Some of the most common souvenirs people bring home from a Hawaiian vacation are hardly Hawaiian in origin at all, or are blatant commercializations of Hawaiian culture. It is a little known fact that the Hawaiian shirt was not commonly worn in Hawaii before its introduction to the tourist market in the 1930s, and it doesn't take a women's studies professor to understand the issues with taking a sexy hula girl bobblehead home on the flight. In order to get the most out of your trip to Hawaii in a culturally responsible way, here are three souvenirs that are authentic to the rich history and tradition of Hawaii.
A Hawaiian Cookbook
Few people realize simply how rich the Hawaiian culinary tradition is, so a great way to really immerse yourself in this tradition is by bringing home some classic Hawaiian recipes. Spam musubi and chicken katsu are two delicious examples of authentic Hawaiian cooking that are well suited to the American palate. Be sure to look for one with lots of pork and rice flour recipes, as these ingredients are very common in real Hawaiian cuisine.
A Real Lei
If you plan on coming home with a lei from your trip to Hawaii, make sure it's not one of the gaudy plastic party store ones. In fact, there are several more ways to create a lei than simply by piercing flowers with a needle and thread. For the full experience, avoid fake flowers or leis that have a cheap-looking string holding them together. Fragrant leis are also popular in Hawaii and are a great alternative to a flowered lei.
Coconut and Macadamia Products
Rather than bringing back a whole coconut or jar of macadamia nuts (which could get tricky thanks to laws surrounding transportation of fruit and vegetables), keep en eye out for oils or butters of these plants, as they serve a wide variety of purposes. Coconut oil is well known as a moisturizer, but can also be used in soaps, hair products, and cooking oils and sprays. Macadamia oils are known to be very fragrant, so candles or oil diffusers are a must. These products are also used often on the island by native Hawaiians, so you'll really be getting an authentic taste of Hawaii with these products.
Straddling the line between touristy and insensitive is tough, but with these three products, you'll be able to take home valuable mementos of your time in Hawaii while both enriching your understanding of the state and respecting its long and storied culture.
Contact a business like Marue & Gertz Ltd to learn more.