Kris Bordessa

Loco moco

The food scene in Hawaii features some of the nation’s best chefs serving up high-style cuisine. Step away from the four-star restaurants and orchid-laced drinks, though, and you’ll find the heart of Hawaii in three favorite dishes. From poi – the dish that visitors love to hate – to loco moco and Spam musubi, these foods are a true taste of local food. Better yet? You can try any one of them for under ten bucks.

Loco moco – This island specialty is a favorite of locals and a must-try when you visit the islands. The standard loco moco consists of white rice topped with a hamburger patty, an egg, and (warn the arteries) gravy. Portions are generally very, very large so if you don’t have a huge appetite, consider making it a meal for two. Not a fan of hamburger? No worries. Choose from a variety of other meats, such as Portuguese sausage, beef teri, shrimp, or the ever-present Spam. Try the loco moco at Big City Diner, located in Ward Entertainment Center, or Zippy’s in the Ala Moana Center. Both restaurants are located not far from the Ala Moana Hotel.

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A local carving a mask in an Oahu marketplace

Sure, you can pick up cheap souvenirs in Hawaii. T-shirts and key chains abound, as do wooden tiki statues. But check the fine print; these souvenirs of your Hawaiian vacation were likely made far from the islands. If you’d rather support local artisans and take home a truly authentic souvenir, it’s simple: avoid souvenir shops. Instead, check out these three locations. You’ll find a great selection of products made right here in the islands.

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You can watch workers dip shortbread cookies into chocolate at Big Island Candies.

Watch workers dunk shortbread cookies into melted chocolate at Big Island Candies.

Leaving the Hawaiian Islands behind after a beautiful vacation can be bittersweet. But while your bright blue umbrella drink isn’t going to make it through customs, you can take the flavor of the islands home with you in the form of some locally sourced, locally made sweet treats. Neatly packaged and ready to go, these cookies, candies, and snacks are the perfect foil to your back-to-work blues. Read More »

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Oahu has several great golf options visitors can enjoy for less than $50.

Hawaii is famous for many things, including its great golf courses that draw PGA pros and visitors alike.  The problem? The greens fees at most of the resort courses are cost prohibitive for many budget-savvy golfers. If you’re more likely to leave a divot than make an eagle shot, but your idea of paradise is still a day on the links, take heart. These three golf courses offer amateurs a chance to golf in Hawaii for less than fifty bucks.

Ala Wai Golf Course: This flat course with Diamond Head views is in the heart of Honolulu. Situated along the Ala Wai Canal and near hotels like the Best Western Coconut Waikiki and the ultra-budget Ocean Resort Hotel Waikiki, this municipal course has two restaurants, and lessons are available. Greens fees are $46 for 18 holes (less for seniors, juniors, or those with a golf ID card). 404 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu. 808-733-7387.

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Try beer brewed with Kona Coffee at the Kona Brewing Co.

Try beer brewed with Kona coffee at the Kona Brewing Co.

If you’re one of those people who seek out microbreweries wherever you go, you’ll be happy to know that even way out here in the Pacific, you can find a good brew. Whether your trip brings you to Oahu, the Big Island, Maui, or Kauai, you’ll find locally flavored ales, IPAs, and porters at these island brew pubs.

Kona Brewing Co. – With locations on the Big Island and Oahu, you’ve got two chances to try the fine brews from the folks at Kona Brewing Co while you’re in Hawaii. The brewery is located at the Kona facility where free tours are available. The pub on Oahu is outside of the bustling Waikiki area in the Koko Marina Center. The Pipeline Porter is a must-try if dark beer is your thing: Brewed with 100% Kona coffee grown on the Big Island, the distinct coffee flavor might tempt you to switch up your morning routine.

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The food at Roy's is locally sourced, delicious, and beautifully presented

If ever there was a place where locally sourced food makes sense, it’s Hawaii. Some 2,500 miles from the U.S. mainland, the importation of food to the islands is enough to make true locavores squirm. Happily, there are a number of dining establishments in Hawaii that take the “eat local” movement to heart, serving up dishes that are both delicious and environmentally sound.

Kokua Market Deli – The deli tucked in the back of Kokua Market is, as one patron calls it, a hidden goldmine. Offering dishes made with mostly-organic ingredients that are locally sourced whenever possible, the menu also features plenty of raw, vegan, macrobiotic and meat selections. The meat, of course, is antibiotic and hormone free. Headed out to explore the island? Stop by the deli to pick up a meal to go.

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Hawaii kitsch

If you’re one of those people who use the word “antique” as a verb, you’re in luck — there are some great antique shops in Hawaii, though you’ll have to put forth a little bit of effort to find them. Whether you’re shopping for something special or just want to take a peek into the past, take a cruise through these antique stores for collectibles with a distinct island flair. You’ll find furniture and accessories made from bamboo, teak, and koa along with a serious dose of kitsch at the following shops.

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Mangoes at the KCC Farmers Market

Mangoes at the KCC Farmers Market

Sure, you’ve sampled the wedge of pineapple sitting prettily atop your umbrella drink. But if you want to truly taste the flavor of the islands, your best bet is to get yourself to one of the ongoing farmers markets in Hawaii. While papaya and bananas are a year round staple, you might be surprised that most of the other tropical fruits grown here do have a season. Lychee, mango, and luscious white pineapple are available in the summer months, while avocados are more abundant during winter months. Some of Hawaii’s best farmers markets are listed below.

OAHU

Haleiwa Farmers Market – Open every Sunday from 9am-1pm, this North Shore market prides itself on being green. Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own shopping bags and there are often educational demonstrations about eco-friendly living. Budget accommodations are limited in this area, but the Ke Iki Beach Bungalows (with full kitchens) are nearby. If you’re based in Waikiki or Honolulu, the North Shore is a worthwhile day trip – this is the area that plays host to the big surf wave competitions.

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Hawaii has plenty of spots to buy local fabrics and quilts

If you’re looking for something a little different to take back home as a souvenir of your trip to the islands, look no further than the guy in the garish aloha shirt sitting next to you. Well, you don’t exactly want that shirt, but a length of Hawaiian print fabric is a great gift for seamstresses and your otherwise crafty friends. Or for yourself!

Fabric stores in Hawaii carry a decidedly unique selection of material: Hawaiian prints and Asian motifs, tossed with a little bit of manga. You’ll find something for everyone, in every possible hue and at a very reasonable price at these island fabric stores:

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Foster Botanical Garden, Oahu, Hawaii

Visiting the island of Oahu isn’t all about beaches and hula dancers. For garden aficionados, it’s a chance to explore the kind of tropical vegetation that probably doesn’t grow at home. Happily, there are a number of excellent botanical gardens on the island featuring the lush green and eye-popping colors of plants like heliconia, ginger, and giant fern (and one garden that may surprise you!). Better yet? The cost of admission won’t bust your vacation budget, and many are even free. Our top five picks are below.

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