Big Island Food

We ate our way through Hawaii’s Big Island, feasting on local specialties. The Big Island is big enough so you don’t want to backtrack much, so we planned our drives for both sights and food.

After landing in Hilo, we drove downtown for poke and papayas. We bought this ahi poke bowl from Suisan Fish Market and ate it next door. Pieces of raw tuna with seaweed and green onions on rice, it was excellent. Leaving Hilo, we stopped again to pick up another bowl for dinner near Volcano.

The Hilo area is known for papayas. We drove downtown to the Hilo Farmers Market for papayas. We bought the papayas below in Hilo and at fruit stands on the way to Kona. Papayas take several days to ripen, so we bought them at the beginning of our Big Island visit.

Big Island fruit: mangos, papayas, avocado, pineapple
Big Island fruit: mango, papayas, avocado, pineapple

Another Hawaiian specialty is malasadas, a fried pastry coated with granulated sugar. It was brought to Hawaii by Portuguese. These malasadas weren’t as good as Leonard’s in Honolulu, but we had left Honolulu, and we had to try for ourselves.

We ate Portuguese sweet bread from Punaluu Bake Shop while in Honolulu and on the Big Island. It’s very good, fresher and less expensive than our former standby from King’s Bakery. On future trips to Hawaii, we’ll look for sweet bread from Punaluu Bake Shop.

We shared a giant loco moco from Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea. A specialty of the cafe, it was very good. But we only eat the fried beef patty on rice with brown gravy when we visit Hawaii. 😉

A small stand in a Kona parking lot serves outstanding chirashi. Chirashi is a bowl of flavored rice topped with raw fish — the same ingredients as sushi, but easier to prepare and less expensive. Their chirashi great assortment of firm, fresh fish, artfully displayed. Perhaps the best chirashi we’ve had, and certainly the best value. We went back again, which we only do when the food is great.

We had a Hawaiian lunch on the patio at the Kona coffee farm. The blue in the background is the Pacific Ocean. The plant just behind the candles is a young coffee bush.

Hawaiian lunch at the coffee farm cottage
Hawaiian lunch at the coffee farm cottage

As we plan trips, we usually make custom maps to help plan activities for the day. It turned out that the food we liked was from all over the island: the poke bowl from Suisan Fish Market on the east side; the chirashi from Kona on the west side. The malasadas were from the south and north ends of the island.

our Big Island map
our Big Island trip

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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

2 thoughts on “Big Island Food”

  1. I love sashimi and nigiri sushi — I personally believe those are some of the best inventions in food history — for their freshness. But it was not until last Christmas that I tried poke, not in Hawaii though, but in Hong Kong. It was so good I wanted to book a flight to where it originates from right away!


    1. Yes, we too plan our trips for food and fresh ingredients. Going to the source (e.g., poke in Hawaii) offers more choice and can be the most authentic, but restaurants that serve food from other regions, like your Hong Kong restaurant the serves poke, gives us an immediate treat as we plan that trip to Hawaii.


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