As some of you may know, we just got back from 10 days in Hawaii, split between the Big Island and Maui. We love nothing more than finding great food to eat (when we aren’t preparing it in our own kitchen) and usually do research beforehand to make sure we’re going to have a delicious meal 😉
Since we’re planning on going back in the next year or two to see more of the Big Island and visit Kauai, I’ll be updating this list in the future. For now, these are some the most delicious options we came across if you’re heading that way!
BREAKFAST / BRUNCH
This was the most adorable, tiny food truck located in between a gym and a Crossfit, appropriately. I love that they offer the option between acai and pitaya (dragonfruit) bowls, and you can choose your own fruit and additional toppings at added cost. They were stunningly beautiful and every bit as delicious as they looked!
Joy’s Place had a great mix of plant-based and carnivorous meal options, along with acai bowls, coffee, several flavours of kombucha and some plant-based treats. I highly recommend the pineapple kombucha and one of their brownies. My guy said it was one of the best brownies he had ever had!
Ok, I have to admit. This was our absolute favourite acai bowl. So much so that we went back twice, they are THAT good. Choice has several different acai bowl options for you to choose from, and the option to add gluten free or paleo granola as extra cost.
Their cold brew coffee is called “The Game Changer,” and is is ever. Blended with frothy macadamia nut milk, it is smooth and incredibly delicious. Kombucha is on tap in various flavours, and they offer full entree meals for lunch as well: kale salads, quinoa bowls, plant based sushi, and other goodies.
See full review and all info here. Not to be missed!
Be sure to get here early! This is the #1 rated place to eat in Kihei on Tripadvisor, and they regularly have a long line up. This food truck located centrally on the main strip usually sells out of poke right away, as they did when we tried them. However, I had the fish tacos and my guy had the Mahi-Mahi creviche and both were fantastic.
Delicious poke with very generous portions of fish, and they have lots of other great stuff to choose from on the menu too. Crab cakes, calamari, and they even had a Kobe beef burger on special the day we were there. It’s tucked a little off the main road in Kihei, Maui so you may need to look up directions. Don’t miss this place!
Kaleo’s in Pahoa on the Big Island came highly recommended by our AirBnB host and was in the town closest to where we were staying. They also boast an award for being voted the best Big Island Restaurant 2 years in a row, and did not disappoint. We had lunch there and each ordered burgers (mine without a bun) topped with cheddar, bacon and avocado with salads and fries. Quick, friendly service and clearly a local favourite, this would be a great choice for dinner too.
They have tons of seafood and local favourites as well as more American-style meals like the burgers and some pastas, so there’s something for whatever you’re in the mood for. Not to be missed if you’re in the area!
Ning’s Thai is also in Pahoa on the Big Island, it’s a tiny town that services the surrounding area since the next bigger city of Hilo is 30 – 40 minutes away. Part of the reason why I love staying in AirBnBs is that it automatically gives you access to locals who can tell you where all the best places to sightsee and eat can be found, and this was another place our host recommended. I had a scallops based dish with brown rice and my guy had coconut shrimp that was even more mouth-watering than mine.
Located about 3 miles outside of Pahoa near Hilo on the Big Island, our AirBnB hosts told us about this market and we’re so glad they did. It takes place every Sunday from 8am – 2pm and is huge! Clearly a local favourite, there is a wide variety of stalls, with everything from clothing and jewellery, plants and flowers, handcrafted specialty items, fresh coconuts and mangos along with a variety of local fruit and vegetables stands.
One stall dedicated entirely to mangoes showed that there are over 60 different kinds, and they had the biggest selection to choose from I’ve ever seen. They offered tastes of different varieties, and even had a water jug available to rinse sticky hands under after enjoying a juicy mango simply by biting into it and peeling back the skin with your teeth. Brilliant!
This is where we first came across Big Island Booch, a local company making kombucha. They had four flavours on tap at the market and were happy to give samples before choosing which one to purchase, and offer several more flavours off site. Once we knew who they were, we started noticing bottles of this amazing elixir across the Big Island in stores as well. Be sure to look for it!
If you’re hungry, this is also the best place to go! There was an entire section of the market for fresh, made-to order meals that included all kinds of local favourites and cooked right in front of you. We picked up some fresh veggie spring rolls to snack on and there were LOTS more options to choose from.
We weren’t planning on eating out the night we went to this restaurant, but it had been a very full day of sightseeing, it was 8pm and we didn’t feel like cooking ourselves. Lots of more low-key places shut up shop early in Hawaii, even on Maui, so we weren’t sure where to go. I did some quick research and came up with Cafe O’Lei down the road from our AirBnB in Kihei, which had gotten great reviews online. Verdict: So worth it!
