Tell Us What Makes The Best Hawaii Souvenirs

Tell Us What Makes The Best Hawaii Souvenirs

With carry-on luggage being the way to go (at least until airlines decide to charge), finding those perfect and right-sized Hawaii souvenirs for you and your loved ones is a must. If you’ve come up with interesting souvenirs to bring home that can pack easily and not add much weight, be sure to post them below.

Here are some thoughts to get you started:

  1. Flat Rate Priority Mail boxes from USPS are economical and come in handy should you run out of space. You can send from the Waikiki or Ala Moana Shopping Center post offices. Another suggestion is to pack a small nylon duffel for the trip home.
  2. Longs and Wal-Mart usually offer a large selection of local food products and gifts at a discount.
  3. Craft Fairs and Farmers Markets make great stops on all the islands and help support local Hawaii artisans. We’re blessed with a plethora of artists who create everything from honey to jewelry, and baked goods to sculpture.
  4. T-Shirts from ABC stores and Wal-Mart make nice gifts. I’ve also purchased Crazy Shirts for years and they last virtually forever. You’ll find discounted seconds at the Ward Center Crazy Shirt store.
  5. Hawaiian Music CD’s are light and can help you dream of Hawaii during a cold winter.
  6. Buy Hawaiian clothes that you can enjoy both here on your trip as well as when you get home. Examples include slippers (flip-flops), shirts, pareos, bathing attire and more.  They’ll be all the more meaningful at home  and can help bring your Hawaii vacation back to life.
  7. Post cards can turn into nice stationery cards. Wal-Mart usually sells for 18 cents each. Or consider turning a key chain into a holiday ornament.

Please comment with your ideas and tips. What’s your favorite or unusual Hawaii souvenir suggestion?

Subscribe to our email updates.

27 Comments

  1. Darla (3 years ago)

    I felt our best souvenir was the Southernmost Point in the USA t-shirt from Kalae Creations that we just so happened to stumble upon while taking a drive down the very long and narrow South Point Road, in Naalehu. Their postcard is also nice. The t-shirt reads, “I Have Been to the Southernmost Point in the USA, have you?” I didn’t even know that the southernmost point was there. I thought it was in Florida. And guess what? You can only get these items down at South Point (the source), or from the online store. You will not find it in stores. A must have for people who are traveling around the world! I bought a few to take back home to the family.

    We also found some cool artwork on small granite slabs in Naalehu. Very creative people in a remote, yet beautiful area! The pictures alone are amongst the greatest of souvenirs. So much beautiful things that you want to take home that are locally made, but can’t! Lots of “Farmers Markets” and so many souvenirs! Simply the best state in my opinion!!

  2. Robin (3 years ago)

    There is nothing more to add to the list of wonderful ideas everyone else has contributed (because I’ve done it all). BUT, I have gone to Macy’s (yes, Macy’s) at Ala Moana, in the housewares department and came home with a beautiful set of Melamine dishes with beautiful tropical motifs – such as palm fronds in different colors, and tropical flowers – at reasonable prices. You will not find this in any Macy’s on the Mainland – it’s unique to the islands and perfect for a luau. They also have ceramic dishes in beautiful tropical designs (but they are too heavy to schlep home).

    Also, Macy’s has the largest variety of summer sandals that you don’t see on the Mainland. It’s not indicative of Hawaii, but no one else will have them, and you’ll know where you got them when you wear them at home.

    Oh, just thought of something else. Le Sport Sac has special designs only found in Hawaii with different Hawaiian prints. They made a special design for Hawaii’s 50th anniversary. I have their travel tote, purse and wallet.

  3. Joyce (3 years ago)

    Local Motion t-shirts are my teenagers favorite souvenier!

  4. Iris (3 years ago)

    Calendars from each island or all islands together are available at Longs. They pack well, and you can use the pics for scrapbooking or frame them after you are done with the calendar. Placemats and coasters from local craft fairs and discount stores are easy to pack too, and help you reminisce about your trip as you dine. Hawaiian Salt, Hawaiian Heirloom Jewelry, anything Koa wood, Kona Coffee, coffee mugs and island snacks like seeds, jams & jellies, Hurricane Popcorn are some of my favorites too. Some things you just can’t get or are hard to get in the mainland, those are the kind of things I try to focus on.

    • Rob (3 years ago)

      Mahalo for your comments and suggestions! I think this is going to be one of our most popular posts on Beat of Hawaii. Watch for a follow-up soon with some of our favorite ideas.

      Aloha,
      Rob @Beat of Hawaii

  5. Kim (3 years ago)

    For a sweetly scented and colorful memory of the islands, order exotic tropical flowers online. Any Hawaiian florist will do this, I had great success with bouquets from Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and bloomsofhawaii.com. They ship for you, nothing to pack! Colorful shopping bags, farmer’s market soaps, honey, and jewelry are small but special. Akuacreative hand printed art shirts from Jeremiah K. White (akuacreative.com) are a favorite from the Maku’u market in Pahoa on the Big Island. For myself, I buy the orchids at the market for only $4 or $5 each, set them around my place during my stay, then plant them in the garden before I leave. Someday there will be masses of orchids growing at my favorite Hawaiian hideaway.

