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Best Place to Buy a Ukulele in Hawaii

February 22, 2014

Best Place to Buy a Ukulele on Each of the Four Main Hawaiian Islands

Vintage Ukuleles - Hawaii

It's practically mandatory that you buy a ukulele on your first trip to one of the Hawaiian Islands. As a souvenir it makes more sense than a 3-pack of Dole Pineapples or chocolate covered macadamia nuts as the experience is less fleeting. There is no other purchase that can immediately transport your senses back to the islands than that of the ukulele. Run the back of your index finger tip down the G, C, E, A chords and you'll be smelling plumeria in seconds. However, too often malahine* end up with one of those ABC Store assembly line models with strings that unravel after one strum session, not that it would ever have been in tune in the first place.

Look at your ukulele purchase as an investment. In many ways it is, especially if you buy a local luthier crafted koa wood model that will appreciate in material value if kept in mint condition (koa is rare and indigenous to Hawaii). But fiscal matters aside, a carefully selected ukulele is a treasure and a beautiful reminder of your time in Hawaii, whether your instrument came with a $99 or $1999 price tag. For the newcomer unsure of the best fit for their next ukulele purchase the following list details the best place to buy a ukulele on each of the four main Hawaiian islands - Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai.

Ukulele PuaPua - Oahu

Ukulele PuaPau in Sheraton Waikiki Royal Hawaiian

PuaPua is right smack in the middle of the Waikiki Beach bustle. While it may seem that sending you to a ukulele shop in tourist trap ground zero is a little inauthentic such a thing couldn't be further from the truth. The convenient stores (Kalakaua Avenue and within the Sheraton Waikiki Royal Hawaiian) are the most welcoming on the island, with staff that exudes unparalleled aloha spirit. You never once feel out of place in this happy little ukulele shop and browsing is absolutely encouraged. They even offer free daily ukulele classes which play out like an improv comedy show from time to time, depending on the crowd. Read more on PuaPua Ukulele.

Honorable mention: Haleiwa Surf 'n Sea - This North Shore surf shop is also home to the coolest limited edition ukuleles on the island - Haleiwa Ukuleles.

Mele Ukulele Mele Ukulele - Maui

Mele Ukulele Maui

This tiny box like ukulele shop in Wailuku is the kind of local business you want to support. It's a bonus that they carry some of the best locally made ukuleles on the island, including the only two-holed ukulele we've come across, a design that allows for a more amplified experience. You may be staying in Lahaina or Kihei surrounded by shops vying for your ukulele dollars but take a road trip to Wailuku first before making this important decision. Read more on Mele Ukulele.

Holu'aloa Ukulele Gallery - Big Island

Holu'aloa Ukulele Gallery

This one falls under the most unique ukulele "purchase" experience around AND makes you one of the most deserving strummers to own a custom ukulele. That's because this custom model is molded from your very own hands! You'll need to slot in some extra vacation time to pull this one off as this ukulele building course spans 10 days, seven hours a day. You're basically paying to go to work for a week and a half. However the rewarding feeling of completing and taking ownership of a ukulele crafted by your own saw dusted fingers cannot be described. This is an experience of a lifetime and is officially marked as the best way to get a ukulele, in the world. Read more on Holu'aloa Ukulele Gallery.

Scotty's Music - Kauai

Scotty's Music - Kauai

This list concludes with a trip to the Garden Isle of Kauai where ukulele hunters will need to head over to Kalaheo on Kauai's southern side. There along Kaumualii Highway you will find Scotty's Music. While this shop has a significant collection of varying instruments than the above mentioned stores they have the largest selection of ukuleles on the island, even claiming to own the same title over the world (yet to be determined). They have every right to boast of their expansive collection yet there is not an ounce of pretension in this ukulele haven. Visitors are welcomed with open arms to gander the inventory which without question has a ukulele option for those of any skill level, interest, and budget. Read more on Scotty's Music.

Do you have a favorite ukulele shop that you feel truly deserves to take the top spot for one of the above island choices? Shoot us an email to editor@YAHglobal.com with the details or sign-in with Facebook to leave a comment below. We'd be more than happy to pay them a visit, enjoy a strum, a conversation, and perhaps walk out with yet another addition to our growing office collection.

*Malahine - newcomer/visitor

Wish You Were Here - Marcus Maraih, Editor, YAHglobal.Com

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