Shopping on Big Island
The Big Island can be a great place to go shopping so long as you have reasonable expectations. If you are looking for souvenirs, traditional crafts, and local food items you are going to be impressed. There are also a few large malls on the island where you can find the usual chain stores that you find elsewhere in the US. The one shopping experience you won’t want to miss on the Big Island will be the farmer’s markets – this is the place to go for exotic fruit and vegetables as well as plenty of other fun stuff.
What to Buy on Big Island?
One of the nice things about going shopping when you are on holiday is you get the opportunity to purchase things you would not normally find at home. There are plenty of unique products to look for on Big Island. The local coffee is famous all over the world, so this can be a nice thing to stick in your suitcase. You will also find plenty of exotic fruits and vegetables in the local markets (see below). If you are interested in art, you will find paintings, sculptures, and figurines by local artists – it you are looking to save money it is best to avoid buying these items in the resort areas. You can also find something unique like a paperweight made from the lava of one of the Big Island volcanoes.
Best Shopping Areas on Big Island:
Hilo is the largest settlement on Big Island, and you will find a reasonable selection of shops in the downtown area. This is a pleasant area to walk around, and there are some interesting art galleries, restaurants, and cafes. If you are looking for cheap groceries, you will probably want to check out Hilo Farmer’s Market on the corner of Mamo Street. If you are looking for books, you might try out Basically Books (see below).
Banyan Drive Area/ Prince Kuhio Plaza Area
The Banyan Drive pedestrianized shopping area is about a mile outside of Hilo. The Prince Kuhio Plaza (see below) is located here, but there are also other shops along this road. If you are looking to buy fabrics, you will certainly want to have a look inside the Discount Fabric Warehouse where they have the largest selection on the island. Visitors with a sweet tooth can check out Big Island Candies where they serve tasty treats like hand-dipped chocolate cookies.
If you have the itch to purchase luxury items, one of the best places to do this will be Kailua-Kona on the west coast. This is where most of the top resorts on Big Island are to be found and so most of the shops are designed specifically to target tourist dollars. There is a mall here called Kona Inn Shopping Village (see below), and this can be a convenient place to go shopping.
Waikoloa is a resort area in South Kohala. There is where the Hilton and lots of other fancy resorts are located. There is a trendy mall here called Kings’ Shops. This is another good place to go for luxury goods and you will find options like Coach and Tiffany.
Honokaa used to be a very prosperous town, but it has witnessed a decline since the loss of the local macadamia nut industry in the nineties. The High Street is a charming place to go for a wander in the early mornings or afternoons. There is a good selection of shops and eateries. The Honokaa Trading Company is well worth a visit if you are looking for souvenirs or collectables.
Best Malls on Big Island
The malls are a convenient place to shop because they are easy to walk around, and they offer a good selection of stores. The best malls on Big Island would include:
Prince Kuhio Plaza
111 Puainako Street, Hilo, HI 96720
Prince Kuhio Plaza is the most popular indoor mall on the island, and it offers the best selection of shops. It opens from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. This is a pleasant mall to wander around even if you are only window shopping because you can escape the heat of the day. The stores here include: Macy’s Department Store, Longs Drugs Store, Hallmark, Jeans Warehouse, Radio Shack, Sears, and Toys R Us. You will also find plenty of eateries including: IHOP, Hot Dog on a Stick, KFC, Chen’s Chinese Kitchen, Maui Tacos, and Starbucks. Prince Kuhio Plaza also has a large multiplex cinema.
Kawaihae Harbor Shopping Center
Highway 270, Kawaihae, HI 96743
This small mall is close to the seafront in Kawaihae. It is in easy reach of many of the island’s top resorts such as the Hilton Waikoloa, Marriott Waikoloa, and Mauna Kea Resort. If you fancy something to eat, you can choose from Avenue (locally made ice-cream), Kawaihae Kitchen (seafood dishes), Cafe Presto, or Kohala Burger and Taco. You can find more food at the Kawaihae Market & Deli. There is also a gallery featuring locally made items, a jewelry shop, and scuba diving shop.
Waikoloa Beach Resort, 250 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa, HI 96738
King’s Shops Mall is inside of Waikoloa Beach Resort, but it is open to the public. There is a shuttle service that runs from many of the nearby hotels, and it operates from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Some of the higher-end stores on the island are to be found here including Tiffany & Co, Coach, Baron and Leeds Swiss Watches, and Louis Vuitton. There are also plenty of other stores such as Macy’s, The Walking Company, Sunglass Hut, and the Big Island Motorcycle Company. King’s Shops Mall is also a good place to go to eat and you can choose from options like The Three Fat Pigs, Island Fish & Chips, Merriman’s Market Café, and Kona Brothers Coffee. There is free Wi-Fi throughout this mall, so it can be a good place to go and check up on your email.
