Although I’m back in Sydney I couldn’t resist one last Hawaii post. And I’ve saved the best until last. The Shopping! In years gone by (when the Aussie dollar was performing better against the greenback) I have headed to Hawaii solely to shop because you were always guaranteed a better deal than could be found on our shores. So with the AUD sitting at around 0.74c is it still worthwhile shopping in Waikiki? The short answer is yes, but you will need to be a bit savvy! Read on for all the details …
This trip we stuck to Oahu, mostly because we only had 6 short days there and the primary purpose of our trip was to relax and soak up some sunshine so we didn’t bother with neighbouring islands, let’s face it, there is more than enough to keep us busy in around Honolulu for 6 days. So where do I shop when I’m in town?
Ala Moana Center
Ala Moana is Hawaii’s largest shopping mall located within minutes of Waikiki. The centre is open air so it’s not great in the rain, but it is perfect for Hawaii’s mostly sunny weather. We always walk from Waikiki but you can catch the #8 bus for $2.50 or a cab for around $12. With over 290 stores ranging from designer to budget you are sure to find something worth taking home, but to grab a bargain with the current conversion you are going to have to shop the sales. All the high end stores like Prada, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Rolex, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Escada, Hermes, Balenciaga and Salvatore Ferragamo are covered and offer great escapism even if you can’t afford to drop $6k on the latest it bag. Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom have you department store needs covered and have sales virtually year round so make sure you check out the latest deals. Macy’s offer 10% off (excluding fragrance and cosmetics) for overseas visitors and Nordstrom have a free personal stylist service if you need a little help. Mid range stores like Banana Republic, GAP, Hollister, Express, Coach, Michael Kors, Tory Burch and Kate Spade are definitely worth a visit. Banana Republic had an extra 40% of already reduced sales items and the hubs picked up a nice denim jacket. I was less lucky. Sign up to emails for your favourite stores before you go so you are across all the latest special offers. I utilised a $15 of every $50 deal from Express that was exclusive to email subscribers. I love Express for work basics and have purchased many times online but this is the first time I have visited a store. My picks are the Portofino shirts and editor ankle pants. I also picked up a hot pink tote from Michael Kors for $160, down from $300. Despite researching a number of angles I couldn’t get a deal on my baby blue Tory Burch tote and had to pay full price. If you are watching your pennies head to Old Navy or Forever 21 for great year round prices on basics. Sephora, MAC and Bath & Body Works have all the cosmetics you will ever need but the prices are now equal (if not higher) than Australian retailers. My favourite Dior moisturiser was about $30 cheaper at the duty free store at Sydney airport. Victoria’s Secret is a must for your unmentionables. Mr SFH has spent countless hours outside VS on the wall while I peruse inside. You are unlikely to get a major bargain in here but I love their stuff and am happy to pay retail. If one of a kind hand made jewellery is your thing visit Uno De 50 for modern chunky pieces. In exciting news, renovations are currently underway on a new wing which is due to be completed in November 2015 and will house Bloomingdales plus 50 specialty shops. Can’t wait! Need a break from the stores? There is usually something happening on center stage or head to Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks for a cocktail (or two!) to recharge the batteries. Full store directory here. If you have never experienced a Walmart in your life its worth heading out the back door and a few minutes walk down the road just to satisfy your curiosity. Also close by is Ward Village where the biggest draw card is Nordstrom Rack for serious bargain hunters.
Waikele Premium Outlets
OK so straight up this is not Woodbury Common but it is definitely worth a visit, with around 60 stores offering some serious deals. The centre is about 40 minutes from Waikiki and if you don’t have a hire car you can catch a cab for around $50 each way or a shuttle bus for $15 return. My favourite store here is True Religion Jeans where I have always managed to grab a bargain. This time I got two pairs of jeans for $210 which retail for $665 in the US. This is an even bigger bargain when you consider a single pair can cost up to $550 in Oz. Mr SFH also bagged some of his own plus a jacket for the boy at home. In Vans I can always find something for my boys at home and Clairins have some great deals, particularly if you are prepared to buy two. Saks Off Fifth is always worth a look and I’ve managed to pick up great deals on denim shorts in the past. This time I had my eye on a cute purple Rebecca Minkoff bag that was reduced to $95. If it wasn’t so similar to a Coach one I already own it would have been mine. Handbag lovers should head to Michael Kors, Coach and Kate Spade for a great range. Make sure you know your prices though because the MK tote I got above was a better deal than those offered here. I can usually count on making a purchase at Calvin Klein and this time I was looking at a pair of purple work pants and a black coat. I left “thinking about it” but never ended up going back. Mr SFH can usually grab a pair of jeans or two for work at Levi’s but this time left empty handed when getting his size was a struggle. I’ve always found Nine West disappointing and despite multiple visits have never even found something I would try on. Become a VIP Member before you leave for extra discount coupons.
In the last few years Waikiki has really lifted it’s game in the shopping stakes. While there is still an ABC store every hundred metres or so and plenty of kitsch there is now a lot more on offer. Kalakaua Ave is the main road and runs right through the area. Left of Lewers (with the beach behind you) is known as Luxury Row where you will find Bottega Venetta, Chanel, Gucci, Saint Laurent and Tiffany & Co all clustered together. Marc by Marc Jacobs, Dior, Prada and DFS Galleria are a little further down the same road. Toward the centre you will find the Waikiki Shopping Plaza housing Armani Exchange, Sephora and Victoria’s Secret among others. I can never go into Victoria’s Secret or Sephora without buying something. The Royal Hawaiian Center sprawls over a few blocks and features Cartier, Fendi, Forever 21, Furla, Hermes, Jimmy Choo, Kate Spade, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tory Burch, Valentino and a raft of other specialty stores. On the street familiar brands like Macy’s, H&M, Foot Locker and Coach abound. It’s worth popping into Macy’s to scope out the travel fragrances alone. Further along towards the Zoo surf brands feature heavily and recently Urban Outfitters has opened its doors. Most stores are open until 11pm which is perfect for after dinner browsing! Given that everyone will no doubt need a trinket or two to take home, stroll between the market stall in Dukes Lane (between Foot Locker and The Beachcomber Hotel) for a different take on shopping in Waikiki. Mr SFH picked up a tungsten ring for a mere $25 and I got an abalone shell pendant and earrings for a sly $20. Kings Village is a block back on Kuhio and is a quaint little centre with a handful of stores and eateries. Waikiki Beach Walk (title picture) runs off Kalakaua down Lewers towards the beach and has lots of little stores to browse. Pearls shops are prolific if that is up your alley. If you have visited Waikiki anytime in the last 20 years you would probably be familiar with the International Market Place and it’s eclectic stalls. Sadly in 2014 it closed down but no fear, a mighty face lift is planned with Saks Fifth Ave already signed on the dotted line for the prime retail space. Due to re-open in August 2016 (artists impression below) this is going to be huge! The Hilton Hawaiian Village has it’s own shopping precinct and worth stopping by if you are staying nearby.