Waikiki is the biggest tourist trap in all of Hawaii, but that's not to say you must stay away! This is how Hawaii makes money! Come, spend some money in Waikiki, but for a totally exhilerating experience, visit beyond Waikiki, and get to know the rest of the island. There are many ripoffs here, but being a local, in my opinion, International Market Place deserves mention here. You can find some really good deals here, honestly, but to me it's just a bunch of venders selling cheap stuff at sometimes over inflated prices. But hey, someone's got to put bread and butter on their dinner table, and you can find bargains here too.
Unique Suggestions: You will definitely find some really neat stuff here that you won't find at your local Wal Mart, so go ahead and take a peek inside ... beware, it's crowded and larger than you imagine.
2330 Kalakaua AVE, Waikiki
Fun Alternatives: Try out our Aloha Flea Market or Swap Meet at the Aloha Stadiumin Honolulu or Kam Drive Inn in Aiea/Pearl City
I think it is time to go full circle and state that Wakiki is actually UNDERRATED. Sure compared to the Wakiki from the 50's it's a tourist trap I guess, but in the modern era no one goes to Wakiki to "get away from it all". It is a happening urban area of Honolulu.
Of course the hotels are over priced, of course the stores are full of cheap crap, of course there are tons of people, of course there are a lot of theme restaruants. Duh.
However because of all that it is actually very cool. If you are single you will LOVE Wakiki, tons of beautiful people from all over the world, it is truely an international destination.
As for shopping The International Market has all sorts of junk for sale, normally it would be no big deal. However the shear size of the market is what makes it unique. Literally hundreds of booths selling all sort of stuff. You are bound to find something cool. It also has a fun layout that encourages you to sort of get lost in the market and the market is fairly pleasant and Hawaiian themed. Just go to check out the whackiness of it all.
If you want the best deals keep going and going until you get to the alley near the back of the market. The booths there, since they are not part of the main area have the best prices. That is where your bargaining skills come into play. Don't be embarassed, it's just a little dance. Whatever they offer you offer 1/3, after awhile you'll meet somehwere in the middle.
So to sum it up don't go to Wakiki with a chip on your shoulder. It is a busy yet fun environment. Personally when in Hawaii I like ot mix ti up a bit between the natural and the urban.
Did you know that palm trees, pineapples, coffee and macadamian nuts are all not originally from Hawaii? All these things where imported from other places, it's just that Hawaii's rich soil and tropical environment are perfect for these things to grow. So in other words everything you associate with Hawaii in manufactured so you might as well get over it! Half the Hawaii dream is man made.
Beware some of the stuff you buy is gonna is REAL cheap! I bought this one pendant that cost $50, and as soon as I got home it broke within 2 seconds of me trying to put it on my chain.
Unique Suggestions: Buying T-shirts here instead of at the mall can save you LOTS of money. Also, if the vendor gives you a price, always act like you don't really have that much money, and usually they will give you a better deal.
Fun Alternatives: Really no alternative, as they offer the cheapest prices, and allow you to haggle. Also there is a great food court right beside of it.
The biggest tourist trap is the International Marketplace in Waikiki. It is an open air area full of carts selling jewelry, trinkets, souvenirs, t-shirts, etc. This is also one of the most fun places to go. It's kind of a zoo at times. Don't let the pushy people talk you into buying anything you don't want. Find someone who is willing to help you and let you decide.
Also, watch out for sales pitches, such as the 'free dinner' certificates just for listening to a time share sales pitch. These are high-pressure pitches, but if you have the resolve not to buy anything, and you have a couple of free hours, go ahead and do it for the free food! I got two $25 certificates at a local steakhouse for watching a video and listening to a sales pitch.
The international market place is supposed to be up for reconstruction I believe, but the many times that I have been there, I havent really found any deals or well to that effect, anything I like.
There are multiple vendors selling anything from cheap watches and silver jewelrey to cheap 10 for $20.00 shirts, key chains, lighters and the like. Nothing really "hawaii"
Unique Suggestions: Watch the guy out front carving the sculptures from the logs.
Fun Alternatives: This trap can be fun, I just wouldnt call it true hawaii.
There's a stall or 2 that sell perfume. These look like name brand perfume (only slightly cheaper than Duty Free). We bought "John Gaulteir Le Male" for $50 yet on getting this home we found it was nothing but a cheap knock off.
Unique Suggestions: When you buy the perfume, check that it is labelled with the brand, and check the item given to you before you leave the stall to make sure it is the same you thought you bought!
but I've found that although it looks great when you purchase...it is poor quality. Hey, you get what you pay for!