Insider Tips for Best Shopping on Maui
Looking for the best shopping on Maui? Even if shopping is not a high priority on your Maui to-do list, you are likely to find something on the island that entices you to open that wallet—a unique handcrafted item, colorful Hawaiian clothing, islandy gifts for friends and family back home, or maybe just some exotic fruit from a local farmer’s market. Statistics show that shopping is one of the most popular things to do on Maui for visitors, coming in third on the list after exploring Haleakala and the Road to Hana! There are lots of shopping options on Maui, and my foremost suggestion is that you migrate toward places that feature authentic made-on-Maui or made-in-Hawaii products that will be truly meaningful mementos from your trip. (Unless you really WANT a plastic hula dancer with a Made in China label on it.)
NOTE: This blog was updated in April 2021, but due to the continuing impacts of COVID-19, some of the businesses and events mentioned in the blog could possibly change their operations. As things are changing constantly amidst this pandemic, please check with these places directly to verify their operating status and hours. Mahalo!
HERE ARE MY PERSONAL TIPS FOR THE BEST SHOPPING ON MAUI:
Maui’s charming little towns provide great venues for compact shopping excursions, with everything concentrated within just one or two main streets. My favorite shopping towns:
PAIA (on the North Shore), with its “hippie” beach town vibe, tops my list because it offers such a great combination of small boutique shops, locally made products, and yummy little restaurants and cafes. Definitely some of the best shopping on Maui! One of my favorite stores for unique handcrafted items by local artisans — Maui Crafts Guild — is in Paia at the corner of Baldwin Avenue and Hana Hwy. And on a hot day, pop into Paia Gelato for a cool, delicious treat.
The paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town of MAKAWAO, located Upcountry, is also a favorite of mine for its combination of charming boutiques and eateries. Make sure you stop by Hot Island Glass (pictured) to watch the glassblowers at work, creating a wide array of blown glass art pieces. And for authentic and beautiful local art, check out the Sherri Reeve Gallery and Jordanne Gallery (both located right on the main street, Baldwin Avenue). You’ll likely find the artists in residence in these little galleries when you go in.
Front Street in LAHAINA, pictured here (and at top, courtesy of Polinahe Photography), offers a lovely stroll along the waterfront and a more extensive and eclectic shopping experience ranging from big name restaurants and art galleries to typical “touristy” souvenir and t-shirt shops, with some wonderful local shopping and dining gems tucked into the midst of all that activity. This is a large town, and there’s LOTS to see and do in Lahaina!
The historic plantation town of WAILUKU in Central Maui is newly emerging as a unique shopping destination, although on a limited scale right now. Browse along the one main block of Market Street and swing around the corner onto Main Street to find Native Intelligence, one of my favorite stores featuring handcrafted Hawaiian products. And if you’re looking for a unique and beautiful specialty lei (something beyond the typical plumeria or orchid lei), this store has the best selection on the island. You’ll discover some delightful locally-owned shops in this one small block of Wailuku, and stop for some refreshment at Wailuku Coffee Company. Wailuku is just a short distance to Iao Valley State Park, so it’s ideal to pair a visit to the Iao Needle with a shopping stop in Wailuku.
At the other end of the spectrum, Maui’s shopping centers offer everything from high-end designer stores to hand-made island products. So if your fondest dream is to carry a Louis Vuitton bag you purchased from Maui or you just want some comfy “slippahs” for the beach, you’ll likely find both here. My favorite shopping center for a good mix of big brand names and grassroots local stores is Whalers Village in Kaanapali (West Maui), with The Shops at Wailea (South Maui) coming in a close second (but a bit more on the luxury end).