Seriously, this was an incredible meal. Since it was already late and we are like little old people who prefer to go to bed by 9:30pm (ha!), we didn’t want to eat TOO much food right before bed, but everything on the menu sounded so delicious it was tough to decide what to have. We finally settled on splitting the Red Dragon Roll sushi, a plate of calamari and one entree of seared Togarashi & Sesame Seared Ahi. The menu describes this as “ginger butter sauce, wasabi aioli, crisp daikon and steamed rice,” which, quite honestly, still does not even come close to doing this dish justice. It was mouth-wateringly good and we didn’t want the meal to end!
Best part was that we weren’t overly full when we left (better for digestion since we were going to bed shortly afterwards) and it was the perfect amount of food split between us. Moreover, it saved some money to order the meal that way instead of two full entrees. I’m all about getting the most for your money when travelling while still being super satisfied and experiencing incredible local cuisine 😉
Tucked away in a little pedestrian courtyard in the heart of Lahaina and steps from the ocean, this was a hidden gem we were thrilled to come across by accident. The fish tacos were excellent. We ordered both the Twin MahiMahi Tacos and the Korean BBQ Beef Tacos as well as the Kale and Brussel salad, which was fantastic and had a super simple citrus dressing that we’re going to try and duplicate here at home. It was a great way to fit in some extra veggies, which can be easy to forget about when travelling. As a bonus, both tacos came with greens as well.
Best prices we found. They also tend to be very convenient and are scattered across the islands, we found them popping up everywhere when we least expected to find one.
Many places in Hawaii close up shop by 6pm or so. All of the Long’s Drugs that we went to had extended hours which made it pretty handy. It also happens to be a great place to pick up any toiletries you may have forgotten at home or that your rental might require (many rentals will only provide a couple rolls of toilet paper, for example), as well as a fabulous selection of snacks. If you’re looking to stock up on wine, beer or liquor, they have you covered there too.
I’m going to preface this by saying that this is one of the most expensive options you have to purchase food in Hawaii. Also only available in Honolulu and Kailua, O’ahu, and Kahului, Maui. BUT….as a Canadian, there are some pretty awesome healthy snacks out there that are only available in the US, and many of them are obscure enough that Whole Foods is the only place to carry them that I could find. For me, it was worth the trip for a handful of snacks that I tried to contain my excitement about and spread out over a few days, ha! We also picked up an organic rotisserie chicken which was great for throwing together salads at our rental quickly and easily.
Extremely expensive way to purchase any other food item though, and they have very little that is locally grown. Most is shipped in from California, which was disappointing. It’s handy if you’re flying into Maui as it’s about 5 minutes drive from the airport.
Costco is more ideal if you are either A) staying on the island for a week or more and/or B) buying for more than 2 people. If you’re going to eat every single meal at home, then by all means, this is likely the best choice even if there is only 1 or 2 of you. However, since this is Costco and much of the stuff they offer is in such large packages, we left most items on the shelf because there was no way we were going to be able to eat it all before leaving Hawaii, since we wanted to eat some meals out.
We did pick up a couple things including organic turkey slices, a couple veggies and a BIG bag of dark chocolate macadamia nuts, a Hawaiian specialty we fell in love with that can be found all over the Island. They didn’t last long!
Can’t forget about Hawaiian shave ice! This is a refreshing treat that is basically a snow cone, but SO much more. I’d heard about shave ice in Hawaii before our trip, and our AirBnB in Kihei was just a couple of blocks from one of the highest rated shave ice shops in Maui, Ululani’s. They have 4 locations around the island and have a HUGE variety of flavours, combinations, toppings and “extras” to add, and obviously put a great amount of care into their shave ice.
Ululani’s also gives the option to add local ice cream to the bottom of the snow cone, with the ice and syrup added on top, so the ice cream is a creamy surprise in the middle. It’s delicious! We shared one with macadamia nut ice cream in the bottom, and mango, pineapple and passionfruit syrups. What I like the most about Ululani’s is that they list a number of their syrups that are so naturally sweet, they are free of added sugars and are pure fruit, such as the pineapple and mango.
This was so good I completely forgot to take a picture! Next time we go, I’ll add one to this post ;).
Be sure to stay on the lookout for local fruit or farm stands all over the Hawaiian Islands. Many are not listed on any travel guide, but will pop up regularly along the road when you least expect it, so make sure to keep cash on you for such occasions.
In the bigger cities, you’ll come across regular grocery stores such as Foodland, Safeway and others that are great choices to pick up the ingredients for a simple meal, some snacks, or extra water for the road if you’re running low.