Big Island Shopping
This island is fertile ground, not just for the coffee, tea, chocolate, macadamia nuts, and honey that make tasty souvenirs, but also for artists inspired by the volcanic cycle of destruction and creation, the boundless energy of the ocean, and the timeless beauty of native crafts. You’ll find the most galleries in the upcountry art enclaves of Holualoa and Volcano Village, but even the kitschy shopping complexes along Kailua-Kona’s Alii Drive hold a few gems. Meanwhile, the Kohala Coast resort shopping malls provide a showcase for Hawaiian entertainment and boutiques featuring island designers, along with luxury brands and ubiquitous surf shops. With a few notable exceptions, Hilo and Waimea shops are primarily geared to residents; you’ll also find necessities across the island, except in the more remote areas of the Hamakua Coast, and the Kau and Puna districts.
The Kona Coast
For bargain shopping with an island flair, bypass the T-shirt and trinket shops and head 2 miles south from Kailua Pier to Alii Gardens Marketplace,75–6129 Alii Dr., a friendly, low-key combination farmers market, flea market, and crafts fair, with plenty of parking. The tent-covered stalls don’t have quite as many vendors as before the 2008 economic crash, but you’ll find fun items handmade in Hawaii as well as China’s factories. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, visit the Kona Natural Soap Company stand (www.konanaturalsoapcompany.com) and let Greg Colden explain the all-natural ingredients and fragrances he uses, many grown at his farm and solar-powered factory in Keauhou.
In Kailua-Kona’s historic district, pop into Lava Light Galleries, 75-5707 Alii Dr. (www.lavalightgalleries.com; tel. 808/756-0778), to admire C. J. Kale and Nick Selway’s breathtaking nature photography, which includes sunsets, rainbows, and forests, as well as molten rock. Nearby, the funky, family-run Pacific Vibrations (tel. 808/329-4140) has colorful surfwear, in 75-5702 Likana Lane, an alley off Alii Drive just north of Mokuaikaua Church. Across the street, the nonprofit Hulihee Palace Gift Shop (www.daughtersofhawaii.org; tel. 808/329-6558) stocks arts and crafts by local artists, including gorgeous feather lei, silk scarves, art cards, aprons, and woven lauhala hats. Like the palace, it’s closed Sunday.
Keauhou Shopping Center, above Alii Drive at King Kamehameha III Road (www.keauhouvillageshops.com), has more restaurants and services than shops, but do check out Kona Stories (www.konastories.com; tel. 808/324-0350) for thousands of books, especially Hawaiiana and children’s titles. Also in the mall, Jams World (www.jamsworld.com;tel. 808/322-9361) has kicky, comfortable resort wear for men and women, from a Hawaii company founded in 1964.
Charmingly rustic Holualoa, 1,400 feet and 10 minutes above Kailua-Kona at the top of Hualalai Road, is the perfect spot for visiting coffee farms and tasteful galleries, with a half-dozen or more within a short distance of each other on Mamalahoa Highway (Hwy. 180). Highlights of the latter include Dovetail Gallery (www.dovetailgallery.net; tel. 808/322-4046), featuring the wood sculptures and furniture of Gerald Ben and contemporary art curated by wife Renee Fukumoto-Ben; and Studio 7 Fine Arts (www.studio7hawaii.com; tel. 808/324-1335), a virtual Zen garden withpottery, wall hangings, and paper collages by Setsuko Morinoue and paintings and prints by husband Hiroki. Note: Most galleries are closed Sunday and Monday.
Lovers of lauhala, the Hawaiian art of weaving leaves (lau) from the pandanus tree (hala), revel in Kimura’s Lauhala Shop, farther south at 77-996 Mamalahoa Hwy. Founded in 1914, the store brims with locally woven mats, hats (you can get one custom-made), handbags, and slippers, plus Kona coffee, koa wood bowls, art cards, and feather hatbands. It’s closed Sunday.
Many stores along Highway 11, the main road, are roadside fruit and/or coffee stands, well worth pulling over for, if only to “talk story” and pick up a snack. One exception is the wonderfully eclectic Antiques and Orchids, 81-6224 Mamalahoa Hwy., Captain Cook, in a green building of 1906 vintage (tel. 808/323-9851). Owner Beverly Napolitan’s orchids grace Hawaiiana, Victorian, and other antiques and collectibles; an antiques mall sells fellow vendors’ “mantiques”: vintage tools, fishing gear, and sports memorabilia. Fabric aficionados must stop at Kimura Store, a quaint general store and textile emporium with more than 10,000 bolts of aloha prints and other colorful cloth, at 79-7408 Mamalahoa Hwy. (ocean side), Kainaliu (tel. 808/322-3771). Both stores are closed Sunday.
