Find Great Gifts at these 12 Homespun Hawai‘i Shops

November 06, 2023

Find great gifts at these 12 homespun Hawai‘i shops

 Gifting friends, loved ones, and even yourself is easy, thanks to artisanal items—like these towels—designed or produced in Hawai‘i. Photo by Jen Warren

Whether you’re celebrating 12 days of Christmas, 8 nights of Hanukkah, or the entire season of Makahiki, there’s no place like Hawai‘i for the holidays—and no better gift than one that was made right here.

As a travel writer and guidebook author, I make it a point to visit shops and boutiques on 6 of our 8 major islands each year. Here are some of my current favorite gift ideas, all designed or produced in the Islands by homegrown small businesses and artisans. Many offered special sales in August to benefit Maui wildfire relief efforts; several ongoing opportunities to shop and support Maui at the same time are noted below.

Prices range from stocking-stuffer-suitable to hey-big-spender. You can also use this list to treat yourself. While you can shop online, consider visiting the distinctive stores that showcase these gifts—a serendipitous item might be waiting on the shelves.

1. Aloha de Mele

Man and woman holding up Aloha de Mele microfiber towels.


Aloha de Mele's sand-free, suede microfiber towels feature prints inspired by plumeria, palm trees, and hibiscus plants. Photo by Jen Warren


For that hard-to-please person, don’t give up. Instead, throw in the towel—as long as it’s one of these sand-free, suede microfiber beauties from Aloha de Mele ($50).

Oahu-born artist JT Ojerio, who named the company after her late Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Mele, drew from plumeria, palms, and hibiscus when designing the towels’ prints. Their lightweight fabric comes from recycled plastic bottles and helps shed sand.

Man on the beach holding a hibiscus-print towel.


Aloha de Mele's vibrant hibiscus-print "Summer 20" sand-free towel. Photo by Jen Warren


Other floral options for beachgoers include sustainably sourced pareos ($42). Ojerio’s studio in Honolulu’s Kaka‘ako district also carries art prints, cards, and stickers. Proceeds from the new Aloha de Maui T-shirt ($30), a collaboration with Mahalo Shoots, benefit Maui nonprofits’ wildfire relief efforts.

You may also like: O‘ahu parks perfect for family gatherings

2. Surf Shack Puzzles

Two children putting together a jigsaw puzzle.


Made from recycled Eska board and nontoxic inks, Surf Shack Puzzles have a fun, surfy vibe. Photo by David Ricks


Designed by women artists and made from recycled Eska board and nontoxic inks, Surf Shack Puzzles are too lovely to save for a rainy day.

Colorful images such as “Party Wave” by Michi Pichel and “Polynesian Beauties” by TeAta Gutierrez ($40 each; 1,000-piece puzzles) reflect “the fun, surfy, colorful vibe and the cultural component” of the brand, says founder Mahina Tuteur, who says she is “indefinitely” directing 100% of the profits from the children’s Maui by Tiara Koba Designs puzzle (70 pieces, $25) to Maui wildfire relief. The Native Hawaiian attorney also donates a portion of proceeds from other puzzles to ocean-related nonprofits.

Gift shops across the state carry the puzzles.

3. Laha‘ole

Charcuterie board topped with bread, cream cheese, and salmon slices.


A Pīkake Lei bamboo charcuterie board by Native Hawaiian designer Tanya Uyehara for her Laha‘ole label. Photo by Blake Abes Media


Pīkake blossoms grace many items created by Native Hawaiian designer Tanya Uyehara of O‘ahu. Her Laha‘ole label now includes clothing, jewelry, accessories, and home decor.

Made of eco-friendly bamboo, Pīkake Lei charcuterie boards come in 3 sizes ($20–$40). Pair them with a purple Pīkake Lei adjustable kitchen apron ($35) or a bamboo cutlery set with tiny blooms etched on the utensils ($18). Browse for more in the recently opened Laha‘ole Hawai‘i flagship store in downtown Honolulu.

You may also like: Hawai‘i hotels to inspire your home decor

4. Paradisus Jewelry

Woman wearing earrings, bracelet, and necklace from Paradisus Jewelry's Ohi'a Lehua collection


Paradisus Jewelry's ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua collection features earrings, a cuff, and a pendant, all in sterling silver. Photo courtesy Paradisus Jewelry


After collaborating with kumu hula Sonny Ching and free diver Kimi Werner, Paradisus Jewelry designer Akemi Jensen of Kailua looked to island plants for inspiration.

Handmade in Indonesia, her sterling silver ‘Ōhi‘a Lehua cuff ($600), pendant ($425), and earrings ($175) pay tribute to the first tree to rise from lava flows. “I also wanted to bring awareness to the threat of [the fungus] Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death on the Big Island,” Jensen notes. Native Intelligence in Wailuku, Maui, has more of her and her mom Linda Ueda’s creations.

5. Big Island Coffee Roasters

Flavors of Hawai'i Storybook Collection gift box beside a glass of coffee.


The Flavors of Hawai‘i Storybook Collection gift box from Big Island Coffee Roasters. Photo courtesy Big Island Coffee Roasters


Those who love their morning joe will welcome a gift box from Big Island Coffee Roasters, founded in 2010 by Kelleigh Stewart and Brandon von Damitz.

The Flavors of Hawai‘i Storybook Collection ($95) includes 2 bags of 100% Maui Mokka and Kona coffees (4 ounces each), an ounce of mamaki herbal tea, 5 single-serve Hawaiian coffees, a bar of Classic Espresso Bites, and a Hawaiian coffee lip balm in a keepsake box.

Sample more wares at the company’s newly opened tasting room next to Liliu‘okalani Gardens in Hilo.

