Shop Big Island-Style
If you’re planning a Big Island shopping spree, or even a window-shopping walkabout, don’t expect to hit a mall stocked with Mainland lookalikes. Part of the island’s charm is the fact that it’s not riddled with department store chains. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll easily find all that you need; it’s just that shopping on the Big Island is an intriguing mix of island-style apparel and one-of-a-kind things.
Ali‘i Drive in Kailua-Kona is wall-to-wall shopping. Wander through the small shops and find island wear, sandals, gifts, jewelry and art.
For resort shopping, head to the Kohala Coast. Two chic destinations are the Queens’ MarketPlace at the Waikoloa Beach Resort and The Shops at Mauna Lani.
Hilo Hattie, with stores in Kona and Hilo, is known for its large selection of Hawaiian fashions. The store may be the only place in the Islands that stocks sizes up to 5XL.
Holualoa Village is a shopping destination just waiting to be discovered. It’s a short and scenic drive from KailuaKona. The village is set in Kona coffee country and features a collection of galleries and shops with friendly proprietors and intriguing, original merchandise.
The Hilo Shopping Center, just minutes from the airport, is a refreshing oasis from overcrowded malls. Enjoy lunch or dinner at one of five restaurants or relax with a cup of gourmet coffee. The mall includes a large natural foods store and a variety of apparel shops. The shopping center is located at the corner of Kekuanao‘a and Kilauea streets.
Get an Uke of Your Own
Inspired by Eddie Vedder’s Ukulele Songs? Think you could be the next Jake Shimabukuro? Or just want to be able to strum along to songs such as Sitting, Waiting, Wishing by Jack Johnson or Iz’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow? Check out local musical instrument shops in Hilo or Kailua-Kona to try strumming the instrument’s four strings yourself and even buy your own uke to take home with you.
As for the history of the ‘ukulele (pronounced “oo-kooleh-leh,” instead of “you-ka-le-le”), it arrived in Hawai‘i with Portuguese immigrants in the late 1800s along with malasadas and sweet bread. Since then, the ‘ukulele has been a key part of kani ka pila (backyard jam sessions) and popular Hawaiian tunes.
Buy one for yourself and learn all about the different sizes, styles and woods at Kiernan Music in old town Kainaliu. Here you can talk to expert luthiers at the only fully staffed repair and
custom-made ‘ukulele and guitar shop on the island. They carry a full range of new, used and vintage instruments for beginners and expert players, and offer a variety of learn-to-play books and DVDs, as well as referrals to local instructors for short visitor lesson programs.
• Kiernan Music (808) 322-4939
Indulge Your Candy Cravings
If you can’t resist chocolate, Big Island Candies is a decadent destination. For more than 30 years, the Hilo institution has been known for the quality, irresistibility and innovation of its products.
Big Island Candies is located in a 40,000-square-foot facility on Hinano Street near the Hilo Airport. Candy and cookie makers work in plain view behind a glass window at the rear of the store. Daily tours and free samples are available.
Be sure to try the company’s award-winning macadamia nut shortbread cookies, diagonally dipped in dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. The company also has a line of truffles with names that’ll make you drool; Mocha, Hibiscus, Dark Chocolate, Yuzu and Coconut. And that’s only the tip of the candy jar. The store is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Big Island Candies (808) 935-8890 or (800)-935-5510
Ridethe Hele-On Bus for a Buck
There are lots of ways to get around the Big Island, but none of them is as easy on the pocketbook as riding the county’s Hele-On Bus. It’s $1 per ride, with monthly passes or pre-purchased tickets ($7 for a sheet of 10). There’s also a $1 charge per large carry-ons such as luggage, oversized bags and bicycles. Hint: bring exact change.
The county’s Mass Transit Agency recently beefed up service on some of its more popular routes and two new accessible buses have gone into service to aid disabled riders. The Transit Agency also offers a shared-ride taxi program that provides door-to-door rides for as little as $2 within the Hilo-city area.
For more information and schedules, call the Mass Transit Agency at (808) 961-8744.