Sandwiched in our Kauai trip was a brief hop to the Big Island. My husband’s dad and wife wanted to spend some extra time with us and see some parts of the Big Island they have never been to. My husband and I lived on the Big Island over 20 years ago and were last there in 2018. It’s always great to visit Pele and the town of Volcano. It’s definitely on the map for a great place to retire!
Here are some of our vegan Big Island eats during this 3-day trip!
Hilo Farmer’s Market
This is one of the best farmer’s markets in Hawaii. It’s right in downtown Hilo and just a short drive from Rainbow Falls. I always find great items to cook with but not enough time on my trips to do it. Juicy lychee, firm Japanese eggplant, Okinawan sweet potatoes, fiddlehead ferns, strawberry papayas, fresh antherium and torch ginger bouquets, kalamansi and so much more. We bought lots of fruit for breakfast and a small amount of veggies to make a curry one night while in cool Volcano town.
Vibe in Hilo is a cute cafe and bar with good vibes only – cue pastel pink and monstera vibes. We arrived on the Big Island at 9 am in the morning from Kauai and wanted to visit somewhere with vegan breakfast. I tried the vegan Loco Moco and while it was not exactly the flavor I was hoping for it did hit the spot. I’d been up since 4:30 am. I would love to go back and try some of their colorful lunch fare. They had lots of locally made kombucha and canned beverages and local art for sale as well.
We made our home in Volcano Village at a great AirBnB owned by retired school teachers. Nearby is Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park. We planned on doing some hikes in the park and on our first night we made a reservation to eat at The Rim. While there wasn’t much on the menu to choose from I did enjoy this Crispy Glazed Tofu dish that came with rice and stir fried veggies. The view is what makes eating here spectacular!
Thai Thai Bistro
This restaurant has been around for over 20 years in Volcano Village. We lived in Volcano in 2001. I have fond memories of watching our neighbor’s cows eat pears off a tree and hearing their dinosaur like moos. We didn’t eat out much then but enjoyed a couple meals at Thai Thai Bistro.
One thing about Thai food is that you cannot make assumptions that it is vegan just because it’s made with no meat and has tofu in it. You always have to ask if there is fish or shrimp paste in the curries or oyster sauce in noodle dishes.
Thai Thai Bistro had very knowledgeable servers and pointed out which dishes were vegan.
Their papaya salad was fantastic because papayas are easily found in Hawaii!
We ate there after a long walk across the main dormant crater. Thank you Pele for allowing us to visit!
Original Hawaiian Chocolate
Did you know you can visit a chocolate farm in the US? Cacao grows in Hawaii! Thanks to the great climate and soil, chocolate does well. We visited the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Farm located on the Kona side of the island on the Hualalai Mountain. We saw cacao pods, delicate flowers, and learned more about their special process. No child slave labor here! They have chocolate made with the rare criollo variety. We made sure to get a couple of bars. Their dark chocolate is vegan. I also visited the Island Naturals health food store in Hilo to pick up snacks and giant cone sushi. They had other small locally made chocolates and cacao nibs.
Black Rock Pizza
After a long drive from Volcano to the Kona side and snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay, we all had a pretty big appetite. I usually get quite nauseous on boats and even “fed the fish” this trip. Luckily we didn’t have to travel far and found Black Rock Pizza off the main highway. I wasn’t sure what vegan options would be available but I was pleasantly surprised. They had vegan cauliflower pizza and they make their own vegan cheese. A covered 2nd floor lanai and outdoor seating area that looked out on the bay was perfect during COVID. Mahalo Black Rock Pizza for sharing Aloha with your vegan patrons. (Sorry no photo was taken…we were so hungry!)
Thanks for joining me on reminiscing about this trip during the COVID pandemic. If you ever have questions about Hawaii travel on Kauai or the Big Island, let me know!