Akatsuka Orchid Gardens: Grow Your Own
We stopped on the way back from the Volcano National Park at the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens. Going to the gardens is free and they hope you will buy some of their products from the gift shop. They also sell through the internet and ship
What to buy: The gift shop features orchid and floral-related products and made-in-Hawaii gifts, including Akatsuka Original Magnets-clay replica magnets designed after the orchids. You can also buy the plants which are certified for US Mainland travel and can be purchased and shipped from our counter or packed for carry-on.
What to pay: Magnets are $5.50
Perfumes, soaps and beauty products from $10 to $30
Orchids $40 and up
- Road Trip
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Long's Drug Store: Photo supplies
Long's drug stores are located all over the islands.
They have the usual things that you usually buy at a pharmacy and a whole lot more.
We found that they had the best prices on nuts, candy, coffee, souvenirs, Kukui nut oil,
plus they develope your film in 24 hrs. Most people don't use film these days but they also have good prices on batteries and other supplies.
- Budget Travel
Basically Books: Books and a lot more
This friendly shop has a lot of books, especially about Hawaii, as well as CDs, maps, cards and other articles. It is locally owned and managed - not a part of a big chain.
What to buy: Things you might buy at the big chain stores. But why not give your business to an independent store where it is really appreciated and gives personalized service.
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Big Island Candies: Best chocolate on the island
You can find chocolate covered macademia nuts in any tourist shop in Hawaii, but to get fine, quality chocolate and shortbread, this is the place. Creative gift packages are available. Just be aware that the prices reflect the quality and presentation. If you're just looking for bargains, this isn't the place.
You can also buy direct from their website.
What to buy: Everything you see.
- Food and Dining
Big Island Candies: World Famous
I know this should be classified under Shops and not Restaurants simply because it is a store! Big Island Candies is perhaps the most visited site in Hilo by tourists. All tour groups come here especially Japanese tours. People can't get enough of this place and they shell out the big bucks to take stuff home for their families. These treats are not cheap either. Big Island Candies got off to a humble start as most local business do and prospered to where it is today. People from all corners of the world place orders through customer service and pay rediculous shipping fees just to get these dilectable goodies.
Upon entering the store, you are greeted by a friendly face with a sample of some kind of chocolate or cookie. The store produces a wide variety of homemade cookies, chocolate candies, local goodies, coffees, ice creams, and wonderful fruit smooties. There's a nice rest area outside to enjoy your treats in a neatly manicured yard. The store is spotlessly sterile and the cleaners are constantly doing their thing. Everywhere you look there's an impulse buy waiting to happen. The smell you are hit with upon entering is the exotic aroma of locally grown coffee. You are able to watch the dippers do their thing through the glass as well as watch the processing. I am not sure if the factory still provides tours but I remember going on one as a kid. This is a must for all visitors to Hilo.
What to buy: Can't go wrong with the classics. Their signature creation is the half dipped milk chocolate/shortbread cookie. All other shops that make these are knockoffs. Originally just milk chocolate, the cookies now come in various flavors including dark, white, coffee cookied. Another great buy is their macadamia nut brownies. No these aren't chocolate brownies. If you need a cool treat, head over to the smoothie counter and order up a pina colada (non alcoholic ofcourse) mixed with mango concoction. Their homemade ice creams are great too and recommended. Aside from the sweets, they also sell clothing merchandise and other momentos.
What to pay: If you really want to buy it up, spend at least $100USD. Anything less than that will not last you until the plane ride home!
- Family Travel
Prince Kuhio Plaza: The largest mall on the Big Island
Prince Kuhio Plaza is no Mall of America, but it's ours. The plaza contains many stores and eateries with ATMs around every corner. Wherever you look, there's a constant reminder to spend. The one thing I found annoying happens around the holidays. It seems like you cannot escape endless organizations begging you for a donation. I know it sounds mean and shallow but I need money too! The mall is like a big X and if you don't remember the area, you can get lost easily. There are a few key stores you will recognize should you get lost. Cinnibon and Sunglass Hut are easy to identify.
What to pay: $$$
- Business Travel
Big Island Candies: Beat Candy on the Island
Big Island Candies was established in 1977 to manufacture and market fine quality macadamia nut candies and cookies using 100 percent Hawaii-grown macadamia nuts and Kona coffee, island eggs, real butter and high-grade chocolate. Since its founding, Big Island Candies has continuously introduced new and imaginative products that “wow” both the eyes and taste buds of its growing legion of fans.
All of our products are made with pride at our chocolate factory, gift shop, and headquarters in Hilo, Hawaii.
What to buy: When people from Hawaii say "da-kine", they mean anywhere, or anything and everything. But you'll find that you can't find "Da-Kine" treats anywhere else. You can't compare them to anything you've tasted. And once tasted, you'll do everything to have them again. These intriguing, one-of-a-kind specialties are dipped in milk chocolate to create unique and 'ono (delicious) local flavors.
My favorite is the Macadamia Nut Combo Chocolates
What to pay: Most 8oz boxes are from $7.50 - $12.00
- Food and Dining
Hilo Market: Local Bargains
The Hilo market is a great place especially for fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables at bargain prices. Bouquets of tropical flowers including Birds of Paradise, Orchids and Anthurium sell for about $5. If I could get the same thing at home it would be 10 to 20 times that much. They also have lots of other items - clothing, decorative items, musical instruments and household items. In many ways it reminds me of market days in Europe.
What to buy: Most of the merchants are local folk, many of whom produce what they are selling. I visited with one many selling specially grown and roasted coffee - done right on the island and it was delicious coffee. Locally grown products abound, especially fruits, veggies and flowers.
What to pay: Just about everything I saw here was a real bargain so depends on what and how much you buy.
Hilo Hattie: Fun stuff & Hawaiian shirts
Hilo Hattie has just about anything you could want in terms of souvenirs. Also, as you enter the store each person is given a shell necklace/lei, a small orchid for your hair (I looked truly lovely in mine) and a small complimentary cup of coffee.
They have all sorts of clothing, jewelry, beachwear, candles, specialty foods and coffe as well as home nick nacks.
What to buy: We bought really nice looking and understated (for Hawaii) Hawaiian shirts. My wife wanted the same shirt for each of the grandchildren and this is never easy to find. However here she found identical shirts in all sizes - bought them for our children & their spouses as well as grandchildren ages 4-11. Ten shirts in all!! Oh well, they gave us 2 good sized boxes of chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies and a coffee mug as well as a discount.
What to pay: Prices are not bad so it depends on how much you buy.
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