You may also like: Shop local at these farmers markets in Hawai‘i

6. Kō Hana Distillers

Bottles of KO Hana Hawaiian Agricole Rum


Kō Hana Hawaiian Agricole Rum is distilled on O‘ahu from the juice of single-varietal heirloom sugarcane. Photo courtesy Kō Hana Rum


Assuming your gift recipients are of legal age and drink alcohol (it’s always good to check), surprise them with a bottle of Kō Hana Hawaiian Agricole Rum, distilled on O‘ahu from the juice of single-varietal heirloom sugarcane.

You’ll make the biggest splash with barrel-aged Koa ($150), named for the endemic wood that contributes to its rich color and taste. Add a custom etching to the bottle ($25) or toss in a tasting tour at the Kunia farm and distillery ($25–$45). Be sure to designate a driver if you plan to drink alcohol.

7. Western Aloha

Fisherman wearing a long-sleeved collared shirt by Western Aloha.


A whimsical ‘ukulele design and pearl buttons grace this shirt from Western Aloha. Photo courtesy Western Aloha


Pearl buttons and tropical patterns make up the unique look of Western Aloha. Kona resident Paul Sullivan founded the men’s and women’s clothing line in 2018. Available in long and short sleeves, his shirts are part paniolo, part surfer, and all excellently tailored.

Great choices include the soft but durable cowboy cloth of the men’s Paniolo Shirt ($135), printed with Hawaiian ranch and beach scenes, and the classic bright plaids of the Palaka Shirt ($135 for long sleeves, $120 for short sleeves).

You may also like: Lū‘au experiences that kama‘āina will love

8. Bradley & Lily

Stacey Nomura notebook with a shave ice design.


A spiral-bound notebook from Honolulu designer Stacey Nomura of Bradley & Lily. Photo by Ian Nomura


The spiral-bound notebooks ($10–$14) and wood veneer–covered “jotters” ($6) from Bradley & Lily, named for Honolulu designer Stacey Nomura’s children, are perfect for those who journal, doodle, or obsess over to-do lists.

Jazz up your gift with a koa-and-resin fountain pen from Lau Lau Woodworks ($240), carried at the company’s South Shore Paperie studio and boutique on Kapahulu Avenue. There, you’ll also find graceful, Hawaiian-themed letterpress notecards, luggage and gift tags, and art prints.

9. Sew Da Kine

Sew Da Kine totebag and matching pouch, both with Spanish cork accents.


A stylish vegan leather handbag and pouch by Hilo designer Jessica Cruzan of Sew Da Kine. Photo courtesy Sew Da Kine


The animal lovers in your life might pop their corks when you give them a stylish Sew Da Kine vegan leather handbag. Hilo-based designer Jessica Cruzan stamps colorful fabric made from Spanish cork with abstract patterns inspired by Hawaiian culture. Her handiwork is long-lasting, easy to care for, and subject to approving looks at your local health-food store.

Harbor Gallery in Kawaihae, Hawai‘i Island, carries a large selection of Sew Da Kine backpacks, purses, clutches, and other accessories ($28–$98). 

10. Mālie

Mālie's roll-on perfume set among holiday decorations.


Kaua‘i-based beauty company Mālie’s roll-on perfumes come in pikake, koke‘e, coconut vanilla, and other tropical scents. Photo courtesy Mālie


Walk into the Mālie boutique at the Royal Hawaiian in Waikīkī or the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu and you’ll inhale the sweet smell of success. Founded on Kaua‘i in 2004 by Dana and Shaun Roberts, Mālie now makes more than 200 bath, beauty, and home products scented with hydrosols derived from organic tropical flora such as mango, plumeria, coconut, and maile.

Popular choices include a refillable container made of glass or recycled plastic ($30–$65), or a sleek, gilded roll-on perfume ($32).

You may also like: Renew mind, body, and soul at these flower farms in Hawai’i

11. Hanalei Strings

Koa 'ukulele with a custom shell inlay design.


A custom koa ‘ukulele from Hanalei Strings features elaborate abalone shell inlays. Photo courtesy Hanalei Strings


Anyone could make beautiful music with a custom koa ‘ukulele from noted Kaua‘i luthier Raymond Rapozo. Contact him directly or order one of his curly koa models from Hanalei Strings on Kaua‘i, where store co-owner Tora Smart designed his Hanalei Moon and Heart of Kauai tenor ‘ukulele with elaborate abalone inlays ($5,000), as well as simpler but still gorgeous soprano ukes ($1,500). Visit the compact shop in Hanalei for other choices starting at $100.

12. Noho Home

Maui Strong tablerunner


Noho Home says 100% of profits from sales of its new “Maui Strong” items will go toward the Maui wildfires recovery for the next 5 years. Photo courtesy Noho Home


Jalene Kanani grew up on O‘ahu, dancing hula and working for her mom, a T-shirt and handbag designer. A foray into commercial carpeting led her to found Noho Home in 2018, initially featuring bedding with prints inspired by Hawaiian culture and now offering an array of home goods.

Brighten any table with the crimson Premium Moena Dining Placemat Set (2 for $60) or gold Hulu Placemat Set ($50). Christmas tree aficionados will also adore the loulu-palm–print tree skirt ($100). HomeWorld stores throughout Hawai‘i and the Bloomingdales in Ala Moana Center carry many other Noho Home items.

Noho Home plans to donate 100% of profits from sales of items featuring Kanani’s new Maui Strong print for the next 5 years toward Maui wildfire relief.

Frommer’s guidebook author and former San Francisco Chronicle travel editor Jeanne Cooper lives on Hawai‘i Island with her triathlete husband, 2 dogs, and a cat.

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