The Kohala Coast
Three open-air shopping malls claim the bulk of stores here, with a few island-only boutiques amid state and national chains. The real plus is the malls’ free entertainment (check their websites for current calendars) and prices somewhat lower than those of shops in resort hotels.
The Waikoloa Beach Resort has two malls, both off its main drag, Waikoloa Beach Road. Kings’ Shops (www.kingsshops.com) has a keiki (children’s) hula performance at 6pm Friday and music by Kahalanui, a Hawaiian swing band, at 7pm Wednesday. Along with luxury stores (Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Coach), find a great selection of affordable swimwear at Making Waves (tel. 808/886-1814) and batik-print fashions at Noa (tel. 808/886-5449). Queens’ MarketPlace (http://queensmarketplace.net) includes two fun places for families: Local Lizard & Friends (tel. 808/886-8900), with gecko-themed clothes, toys and tchotchkes, and Giggles (tel. 808/886-0014). Its free shows include hula and Polynesian dance Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6pm.
The Shops at Mauna Lani (www.shopsatmaunalani.com), on the main road of theMauna Lani Resort, presents hula and Polynesian fire dancing Monday and Thursday at 7pm. As for its stores, Hawaiian Island Creations (www.hicsurf.com; tel. 808/881-1400) stands out for its diverse lineup of local, state, and national surfwear brands.
In Kawaihae, an unassuming shopping strip on Highway 270, just north of the Highway 19 intersection, hosts Harbor Gallery (www.harborgallery.biz; tel. 808/882-1510), displaying the works of more than 150 Big Island artists, and specializing in koa and other wood furniture, bowls, and sculpture. Stock up on savory souvenirs at Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company, 61-3251 Maluokalani St., an uphill detour off Highway 270 (www.hawnnut.com; tel. 808/882-1690).
When making the trek to the Pololu Valley Lookout, you’ll pass a few stores of note along Akoni Pule Highway (Hwy. 270). As Hawi Turns, 2 miles west of the Kohala Mountain Road (Hwy. 250), includes eclectic women’s clothing, locally made jewelry, shoes, home decor, and a bargain consignment area cheekily called As Hawi Returns (tel. 808/889-5203). In the center of town, at the highways’ junction, look on the ocean side for Elements (www.elementsjewelryandcrafts.com; tel. 808/889-0760), where jeweler John Flynn displays his designs and works by other artists, including pottery, wood bowls, and dyed scarves. Across from the King Kamehameha Statue in Kapaau, near Kapaau Road, Ackerman Gallery (www.ackermangalleries.com; tel. 808/889-5971) also features lovely arts and crafts from the Big Island, including paintings by owner Gary Ackerman.
The barn-red buildings of Parker Square, on Highway 19 east of Opelo Road, hold several pleasant surprises. The Gallery of Great Things (www.galleryofgreatthingshawaii.com; tel. 808/885-7706) has high-quality Hawaiian artwork, including quilts and Niihau shell leis, as well as pieces from throughout the Pacific. Sticking closer to home, literally, Bentley’s Home & Garden Collection (www.bentleyshomecollection.com; tel. 808/885-5565)
is chock-a-block with Western and country-inspired clothes, accessories, and cottage decor.
Park on Mamane Street (Hwy. 240) in “downtown” Honokaa and stroll through a huge selection of antiques and collectibles at the warehouse-sized Honokaa Trading Company (tel.808/775-0808) and the mini-mall of Vera’s Treasures (tel. 808/775-0244). If you’d like something newer, head to Big Island Grown, selling edibles such as coffee, tea, and honey, plus locally made gifts and clothing (tel. 808/775-9777), or Taro Patch Gifts (www.taropatchgifts.com; tel. 808/775-7228), which adds books to the mix. Waipio Valley Artworks (www.waipiovalleyartworks.com; tel. 808/775-0958), on Kukuihaele Road near the overlook, has many handsome wood items plus a cafe serving Hawi’s Tropical Dreams ice cream.
As Hawaii’s second largest city, Hilo has both mom-and-pop shops and big-box stores (though locals gripe that the only Costco is in Kona). The Hilo Farmers Market is the prime attractionsee asee , but you should also visit residents’ favorite places for omiyage (a kind of edible souvenir): Big Island Candies, 585 Hinano St. (www.bigislandcandies.com; tel. 808/935-5510) and Two Ladies Kitchen, 274 Kilauea Ave. (tel. 808/961-4766). The former is a factory store and huge tourist attraction that cranks out addictive macadamia-nut shortbread cookies, while the other is a cash-only hole-in-the-wall selling delicious handmade mochi, a pounded-rice treat (try the one with a Waimea strawberry inside), and manju, a kind of mini-turnover.
