Yes, you may, as their slogan says “Get Lost on a Shopping Safari”- but you don’t have to.
If you are staying in Waikiki it won’t take you long to discover the famous International Market Place, right in the middle of the shopping strip on Kalakaua.
This open area of stalls and shops is a destination for shoppers who want to browse all the small but packed kiosks of jewelry and gift items. It’s an overwhelming place, at best, especially to those who are visiting for the first time. When I visited there yesterday as a veteran shopper, I still felt a sense of hesitation when entering due to the somewhat aggressive shop attendants who man the first few rows of kiosks. Therefore I did what I’ll suggest you do (at least for the first time). And that is to walk about a half a block west (away from Diamondhead) till you reach a lane called Dukes.
Turn right and walk back into another smaller, more manageable, but just as interesting market that is a long strip of venders that line the alley all the way through to Kuhio. Yes, it’s smaller but I believe it has the same or very similar merchandise of its bigger brother, but with an easier and quieter attitude. (Case in point: on Sunday more than a few shops open only after church.) And it’ll have the same deals. You’ll still hear the same pitch: “you are my first customer, so for you, a good deal”…… “80% off today!”…… “if you buy 2, I’ll make a deal”. But you can stroll slowly and make up your mind at your own pace, and practice your haggling technique before you move on to the larger market, if you even care to.
Personally I like the Markets. I have some favorite jewelry pieces from there. I always take my visitors there, but will say that I get mixed reactions from them. Some just love the chaos of it and the thrill of the hunt, while others get turned off by the whole process of what it takes to shop there, or prefer higher scale merchandise.
Either way, some tips:
Restrooms are located in the large market, off to the right of the banyan tree.
Don’t be hesitant to haggle. The vendors expect it. Do NOT pay the first price they quote you. I’ve gotten so much better at it, but admit to overpaying my first few visits to the market.
They take cash and credit cards.
Bonus: they have free local entertainment every weekday (usually in the evenings) and some weekends. Your hotel can tell you the times , as does their website. I think you’ll enjoy the entertainment just as much as the shopping. Those Polynesian Reviews are so much fun to watch!
Posted by: Bruce Fisher