These five places take you off the beaten track to the true heart of Hawaii
Get Fresh: KCC Farmers’ Market, Oahu
If you wanna skip indulgent wining and dining for just one hot minute, KCC is where you can go straight to the source for fresh food + even fresher info. Local farmers and food producers man the stalls and give out inside tips on how to pick the best pineapple and the secrets to grilling prawns for max flavour. Chow down on Kettle Pop, wrap your lips around mason jars of guava juice or fill your belly with hot pork soups. The Saturday version is massive, with busloads of people being dropped off for a browse, so be smart and go to the Tuesday arvo session when it’s less hectic. There’s also Hilo markets on the Big Island, so chose a flight that allows you to island hop with ease, such as Hawaiian airlines.
FIND IT: Kapiʻolani Community College, 4303 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816, USA
Ice, Ice, Baby: Matsumoto Shave Ice and Laniakea Beach, Oahu
You’ll be giving Paddlepops the side-eye after you’ve snacked on Matsumoto Shave Ice at the drawcard store in Haleiwa Town near Laniakea Beach. The cloudlike ice is mixed with azuki beans, ice cream, condensed milk to create the stuff summer dreams are made of, and the vibrant colours of yellow banana, cherry red and pale green tea are gorgeous. Not to mention the rainbow of colours makes for a super pretty Instagram snap. Grab your snack then wander over to Laniakea Beach, famous for spotting sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals lazing on the sand. Hot tip? Just steps away from Matsumoto is another famed store, Aoki, if you want to double down on your taste-testing or just want a slightly shorter line, and locals say it’s lineball on whose mix is better.
FIND IT: Matsumoto Shave Ice 66-087 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, Oahu, HI 96712-1411
Daily Grind: Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, The Big Island (Hawaii)
Make tracks through the historic coffee town of Holualoa, on the slopes of Hualalai Volcano, until you spot the bright green cottage (look for the clock at the tip of the roof!) and you can score yourself a cup of award-winning java. While you drink it in, feast your eyes on the endless green of the surrounding 30-acre gourmet farm. There’s also 45-minute tour you can take that coves the growing, harvesting and roasting process. But for full coffee experience we suggest designing your own DIY tasting tour across Hawaii, from Hula Daddy to Ueshima Coffee (UCC) which makes its witches brew from cracked coffee, not ground; the Hlo Coffee Mill, Buddha’s Cup, Kona Joe and Rooster’s Farm. Sure, you might never sleep again, but hey more time to get busy in Hawaii, right?
FIND IT: Hula Daddy, 74-4944 Mamalahoa Hwy, Holualoa, HI 96725, USA
Snacks On! Ken’s House of Pancakes, The Big Island (Hawaii)
You’re gonna want to come hungry to Ken’s, because the macadamia nut pancakes with guava and coconut syrups are just the start of the party in your mouth. The famous joint has been turning out addictive dishes for almost 50 years with locals and tourist types constantly coming back for more Portuguese sausage omelettes with kimchi or their sweet bread made with island bananas laced with rum. Stop in even at 4am after a big night, cos the doors are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, meaning you can dine on oodles of noodles and kalua pork any old time, if breakfast isn’t your thang (or you’re keen for a sleep in before hitting the streets). Seriously, the menu is five pages long, so take our tip and go on Tuesday night for the to-die-for all you can eat tacos. No matter where you land in Hawaii, book a trip with easy cross-flights so you don’t miss a trip to Ken’s.
FIND IT: Ken’s House of Pancakes, 1730 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
Moon Dance: Twlight at Kalahuipuaa, The Big Island (Hawaii)
Each month at Mauna Lani, the rising of the full moon moves local storytellers to gather in front of Eva Parker Woods Cottage for a magical night of traditional song, dance and storysharing. The night begins as the sun sets and evening sets in, the dark bringing with it crisp stars to witness the sharing of family stories, history, singing and dancing. The simple cottagefront verandah acts as a makeshift stage, but as the musicians and creators practice their art you can be transported anywhere their imagination takes you. Locals, visitors and voyagers from around the world are all invited to join in the exchange of dreaming and energy, a rare chance to be touched by the true aloha spirit.
FIND IT: Mauna Lani Bay Hotel68-1400 Mauna Lani Dr.Kohala Coast, HI 96743
For more local tips on Hawaii, check out Hawaiian Airlines Travel Guide