Eat Like a Local on The Big Island of Hawaii

If you get the opportunity to visit the Big Island, you absolutely must seek out all the best culinary delights during your visit. Your efforts will keep you from wasting time and money at tourist traps. And, instead, you’ll be able to take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey. Figuring out just where to go can prove challenging, however. Thankfully, we’re here to help with this guide on how to eat like a local on the Big Island.

Let’s get started:

Holuakoa Coffee Shop

Photo Credit by @holuakoacoffeeshack on Instagram

Is there anything better than enjoying the fresh mountain air while sipping on an exquisitely good cup of coffee? If your answer is a resounding no, get on over to the Holuakoa Coffee Shop. Established in the 1990s, this coffee shack sits in the heart of the Kona Coffee belt, ensuring your coffee’s made using the freshest beans every time.

When you arrive at this quaint shack, you’ll get a hearty aloha from their crew and an invitation to order when you’re ready. Before you do that, take a moment to admire their bakery case full of fresh goodies, like Cream Puffs, Banana Bread, and Pineapple Lilikoi Cheesecake. Then, treat yourself to any coffee drink you’d like and the treats to match. 

Lava Lava Beach Club

Photo Credit by @lakelurleen on Instagram

When visiting the Big Island, you absolutely have to enjoy the quintessential beachside dining experience—and Lava Lava Beach Club is ready to make that happen. A first-come, first-served establishment, this eatery has good eats, strong drinks, and live music playing every night. As if that’s not enough, you’re welcome to dip your toes in the sand while you dine right on the beach.

If you simply don’t want the dining experience to end, start with leisurely sipping on cocktails, wine, or other drinks, and then get an appetizer for the table. After that, you can choose your entrée, like Macadamia Nut Arare Crust Fresh Island Fish, before finishing your meal with their world-family Haupia Cake.

Tin Shack Bakery

At the Tin Shack Bakery, fresh-baked goods served with a smile are the name of the game. Their crew proudly provides Pahoa Town with all the bread and sweet treats needed to get through the day. Sourdough Bread, Carrot Cake, and Chocolate Croissants are always on tap and ready to order.

Although you could take your selections and go, the real magic lies in enjoying a bite to eat while sipping on coffee in their dining area. As you relax in their open-air bakery, you’ll get to enjoy an incredible view of the tropical vegetation touching the brilliant sky. Birds often fill the air with song, too, taking your dining experience to the next level in an instant.

Da Poke Shack

Da Poke Shack - Big Island Restaurant

When you’re craving flavorful poke made in every way imaginable, set your sights on a trip to Da Poke Shack. At this Kailua-Kona favorite, you’re welcome to order up a small bowl of poke and rice or go all out with a full plate. Either way, you’ll get your choice of all the best poke varieties, including Shoyu, Pele’s Kiss, and Spicy Garlic Sesame.

If poke’s not your jam, you don’t have to worry. They also have Lau Lau, Kalua Pork, and other classic Hawaiian plate lunches on tap for your pure enjoyment. No matter what you order, zip on over to the oceanside with your selections in hand to dine in style right on the waterfront.      

Cafe 100

Well-known as ‘Home to the Loco Moco, Café 100 reimagines this Hawaiian classic in more than 30 ways to delight your taste buds again and again. Upon coming to their Hilo restaurant, you can order the traditional iteration, of course, or bravely try Portuguese Sausage Loco, Chili Loco, and everything in between.

When you want something different, their daily specials come through in a big way, ranging from Beef Stew to Chicken Katsu. Their crew even makes wickedly good Pupu Platters designed to feed a crowd with just one order. Just don’t fill up too much, or you might miss out on their Goody Good Sherbet, available in coconut and strawberry flavors.

Kona Brewing Company

The Kona Brewing Company is beloved on the Big Island and beyond, and for good reason. Their brews boast big flavor and a powerful punch, making them the go-to drink for cookouts, parties, and just relaxing after a busy day. If you want to see where all the magic happens, plan to visit their Kailua-Kona pub during your visit.

At that pub, you can chill in their 2,000-square-foot lanai while sipping on their fan favorites, like Big Wave Golden Ale. If you prefer to sample their latest creations, look in the Backyard Batch section of the menu for drinks like Cacao Brown Ale and Andre’s Dunkelweizen. Want to tour their all-new brewery? Just travel down the road from the pub until you see their name emblazoned across huge steel vats.

Island Fish and Chips

If you cannot get enough tempura fried fish, you absolutely need to give Island Fish and Chips a try. As the name implies, their signature Fish and Chips are out-of-this-world delicious, especially after drizzling it all with fresh lemon juice.

But that’s not all they have. You can also treat yourself to divine Fish Tacos, Crab Cake Sliders, Fried Oysters, and so much more. As you fill up on all the best menu items, don’t forget to leave room for their famous Tempura Fried Pineapple. This imaginative dessert goes big on the flavor while providing the perfect amount of crunch in every bite.  

As you indulge in all the local flavors at these eateries, take note of your favorites, so you can come back through at least once more. Although you can only enjoy so many drinks, snacks, and meals during your trip, it’s well worth getting another taste of culinary creations that truly speak to you. You’ll also be able to wholeheartedly recommend each joint to your friends, family, and colleagues as they plan their own Big Island adventures.