Where to eat On the Big Island of Hawaii

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The Big Island of Hawaii has tons to offer, from the diverse and lush ecosystems throughout to their can’t-miss cuisine choices. Hawaiian style puts a tropical twist on your favorite foods, and many places to eat on the Big Island prepare phenomenal meals.

If you’re traveling to Hawaii on a budget, it’s important to note that meals will be more expensive. Most of the food is imported from the mainland, and with the tourist boom all across the islands, you’re looking at more expensive meals.

These hidden gems can be found all around the Big Island and are sure to leave you coming back again and again throughout your adventures, just like Oahu and Honlulu.

1. Shaka Tacoz

A beloved spot on the Kona side, Shaka Tacoz is the place to go for some delectable Mexican cuisine. They have two locations, one in Kailua-Kona and one in Captain Cook (which is a personal favorite). Once you grab your food, you can enjoy it on their outdoor patio overlooking the lush greenery and ocean coastline of the Big Island’s south coastline.

This taco truck offers a build-your-own option to choose between a burrito, quesadilla, salad, bowl, or tacos which you can customize as you please. Shaka Tacoz has several meat and sauce choices to adjust to your liking, as well as vegetarian and vegan options! Alternatively, there are some fan favorites on the menu, and the Ono Fish Tacoz are regarded as some of the best on the island.

2. Papa Kona

Poster at Papa Kona Coffee.
Papa Kona

Found right in the heart of downtown Kona, Papa Kona is an unrivaled option for any time of day. Enjoy a meal on their outdoor patio right on the ocean with a stunning view of the sunset. During whale season, you may even catch sight of one off the coast. Papa Kona is open daily with live music every night from 6 pm to 9 pm.

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For a traditional Hawaiian meal, their Poke Stack has a delicious and unique flavor. They even have a vegan poke option with crispy tofu, house-made poke sauce, red onions, cherry tomatoes, and avocado. With a variety of menu options from American to Seafood cuisines, their delectable meals will leave you heading back for more. I’d recommend making a reservation during holidays and high season as they get pretty busy during this time.

Whether you’re staying in Kona or just passing through, Papa Kona can’t be skipped on your Big Island itinerary.

3. Coffee Shack

Entrance at Coffee Shack.
Coffee Shack

This eccentric cafe found in South Kona with beautiful ocean views is a local favorite. The Coffee Shack serves breakfast and lunch, but it’s best to arrive here early as the wait gets long quickly due to its popularity.

Make sure to pick up a homemade dessert here like the Lilikoi Cheesecake for a unique tropical twist on a classic. They also serve Kona Coffee here, which is locally made and regarded as some of the world’s best coffee. If you’re in a pinch, you can grab food to go if you’re headed south on the way to Captain Cook Monument or Papakolea Green Sands Beach.

View from Coffee Shack.
View from Coffee Shack

Along with friendly staff and delicious food, the Coffee Shack sells hand-made items made by locals out of recycled materials, offering you a great way to support the locals and pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

4. Aloha Mix Food Truck Cafe

The ultimate way to fuel your journeys after visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or the Punalu’u Black Sand Beaches, the Aloha Mix Food Truck Cafe is found along the south side of the Big Island. Their fast service and excellent food make it a necessary food truck joint to visit.

Nomatic

They specialize in many island foods, including shrimp, steak, and acai bowls to keep you ready for your next adventure. Order a shrimp sampler for a mix of their shrimp flavors, each with their own tasty flair. Their acai bowls are a healthy and natural option made with all locally sourced ingredients while keeping it flavorful.

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The truck is closed on Mondays and Wednesdays, so it’s best to plan accordingly so you don’t miss this stop.

5. Pineapples Island Fresh Cuisine

Pineapple Juice at Pineapples in Hilo.
Pineapples in Hilo

Pineapples is the place to eat in Hilo. It’s known for the stunning outdoor seating, live music, and exceptional food selection. They boast a plethora of vegetarian and vegan choices along with stellar seafood meals. Try out the fresh catch of the day cooked your way, with a choice of grilled, panko-crusted, or beer-battered to ensure your meal is prepared to perfection.

Pineapples is popular for its cuisine as tour operators and hotels in the area typically recommend them first. You may be looking at a wait if you don’t make a reservation, but luckily you can easily make one by phone to the restaurant.

6. Fresh Off the Grid

Shaved ice at Fresh off the Grid with view of ponies and sea.
Shaved ice at Fresh off the Grid

A perfect local cafe along the Northern coast of the Island of Hawaii, Fresh Off the Grid is a great stop if you’re heading to or from Pololu Valley. With delicious fruit smoothies and poke nachos, they put a Hawaiian twist on some classic favorites. You can’t pass up shaved ice here as a refreshing treat on a hot, sunny day.

Fresh Off the Grid has outdoor picnic table seating with ocean views and plenty of shade to enjoy meals out of the sun. With affordable pricing and tons of mouth-watering tropical meals to choose from, this is the place to eat in the northern Big Island.

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These food joints will showcase a fusion of flavors that highlight the rich cultural heritage behind Hawaii’s Big Island. Whether you’re craving freshly caught seafood to enjoy oceanside or a tasty natural acai bowl, the Island of Hawaii’s world-renowned culinary choices have it all.

Check out these spots while venturing through the volcanoes and valleys of the Big Island. Each choice will have you savoring the unique tastes and spirit of Aloha that highlight this tropical paradise

Bio: Laynie

Laynie from Wander Layn.
Laynie from Wander Layn

WanderLayn is an adventure travel blog for those looking to check off items on their bucket list and learn more about sustainable travel. The owner, Laynie, is a full-time traveler with a passion for discovering new experiences and sharing them with others. Follow Laynie from Wander Layn on Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok.

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Pinterest images of Entrance at Coffee Shack and shaved ice at Fresh Off the Grid.
Pinterest images of Papa Kona Coffee and Pineapple Juice at Hilo.

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