Updated May 2020.
It’s no secret that Steve and I LOVE Hawaii! It’s paradise, it’s beautiful, it’s “trip of a lifetime” material! So of course you’ll want to take a little something home to remember your trip and maybe take you back for a moment when you need a little sunshine in your everyday life. So I decided to write the ultimate guide to Hawaiian souvenirs—everything from carry-on friendly to tasty, from cozy to consumable. Check it out and start making your plans for a Hawaiian vacation!
Where to Get Them
Anywhere you get a souvenir is a good place to get one, but locals will tell you the best place to get most of the things you want, at more reasonable prices, and quickly, are the ABC Stores and the grocery stores! Check for “Made in China” stickers before you buy if you want something actually made in Hawaii, but overall, you can find the best things at the best prices at these stores.
But don’t stop there! You will find fantastic, made-in-Hawaii souvenirs at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and on local farms themselves! I got some wonderful natural soaps made with local papaya and coffee grounds from Kumu Farm Stand on Maui, right outside the Pineapple Plantation, and every time I used them I remembered beautiful Maui and our fun trip there!
Carry-on Friendly Options
There are so many wonderful things to bring home from the islands, but some are more carry-on friendly than others. Since most visitors to Hawaii come by airplane, it’s important to think about these things in advance! Here are the best souvenir options if you’re like us and are traveling carry-on only:
- Shell and Kukui Nut Leis: Flower leis get crushed and don’t look pretty for very long, so opt for pretty shells or classic kukui nut leis; they’re still traditional, but will certainly last longer! They are still a bit delicate, but they’ll have a much better chance at survival in your luggage than fresh flowers. If you do want to bring back a flower lei, check out the USDA website for how to tell if your lei can legally fly to the mainland. Pick up your leis at the grocery, ABC Store, or if you’re lucky your hotel will greet you with one!
- Macadamia Nuts: Get them plain, honey roasted, spicy, chocolate-covered, however you like! They are grown in the islands, and they make wonderful souvenirs, airplane snacks, or gifts for everyone who wishes you’d taken them to the islands with you! Pick some up at the nearest grocery, ABC Store, macadamia nut farm, or from your hotel gift shop!
- Shortbread Cookies from Honolulu Cookie Company: These are wonderful souvenirs and tasty airplane snacks! They come in all flavors, coatings, and packaging. Get yours at any Honolulu Cookie Company store or really any shop on the islands!
- Coffee: Ever heard of Kona coffee? It’s grown all over Hawaii! We toured the Kauai Coffee Plantation for our second anniversary trip and picked up some to take home with us. It’s the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, and I think about the beautiful Garden Isle with ever sip. Pick some up at any grocery, coffee plantation, or ABC Store!
- Mixes and Spices: If you’ve loved the Hawaiian cuisine, take some home with you! Get some pancake and waffle mixes for tropical breakfasts at home. They also have amazing lava salt, tropical spice mixes, and more. Pick up yours at gift shops, ABC Stores, grocery stores, restaurants, or roadside farm stands!
- Solid Soap: Everyone needs to get clean! Hawaii is very environmentally conscious, so you’ll find plenty of natural, hand-crafted products in the islands. Solid soaps travel well, smell wonderful, and help you remember your trip with each use! Get yours at farm stands, ABC Stores, possibly grocery stores, and farmers’ markets!
- Candles: On our first trip to Hawaii, we found these great candles in coconut shells! There were all sorts of tropical scents like pineapple, papaya, orchid, plumeria, and more. Did you know scent and memory are very closely linked? A scent can help you remember a fun trip like Hawaii when you need it most! And once the candle burns down, you can do what we did and clean out the coconut for other uses: a bowl, vase, pen holder, and more! Pick up yours at an ABC Store!
- Hawaiian Shirts and Dresses: One way to really get yourself in the island mood is to dress the part! Get a men’s shirt or beautiful dress at ABC Stores, downtown shops, and possible grocery stores, too!
- Jewelry: It’s small, it’s portable, it’s beautiful, and every time someone asks you about it you can tell them about your trip to paradise! Pick up yours at a locally-owned shop or an ABC Store!
Checked Luggage Only Options
Checking a bag anyway? Toss in some full-size liquids!
- Jams, Jellies, Honey, and Preserves: Where else can you get papaya preserves? Not many places! So stock up on those unique jams, jellies, honey, preserves, and more fruity delights! Get yours at ABC Stores, grocery stores, farm stands, farmers’ markets, and more!
- Syrups: Did you pick up some pancake mix? Don’t forget the tropical syrup! We ate breakfast at an amazing place on Waikiki Beach, but what made the breakfast so fantastic was the tropical syrups: both coconut and papaya! The restaurant was selling bottles of it left and right, so as long as you plan to check a bag, you can bring some home with you! Get yours at restaurants, ABC Stores, grocery stores, and possible at farmers’ markets and roadside stands!
- Nut Butters: My local Trader Joe’s sells a lof of unique things, but they don’t sell macadamia nut butter! They also don’t sell nut butters with coconut. So if either of those tickles your tastebuds, stock up! Get yours at groceries, ABC Stores, and farm stands!
- Pineapples: It’s true! You can bring fresh pineapples home from Hawaii. You can buy boxes of pineapple to be sent home for you. For all the details, check out the USDA website. Get yours at Costco or other grocery stores!
- Hawaiian Quilt: This could be a carry-on item if you’re a master packer, but for most, this will need to go in your checked luggage! Hawaiians have a special way of quilting, and much like everything else distinctly Hawaiian, there is symbolism in every element: the colors, the patterns, etc. They are quite pricey, but it’s something you can use and keep for years, or even pass down through generations. Get yours at Hawaiian Quilt Collection or handmade shops throughout the islands.
Something to Mail Home
Want something truly tropical? Send yourself a coconut! This is really a thing in Hawaii. It’s called “Post-a-Nut,” and it’s as easy as writing the address on it and sending it like a post card. You can buy them already decorated or decorate one yourself. Just remember that postage is calculated by weight like any other package, and fresh, green coconuts are quite a bit heavier than the brown ones! Get yours at some post offices or roadside stands!
Read on: How to Mail a Coconut from Hawaii
You Can’t Take Everything with You…
Hawaii has very strict rules about what can and cannont leave their islands. They have to protect their soil and plant life, and the mainland has to protect theirs, too! Check the USDA website for a list of prohibited items.
Most importantly, remember that all luggage is scanned before leaving the islands to prevent anything from leaving Hawaii that shouldn’t. So please don’t try to get away with anything you shouldn’t be taking with you!
Pro Tip: Got a late flight back to the mainland? Make your last day a shopping day! And check out What to Do On Your Last Day in Hawaii for more inspiration!
Find all my Hawaii posts on my Pacific Islands Page and start planning your trip today!
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