Headed to Hawaii - Tell me what I should buy

I thought on this. I might try many ukulele such as any of the K brands, but I would hope to buy something I couldn't get readily at home. For instance, the Koalohas I enjoy were bought from TUS and came by mail.

There are many luthiers on the islands. Enjoy, enjoy.

Oh and of course as others have suggested, enjoy the food. Yummy .
I believe most (or all) of the smaller ukulele builders in Hawaii are too small to have their own retail showrooms. Instead they sell online and through well known retailers like TUS. Because the supply is limited, TUS sells most of these luthier ukuleles by mail instead of at their retail store, so if you see something on the TUS website that interests you, call them and make an appointment to see the instrument. They will bring it from their warehouse to the retail store for you to check out. I see a pretty I'iwi tenor on the TUS web site right now; that is something you almost never see at US mainland stores.
 
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If your budget is limited, there is an active used ukulele market in Honolulu. I've seen used K-brand ukuleles in great condition at a few different music stores, consignment stores, and even pawn shops. Prices are often cheaper than EBay and Reverb and you get to inspect the instrument before buying. Bring your electronic tuner with you.

Another fun thing to do in Hawaii is jam with a local ukulele club. I know that the owners of this website sponsor ukulele clubs on Oahu and Kauai. I don't think there is any charge, but they only meet once a month or so, so you have to plan ahead to match their schedule.

Also, there are several professional ukulele players that play weekly at restaurants, bars, and hotels around town. Schedules for these shows are not always easy to find, but try the front desks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Dukes Restaurant and the Hyatt hotel. If you have favorite musicians, check their websites for schedules. Some of the bigger name players appear (less frequently) at the Blue Note nightclub and the Hawaii Theater.
 
Yeah I don't think that HMS has their full inventory in the Haleiwa store, and as it's a long trip from Waikiki may be good idea to ask them to get specific models out of the warehouse to try. I found that Best Uke and the store on Lewers have a nice selection of smaller luthier ukes.
 
Looks like the K you are missing is a Kamaka. Their tour was so delightful to go to on. I see everyone gave great food recommendations but if you like poke the best is at Foodland Farms Ala Moana
Just remember that Foodland sells 2 kinds of poke: fresh and previously frozen. The fresh poke is more expensive, but came off the fishing boat within the last 24 hours and tastes noticeably better. Foodland's previously frozen poke is below average compared to most poke specialty restaurants around Hawaii. If you're used to poke restaurants on the US mainland, that is almost always previously frozen.
 
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For quick food options we were really impressed with the new Waikiki Market on Kuhio (where Food Pantry used to be). We loved the plate lunch options and the poke bar also looked very appealing though unfortunately I did not have a chance to try.

Oh and for what to buy don't forget to pick up an Aloha shirt (I just added my first Rey Spooner to the collection) or a Mu'uMu'u for the Ms.
 
Is that Dukes? Which is a fancy ABC with a lot more food options.

Speaking of shirts, all the surf shops- Quiksilver Rip curl, O'Neil, etc- will have special edition Hawaii stuff.
 
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Speaking of shirts, all the surf shops- Quiksilver Rip curl, O'Neil, etc- will have special edition Hawaii stuff.
Yeah, but - try Bailey's for an overwhelming aloha shirt experience.

Also, really good Dim Sum at Mei Sum in Chinatown.
 
Thanks for all the suggestions! We were able to get our fill of all the food trucks, shave ice, açaí and poke bowls, and macadamia nuts.

Ukulele-wise, we were able to fit in everything we wanted on the way to other activities. We stopped by HMS while on a driving tour around the island. I called ahead to be sure they had the I’iwi in store. When I arrived, Kalei was there and brought out one of their Petros and Cornerstones that happened to be in store that day. We talked about uke, Hawaii life, and even jammed a bit. Bucket list experience!

We went on the Kamaka and KoAloha tours, which were both wonderful for different reasons. Chris Kamaka led our tour and shared the history of the instrument and company from his personal perspective, sharing stories of his dad, uncle, and mom who all made the company what it is today after Samuel died. At KoAloha, Pops let us in but had to go to an appointment, so our tour was with their sales VP Brian. We were the only participants in the Koaloha tour, which allowed the time to dig deep into conversations about woodworking, ukulele innovation, and aloha spirit. We spent an hour talking as he answered all my questions about the ukulele business.

We had a blast stopping at all the ukulele stores (we hit the big 4 that are in Waikiki), playing all the ukes that I’ve only been able to see and hear online. The coolest part of all those experiences was meeting the shop owners who shared my love for the instrument. One of the highest compliments I received was an owner who said, “When you came in and started playing I realized that you are one of us!”

