Foodie's Guide to Luxury on Hawai’i's Kohala Coast

Fora travel agent Kristyne Wada wearing floral dress
Curated By

Kristyne Wada (Enriched Travels)

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  • Hawai'i

  • Big Island

  • Beaches

  • Domestic Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Nature Escapes

  • Island-Life

  • Local Cuisine

  • Local Culture

beautiful waterfall on a lush cliff
Curator’s statement

The Island of Hawai’i, or Big Island, is home to some of my favorite Hawaiian food like poke, shave ice and huli huli chicken. Combine that with stunning luxury resorts along the Kohala Coast and the gorgeous Hāpuna Beach (recently rated the best beach in the U.S.!) and you'll see why the Big Island is my favorite Hawaiian island. It’s a great vacation destination for couples or families looking to indulge, eat well and enjoy the unique natural beauty of the islands!

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay in Hawai'i

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Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection

Royal, family-friendly Hawaiian hotel nestled along the dramatic Kohala Coast, in the center of five great mountains.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai

The Big Island’s standout resort on the quiet Kona-Kohala coast, home to an enormous spa, lauded golf course and raft of family-friendly activities.

Fora Perks
  • When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

Kona Village, a Rosewood Resort

The iconic Kona Village Resort is located on the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawai‘i, a historic and culturally rich destination.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Fora travel agent Kristyne Wada wearing floral dress

Unlock perks by contacting Kristyne to book your trip.

Things to do in Hawai'i

canoe overlooking the ocean

Sunrise canoe: Start your day and vacation off in the best way, by greeting the sunrise on an intimate canoe ride, an ancient daily Hawaiian ritual to set intentions, let go of heavy thoughts and express gratitude. Paddle out into the ocean and watch the sun emerge behind Mauna Kea, lighting up the morning sky. Mauna Lani and Four Seasons both offer sunrise canoe experiences.

Hāpuna Beach: Relax along the a spacious, white-sand beach with bright turquoise waters that was recently rated the best beach in the US, and is consistently on the top international beach lists. Westin guests have direct access to Hāpuna Beach from the resort, but it is a public beach open to all visitors.

Pololū Valley: Take a scenic drive on Highway 270 to Pololū Valley in North Kohala and take in the spectacular views of the coastline and lush green valley. Hike down a steep, rocky path for less than a mile to a black-sand beach. As Pololū is a sacred place to the ancestors of the island, please be respectful not to walk on the sand dunes, and exercise caution on the trail and near the water to avoid rescues. On the way back from Pololū, stop at Kohala Coffee Mill, in the cute little town of Hāwī, to refresh yourself with an iced coffee, smoothie or lunch.

Waimea: Visit the charming town of Waimea, 20 minutes from the Westin Hāpuna Beach and Mauna Kea resorts. Waimea is a charming town and has a cooler climate than the coast. Home to Waimea Coffee Company, GJ’s Huli Chicken, Merriman’s and several other excellent places to eat.

Kailua-Kona: Take a stroll in the town of Kailua-Kona. Located south of Kona airport, this old fisherman’s village has local shops, restaurants and farmers' markets perfect for taking a stroll.

Kona coffee tour: Visit a local coffee farm, such as Holualoa Coffee Company, to taste some delicious Kona coffee and learn about different coffee roasting techniques.

Day trips on the Big Island

Due to the immense size of the Big Island, having a rental car is key to exploring the beauty and diversity of the entire island.

Day trip or overnight trip to Hilo & Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Stop at ‘Akaka Falls State Park and see the impressive 442-foot tall waterfall. There is a paved trail that takes five to 10 minutes to walk to the waterfall. Entrance cost for two people and one car is $22 (as of January 2023).

Make another stop in Hilo to grab a bite of some local Hawaiian comfort food like loco moco or saimin noodles at Ken’s House of Pancakes. Then, pick up fresh manju at Two Ladies Kitchen, a Japanese confectionary shop. The fresh strawberry manju is a must!

Spend some time at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Check the National Park Service guidelines and volcanic activity before you go. If the volcano(es) are active, it’s best to see lava after dark. We recommend securing your parking spot by 5pm then taking a short hike to one of the viewing areas as the sky turns dark.

We suggest spending a night in Hilo or in accommodations in / near the park, to limit driving back to Kona / Kohala Coast after dark. It is a two-hour drive, which can sometimes have dense fog and rain, making it a difficult drive if you are unfamiliar with it.

Places to eat & drink in Hawai'i

plate filled with sashimi, accompanied by two bowls of sauce

Breakfast on the Big Island

HāLani at Mauna Lani: My favorite breakfast buffet, offering fresh local fruit, an omelette bar, made-to-order açai bowls, ahi carpaccio, spam fried rice, pancakes, pastries and more. (Get $95 daily credit for two when you book your stay at Mauna Lani with me.)

808 Grindz Café: Casual, local café serving the best macadamia nut pancakes! (Located in Kona.)

Waimea Coffee Company: Cozy coffee shop in the cute town of Waimea serving specialty coffees, açai bowls and breakfast bagels.

Lunch & snacks on the Big Island

Hale I’a (Da Fish House): My favorite spicy poke spot, selling super fresh fish by the pound, to go. (Closed Sundays; located in Kawaihae Marketplace, north of the resorts.)

Pau Hana Poke: Excellent fresh fish and sides to build the perfect poke bowl. (Located in Kona, south of the airport.)

GJ’s Huli Chicken Mouth-watering, juicy rotisserie-style chicken cooked over an open wood fire can be smelt and seen from the road. (Open Saturday & Sundays; located in Waimea.)

Kohala Burger & Taco: Casual, “50’s style drive-in” serving fresh fish tacos on homemade tortillas and delicious burgers. (Located in Kawaihae, next door to Hale I'a.)

Original Big Island Shave Ice Co.: Beat the heat with refreshing shave ice made with some of the finest ice you’ll ever taste! (Located in Waikoloa.) While they have elaborate creations on the menu, I opt for the shave ice with vanilla ice cream with li hing mui flavor syrup! (Closed Mondays; located in Waikoloa King’s Shops.)

Ululani’s: A shave ice favorite on the islands! (Located in Kona.)

Dinner on the Big Island

CanoeHouse: Elegant restaurant and bar at the gorgeous Mauna Lani resort to watch the sunset and enjoy a delicious and beautifully plated meal.

‘ULU: Delicious seafood and sushi restaurant at the Four Seasons offering beachfront views and exceptional service.

Napua at the Mauna Lani Beach Club: Family-run, farm-to-table restaurant located beachfront at Mauna Lani Beach Club.

Merriman’s Waimea: Merriman’s flagship restaurant located in the charming upcountry town of Waimea.

A note from Kristyne

Many local spots are small family run businesses that have varying operating hours and may only accept cash. Be sure to have cash handy and check hours on their social media or call before going!

Fora travel agent Kristyne Wada wearing floral dress

Travel Advisor

Kristyne Wada (Enriched Travels)

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