Maui’s shopping centers (under normal circumstances) are also a great source of free entertainment from hula shows to ukulele lessons, so check out their entertainment schedules. (NOTE: Most of these events have been temporarily suspended due to restrictions on large gatherings during the Covid pandemic.) Lahaina Cannery Mall is the only fully-enclosed air-conditioned shopping center on the island, so when the weather is too hot or too rainy, that’s a good low-key place to take cover, wander through some shops, and enjoy some entertainment at their center stage. And if you’re looking for bargains, Outlets of Maui (oceanfront on Front Street in Lahaina) is our island’s only discount outlet mall. Great prices on pretty much everything!
Yes . . . on Maui, Costco stands alone in its very own shopping category. EVERYONE shops at Costco, locals and visitors alike. It is “the great gathering place” on our island – the place where you are most likely to run into your neighbor or friend or boss. So if you are a member, bring your Costco card with you to Maui. (If you are not familiar with Costco, it is a U.S. membership-only warehouse store that carries pretty much everything at a reasonable price). Prominently located near the Kahului Airport, Costco is a cost-efficient place to stop and stock up on groceries for your kitchen if you have rented a condo or vacation home. And it’s got excellent prices on island products like coffee, macadamia nuts, beach equipment, and other items to enjoy or take home to friends and family.
Swap Meets, Crafter Fairs, and Farmers’ Markets
If you are looking for great souvenirs or unique island products, head to Maui’s biggest swap meet every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the University of Hawaii Maui College campus in Kahului. I love taking visiting friends here. You’ll see both visitors and locals wandering through the rows of open-air booths, where you’ll find arts and crafts, souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, food, flowers, produce, and everything else you can imagine from around 200 vendors. Not everything at the swap meet is a bargain, but it costs just 50 cents to get in and it’s a fun place to search for some one-of-a-kind island products.
In West Maui, head for the weekly Maui Gift & Craft Fair. This event, featuring approximately 50 local vendors, took place for many years in the Lahaina Civic Center, but it has found a new home at Lahaina Gateway Center. (The shopping center across the street from Safeway/Lahaina Cannery.) Every Sunday. Free admission and plenty of free parking.
Another place to find great locally-made art, jewelry, and gifts in West Maui is at the art fairs hosted by Lahaina Arts Society. For years, these art and craft fairs took place regularly at Banyan Tree Park, but in recent years the events moved to other locations in West Maui. Lahaina Arts Society publishes scheduled dates for the art fairs, so you won’t miss out. (COVID UPDATE: These art fairs have been temporarily suspended, but will resume in the future.)
On any given day of the week, there is at least one farmers’ market taking place somewhere on this island offering a delicious selection of fresh produce, literally direct from the farm. (And sometimes you’ll find homemade foods and gifts at farmers’ markets, too.) In addition to familiar favorites like tree-ripened bananas and papayas, you’ll undoubtedly discover some local fruits and vegetables you’ve probably never seen before. Give ’em a try! Here’s a list of Maui farmers’ markets, but when you’re here on the island ask the staff at your accommodations about farmers’ markets that are nearby.
Other Stores Worth A Mention for Best Shopping on Maui:
Maui Clothing Outlet on the upper highway in Kihei (South Maui) is a favorite of mine for reduced-price bargains on brand-name island-style clothing that is selling for higher prices at other stores all over Maui. Swimsuits, aloha shirts, ladies aloha wear, etc. Some of the best shopping on Maui at discount prices. Definitely worth a stop.
The non-profit Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao is a wonderful place to find locally-made products. Set on a beautiful historic estate (pictured), the gallery shop features handmade gifts from more than 100 local Maui artists and crafters.
Kula Marketplace, located next to Kula Lodge in upcountry Maui. I love this place for its vast selection of high quality, island-made products. If you are doing an upcountry day (and you SHOULD while you’re here!), stop in.
And last but not least, one of my favorite local Maui stores: U’i Gallery in Kahului is owned and operated by artist Rachael Ray Au Hoon and features her vibrantly colored artwork, as well as many other handcrafted items from local artisans. I love this store for everything from unique home furnishings to iPhone covers and clothing. It’s a visual feast. And Rachael always greets you personally with genuine kindness and aloha.
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Candy Aluli, Publisher
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