10 Best Shopping Experiences on the Island of Oahu

Photo courtesy of labelscar
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By Jade Eckardt

Whether you're looking for designer duds for a night out on the town, or Hawaiian souvenirs for everyone back home, you'll be able to find it thanks to our list of the 10 Best places to shop. For a small island, Oahu sure has an extensive selection of great shopping. Small shops with previously owned rare items can be found deep Honolulu, not far from huge shopping centers. Multiple farmers markets and flea markets make shopping a local experience with rare finds.

Some of the best and most unique finds on the island are hiding out at outdoor markets such as the Haleiwa Farmers Market, the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, and the Kailua Farmers Market. In addition to a broad selection of food at each market, these are the places to go for locally made goods, affordable imports from Asia and the Pacific, and unique, off beat finds.

Small boutiques like Guava Shop in Haleiwa and the Hound & Quail in Honolulu are the kind of places that offer rare finds sold by local residents who you'll most likely meet while browsing.

For a more traditional shopping experience, check out big malls and shopping centers like the Ala Moana Shopping Center, the largest mall in all of the islands. If you're in the mood for a more low key mall experience, the Kahala Mall and the Aloha Tower Market Place offer popular shops with smaller crowds.

Wherever you are on Oahu, you'll be able to find great shopping thanks to our list.

9. Kahala Mall
Photo courtesy of labelscar

Set away from Waikiki's bustle, this friendly shopping mall offers browsing in air-conditioned comfort. Its 90 stores include Macy's, Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble, Aveda, and Ann Taylor. A selection of service businesses is also available, and the munchies can be put to rest by pizza, Japanese, burger, vegetarian, Korean, and American eateries. In addition, the mall boasts an 8-screen movie theater for those who want to break for entertainment in the middle of a shopping excursion. This mall is the answer for those looking to find mainstream stores without the crowds and busy atmosphere of Waikiki. It's a great stop on your way to explore the east side.

8. Waikele Premium Outlets

Discount shoppers will swoon with delight at the prospect of all these fabulous shops, located about 20 miles from downtown Honolulu. Brand-name merchandise is marked down from retail prices, and you can get great savings if you're savvy. In addition to high end shops such as Saks 5th Avenue, you can also find local style surf shops such as Blue Hawaii and Local Style. The open-air facility features Barneys, Tommy Hilfiger, Anne Klein, Bass, Sketchers, Samsonite, Converse, Guess?, Juicy and more. A cafe is available should you need sustenance, and there's even a currency exchange and an ATM for convenience.

7. Kai Ku Hale
Photo courtesy of Kai Ku Hale

Unique, unique, unique - describes Kai Ku Hale on the North Shore in Haleiwa. Loaded with gorgeous Hawaiian style home decor, clothing, trinkets, jewelry and art, the shop is a must stop for amazing locally finds. Most of what the shop sells is locally made. Everything here will surely add a new element to your home or wardrobe. If you're looking for gifts to bring home, or photography for the wall, this is the place to stop. Much of what's in the shop has a Hawaiian theme, whether it's a leaf or flower pattern on a dish towel, locally found shells as earrings, or a pounding North Shore wave in wall art. Make sure to take the time to stop by.

6. Hound & Quail
Photo courtesy of Hound & Quail

Simply put, Hound & Quail is a melting pot for trinkets and collectibles from around the world and offers some of the most unique souvenirs and home decor you'll find. Full of collectibles, this isn't your typical jam packed antique shop with cobwebs run by and elderly man, Hound & Quail is the brainchild of a Hawaiian Airlines pilot and friend, who collect rare and unique items from all over the world. Much of the stock in the Honolulu store is collected during the pilot's layovers around the world. The floor to ceiling glass windows on a busy Honolulu street shed light into the shop which could be likened to the home office of Sherlock Holmes. The wares available at Hound & Quail are as unique as its business hours (only Mondays from 5 to 8 p.m., with a monthly market announced on Saturdays).

5. Pearlridge
Photo courtesy of Joel

Marked by the stately Aloha Tower, this harbor side shopping complex provides a glimpse of old Hawaii, complete with docked ships and crowds of tourists. The array of shops offers great souvenir options and all sorts of gift ideas. Representative items include candles, jewelry, clothing, Pacific crafts, fragrances, sunglasses, cigars, and island art. Onsite restaurants include Chai's Island Bistro, Gordon Biersch Brewery, and Don Ho's Island Grill. Make sure to visit the tower's observation deck while you're there. Although it's centrally located in Honolulu, the location offers a bit of an escape from the busy streets of Waikiki and the hustle and bustle of larger shopping centers.

4. Kailua Farmers Market
Photo courtesy of Brock Roseberry

At the Kailua Farmers Market, a flood of vendors selling locally made and grown arts, crafts, and food - both ready to eat meals and fresh produce. One of the rare farmers markets on the island that is actually open during the late afternoon (as opposed to the morning), Kailua Farmers Market is open every Thursday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. You'll want to bring a reusable bag to shop here, or even a pre-used plastic bag to truly go green. This is a wonderful place for visitors to take in local culture and people, and enjoy locally made goods and great food.

3. Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
Photo courtesy of coolmikeol

Can't pass up a bargain, even while on vacation? You'll definitely want to make your way to this expansive flea market, which is held three days each week. All sorts of merchandise are available from a variety of vendors, and you're certain to find something intriguing to take back home or enjoy while you're on Oahu. This is some pretty extensive shopping, as booths circle the entire stadium. Clothing, food, souvenirs, crafts, and hidden treasures all beckon and can be had for good prices. An ideal destination if you just want to check out the local color too. Admission is $1.

2. Haleiwa Farmers Market
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Over 3,000 people come to the Haleiwa Farmers Market on average every Sunday. Located right on the beautiful North Shore near exquisite beaches and perfect waves, the market offers an average of 50 vendors every market day. The rules are that all goods and food must be locally made and/or grown, making for a truly local experience. The market has be relocated and is now nestled inside of gorgeous Waimea Valley close to the sand and surf. At the plastic free market, all of the disposable plates and utensils are biodegradable and plastic shopping bags aren't allowed, unless they're previously used. You'll see nearly everyone here using reusable shopping bags to carry the locally produced goods in. Along with a huge array of crafts, clothing, art and produce there's many food and beverage booths so you can come to the market just for a meal.

1. Ala Moana Center
Photo courtesy of Haleiwa Farmers Market

This enormous, open-air extravaganza is Hawaii's largest shopping center, and with 230+ businesses to explore, you're certain to find one or two to monopolize your energy. Anchor stores include Neiman Marcus, Macy's, Sears, and Shirokiya. Other temptations include A/X Armani Exchange, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Hilo Hattie, Prada Sport, Baccarat, Chanel, DKNY, and Max&CO. A host of eateries and services is also available. The mall is set among lush landscaping and features koi ponds as well. Ala Moana Shopping Center can be more than a shopping experience since there's plenty of restaurants and bars to provide a break between shops.