5 Best Souvenirs from the Islands of Hawaii
Hawaii has been one of our most favorite destinations so far. By taking an island-hopping cruise, we felt like we got the real Hawaii experience (from volcanoes to plantations; from mountains to gorgeous beaches). We brought home many incredible souvenirs from Hawaii to remember our time in the islands.
See Related: 40 Things To Do in the Islands of Hawaii
1. Hawaiian Leis-
Flower leis are pretty synonymous with Hawaii. Leis are given and worn to celebrate special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries.
We saw tons that were completely stunning, handmade with care and worth every penny, but they can be found in all kinds at all price points.
Of course you have to get one for yourself and take tons home for friends and family!
My hopes were to be GIVEN a lei. Not because I didn’t want to buy one, but because, in my head, that’s what people DO in Hawaii!
Because of TV and movies, I thought I’d get one from a lovely airline or tourism representative as soon as I stepped off the plane in Honolulu. That was not the case, but both artificial and fresh flower leis are sold at the airport (at a much higher price than elsewhere).
I didn’t give up hope though, and had a pleasant surprise as we boarded our Norwegian cruise ship at port in Honolulu; I was presented a fresh flower lei as well as a fresh flower for my hair, and Mark was given a beautiful lei made from shells. Score! We were given shell leis at our luau on the island of Kauai as well.
See Related: Comparing Cruise Lines: Carnival vs. Norwegian
Leis can be found at pretty much any souvenir store or stand. Even the local Walmarts carry them. We saw the biggest selection at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet (like a flea market) held at the stadium of the University of Hawaii (Oahu). Great prices, too!
Alternatives: Leis don’t just come in the flower variety! As I mentioned, you can find leis made from tiny shells, but there are two other kinds that are totally worth mentioning- the ribbon and the kukui nut leis.
Ribbon leis are made from braided ribbons and come in many color combinations. We actually learned to make a simple version on our cruise!
Kukui nut leis (shown in the first photo of this post) are given and worn for any special occasion currently, but were once reserved only for royalty. They come in various colors based on the age of the nut and often come hand-painted with flower or turtle designs.
2. Kona Coffee-
Chances are, if you’re a coffee drinker, then you’ve heard about Kona Coffee.
It has the reputation as some of the best in the world for a reason (though it is also some of the most expensive).
Many Kona coffee farms are open for tours on the Big Island of Hawaii, and, of course, they have samples available. After one taste, you’re sure to want to take a few bags home!
This coffee is grown in a region of Hawaii where the soil and weather make for perfect growing conditions.
The coffee has to be completely from this area to be known as 100% Kona Coffee. The higher price of the coffee comes from its rarity. Trust me when I say it’s totally worth it!
We loved the Greenwell Farms 100% Kona Coffee! We also came home with some Kona blends from Royal Kona Coffee including chocolate and vanilla macadamia nut flavors. The aromas are out of this world!
Alternative: If you’re not a big coffee drinker (keep in mind that Kona coffee may convert you to one!), a great keepsake is an empty burlap coffee bag.
We picked up one at Greenwell Farms for $5. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with it yet, but it was too awesome to pass up.
3. Macadamia Nuts-
Mark is absolutely nuts (pun intended) for macadamias! I already knew that we’d be coming back home with quite a stash of macadamia nuts, but I never thought we’d have to buy extra luggage to do so.
(Thank you to the nice luggage vendor at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet for a great deal on a new suitcase!)
We visited a few of the macadamia nut farms, stores, and factories in Hawaii.
We highly recommend the Cookies & Creme and the Maui Onion & Garlic flavors from Mauna Loa, the Maui Caramacs from Hawaiian Host, the Caramel Glazed Macadamias from Tropical Farms, and the ThphThph Boar Balls and Milk and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Goat Balls from Donkey Balls.
Basically, you can’t go wrong with any flavors, but these were our absolute favorites!
Alternative: If you like macadamias but don’t like snacking on nuts alone, try macadamia nut cookies!
We came across the Kauai Kookie brand while visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and fell in love.
They come in many flavors (though not all have macadamias in them) including Macadamia Nut Shortbread (pictured), Chocolate Chip Macadamia, and Kona Coffee Macadamia. Ordering is available through the Kauai Kookie website as well.
4. Aloha Shirt-
Hawaiian shirts, or Aloha shirts, are known for their bright colors and bold (often floral) patterns.
Nothing says, “I’ve been to Hawaii” quite like a Hawaiian shirt! While these shirts can be found at most any souvenir store (including ABC and Hilo Hatties), we found a great selection at very affordable prices at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet (Oahu).
If you’re not in the market for a collared button-up shirt, dresses, children’s clothing, and even baby bibs can be found in the same colorful patterns, making for great souvenirs for your loved ones!
Alternative: Bright patterns not your thing? Then try a Red Dirt Shirt!
These unique shirts are dyed with red dirt found in Kauai which produces a burnt orange color on the fabric. To read more about these great “dirty” shirts, check out information and the online selection available at the Red Dirt Shirts website.
See Related: Hawaii’s Waimea Canyon: A Photo Essay
5. Dashboard Dancing Hula Girl-
Everyone needs their very own hula girl! These were like the original bobble heads, and, honestly, I think they’re way cuter. Who needs a huge head when you can have shapely hips?
Like most of the souvenirs mentioned, the hula dolls come in different price points based on the detail and material. Some of them were GORGEOUS while some looked like terrible creatures from a horror movie. Not kidding. All black eyes. Sloppy lips that looked like the Joker. Terrifying.
The well-made ones (while still super affordable) make great keepsakes as well as gifts for friends. Who wouldn’t smile at a tiny hip-shaker in a grass skirt?
Alternative: Don’t want a girl? That’s fine too!
The dolls come in male versions as well. Some with ukuleles, all in grass skirts. So, so cute! We also saw adorable dancing animal dolls that would make great gifts for kids.
BONUS: Doggie Treat Leis-
Gizmo says don’t forget to bring your best friend a treat!
She loves the pineapple doggie treats made in Hawaii! In this photo, she’s wearing a lei made from artificial flowers and treats!
See Related: 15 Tips for Exploring Hawaii
Now you know the “must-buys” from Hawaii (and have been warned about the possibility of having to purchase an extra suitcase to transport these treasures home!).
While these were our favorites, Hawaii offers many opportunities to buy local wares. We saw quilted kitchen accessories, handcrafted wooden sculptures, handmade jewelry, and tons of other amazing items.
Taking a luggage scale along on a Hawaii trip is probably a good idea. Those macadamia nuts weigh more than you think! Haha!
Good luck shopping and ALOHA!
What item are you most excited about? What is your favorite souvenir from past travels? Is there anything from Hawaii that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!
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Jennifer is the founder of Just Chasing Rabbits travel blog. She lives in Mississippi with husband/travel companion, Mark, and doggie-daughter, Gizmo. After obtaining a BA degree in studio art and working in the field of photography for years, Jenni has combined her love of travel and photography to form this blog. Mark and Jenni share their experiences in hopes of inspiring others to have wonderful adventures and see the world.
You can follow Jenni on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.