After visiting the Kailua-Kona Side of the Big Island (read part one here) my boyfriend and I drove around the island to stay in Volcano. We stayed in a cottage with a kitchen to cook some of our own meals. I highly recommend staying somewhere with a kitchen to save on cost and for the added safety when traveling with food sensitivities. We found many natural and organic markets in Hilo and went to the Farmer’s Market a few times to stock our kitchen. There were also many accommodating restaurants in Hilo and Volcano. We ate very well while on the Hilo side of the Big Island.
Conscious Culture Café
I was so excited to find the Conscious Culture Café in downtown Hilo. The café brews the local kombucha, Big Island Booch. They also have clearly marked gluten-free items on their menu and serve organic ingredients. We ate here for breakfast on our first morning on the Hilo side of the island. We ordered the Flippen’ French Toast and the Free Lovin’ Flapjacks. The French toast was made with gluten free bread and the flapjacks were made with buckwheat flour. Both meals came with 2 eggs, sausage, organic butter, real maple syrup, and dragon fruit pieces. This meal was not low carb at all, but it was definitely worth it! I also ordered the Lilikoi Lush kombucha, which was delicious. We came back on our last day in Hilo and tried the Turmeric Jun. Jun is fermented tea, similar to kombucha, but made with honey instead of granulated sugar. I had never had Jun before and it was so good! This café was such a treat to find and I highly recommend to anyone staying in or passing through Hilo.
Aloha Farm Stand
The Aloha Farm Stand is on the road that leads to Akaka Falls State Park. The farmer running the stand owns an organic farm by the park. He was selling pineapples, coconuts, guava, sugarcane, and more. He let us sample some of the ice cream bean fruit, which has seeds coated with white fluff that tastes like cotton candy. We bought a coconut, which the farmer cut open for us to drink. After we finished drinking the coconut water, he cut the meat out of the coconut and cut up a pineapple for us to take. We ate the coconut and pineapple for the next few days, it was the best tasting fruit I’ve ever had!
Hilo Farmers Market
Farmers Markets are my favorite! The Hilo Farmers Market was one of the best I’ve ever visited. There were so many vendors selling food, tea, flowers, clothing, jewelry, and pretty much anything you could want from a farmers market. The market is open every day but the days with the most vendors are Wednesdays and Saturdays. While exploring the market I picked up some giant avocados, organic chocolate chai tea, ashwagandha paste and turmeric paste. The turmeric paste was my favorite find at the market. We learned so much talking with the lady, Sita, selling the pastes. The turmeric paste is a potent anti-inflammatory, and great for the immune system. The paste is a cured and aged blend of turmeric, ghee, raw honey, pippali, and black pepper (all organic and local ingredients). If you are interested in learning more her website is here, she ships to the mainland!
Volcano House Restaurant – The Rim
The Rim is an absolutely amazing restaurant located in Volcanoes National Park, overlooking the rim of the Kilauea caldera. At night the lava in Halema‘uma‘u Crater can be seen from the tables. The Rim sources 95% of their meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables locally. Our waiter was very helpful and spoke with the chef to ensure our meal was gluten-free. We ordered the catch of the day, yellow snapper, which came with rice, grilled baby red bananas, Waimea bok choy, and lilikoi butter sauce and the Steak and Lobster which came with purple sweet potato fries, Macadamia nut green beans, and Kona tarragon butter. We also got the mango crème brulee for dessert. This was one of my favorite restaurants on the island. If you choose to splurge on only one fancy restaurant while visiting Volcanoes National Park, The Rim is the best choice. Eating here is truly a unique experience. Be sure to make a reservation to guarantee getting a table close to the window.
Thai Thai Restaurant
Thai Thai Restaurant was a short drive from our cottage in Volcano. The waitress helped us find items on the menu that could be made gluten-free and made sure to let the chef know our meal should be wheat and soy free. We ordered the Pad Thai with beef and the Thai Basil Stir Fry with mahi mahi. Everything was so good. We ate here twice during our stay on the Hilo side and ordered the same food both times. I highly recommend!
Kilauea Lodge was also a short drive from our cottage in Volcano. The restaurant was cozy and had a fire going, which is perfect because this side of the island gets chilly at night. Our waitress was very knowledgeable about what items on the menu were or could be made gluten-free. She also offered us gluten-free bread, at extra cost, which we got because we were starving. We ordered the catch of the day, mahi mahi and the rack of lamb. Everything was delicious.
Island Naturals Market
After arriving in Hilo we went to Island Naturals Market to stock our cottage. There were so many great gluten-free and paleo items. Some of my favorite finds were Hawaiian turmeric sea salt, Hawaiian spirulina sea salt, Hawaiian cinnamon, Big Island Booch kombucha, flavored macadamia nuts, Coconut Bliss ice cream and local eggs. I loved looking around all the natural foods stores in Hawaii to see how they compared to the stores back home in DC.
Read about my experience on Maui here!
For anyone interested in non-food photos of Hawaii, I have included some from my trip below. Enjoy!