Kauai 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. To find something unique to the Garden Isle, 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 were made on the island using local materials where possible, and in relatively small batches. Search for them by type of product or region at http://kauaimade.net.
Below are some of the island’s more distinctive shopping stops.
The island’s largest mall, Kukui Grove Shopping Center, 3-2600 Kaumualii Hwy., makai side at Nawiliwili Road (www.kukuigrovecenter.com), attracts locals with department stores such as Macy’s and Kmart; visitors on a tight schedule or budget should browse the competitively priced, locally made foodstuffs (coffees, jams, cookies, and the like) at Longs Drugs (808/245-7785). The mall’s family-run Déjà Vu Surf Hawaii (www.dejavusurf.com; 808/245-2174) has a large selection of local and national brands.
Anchor Cove (3416 Rice St.) and Harbor Mall (3501 Rice St.), two small shopping centers near Nawiliwili Harbor, mostly offer typical T-shirts, aloha wear, and souvenirs; Harbor Mall has a free trolley for cruise ship passengers. Find tropical-print fabrics and clothes, batiks, and Hawaiian quilts at Kapaia Stitchery, 3-3351 Kuhio Hwy., mauka side at Laukini Road (www.kapaia-stitchery.com; 808/245-2281).
The Shops at Kilohana lie within the graceful 1930s mansion of Kilohana Plantation, 3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy., mauka side, south of Kauai Commuity College (http://kilohanakauai.com). It’s a handsome setting for a half-dozen boutiques selling locally made, Hawaiian-inspired artwork, jewelry, clothing, and vintage Hawaiiana. Don’t miss the handmade guava and sea salt caramels at Kauai Sweet Shoppe (808/245-8458) or the stand-alone Koloa Rum Co. (www.koloarum.com; 808/246-8900), which carries six kinds of its locally made rum, rum-based treats, and nonalcoholic goodies.
At press time, Coconut MarketPlace, 4-484 Kuhio Hwy., makai side (at Aleka Loop), Kapaa (www.coconutmarketplace.com), was nearly done with renovations. It remains a haven for free entertainment (see website for calendar) and low-cost gifts. Check out Auntie Lynda’s Treasures (www.hawaiianjewelryandgift.com; 808/821-1780) for an eclectic collection of woodcarvings, jewelry, and tchotchkes. In Wailua, Pagoda (4-369 Kuhio Hwy., makai side (across from Kintaro restaurant; www.pagodakauai.com; 808/821-2172), ably fills its niche with Chinese antiques and curios, Hawaiiana, Asian-inspired decor, candles, soaps, and other gifts. Note: It’s closed Sun and Mon.
The historic (and hippie) district of Kapaa offers an intriguing mix of shops, cafes, and galleries. Hula Girl, 4-1340 Kuhio Hwy., makai side, at Kauwila St. (808/822-1950), not only sells women’s resort wear (much of it made in Hawaii), but also aloha shirts, boardshorts, and other menswear, plus tiki-style barware, island-made soaps, and accessories. Natural fibers rule the day at Island Hemp & Cotton, 4–1373 Kuhio Hwy., mauka side (at Huluili St.; www.islandhemp.com; 808/821-0225), featuring stylish men’s and women’s clothing lines.
On the way to Kauapea (Secret) Beach and the lighthouse, Kong Lung Historic Market Center, 2484 Keneke St. (http://konglungkauai.com), deserves its own slot on the itinerary, with a bakery, bistro, and a half-dozen chic shops in vintage buildings with historical markers. Of the stores, the flagship Kong Lung Trading (www.konglung.com; 808/828-1822) is a showcase for Asian-themed ceramics, jewelry, books, and home accessories, including hand-turned wood bowls. Souvenir seekers can find less pricey options at the factory store of Island Soap & Candle Works (www.islandsoap.com; 808/828-1955), famed for its Surfer’s Salve, tropical soaps, and soy candles in coconut shells.
Although Princeville Center, 5¬–4280 Kuhio Highway, makai side, north of the main Princeville entrance (www.princevillecenter.com), is mostly known for its inexpensive dining and resident-focused businesses, the Hawaiian Music Store kiosk (no phone) outside Foodland grocery has good deals on a large selection of CDs. Magic Dragon Toy & Art Supply (808/826-9144) has a compact but cheery array of rainy-day entertainment for kids.
