little hard to come by.
Sure, you can find a diluted version of them from one of the three-dozen ABC stores scattered about the Waikiki area. However, these assembly line drinking vessels are about as as authentic as the ukuleles found on the same shelf.
If you are looking to either add to your well-curated collection, start one, or simply bring an authentic item back from the island visit one or more of the following shops and studios below.
Ultimate Guide for Where to Find and Buy Authentic Collectible Tiki Mugs on Oahu
1. Gecko’z South Sea Arts in Makakilo
When it comes to tiki mugs, Oahu is not quite as retail friendly as Maui, home to two of a very short list of master mug makers on the planet, Rob Dawes (@TikiRob) and Scott Taylor (@TikiPop) of BeachBumz both in Kihei. Thankfully, one of the world’s best (and definitely the most creative) is on Oahu. His name, is Gecko, of South Sea Arts. Located in Makakilo, you’re looking at a 45 minute drive (1 1/2 hr on The Bus) to this leeward destination from Waikiki. Convenient? No. Worth it? Damn right. Ceramic mugs and other decorative masterpieces line the shelves and walls of South Sea Arts. If you time it right you may have the first glance at something special fresh out of the kiln. Forget the Honolulu Arts District, this is where authentic island crafts exist. View more, including how to make an appointment to visit the gallery, on South Sea Arts here.
2. La Mariana Sailing Club Gift Shop in Honolulu
If you’re not looking for one of South Sea Arts’ one-of-da-kine mugs yet still want a piece of Gecko to add to your collection, then stop by the La Mariana Sailing Club gift shop. This historical landmark / tiki bar located at the Keehi Lagoon marina off of Sand Island Access Road is more convenient (18 minute drive or 45 minutes on The Bus) and offers up some great Hawaiian pub food, cocktails, and of course, tiki mugs. Have some pupus and Mai Tai’s and then ask the manager to open up the gift shop before you leave (it’s always locked). Inside, is a collection of Gecko’s made-for-market mugs among other island souvenirs. View location information and more about La Mariana Sailing Club here.
3. Polynesian Treasures in Haleiwa
If you’re tiki mug hunting on the North Shore then Polynesian Treasures in the North Shore Marketplace is it. This small shop is jam packed with authentic Polynesian arts and crafts, including South Sea Arts mugs (beginning to notice a theme?). View location information and more on Polynesian Treasures here.
4. Kai Ku Hale in Haleiwa
Kai Ku Hale (@Kai_Ku_Hale) is a great shop in the heart of Haleiwa that sells local art, beach decor, vintage treasures, handmade jewelry, and more. Within that eclectic collection of goods you’ll find tiki mugs from South Sea Arts along with a few ceramics that could pass for vases or drinking vessels all the same. Come see for yourself. Kai Ku Hale is found at 66-145 Kamehameha Highway.
5. Bailey’s Antiques in Honolulu
You can find vintage tiki mugs on the shelves of Bailey’s Antique and Aloha Shirts, which is located up Kapahulu Avenue, just a 10-minute walk from the Honolulu Zoo at Waikiki Beach. The mugs are honestly overpriced for not being all that rare (you can find similar ones at GoodWill, etc.) but if you’re in a pinch it’s worth a look. Plus Bailey’s is just a fun kitschy place to visit. View more about Bailey’s Antiques here.
6. Tiki’s Bar & Grill in Waikiki
While purists may frown upon any tiki mug bearing the “Made in China” stamp on its underside the ones found within the Tiki’s Bar & Grill gift shop have a bit more island cred, designed exclusively for this local eatery and watering hole. The mugs here are fun, colorful, and animated and admittedly add flavor to any collection. At just $12-15 with a cocktail of your choice you can’t help but look upon the mug when back at your home and have nothing but fond memories. Isn’t that what this whole tiki mug collecting thing is all about anyways? Plus, Tiki’s is located in Waikiki, so you don’t have to fight rush hour traffic to grab a mug. View the complete Tiki’s Bar & Grill review here.