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Best Honolulu Shopping

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Honolulu shopping is a serious business, so much so that hotel occupancies jump each year during Golden Week (the first week of May), when Japanese nationals flock to Honolulu for a shopping spree in paradise. In fact, the first thing you notice driving into Waikiki is not the beach, but the barrage of high-end stores—the likes of Louis Vuitton and Gucci—on both sides of Kalakaua Avenue. Even outer island residents make dedicated trips for holiday gift-buying at the malls or affordable name-brand goods at the Waikele Premium Outlets. Honolulu shopping is some of the most diverse Hawaii has to offer. Beyond the multi-storied shopping centers, specialty shops offer items that might come in handy during your stay. Souvenir shopping is a no-brainer at every ABC store (popular chain of Hawaiian gift shops) in Waikiki, but consider weekend farmers markets and craft fairs for locally made jewelry and handicrafts.

Aloha Tower

Neighborhood: Downtown
Island gifts and apparel that qualifies as “resort casual” make up the bulk of the offerings at Aloha Tower Marketplace, a collection of 75 shops and restaurants that sits on the waterfront at the foot of downtown. Specialty shops include Red Bamboo for tropical home furnishings and Hawaiian Ukulele Company for handcrafted instruments. Aloha Tower offers one of the most fun Honolulu shopping experiences. There’s often free live entertainment, and no shortage of benches where you can take five and watch the cruise ships and barges chug in and out of Honolulu Harbor. Note to weary shoppers: Gordon Biersch on the lower level pours flavorful microbrews served in a frosted glass.

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Aloha Tower  

International Marketplace

Neighborhood: Waikiki/Ala Moana
This open-air bazaar, enshrouded under a giant banyan tree, has been a Waikiki institution since 1957. Its central location on Kalakaua Avenue across from the Outrigger Hotel makes it a convenient stop for last-minute souvenirs if you’re having trouble prying yourself from your beach towel to go shopping in Honolulu. A maze of 130 vendors peddle their wares from free-standing carts selling kitschy trinkets, cheap t-shirts, aloha wear and shell jewelry. It doesn’t hurt to bargain here, especially if you’re buying in bulk. Open from 10AM to 10:30PM daily.

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International Marketplace  

Ala Moana Center

Neighborhood: Waikiki/Ala Moana
Spend the day shopping at Ala Moana Center and you’re likely to get as much exercise as hiking up Diamond Head. This pleasant four-level outdoor mall, one of the largest in the country, houses 290 merchants, among them dozens of specialty kiosks and 70 food and beverage options. Ala Moana offers the best department store shopping in Honolulu; Macy’s, Sears, Nordstrom, Shirokiya and Neiman-Marcus serve as the mall’s anchors. If you’re looking for a popular retailer—Old Navy, Le Sportsac, Foot Locker, Apple Store, Radio Shack, Lenscrafters—chances are you’ll find it here.

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Ala Moana Center  

Waikiki Beachwalk

Neighborhood: Waikiki/Ala Moana
The latest development in Waikiki has been concentrated in its western corridor, where recently opened hotels like the Trump International and Embassy Suites have revitalized an area that once had little foot traffic compared to the rest of Waikiki. The vibe at this fancy, two-story Honolulu shopping center is not so much exclusive as it is, well, new. There are, however, plenty of select (if not pricey) boutiques and galleries to suit sophisticated tastes:  Hawaiian Quilt Collection, Peter Lik Gallery, Na Hoku Jewelers. Waikiki Beachwalk offers a great atmosphere for Honolulu shopping. Live island music adds a soothing charm to the shopping experience, and the dining options are above par.

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Waikiki Beachwalk  

Ward Centers

Neighborhood: Waikiki/Ala Moana
Ward Centers is an urban entertainment and shopping complex that occupies four enormous, pedestrian-friendly blocks across the street from Ala Moana Beach Park. Large retailers including Borders, Sports Authority, and Brookstone are located here, but they’re outnumbered by small boutiques and specialty stores like Island Soap and Candle Works and Honolulu Cookie Company, making it a great stop for souvenir and traditional Honolulu shopping. A standout is Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii, which offers an extensive collection of handmade Hawaiiana as well as traditional arts workshops from lauhala weaving to hula, hosted by native practitioners (www.nativebookshawaii.com). Dave & Busters and a 16-screen cinema make Ward Centers also a favorite date night destination for locals.

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Ward Centers  
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