Let’s begin with a note about where not to buy souvenirs in Honolulu and on Oahu. Unless you’re seeking a simple token for coworkers or the in-laws, skip the ABC Stores and tacky shops on Kalakaua Avenue that hock items made exclusively in China. Instead, find something that is just as authentic as your experience on the island, and feel the mana that comes from putting your vacation dough back into the community. Below is a breakdown of where you need to go to make it happen.
Top 8 Shops and Markets to Find Unique and Authentic Souvenirs to Commemorate Your Vacation in Honolulu Oahu
We begin on the North Shore. By default this side of the island offers a more authentic take on Oahu, and while there a few tacky roadside shops that attempt to pass off Philippine sea shells and Thailand art for the Hawaiian variety, there are some legitimate gems in Haleiwa Town. One of them is Polynesian Treasures, which as it sounds, offers you the opportunity to score locally made carvings and jewelry in addition to traditional Hawaiian vacation knick knacks and even limited edition tiki mugs. View location and hours of operation here.
House of Mana Up Hawai’i
This is a feel-good recommendation that packs some added aloha. House of Mana Up in the Royal Hawaiian Center supports the work of local artisans, designers, and makers on Oahu. It is an epicenter of locally manufactured goods that are good for your mind, body, soul, and home. While there are wares and fashions that fall far outside of the typical souvenir price range, there are lots of smaller and affordable items that make perfect gifts for friends and loved ones on the mainland. What makes this space even more unique, is that feature entirely new creators every six months, which keeps inventory fresh and distinctive. This shop is for those who believe that souvenirs are more than postcards, keychains, and boxes of macadamia nuts. View location and more on House of Mana Up Hawaii.
Kai Ku Hale
This is another North Shore shop that is chock full of treasures of all sorts of shapes, sizes, and price tags. The definitive ocean theme of the store allows you to find a memento that truly honors your special time on this north Pacific island. View more on the types of souvenirs you’ll find by checking out their Instagram.
Waialua Sugar Mill
Doesn’t look like much, but it’s packed with suitcase-stuffers
The Old Wailua Sugar Mill on the North Shore is filled to the brim with all sorts of souvenirs. Sure, they have the obligatory key chains, coasters, stickers, lighters, pins, “vintage” tin signs, and so forth, but they also have authentic Hawaiian goods that make for excellent suitcase stuffers. We’re talking locally made chocolates and candied goodies, handcrafted soaps and lotions, bags of fresh-roasted (on site!) coffee beans, and all sorts of surf paraphernalia. The latter is an especially big draw, as the rustic property is a utopia for surfers and surf lifestyle enthusiasts. View more on the Old Waialua Sugar Mill.
The Only Show in Town
Somewhere between Turtle Bay Resort and the Kahukua Roadside Food Court you’ll come across a colorful marketplace, with three notable vendors. Ohana Island Creations is best known for their massive tiki carvings, but you may be able to find something to buy that can fit in your luggage. There is also Full Fathom Five Sea Glass Emporium which is a really cool place to score authentic sea glass art and jewelry. Both are great options for those who don’t mind spending a little more for their mementos. But when it comes to whimsical souvenirs, divert your attention to the place that looks like a general store in an old western – The Only Show in Town. This shop is full of all sorts of items to whip souvenir shoppers into a frenzy. They have everything from driftwood ceiling-hangers and glass float replicas to vintage Hawaii license plates and t-shirts that let everyone (on the mainland) know where you came from. Be sure snap some souvenir photos of the shop cat who hangs out on the stairs (he doesn’t mind).
Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
There’s a lot of junk at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, but if you don’t mind sifting through the seemingly endless line of vendors all selling the same scrap, you’ll find some authentic yet affordable locally-crafted gems in the midst. View hours of operation and location.
Kakaako Farmers Market at Ward Village
No matter which island you’re on, Hawaii’s farmers markets are ripe for authentic souvenir picking. In addition to produce and baked goods, they serve as a marketplace for local makers to display and sell their goods to visitors who appreciate their crafts. The weekly Kakaako Farmers Market is conveniently located near Waikiki. View hours and location at Ward Village right here.
Haleiwa Farmers Market
Another souvenir-rich farmers market is found at Waimea Valley on the North Shore, each Thursday. While not as grand in stature as the Kakaako market, this one is still teeming with take-home goodies, including packaged spices, bottled sauces, bracelets, necklaces, aloha shirts, and more. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, the adjacent Waimea Valley Gift Shop has many other options. View more on the Haleiwa Farmers Market.