The US island state of Hawaii is a dream of every vacationer and souvenir hunter. It offers the best of both worlds – stunning natural beauty and awe-inspiring man-made structures and amenities. Hawaii is certainly the place where both the traditional and the modern co-exist peacefully and harmoniously. Like in visiting other places in the world, you cannot leave Hawaii without buying some of its iconic local products and souvenirs. Here are only a few:
One of the quintessential symbols of Hawaii is the iconic ukulele. Actually, it is an adaptation of the machete, another small guitar-like instrument which the Portuguese immigrants introduced to Hawaii during the 19th century. While it has the appearance of a mini-guitar, the ukulele actually belongs to the lute family.
The ukulele is made of local island wood. It produces a light, soft and rather sweet sound that will definitely remind you of the last time you had a carefree holiday on the islands… and may prompt you to visit Hawaii again very soon!
2) Hawaiian print anything
When in Hawaii, you cannot resist not wearing those colorful shirts and shorts! Hawaiian print fabric has a wide range of bold colors and designs. If you are a fan of those “Aloha” shirts or anything with that iconic Hawaiian print, or if you are looking for that perfect accent for your upcoming Hawaiian themed party back home, you can find them on the local markets.
You may be surprised to discover that there is actually an etiquette regarding wearing Aloha shirts. Smaller, subtler prints are usually reserved for men, especially those who are attending formal business functions. Clothing with bigger and bolder prints and colors are considered casual attire, so get dressed in them for the upcoming luau!
3) Macadamia nuts (and their products)
Although macadamia nut trees are not really native to Hawaii – they actually originated from Australia – they have somewhat become identified with the islands. Since their introduction during the late 19th century, macadamia nuts have become one of Hawaii’s major crops. That’s why compared to other kinds of nuts, macadamia nuts have held a special place in Hawaiian culture.
The best thing about macadamia nuts in Hawaii is that they’re harvested and processed all year round. So it means that they’re all guaranteed to be fresh! You can find packed roasted macadamia nuts flavored with sea salt and honey. Is there a better indulgence than macadamia nuts covered in dark chocolate? Or you can find macadamia nut products that are combined with other native fruits.
Macadamia nut oil is also a popular product, known for its amazing health properties. It can be used for anything, from salads to hair and skin treatments.
Another one of the popular macadamia products in Hawaii is the macadamia-flavored coffee. Macadamia’s naturally sweet and rather buttery taste lends an interesting and exciting addition to the coffee’s flavor. You can buy packs of ground macadamia nut coffee at local stores and groceries in Hawaii.
4) Kona coffee
Hawaii is one of the few US states where coffee is abundant and commercially grown. One of Hawaii’s pride is their own Kona coffee, a type of arabica coffee grown and cultivated on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai which are both active volcanoes.
You cannot find an authentic Kona coffee anywhere else in the world but in the state of Hawaii, specifically in the Kona District on the Island of Hawaii. That’s why it is one of the most expensive coffees in the world.
The taste of the Kona coffee is simple yet rich, bringing out a complex aroma and taste. Usual hints range from spicy to buttery to winey. If you’re a true coffee aficionado in particular who’s looking for a new coffee flavor, fly out to Hawaii to have this unique coffee experience!
5) Pineapple wine
Wine making is not a large-scale production in Hawaii compared to major wine regions in the world, although it is an established business that’s been going on for years. With Hawaii’s rich volcanic soil and high elevation, these factors make planting wine grapes possible.
However, the pineapple sparkling wine is a unique Hawaiian product. Pineapple grows in abundance on the islands, and another fabulous way of making them is turning them into wine. The Tedeschi winery in Maui is a good place to discover the pineapple wine, which has been re-branded as MauiWine. However, you can also find pineapple sparkling wines at local stores. Check out this intriguing article “Unexpected Wine Destinations in the World” and know a bit more about Hawaiian wines.
6) Koloa rum
Want to know more about the spirit of aloha? You can find an actual spirit in Kauai — the Koloa rum. It is manufactured at a local rum distillery that is the only one on the island. This rum distillery is located in small community called Kalaheo and has been in operation since it first opened in 2009.
Now, what does Koloa rum have that makes it so special from other rums on the market? First, take note of its process. The distillery still applies the traditional methods in making this rum, which includes using a vintage 1210 steam-powered copper pot to cut the filtered water (which comes all the way from Mount Waialeale). Second, the ingredients. Apart from the fresh tropical mountain water, sugarcane is also the secret of the deliciousness of the Koloa rum. This rum has 160-180 ABV content, and has been distilled twice.
You can purchase any of the Koloa rum varieties — white, gold, spice and dark — and expect to pay between $30 to $50 per bottle.
7) Tropical fruit jams and preserves
You cannot really end your Hawaiian holiday without taking home some its tropical fruit jams and preserves. Even if you’re now away from the island after the end of your trip, you will still taste the best of Hawaii through their jams and preserves that are made from locally grown fruits. While these jams can be bought from big groceries and supermarkets, the best place to buy them is at farmer’s markets.
8) Coconut oil (and its products)
It goes without saying that coconuts are abundant in the fertile islands, and it comes as no surprise that Hawaii produces the best quality coconut oil. This oil has been long praised for its healthy properties (it is packed with healthy fatty acids) and versatility. It is used for culinary, health and beauty purposes. Don’t forget to take a bottle or two of Hawaiian coconut oil, as well as excellent products made from it such as soaps, lotions and butter (for the skin).
9) Hawaiian quilts
Hawaii has its own unique and diverse culture and that is reflected by its art. Quilting was brought to the islands by the New England missionaries during the 19th century and since then, quilts have become a steady and popular medium for the locals to display its distinctive, beautiful and meaningful art. These gorgeous Hawaiian quilts are filled with designs inspired by nature: leaves, trees and flowers. Be sure to buy one before ending your Hawaiian holiday!
Hawaiian jewelry may not be known the world over, but it still holds a special character and appeal, which are traditional, classic and unique. You can buy jewelry made from rare corals or Niihau shells, or choose a heritage piece of jewelry. You can also personalize an heirloom jewelry by having your own name engraved on it.