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If there’s one thing we can all agree on about Hawaii, it’s that we never want to come home, right? I mean, that’s certainly how I felt after my most recent trip to Oahu as Mr. V and I walked on the beach our final morning. In the end, we settled for a few extra minutes at our Airbnb, stuffing our latest Hawaii souvenirs into two very well-packed suitcases.
I’ve been fortunate: I’ve visited Hawaii many times and have set foot on all of the major islands since my first trip to Oahu more than 20 years ago. Over the course of those trips, I’ve kept my eyes open to discover the best souvenirs from Hawaii – ones that go beyond the kitsch and stereotypes to bring the flavors and feelings of Hawaii back home.
Below you’ll find my list of Hawaii souvenirs that you should seek out and keep space in your luggage for. Most are available on all five of the main islands (the Big Island, Maui, Moloka’i, Oahu, and Kauai) so you don’t need to worry that one won’t be available if you’re only visiting 1-2 of them. I’m sure you’ll find at least one of these top Hawaiian souvenirs to add to your list for your upcoming Hawaii trip!
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Kō Hawaiʻi Paeʻāina (Hawaiian Kingdom) people. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
1. Macadamia Nuts
Hawaii is one of the world’s top producers of Macadamia nuts, so it’s no surprise that these are probably the most popular Hawaiian souvenir to bring home – for yourself or for family/friends. In fact, you can find boxes of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts for $5 or less in most stores!
To be honest, this is one of those souvenirs that’s so ubiquitous that it almost seems cheesy to mention – but it is definitely one of the top souvenirs from Hawaii, so it has to be first on my list!
2. Honolulu Cookies/Kauai Kookies
After my most recent trip to Hawaii, I can say with certainty: Hawaiians have a solid sweet tooth – or they at least know that we visitors do!
Depending on which island(s) you visit, you can find delicious local cookie companies; two popular ones are Honolulu Cookie Company on Oahu or Kauai Kookies on Kauai. These are great if you want to bring back a sweet treat of the non-macadamia nut variety.
3. Hawaiian Coffee
Hawaiian coffee, specifically Kona coffee, is known worldwide for its powerful punch of caffeine and flavor; it’s another delicious souvenir to consider bringing back from Hawaii. This is especially true if you (or the recipient) isn’t a big fan of sweets!
You can find Hawaiian coffee on every island, and there are a large number of roasters and varieties to choose from. On our recent trip, we went to the local grocery store and grabbed a bag to enjoy during our trip (no gross hotel coffee for us!) and brought the rest home to enjoy later.
4. Pineapple Treats
Another foodstuff that Hawaii is known for? Pineapple! In fact, you’ve probably had Hawaiian pineapple many times in your life without even realizing it (thanks, Dole!).
Pineapple grows on all of the Hawaiian islands and is commercially grown on islands like Maui and Oahu; you can even visit the Dole Plantation on an Oahu road trip! That also means you can find pineapple treats, like dried and candied pineapple, to enjoy while you’re in Hawaii – and bring home with you as Hawaiian souvenirs too.
Note: I don’t think you can bring home a whole pineapple in your carry-on due to agricultural rules, so double-check that you can check it in your bag when you buy one – or just have it shipped home!
5. Tropical Jams & Jellies
If you haven’t guessed yet, things grow well in Hawaii – it’s literally paradisical that way! In addition to pineapple (and coffee and macadamia nuts), a large number of tropical fruits grow in Hawaii too. This means you can find jams and jellies made from a number of those fruits (and even honey from bees that feed on their pollen). From lilikoi (passionfruit) to mango to guava – and even more exotic options, this is a great Hawaii souvenir if you love a full breakfast spread.
6. Hawaiian Sea Salt
If you’re less of a sweet tooth (like Mr. V) and more of a savory tooth (like me), look for Hawaiian sea salt as a souvenir instead of the previously mentioned treats. Hawaiian Sea Salt has become popular lately with chefs on the Mainland (where most of us reading this live), so it’s a good souvenir to bring home if you want to impress dinner guests with a great seasoning.
You can find Hawaiian sea salt on all of the islands; it’s a little harder to find in the typical souvenir shops, so you might want to hit up a local grocery store (like Foodland) for the best selection.