Kona Inn Shopping Village
75-5744 Ali’i Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
The Kona Inn Shopping Village is right on the beach in Kailua-Kona. There are a great variety of shops here – small stores selling local items alongside bigger names like ABC. If you are a bit of an adventure traveler you will find shops here that sell things like surfboards and hiking gear. As you might expect, many of the stores here sell souvenirs and Hawaiian shirts. You will also find plenty of options for refreshments such as Kona Coffee.
Best Markets on Big Island
The most enjoyable shopping experiences on the Big Island are to be found by visiting the local markets. There is a great selection of these to choose from including:
Kona International Market
74-5533 Luhia Street, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Kona International Market opens every day of the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. One of the most impressive things about this venue is the huge food court where you can pick up a tasty Hawaiian food plate. The stalls here sell an eclectic mix of items, and you are likely to pick up knick-knacks that you won’t find anywhere else on the island. This is nowhere near as big as the International Market in Honolulu, but it is worth a visit – especially for the food court.
Keaau Farmer’s Market
16-550 Old Volcano Road Keaau, HI 96749
Keaau Farmer’s Market is open on Tuesdays to Saturdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. They have a good selection of locally grown fruits and vegetables. There are also baked good available and some vendors where you can sit down and enjoy a meal. One of the nice things about Keaau Farmer’s Market is that it a great place to mingle with the local people.
Ali’i Gardens Marketplace
Ali’i Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Ali’i Gardens Marketplace is open Wednesday to Sunday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. It is like a mix between a market and a swap meet. There are usually about fifty stalls here selling a wide variety of items such as food, clothing, local crafts, natural soaps, jewelry, flowers, and local coffee. This market is located in a nice setting with plenty of shade. On some days it can be very quiet here, and this means that many of the stalls won’t bother setting up.
Hilo Farmer’s Market
400 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96721
Hilo Farmer’s Market is the busiest market on the island, and it was voted as the top US farmer’s market by the Huffington Post. It opens Wednesday and Saturday from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. (these are the best days to come because this is when they have the most stalls open) – the rest of the week it opens from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are about two hundred vendors selling their goods here. If you love food, you are going to love this place. You will also be able to pick up things like local crafts, souvenirs, and fresh flowers.
Best Places to Buy Books on Big Island
Big Island has a good selection of bookstores to choose from such as:
Kona Stories (78-6831 Ali’i Drive, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740) is an independent bookstore offering over 10,000 new and classic titles. They open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Basically Books (160 Kamehameha Avenue, Hilo, HI 96720) is a family owned store that specializes in Hawaiian books, but also has a good selection of travel, fiction, science fiction, and children’s books. They open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Kona Bay Books (74-5487 Kaiwi Street, Kona, HI 96740) offers the largest selection of used books in the whole of Hawaii – they also sell used DVDs and CDs. This store opens Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Mandarin Books (340 Kilauea Avenue, Hilo, HI 96720) sells rare and collectable books as well as printed art.
Best Places to Buy Computers, Appliances, and Electrical Goods on Big Island
You will be able to find most appliances and electrical goods on Big Island, but there is much less choice than you would find in Honolulu. If you are looking for Apple products, Mac Made Easy (73-5618 Maiau Street, Unit B105, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740) is the place to go – this is also the place to go if you need repairs on your Apple devices. There are a few computer shops and electrical goods stores in Prince Kuhio Plaza including a Radio Shack. There is also Bay Side Computer Shop in Hilo (108 Kalakaua Street, Hilo, HI 96720) – they have a great selection of computer accessories, and the members of staff are very knowledgeable and helpful.
Where to Buy Souvenirs on Big Island?
There are plenty of shops selling souvenirs in all of the main tourist areas such as Kailua-Kona and Waikoloa, but you will usually end paying more in these touristy areas. The better option would be to try to pick up a bargain at Hilo Farmer’s Market, Kona International Market, or Ali’i Gardens Marketplace (see above). There are also small shops in Downtown Hilo where you can pick up some interesting souvenirs at a reasonable price.
Where to Buy Food on Big Island?
If you are looking to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables, the best place to go will be a Farmer’s Market – the one in Hilo (see above) offers the best selection. If you wish to pick up some cheap groceries, you can go to Safeway (75-1027 Henry Street, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740). There is also a Costco (73-5600 Maiau Street, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740), which is often cheaper than Safeway on popular items.
Where to go Shopping with Kids on Big Island?
Kawaihae Harbor Shopping Center is a good option with kids because there is not only the large multiplex cinema, but they also have a kids arcaded located close to the food court. Kona International Market will sometimes have performances on their stage that kids will like – they also provide free Beginner ukulele lessons here every Friday between 11 a.m. and noon (you need to bring your own ukulele).