  6. AlohaKarina (3 years ago)

    OH! One more thing I forgot to add: you can get a ton of inexpensive luggage tags, shoulder bags, aprons, cell phone charms, little dresses, and lots of fun little goodies from the Swapmeet at Aloha Stadium!

  7. AlohaKarina (3 years ago)

    It’s amazing how much great stuff is at WalMart. You listed all my favorites here. However, don’t forget CDs, mango body butter, and all sorts of other lovely goodies from the Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market. We also like those little freebie Hilo Hattie Shell lei, and hang them around our lamps (thanks to Auntie Lani for that tip). You can do that with other lei too (Kukui is very masculine and my husband doesn’t object at all).

    Costco is another great resource. If you want to bring home a LOT of little treats, it’s the best way to get a big container of Mac Nuts. Of course you have to unbox them to conserve space, and either ship or carry them home. I also bought some Hawaiian cookbooks so I could make my favorites (mochiko chicken, pao doce, lilikoi crisps), and a big bag of Hawaiian sea salt so I could make kalua pig…no I don’t dig a pit. I use my crock pot.

    I still love Long’s and hope they never turn into CVS like they did on da Mainland. CVS has a different store layout, and it doesn’t feel right. I’ve bought some fun stuff there.

    Other good souvenirs–fabric from Fabric Mart if you sew (I go to Aiea’s but there’s one in Honolulu). Some Koa wood salad tongs are always nice and are small and easy to pack. Smashed pennies, if your family is into them–they have them all over, but you have to have quarters and pennies on hand at all times just in case. At ABC stores you can get pens (small fun reminder), those LED flashlights (wicked bright and another fun reminder), and of course all the pictures you take.

    I have a mac, and the pictures I took (and others I got online or from GoogleEarth’s walkaround feature) are on a rotating desktop now, so I can always see home.

    Mahalo and Aloha from Maine

  8. nancy (3 years ago)

    The lugggage tags in Hawaiian print are great gifts for co workers. I bought a big bunch at the Aloha Bowl Swapmeet.

  9. Dave (3 years ago)

    Designer Jewelry Handbags

  10. Buddhababe (3 years ago)

    During a trip to Oahu afterThanksgiving, I stopped at Sears at the Ala Moana shopping center. Bought great t-shirts–they have a huge selection. Not all are made in Hawaii, but some are. After spending just over $50, I also received a Sears $15 gift card.

    Kailua: Lanikai Bath & Body Shop = Sent home a box of soaps and lotions that arrived at my home in 2 days.
    Muumuu Heaven = Couldn’t afford the full-sized artwork of Heather Brown, but bought 4 5″x7″ cards that, when framed together, made up one of her ocean surf paintings.

    Byodo-In Temple: Picture postcards of the Temple. Just how it was built without nails is an amazing story.

    Wailoli Tea Room: Little golden pineapple ornaments for the Christmas tree.

    Haleiwa: At Kai Ku Hale, pikake and plumeria incense for under $3.00. Visitors to my home are captivated by the fragrance. Carved mother of pearl necklaces and bracelets, with turtles or plumeria. Floating plumeria-flower candles. Peppermint and rosemary soaps. Teaspoons for iced-tea or cocktails, made of koa wood and shaped like longboard paddles. All made by local crafts people.
    Planet Surf = T-shirts that they color screen themselves. Sarongs and more sarongs.

  11. Julianna (3 years ago)

    Anything with Hawaiian fabric handmade in Hawaii including: Slipper-shaped floor mops for quick spills or quilted fabric potholders that are good finds at Craft Fairs. At Christmas, handmade ornaments of angels with Hawaiian fabric dresses. Small enameled pins, vintage or current.

  12. soozzie (3 years ago)

    Monkey pod bowls or trays — always appreciated even though no longer made here, especially coveted by friends in Europe. Tea towels, mac nuts, mint cookies, mango chutney and jams….

  13. Linda (3 years ago)

    I always get a a piece of jewelry whenever I travel to the Islands (or anywhere else for that matter) whever I travel. It is easy to pack & lasts much longer than a piece of clothing, etc. Each time I put a piece of jewelry from my travels on, it brings back wonderful memories of the trip on which I acquired it.

    A souvenir I obtained on my last trip to the Islands was the set of 1 plate & 8 screws implanted into my ankle at Wilcox Hospital when I broke my ankle on Kauai last year. No problems packing but not a souvenir I recommend to anyone :) (although the staff at Wilcox was wonderful & gace me excellent care!)

  14. Renee (3 years ago)

    I love shave ice and always go to Matsumoto’s on the north shore when visiting…every time I wear my Matsumoto’s Tshirt it reminds me of the experience and the island! I also love earrings made on the island I’m staying on…photo frame with Hawaiin/tropical frame…I get enlargements made of photos I’ve taken there. Bought a hat at a local craft show one year, been wearing that for 10 years. The shopping bag is a GREAT tip: I will for sure get a few next time. I will NEVER step into a WalMart, in Hawaii or anywhere else.

    Thanks for your great column!

