55 Kaahumanu Avenue
Kahului , Hawaii
Tel: 808 871 5770
If after a few days in Maui hotel rooms you start coveting tropical print pillowcases, curtains, or tablecloths, this is the place to find your new favorite fabrics. You can choose from bolts and bolts of lovely Hawaiian prints (even vintage bark cloth). Other locations are located throughout the islands.
If you're looking for a significant keepsake from Hawaii, one that won't lose its value and could possibly become an heirloom, consider investing in some traditional Hawaiian adornments.
The shiny gold nameplate necklaces, rings, and bracelets with ornate enamel lettering that you see on the locals may look like hip-hop bling, but they have their roots in 19th-century England. Known as Hawaiian Heritage Jewelry, the style became fashionable in the islands after the last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, received a bracelet like this from Queen Victoriathen began giving away similar pieces herself. The classic look—yellow gold with black enamel lettering—was originally reserved for periods of mourning. Now, it's ubiquitous, but you can also opt for a variation on the style in platinum or white, pink, or green gold and have your name emblazoned in pink, white, blue, or green enamel lettering. If you don't have a Hawaiian name, use the old Missionary trick of translating your given name into Hawaiian. But you might just want to default to the classic "Kuuipo," meaning "sweetheart." Prices range from $150 upward, and sources include several well-known jewelry stores: Try Na Hoku (3750 Wailea Alanui; 808-891-8040; www.nahoku.com). Pawn shops are also good places to look, if you don't mind a secondhand piece.
Even more collectable are Niihau shell leis, made of microsize shells (fewer than 5 millimeters across) found on the completely isolated, privately owned island of Niihau. A multistrand lei can cost upward of $10,000, but buyers should keep in mind that this sort of piece takes three to five years to painstakingly complete by hand; what's more, the leis are critical to the survival of Niihau's 160 inhabitants, and the amount of quality shells washing ashore is dwindling due to changes in climate and ocean conditions. Kahelelani shells—the only ones gemologists will grade and appraise for insurance purposes—are the most prized and range in color from soft pink to deep brown. Authenticity is an issue, but you can buy with confidence from reputable galleries like Maui Hands (612 Front St., Lahaina; 808-667-9898; www.mauihands.com).
18 Baldwin Avenue
Paia , Hawaii
Tel: 808 579 6055
This beauty-junkie outpost in Paia is a good place to pick up locally produced products. Look for volcano-scented bath salts (very masculine) from the Big Island's Ola Hawaii, or spritzes and lotions from Ali'i Kula Lavender, scented with the 45 varieties of lavender the company grows on the slopes of Haleakala. The shop also stocks tropics-inspired items such as Pure Fiji's eco-friendly bath and body oils and Kai's fragrances, containing the essences of gardenia and pikake (a small, white, native flower). Lilikoi can be perfect for items that are hard to get in Hawaii (like three-wick Voluspa candles in decorative tins), which come in handy if you need a hostess gift for a local.
505 Front Street
Lahaina , Hawaii
Tel: 808 662 0696
Over in Lahaina, the Korean–Canadian Coulombe is starting quite a buzz with her little atelier of Versace-like print pareos and slinky cocktail dresses. Her clients include Paris Hilton, Teri Hatcher, and Halle Berry (did we mention that Maui is crawling with celebrities?). She also makes sexy, simple jewelry from Tahitian pearls that come in amazing hues ranging from chocolate to teal blue. Though Coulombe herself is warm and totally unpretentious, it's amusing to find a boutique with full-fashion attitude 40 feet from the ocean.
At the Maui Community College
310 Kaahumanu Avenue
Kahului , Hawaii
Tel: 808 877 3100
Every Saturday from 7 am to 1 pm, local vendors set up shop on the grounds of the Maui Community College, across the street from the Queen Kaahumanu Mall. The front stalls (fruit preserves, macadamia nuts, coffee, handicrafts, fresh produce) are in orderly formation, but wander to the back and there are people with trunks of junk that seem to have just exploded wherever they could lay a tarp. It's a good place to get souvenirs and gifts (look out for the guy with the carved wood-frame mirrors), you might even find a vintage Maui T-shirt from the '80s.
7 N. Market Street
Wailuku , Hawaii
Tel: 808 249 0215
MauiThing combines two things you don't often find on the island: fashion and attitude. The energy here isn't angry—it's empowered by clean living and the belief that life on Maui can't be beat. The boutique in Wailuku sells duds that put a fun twist on the Maui uniform of T-shirts and sundresses, with funky designs and socially and environmentally conscious messages. With nary an item over $40 (average tees are about $20), this is a good spot to pick up a unique memento—or a new wardrobe if your airline loses your luggage.
Open Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 6 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm.
43 Hana Highway
Paia , Hawaii
Tel: 808 579 3080
Housed in a historic plantation right as you drive into Paia Town, Puka Puka is a white-walled boutique, art gallery, and gathering place for locals looking to "talk story." Rare and vintage surfing and Polynesian-themed books, Maui-made T-shirts (the uniform in Hawaii), limited-edition high-top sneakers made with African batik fabric, and clothing from Maison Martin Margiela and Hussein Chalayan create what could be best described as Maui's answer to Paris's Colette. The upstairs is a more formal gallery with amazing ocean views and biannual Hawaii-centric exhibitions, such as retrospectives on artists from Maui's Rainbow Bridge movement in the '60s and '70s.—Cathay Che
Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 6 pm.
83 Hana Highway
Paia , Hawaii
Tel: 808 579 9184
She's been dubbed the Catherine Malandrino of Maui, though Catz is originally from Argentina, not France. She met her champion-windsurfer husband, Francisco Goya, on a visit to the island a decade ago, and it's now their home and the headquarters for her rich-hippie women's line (which sells in trendy boutiques like Madison in Los Angeles and Big Drop in New York). Definitely targeted at the young and the thin, these romantic pieces are exactly right for tropical living.