I’ve wanted to visit Kaua’i since high school, and that desire only intensified after as my career in travel marketing afforded me the chance to learn more about the island. Since becoming vegan, my vacations of shifted a bit more towards the eco-friendly variety and Kaua’i strengthened its position as a dream destination on my travel bucket list.
Naturally, when a friend of mine announced that she had a place on the island for a week and anyone with a plane ticket was welcome to stay, I jumped at the opportunity.
Because we were traveling across the island nearly everyday hurrying to this activity or that, I didn’t get a chance to try as many vegan eateries as I would have liked, but true to form, Kaua’i, like many eco-conscious destinations, had an abundance of fresh produce options, which made finding food relatively easy with a few alterations. I was even able to attend a Luau and leave with a full plate!
This second-floor bar and eatery in downtown Hanalei was one of our first food stops. To be fair, though, my friend, who’d eaten there previously, convinced me to go so she could indulge in one of their favorite mai tais. Being a good guest, I agreed. Once we settled in to order, however, it became apparent that their vegan options were slim to none. Usually, in this kind of situation, I’ll speak to the wait staff directly and see what our options are. Lucky for me, both the staff and chef were incredibly accommodating, and prepared a special plate for me.
Since we were staying in a condo with a kitchenette, my friend and I decided to buy some groceries to get us through the week. Typically, off the mainland, vegan subs can be difficult to find, but Papaya’s had a surprisingly broad selection of items from well-known brands like Gardein and Field Roast along with sustainable lifestyle favorites like bamboo toothbrushes and eating utensil travel kits. Just a word of caution, because some of the food subs are coming from the mainland you will likely see higher prices than your local grocer. In my opinion, it’s best to buy these sparingly and focus on enjoying all the fresh fruit and veggie options Kaua’i has to offer.
Naturally, after shopping, we were too tired and hungry to cook for ourselves so we stopped in at the attached cafe, The Kitchen at Papayas, for lunch instead. They have a well-managed salad bar and a variety of prepared and hot food dishes. I opted for a glass of lemonade and the Classic Portobello Burger which was hearty, delicious, and accompanied by one of the largest garlic pickles I’d ever seen.
Fresh Bite Kauai is an adorable, family-run food truck specializing in seasonal, locally sourced, ‘farm-to-beach’ eats located behind (yes, behind) the Hanalei Liquor Store. But don’t let the location deter you. It’s convenient for post-shopping vittles after you’ve checked out all the charming little shops Hanalei has to offer. And, Fresh Bite is one of several food trucks parked in the lot which makes it a great stop for both vegan and non-vegan diners.
During busy times the service can run a little slow, but the food was worth it. After about 20 minutes visiting local shops we headed back and our order was ready for pick up. Their lunch options can be prepared as your choice of salad, wrap or Quinoa bowl. I tried the Gaucho Quinoa Bowl and Purple Sweet Potato Fries washed down with a serving of their super refreshing Organic Mint Iced Tea.
If traveling will teach you anything, it’s that some of the most delicious food can come from the most random places!
This little stand off the side of the road was cute and offered a welcome respite from the heat but my expectations were low. We’d passed it a few times before, earlier in the week, which had piqued my curiosity but it was definitely a case of ‘right place, right time’. Little did I realize it would wind up being one of the best meals I had all week. Service was a little slow but friendly and My Fresh Hummus and Cucumber Wrap was simple but divine with an ideal blend of textures and flavors. I enjoyed it with a bag of Maui Style potato chips and a 12oz Thai Green Juice made with organic kale, celery, cilantro, fresh island pineapple and local, organic ginger.
I was pretty torn on the idea of going to a luau. On one hand, it’s a huge cultural display and an opportunity to see a fantastic show, on the other….there’s the whole ‘pig-in-the-ground’ thing. I was intrigued by the former and didn’t want to support the latter, and I wasn’t psyched to potentially pay $100+ for a ticket only to go home hungry.
After making some calls (and bugging numerous concierge desks) we settled on the Grand Hyatt Kauai Luau – even phoning ahead to make sure there would be vegan options at the buffet. I remained pretty sure that I’d end up with a bowl of poi and some sad veggies before we got there and saw the spread. To my delight, I was able to fill up on salad, lemongrass herb rice, coconut potatoes and roasted veggies. Due to it being a buffet set up, the allergens were listed on the food cards, making it much easier to navigate my choices. I didn’t have to see the whole pig at all, making a convenient trip to the bar for a refill while the brought it around, and the vendors set up around the perimeter made sure we had plenty to look at during show breaks. Unfortunately, we were rained out about midway through the show, but Hyatt granted a 50% refund on the tickets so I would gladly revisit to enjoy the rest of the show.