We recently had the opportunity to travel to the Big Island. I want to start this post with what a privilege it was to be able to travel during this time. We are privileged financially, resourcefully, and in the fact that we have not been marginalized or disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
We took many precautions, and knowing that I had my first round of my COVID vaccination gave me more peace of mind. After working in Public Health during a pandemic and not having an actual vacation in over one year, I was really feeling mentally exhausted and burnt-out. Prior to leaving we had to have negative COVID tests within 72 hours of our flight and when we landed in Kona we were immediately given a rapid test which fortunately came back negative. We know that just because we received a negative result, doesn’t mean we are necessarily in the clear therefore we fully intended on following all of the guidelines in place and even taking it a step further to avoid certain activities.
This was my third time traveling to HI, second time to the Big Island and Kade’s third time to the Big Island. Kade’s boss actually owns some properties there which is where we stay. You can check those out here.
Food is typically one of Kade and I’s favorite thing about traveling. We love island food, especially poke. Since this wasn’t our first time on the Island we definitely had some spots we wanted to return to in addition to some spots we wanted to try. Everywhere we ate had outdoor dining and complied with COVID guidelines very well. Some of our favorite places are:
UMEKES – We actually had not the best experience the first time we went but I think we just ordered wrong. Kade ordered the Lau Lau and it was not good. Since being back there multiple times now, we know to always order their poke nachos! They have some of my favorite poke that I’ve tried on the island. Our favorite poke flavor that they have is the Sweetie, or Da Avo.
JACKIE REY’S OHANA GRILL– Definitely a pricier option but by far our favorite dining experience on the island. We usually make a reservation for our last night and make it a special date night to reflect on our trip. We usually get the fresh catch and/or the seafood trio.
DA POKE SHAKE – This one is VERY convenient for us because it is attached to the same building as the condo that we usually stay at, Kona Bali Kai. If you wake up early enough, you can watch them bringing in the fresh (& giant) tunas in the morning. We have gotten quite a few of their options but we really like the Hawaiian poke.
SUPER J’s – A somewhat dive-y, very local place on the side of the road. The women in there were SO nice and it was delicious and authentic Lau Lau.
BREW HAUS – One of our favorite places on the island located in Waimea. Definitely order the fish bite appetizer! Also Kade’s favorite craft brewery on the island.
BROKE DA MOUTH – Best garlic furikake fried chicken!
808 GRINDZ – Our favorite breakfast spots. Highly recommend you try the traditional Hawaiian dish loco moco when you are on the island. We get the 808 grindz loco moco and share it in addition to their pancakes with the macnut AND coconut drizzle. SO GOOD.
TESHIMA’S – This is one of the new places we stumbled upon and it was one of our favorite dining experiences on the island. It is traditional Japanese food and it did not disappoint. It was one of the best tempura batters I think I have ever tasted. It has been there since 1929.
ONE ALOHA – We have now tried 4-5 different shaved ice places on the island and One Aloha has been my favorite. They have natural and organic flavors, though I still typically ask for less syrup. I like to get lilikoi and coconut with coconut ice cream!
DON’S MAI TAI BAR – Now, this is drinks….not food, but I did need to include it. We came here probably 2-3 times and LOVED the ambiance over some of the other beachside bars nearby. Happy hour is 4-6 pm and I highly recommend the mango or guava Lava Flow. Kade loved their Mai Tai’s specifically the 1944 version.
ACTIVITES/PLACES TO GO
CAPTAIN COOK’S SNORKELING AREA – We did this hike the first time we visited the island and we really liked it. Overall, it is very exposed so I would recommend bringing LOTS of water, sunscreen, and starting earlier in the day. We have snorkeled here and another place called Two Step and overall I preferred the Captain Cook’s area better. It is more of a hike to get to but that also means less people.
This is a short hike, about .60 one-way so a 1.2 miles total. There is a beautiful overlook and then you can hike down to the valley.
This has got to be one of my favorite places in the world! It is INSANELY beautiful. There is a parking lot with an overlook or a very steep road down. The first time we visited we rented a Jeep which allowed us to drive down to the beach. We did see people hiking and I would say it is worth it to go down the road.
SURFING– Kade likes to surf, and I like to read my book on the beach and Kahaluu bay is perfect for both of those things! There is a surf board rental shop right across the street that Kade uses for $20/2 hours which always seems like a good amount of time. While he surfs, I usually just read, lay out, and sometimes swim around. There were quite a few people snorkeling here too.
We also really enjoy walking around Ali’i drive, checking out some waterfalls and the Japanese Gardens in Hilo, Green Sand Beach, and Black Sand Beach. In Kona Town there is an outdoor volley pit that we enjoyed sitting by and watching a few games.
Anyways, if you have any questions feel free to ask!