As you enter Hanalei, look for Ola’s Hanalei, 5–5016 Kuhio Hwy., makai side, next to Dolphin restaurant (http://olashanalei.com; 808/826-6937). Opened in 1982 by award-winning artist Doug Britt and his wife, Sharon, this small gallery features Doug’s whimsical paintings, wooden toy boats, and furniture made from objets trouvés, plus engaging jewelry, glassware, 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 Kuhio Highway. In the two-story rabbit warren of Ching Young Village Shopping Center (www.chingyoungvillage.com), Divine Planet (www.divine-planet.com; 808/826-8970) brims with beads, star-shaped lanterns, silver jewelry from Thailand and India, and Balinese quilts. On the Road to Hanalei (808/826-7360) stocks unique gifts from Kauai rooster figurines to Japanese pottery and African masks.
Across the street, the old Hanalei Schoolhouse is now the Hanalei Center, with two hidden gems: Yellowfish Trading Company (www.yellowfishtradingcompany.com; 808/826-1227) and Havaiki Oceanic and Tribal Art (www.havaikiart.com; 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 in ever-changing inventory. The owners of Havaiki have sailed across the Pacific many times to obtain their museum-quality collection of gleaming wood bowls and fishhooks, exotic masks, shell jewelry, and intricately carved weapons and paddles; they also sell CDs, handmade cards, and other less expensive gifts.
Between the tree tunnel road and beaches of Poipu, Old Koloa Town (www.oldkoloa.com) has the usual tourist trinkets, but also some well-made local items and the island’s best wine shop. The factory store of Island Soap & Candle Works (www.islandsoap.com; 808/742-1945) is awash in fragrant, brightly hued wares, while the Koa Store (www.thekoastore.com; 808/742-1214) showcases boxes, picture frames, and other small pieces by local woodworkers. The Wine Shop (www.thewineshopkauai.com; 808/742-7305) lives up to its name but also sells high-quality, locally made treats such as Monkeypod Jam.
On the road between Koloa and Kalaheo, Warehouse 3540, 3540 Koloa Rd. (https://warehouse3540.com), provides a rustic-industrial space for moderately priced, pop-up style boutiques selling gifts, jewelry, home decor, and art. Hours vary, with additional vendors and produce at the Friday market from 10am to 2pm. Just up the road, Lawai Trading Post, 3427 Koloa Rd., at Kaumualii Highway (808/332-7404), looks kitschy on the outside (and has a fair amount of kitsch inside), but also sells black pearls, Niihau shells, and other well-made jewelry, gifts, and clothes at decent prices; shop carefully, since returns are not allowed.
Poipu Shopping Village, 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr. (www.poipushoppingvillage.com), hosts gift shops, independent boutiques, and Hawaii resort and surfwear chains; it also presents a free hula show at 4:30pm Monday and Thursday. The Shops at Kukuiula, just off the Poipu Road roundabout (www.kukuiula.com), has even more intriguing—and often expensive—boutiques spread among plantation-style cottages and flowering hibiscus. Amid all the high-end chic, surfers will feel right at home in Poipu Surf (www.poipusurf.com; 808/742-8797) and Quiksilver (run by Déjà Vu Surf Hawaii; www.dejavusurf.com; 808/742-8088). The Shops at Kukuiula is also home to the flagship store of Malie Organics Lifestyle Boutique (808/339-3055; www.malie.com), renowned for its bath and beauty products based on distillations of island plants, including mango, plumeria, and the native, lightly spice-scented maile vine.
The crisp, tropical-flavored butter cookies of the Kauai Kookie Kompany are ubiquitous in Hawaii. Even better than a trip to the factory store in Hanapepe (1-3529 Kaumualii Hwy., makai side) is a stop at the Kauai Kookie Bakery & Kitchen complex in Kalaheo, 2-2436 Kaumualii Hwy., makai side (808/332-0821). One storefront is a small cafe selling specialty baked goods as well as a variety of “kookies”; the other is a vast gift shop with more fresh treats to consume on the spot.
