No where else in Hawaii will you find fresh coconut drinks, vintage surf posters and flattened wine bottle art pieces in one place, other than at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet & Marketplace. Just a quick drive from Waikiki, the outdoor shopping venue truly represents a melting pot of Hawaii with more than 700 vendors, crafters and artists from around the world. It’s also a great place to get some Hawaii souvenirs and ethnic foods while you’re in the islands.
The Swap Meet happens three times a week and offers rows upon rows of shopping and eating. Be sure to wear comfortable footwear and sunscreen. Also, bring reusable shopping bags to carry your loot, and if you get big items, there’s a post office within the stadium to ship off your goods.
I remember when my mom was pregnant with my younger sister; she constantly craved coconuts. So every weekend, we’d drive from our home on the windward side to the Swap Meet, park the car and begin our hunt for the “Coconut Man.” We’d walk through rows and rows of vendors until finally, we’d find him sitting on the opened tailgate of his truck, butcher knife in hand, fresh coconut in the other and a bin of ice cold coconuts in front waiting to be cracked. Small beads of sweat rolled down his sun-baked skin. He said very little, but you could just tell her loved being there and sharing a part of Hawaii with those who stopped by.
Despite the heat and copious amounts of walking for a five-year-old (OK, I lied; my dad usually carried me on his neck most of the way), I never complained about our weekly journey to the Swap Meet. I actually looked forward to watching the “Coconut Man” effortlessly chop open the coconut with a few whacks of his knife. He’d toss it in the air like a pitcher does in his mitt before throwing the baseball, except the “Coconut Man” never had any mitt on, just his bare hands. And with each toss, he’d whack, whack, whack the little fruit in half. He’d usually only cut it in half after special requests, like those from my mom. She’d slurp out the coconut juice with the straw and take it back to him so she could finally get to the good stuff, the soft white inside, “the meat.”
You’d be surprised at how versatile that little coconut can be. I’ve seen them polished and decorated to serve as a shoulder purse (zipper and all!), or they can be husked and painted with some Hawaiian art for a desk adornment. Most of the things you’ll find at the Swap Meet are reasonably priced, in fact, the Swap Meet prides itself on being “Hawaii’s premiere discount warehouse outlet.” Who doesn’t love a good bargain?
ALOHA STADIUM SWAP MEET & MARKETPLACE • 99-500 Salt Lake Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96818 • Wed & Sat 8am-3pm, Sun 630am-3pm • $1 per buyer, FREE for 11 years & under • www.alohastadiumswapmeet.net • Available parking; Near bus route