Thousands and thousands of tourists come to Hawaii every year. However, I always see them going off with the tackiest of souvenirs, like gaudy Hawaiian print shirts, plastic flower leis, or dancing hula girl figures. Instead, I’ve compiled a list of the top five souvenirs to buy in Hawaii (and, just to prove that these are not tacky, I happened to have all of these in my house at the time I wrote this post – so they are good enough for a local to have too).
Kukui Nut or Cloth Lei
According to the stories of the Hawaiian ancestors, leis were introduced to Hawaii by Polynesian voyagers. They were made of anything from flowers to seeds to feathers, and they were used as a symbol of distinction. So why not take a kukui nut or cloth lei of your own home with you? You could definitely find some at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet!
*Note: Don’t try to take a fresh flower one, as you could get fined for taking a plant off of the island. But feel free to enjoy them as long as you stay on the island!
The ukulele, which means “jumping flea” in Hawaiian because of how fast a player’s fingers can move on the instrument, is a variation of a small, stringed instrument that the Portuguese brought with them to Hawaii. Since then, it has become a symbol of Hawaiian culture. If you decide to get an ukulele as a souvenir, be sure to buy one that is good quality. Don’t buy one that is oddly cheap or is painted a bright color. Go for a wooden one, as this will create a smoother sound when you actually learn how to play some songs, like Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow or Vance Joy’s Riptide.
Since you aren’t allowed to leave the island with fresh, local mangoes, go for the dried ones. Then you’ll have two great options: with or without li hing mui powder. The traditional dried mangoes without li hing mui are always a good option. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous though, try some dried mangoes with the local sweet, sour, and spicy powder known as li hing mui.
These little pineapple-shaped cookies are a treat that I reserve for myself only on special occasions. Some local favorites are Kona coffee, lilikoi (passion fruit), pineapple macadamia, and mango macadamia. They even sell holiday flavors, like pumpkin at Halloween or gingerbread at Christmas. Definitely a great treat to take home with you.
Ok, I know that this is the third out of my five recommended souvenirs that is a food, but Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts are also a fantastic souvenir to take back home from Hawaii. My favorite flavor is the honey roasted macadamia nuts, but the Kona coffee one is also very popular.
Do you have any other ideas of great souvenirs to buy in Hawaii? Write them below in the comments!