Known for its Friday-night festival (see “Kauai Nightlife”), the historic town center of Hanapepe and its dozen-plus art galleries are just as pleasant to peruse by day, especially the cheery paintings at the Bright Side Gallery, 3890 Hanapepe Rd. (www.thebrightsidegallery.com; 808/634-8671), and the playful tiles at Banana Patch Studio, 3865 Hanapepe Rd. (www.bananapatchstudio.com; 808/335-5944). The courtyard passage next to Little Fish Coffee leads to MoonBow Magic Gift Gallery, 3900 Hanapepe Rd. (www.moonbowmagic.com; 808/335-5890), which stocks a whimsical potpourri of colorful gifts and baubles, including beaded geckos, Niihau shells, and other jewelry.
If the door is open, the store is open at tiny Taro Ko Chips Factory, 3940 Hanapepe Rd. (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; 808/335-5960), include grill-ready seasonings with a base of Hawaiian sea salt, and Hawaiian cane sugar infused with hibiscus, vanilla, or passionfruit. Talk Story Bookstore, 3785 Hanapepe Rd. (www.talkstorybookstore.com; 808/335-6469), boasts the island’s biggest trove of new, used, and out-of-print books.
Chocolate fiends need to try the luscious handmade truffles, fudge, and “opihi” (chocolate-covered shortbread, caramel, and macadamia nuts in the shape of a shell) at Kauai Chocolate Company, 4341 Waialo Rd. (808/335-0448). You can watch them being made on-site, too.
Spice of Life Collectibles and Fine Junque, 9821 Kaumualii Hwy. (mauka side, next to the fire station), sell North Shore honey, nursery plants, and solar-powered camping provisions amid vintage Hawaiiana, antiques, and ephemera. Like Kauai Kookies, the passionfruit products of Aunty Lilikoi—including jelly, butter, and salad dressing—are often found around the state, but the factory store at 9875 Waimea Rd., across from the Captain Cook statue (www.auntylilikoi.com; 808/338-1296), offers shipping and in-store-only delicious baked goods, such as scones, bars, and fudge.
In Kokee State Park, the Kokee Museum (www.kokee.org; 808/335-9975) sells Kauai- and nature-themed books, maps, and DVDs, while Kokee Lodge (www.kokeelodge.com; 808/335-6061), offers a few souvenirs, island foods, and locally made crafts.
Kauai Farmers Markets
A trip to one of the county-sponsored Sunshine Markets is a fun glimpse into island life, with shoppers lined up before the official start—listen for a yell or car honk—to buy fresh produce at rock-bottom prices. Markets end within 2 hours; arrive in time for the start, especially in Koloa and Kapaa. Among the best for visitors:
* Monday: noon, Koloa Ball Park, off Maluhia Rd., north of Old Town Koloa.
* Wednesday: 3pm, Kapaa New Town Park, Kahau St. at Olohena Rd.
* Thursday: 4:30pm, Kilauea Neighborhood Center, Keneke St. off Kilauea (Lighthouse) Rd.
* Friday: 3pm, Vidinha Stadium parking lot, Hoolako Rd. (off Hwy. 51), Lihue. For an even bigger farmers market, with many prepared foods, head to Kauai Community College, 3–1901 Kaumualii Hwy., Lihue, 9:30am to 1pm Saturday.
North Shore farmers’ markets offer the most organic produce. In Kilauea, that includes the privately run Namahana Farmers Market (www.anainahou.org; 808/828-2118) at Anaina Hou Community Park in Kilauea, mauka side of Kuhio Hwy., Sat 9am–1pm and Mon 2pm–dusk. In Hanalei, the popular Waipa Farmer's Market (www.waipafoundation.org; 808/826-9969) takes place every Tuesday at 2pm in a field just west of Hanalei, mauka side of Kuhio Hwy., between the Waioli and Waipa one-lane bridges. Some vendors also sell baked goods, jewelry, and other crafts, as they also do from 9:30am to noon Saturday at Hanalei’s Hale Halawai ballpark (www.halehalawai.org; 808/826-1011), Kuhio Hwy., mauka side at Mahimahi Rd., next to the green 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.