Hawaii style and how not to piss off Pele the Fire Goddess

Before I went to Hawaii, I spent some time searching Instagram for photo inspiration. I joked about how most of what I came across was skinny blondes wearing thong bikinis on beaches doing yoga poses at sunset, usually with a boxer or pit bull at their side. I’m not wrong.

I like how casual Hawaii style is. The only time I saw people suuuper dressed up was while roaming around Waikiki, or Honolulu’s Chinatown. Everywhere else it was all board shorts and tank tops or bikini tops and flip-flops and big hats. Dudes: you’d love it. Also, be more shirtless.

And like all good island destinations filled with sexy sun-kissed people, shopping is a lot of fun…albeit depressing when you come across designer swimwear that’s $100 per piece for a measly scrap of fabric. San Lorenzo was a popular one, and although even a size large wouldn’t cover half my breast, at least his funky trucker hats fit my apparently average-sized head.


This is actually an advertisement for the pouch.

I’m not one of those light backpackers. I don’t give a shit if you only travel with a carry-on, and frankly, nothing annoys me more than seeing people take advantage of lax carry-on rules. When I move to Berlin this year I’ll likely have two or more suitcases, not just because of seasonal differences, but also because I like having variety. And I like shopping and hunting for bargains and not feeling like a hobo in my pajamas all the time (which is my typical workday attire).

My favourite place to shop is a good boutique, and Hawaii is all about them. I’m not usually crazy about markets, because haggling is not my thing. Even in Wailuku, the dredges of Maui, I managed to find a good boutique or two. So I bought some dresses and a pair of sandals, and this adorable handmade necklace in the shape of Maui.



But my absolute favourite purchase my entire time in the islands was actually at a market — the Farmer’s Market in Hilo, Big Island. Typically the best days to show up are Saturday and Wednesday, but it’s open throughout most of the week. I perused the fresh fruit and veggies and bought a kale smoothie from a man with the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen, and then I moved on to the handicraft section.

A lot of people sell their homemade goods and jewelry here. A lot. And a lot of it is inspired by Hawaiian nature and the landscape, which is right up my alley and makes me too excited to breathe. I kept walking past a booth called “Filthy Farmgirl” who sold soaps and other goodies, with fun names like “Ticklish Licorice” and “Filthy Gnome Soap.” I mean how can you not love it? I was already poor, however. Don’t even get me started on the Donkey Balls chocolates.

Chicken Balls

But then I wandered past a booth titled Real Flower Jewelry and some pendants caught my eye. That’s because I have the most predictable fashion sense ever and I tend to love flowers and soft pastel colours, especially blue. And this place was FILLED with all those things.

The man selling them was friendly and chatty, and he started talking about his art without being pushy about it. I appreciate that. He specializes in creating wearable jewelry made in Hawaii from real flowers grown on the Islands. He completely sold me on a pendant with a “Limu” inside it, a “Flower of the Sea.” Limu is edible red algae, and my particular piece was collected on the lava coast just outside Hilo. Even better, the delicate pattern of the Limu means no two pieces are alike.

Real FLower Jewlery

Notice how well it matches my dress.
I had no intention of buying anything, but I did want a souvenir from Hawaii and so far my efforts to bring home a piece of lava had been thwarted. Not only that, but apparently bringing home rocks or pieces of lava from Hawaii means you’ll majorly piss off Pele the Fire Goddess. All too often tourists fall prey to Pele’s Curse, bringing home rock, sand, or pumice, and then experiencing a string of bad luck. The lady at the Arnott’s Lodge front desk said it’s insane how many people mail back their Hawaiian pieces months after returning home to the mainland.

And while I did experience a string of bad luck in Hawaii and afterwards, I’m fairly confident that it all happened because some volcanic pieces got stuck inside my sneakers’ grips. Since removal, it’s all been good. Mostly. And I figure Real Flower Jewelry is the perfect alternative to bringing home a piece of Hawaii without pissing of Pele. Right?

In short: buy local, don’t take stuff from the land. It’s also seriously taboo and Hawaiians get super mad about it. And when in doubt, check out Hilo’s Farmers Market.

  • March 06 2015

    That pendant is so pretty, and I love the idea of jewelry made from real flowers! I will be sure to keep Pele’s Curse in mind whenever I make it to Hawaii!

  • March 06 2015
    Jill Kozak

    I bought a pair of spiral plastic multi-coloured earrings at the farmers market in Hilo for $5 in 2012. They still are my favorite and get the most compliments out of any piece of jewellery I own!

    • March 09 2015

      That’s awesome! I couldn’t get over how cheap that market was. Suchhhh an incredible spot

  • March 08 2015

    I love your necklace. It’s beautiful. My sister just got married in Hawaii on Valentine’s Day 2015. It was absolutely beautiful, but I did not get to go. My mom brought back a necklace with a Hawaiian flower. It was really beautiful. http://askmelissaanything.blogspot.com/2015/02/valentines-day-wedding-2015.html

    • March 09 2015

      Aww I hope you do get to go at some point! It’s an incredible spot

      • March 09 2015

        I definitely want to go to Hawaii someday. My mom’s advise about my sister’s wedding and having Hawaii as a destination wedding is that you should plan to spend at least a week in Hawaii prior to the wedding. My sister and her fiance arrived in Hawaii 2 days before the wedding, and they rushed to get the marriage license, and all of the last minute wedding details (flowers, dress, catering). It was a nightmare. They didn’t get to see much sight seeing, and they were really stressed out. If you’re making Hawaii your wedding destination, go a week ahead of schedule so that you can enjoy the beach and relax. February is a wonderful month to get married in Hawaii. It was 75 degrees the whole time. I wish I could have gone.

        • March 10 2015

          AGH! I can’t even imagine…I spent three weeks there and still felt rushed. Lol. I suppose the upside is that now they KNOW how to spend their time, if they decide to go back…

          • March 11 2015

            I have a few more pics to share of my sister’s wedding in Hawaii Beach 69. She had the craziest officiant (old guy, long wild hair in a pony, houle with a tan, beach bum, surfer type officiant). It was a very casual, laid back wedding. At the same time it was very scenic. My family rented a bungalow off the beach. When I visit Hawaii, I’ll have to stay a month or more. I would have to buy a pele necklace, go to Luaus and spend 99.9% of my time on the beaches. You know, Candice, if I go to Hawaii, everybody better say “good-bye” to me because once I get to Hawaii, I’m not going to leave.

            • March 16 2015

              LOL. Yup! I feel like I did SO MUCH in Hawaii, but my happiest moments were just lounging around on beaches being lazy

  • March 08 2015

    Beautiful necklace – exactly the type of souvenir I like to get. I found a beautiful handbmade necklace in Cape Town with a couple of handpainted beads, a tiny map of Africa and a feather from an African bird. I also got a scarf with elephants on it :)

    • March 09 2015

      Oh I LOVE that. And I totally love when people ask me where I got something and I’m all, “Oh, this old thing? Pfft, Greece.” Hahaha.

  • March 17 2015

    Love the jewellery – hand made items with meaning are always so much more… meaningful (hah. would you believe). Love pieces that come with a story! x

  • March 18 2015

    Thanks so much for the post.Really looking forward to read Fantastic blog article.

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