Even though we live here, we’re always on the lookout for original Hawaiian gifts to send to those far away. Here’s an updated list compiled from our top 20 ideas followed by 11 of yours.
We always look for Made in Hawaii products. There’s also a huge array of less expensive items made elsewhere that have a Hawaii theme. If you care to, learn the difference.
Keep in mind that ABC Stores, Longs/CVS, Wal-Mart and Costco all offer a large selection of Hawaiian gifts, including local food products, sometimes at a discount.
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.
These Hawaiian gifts all become more meaningful at home and can help bring your Hawaii vacation back to life.
1. T-Shirts. We’ve also purchased Crazy Shirts for years and they last virtually forever. You’ll find deeply discounted seconds at the Ward Center Crazy Shirt outlet store.
2. Hawaiian Music CD’s (yes there are still CD’s) are easy to pack and can help you dream of Hawaii during a cold winter. Or online.
3. Aloha wear and Hawaii hats that you can enjoy both here on your trip as well as when you get home. Try Tori Richard and Reyn Spooner for clothes actually made here.
4. Footwear. Examples include slippahs (flip-flops) including by Hawaii inspired Olu Kai.
5. Post cards can turn into nice stationery cards.
6. Key chains. Consider turning one into a holiday ornament.
7. Hawaii made food gifts. This is virtually unlimited and gets bigger by the day. From mushrooms to honey, and Hawaiian salts and spices to grown in Hawaii pineapples. Teas too! Also candy of all sorts, chocolates, cookies, jams/jellies, snacks including famous crack seed, and chips. And so much more. We love Costco’s raw macadamia nuts by the pound, which are a great buy.
8. Island calendars are available seasonally for less than a dollar at Wal-Mart and Longs.
9. Housewares. Place mats, napkins, you name it. Hawaii wood products including Martin & MacArthur, for example.
10. Holiday ornaments and decor. Often found at Hawaii museum stores year around.
11. Hawaii coffee. Coffee from Ka’u is one of our top picks. For an over the top experience, we enjoy Hula Daddy, just up the road from the Kona Airport. We also like Muleskinner by Coffees of Hawaii.
12. Insulated bags with Hawaii motif. Handy here and a souvenir at home. Found at stores throughout Hawaii.
13. Hawaiian jewelry from rare Niihau shells to Hawaiian heritage style, wedding bands and necklaces.
14. Musical instruments, beginning with ukulele. Starting from about $20 at Walmart, but you’ll get what you pay for.
15. Art work. Try the Honolulu Museum of Art for prints. We also like Cedar Street Galleries in Honolulu.
16. Hawaiian books. Also bookmarks. Check out Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii’s new location at Ward Center (old Brookstone store).
17. Lei, including shell, kukui nut and fresh.
18. Decals and stickers.
19. Pet gifts. We’ve purchased Hawaii made specialty dog biscuits at Hawaii farmers markets.
20. Hawaii notepads, post-it-notes and pens.
Beat of Hawaii friends have also suggested:
Mary: When I come home from Hawaii, my girlfriends always look forward to receiving Hawaiian goodie bags filled with Hawaiian soaps, lotions, lip balm, perfumes and, of course, Maui Babe suntan lotion. When in the islands, I also like to stock up on Hawaiian handmade items, such as the quilted pillow covers and wall hangings, purses, etc, to give away as Christmas and birthday presents. They are always a big hit. Two other items that are a big hit back home are the Hersheys Macadamia Nut kisses and the Maui Onion potato chips!!! No one can get enough of those!!!
Iris: Cook books of local cuisine. It’s nice to have a taste of vacation when you’re back home!
Julie: OMG! Kauai Chocolates in Ele’Ele has the best dark chocolate covered mac nuts ever. Always take a box back with me and let’s not forget the “Filthy Farmgirl” soaps that are wonderful and pack easily so your clothes smell wonderful when you get back. Great soap made on the islands, introduced to me by my wonderful hosts in Kalaheo! National Tropical Botanical Gardens gift shop has a lovely selection of quality earrings at reasonable prices, too. Sea salts and spices are nice gifts, too.
David: On Kauai, Hale Lea Gallery (Poipu) and the Black Pearl Gallery (Hanalei) have a wide range of Kauai made art, hand painted greeting cards, jewelry and craft. Not a typical Hawaiiana gallery, these two places have exceptional selections from some of the most accomplished artists in Hawaii.
Theresa: I ALWAYS, always bring home lots of the foam, hair flowers that clip in. I wear one the whole time I’m in the Islands and then bring an assortment home for the girls. We love them and wear them all summer. Feels like a little bit of Hawaii here California. I love to bring home Beach Towels from the ABC stores for friends. I might have even used them once…while in Hawaii. When I get home, I give ’em a wash and then give them away to people that have pools. You can never have too many towels! I do love the insulated coolers too. But those I keep for myself!
Katie: I’m a huge reader, so I love to buy books. Used bookstores, chains, independents, antique stalls, and museum gift shops are all places I search out. Another favorite is fabric– my favorite stores are on Kauai (Kapaia Stichery and Vicky’s Fabrics in Kapa’a). And now I don’t have to worry about lugging all of it home since I found out about flat rate shipping boxes from the USPS– if it fits, it ships! And it’s much cheaper than paying $50 and up on overweight baggage fees.
Julianna: Waimea Valley Gift Shop (Oahu) and the Bishop Museum gift shop carry table runners in vintage fabrics. They pack easily. Longs has great dish towels in Hawaiian prints. Coasters and placemats in pineapple or monstera shapes are fun too. The Christmas Craft Fair at the Kauai Museum features really nice slippah floor mops, great for spills on wood floors and a splash of color. Plus lots of other hand made crafts as you mentioned. Not just plumeria, but any of the starter plants. The store owners will usually tell you what will thrive on the Mainland. WalMart carries them, but the airport florists do too. Mac nuts! And finally, mochi and chi chi dango.
Mary: Furikaki (cellophane bags lighter than glass jars); Portuguese sausage (freeze, then wrap in newspaper, seal in plastic bag, and put in your luggage); surfing poster (buy poster tube at USPS and mail home or hand-carry on plane); baseball caps with HI theme (humu humu, Univ of HI, whales, etc.).
Steve: Those big decorative painted collapsible fans you can get at the little stands, international market or swap meet. I am so bummed that I forgot mine on the airplane home, and a friend of mine just returned yesterday bought one for me but he lost it too! Those fans are virtually impossible to find online and overpriced when you do find them.
Jason: Oh yeah! That coffee! For sure. And a red dirt shirt.
Sherri: Plumeria cuttings that you can grow at home!
Do you have favorites not yet on the list?