Whether a visitor or a kama‘aina (local), a souvenir from one of Waikiki’s tattoo parlors leaves a lasting impression.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, the earliest evidence of human tattoos dates back to ancient Egypt, 2000 B.C. Simple or extravagant, declarations of love, religion or status symbol—humans have marked their skin with permanent mementos for thousands of years.
Polynesians have not been adorning their bodies for solely artistic expression; historically, tattoos were believed to guard health and well-being. For the ancient Hawaiians, tattoos held great spiritual and social significance. Geometric patterns and tribal bands illustrated animals, commemorated family, distinguished origins and depicted sacred legends or secret meaning.
To create a tattoo, indelible ink is injected into the skin’s dermis layer, transforming its pigment. With proper care—which in Hawai‘i means lots of sunscreen—tattoos withstand nature’s fury and maintain vibrancy.
Whether for fashion, implication or amusement, make a permanent statement at one of these Waikiki tattoo parlors.
Enter a chic cave of body art creations— that transcends parlor stigma—at Tattoolicious. Here, refreshingly friendly staff eagerly welcome visitors to their spacious underground venue, decked with a funky, ’60s vibe. Relax on a psychedelic shag rug couch then get inked by one of Tattoolicious’ resident or visiting artisans.
Evident that service leaves a lasting impression, Tattoolicious has a high customer return rate (an Australian family that visits every trip to Hawai‘i, is just one example).
“We wanted to create a tattoo shop unlike any other,” says Sean McCready, Tattoolicious owner/operator. “We strive to make customers comfortable … change the way they feel about typical tattoo parlors, adding an exceptional customer service aspect infused with a very creative yet relaxed atmosphere.”
So kick back and admire the black and red kaleidoscope floor while Tattoolicious’ staff works their magic. Have lifelong branding issues? Cosmetic tattoos (i.e. permanent makeup) and piercings are also available. Hourly rates average $125 for custom designs; prices vary by artist experience.
1909 Ala Wai Blvd. [A:4 Waikiki Map]
If flames suit you more than tropical flowers and butterflies, 434 Tattoo is your stop. Wedged between tiny shops on Ena Road, this hole-in-the-wall parlor is an edgy, garage band nirvana. Neon lights, vintage novelty items and walls decked in a collage of framed designs and stickers transport you to a frills-free, grunge workshop.
At 434, three full-time artists craft custom designs for a mixed visitor/tourist clientele. Here, business is strictly ink. No piercings or henna to be found. Have some time for added detail? Machine-free hand poke (also known as “stick and poke”) tattoos are available and take approximately twice as long to complete as the electric standard. Price points begin at $80. Custom designs cost up to $150 an hour for multi-session work.
Popular picks include Polynesian designs and custom drawings. Whether you’re an ink collector, or want to add a flash of something different on your flesh, it’s on the menu.
434 Ena Road [B:4 Waikiki Map]
Moonlight Mehndi is the answer for needle and pigment-altering commitment phobes. Mehndi, or henna, is temporary body art lasting one to three weeks. Its natural dye penetrates the skin’s top layers, and the design fades as skin exfoliates. Since the closing of the International Market Place earlier this year, henna has become a hidden gem in Waikiki. Enter Valorie Eubank. Eubank has practiced the art of henna since 2003, gracing homes, events, parties and hotels with her creative designs.
“To me, henna is not only a fun hobby … every artist develops their own style, and it’s always an honor when someone recognizes a design I did,” Eubank says. “I learned how to make my own fresh paste, and I never use chemicals in my henna.”
Moonlight Mehndi fashions its henna from natural ingredients: henna leaves, lemon juice, sugar and tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender and pure cajeput essential oils. Black henna is off limits to Eubank, who explained that it contains dangerous PDD, which can scar skin.
Private appointments and care supplies cost $45 for a 30-minute minimum. Rates start at $75 an hour (2-hour minimum). Pricing varies by artwork design and complexity, with larger designs taking between 15 minutes to one hour.
email@example.com (808) 683-8913
Victorian Tattoo Waikiki
Opened February 2013, Victorian Tattoo Waikiki is the newest addition to Waikiki’s roundup of ink shops. Get the royal tattoo treatment at Victorian, where cleanliness and quality reign supreme. An eccentric spin on Victorian fittings, rouge hues and gold embossed mirrors and frames create an alternative rock ‘n’ roll vibe at the below street level studio.
Victorian’s hosts are a mix of in-house and visiting artists who rule Technicolor designs and piercings. Not set on a stamp? Ease uncertainty with a complimentary consultation.
“Our mission is 100 percent customer satisfaction … we offer free tattoo consultations in person and a free [extra] piece of jewelry with every piercing,” says Anthony Hunter, manager. “We believe our customers deserve the best service and the highest quality, single use, pre-sterilized equipment available for the best tattoos possible in a safe, clean and comfortable environment … the décor was something my wife came up with. We like the Victorian era and wanted to create that ambiance.”
Vintage flair and quality service assure clients part with a polished impression and killer design.
Victorian Tattoo Waikiki
1778 Ala Moana Blvd. [C:3 Waikiki Map]