Travel can seem daunting when eating gluten free and paleo. When I am on vacation I am more lenient with my diet because I want to relax, enjoy myself and indulge in local foods. Although I typically eat more dessert and dairy (butter) while on vacation, I always eat gluten free and try to keep most meals low carb. I did a lot of research about restaurants and hotels that accommodate gluten free and want to pay it forward by sharing my experiences for anyone else who may be traveling to the Kailua-Kona side of the Big Island in the future.
Hilton Waikoloa Village
My boyfriend and I stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. There are many restaurants at the Hilton and they all have at least one option on the menu that can be made gluten free. The Hilton even has a gluten free guide for their restaurants (here).
The night we arrived at the Hilton we ordered room service because all the restaurants were closed and we were exhausted after about 15 hours of travel. We ordered the Pan Seared Mahi Mahi which came with edamame puree, shaved asparagus, and lemon zest and the Waikoloa Cobb Salad which came with red wine vinaigrette. The lady who took our order over the phone was knowledgeable about gluten and ensured us our order would be gluten free.
Every morning we had the Big Island Breakfast Buffet at Water’s Edge. Our typical breakfast was an omelet: spinach and kalua pork for me and spinach, onion, bacon, and kalua pork for him. We also had bacon, sausage, fruit, and kimchi as sides. I was so excited about the kimchi in the buffet since I usually eat fermented foods every day. This kimchi was very good and super spicy. We didn’t really eat lunch any day that we were in Hawaii since our breakfasts were very filling. We ate some of the snacks we brought if we got hungry before dinner.
We also ate at Kamuela Provision Company. I highly recommend making a reservation a little before sunset. It is truly breathtaking watching the sunset from the table. In addition to the beautiful location, this restaurant has many gluten free options and fresh locally sourced ingredients. The menu has clearly marked gluten free items, which I really appreciate, and the waiter even brought us gluten free bread. We ordered the Tender Grilled Pork Belly, Kona Coffee Crusted Paniolo “Cowboy” Rib Eye, and the Grilled Mahi Mahi. Everything was so delicious. This was one of my favorite restaurants on the Big Island.
Merriman’s is a farm-to-table restaurant. I love supporting restaurants that make it a priority to locally source ingredients. This is especially important in Hawaii because the ingredients not locally sourced are coming from so far away. We ordered the Big Island Goat Cheese Chevre Salad, Kahua Ranch Lamb, and the Hawaiian Grass Fed Filet Mignon. We really enjoyed our dinner here; it was well worth the zigzagging drive up the mountains to get there.
Sam Choy’s is another restaurant with great sunset views. The menu did not have gluten free items marked, but our waitress was very helpful and knowledgeable about what was, or could be made gluten free. She also checked with the chef when she wasn’t sure. We ordered the Poke, which is not normally gluten free but can be made gluten free on request. It was my first time trying Poke and it did not disappoint. We also ordered Rib Eye Steak and Sam’s Trio of Fish, which is a trio of fresh caught fish with local vegetables. Sam Choy’s didn’t have as many gluten free options as other restaurants we tried, but we are always happy with fish and steak so I would definitely recommend.