Many of the island's lei shops have been around for multiple generations. // © 2016 HTA/Tor Johnson
Feature image (above): Hawaii's lei is synonymous with the natural beauty and aloha spirit of the islands. // © 2016 HTA/Tor Johnson
Hawaii has long been synonymous with the lei. Shared out of love, friendship, hospitality and celebration, each garland of tropical flowers, leaves and berries embodies the aloha spirit while reflecting the destination’s natural beauty.
As soon as visitors enter a Hawaiian lei shop, they’re greeted with the heady scents of ginger, pikake, tuberose and plumeria. In some cases, the owners learned the art of the lei from their parents and grandparents, and most places can carefully pack leis for transport home.
Here are a few shops that locals recommend for buying flower leis.
Cindy's Lei Shop, Oahu
Honolulu’s Chinatown district features several good lei shops, but Cindy’s impresses customers with its professionalism and variety of products. A fourth-generation family business, it’s one of Hawaii’s oldest lei stands. Top sellers include the triple ginger lei for women and the orange, gold and brown cigar flower lei for men.
Flowers Forever, Kauai
Centrally located on Kauai and close to Lihue Airport, this lei haven has a solid reputation of catering to each client’s needs. Among its many specialties is a lei made from green ti leaves intertwined with white dendrobium orchids. Clients who visit from March to October can ask for the cream-colored puakenikeni lei, a super-fragrant gem.
Lin’s Lei Stand, Hawaii Island
Based at Hilo International Airport since 1979, Lin’s works only with local flowers and artists. Its wide inventory includes Hawaii Island maile, a shiny, aromatic leaf woven in an open-ended design and reserved for special occasions. For phoned-in orders, there’s no need to park in the lot. Pull up to the curb, and someone will meet you there, lei in hand.
Pukalani Superette, Maui
This isn’t a flower shop, but the mom-and-pop market is a go-to favorite for locals who like its affordable prices. Pukalani Superette’s leis are fashioned from flowers grown on the upcountry slopes of Haleakala, known for its fertile volcanic soil. Each lei in the store is strung on the same morning that the flowers are picked, resulting in supremely fresh garlands.