Whalers Village is one of Maui's many shopping hubs. // (c) 2012 Steven Brinkman Photography
Visitors who go shopping in Maui are discovering much more than just aloha shirts and pineapple jam. Over the years the island has blossomed into a veritable retail mecca with a sizable assortment of shopping centers and products catering to the variety of visitors who vacation there.
Casual browsers and serious buyers alike can find one-of-a-kind keepsakes and reasonably-priced mementoes as well as high-end souvenirs and designer duds. The island teems with galleries and boutiques thanks to its large population of highly creative people. At the same time, its agricultural riches have spawned stores selling local foods and flowers.
In short, Maui is a buyer's market, especially in the following destinations:
Just a few steps from the beach awaits Whalers Village, a multi-level complex of designer clothes, surf-inspired products, aloha wear, imports and made-in-Hawaii arts and crafts. Buyers can find upscale silk sarongs and pearls as well as t-shirts and flip-flops, plus essentials like sunglasses and sunscreen. During a shopping break, check out the whale museum or one of its oceanfront restaurants.
In central Maui, about five minutes from Kahului Airport, shoppers can check off most everything on their list at one of two large retail emporiums. At Maui Mall, a standout store called Maui Creations sells Hawaiian gifts, clothes, jewelry and books. Queen Kaahumanu Center, with 100 shops and restaurants, runs the gamut with clothing, shoes, Asian imports, surf wear, books and ethnic food.
In this historic town, picturesque oceanfront Front Street is lined with boutiques and galleries filled with fine art, trinkets, soaps, aloha shirts and more. Additional options for art, food, souvenirs and clothing await at Lahaina Cannery Mall, which is notable for its free hula shows, and Old Lahaina Center, which also houses Maui Theater's live theater production, "Ulalena."
Makawao may be an old cowboy town, but its main street - Baldwin Avenue - is a treasure trove of fashion boutiques, country stores, art galleries and unique gift shops, all housed in vintage buildings. From glass-blowing demonstrations to displays of upscale European linens, Makawao is full of charm. Hui Noeau, the island's major arts organization, also makes its home here.
Several miles away from Kahului on the road to Hana, fun and funky Paia was once a plantation town. Today its colorful wooden buildings create a friendly ambience, while its proximity to popular beaches accounts for its surfer vibe. Scores of shops hug the sidewalks and the Maui Crafts guild, an arts cooperative, provides a good source of island collectibles such as ceramics, jewelry, photographs and prints.
For high-end retailers, look no further than the Shops at Wailea, a glamorous 150,000-square-foot complex in southwest Maui. With 60 stores and restaurants, this is the place for high-fashion clothes and shoes, but it's also a good place to pick up books, maps, sundries, beach wear, art, gifts and gourmet items. Stop by on Wednesday evenings for artist and gallery receptions as well as live entertainment.
This central Maui town is especially fun on the first Friday of each month, when the streets come alive with food booths, live music and vendors. A leisurely stroll along Market Street leads to boutiques with vintage collectibles, art, contemporary gifts, locally designed apparel and colorful aloha wear as well as mom-and-pop restaurants serving tasty menus.