December 5, 2023

8 local and independent bookstores to visit in Hawaii

You don’t have to be a bookworm to appreciate these local treasures.
The Talk Story Bookstore in Hanepepe, Kauai is one of the many independent and beloved bookstores on the islands. Photo: Mallory Roe

No matter where I go — Kenosha, Wisconsin or Kyoto, Japan — I look for independent bookstores. I love browsing shelves, running my fingers along ragged backs, or finding something unexpected in the not always organized rows of books. And you can also learn a lot about the place you visit at these local stores, which often feature staff picks and have curated sections of local books.

So the next time you’re in the islands, take a look at one of these independent bookstores and find the book you’ll get lost in while lounging on the nearest beach.


1. Boutique Da, Kaimuki

Photo: Catherine Toth Fox

Tucked away in a small apartment building in the Kaimuki business district, less than three miles from Waikiki, this hip new community bookstore, run by local publisher Bess Press, features a variety of locally published books as well as national and bestsellers. international titles. It also offers a nice selection of keiki (children’s) books, lounge seating, and an event space that hosts readings aloud, lectures, and live performances. Can not find what you want ? Da Shop’s easy-to-access digital database contains over a million titles, each of which can be purchased in-store and shipped directly to you.

Da Shop, 3565 Harding Ave., (808) 421-9460,

2. BookEnds, Kailua

Photo: Catherine Toth Fox

This family owned bookstore has been loved by Kailua locals and book lovers for over 20 years. Located near Kailua Beach, BookEnds offers a huge selection of new and used books, as well as an incredible array of readings on Hawaiian history and culture. (Fair warning: it’s organized chaos in there.) This is the perfect place to buy a cheap beach book or get recommendations from the helpful staff.

600 Kailua Road # 126, (808) 261-1996

3. Na Mea Hawaii, Ala Moana

If you’re interested in all things Hawaiian – language, culture, history – head to Na Mea Hawaii in Ward Village. This well-respected store is the premier place for books on Hawaii. Its diverse collection includes books on Hawaiian mythology, marine life, ethnic cuisine, hula, Polynesian trips, music and more. Also find novels by local writers and keiki books here. The boutique also sells locally made gifts, from shell jewelry and clothing to koa wood carvings, and hosts craft classes and live music events.

1200 Ala Moana Boulevard, # 270, (808) 596-8885,


4. Maui Friends of the Library Bookstore, Miscellaneous

This cash-only, nonprofit bookstore has three locations in Maui – Kahului, Lahaina, Puunene – fully staffed by volunteers. Prices are donation-based and all proceeds fund programs for Maui County Public Libraries. This concept solves two problems: keeps books out of the landfill and provides you with inexpensive books (some cost 25 cents!). Also find used CDs and DVDs here.

Visit his website here.


5. Talk Story Bookstore, Hanepepe

Photo: Catherine Toth Fox

Talk Story Bookstore has become a destination for book lovers in Hanepepe since it opened in 2004. Not only is it the westernmost bookstore in the United States, it has over 150,000 books in its vast selection of new books. , used and out of print, in addition to Hawaiian vinyl records, sheet music, old magazines and comics. For decades, visitors have flocked to this plantation-era structure in the Old Sugar Town from around the world; it is now the only bookstore on the island. Another plus: you might meet the owner’s cat, Celeste, the shop’s unofficial mascot. She even has her own Instagram!

SEE ALSO: Talk Story Bookstore on Kauai is a bibliophile’s dream

3785 Hanapepe Road, (808) 335-6469,


5. Big Island BookBuyers, Hilo

Photo: Catherine Toth Fox

Located in downtown Hilo, this bookstore specializes in used and out-of-print books and DVDs, although it has new media including books on Hawaiiana, guidebooks, and novels written by local authors. . You can also trade and sell books whenever a buyer is available.

14 Waianuenue Ave., (808) 315-5335,

7. Still Life Books & Vinyl, Hilo

This basement bookstore survived severe flooding last year from Hurricane Lane. Although owner Royce Wilson had to move the store – it’s now on higher ground, albeit half the size at 420 square feet – it still has a wide variety of books and vinyl records, with enough rarities. and collectibles to keep fans coming back.

235 Waianuenue Avenue, (808) 756-2919

8. Kona Stories Bookstore, Kailua-Kona

Find this community bookstore, opened in 2006, in the Keahou shopping center. It focuses on the Hawaiiana and Keiki books, although you can also find gifts and greeting cards. Kona Stories also offers consignments for local self-published writers looking to promote their work, and hosts book clubs and wine events. And keep an eye out for Chloe, the store’s resident cat.

Keahou Shopping Center, 78-6831 Alii Drive, (808) 324-0350,