Hawaii’s Big Island is an amazing destination for adventurous types, but sometimes, you just want a comforting treat. This is easily found at a variety of breakfast establishments, which serve several Big Island trademarks; exotic fruit, ono, and, of course, iconic Kona coffee.
Fuel up at one of these top Big Island breakfast restaurants:
The cafe’s Maui location in Lahaina is well known, but the Grindz name is also well-represented in Kona. While many people flock here for classic breakfasts, there’s a lot to love about the loco moco selection. Feel free to sample special editions from “Da Moco” menu, such as spam or corn beef moco. The kalua-inspired eggs benedict is also worth a try. The prices are reasonable as compared to other Big Island hot spots — and the service is friendly. This restaurant only accepts cash, so come prepared.
Launched by a Big Island native with a passion for Hawaii’s take on comfort food, this aptly-named restaurant currently has locations in both Waimea and Hilo. The menu at both restaurants is extensive, featuring everything from kalua hash to loco moco and, of course, French toast on Hawaiian sweet bread. The portions are sizable, but don’t worry if you can’t finish your meal: all scraps are sent to a local farm.
Island Lava Java is a familiar name throughout the Big Island. Locations in Kona and Waikoloa promise to keep vacationers properly caffeinated for all kinds of adventures. Local products are a priority here, and we’re not just talking about the remarkable Kona coffee. Patio dining is pleasant in spite of the proximity to the parking lot. Try a croissant sandwich or an island-style waffle. If you want something light, bakery selections such as banana muffins or pumpkin bread are sure to satisfy.
Head to Captain Cook’s Coffee Shack for awe-inspiring views of the coast. Simple, yet lovely, this little oasis invites you to relax with a wonderful cup of coffee as you take in the sweeping panorama. French toast or eggs benedict complement your morning coffee. The Luau bread is amazing — it incorporates Hawaiian favorites such as macadamia nut, coconut, and pineapple.
Keep it casual with a quick meal from the Pine Tree Cafe, where you’ll find all your favorite Hawaiian dishes. Don’t be fooled by the unassuming strip mall location or the cafeteria-style ordering: this should be your go-to restaurant when you want an excellent meal near the airport. Variety is the name of the game here, with all your breakfast favorites offered on the extensive menu. The breakfast meat selection is impressive; you’re welcome to order pulehu, Portuguese sausage, or a corned beef hash patty.
Named after the lovely daughter of the talented Chef Allen Hess, the Mai Grille brings bold cuisine to Waikoloa. The bacon is a clear point of pride here, although there’s a lot to be said for the papaya. The beverages are just as impressive as the meals — especially the coffee, which is grown on the chef’s family farm and available for refills. Fresh-squeeze orange juice is always refreshing, as are the mimosas.
HiCO is a popular name among the Big Island’s coffee aficionados. The laidback HiCO cafe serves signature Kona coffee, but this is even more delicious when enjoyed alongside one of the tasty sandwiches from the small, yet delightful menu. Musubi is also available, including spicy crab and vegan selections. If you’re feeling indulgent, treat yourself to an ube latte or the Froshaka frozen coffee drink. The presentation is exquisite, so have your smartphone ready to snap a few pictures.
As the Big Island’s ultimate breakfast landmark, Ken’s House of Pancakes is where you go for a hearty meal when you need to fuel up for an action-packed day. Ken’s meals definitely aren’t limited to typical breakfast hours, however. While this doesn’t exactly qualify as a 24-hour diner, it is open until 9 pm every evening. The family-friendly service is always warm and welcoming. You may need to wait in line for those chocolate chip pancakes or French toast, but your lip-licking meal will be worth every second in line.
Eating healthy can be difficult when there are so many wonderfully greasy dishes to be found on the Big Island. Thankfully, there are also many nutritious options that make the most of the abundant fresh fruit. These are best enjoyed at Basik Acai, where plant-based meals are in abundant supply. This is the go-to destination for Big Island vegans, who appreciate the vast selection of dairy-free treats. Fruit and granola are always included, but many acai bowls also feature bee pollen or cocoa nibs. Fast service can always be expected.
Global inspiration abounds at Kalikala Cuisine, which introduces visitors to a variety of flavors while also providing a magnificent view of the ocean. This Kailua-Kona gem has strong Hawaiian vibes, so it’s a great option when you want your experience to go beyond food alone. Open-air seating ensures spectacular views, with live music often complementing the chill ambiance. The French toast with lilikoi syrup is to die for, but you’ll also adore Kuupio’s Breakfast and its blend of exotic fruits.
If you venture away from the coast, you’ll find some of the Big Island’s finest establishments nestled within small villages. Many are understated, but that’s exactly what makes them so special. Paul’s Place, for example, is essentially a general store, but the experience is truly special: it feels like stepping into a time capsule. There are plenty of snacks and breakfast treats available, so don’t hesitate to load up.
The clear favorite restaurant in Honokaa, Gramma’s Kitchen is just as charming as its name implies. Centered around Portuguese homestyle cooking, this local gem serves hearty and decidedly flavorful breakfasts. Stick with the Portuguese theme and order the chorizo hash and eggs. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with French toast, which is made with Portuguese sweet bread.
Treat yourself to a tasty breakfast at one of the Big Island’s lovely restaurants. Delightful flavors, strong Kona coffee, and beautiful views will convince you that breakfast on the Big Island is better than starting your day anywhere else.