Ultimately, we bonded with a Kamaka soprano and tenor that both had Martin strings on them. The owner put them on because he thought they made Kamakas shine.

All in all, my ukulele pilgrimage delivered the goods!

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That's A LOT for 5 days! Congrats on the new ukes. 🤙
 
Sounds like a great but very busy trip and I hope you will be able to visit again for more relaxed time. This looks like view from Outrigger Reef?
Many tourists travel to Hawaii to relax on a quiet beach. Others go to learn about and enjoy the local culture and contribute to the local economy. Sounds like our friend chose the latter and I don't blame him.
 
Thanks for all the suggestions! We were able to get our fill of all the food trucks, shave ice, açaí and poke bowls, and macadamia nuts.

Ukulele-wise, we were able to fit in everything we wanted on the way to other activities. We stopped by HMS while on a driving tour around the island. I called ahead to be sure they had the I’iwi in store. When I arrived, Kalei was there and brought out one of their Petros and Cornerstones that happened to be in store that day. We talked about uke, Hawaii life, and even jammed a bit. Bucket list experience!

We went on the Kamaka and KoAloha tours, which were both wonderful for different reasons. Chris Kamaka led our tour and shared the history of the instrument and company from his personal perspective, sharing stories of his dad, uncle, and mom who all made the company what it is today after Samuel died. At KoAloha, Pops let us in but had to go to an appointment, so our tour was with their sales VP Brian. We were the only participants in the Koaloha tour, which allowed the time to dig deep into conversations about woodworking, ukulele innovation, and aloha spirit. We spent an hour talking as he answered all my questions about the ukulele business.

We had a blast stopping at all the ukulele stores (we hit the big 4 that are in Waikiki), playing all the ukes that I’ve only been able to see and hear online. The coolest part of all those experiences was meeting the shop owners who shared my love for the instrument. One of the highest compliments I received was an owner who said, “When you came in and started playing I realized that you are one of us!”

Ultimately, we bonded with a Kamaka soprano and tenor that both had Martin strings on them. The owner put them on because he thought they made Kamakas shine.

All in all, my ukulele pilgrimage delivered the goods!

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"Ultimately, we bonded with a Kamaka soprano and tenor that both had Martin strings on them. The owner put them on because he thought they made Kamakas shine."

Which shop is that ?

I asked Chris Kamaka at the factory other than the stock strings , which I like , does Kamaka Hawaii suggest or recommend any alternatives ?
He said that Herb Ota Jr. swears by Worth Clear .
He added , just try a few different brands and play what you like .
 
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Which shop is that ?

I asked Chris Kamaka at the factory other than the stock strings , which I like , does Kamaka Hawaii suggest or recommend any alternatives ?
He said that Herb Ota Jr. swears by Worth Clear .
He added , just try a few different brands and play what you like .

Best Hawaiian Ukulele on the corner of Royal Hawaiian Ave and Kuhio Ave. The owner is a player and spent a lot of time talking about playing styles in an effort to match me with the right ukulele for me. He knows his stuff! I appreciated his “helping” approach instead of a “selling” approach.
 
"Ultimately, we bonded with a Kamaka soprano and tenor that both had Martin strings on them. The owner put them on because he thought they made Kamakas shine."

Which shop is that ?

I asked Chris Kamaka at the factory other than the stock strings , which I like , does Kamaka Hawaii suggest or recommend any alternatives ?
He said that Herb Ota Jr. swears by Worth Clear .
He added , just try a few different brands and play what you like .
Actually, Worth designed a special version of clear fluorocarbon strings in collaboration with Herb Ohta Jr. This is not the same Worth CM or CT strings that most people call "Worth Clear". The Herb Jr strings are labeled Worth COJ-2. I have never tried them, but looking at the spec sheet, they appear to be higher tension on the first 3 strings compared to the standard Worth CT clear tenor strings, but with a thinner lower tension low-G string. I think I have seen the Worth COJ-2 strings for sale at some of the Internet music stores.
 
Actually, Worth designed a special version of clear fluorocarbon strings in collaboration with Herb Ohta Jr. This is not the same Worth CM or CT strings that most people call "Worth Clear". The Herb Jr strings are labeled Worth COJ-2. I have never tried them, but looking at the spec sheet, they appear to be higher tension on the first 3 strings compared to the standard Worth CT clear tenor strings, but with a thinner lower tension low-G string. I think I have seen the Worth COJ-2 strings for sale at some of the Internet music stores.
Thanks for the clarification .

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