Sharing all of our favorite places to eat on the Big Island of Hawaii!
When we travel, our itinerary typically revolves around food and drinks – maybe the occasional activity or landmark. In fact, after we figure out where we’re staying, I immediately dive into researching the local cuisines, the best restaurants, where to grab coffee and of course must have dessert joints.
For reference, we stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. While being able to relax at a spacious resort was a big priority for us, the tradeoff was distance to really delicious food. Kona is about a 30-minute drive from Waikoloa, where we found tons of restaurants. We also headed north to Waimea for yummy coffee and breakfast – and even further north for fresh pastries. And of course, Hilo is about an hour east. If you’re on the Big Island and on the hunt for good food, make sure you have a car to get you places!
Hungry yet? Here are our favorite places to eat on the Big Island!
Heavenly Hawaiian Coffee Farm (south of Kona): Kona is known for their coffee and there are actually a bunch of coffee farms sprinkled across the west coast of the island. We headed here for a free 45-minute tour of their operation, and were treated to a sampling of coffee and coffee chocolates! After the tour, you can buy coffee beans from their gift shop or order a speciality drink from their cafe!
Shaka Tacoz (south of Kona): After the coffee farm, we drove another 10-15 minutes south to swing by this no frills taco joint on the side of the road. The meat was juicy, the flavors packed a punch and the guac is free – need I say more? The al pastor tacos with shaka sauce is a must!
Basik Cafe (Kona): Did you even go to Hawaii if you didn’t get an açaí bowl? This cute cafe sits on the second story of what feels like a treehouse. They offer a bunch of different topics and mix ins – this one is the Forager with granola, bananas, berries, almonds, cacao nibs and honey.
Umeke’s Fish Market (Kona): Umeke’s has a decent sized patio, which made it a nice spot to eat outside, enjoy a cocktail/mocktail and fish and chips. James had the poke and it was very fresh!
One Aloha Shave Ice: We came here for shave ice – they have a ton of different flavors, and will happily walk you through all of the options if you’ve never had shave ice before. We ended up getting the Ube ice cream instead (I’m such a sucker for ice cream) and it was delicious!
Kuleana Rum Works (Waikoloa): One of the few decent restaurants near our resort – we actually at there twice (takeout on our first night in town, and then dine-in for our last night). This restaurant gave me easy, fun date night vibes. I had the vegan coconut curry and James had the local catch. Virgin piña colada was good, but I bet it’s even better with the rum they distilled themselves!
Waimea Coffee Company (Waimea): We ventured north of our resort to the town of Waimea before heading on a quick hike to Pololu Valley Lookout. Their dirty chai is the bomb – so good, that we came back after our hike for another round. We also loved their breakfast burrito and their avocado toast on seeded bread (which I think might have been a special for the day).
Tex Drive Inn: About 20 minutes east of Waimea is a very unassuming spot that has a full menu that you’d find at any old diner. But the main draw are their malasadas, which is a Portuguese fried dough treat. James got mango filling and I got Bavarian creme, and let’s just say I wish we had picked up a whole dozen!
Vibe Cafe (Hilo): I’m avoiding raw fish while pregnant, so watching James eat poke every day we were in Hawaii was torture! Enter beet poke bowls from this vegetarian cafe in Hilo – they nailed the texture and taste! It tasted as incredible as it looks! If we had more time in Hilo, I would have definitely come back for dinner and drinks!
Naung Mai Thai Kitchen (Hilo): This was actually our first meal on the Big Island – after a very long travel day from the mainland, I was craving Thai food and found this mom and pop shop with legit flavors. Their red curry and Thai coffee were both super flavorful and delicious!
Makani’s Magic Pineapple Shack (Hilo): If you’re looking for a highly Instagrammable dessert, swing by this sweet joint in downtown Hilo. We got the Ube açaí bowl (yes, Ube again!), and as pretty as this one was, it pales in comparison to some of their more elaborate concoctions!