Aloha! Hawaii is a dream destination for many people. From globetrotters to honeymoon couples, families to big groups, everyone wants to visit Hawaii one day. And once you do, I’m sure you won’t return home without some gifts and souvenirs. While shopping in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, most of the products you see will have the “Made in Hawaii” label on them. However, let me warn you, most of them are not actually made in Hawaii. Be particularly careful about the items sold in the most touristic region, Waikiki (Honolulu).
If you are searching for high quality and authentic Hawaiian products, here’s a rundown of 6 cool brands I discovered in beautiful Honolulu during my last trip to the island of Oahu. I truly believe it is best to purchase souvenirs that support the local economy rather than massproduced trinkets that come from manufacturers outside of Hawaii or the destination you are visiting. Think quality over quanitity, and community over cost.
Mahalo Skin Care
After long sunbathing sessions and spending many days on the beach, your skin will need a little rejuvenation. Mahalo Skin Care is a Hawaiian natural skincare brand that I immediately fell in love with. Mahalo actually means “Thank you” and I’m sure you will thank me after using their products.
The items I liked the most are their facial serum and antioxidant mask. First, let’s talk about Mahalo facial serum. In hotter climates such as Hawaii, your skin requires additional hydration. When typical moisturizing lotions are not enough, facial serums are an excellent solution. Mahalo’s serum protected my skin from environmental damage and nourished my skin properly. As a bonus, it also helps fight acne and inflammation. If you have troubled skin, I strongly suggest you use this natural Hawaiian product.
The second Mahalo product I can recommend is the antioxidant mask. This mask exfoliates dead cells as well as dirt and toxins from your skin. It only takes 5 minutes to apply the mask to your face. You will recognize that healthy glow is visible on your skin after the initial application.
Mahalo products are natural skincare goodies are creative and athentic Hawaiian souvenir options for yourself as well as your friends and family. Did I mention the natural packaging? Now, that’s a souvenir gift that I’d love to receive!
Hawaii has banned most sunscreens which were being sold on the beaches except reef safe ones. Kokua Suncare has formulated a reef safe sunscreen that will surprise you. The owner of the brand personally met with me and her passion and enthusiasm was contagious. She explained that Kokua Sunscreen is made from 7 Hawaii grown antioxidant Ingredients. The sunscreen is totally baby and reef safe. Upon use, you will notice the superior quality and see that it is not like other sunscreens on the market. I loved how your skin doesn’t become sticky or greasy. I was pleasantly surprised by how this sunscreen acts more like a light moisturizing lotion.
This natural zinc sunscreen SPF50 has absolutely no chemicals! I used Kokua’s sunscreen every day before exploring the amazing beaches of Hawaii. I even gifted these to a few friends who were in Oahu at the same time as me and I received excellent feedback. People love receiving useful gifts that are authentic and made by locals so this sunscreen would be enjoyed by all.
What comes to mind when you think about a holiday in Hawaii? Lush landscapes, stunning beaches, and Hawaiian shirts obviously. I know I probably sound like a cliche but I was dead set on finding the most authentic Hawaiian shirt brands on the island. I was gifted two Hawaiian shirts from the brand Avanti Shirts. Their ‘White Ginger’ pattern in navy is one of my favourite designs. I appreciate how this shirt is versatile; I was able to rock it with and without a blazer. The best thing I liked about Avanti shirts is that they are relatively wrinkle resistant and very suitable for beach life. Avanti Shirts pride themselves as a “made in Hawaii” brand and you may combine your shirts with a pair of their shorts. I tried the shorts on and found them to be excellent for beach life and comfortable. If you don’t want your friends to be jealous, you can pick up a couple items from Avanti Shirts.
If you have read up to here, you can already tell that I’m a huge fan of Hawaiian shirts. There’s no way that I could only mention one Hawaiian shirt brand. Upon scrolling through instagram for hours, I managed to find another epic Hawaiian shirt brand called JAMS World. JAMS is the short form of the word Pajamas! It took me a while to find the shop and I actually ended up in the wrong mall at first. A few uber rides later, I finally made it to JAMS World.
What I adore about JAMS World is the brand’s rich history. Their production history goes all the way back to 1964 and they are one of the few brands that still manufactures all their products in Hawaii.
This brand has a very vintage vibe with bold patterns and colour palettes. I got lots of compliments on these shirts and you will find them all over my instagram feed. I wore them in Hawaii, Mexico City, and I am planning on taking them to another tropical destination later this summer. My absolute favourite shirt is called “Joy Fest”. I love wearing colourful shirts with cool prints as they exude a happy and positive energy.
Live A Lei Life
Can you imagine Hawaii without fragrant leis and flowers? Leis are an integral part of Hawaiian culture and there are many local makers who create lovely leis that can serve as keepsake items. Now for a quick cultural lesson; a Hawaiian lei is a beautiful floral adornment which can be worn around the neck. Leis are a symbol of friendship and love. They are often used to welcome someone with warmth.
“Live A Lei Life” is a successful independent brand that I also discovered on the gram. The creator behind the brand is quite immersed in the local community and hosts workshops and offers event services. ‘Live a Lei Life’ does not have a storefront so you may get in touch with them via Instagram direct messages and arrange a special order. You can also purchase their beautiful leis from a pretty flower shop called Paiko. I would call in advance to find out about stock levels as they sell out quick. The leis are composed of part shells and part flowers so they end up lasting a lifetime. Live A Lei Life products are like the reflection of happiness and joy. I strongly suggest you check this out.
Have you heard of coconut hats? I’ve been seeing these for years and I absolutely needed to get one. It was a bit hard to figure out where I could get one on the island so I am happy to present to you “Coco Shade”. The hats are all handmade thanks to years of practice and mad weaving skills. You will find that the leaves are very strong and last for a long time. The hats are also known as “Palm Frond Hats” because they are made from coconut palm fronds. If you’re looking for a totally green and recycled natural product, this is it. There are different sizes to select from. I suggest you take a look at their Instagram and direct message the creator for buying a couple of traditional hats.
For me, a travel experience is not complete without supporting local brands and creatives. As travelers, we gain a wealth from each destination we visit so we should also focus on giving back in every way we can. If you’re interested in traditional products from a destination such as Hawaii, why not opt for authentic ones that are made by locals on the actual island?. I hope these shopping tips will help you to find authentic Hawaiian gifts for your friends, family, and for yourself, before returning back home. I wish you a relaxing and adventurous getaway to the island of Hawaii. Bon Voyage!