This island is fertile ground, not just for coffee, tea, chocolate, macadamia nuts, honey, and other 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. For those cooking meals or packing a picnic, see the Edibles at the bottom of this page.
Note: Stores are open daily unless otherwise stated.
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 farmer’s market, flea market, and crafts fair, with plenty of parking and tent-covered stalls (open 10am–5pm Tues–Sun). You’ll find fun items both handmade in Hawaii and manufactured in Chinese factories. Visit the Kona Natural Soap Company stand (www.konanaturalsoap.com) and learn about the ingredients grown on Greg Colden’s Keauhou farm.
In Kailua-Kona’s historic district, the funky, family-run Pacific Vibrations (808/329-4140) has colorful surfwear; it’s at 75-5702 Likana Lane, an alley off Alii Drive just north of Mokuaikaua Church. Across the street, the nonprofit Hulihee Palace Gift Shop stocks arts and crafts by local artists, including gorgeous feather lei, silk scarves, and woven lauhala hats (www.daughtersofhawaii.org; 808/329-6558).
Keauhou Shopping Center, above Alii Drive at King Kamehameha III Road (www.keauhouvillageshops.com), has more restaurants and services than shops, but check out Kona Stories (www.konastories.com; [tel] 808/324-0350) for thousands of books, especially Hawaiiana and children’s titles, plus toys, cards, and gifts. Also in the mall, Jams World (www.jamsworld.com; 808/322-9361) boasts colorful comfortable resort wear for men and women; the Hawaii company was founded in 1964. Hula troupes perform at 6pm Fridays on the Heritage Court Stage.
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). Most galleries are closed Sunday and Monday; see www.holualoahawaii.com for listings. Among them, Studio 7 Fine Arts (www.studio7hawaii.com; 808/324-1335) is a virtual Zen garden with pottery, wall hangings, and paper collages by Setsuko Morinoue, as well as paintings and prints by husband Hiroki.
Revel in the Hawaiian art of weaving leaves (lau) from the pandanus tree (hala) at Kimura’s Lauhala Shop, farther south on the makai side of Mamalahoa Hwy., at 77-996 Hualalai Rd. (808/324-0053). Founded in 1914, the store brims with locally woven mats, hats, handbags, and slippers, plus Kona coffee, koa wood bowls, 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. 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. (makai side), Kainaliu (808/322-3771; closed Sun).
The Kohala Coast
Three open-air shopping malls claim the bulk of stores here, hosting 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 most Fridays and live music at 5 or 6pm Monday to Thursday. Along with luxury stores such as Tiffany & Co. and Michael Kors, you'll find affordable swimwear at Making Waves (808/886-1814) and batik-print fashions at Noa Noa (808/886-5449). Across the road, the shops at Queens’ MarketPlace (http://queensmarketplace.net) include the Hawaiian Quilt Collection (808/886-0494), which also offers purses, placemats, and pottery with the distinctive quilt patterns of the islands; Mahina (http://shopmahina.com; 808/886-4000), known for casual chic women’s apparel; and other island style-setters such as Volcom, Reyn’s, and Local Motion. Free shows include hula and Polynesian dance 6pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
In the Shops at Mauna Lani (www.shopsatmaunalani.com), on the main road of the Mauna Lani Resort, Hawaiian Island Creations (www.hicsurf.com; 808/881-1400) stands out for its diverse lineup of local, state, and national surfwear brands. Look for hula and Polynesian fire dancing at the shops on Monday and Thursday at 7pm.
In Kawaihae, an unassuming shopping strip on Highway 270, just north of Highway 19, hosts Harbor Gallery (www.harborgallery.biz; 808/882-1510). Browse the works of more than 150 Big Island artists, specializing in koa and other wood furniture, bowls, and sculpture; Sew Da Kine cork purses are an easy-to-pack item. Stock up on savory souvenirs at Hamakua Macadamia Nut Factory.
When making the trek to the Pololu Valley Lookout, you’ll pass a few stores of note along Hwy. 270. As Hawi Turns, 2 miles west of the Kohala Mountain Road (Hwy. 250), features eclectic women’s clothing, locally made jewelry, home decor, and a consignment area cheekily called As Hawi Returns (808/889-5203). Across from the King Kamehameha Statue in Kapaau, Ackerman Gallery features Big Island arts and crafts (including paintings by owner Gary Ackerman), colorful clothing, and gifts (www.ackermanhawaii.com; 808/889-5138).
