Kaui has more than a dozen open-air shopping centers and historic districts well-suited to browsing, so souvenir and gift hunters are unlikely to leave the island empty-handed—though often it’s with items made elsewhere. To find something unique to the Garden Isle, just look for the purple kauai made logo. The image of a ho‘okupu, the ti-leaf wrapping for special presents, means the county certifies that these handicrafts and food items are made on the island using local materials where possible, and in relatively small batches. Some producers have their own storefronts, while other retailers post the logo to indicate they carry one or more Kauai Made lines; search the website, http://kauaimade.net, by type of product and region.
The similar but privately run Kauai Grown program, www.kauaigrown.org, showcases fresh and processed farm products (including cheese, chocolate, and soaps) containing at least 51 percent locally grown ingredients. Many of those items are available at local farmers markets. Below are some of the island’s more distinctive boutiques and shopping enclaves.
The well-curated gift shop at the Kauai Museum, 4428 Rice St. (www.kauaimuseum.org; tel. 808/245-6931), carries the best selection of books about Kauai, plus exquisite artwork and handicrafts by local and other Hawaii artisans, from Niihau-shell lei to block-print fabrics.
While locals flock to the island’s largest mall, Kukui Grove Shopping Center, Kaumualii Highway (Hwy. 50) at Nawiliwili Road (www.kukuigrovecenter.com), for department stores such as Macy’s and Sears, visitors on a tight schedule or budget should browse the competitively priced, locally made foodstuffs (coffees, jams, cookies, and the like) at Longs Drugs (tel. 808/245-7785). The family-run Déjà Vu Surf Hawaii (www.dejavusurf.com; tel. 808/245-2174) has a large selection of local and national brands.
The two small shopping centers near Nawiliwili Harbor mostly offer typical T-shirts, aloha wear, and souvenirs, but each has at least one store of note. At Tropic Isle Music Co. in Anchor Cove, 3416 Rice St. (www.tropicislemusic.com; tel. 808/245-8700), ignore the high-priced tourist trinkets and ask the friendly staff to find CDs matching your taste in the many subgenres of Hawaiian music. Across the street at Harbor Mall, 3501 Rice St. (www.harbormall.net), Twisted Turtles Yarn Shop (tel. 808/482-0122) sells colorful crocheted leis and other handmade item as well as a rainbow of yarns and supplies for needleworkers. Fans of tropical-print fabrics, batiks, and Hawaiian quilts will want to seek out Kapaia Stitchery, 3-3351 Kuhio Hwy. (Hwy. 56) at Laukini Road (www.kapaia-stitchery.com; tel. 808/245-2281), which also offers ready-made aloha wear.
The 1930s mansion at Kilohana Plantation, 3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy. (www.kilohanakauai.com), next to Kauai Community College, provides a handsome setting for a half-dozen intimate boutiques selling locally made, Hawaiian-inspired artwork, jewelry, and confections, as well as unique clothing, accessories, and vintage Hawaiiana. Of them, Grande’s Gems (www.grandesgemshawaii.com; tel. 808/245-3445) also has stores in Princeville and at the Marriott resorts in Lihue and Poipu. The stand-alone Koloa Rum Co. (www.koloarum.com; tel. 808/246-8900) carries a fun selection of logowear, rum-spiked goodies, and nonalcoholic treats, as well as five kinds of rum and a mai tai mix.
Parts of Coconut MarketPlace, 4-484 Kuhio Hwy. at Aleka Loop (www.coconutmarketplace.com), were under renovation at press time, and the rest of the open-air mall needed to be, but it remains a haven for lower-cost souvenirs. The most eclectic collection of native woodcarvings, jewelry, and island-themed tchotchkes lies in Auntie Lynda’s Treasures (www.hawaiianjewelryandgift.com; tel. 808/821-1780)—the staff is happy to chat, too. The mall’s venerable vintage shop Bambulei was “on hiatus” at press time, but its sister store, Pagoda, 4-369 Kuhio Hwy. (www.pagodastore.com; tel. 808/821-2172), north of Haleilio Road, ably fills its niche with Chinese antiques and curios, Hawaiiana, Asian-inspired decor, candles, soaps, and other gifts.