7. Poke Sauce
Yep, I’m still going with the food souvenirs – but to be fair, Hawaiian food culture is so different than what most of us enjoy at home, bringing those flavors home makes them souvenirs!
If you want a really off-beat and delicious food souvenir from Hawaii, keep your eye out for poke sauce. Poke is one of those Hawaiian foods that has become popular on the Mainland, and I’m all about it. During many trips Mr. V and I have taken, I seek out local recommendations for the best poke spots. While on Oahu recently, I used the advice of former local (and fellow travel blogger) Rachel to stop at Fresh Catch; they had bottles of poke sauce available to purchase and I knew it had to make my list.
Basically, if you go to a poke spot and love what you order, see if they have sauce available. Then, once you’re home, you can purchase sushi-grade fish and make your own poke! (If you need advice, here’s my recipe for poke with Alaskan salmon.)
8. Hawaiian Spirits
Okay, just one more Hawaiian food souvenir, I promise! If you’re of legal age and love to try new drinks (like Mr. V), trying local Hawaiian spirits is a great option. Some options include:
- Pineapple Wine – It’s a thing! Not for serious wine snobs, but definitely Hawaiian.
- Pineapple Sake – I noticed at least one brewery (Islander Brewery on Oahu) is making local sake… sounds delicious!
- Koloa Rum – This popular company makes tons of different rum styles and flavors.
There are also a bunch of Hawaiian craft breweries too, if you love beer and want to pack a sixer in your checked luggage.
9. (Maui) Pearl Jewelry
For something completely different, you can also find beautiful jewelry made in Hawaii to bring home as a souvenir or gift. The most common type is pearl jewelry, and Maui Divers is probably the most well-known brand. From rings to earrings to necklaces, you can treat yo’ self (or someone else) at pretty much any budget level with pearl jewelry that’ll last a lot longer than cookies and coffee.
While pearl jewelry is one of the great souvenirs from Maui if that’s the island you’re visiting, you can find it for sale on all of the islands. You can usually ask which island the pearls came from, too. (If they don’t know, that would be a red flag for me that it might not be authentically Hawaiian!)
10. Sunrise Shell Jewelry
I just learned about this Hawaiian souvenir on my most recent trip; Hana Hou (the official airline magazine for Hawaiian Airlines) had an incredible story about Sunrise Shells and the jewelry made with them.
It turns out that a single species of mollusk grows stunningly pretty, colorful shells; divers go down to collect them and turn them into gorgeous jewelry like rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Incredibly, every shell is completely unique – even two halves of the same shell are different. This is one souvenir that’s on my list for my next Hawaii trip!
11. Flower Lei
The Hawaiian flower lei is pretty much the most iconic image of Hawaii – that makes it one of the best Hawaiian souvenirs, too! It turns out the lei goes far back in Hawaiian cultural history; we learned at the Bishop Museum that leis were something even Hawaiian commoners could wear – and there was no special occasion needed to make or wear a lei.
Be aware though: this Hawaiian souvenir has a short shelf life since the best flower leis are made with real flowers. You may get to enjoy it on the plane ride home, but you’ll need to take special care to keep it more than a few days after returning home. As an alternative, you can find both cheap and well-made flower leis with fake flowers that will last longer.
12. Kukui Nut or Shell Leis
If you want a lei souvenir that lasts a little longer, look into the kukui nut or shell leis you can often find sold in the same place. These leis use the dried shell of the kukui nut (which has a huge legacy in Hawaiian culture) to make a lightweight and long-lasting lei. Typically these were more common for men, but like shell leis, which you can also find everywhere, tourists can get away with choosing whichever lei they like as a souvenir from Hawaii.
13. Koa Carvings
The Koa tree is endemic to Hawaii and only grows on these islands, which makes it a great material for Hawaiian souvenirs. In particular, you’ll find craftspeople across all of the islands who make incredible carvings with koa. Mr. V and I found one such craftsman working on our visit to Lahaina on Maui; we ended up splurging on a gorgeous Maui hook that is one of our most prized pieces of wall art (pictured above).
When looking for koa carvings, be sure to understand if they are Hawaiian carved; this is a great opportunity to support local artists.
