10 Best shopping centers and malls offer everything from designer duds to casual apparel
By Jade Eckardt
Big Island, Honolulu, and Kauai Local Expert
A Hawaiian vacation may seem to be about sun and surf, but we can't deny that retail therapy is always fun no matter where you are. From low cost souvenirs to high end fashion, Honolulu offers a wide array of shopping experiences. Honolulu is home to the largest shopping center in all of Hawaii, but it's also home to market with small booths of unique finds.
If you're in search of great deals to take advantage you'll find luck at the Waikele Outlet Mall, Hawaii's only outlet mall. With a wide selection of shops and boutiques, the mall is the answer to budget shoppers. Meanwhile at the state's largest shopping mall, Ala Moana Shopping Center, you can get everything from Louis Vuitton to locally sourced bikini shops.
For an entirely different stop by the International Marketplace in the heart of Waikiki. With a varied array of crafts, jewelry and art from around the world, the market reflects the melting pot that the islands are.
Much of Hawaii has been deemed a "plastic free zone," which means that they don't give out shopping bags. So when your out shopping try to bring a reusable shopping bag, and contribute to island sustainability. Plus, there's lots of cute reusable shopping bags around these days that serve as a good Hawaiian souvenir.
10 DFS Galleria Waikiki
Upscale and duty-free, DFS Galleria Waikiki is a fashionista's dream come true. Although duty free shops are usually reserved for airports, this tax free shops is centrally located in Waikiki. Inside the enclosed mall, you'll browse the finest in apparel, jewelry, and cosmetics. Salvatore Ferragamo, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Cartier, Prada, Dior, and Hermès are just a sampling of the fine retailers that share the space. Traditional Hawaiian gifts and souvenirs are proffered at the center's Waikiki Walk -- a great spot to find the perfect gift or just to take home a little bit of the islands. Easily accessible from most Waikiki hotels. (808-931-2655, 808-931-2700)
9 Aloha Tower Marketplace
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. Purchase items or window shop in the spacious, open air shopping center that serves as an attraction or outlet for retail therapy. Representative items include candles, jewelry, clothing, Pacific crafts, fragrances, sunglasses, cigars, and island art. Onsite restaurants include Chai's Island Bistro, Gordon Biersch Brewery (on the water), and Don Ho's Island Grill. Make sure to visit the tower's observation deck while you're there. (808-528-5700)
8 Ward Centers
This sprawling complex, located near Ala Moana Park, consists of a number of separate venues, all unified in several city blocks. Each one boasts its own decor and style, and you'll find everything from restaurants to clothing stores to specialty shops. The shops that make up Ward Center are rather unique, and not run of the mill stores. Component units include Ward Center, Ward Warehouse, Ward Village Shops, Ward Farmers Market, Ward Gateway Center, 404 Ward Avenue, and Ward Entertainment Center. Nordstrom Rack Outlet, Pier 1 Imports, Sports Authority, Borders Books & Music, and a 16-screen theater comprise the backbone of the facility. (808-591-8411, 808-597-1172)
7 Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
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. 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 and after that parking is free. There's an ATM in the parking lot. (808-486-6704, 808-486-9555)
6 Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center
Waikiki's largest shopping arena (only behind Ala Moana Shopping Cneter) Royal Hawaiian boasts more than 150 businesses on its four open-air levels. Shops run the gamut from upscale to casual and include Cartier, Bulgari, Fendi, and Hermes. You'll also find venues for jewelry, crafts, and original art, not to mention an assortment of restaurants and eateries. Located right across from famous Waikiki Beach, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is just steps from all Waikiki hotels and other attractions that make the area famous. While you're there, take advantage of free daily entertainments, which include hula shows, ukulele lessons, and torch-lighting events. (808-922-0588)
5 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. (808-676-5656)
4 Kahala Mall
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. There's plenty of places to eat here too, and just minute away you can find beaches and swimming. Parking can be tough but look on the top level for spots. (808-732-7736)
3 International Market Place
A local fixture that's changed amazingly little since its inception in 1955, International Market Place features more than 130 shops, kiosks, and artist's stands selling everything from fine jewelry to t-shirts, from quilts to candles. While the collection of shops unapologetically caters to tourists, you'll still see authentic Hawaiian-made crafts, as well as great bargains. Market Place is organized around a banyan tree that's more than a century old and is just one of the property's trees of importance. Much-loved Queen Emma, the islands' 19th-century monarch, once owned the land on which Market Place now sits. Bring a reusable shopping bag to enhance island sustainability. (808-971-2080)
2 Hilton Hawaiian Village Shops
More than 90 specialty stores and boutiques, plus an assortment of restaurants and eateries, comprise Hilton Hawaiian Village's own retail center. With shops scattered over seven venues on the hotel's grounds, shopping opportunities pop up at nearly every turn. Check out Louis Vuitton on the Tapa Concourse, and then head to Harley-Davidson or Poseidon Jewelry at the Rainbow Bazaar. This is where you can find that high end souvenir or engagement ring. After working up an appetite from shopping, take advantage of dining options that range from the casual at Hanajuban Noodle Shop to elegant Asian cuisine at Bali by the Sea. (808-949-4321, 800-445-8667)
1 Ala Moana Shopping Center
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. (808-955-9517)
About Jade Eckardt
Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and exploring the island. A regular visitor to Kauai, Jade recently authored a full-length Kauai guide book. She is a writer and photographer, whose work has been published in numerous regional and national magazines. When she's not writing, Jade enjoys a good beer, a good surf, and time in her garden with her son.
Read more about Jade Eckardt here.
Connect with Jade via: Google+