Chinatown in Honolulu has an enormous number of shops and restaurants, food stalls, and vendors within several blocks of downtown. There always seems to be something new to try or buy. First Friday is a great time to visit Chinatown for the art walk. Some restaurants offer specials, and local vendors proudly display their work. It’s a way to experience a part of Hawaii’s eclectic cultures.
925 Maunakea St # C2, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA
Once a week I allocate $3.65 for my favorite lychee bubble tea. The frozen beverage with black tapioca pearls tastes so delicious on a hot day. And, I also found that it provides a great deal of headache relief. The mom and pops store is run by a heartwarming couple who seem to know exactly what their business customers want to purchase at their corner store. They are known as “that place with all the anthurium flowers out front.” On the corner of Merchant and Alakea, the brilliant display of fresh cut flowers certainly draws some customers inside for a soda, sandwich, fruit, candy, musabi, or bubble tea. I usually walked in and paid the lovely woman with cash and small talk for my bubble tea. She would rouse her husband awake and he would blend together my drink - always delivering it to me with an enormous grin, bow of the head, repeated “thank you’s,” and sometimes even a salute!
1050 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, USA
It might be the middle of the City, and it might be at the major concert hall in Honolulu, but Wednesday evenings are typically reserved for the Ward (aka Honolulu) Farmers Market. Tents go up, and local food vendors and farmers display their products with music drifting through the air. This farmers market is a great place to pick up some produce for the kitchen, grab dinner on the go, or try something new and different - like flavored butter from the only dairy left on Oahu, or farm fresh macadamia nuts, or locally made ice cream.
99-500 Salt Lake Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA
The ABC Stores on Honolulu‘s every corner actually aren’t a bad place to pick up inexpensive gifts for loved ones back home. But true bargain-hunters will want to make the 20-minute drive from Waikiki to the Aloha Stadium swap meet, held every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Hundreds of stalls form a big loop outside the stadium, selling everything from $1 candlenut necklaces to carved wooden trinkets, pearl strands, poi balls, sunglasses, silver jewelry, and souvenir T-shirts. When you’re tired of haggling, take a break with a cup of fresh pineapple or sip on a young coconut. You’ll get much better prices than you would at Waikiki’s International Village, but the real advantage is the relatively relaxed and low-pressure environment. If you’re on your way to Pearl Harbor, swing by the stadium and make a day of it.
1515 Wilder Avenue
At first glance the small little market open on Thursday evenings at St. Clements Parish in the Makiki neighborhood of Honolulu does not seem like much to stop for. However, I often took friends there or pointed them in that directions for a dinner where trying local food and some old favorites is as easy as visiting a couple of the food stands. The variety of food is great with Thai food, Hawaiian fare, fish tacos, pies, crepes of all flavors, and fruits and veggies to round out a healthy meal. The people are friendly, tables are set up to enjoy your food there or you can take it home for later. Either way, the Makiki market is an great option to easily grab dinner on a Thursday evening. Open Thursdays 4:30-7:30pm