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It only takes a few minutes after stepping off the plane and into the open air at the Honolulu International Airport to realize (or if you’re a return visitor, to remember) what wonderful weather we have here. The sun, the trade winds, the ocean color…it all hits you at once. You’re anxious to unpack and to immerse yourself in Hawaii. That is, until you open your suitcase, and see that the heavy jeans, brown turtleneck and grey jersey dress you brought just doesn’t seem right anymore.
That’s when you should plan your first stop in Hawaii, to one of the many boutiques that sell locally-designed clothing and goods.
Traditional Hawaiian opening with a store full of dresses and garments inside Angels By the Sea Hawaii.
I went to the opening of such a store recently and was wowed once again by the fashion talent found on the island. Angels By the Sea Hawaii can be found literally just a few steps away from Kalakaua Avenue (at Ohua Avenue; same street as St. Augustine Church). The boutique opened a few months ago and is the perfect place to go and find clothing that’ll make you feel one with the island.
Designer and owner Nina Thai is a young, beautiful and talented woman. Her personal inspiration goes into every single piece that is sold in the shop. She came to Hawaii from Thailand years ago, not knowing any English, and immersed herself into Hawaii’s culture. Nina eventually learned the language and created a business of making and selling merchandise that she wanted to wear herself.
Each piece seems to have a story behind it, and her themes flow as wonderfully as the fabric she uses in the stunning dresses, skirts and cover-ups. I honestly wanted just about everything in the store. Her eye-catching use of embroidery is key to her designs and keeps them distinctly Hawaiian but with a subtle touch.
Store models show off some of boutique’s uniquely designed clothing and jewelry pieces.
I judge most garments that I promote in this blog by the standard of: “Would I wear this back home?” It’s usually a real luxury to be able to purchase something for just a few days of wear while on your Hawaii vacation. Therefore, it’s important to find stuff that can be worn at home as well.
Nina’s color scheme is light and bright, but nothing that you couldn’t wear again during the summer months in your hometown. Many of the pieces would be great for the beach or for a boat cruise. Her jewelry is fun and classy at the same time. And her bags! OMG. Not only are they beautifully embroidered with Hawaiian designs, but they are light and comfortable to carry as well. Yaling Yu Fisher (aka Mrs. Hawaii-Aloha Travel) modeled for the video below, which shows off these bags.
VIDEO: Yaling and Katherine show off bags from Angels By the Sea Hawaii.
Rounding out the store is a selection of Hawaii-based skincare products and fragrances. I’m always interested in this type of products because I want to smell good, and I want to protect my skin. I used a sample of body wash by Love Inside Out of Maui, and I plan to return and get more, along with the lotion. If I could always smell like this product, then I’d never buy another fragrance again.
Goodness! I was at the beach the other day, using the public shower to rinse off the ocean water. I used a touch of this wash on just my arms and shoulders. I was so into its fragrance (like on one of those television commercials) that I never saw the line of slightly impatient people waiting for their turn. I was a bit embarrassed, but I smelled great!
Angels by the Sea Hawaii is located on the street level of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. There are hotel and street-side entrances. It’s worth a look and certainly a visit. And considering the location, next to many upscale Waikiki shops, the prices here could almost be called a bargain.
ANGELS BY THE SEA HAWAII • Open daily, 8am-10pm • 2552 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815 • 808-922-9747 • Street and garage parking available; Near bus route
Video Credit: Bruce Fisher