Although the sidewalks get crowded, the historic district of Kapaa offers an intriguing mix of shops, cafes, and galleries. Despite its name, Hula Girl, 4-1340 Kuhio Hwy. (www.ilovehulagirl.com; tel. 808/822-1950), not only sells women’s resort and aloha wear (much of it made in Hawaii), but also aloha shirts, board shorts, and other menswear, not to mention tiki-style barware, island-made soaps and salves, and accessories. Natural fibers rule the day at Island Hemp & Cotton, 4–1373 Kuhio Hwy. (tel. 808/821-0225), where the stylish men’s and women’s clothing lines also include linen, silk, and bamboo creations. Boho accessories include long flowery scarves, beaded purses, and leather bracelets.
On the way to Kauapea (Secret) Beach and the lighthouse, Kong Lung Historic Market Center, at the corner of Keneke Street and Kilauea Road (http://konglungkauai.com), deserves its own slot on the itinerary, with a handful of chic shops and cafes in vintage buildings to visit, historic market and photos to browse, and an umbrella cockatoo named Daphne to admire (not too closely). The flagship Kong Lung Trading (www.konglung.com; tel. 808/828-1822) is an attractive, if pricey, showcase for ceramics, jewelry, stationery, books, and home accessories, including sake sets, tea sets, and hand-turned Hawaiian wood bowls. Souvenir seekers can find more budget options at the factory store of Island Soap and Candle Works (www.islandsoap.com; tel. 808/828-1955), renowned for its Surfer’s Salve, tropical soaps, and soy candles in coconut shells; it has another factory store in Old Koloa Town.
Island Soap also has a small store in Princeville Center, off Kuhio Highway just past the main Princeville entrance (www.princevillecenter.com). Although the two-level center is mostly known for its inexpensive dining options and resident-focused businesses, the Hawaiian Music Store kiosk (no phone) outside Foodland grocery has good deals on a large selection of CDs, while Magic Dragon Toy & Art Supply (tel. 808/826-9144) provides a wide array of rainy-day entertainment for kids.
As you enter Hanalei, look for Ola’s Hanalei, on Kuhio Highway (Hwy. 560) next to the Dolphin restaurant by the river (tel. 808/826-6937). The jewel box of a gallery, opened in 1982 by award-winning artist Doug Britt and wife, Sharon, features Doug’s whimsical paintings, wooden toy boats, and furniture made from objets trouvés, plus engaging jewelry, glassware, koa boxes, and other works by Hawaii and Mainland artisans.
The center of town reveals more of Hanalei’s bohemian side, with two eclectic shopping and dining complexes in historic buildings facing each other on the Kuhio Highway. In the two-story rabbit warren of Ching Young Village Shopping Center (www.chingyoungvillage.com), Divine Planet (www.divine-planet.com; tel. 808/826-8970) brims with beads, star-shape lanterns, silver jewelry from Thailand and India, and Balinese quilts. On the Road to Hanalei (tel. 808/826-7360) also stocks unique gifts, from colorful pareos and clever figurines of Kauai roosters to Japanese pottery and African masks.
Across the street, the old Hanalei Schoolhouse is now the Hanalei Center, with two true gems tucked out of view: Yellowfish Trading Company (tel. 808/826-1227) and Havaiki Oceanic and Tribal Art (www.havaikiart.com; tel. 808/826-7606). At Yellowfish, retro hula girl lamps, vintage textiles and pottery, and collectible Hawaiiana mingle with reproduction signs, painted guitars, and other beach-shack musts, with ever-changing inventory. The owners of Havaiki have helpfully posted a "National Geographic" map of Oceania outside their gallery, all the better to appreciate the literal lengths they’ve gone to obtain the museum-quality collection of gleaming wood bowls and fishhooks, exotic masks, shell jewelry, and intricately carved weapons and paddles.
