True Hawaii

When you think of Hawaii, do you think of ukuleles, surfing and luaus? Not bad images when plotting your escape, but we’re going to expand your vision of these Pacific isles. We present you with six unexpected, themed adventures. Whether you love snorkeling, hula dancing, food, silver-screen scenery, exotic flowers or absolute privacy, we have uncovered just the Hawaiian-island activity for you.
By Ken McApline
True Hawaii
Kalaupapa (Press image)

Big Island: A Gourmand’s Journey

Six treats to try
1. Dry roasted macadamias: Drive to Kona Coast Macadamia Nut & Candy Factory, at  Highway 11 and Middle Keei Road in Captain Cook.
2. SPAM musubi: Eat SPAM served on rice wrapped in nori, at Matsuyama Food Mart on Mamalahoa Highway in Kona.
3. Poke: Taste raw fish seasoned with salt and seaweed or with soy sauce, garlic and ginger at the KTA Super Stores in Kona, Hilo and Waimea.
4. Kalua pork quesadillas: Stop in at the Bamboo Restaurant in Hawi
5. Japanese rice cakes: Also called mochi, sampled these cakes at the Two Ladies Kitchen in Hilo
6. Malasada: Try this sweet, deep-fried Portuguese donut at the Tex Drive-In in Honokaa

Back to Basics
Yes, there are first-rate restaurants like Merriman’s in Waimea, where a meal is a fine-dining experience, but you can also learn some of the back story of cutting-edge Hawaiian cuisine by signing on for a Hawaiian Agricultural Adventure with Hawaii Forest & Trail. First you’ll visit Kahua Ranch and Honopua Farm, a working cattle ranch and organic farm in the Kohala Mountains near the island’s northern edge. Then you’ll follow your chosen ingredients a short distance from their source to Waimea and Merriman’s dining room for a four-course dinner showcasing these homegrown items, from beef and lamb to honey-sweet corn and organic greens.

Try This
On the Big Island of Hawaii there are few limits to gustatory pleasure, from scallops topped with spicy guava sauce to the working man’s loco moco (white rice topped with a fried egg and any manner of protein-stuff). While it’s important not to neglect Hawaii’s culinary triumvirate – poi (paste made from taro), kalua pork and lomilomi salmon –there is only one hard and fast rule: “Be adventurous,” urges local food writer Joan Namkoong. “If you see something like saimin (an Asian-inspired noodle dish in broth) or Portuguese sausage, try it,” she says. “We love to eat and we love to share our food. It’s all part of the Aloha spirit.” Recommended dishes: plate lunch at the Hawaiian Style Café in Waimea, and saimin at Nori’s Saimin & Snacks in Hilo.

Poi is a sacred and essential part of Hawaiian life, but this paste, made from the root of kalo (taro) plant has a practical side too. “If your baby has allergies, it’s a nutritious food that most babies can tolerate,” says food expert Joan Namkoong. 

Insider Tip
At Hilo Farmers Market peruse fresh fruit, such as cherimoyas and rambutans. While there, order a passion fruit drink. The market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Published: 29 Oct 2007 | Last Updated: 1 Apr 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »