O‘ahu Shopping Guide: The Best Boutiques in Kaimukī
HONOLULU Magazine’s style editors spill on where to go and what to buy to shop like a local.
Photos: Brie Thalmann
Chock-full of small-town charm, Kaimukī is easily one of our favorite Honolulu neighborhoods for shopping. Here, homegrown boutiques are peppered in between small eateries, coffee and dessert shops, and mom and pop specialty businesses. Most sit along sunny Wai‘alae Avenue, the area’s tree-lined main thoroughfare, which begins near the University area and runs parallel to the mountains all the way to swanky Kāhala.
We suggest starting at the “top of the hill” where Wai‘alae Avenue meets Koko Head Avenue, working your way down Wai‘alae, then looping back up to explore the side streets. Or, since most shops don’t open 'til 10 or 11 a.m., jump-start your day at one of Kaimukī’s fantastic breakfast spots (Kaimukī Superette’s ‘ono hapa fried rice and Koko Head Café’s cornflake French toast are our go-tos) and branch out from there.
‘Awa and ‘Ōlena
Designer Amanda Watkins’ jewelry line, A.Wattz Dezigns, effortlessly marries Island inspiration with global and minimalist touches. The same can be said for ‘Awa and ‘Ōlena, her chic boutique perched two stories above Koko Head Avenue. Along with Watkins’ cowrie shell necklaces and colorful tassel bracelets, you’ll find a slew of great home décor, wellness and beauty items. A few of our faves: Maui skincare line Oshan Essentials and O‘ahu-made Speedy Jane Studio ceramics.
1152 Koko Head Ave., Suite 202
SEE ALSO: Jewelry Store Spotlight: ‘Awa and ‘Ōlena
Surf ‘N Hula Hawai‘i
It’s a struggle not to leave this vintage shop without buying one of everything. From old-school Meadow Gold bottles and surfing trophies to aloha shirts, the mix of Hawaiiana and collectibles here is super eclectic and just plain cool.
3588 Wai‘alae Ave., (808) 428-5518
A pale, freshly painted blush exterior signals Kaimukī’s newest boutique, Amie Honolulu, which went from click to brick just this spring. Inside, light wood and white fixtures offer the perfect pared-back setting for the shop’s earthy, minimal fashion, lifestyle and keiki products.
3434 Wai‘alae Ave., Suite 2
Teeny in size, but jampacked with cuteness, Shop Toast stocks adorable handcrafted party favors and gift items. Snag a few of designer Jeremy Shoda’s signature kokeshi-inspired figurines complete with hidden compartments for treats.
3434 Wai‘alae Ave., Suite 3, (808) 447-9233
The Public Pet
PHOTO: AARON K. YOSHINO
A must-stop for design-minded pet owners, The Public Pet is filled with stylish wares for dogs, cats and their humans. Owners Jordan Lee and Matthew Guevara are aces at tracking down wag-worthy accessories, from ombre leashes and Spam musubi squeak toys to rainbow-embroidered bandanas, often teaming up with local artists on fun exclusives. No furry friends? No worries. You can scoop up kitty-shaped planters, pooch-covered stationery and playful animal pins.
3422 Wai‘alae Ave., (808) 737-8887
PHOTO: AARON K. YOSHINO
Skipping the traditional storefront, local womenswear designers Summer Shiigi of Ten Tomorrow set up shop in a cozy two-story cottage on 11th Avenue. The bright and airy shared space houses the designer's modern resortwear.
1114 11thAve., (808) 591-6219
Tucked between a handful of little eateries, out of view from the main streets, Sugarcane isn’t the easiest to spot. But the quaint gift shop is worth seeking out for its lovely mix of vintage dishware and locally made jewelry, accessories and gift items—think Cultivate Hawai‘i tea towels, Bitty Bambu burp cloths and My Mānoa handmade soaps.
1137 11th Ave., (808) 739-2263
Da Shop HNL
Indie bookstores are a scarcity on O‘ahu these days, so we were stoked to see this creative haven open in 2018. Owned by Island publishing house Bess Press (the retail space fronts its warehouse), Da Shop HNL offers a nicely edited selection of titles from local presses, as well as national and international best-sellers.
3565 Harding Ave., (808) 421-9460