Roughly halfway between Hanalei and the end of the road, next to the “last chance” Wainiha General Store (good for cold drinks and snacks), the 7 Artists Gallery, 5-6607 Kuhio Hwy. (tel. 808/826-0044), always has at least one of the seven-plus local artists in residence. Look for Suzy Staulz’s bold acrylics of local scenes, Lauren Johnson’s garnet necklaces, and Alia DeVille’s photographs of Kauai “sunrise” shells and other ocean treasures.
Between the tree tunnel road and beaches of Poipu, Old Koloa Town (www.oldkoloa.com) has the usual tourist tees and trinkets, but also two sources of well-made local items and the island’s best wine shop. The factory store of Island Soap and Candle Works (www.islandsoap.com; tel. 808/742-1945) is similar to the one in Kilauea (see above), while the Koa Store (www.thekoastore.com; tel. 808/742-1214) showcases boxes, picture frames, and other small pieces by local woodworkers using Hawaii’s brilliantly hued native wood. The Wine Shop (www.thewineshopkauai.com; tel. 808/742-7305) lives up to its name, but also sells high-quality locally made goodies such as Ko Bakery’s lilikoi (passionfruit) white chocolate scones and Monkeypod Jam’s Tahitian lime curd.
Poipu Shopping Village, 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr. (www.poipushoppingvillage.com), is home to a couple of independent clothing boutiques as well as local branches of Hawaii resort and surfwear chains. But the newer Shops at Kukuiula, just off the Poipu Road roundabout (www.kukuiula.com), has even more intriguing (often expensive) options spread among plantation-style cottages, flowering hibiscus, and greenery. Palm (www.palmpalmkauai.com; tel. 808/742-1131) prides itself on exclusive, limited-edition collections of items such as vintage fabric handbags and glassware etched with tropical images, as well as women’s designer clothing, jewelry, and other gifts. The airy boutique of Malie Organics (www.malie.com; tel. 808/322-6220) offers its signature line of bath and beauty products, which use special distillations of island plants, including Kauai’s native maile vine (not to be confused with malie, which means “calm” or “serene”); it also carries founder Dana Roberts’ casual but tasteful resort wear in soft bamboo/cotton blends. Amid all the high-end chic, laidback surfers will feel right at home in Poipu Surf (www.poipusurf.com; tel. 808/742-8797) and Quiksilver (run by local Déjà Vu Surf Hawaii; www.dejavusurf.com; tel. 808/742-8088).
Known for its Art Night on Friday, Hanapepe's dozen-plus art galleries in the historic town center are just as pleasant to peruse by day, especially the cheery paintings at the Bright Side Gallery, 3890 Hanapepe Rd. (www.thebrightsidegallery.com; tel. 808/634-8671), and the playful tiles and other ceramics of Banana Patch Studio, 3865 Hanapepe Rd. (www.bananapatchstudio.com; tel. 808/335-5944). The courtyard passage next to Little Fish Coffee leads to MoonBow Magic Gift Gallery, 3900 Hanapepe Rd. (www.moonbowmagic.com; tel. 808/335-5890), which stocks an amazing potpourri of colorful baubles (including beaded geckos and Kauai chickens), Niihau shells, and other jewelry.
If the door is open, the store is open at tiny Taro Ko Chips Factory, 3940 Hanapepe Rd. (tel. 808/335-5586), where dry-land taro farmer Dale Nagamine slices and fries his harvest—along with potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, and breadfruit—into delectable chips, for $5 a bag (cash only). The wares of Aloha Spice Company, 3857 Hanapepe Rd. (www.alohaspice.com; tel. 808/335-5960), include grill-ready seasonings with a base of Hawaiian sea salt, and Hawaiian cane sugar infused with hibiscus, vanilla, or lilikoi. Outside the historic strip are two other stores popular for more omiyage, the widely used Japanese term for food souvenirs. Flavored with guava, Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, and other tropical ingredients, the crisp butter cookies of the Kauai Kookie Kompany are ubiquitous in Hawaii, but a trip to the factory store at 1-3529 Kaumualii Hwy. (Hwy. 50) can be fun for kids (www.kauaikookie.com; tel. 808/335-5003). Chocolate fiends need to try the luscious handmade truffles, fudge, and “opihi”(chocolate-covered shortbread, caramel, and macadamia nut) at Kauai Chocolate Company in nearby Port Allen, 4341 Waialo Rd. (www.kauaichocolate.us; tel. 808/335-0448).
