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In Hawaii, the Japanese term omiyage refers to gifts you bring home from your vacation; because it’s such a custom here, Oahu’s shops are well-equipped with omiyage for visitors to take back with them. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest that great gifts may include buttery shortbread shaped like pineapples from Honolulu Cookie Company, a logo T-shirt from the iconic Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa or world-class chocolate made from pure Hawaiian cacao grown at Waialua Estate. For quality aloha shirts with real coconut-shell buttons, head to Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts, which sells vintage and new designs. A great place to find unique, one-of-a-kind local gifts is at the Saturday Farmer’s Market at Kapiolani Community College, which features vendors selling local coffee, honey, seasonings, jams and jellies and other take-home items that you can only find on Oahu.
A piece of Hawaiian artwork is a great way to remember your trip to paradise. Art galleries around the island feature the work of talented local artists, with famous names like Heather Brown and Wyland along with lesser known painters and photographers. Seascapes, surfers, flora and fauna of Hawaii are beautifully depicted in these pieces and are sure to add brightness and color to wherever you display them when you return home.
Koa wood is another prized item sought after by visitors from around the world during their trips to Oahu. The unique tree grows only in Hawaii and long ago was used to make surfboards, canoes, paddles, and tools. Today Koa wood products are available in a wide variety of forms -from furniture and jewelry to kitchen and home accessories. Distinctive, fine quality Koa wood makes for a wonderful memento.
Finding gifts to bring home is part of the fun of traveling. Here are three only-on-Oahu items sure to please any recipient:
- Hawaiian Style Chili Seasoning & Rub (shown) from Rainbow Drive-In (3308 Kanaina Ave., 808-737-0177): This iconic drive-in off Kapahulu Avenue just outside of Waikiki has been serving up great local-style food since 1961. A couple of years ago, it started selling its popular chili in a mix form — and it's been a huge seller ever since. The mix can be used to make chili, of course, but you can use it to make fried chicken or as a dry rub on pork or fish. And grab a plate lunch while you're there, too. $4.95 per pack.
- 72% Hawaiian Sea Salt Chocolate Bar from Manoa Chocolate (315 Uluniu St., Kailua, 808-262-6789): This bean-to-bar chocolate company in Kailua crafts high-quality chocolate using sustainable practices. While it can be tough to find locally grown cacao, Manoa Chocolate manages to use as much local chocolate as possible. And the bars — like this Hawaiian Sea Salt one — are to die for. $9 per bar.
- Lemon Flavored Cookies by The Cookie Lady Hawaii (94-449 Akoki St., #102, Waipahu): The Cookie Lady offers a variety of cookies, from almond to peanut butter. But the savory lemon cookies are the company's most popular. Find them at Carousel Candyland in Kahala Mall, Karen's Kitchen on Cooke Street and Maruki Tei in Windward Mall. $6.50 for a package of 10 (per the website).