One-of-a-Kind Souvenirs on the Big Island

Posted in: Big Island 2021, Shopping

Unique isle souvenirs come in many forms—jewelry, paintings, Hawaiian quilts, quality tees, Koa wood pieces, comfortable and casual apparel, and much more. You’ll find them most everywhere you go while exploring our Big Island shopping spots. Of course, you’ll want to share mementos with family and friends, but be sure to pick up something special for yourself to remember our island paradise!

“Colorful, whimsical and sometimes a little off-kilter” is how artist Cindy Coats describes her artwork. “Color is as important to me and to each painting as the subject itself. I spend hours, sometimes days, on the color composition of each painting.” You’ll know you’ve found the Cindy Coats Gallery located on the corner of Ali‘i Drive and Palani Road because of her dedication to color.

Cindy Coats Expect the Unexpected
A portion of one of Cindy Coats' works "Expect the Unexpected"

Imagine a cat with a fish tail (catfish) or cows dressed in vibrant mu‘umu‘u. “All my ideas come from my imagination,” says Coats. “I keep a list of ideas. Whenever something hits me or I have an idea, I jot it down—the list keeps growing. I doubt I’ll ever be able to do all the paintings I want in this lifetime!”

Although Coats has done commissioned artwork for the likes of Sting; Santana; Crosby, Stills and Nash; and a commemorative work for the Ironman World Championships, one of her most memorable pieces is “Dogs Love Trucks” that she painted for her husband as a Christmas gift.

“I had no intention of making prints at the time,” she says. “It was just a gift with our two dogs Cosmo and Stevie Rae. I had no idea it would become so popular—it’s even a wine label now. Another is ‘Expect the Unexpected’; I had a vision of that for the longest time...our dog Pi in a boat with all this chaos going on and her looking straight ahead, heading ‘true north.’”

Coats still enjoys a working relationship with the Ironman World Championships, “but that doesn’t mean any more to me than the person who buys a couple of prints and thinks about their Kona visit everyday!” she assures us. “After 23 years in Kona and 13 in my own gallery, I still LOVE what I do. I love painting, I love meeting and talking with people about my work, and I love the fact that I get to do what I love in the most beautiful place in the world!”


When Lehua Jewelers opened in 1985, owner Sharon Gilbert was prepared to take her long-time inspiration—classic Hawaiian enameled jewelry—to the next level. She has created many Big Island designs, working in 14K, 18K and sterling silver, sometimes embellishing with colorful glass enamel, diamonds or precious gemstones.

Lehua Jewelers was commissioned to create the Miss Aloha Hula award bracelet in 2013
Lehua Jewelers was commissioned to create the Miss Aloha Hula award bracelet in 2013

This fine arts major has designed hand-engraved pieces throughout her career inspired by Hawai‘i Island. She also collaborates with clients to achieve their desired styles.

“Although we’re known for our Hawaiian Heirloom jewelry, we have a wide range of treasures to meet many different tastes and budgets,” says Gilbert. “We have a large assortment of gemstone and pearl jewelry at our store, and many of our pieces are one-of-a-kind creations that we make right here.”

One of the state’s most prestigious hula events is the Merrie Monarch Festival, now in its 57th year. One of the most anticipated events at this weeklong celebration is the Miss Aloha Hula in which female hula dancers compete for the honor of being named the top solo dancer. Lehua Jewelers was commissioned to create the Miss Aloha Hula award bracelet in 2013 (pictured, above).

“I believe there is great meaning behind this commission,” says Gilbert. “When we were approached by Aunty Luana Kawelu, it was important to me that our bracelets were indeed all handcrafted here in Hawai‘i by local engravers, using the classic technique of hand-cut lettering for the traditional glass enameling. Additionally, I feel that we go an extra step by allowing each winner to design her own bracelet, including elements that are precious to her. So far, no two bracelets are alike.”

Stop by Lehua Jewelers and let Sharon Gilbert and her staff help you find the perfect symbol that expresses your feelings for the ones you love.


Crazy Shirts President Scott Maroney recently told us, “We’re proud to be the luxury t-shirt brand. We have so many customers who tell us they’ve been collecting shirts for over 30 years. We even know of two loyal fans who made quilts out of all their shirts.”

Try on one of Crazy Shirts’ specialty dyed tees
Try on one of 
Crazy Shirts’ specialty dyed tees

Whether you’re a loyal fan or just someone who loves quality tees, Crazy Shirts has them for all ages. Look good and feel good anywhere your isle adventures take you.

They feature legacy designs, “adopt-a-dog” shirts, the popular Kliban Cat line and specialty dyed fabrics. Pineapple, lavender, Kona coffee, coconut, tangerine, pine, plus their newest, blueberry! Stop by any of their shops located on the major Hawaiian Islands to see the full range of colors or visit them online.


From simple to elegant, The Shops at Mauna Lani has something for everyone. Shop the latest fashions and island casual wear featuring namebrand quality and local craftsmanship. Dining options range from casual to upscale such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Sushi Shiono and Pele’s Wok Bistro & Bar. Discover art, sculpture, paintings, jewelry and an extensive selection of Hawaiian-made products and so much more.


Quilt Passions
Find ready-made 
Hawaiian-themed quilts at Quilt Passions

Nothing says Hawai‘i like an authentic Hawaiian quilt, and Quilt Passions is where you’ll find Hawaiian-themed quilts and patterns created by local designers, who capture the culture and history of the islands. Those who sew will find patterns to choose from, but if you don’t, no need to worry. Browse through the collection of ready-made Hawaiian and island-style quilts available for purchase.

Also find knitting, crochet and embroidery notions including patterns, kits, yarn and DMC floss.

Ask about classes open to the public; they even provide loaner sewing machines and notions kits for free!


If you’re a “fabriholic,” then Fabric and Quilting Delights is your paradise. Owner Honya Sawinski came from North Virginia, and didn’t know how to sew at the time. But after moving to Hawai‘i in 2000, her friendships made over the years led to her opening Fabric and Quilting Delights.

Browse through rows of colorful fabrics from Robert Kauffman, Trentix, Trans-Pacific, Island Batiks, Hoffman, Henry Glass, Westminster, Marcus Brothers and more.

Putting fabric combinations together and seeing peoples’ eyes light up as a result makes Sawinski happy. So if you’re a sewing enthusiast, quilter or fabriholic, stop by the shop to meet Sawinski. Ask about classes and machine service and repairs too.

The seamstress in you will come alive with the wide variety of fabrics and sewing accessories available at Discount Fabric Warehouse. It’s a one-stop shop for all your sewing needs. Find all kinds of prints—Hawaiian, tropical, Asian, novelty and holiday and more—all at discount prices. No space in your luggage? They offer shipping for your convenience!


[A version of this article can be found in print in the pages of This Week Big Island] 


A portion of ‘Expect the Unexpected’ available at the Cindy Coats Gallery


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