Headed to Hawaii - Tell me what I should buy

KaminTheWeaver

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I'm headed to the great State of Hawaii on Monday and plan to buy a ukulele while I'm there. We'll spend 5 days in Oahu and another 5 on the Big Island. You can see my current collection in my signature. Tell me what I should buy while I'm there!
 
All. The. Ukuleles.

Lol just kidding. Have a great trip, and I look forward to hearing about what you come home with and what you try while you're there. Honestly, I think that's the best thing: take every opportunity to try everything you can possibly lay your hands on.
 
You have some great instruments! You seem to lean towards tenors. Your Kanile’a and your KoAloha are both classics, but why don’t you complete the big three and pick up a Kamaka HF-3
I have the Kanile’a and a KoAloha silver (472), but hadn’t been able to find the right Kamaka at a reasonable price. I have an HF-2, but finally found an HF-3. It’s in the mail!
But you will have the chance to take a look at quite a few out there and pick just what you want.
That is, of course, if you want a Kamaka!
Have a great time whatever you decide on!
 
Try to fit in the 3 Big K factory tours, they are each great in their own way. You can probably make reservations now. Kamaka is the one Factory that rarely has HF ukes for sale. A friend was just there and he said they did have 1 Jake Blue uke for sale. What a souvenir that would be. Or wait till you get to the Big Island and drop in on Chuck Moore and see what he's got for sale! Have a blast!
 
Factory tours! The two in town are fun, but Iʻm partial to Kanileʻa...so much going on thatʻs new and different and the Souzas are very hands-on and informative. They also have two stores with basically every instrument they make, including their really high-end stuff. In Waikiki, The ʻUkulele Store on Lewers St has a great collection of Hawaiian-made instruments, and ʻUkulele Puapua and Best Hawaiian Ukulele are pretty amazing and stocked with tons of new ukes from all the K brands.

Make sure to load up on all the plate lunches and musubi! Check out Leonards for malasadas, especially if youʻre going to Kaneohe for the Kanileʻa tour...they have a food truck posted up at Windward Mall all the time and those things are like mana from heaven!
 
How about something vintage? Shawn at 'Ukulele Friend or Tyler at the 'Ukulele Store could help you find something old or new.

I say try as many as you can and hopefully find something rare... one that you can't find anywhere else and that calls out to you. Don't go thinking about a particular model... keep an open mind since there are so many to choose from! Good luck and keep us updated!!
 
I would limit my shopping experience to the best shop on the island , TUS .
And enjoy the other days on Oahu enjoying Oahu .
Give them a call and make an appointment to try out some models .
If within your budget any Ko'olau they may have in stock .
'Oli ; your pick . You won't find these anywhere else .
https://theukulelesite.com/shop-by/brand/oli.html
Millar Acacia Jumbo Tenor

Any more guidance you can give as to what you're looking for now ?
 
Check out Leonards for malasadas, especially if youʻre going to Kaneohe for the Kanileʻa tour...they have a food truck posted up at Windward Mall all the time and those things are like mana from heaven!
Another vote for Leonard's malasadas for when you're totally shopped-out on ukuleles and you need a carb boost. They are to die for. I have no trouble (and obviously no shame) eating half a dozen at one sitting. Also, across Kapahulu Ave and a little down toward Waikiki (I think) is a mom and pop restaurant named Pono Da Ono with killer plate lunches. Small, crowded and popular with locals. Kalua pork plate with everything is enough for two (especially if you hit Leonard's first).

(Edited to fix the restaurant name.)
 
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5 days is a very short time and I assume you have packed itinerary. The Kamaka and KoAloha factory tours are great and very educational. They can be done in sequence with a visit to Kanile'a store and lunch in between. If you stay in Waikiki then the three stores mentioned Lewers, PuaPua and Best are all in walking distance and are easy to drop in when you find a spare hour or two. They all have huge selection including some less common brand and luthier names. Also a good opportunity to try out multi string ukes 5,6,8 and see if you like that as it seems you only have one.
 
I'm headed to the great State of Hawaii on Monday and plan to buy a ukulele while I'm there. We'll spend 5 days in Oahu and another 5 on the Big Island. You can see my current collection in my signature. Tell me what I should buy while I'm there!
Such stress! Lucky you!! Have fun!!! ;)
 
Another vote for Leonard's malasadas for when you're totally shopped-out on ukuleles and you need a carb boost. They are to die for. I have no trouble (and obviously no shame) eating half a dozen at one sitting. Also, across Kapahulu Ave and a little down toward Waikiki (I think) is a mom and pop restaurant named simply Pono with killer plate lunches. Small, crowded and popular with locals. Kalua pork plate with everything is enough for two (especially if you hit Leonard's first).
It's called Da Ono Hawaiian Food , 726 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
 
So no one here is going to tell you which ukulele to buy... though they might suggest what food to try.

