What could be more special than experiencing Oʻahu like a local and supporting island businesses? Shop for made-in-Oʻahu fashions, food, art, jewelry, and more created with the spirit of aloha. And feast on the beloved specialties that locals savor every day.
Support local businesses through following organizations, which are dedicated to creating economic diversification, high-quality jobs, givebacks, investment, and a regenerative culture of entrepreneurship:
- House of Mana Up is a retail experience that highlights unique stories of Hawai‘i’s rising entrepreneurs and the premium brands they’ve built, many of which have been recognized internationally for their products’ high quality or innovation. Find them on the first floor of the Royal Hawaiian Center.
- Noʻeau Designers is home to over 100 small businesses featuring Native Hawaiian-owned, made in Hawaiʻi products, and locally based brands. The shop offers a variety of curated products including apparel, jewelry, home goods, and more. Find them at Ala Moana Center and Ka Makana Aliʻi.
- Kuhikuhi.com is a mobile-friendly website with a mission of directing customers to Native Hawaiian-owned businesses statewide. Discover the fashion forward designs of Kini Zamora (featured on Project Runway), Kakaʻako Casuals (Hawaiʻi designed footwear), Hawaiʻi BookMark (koa wood earrings and gifts), and more locally owned businesses.
- Made in Hawaii Festival: Travel to Oʻahu during the Made in Hawaii festival for a multi-day celebration highlighting the unique products of Hawaiʻi. Hundreds of exhibitors offer everything made in Hawaiʻi from art, clothing, food, home furnishings, jewelry, toys, fresh produce, and plants, to authentic Hawaiian handicrafts.
For many, the aloha shirt is a symbol of a Hawai‘i vacation conjuring up images of popular celebrities who wore them including Elvis Presley on the cover of Blue Hawai‘i and Tom Selleck in Magnum PI. It is also very symbolic of Hawai‘i’s multicultural history. Early shirts in the 1920’s were shaped western-style, made with Japanese fabric, constructed by Chinese tailors and worn untucked, a common style of Filipino men. Hawaiian design elements were introduced later and resulted in a fashion trend that made it all the way to the White House during Hawai‘i-born President Barack Obama’s tenure. While the aloha shirt serves as the heart of Hawai‘i fashion, many brands have evolved beyond the garment, continuing to pull from Hawai‘i’s many cultures as inspiration.
Find beautiful aloha wear for the whole ‘ohana at Manuhealiʻi for casual wear in bright, happy colors and patterns. You can find a variety of aloha wear retailers at centers like Ala Moana Center, Royal Hawaiian Center and International Market Place.
Made on Oʻahu Gifts
The island custom of bringing a gift back from a trip for friends, family or co-workers is ingrained in Hawai‘i’s culture and there are a variety of locally-made items for every person. The gift is an expression of gratitude toward the recipient and is most commonly a food item. Bring some omiyage back home to your favorite coworkers, friends and family members.
Some local favorites include:
- Hawaiian Host – Mamoru Takitani from Maui moved to Honolulu in 1927 and purchased Ellen Dye Candies, a local confectioner and renamed the company Hawaiian Host. Maker of the original chocolate-covered macadamia treat, the company is now the country’s largest exporter of chocolate-covered macadamias. Hawaiian Host products can be found across O‘ahu at ABC Stores, Costco, Foodland, Longs Drug Stores, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and other outlets.
- Honolulu Coffee Company: Enjoy Farm to Cup. Founded in 1992 with one small kiosk in downtown Honolulu, they now have locations in Guam, Japan and Canada and own their own coffee farm. When on Oʻahu, clients can stop by the Honolulu Coffee Experience Center, their 9,000 square foot flagship location where clients can watch the roasting process, taste handcrafted pastries from scratch.
- Honolulu Cookie Company – Honolulu Cookie Company cookies are baked fresh each day and bakers follow a strict recipe of only the finest ingredients to create premium, Hawaiian-inspired shortbread cookies. Honolulu Cookie Company has store locations on O‘ahu at Ala Moana Center, International Market Place, Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikiki Beach Walk, and more.