  15. Sherry (3 years ago)

    Aunty Liliko’i Passion Fruit Wasabi Mustard is the best! I wish I had brought more home to share with family and friends.

  16. Rhoda (3 years ago)

    Reusable shopping bags from Target. They are the typical Target red with a hibiscus. Also those floor dusters that look like flowers or giant slippers. I bought some at the Keeaumoku WalMart yesterday.

  17. Roy (3 years ago)

    DVDs … \Hawaii Songs of Aloha\ PBS Special shares a range of musical and dance styles … we also have 2 Merrie Monarch DVDs to recall the spirit of Hawaii’s cultural basis.

  18. Peter (3 years ago)

    Kona coffee is the best…..Any food from Kens house of pancakes will din Hilo by the way. Original Hawaiian music is a close second behind Kona coffee

  19. melika (3 years ago)

    Reusable lunch bags, with wonderful Hawaiian designs on them- makes an excellent carry -on for all your extra stuff- you can get them at Longs, craft fairs, Walgreens. Hawaiian decals are a great gift. Hawaiian Heirloom bracelets are compact and beautiful, key chains with someones Hawaiian name on it. Books about Hawaii. Maui swap meet, Aloha stadium, craft fairs and farmers markets have an excellent array of gifts and ono food. Hersheys kisses w/ mac nuts are only found in Hawaii. Fresh Leis at the airport. The best gift? Bring back “Aloha” for all you meet, and everything you do!

  20. Ed (3 years ago)

    ABC stores usually have coupons that get you free gifts when you purchase from the stores. One year, we collected a full set of coffee mugs that depicted the Bird of Paradise flower. We have them safely boxed away until we get our hawaiian themed basement built!
    Other than this, I always get stuff from Hilo Hattie. They have these Hawaiian images in plastic key-chains. I have one on my keychain and when we gave out house keys to relatives, we put a Hawaiian keychain on the key so they know it’s ours (we talk and visit Hawaii alot!) We also grabbed a bunch of pens to give away when we get back home. Also, Hawaiian shirts are wonderful to bring home. I go to Hawaii with perhaps one or two shirts and end up coming back home with at least a dozen (I’m up to 65 Hawaiian shirts now). But you have to be careful though…Places like Hilo Hatties is no longer making their shirts in Hawaii….booo—hisss! I didn’t fly 12+ hours to go to Hawaii only to purchase shirts made in China! I can do that here at home! You have to look, but there are still Hawaiin shirts still made in Hawaii!
    Monkey-pod wood figures. When we were in KIhe, we visited the Hilo Hatties there and there was a guy in the store carving Hawaiian gods out of monkey-pod wood…The next day, on the road from Kihe down towards the Hilo Hatties, we saw him on the side with a little lean-to with a bunch of wooden carvings…we stopped and he signed/carved one just for us! It is a perfect complement to the one we purchased in 1992 at the International Market Place in Oahu!
    Kukui nut jewelry is good also! We have many different ones…black and brown polished, brown and white rough hewn, earrings with gold accents, bracelets and necklaces too!
    Two years ago, there was a guy in the lobby of the Princes Kaiulani making palm frond pieces….hats, baskets leis. He said my wife was so wonderful and her smile so genuine (how could it not be, we were in our most favorite place in the whole world) that he had to make her something for free. A few minutes later, he handed her a palm frond bird on a stick…we still have it today in our dining room!
    And pictures….wow! Pictures. I have thousands of pictures that I have taken on four different islands….EVerything from the Honolulu zoo, to the then popular Toilet Bowl, on Oahu, to a wonderful day trip on the road to Hana with a walk through the Eucalyptus rainbow forest on Maui to the sheer cliffs on the Na Pali coast of Kaui and a lush tropical rainforest inside an ancient lava tube on the Big island. I have pictures…and really, the memories coupled with the pictures makes the real story!

  21. Leila (3 years ago)

    Not easy to pack, and not necessarily from Hawaii, but ukuleles are fun. I also like the croaking frogs from the farmer’s market, although I don’t think they are necessarily from Hawaii either =) At the farmer’s market, the wooden cooking utensils are great souvenirs (and practical too).

  22. Lynn (3 years ago)

    Sea shelsl I’ve picked up on the beach.

  23. Kate (3 years ago)

    Surfboard bookmarks with laser cutouts of turtles and hibiscus topped by a lanyard and beads: $2 on Kauai @ Spouting Horn vendors’ market.

    Multi-versatile sarongs: $10-12 many places.

    Shell earrings of Ulu leaf: $6 Jungle Girl shop in Koloa

  24. Katie (3 years ago)

    Kauai honey is wonderful, and I can not find it online. This is a great item to ship USPS, along with coffee from Kauai Coffee Company. One other special stop is The Kapaia Stitchery. Very easy to bring the islands back home with you when you seek out these places.

  25. Tim (3 years ago)

    Reusable grocery bags. Most stores have ones with unique island prints, with the ultimate one being Foodland’s illustrated Musibi bag! You’ll remember your trip every trip to the grocery store.

  26. Denise (3 years ago)

    Mochi from Two Ladies Kitchen in Hilo, HI