What’s a vacation without souvenirs?

Sure, you got pictures and a nice tan, but what about gifts to bring back for family and friends? Lucky for you, there’s an endless amount of that; not so lucky for their figures, however, these gifts are usually something edible.

Honolulu Cookie Company’s quiver of deliciousness.

We’ll be hopping from one island to the next in delivering a list of authentic gifts for you to bring back. Let’s just say there’s a lot more to the islands than chocolate-covered mac nuts and Kona Coffee. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with those as go-to gifts, but hopefully this list will help to expand your options.

Let’s start with the most popular Hawaiian Island, Oahu:

Cookies from Honolulu Cookie Company

Celebrate national Cookie Month with this shop’s cute pineapple shaped shortbread cookies. You’ll quickly fall in love with its flavorful taste and local charm. Not going to lie, I’ll sometimes duck into the cookie shop and head straight for the self-serve samples. I like anything dipped in chocolate, but my favorite has always been the choc-dipped guava flavored cookie.

Because there are 15 flavors on the list, I’d suggest buying the assorted box of cookies. You’re guaranteed to bring back a favorite for each family member. The cookie company conveniently sells small ($8.95), medium ($13.95) and large ($16.95) size boxes that fit inside your suitcase. You can also get the inpidually-wrapped cookie sets, which makes it less noticeable if you sneakily eat one on the plane!

HONOLULU COOKIE COMPANY • Waikiki, Kalihi, Kakaako, Ala Moana • www.honolulucookiecompany.com

Chi Chi Dango from Nisshodo

Chichi, what?

Chi chi dango is a soft and chewy type of Japanese mochi. Eat it plain or get the ones with a sweet filling. You’ll most likely find a tray of chi chi dango at island grocery stores, but for the best deals, head to the factories that make the sweet treat fresh every morning.

Nisshodo Candy Store is very low-key, or rather, a hole-in-the-wall humbled by its consistent following of mochi-enthusiasts, myself included. First off, it’s not easy to find. The mochi shop is tucked deep within the industrial part of Kalihi, with no visible sign from the street. If you arrive later in the day, the only sign you’ll be seeing is a “SOLD OUT” one on the door, so get there early. Better yet, pre order your mochi.

They sell chi chi dango by the pound ($4.75 per pound). Inside each box, you’ll be delighted with the sight of colorful mochi lightly dusted with potato starch. And shortly thereafter, hooked by its soft, savory taste. Mmmm…

NISSHODO CANDY STORE • 1095 Dillingham Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96817 • 808-847-1244

Aloha Attire from Manuheali’i

Manuhealii is like the Louis Vuitton to aloha wear, giving the traditional Hawaiian attire a fresh new look. I’d say it’s different from the famed Hilo Hattie because Manuhealii is crafted with intricate art and vibrant colors that give each “Manu” a more modern look. And to be totally honest, most locals would choose Manuhealii over Hilo Hattie’s because of their contemporary designs.

Despite its growing popularity, there are only two locations on Oahu: Kailua and Honolulu. You’ll find classic aloha wear, like the muumuu and aloha shirts, as well as the sassier ones, like the Moani Swing summer dress. Manuhealii sells clothing and lifestyle stuff, so there’s guaranteed to be something for every family member back home.

MANUHEALII • Kailua, Honolulu • www.manuhealii.com

Photos Courtesy: Honolulu Cookie Company; Manuhealii


  1. Is is really alright to purchase food stuffs from Hawaii to bring back to the mainland? How about malasadas? or cocoa puffs? just wondering

    I would also be interested in supporting local crafts people. i.e. hand-made items like jewelry, clothing,
    Is there a specific time of year and/or month that would have a craft show, or street fairs ?

  2. Aloha Elizabeth– Mahalo for stopping by our blog. It’s fine to bring back malasadas and cocoa puffs; however, it may not be as fresh when you land, especially after a 6+ hour flight. It’d be a good snack for the plane ride, though! The airport doesn’t allow fresh fruit for domestic flights; unless they’re boxed, like Dole pineapples usually are.

    Thank you so much for wanting to support local businesses. The best time for craft fairs is during the holiday season. Please check out this post we did on 2012 holiday craft fairs. They’ll most likely be the same next year and the year after.


    Editor, Hawaii Vacation Blog

  3. aloha bruce! luv these ideas! oh please any ohana visiting maui bring me back cook kwees cookies from kahului and dried mango from mr yee’s stand in kihei… if u can ever find him open, peafowl wandering around, just open if he feel like it! talk nice, respect to the ag workers at the airport and its no problem to take with.

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