- Kō Hana Hawaiian Agricole Rum handcrafts small batch rum from kō—sugar cane brought to Hawaii by Polynesian voyagers nearly one thousand years ago. The Kō Hana Rum Tasting Tour begins with a glass of fresh pressed cane juice, a visit to the custom rum still to learn how native Hawaiian sugar cane is distilled into agricole rum, and a tour of the garden to learn the history of kō. The tour finishes up at the tasting bar where guests compare white and aged rums.
- Noho Home offers artful home decor reflecting the designer’s love for her Hawaiian heritage and other first nations’ cultures. Find organic textures woven with native intelligence. In ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language), noho means “to be, to dwell or to come from.”
Eat and Drink Local
Waves of immigrants have left their imprint on how we eat, from the first Polynesian settlers to the whalers and missionaries to the plantation workers from Japan, China, the Philippines, Portugal and other countries. O‘ahu, as the most cosmopolitan of the Hawaiian Islands, is also home to a great diversity of cuisines and contemporary flavors.
Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown: A Kaleidoscope of Dishes
For a cultural explosion, visit O‘ahu’s unique Chinatown which offers fragrant lei stands, bustling produce markets, local upscale boutiques, art galleries, and traditional Chinese fare but also some of the island’s most prominent and innovative chefs from New American, French-Korean and new-age Vietnamese.
From award-winning restaurants and multiethnic eateries to inspired bars with great food menus and spots for serious cocktails, the area is a definite hotspot for foodies. Here, some of the island’s most creative and talented chefs offer menus rich with traditional and modern dishes, many of these proudly boasting their local-ingredient credentials. The downtown/Chinatown area is also a hub for the culture and arts. Alongside fabulous dining options, enjoy exploring art galleries, museums, snack shops, ice cream, coffee, fashion and boutique retail stores.
Kakaʻako: Beer, Boutiques and Beautiful Art
For meals with a different type of view, set your sights on the microbreweries, street art and trendy boutiques and eats that make up the colorful, urban neighborhood of Kaka‘ako. A warehouse district that is being transformed into a hotspot for eats and arts. You can find a bevy of locally owned cafes, juiceries, retailers and dining options at SALT at Our Kaka‘ako and then enjoy a walk to enjoy the murals from the past decade of annual POW!WOW! Hawai‘i street art events.
Kaimukī: Old Charm x Trendy Hot Chefs
For some old neighborhood charm, enjoy the juxtaposition of generational mom and pop’s living alongside some of the newest and hottest eateries and confectioneries in Kaimukī. Find and taste boba, scones, ice creamery, the best of brunch and farm to table, fine dining French fusion as well as generational family diners.
Wahiawā: Emerging Food Scene
For those ready to truly explore, a trip to Wahiawā is in order. Long home to locally loved bakeries, in recent times this sleepy town has become an up-and-coming culinary community with new eateries popping up reflecting its diverse resident population.
Kapahulu Avenue: A Road to Iconic Eateries
So close but worlds apart, Kapahulu Avenue is not just a road connecting Waikīkī to Kaimukī but “a venue” with some of the islands’ most iconic eateries from sweet treats like malasadas and shave ice to the quintessential savory local plate, you can find it all in just one tasty mile.
Mix and mingle with local farmers, artisans and chefs offering fresh local produce, unique handcrafted items, and delicious bites at a local farmers market.
“Buy fresh, buy local” at the Mahiku Farmers Market. Held every Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. throughout Level 1 of the International Market Place and every Monday and Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. on the ground floor of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa. The market offers a variety of fresh and unique products from local farmers, growers, artisans, and food purveyors as well as popular souvenir and gift items such as Hawaiʻi Island coffee, Hawaiian honey, soaps, T-shirts, shell jewelry, wood carvings, sarongs and beachwear. The market provides an an eco-friendly way to support local vendors and to discover fresh tastes and snacks to enjoy on the go or at home.