AOL PICK from our Editors
Most people on Kauai arrange shopping trips to Honolulu to get new clothes or electronics. As goes for nightlife, the best of shopping isn’t to be found here. So the shopping in Kauai is mostly going to be about souvenirs, knick-knacks, and gimmicky Hawaiiana-esque keepsakes. One could safely tell you go to Walmart for some coffee and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, but that would spoil the fun, wouldn’t it?
Magic Dragon Toy & Art Supply Co.
Neighborhood: North Shore
Catering to children and the child within, this whimsical toy store is great fun thanks to its creative toys and an enthusiastic owner. The shelves are stocked with kites, mermaids, drawing pencils and sketch pads, and the smell from the waffle cones next door from Lappert’s takes you further back to childhood. Some of the more original toys include finger puppets of Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, and Picasso, retro slinkies, hula dancing kits, special edition Surfer’s Monopoly and watercolor paint sets. Also a great place to find a kitschy, old-school Hawaiiana souvenir or gift.
Neighborhood: The Westside
You can find everything from erotica to John London to Little Bo Peep in this dingy, musty little shop, where Goths, skaters, surfers and visitors alike thumb through the pages of many-an-oddity to pass the time. Talk Story Bookstore, named after Kauai’s idiomatic expression of “talking story” or chatting up somebody is an entertaining way to spend a few hours, and it’s located right in the heart of Kauai’s old West: Hanapepe. You don’t have to be looking for anything in particular in this little gem of a nook, where people watching is just as fun as perusing books. Perhaps you’re looking for a book about how to cook naked? Whether they have it, owner Ed Justus (who is also running for one of Kauai’s County Council seats) will gladly help you examine the collection, as well as show you his skills as a barista. Live music accompanies reading on Fridays.
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Titus Kinimake Kai Kane Quiksilver Hanalei
Neighborhood: North Shore
A sartorial word of caution to visitors shopping in Kauai: don’t buy tacky Aloha shirts from Walmart; and while the Tommy Bahama version may look great, what you’re really saying is “I should be in a business suit.” If you want an Aloha shirt then you should get one at the best place: Kai Kane. Along with a sizeable assortment of surf and paddling gear, this shop has the best Aloha shirts, elegant, edgy and not too loud. Yes, Aloha shirts don’t need to be loud.
Neighborhood: The Eastside
This is probably the best place for shopping in Kauai if you want to pick up authentic hand-crafted Hawai’ian items, including Niihau shell leis, the only insurable shell jewelry in the world. The leis are made of literally thousands of tiny shells gathered on the beaches of Ni’ihau, a small island west of Kauai owned by the Robinson Family, and strung one by one. It is slow and laborious work that gives the leis their value. True Niihau shell leis are gathered on Niihau and made by Ni’ihauans. There are knock-offs made on Kauai out of shells gathered there, but the Museum leis are guaranteed to be authentic.
More Details on Kauai Museum Gift Shop