5 Secrets to Shopping in Waikiki
Behind the Scenery
a. Prom dress (with a purse and shoes dyed to match, admit it)
b. Bridesmaid dress (that despite the claims, you will never wear again).
a. Drunken smile over Eggs N Things at 2:30 a.m.
It may be a visitors’ paradise but a lot of locals seem to need a written invitation, or a lot of drinks, to get past Ala Moana Boulevard. We’ve recently logged a lot of hours along Kalakaua Avenue for the launch of HONOLULU Shops Waikiki and discovered a few shopping secrets we almost didn’t share (who wants a crowd?)
DFS means duty free shopping, but it's the tax-free buying that keeps us coming back to DFS Galleria. The public is welcome to shop in the boutiques on the first and second floors such as Marc Jacobs, See by Chloe, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, and Coach. Our favorite spot is the newly-renovated Beauty World featuring cosmetics from more than 50 lines including M.A.C., Guerlain, Benefit, Anna Sui and Paul & Joe (both exclusive to DFS in Hawaii).
Tip: Parking is free but the semi-hidden DFS lot off of Lewers St. (entrance pictured right) is small and fills up early, often before 10 a.m. Otherwise, DFS will validate for two hours at Waikiki Trade Center, 2250 Kuhio Ave., with purchase.
Lost in Spaces
By far the best spot to find reasonable parking is Royal Hawaiian Center. The 600 spaces in the heart of the Waikiki area are free for the first hour, then a dollar each hour for the next three hours with validation. So there is time to sneak over (shh) to Beachwalk, Sephora, or Victoria’s Secret before you stop for an acai bowl at Island Vintage, happy hour cocktails at Il Lupino, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, or for great local designs by Gillia, Laakea, Indah and more at Aloha Aina.
Tip: Start at the state’s largest Forever 21. You’ll want hours to go through all the looks covered in three levels including the Oahu's biggest selection of Forever 21's plus sizes, Love line, and the island's only stock of the Forever 21 men's collection.
After Power Shopping
In most places the shopping scene shuts down around 9 p.m. In Waikiki, the land of eternal vacation, you can spend a little longer. Royal Hawaiian Center closes at 10 p.m. DFS Galleria and the state’s largest Ross stays open until 11 p.m. daily.
Tip: Ross offers two hours free parking with purchase at Waikiki Parking Garage, 333 Seaside Ave. (just after the Imax). Don't expect to find a bonanza of new brands at the state's largest Ross – but it was very organized, not crowded, and still had Dolce Vita, Fergie, and Coach shoes for a song. There are also aloha print mugs, gift sets, and tons of beach towels for you to send to out-of-towners.
The web can help you out of that find parking pain at one of our favorite places to find New York style with a Hawaii twist. Shop on the ultra-cool Seastar 8.4.23 online store, then as long as you pay with a credit card, Seastar will let you skip the shipping and handling fee and pick up your purchase. There is a spot right in front of their Nahua Street location where you can pull up, quickly run in, and back out usually without any trouble. (Editor's note: Seastar 8.4.23's Waikiki store is now closed, but you can still shop it online.)
Tip: Do not text on your way or let your safety check expire. Waikiki police will ticket you every time – believe us.
Don’t Discount Us Out
Although most of the people around you have that “stayed out in the sun too long” red glow, there is love for kamaaina. At the Sheraton Waikiki flash your ID for 15 percent off at Rumfire and 25 percent off meals at Kai Market. Both offer free parking. Mahina boutique on Beachwalk takes 10 percent off and so do Kiwami Ramen and Nakamura Ramen for your late night eats.
Tip: Yelp keeps a running tab on kamaaina specials.