Visit Sig Zane Designs, 122 Kamehameha Ave. (www.sigzane.com; tel. 808/935-7077),for apparel and home items with Zane’s fabric designs, inspired by native Hawaiian plants and culture, including wife Nalani Kanakaole’s hula lineage. Basically Books, 1672 Kamehameha Avenue (www.basicallybooks.com; tel. 808/961-0144), is also happy to educate you with a stunning assortment of maps and books emphasizing Hawaii and the Pacific.
One of the prettiest places to visit in Volcano Village is Volcano Garden Arts, 19-3834 Old Volcano Rd. (www.volcanogardenarts.com; tel. 808/985-8979), offering beautiful gardens with sculptures and open studios, delicious Café Ono , and an airy gallery of artworks (some by owner Ira Ono), jewelry, and home decor by local artists; it’s closed Monday. Look for Hawaiian quilts and fabrics, as well as island-made soaps, candles, and cards at Kilauea Kreations, 19-3972 Old Volcano Rd. (www.kilaueakreations.com; tel. 808/967-8090).In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the gift shop at Volcano House has surprisingly tasteful gifts, many of them made on the Big Island, as well as attractive jackets for chilly nights. The original 1877 Volcano House, a short walk from the Kilauea Visitor Center, is home to the nonprofit Volcano Art Center (www.volcanoartcenter.org; tel. 808/967-7565), which sells prints, paintings, photos, and sculptures by local artists, including the intricate, iconic prints of Dietrich Varez, who worked at the newer Volcano House in his youth.
Since most visitors stay on the island’s west side, the Hilo Farmers Market isn’t really an option to stock their larders. If you’re in Kailua-Kona, visit the Keauhou Farmers Market (www.keauhoufarmersmarket.com) Saturday from 8am to noon at the Keauhou Shopping Center (near Ace Hardware), for locally grown produce, fresh eggs, baked goods, coffee, and flowers. Pick up the rest of what you need at the center’s KTA Super Stores (www.ktasuperstores.com; tel. 808/323-2311), a Big Island grocery chain founded in 1916 at which you can find island-made specialties (poke, mochi) as well as national brands. Another KTA isin the Kona Coast Shopping Center, 74–5588 Palani Rd. (tel. 808/329-1677), open daily till 11pm. Wine aficionados will be amazed at the large and well-priced selection in Kona Wine Market, in the Kona Commons Shopping Center, 74–5450 Makala Blvd. (www.konawinemarket.com; tel. 808/329-9400). If you have a Costco membership, its only Big Island warehouse is at 73-4800 Maiau St., near Highway 19 and Hina Lani Street (tel. 808/331-4800).
On the Kohala Coast, the best prices are in Waimea, home to a KTA in Waimea Center, Highway 19 at Pulalani Road (tel. 808/885-8866). Buy smoked meat and fish, hot malasadas (doughnut holes), baked goods, and ethnic foods along with a cornucopia of produce at the Waimea Homestead Farmers Market, Saturday 7am to noon at Kuhio Hale, 64-759 Kahilu Rd., near Hwy. 19’s mile marker 55 (www.waimeafarmersmarket.com). The best deals for fresh fish are at Da Fish House, 61-3665 Akoni Pule Hwy. (Hwy. 270) in Kawaihae ([tel 808/882-1052; closed Sun). Among the options in the resorts, Foodland Farms in the Shops at Mauna Lani (www.foodland.com; tel. 808/887-61010), has top-quality local produce and seafood, while the Kings’ Shops hosts a decent farmers market Wednesday 8:30am to 3pm. In the Queens’ MarketPlace, Island Gourmet Markets (www.islandgourmethawaii.com; tel. 808/886-3577) has an almost overwhelming array, including 200-plus kinds of cheese.
Feast for the Senses: Hilo Farmers Market
You can’t beat the Hilo Farmers Market (www.hilofarmersmarket.com), considered by many the best in the state, from its dazzling display of tropical fruits and flowers (especially orchids) to savory prepared foods such as pad Thai and bento boxes, plus locally made crafts and baked goods, all in stalls pleasantly crammed around the corner of Kamehameha Avenue and Mamo Street. The full version takes place 6am to 4pm Wednesday and Saturday; go early for the best selection and fewest crowds. (Some vendors set up at 7am–4pm the rest of the week, except Friday, but it’s not the same experience.)
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.