The barn-red buildings of Parker Square, on the south side of Highway 19 east of Opelo Road, hold several pleasant surprises. The Gallery of Great Things (www.galleryofgreatthingshawaii.com; 808/885-7706) has high-quality Hawaiian artwork, including quilts and Niihau shell leis, as well as pieces from throughout the Pacific. Bentley’s Home & Garden Collection (www.bentleyshomecollection.com; 808/885-5565) is chock-full of Western and country-inspired clothes, accessories, and cottage decor.
Park on Mamane Street (Hwy. 240) in “downtown” Honokaa and peruse the mom-and-pop shops, such as the Green Chair (808/747-4046; closed Sun), which includes collectibles and thrift clothing among brightly hued vintage furnishings and small gifts. 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 (808/775-9777; closed Sun), or Taro Patch Gifts (www.taropatchgifts.com; 808/775-7228), which adds books and international goodies to the mix. Waipio Valley Artworks (www.waipiovalleyartworks.com; 808/775-0958), on Kukuihaele Road near the overlook, offers handsome wood items, ceramics, prints, and more, plus a simple cafe.
The second-largest city in Hawaii has both mom-and-pop shops and big-box stores. The Hilo Farmer’s Market is the prime attraction, but you should also hit the following for omiyage, or edible souvenirs: Big Island Candies, 585 Hinano St. (www.bigislandcandies.com; 808/935-5510), and Two Ladies Kitchen, 274 Kilauea Ave. (808/961-4766). Big Island Candies is a busy tourist attraction that cranks out addictive macadamia-nut shortbread cookies. A cash-only, hole-in-the-wall that’s closed Sun¬day and Monday, Two Ladies Kitchen makes delicious mochi, a sticky rice-flour treat with a filling of sweet bean paste, peanut butter or a giant strawberry, and manju, a kind of mini-turnover.
Visit Sig Zane Designs, 122 Kamehameha Ave. (www.sigzane.com; 808/935-7077, closed Sun), 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 Ave. (www.basicallybooks.com; 808/961-0144), has a wide 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; 808/985-8979; closed Mon), 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. Look for Hawaiian quilts and fabrics, as well as island-made butters and jellies, at Kilauea Kreations, 19-3972 Old Volcano Rd. (www.kilaueakreations.com; 808/967-8090).
In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the two gift shops at Volcano House stock tasteful gifts, many 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; 808/967-7565), which sells locally made artworks, including the intricate, iconic prints of Dietrich Varez, who worked at the modern Volcano House in his youth.
A Feast for the Senses: Hilo Farmer’s Market
You can’t beat the Hilo Farmer’s 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 with 200-plus farmers and artisans takes place 6am to 4pm Wednesday and Saturday; go early for the best selection. (About 30 vendors set up at 7am to 4pm the rest of the week, but it’s not quite the same experience.)
Since most visitors stay on the island’s west side, the Hilo Farmer’s Market isn’t really an option to stock their larders. The Keauhou Farmer’s Market (www.keauhoufarmersmarket.com), held from 8am to noon Saturday at the Keauhou Shopping Center (near Ace Hardware), can supply 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; 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 is in the Kona Coast Shopping Center, 74-5588 Palani Rd. (808/329-1677), open daily until 11pm. Wine aficionados will be amazed at the large and well-priced selection in Kona Wine Market, now near Home Depot at 73-5613 Olowalu St. (www.konawinemarket.com; 808/329-9400). For Costco members, its local warehouse is at 73-4800 Maiau St., near Highway 19 and Hina Lani Street (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 (808/885-8866). Buy smoked meat and fish, hot malasadas (doughnut holes), baked goods, and a cornucopia of produce at the Waimea Homestead Farmer’s Market, Saturday 7am to noon behind the post office at 67-1229 Mamalahoa Hwy. (www.waimeafarmersmarket.com). The best deals for fresh fish are at Da Fish House, 61-3665 Akoni Pule Hwy. (Hwy. 270) in Kawaihae (808/882-1052; closed Sun). Among resort options, Foodland Farms in the Shops at Mauna Lani (www.foodland.com; 808/887-6101), has top-quality local produce and seafood, while the Kings’ Shops hosts a decent farmer’s market Wednesday 8:30am to 3pm. Island Gourmet Markets (www.islandgourmethawaii.com; 808/886-3577), the centerpiece of the Queens’ MarketPlace, has an almost overwhelming array of delicacies, including 200-plus kinds of cheese.
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.