For visitors, Hawaii’s shopping scene has evolved over the years from friendly tourist traps selling tacky souvenirs—although admittedly there’s something endearing about those “I Got Lei’d in Hawaii” T-shirts—to malls and shopping centers that offer the complete shop-till-you-drop experience.
For most people, the island of Oahu is Hawaii’s shopping capital, offering everything from big box retailers and upscale boutiques to unique specialty stores and outlet shops.
Great shopping adventures are available right in Waikiki. Located on Kalakaua Avenue, the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center offers more than 150 shops and restaurants. Here you’ll find retailers offering a variety of merchandise, from small kiosks peddling Hawaiian mementos to world-famous boutiques like Cartier, Hermes, and Fendi. The shopping center also offers hands-on craft demonstrations and live entertainment.
Across the street is the International Market Place, an open-air shopping bazaar with more than 130 vendors offering jewelry, apparel, souvenirs, and novelty items. The kiosks, stands, and shops surround a century-old banyan tree. Also located here is the International Food Court, which serves a variety of local and ethnic foods. Free entertainment is provided five nights a week.
King’s Village in Waikiki includes about 45 shops and eateries. A favorite tradition here is the “Changing of the King’s Guard” ceremony. Wearing exact replicas of uniforms worn by King Kalakaua’s Hawaiian Royal Palace Guard in 1875, the King’s Guard performs an amazing rifle drill exhibition each day at 6:15 p.m. The show is free to the public.
The largest and most well-known shopping venue on Oahu is Ala Moana Center in Honolulu. Included here are major department stores such as Sears, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus, as well as more than 220 other shops and restaurants. Live entertainment is presented daily at the mall’s Center Stage.
A short walk from Ala Moana is the Victoria Ward Centers, a lively shopping complex that includes Ward Warehouse, Ward Centre, Ward Village, Ward Gateway, Ward Farmer’s Market and the Ward Entertainment Center. Ward Centers offers more than 140 shops and restaurants, and a 16-screen, state-of-the-art megaplex.
Located at historic Honolulu Harbor is the Aloha Tower Marketplace, home to numerous specialty stores, kiosks, and restaurants. Crafts, Hawaiiana, artwork, gift items, and souvenirs are among the many types of merchandise to be found here. The centerpiece is the 10-story Aloha Tower, once the tallest building in the state. Visitors can take the elevator to the top floor and enjoy sweeping views of the harbor and downtown Honolulu.
Heading toward Leeward Oahu, visit the Waikele Premium Outlets, a favorite stop for bargain-hunters. More than 25 stores and restaurants are here, including Banana Republic Factory Store, Bebe, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Kenneth Cole, Mikasa, Off 5th-Saks Fifth Avenue, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and more.