You have to plan ahead for a trip to the aptly named Collectibles and Fine Junque, 9821 Kaumualii Hwy., next to the fire station (tel. 808/338-9855), since Rose Schweitzer only opens her jumble of vintage Hawaiiana and other finds from 11am to 4pm Monday to Thursday. Like Kauai Kookies, the passionfruit products of Aunty Lilikoi—including jelly, butter, wasabi mustard, and salad dressing—are increasingly found around the state, but the factory store at 9875 Waimea Rd., across from the Captain Cook statue (www.auntylilikoi.com; tel. 808/338-1296), is worth a peek.
When you head up to Kokee, leave time to pop into the gift shops of the Kokee Museum (www.kokee.org; tel. 808/335-9975) and Kokee Lodge (www.thelodgeatkokee.net; tel. 808/335-6061), the former for hundreds of Kauai- and nature-themed books, maps, and DVDs, and the latter for a judicious array of souvenirs, island foods, and locally made crafts.
Farmers Markets & Fruit Stands
Even if you’re not staying in a place with a kitchen, a trip to one of the county-sponsored Sunshine Markets is a fun glimpse into island life, with shoppers queued up before the official start—listen for a yell or car honk—to buy fresh produce at rock-bottom prices. Markets end in 2 hours at the latest; arrive in time for the start, especially in Koloa and Kapaa. The weekly Sunshine Markets schedule:
* Monday: Noon, Koloa Ball Park, off Maluhia Rd. (Hwy. 520), on the left heading toward Old Town Koloa.
* Tuesday: 3pm, Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, Papalina Rd. off Kaumualii Hwy.
* Wednesday: 3pm, Kapaa New Town Park, Kahau St. at Olohena Rd. (Hwy. 581).
* Thursday: 3pm, Hanapepe Park, Kaumualii Hwy. at Lele Rd.; 4:30pm, Kilauea Neighborhood Center, Keneke St. off Kilauea (Lighthouse) Rd.
* Friday: 3pm, Vidinha Stadium parking lot, Hoolako and Halau sts. (off Hwy. 51), Lihue.
* Saturday: 9am, Kekaha Neighborhood Center, Elepaio Rd., between Alae and Amakihi roads (off Kaumualii Hwy.).
For the best selection of organic produce, visit North Shore farmers markets and fruit stands. In Kilauea, that includes the Sunshine Market and the privately run Namahana Farmers Market (www.anainahou.org; tel. 808/828-2118) at Anaina Hou Community Park in Kilauea (off Kuhio Hwy., next to the mini-golf; Sat 9am–1pm and Mon 4pm–dusk). Next to Anaina Hou, on the same side of the highway, you’ll see the bright yellow Banana Joe’s Fruit Stand (www.bananajoekauai.com; tel. 808/828-1092). Its prices (ditto its expenses) are higher, but it’s conveniently open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5:30pm, with a great selection of exotic fruits, citrus, macadamia nuts, and locally made snacks.
In Hanalei, the popular Waipa Farmers Market (www.waipafoundation.org; tel. 808/826-9969) takes place every Tuesday at 2pm in an open field just west of Hanalei, on the mountain side of Kuhio Highway, between the Waioli and Waipa one-lane bridges. Some vendors also sell baked goods, jewelry, and other crafts. Hanalei community center Hale Halawai (www.halehalawai.org; tel. 808/826-1011) hosts a farmers market every Saturday from 9:30am to noon in its ballpark field (Kuhio Hwy. at Mahimahi Rd., next to the green Waioli Huiia church).
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.