14. Aloha Clothing
Hawaiian shirts are totally lame, right? Actually, they have a long history in Hawaii, dating back to the early 20th Century. Today, you can find Hawaiian clothing (also sometimes called Aloha shirts or Aloha clothing) that ranges from cheeseball to tiki chic to business casual – and yes, in Hawaii some companies still observe Aloha Fridays where everyone can wear these prints to work.
You can spend as little or as much as you like on Aloha clothing; keep an eye out for stores that offer different patterns as there are a ton to choose from!
15. Hawaiian Quilting
Missionaries brought quilting to Hawaii in the 19th Century; today there are master artisans who make incredible quilted products that can be a great Hawaiian souvenir. From potholders to clothing to actual quilts, several stores have multiple locations across the islands that sell locally quilted products.
16. Tiki Souvenirs
“In Hawaii, tiki is a little sad,” said our bartender as he served up a second round of cocktails at Skull & Crown Trading Co. in Honolulu’s Chinatown district.
It’s unfortunately true: historically, tiki culture has been a distorted appropriation of Polynesian and Hawaiian culture, and has thus been rejected by locals and only half-heartedly promoted to tourists. That said, there are still opportunities to respectfully enjoy tiki in Hawaii, including by visiting a few of the local watering holes. (Sidebar for tiki fans like me: Skull & Crown is probably the only ‘modern’ tiki bar in all of Hawaii; two other classic bars are La Marinana Sailing Club on Oahu and Tiki Iniki on Kauai.)
If you love tiki, there are stalls that sell tiki glasses, and some bars serve up drinks in them too (like the Hurricane Hank at Hau Tree, which I mention in my Honolulu guide). But your best bet for totally cheesy tiki memorabilia is at Tiki’s Bar & Grill right on Waikiki Beach. These are not authentic and walk the tightrope of respectfulness, but make for a fun souvenir to pull out for drinks with friends once you return home.
17. Reef Safe Sunscreen
I know that you already know that you need to include sunscreen when you’re packing for Hawaii; did you know that not all sunscreens are created equal when it comes to their environmental impact? Specifically, most sunscreens are made with chemicals that are super bad for coral reefs and contribute to coral bleaching and death. That’s where reef-safe sunscreen comes in: it’s made without those chemicals that are so bad for marine ecosystems.
So if you look at the sunscreen you brought with you to Hawaii and it includes any of these chemicals, you need to grab reef-safe sunscreen instead. ABC Stores stock a ton of options in full-size bottles, which means you’ll probably end up with some leftovers. That’s why I included it on this list of Hawaiian souvenirs – it’s an inadvertent one, but a souvenir from Hawaii you’ll bring home all the same!
18. ABC Store Souvenirs
Speaking of ABC Stores, I couldn’t have a list of the best souvenirs from Hawaii without including the stereotypical ones: keychains, magnets, postcards… you name it! ABC Stores are a Hawaiian chain that stocks everything tourists like you need (and that I’ve needed – I think we made seven trips to ABC Stores on our recent Oahu trip!).
In particular, you can grab cheap souvenir gifts for friends and family, including some with the ABC Store branding – which shows how ubiquitously Hawaiian they are. You can also find many of the other souvenirs on this list at ABC Stores, but they aren’t guaranteed to be made in Hawaii which is why it’s important to check before you buy – and support local artisans and craftspeople instead if you want one of the other souvenirs I listed.
19. Bonus: Photos & Memories
Okay, I know this is a cheeseball one, but Hawaii is a seriously incredible destination – and definitely a bucket list trip no matter which island(s) you visit. Obviously you’ll come home with plenty of memories, but one of my favorite ways to bring back a unique souvenir is with my Fujifilm InstaX instant camera. I bring it on special trips and shoot 1-2 photos per day; then I have truly unique photo souvenirs to look back on.
I have a review comparing the InstaX with the Polaroid Now if you’re trying to choose which instant camera to buy for your Hawaii trip. (Spoiler: I love the InstaX!)
So there you have it: my list of the best Hawaii souvenirs – almost all of which are made right in Hawaii! Be sure to read the rest of my Hawaii travel guide if you’re planning a trip to the Hawaiian islands!
Which of these souvenirs do you want to bring home from your next Hawaii trip? Let me know in the comments!