Hawaiian Trading Post

The Hawaiian Trading Post - An Ohana Experience
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Unlike common everyday stores that cater to tourists and feature cheap gadgets or tacky shirts, the Hawaiian Trading Post specializes in authentic jewelry and artistic pieces that embrace the legacy of the island. You can also find an abundance of apparel options and perhaps learn a little bit about the rich history of the island, all when visiting this quaint shop. Visiting the Hawaiian Trading Post is a destination all on its own and is truly a representation of a modern ohana living and working together. 

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Representing three generations of family and over 30 years, the Hawaiian Trading Post circa 1985 has remained a vital part of Kolah, Hawaii. Providing authentic, fine jewelry including Tahitian black pearls, hand-picked from the source, there is much to appreciate about this local shop. The Hawaiian Trading Post also features one of the largest collections of Niihau shell jewelry found on Kauai. 

This beautiful Hawaiian Trading Post, finished in brilliant white, is surrounded by natural features, embracing the beauty of the island while highlighting culture with various artifacts. There is even a huge pineapple that presents an ideal and fun photo opportunity. 

Not to be overlooked by the other offerings, the Niihau Shell Leis are also featured at the Hawaiian Trading Post. The Niihau Shell Leis are an island tradition, which showcases artistic ability and natural materials that are as timeless as the island itself. Since 1985, when the founder Akiko opened the Hawaiian Trading Post, she and her daughter Liz have perpetuated their love for the arts in general but more specifically the art of Niihau Lei making. 

Elizabeth Cope, who is one of the most revered Niihau Shell Lei retailers, also showcases one of the most captivating private collections of fine art, the Hawaiian Trading Post’s Liz proudly shares her knowledge about the Niihau Shells and is happy to share the largest collection of these shells as they pass through her hands. For those in the know, this collection has been compared to rival the Bishop Museum in both quality and quantity. 

Liz once commented about the importance of enjoying the natural beauty and the artistic expression and talent featured in her shop, both in terms of what you can simply look at and others that you can buy and take home with you. She said “There will be a day, maybe not in my lifetime, that this art will no longer exist. Cherish it today, it may be gone tomorrow.”

Hawaiian Trading Post has an overarching motto for how they do business and serve in their community “your local family-owned business catering to those who want to share and indulge in Hawaiian apparel, souvenirs, exquisite jewelry, and our prestigious Niihau Lei collection”. Their ohana, or family, is the backbone of this shop and takes pride in its own origins. This family owned-business has included generations of strong women who embrace hard work. They have since partnered with world-renowned artists, vendors, and designers to stock their store with the best products available on the island. Nearly 40 years after it first opened its doors, this family-owned and operated business is still standing as a testament to the strength of the ohana.

When you visit the Hawaiian Trading Post today, you can expect to meet either Liz herself or her daughter Gabi. You might also meet Don Cope (Elizabeth’s husband and in-house custom jeweler). The Cope family, the proud owners of this amazing specialty store say “From our ohana to yours, mahalo (thank you) for all these years”

The collections and offerings available at the Hawaiian Trading Post…

The Niihau Shell Lei Collection
This of course is the specialty of the store, and you can appreciate the collection the family has gathered and displays in-store. The Niihau Leis are protected by the State of Hawaii H.B. No 2569/ Be aware that Kahelelani Shells are often substituted and misrepresented as Niihau Shells. However, they do not hold the same value. At the Hawaiian Trading Post, every Niihau Shell Lei comes with its own certificate of authenticity, proving the shells are 100% from Niihau. 

Tahitian Black Pearl Collection
Another unique offering available at the Hawaiian Trading Post is an abundant selection of Tahitian and South Sea Pearls. Each piece at the store is hand-picked by Liz who has been awarded, named a top buyer in the world of this beautiful gem. 

Much, much, more
Other collections you can enjoy include freshwater pearls and other jewelry as well as apparel, including options for adults and children or “kieki,” along with souvenirs. There is something for everyone at the Hawaiian Trading Post. 

Insider Tip:
The Niihau Shells, like those available at the Hawaiian Trading Post, are the only shells in the world that are insurable. Consequently, collectors travel from across the world to own a “piece of paradise” that is truly unique.

The Hawaiian Trade Post isn’t your typical tourist shop with cheap trinkets that were likely made in China. Instead, this shop presents an authentic look at rich Hawaiian culture lived out in the present by a wonderful family who are experts in their field. You will not find a better representation of a Niihau Shell Lei anywhere in Hawaii.