Ala Moana Shopping Center, Oahu
The Island Olive Oil Company was a favorite shop of ours during our most recent trip in January 2014. My wife loves to cook and is always looking for something new or different in the ingredients department. This store has an array of different olive oils, vingegars, spices and seasonings.
We spent some time talking to the salesman and trying some of the wares. Our favorite item was their Lilikoi sugar; unbelievably delicious. We wound up purchasing two large jars of this to bring back home. Our friends Bob and Barbara from Maui were with us and we received 10% off our purchase because they are Hawaii residents...nice!
What to buy: Try the Lilikoi sugar it's amazing especially on Creme Brulee.
This is one of the most famous malls on the island and you will pass from here anyway if you use public transport because it’s the main hub for the buses. It houses several upscale brands. We checked the prices and were much better than in California. There are more than 200 stores here so definitely you will spend some of your precious dollars. It is always full of people going up and down like it is their last day of shopping! A big part of the shopping center is occupied by the famous Macy’s and Sears (same prices but if you are a non American citizen you have a discount). This open air shopping mall has even a show stage where we saw models showing clothes (pic 2) while some other days they had hula shows and music concerts!
By the way, the real fishes on second floor (pic 3) will be a good opportunity for you to relax for a while as long as your wife gets deeper and deeper into the shopping therapy! :) There is also a big area with several restaurants but it so noisy that we decided to find a more down to earth place for lunch.
I know I have quite a few shopping tips here, it’s because during my first visit I was on Oahu for 22 days and had enough time for pretty much everything, including shopping.
Ala Moana seems to be the most popular shopping place for both locals and tourists. Especially if you like when all the major stores are located in the same area, this place is very convenient. Many busses run there from Waikiki (actually I walked there, it’s very close) and there’s a huge free parking lot.
Everything you need can be found at Ala Moana. Brand name lovers can find their favorite stores on the top floors, lower lever is mostly occupied by souvenir shops, food stalls and some reasonably priced stores. The food court in the middle of the ground level offers enormous choices of dishes from pizza and Chinese noodle bars to steaks and fine sushi gourmet.
Sears, Macy’s, a huge supermarket, Barnes and Noble, oh well… I didn’t count exactly, but there are about 200 stores to choose from.
Ala Moana includes shops like: Nine West, GAP, Banana Republic, Guess, DKNY, Dior, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany, oh well, you get the point. Plus, you can always check online.
In case you forgot your favorite Prada bag or Gucci sunglasses at home, you can pick up a replacement at the Ala Moana Mall. This mall is filled with high-end luxury stores. The building is huge and I don't think we covered even half of it.
There is an interesting area on the upper level with restaurants and dance clubs. A food court, specialty stores and plenty of parking. If you feel the need to shop while in Honolulu, this is the place to stop.
They claim to be the world's largest open-air shopping destination. You will find over 290 luxury brand name shops, local specialty stores, Restaurants (10 of them) and food court. To name a few: Macy's, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus,Sears for the big department stores. For tourists: Holo Hattie, ABC stores, Crack Seed Center. For the rich: Tiffany, Prada, Chanel, Dior, Jimmy Choo, Luis Vuitton or some of the normal one's like Old Navy, Barnes and Nobles, Banana Republic, Guess, Gap, Rip Curl, Diesel, Abercrobie and so on.
Opening hours: 9:30am -9 pm except Sunday: 10am- 7pm
Shirokiya is a small department store that sells and showcases many Japanese and Asian items. There are many things that are worth buying here, and if you aren't interested in buying, then there is still plenty to look at. Mostly I would suggest coming here to buy keepsakes or gifts for special occassions, or things you will hold on to for life.
On occasion, the upstairs grocery department will have a fair of sorts that will highlight particular foods from different regions of Japan. There are normally free samples and plenty of interesting things to buy.
What to buy: Japanese toys, keepsakes, jewelry, and electronics
What to pay: the same prices you would at most other nicer department stores
This store is one of Oahu's best kept secrets. Dating back thousands of years, wagashi is a style of unique confections made of fruits, grains, berries, and a host of other ingredients. Their selection is ever changing to go along with the seasons and the flavors are excellent. My suggestion would be to just pick one of each of many of the items instead of a whole box of just one. There are too many that are good to suggest just getting one kind. And there are too many interesting and unusual flavors to try to limit yourself. If you want a great gift to bring home, or something for yourself to enjoy, I would highly suggest you check Minamoto Kitchoan out. Your tastebuds will appreciate it I am sure.
The only other locations Minamoto Kitchoan has in the world are Singapore, London, New York, City, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Paris.
What to buy: Wagashi
What to pay: prices per piece vary from under $2 to higher
When you walk through the doors at L'Epicier you are greeted by a lovely Japanease woman bearing a tray with small sample cups to taste the "tea of the day". L'Epicier means "The Grocer" in French.
With 200 different varieties of tea direct from plantations, you are sure to be drawn inside the store. The extensive range includes black, classical, herbal, green, Chinese, Japanese and flavoured teas to fulfill almost every need. You can make your tea selection at the counter by smelling the tea from special containers. Tea start from as little as $5.50 (50g).
One wonders though when smelling perfume one clears the "smell palate" by sniffing coffee beans, but with tea, you just "sniff on" to the next tea. No need to cleanse the "smell palate".
What to buy: I purchased the Lavender Tea for 50 grams it was $5.50.
Lavender is a very special herbal tea which has calming effects that helps relieve stress, fatigue, headache and insomnia.
The Ala Moana Shopping Center is so popular it has its own magazine. We were not impressed with the shops, most of which are high end retail stores that we have in our malls back home.
Take the "Pink" shopping trolley from Waikiki to get to the Center. $2.00 each way, correct change is a MUST!
The Tea Shop is something that we cannot get at home. L'Epicier offered a room full of loose and bagged tea for an acceptable price.
What to buy: We went into the Hawaiian Quilt Collection, we were greeted by a bored young man who had little to do but talk on his cell phone. The merchandise was marked up well over what we saw at the Aloha Tower Marketplace.
We went to Sephora, a cosmetics store, no mark up here, I was able to purchase my favorite "RoseBud Salve" for what I pay at home.
The Longs Drugs had souvenier items priced moderately but most of what they offered was junk.
Mum really liked this shopping centre. There were lots and lots of clothes shops and Sears and Macy's department stores. There are also lots of restaurants, even Jackie's kitchen. ( Jackie Chan Restaurant). There is a food court too and McDonald's . All the big designer label stores were here too.
Ala Moana Shopping Center
Hawaii's largest shopping destination with approximately 230 stores and restaurants. U.S. Post Office on site. Entertainment activities regularly scheduled. International food court. Department stores: Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Sears.
What to buy: Clothes & gifts
This was the view from the Ala Moana Hotel looking down on the entire roof of the Ala Moana Shopping centre. At the time of my first visit to Honolulu, the Ala Moana was fairly new. It is still the State's largest open-air shopping centre.
There are more than 200 stores.