You own some very nice ukuleles so I assume you are looking to add ones of similar quality. So you really are looking for what stores to visit. There are some very good suggestions here. Be aware of hours and schedules. Some tours require reservations. Double check the hours for TUS.... some posted info has it closed Monday and Tuesday is uncertain. They have two sites... one is the retail site in Haleiwa and the other is their workshop in Wahiawa. If you are interested in trying a specific ukulele, call them and ask them where/when. Otherwise you might show in Haleiwa and they will tell you the ukulele is not there.

For The Ukulele Store on Lewers Street, call and see when Tyler might be there. It is much better as he is the owner and expert. If at KoAloha, ask to meet Pops (and be ready, if lucky, for some great stories). For the Ukulele Friend, check their website and see if you need to try any. I believe Shawn is there by appointment only (it is not a retail shop).

Sorry, I cannot help with the Big Island, though others might. Chuck Moore lives there, but he does not keep ukuleles available for sale (or I would fly there just to get another one as would other buyers). There might be some luthiers to visit, but hopefully others can chime in.

If this is your first time, you will have to find a good balance between being a tourist and being an ukulele shopper.
 
Shaved ice,
NO, it's "shave ice" (or "ice shave" on big island...). Waiola if in town and Matsumoto in Haleiwa or Aoki across the street if you don't want to wait in line. Big island has (or had) an Ululani, which is the best on Maui. Hawaii island is also the birthplace of loco moco. If on the Kona side you'll see plenty of coffee farms, many give tours, don't bother with anything <100% Kona beans. Don't know much about Hilo, but Hawaii is much more spread out and rural than Oahu.

5 days is a very short time
find a good balance between being a tourist and being an ukulele shopper.
Agree... so much more to do than shop for ukulele. Great food, live music, sites to see, good hikes. Some require ticket now (Diamondhead, Hanauma bay, Arizona memorial) and some are almost impossible to get, but there is plenty to keep you busy (and well-fed).

If you stay in Waikiki then the three stores mentioned Lewers, PuaPua and Best are all in walking distance
There are 4 shops from Best to Puapua... the 2 in between are Ukulele lab (small shop, odd location, sometimes with odd hours esp if Isaac is out of town) and Ukulele store (the biggest, Tyler has a good selection of lesser known brands and a fantastic Martin concert). Go to these or TUS if you want to compare various brands side-by-side. Kamehameha is also close to Puapua, but is mostly house brand with a few Kanilea.

'Oli ; your pick . You won't find these anywhere else .
I would agree that Oli might be one to look at going in (given the "exclusivity"), but there are many other local brands to consider. Just ask @hands_on_lanzon!
 
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While I have visited Oahu many times and the big island a couple times, I really wasn't ukulele aware until our last trip to Oahu. At that point, I didn't play and had no idea what I might want, so I really didn't even know where to look. We did the Kamaka tour and visited a couple local shops in/near Waikiki, and also made a pilgrimage to Haliewa to see the TUS store.

My advice would be to think about what you want to try rather than what you want to buy. If you have definite thoughts or curiosities about particular instruments or particular types of instruments, you can almost certainly make arrangements to see/play ukuleles that are uniquely available in Oahu. Others here can give you better guidance on specfics, and some already have, but there are a range of stores and collections. Even TUS has a much larger stock than what is displayed in their store, so if you are looking for something, even if you can't be extremely specific, they can select some instruments for you to try.

Can't pass up a couple more food suggestions on Oahu: Leonard's Malasadas of course; they are available in several places, but the original shop on Kapahulu is a real scene and just up the street from Waiola shave ice. Much more upscale is lunch at Halekulani: the food is good, the location brilliant, and the coconut cake is to die for. If you like jazz, the Halekulani has a very nice bar, The Lewers Lounge, with regular good music. (If you press and get lucky, you can order the coconut cake at the bar after hours). BTW, Halekulani is at the end of Lewers Street where there are several already mentioned ukulele shops. Rangoon Burmese Kitchen in downtown Honolulu is very good.
 
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They got hermit crabs there or what? I got one on vacation once, but that was at Myrtle beach. Probably the closest I’ll get to ever get to Hawaii Lol.

My in-laws were actually married in Hawaii, 40 something years ago while my FiL was stationed there as a marine.
 
More than ukes there are a lot of local items that are fun to try out.
Coffee plantations
Other local snacks.
Do the Kamaka and Koaloha tours, they are close by. Koaloha has factory specials (minor defects) for sale which was very tempting for me.
 
Hawaii Locals Recommend Their Favorite Shave Ice Shops
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/04/10/t-magazine/hawaii-shave-ice.html

10tmag-shaveice-slide-FPG8-superJumbo.jpg
 
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