Your Kauai adventure probably involves a lot of beaches, hiking, and dining — but if you fail to dedicate at least a few hours to shopping, you will definitely miss out. We’re not just talking department stores, although Kauai certainly has its fair share of those. What really makes Kauai shopping special, however, is the abundance of local artisans, who use their rare and carefully practiced skills to create masterpieces that feel true to the island spirit.
The only problem with shopping? With so many locations spread out across the island, you could spend hours browsing and come up empty-handed. What’s more, many top artisans primarily sell at craft fairs or online. While casual shopping at local stores can be fun, you’re better off focusing on a few select products or creators, especially if they emphasize local materials and craftsmanship. We’ve highlighted several of the best below, so you can score wonderful gifts and souvenirs that will help you remember your time in Kauai.
Enhance your jewelry collection with a masterpiece from Kauai Handmade. Walk-in visits are possible, but appointments are strongly recommended to ensure that you make the most of this unique experience. Custom orders are common, although you will find plenty of alluring options on display. Most are crafted from local materials, such as kahelelani shells and sunrise shells. Remarkable Tahitian and freshwater pearls are also available. In addition to checking out the stunning jewelry, you’re welcome to explore the other offerings, including skincare offerings and even traditional woven hats.
If you love Lilo & Stitch almost as much as you love authentic Hawaiian jewelry, you’re in luck: both are clear areas of passion at JJ Ohana, which maintains an adorable shop in Hanapepe. Beyond this, products can be found at pop-up shops and festivals throughout Hawaii and beyond.
Within the store, handcrafted jewelry is the focus, with kahelelani shells heavily featured. Other pieces feature gorgeous momi and puka shells. Stop by for a leisurely visit but don’t be surprised if your smile ends up on the official JJ Ohana Facebook page, where top customers are prominent featured.
Kilohana Clothing Co.
Update your tropical wardrobe with colorful shirts and robes handmade in Hawaii. Cosmetic bags and totes are also available, so you can keep important items secure while also showing off a vibrant sense of style. Kilohana Clothing Co. also sells the most adorable dresses for girls and even matching frocks for their dolls. As such, this makes for an excellent mother-daughter shopping expedition, although guys will be thrilled to check out the Aloha shirts. These offerings can regularly be found at local fairs and other special events, but online purchases are also encouraged.
Hawaiian Palm Baskets
Island-sourced and handmade by the lovely Amy Christmas (who has a strong background in landscape horticulture), Hawaiian Palm Baskets can be found at many top resorts, crafts fairs, and general retail locations around Kauai. Assembly begins with the shaping of a single, local palm frond, although other indigenous plant parts can be expected to join the fun.
Underscoring the centrality of local craftsmanship, every product includes a tag revealing where the basket’s elements were sourced. Amy is clearly proud of her creations; she explains that “with each basket comes the essence and aloha of Kauai.”
Woman-based and wellness-focused, ‘Āina Organics uses high-quality, sustainable products to create amazing products that customers adore. From body oils to soap and lotion bars, there is something for everyone — and with lavender, peppermint, and rosemary scents featured, you can feel confident that anything you purchase will smell wonderful.
Made locally in small batches, these products promise to promote a sense of calm — or enhance the calm that may already be emerging as you adapt to the rhythm of island life. These can be found at many local craft fairs or purchased online, although the shopping experience is definitely more enjoyable if you get to experience the spectacular scents for yourself.
Coconut canoes might not initially top your list of desired Kauai souvenirs, but they are certainly worth adding to your list. Take some time to appreciate the creations from Pohaku Designs, and you may be tempted to custom order your own amazing vessel. These are constructed from coconut pods and perfected to form an intricate and decidedly memorable souvenir.
There are many specialized options available, such as sailrigger canoes, canoe-shaped cribbage boards, and even canoes designed to display treasured golf ball collections. Any handcrafted canoe will make for an excellent centerpiece — and it will no doubt be treasured for years to come.
The Koa Store
Koa products have long been beloved among Hawaiians and, these days, they are readily available at The Koa Store in Lihue. There, you will find some of the most passionate and experienced artisans imaginable. They have been in the koa business for decades and, while they’ve been forced to shift their focus from furniture to specialty gifts, they are nonetheless appreciated by locals and tourists alike. Other than providing high-quality, yet affordable koa items, the store’s main goal is to limit waste from Big Island mills. Creations are made onsite in the workshop, which produces jewelry boxes, clocks, and much more.
From koa pens to fossilized shark teeth necklaces, Noe’s Creations offers a variety of products that are clearly unique to Hawaii. Pohaku gemstones are also featured, as they are thought to make enthusiasts feel more grounded to the earth. The materials used to create Noe’s special gifts are ethically sourced from Hawaii. These items are sold at many top craft fairs but can also be found at select retail stores on Kauai. Online purchasing is also available.
Support Kauai Artisans With Locally Sourced, Handmade Gifts
Skip the mass-produced T-shirts and purchase something truly meaningful from Kauai’s most remarkable residents. Any souvenirs purchased from local shops or artisans will surely be treasured once your Kauai adventure has come to an end. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to treat yourself as you support the local economy.