Most people are drawn to Hawaii for the stunning tropical beaches, rain forests, mountains and green valleys in addition to its rich cultural heritage. However, with millions of tourists from all over the globe coming every year, Hawaii is also a place where visitors go to shop for designer brands as well as for a wide variety of souvenirs, Hawaiian apparel, local crafts and artwork. While some people find shopping stressful, others are relaxed and rejuvenated by perusing stores and shopping malls. If part of your ideal vacation includes a little good, old-fashioned retail therapy, here are some of the best places to go shopping on the island of Oahu.
Ala Moana Center: Be prepared to spend at least a day meandering through the Ala Moana Shopping Center’s labyrinth of over 300 shops. The Ala Moana Shopping Center has long been the place to shop in Hawaii for local residents and visitors since it opened in 1959. At that time, it was the largest shopping center, of any type, in the entire world. Today, it is still the largest open-air shopping center in the world. Here you can find classic department stores like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom as well as plenty of luxury brands and designer stores including Versace, Armani, Chanel and Ralph Lauren. The recently-opened Ewa (west) branch of the center just added 37 new restaurants and stores to the center. This place is not only one of the most centrally-located shopping centers in Hawaii, but there are also many seasonal events that take place during holidays, including live music performances. If you only have one day to devote to shopping, the Ala Moana Center is a fantastic place to go.
Ward Village: Part of what makes the entire Ala Moana area of town so special for shopping is the nearby Ward Village, a residential , shopping, dining and entertainment complex located just Ewa (west) of the Ala Moana Shopping Center. There are five distinct venues at the Ward Village to explore, which are: the Ward Gateway Center, Ward Entertainment Center, Ward Village Shops, Ward Warehouse and the Ward Center, each offering a wide range of shops, dining and entertainment options. There is even a Farmer’s Market held at the Ward Warehouse every Saturday. At the Ward Entertainment Center, shoppers can take a break in their day by going to see a movie at the theater. There are live performances at many of the restaurants as well as boutiques selling locally-made arts and crafts at this most interesting and dynamic complex.
Kahala Mall: Located in the Waialae-Kahala section of Honolulu, visitors can enjoy a less congested and more relaxed shopping experience at the Kahala Mall, a place that offers a great combination of retail stores, restaurants and entertainment. There is Macy’s, Whole Foods and a wide range of apparel and home décor boutiques as well as a movie complex. Plus when shoppers get hungry, they can find everything from sushi establishments to all-American build-a-burger restaurants.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Shops: If you are fortunate to be staying within this upscale Waikiki resort, you won’t have to travel far to enjoy shopping at the 90-plus shops, restaurants and bars that can be found here. The stores are split into several areas including the Kalia Tower, Ali’i Tower, Diamond Head Tower, Rainbow Bazaar and Tapa Concourse. Here you can find everything from designer clothes to hand-made ukuleles, pearl jewelry, Hawaiian quilts and other many other fine gifts. There are even places to relax and unwind, like the Mandara Spa, as well as a US Post Office if need to ship the things that you bought in Hawaii back home.
T Galleria Hawaii: Particularly for international visitors that want to shop for items on which they will pay little or no duty on upon their return home, the T Galleria Hawaii is a great place to do so. Situated right on Royal Hawaiian Avenue in Waikiki, tourists can find brands like Balenciaga, La Mer, Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs and Prada. If you didn’t have a chance to pick up some gifts and souvenirs for your friends back home, never fear. The T Galleria has also has duty free store in the Honolulu airport where you can stock up before catching your flight.
Royal Hawaiian Center: Conveniently located in the heart of Waikiki and just in front of the Waikiki Sheraton and Royal Hawaiian hotels, is the Royal Hawaiian Center. It is one of the largest shopping centers in Honolulu, having over 110 shops, restaurants and places of entertainment in three four-story buildings within the complex. Here you can find everything from high end designer store, art and crafts boutiques as well as everyday convenience stores. In addition to its convenient location to Waikiki hotels, what further sets the Royal Hawaiian Center apart is its daily hula shows, Hawaiian music concerts as well as lessons on Hawaiian crafts and culture for the entire family to enjoy.