Big Island

Holu’aloa Ukulele Gallery

76-5942 Mamalahoa Highway, Kona, HI

There’s nothing unique about directing visitors on the Big Island to a shop that sells ukuleles. Next to Macadamia Nuts and the Duty Free Dole 3 Pack of pineapples at the airport, purchasing a souvenir ukulele on any one of the Hawaiian islands is tourist prerequisite number three.

But a trip to the Hilu’aloa Ukulele Gallery in Kona has us singing a different tune. At the Holu’aloa Ukulele Gallery, you get to make your own ukulele. The catch? You had better be in town for a few weeks.

Ukulele workshop owner Sam Rosen holds 70 hour courses over the duration of ten days – that’s 7 hours per day – where students immerse themselves in the process of building their very own ukulele, made from the Big Island’s most prized natural possession – Koa – the rich, curly, butterscotch toned wood seen in resorts and high end galleries in Hawaii. While 10 seven hour days of building, shaping, sanding, stringing and tuning doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, the very first day wisely has participants shape a small thin plank of koa into the silhouette shape that the fun island instrument is known for, and from that rewarding moment on, the pride of creating something so special (and actually recognizable) takes over and your hooked from there on in.

Sam is also a pleasure to be around. His patient demeanor, helpful candor, story telling, and ukulele strum sessions throughout the day have you eagerly anticipating the finish line to the finished product so that you too can channel your inner Israel Kamakawiwoole. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is only 10 days and a well worth-it *$1000 away.

*$1000 for a rewarding course like this AND the indigenous koa wood used to make your personal masterpiece is a bargain as far as we are concerned.

Happy strumming!