When you come to Hawaii, there are things you should and things you should not buy (or take) as a souvenir. I’ve been to Hawaii seven times, so I think I can say I have a pretty good idea of the souvenir atomosphere. Souvenirs covers a large spectrum, so if I miss something I’ll include it in another post.
Where to go:
If you’re at a main attraction or in a touristy area, things will be much more expensive. I don’t recommend buying anything at the airport, because that’s where souvenirs are most expensive. I suggest going to a local market or a smaller gift shop. Personally I lean towards the local markets, there’s so many of them in Hawaii and everything sells for a good price.
What to get:
This is pretty much up to you, but there are some things that are unique to Hawaii. At the Kailua market, I found this awesome bag that was made from a recycled Kona coffee bean sack. Hawaii is known for great coffee, so it’s a great momento. The one I was looking at was about $22, not the cheapest but I think it’s worth the price. I think buying a tiki would be a great souvenir. I’ve been collecting them over the years, so when I come to Hawaii I have to get a new one (or ten new ones). If you are able to bring home food, I reccomend bringing home macadamia nuts. There are many different “flavors” of them, but personally my favorite macadamia nuts are caramacs (mac nuts covered with caramel and chocolate).
What you should NOT get:
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THE LAVA ROCKS OR SAND!!!! There are numerous cases each year of people sending these items back due to “Pele’s curse”. The legend says that if a visitor “takes from the land, they will suffer bad luck until the element is returned”. Just google it. There are hundreds of horror stories about people taking the rocks and getting horribly bad luck. Also I don’t reccommend taking home Spanish moss. Spanish moss is an flowering plant that you can find on most trees. My mom loves the plants, and yes she has taken them home before. However, the reason why I wouldn’t recommend even touching it, is because Spanish moss is home for microscopic parasites. If you insist on taking the Spanish moss home, I suggest you use gloves when handling it, and heat it up in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds. This will kill the parasites and make it “safe” to touch. However, note that the agriculture department at the airport can and will confiscate any plants (including fruit) if they find any in your check-in or carry-on.
I will point out that my mom has been bringing Pele’s hair back to the mainland for years, and we’ve never had a problem. I just recommend being careful if you try bringing back any plants back home.