Dining Out – Hawaii Style!
As any triathlete, and family member of a triathlete knows, food is fuel! This is never more true than in the week leading up to the IRONMAN World Championship. So to help you out, we here at Tri Travel have tried just about every restaurant and food establishment in Kona over the last 20 years!
Below is our list of the best places to eat during your time on the Big Island…
Simple, fresh and healthy
Da Poke Shack
This “take-out” style shop specializes in poke bowls and plates, featuring a variety of locally caught ahi tuna. Not a fan of ahi? Not a problem. They also serve shrimp, tako and taegu. For those in your ohana who do not eat fish, they serve traditional lau lau and kalua pulled pork, and they even do a vegetarian poke bowl and offer gluten free options! In addition, all poke bowls and plates are served with locally inspired side dishes and rice.
Da Poke Shack is the highest-rated eatery on TripAdvisor for all of the Hawaiian Islands! The poke here is always fresh, never frozen, and they guarantee that they never serve yesterday’s produce! For this reason, Da Poke Shack tends to sell out daily so we recommend you visit early for the greatest selection options. They open at 10am daily in the Kona Bali Kai apartments on Alii Drive.
Seating is limited, but luckily poke is the perfect healthy lunchtime meal to take on the go, to the beach, or to a nearby beach-front park.
Basik Café is equally simple with their walk-up window serving tasty and fresh bowls of fruit, smoothies and acai, topped with your choice of seeds, granola and honey. ‘Fast food’ has a very different meaning on the relaxed Hawaiian islands, and you can’t get faster than these amazing and healthy bowls!
Basik Café has been serving locally sourced fresh produce for 10 years, and they pride themselves on incorporating the culture and style of the islands into all their products. Their menu is a refined assortment of dairy-free, plant-based products that must be experienced during your time in Kona!
Located centrally outside The Royal Kona Resort, the Basik Café is always a favourite with our Tri Travel tour members. The bowls are so big, many people only eat half and save the rest in their fridge for later, or share it amongst the family!
Lava Java Cafe
No one knows coffee better than our Tri Travel team! And a trip to Kona is simply not complete without visiting the famous Lava Java Cafe, right in the heart of all the action in town on Alii Drive. Sit back on the outside tables watching the waves crash, and witness a parade of the fittest people on the planet, riding some of the latest and most expensive cycle machinery, go by while you caffeinate!
There is nowhere better to soak up the atmosphere of IRONMAN week, and it is also the place to spot famous Kona royalty – Dave Scott could be sitting at the table next to you! You really know you’ve arrived at the hallowed triathlon mecca when you feel the vibe of Lava Java.
Evolution Bakery and Café
For those seeking gluten-free and plant-based vegan food options with their coffee, the Evolution Bakery and Café is a great spot with lots of options, all baked in house. It’s the perfect place for breakfast or brunch, and is centrally located just off Alii Drive behind Humpy’s, just up the road from The Royal Kona Resort. It is a much quieter and more low-key option than Lava Java.
There’s wi-fi, smoothies, vegan bagels, pancakes and sandwiches, Kona coffee and some seriously good macadamia-nut banana bread. Much of the menu is vegan friendly and gluten free, and all their produce is sourced locally.
Don the Beachcomber Restaurant and Mai Tai Bar
The Royal Kona Resort
Ask any of our Tri Travel tour leaders, and they will tell you that their most-ordered meal while in Kona is the gluten free Island Breeze Salad from Don the Beachcomber, in the Royal Kona Resort. It is a delicious and healthy meal that covers all colours of the rainbow with local fresh produce.
Of course, the food is fresh and delicious, but there in nothing quite like eating your dinner while watching the sun set over the water. Each night, we try to catch the famous ‘flash of blue’ as the sun hits the water’s edge far off on the horizon – which is quite a treat for those of us from the east coast of Australia!
The waterside restaurant has a bold tiki and wood architecture and tropical, open-air ambiance. Spectacular ocean views enhance the sumptuous Hawaiian and international cuisine, a fusion of the freshest local seafood, island classics and hand-crafted cocktails at oceanfront tables. Island music creates a festive vibe and spectacular sunsets unfold before you. Don the Beachcomber Restaurant and Mai Tai Bar offer the best oceanfront dining in Kona with mouth-watering flavours and the warm spirit of aloha. See the spinner dolphins and humpback whales give breathtaking aerial performances in the Bay if you’re lucky!
Huggos is a Kona institution, and you cannot dine any closer to the water’s edge without getting splashed!
Huggo’s opened its doors in 1969 as a casual gathering spot where a good steak and fresh fish quickly established the restaurant as a Kona classic. With its stunning waterfront location, Huggo’s has since earned a reputation as Kona’s leading restaurant for just-caught seafood, spectacular sunsets and casual elegance. The award-winning restaurant features daily menu specials, fresh fish and its signature teriyaki steak, a menu favourite for nearly 50 years.
Huggo’s has a beautiful open air ambience, and the award-winning menu is perfect for a great night out. It is famous for having strong relationships with the local fishermen, and they are in contact early in the day to decide that night’s fish specials – you can’t get any fresher than that! It is located next door to the Royal Kona Resort and we recommend you eat there at least once in your Kona visit.
It’s time to celebrate!
So we’ve covered Kona coffee, fresh and healthy lunch options, and beachside dining. These are all great for getting you through race week. But what happens after the race? Well you celebrate of course! And there is really only one main place to do this after the awards function – Humpy’s!
Humpy’s is a relaxed, casual US-style pub! They have music, food, 36 fresh, hand-crafted beers on tap, and plenty of room for either indoor or outdoor seating. It is upstairs and downstairs, and it overlooks the water, right in the middle of Alii Drive.
Traditionally after the IRONMAN awards are over, people walk along Alii Drive and gather at Humpy’s to relax and celebrate their achievements from the previous day.
ABC Stores are located on just about every corner of every street on all of the Hawaiian islands. They are your one-stop shop for just about everything! But seeing we are talking food, ABC stores have quick, cheap options for when you are on the go, or just need a fast snack.
Of course, they have all the usual snack food and ice-creams like a local Aussie milkbar, BUT the larger stores also have a fantastic variety of healthy options! We love their fresh sushi, salads and sandwiches, and their fruit platters – cleaned and chopped for your convenience – are always fresh and tasty, especially the local pineapple pieces. For those travelling with children, the ABC stores will be your new best friend, and it is much more economical than eating in restaurants every day.