Big Island Hawaii Travel Guide
Hawaii. Not the state, but the island. The Big Island. A bit off the map of many travelers, this island is the size of all the others in the Hawaiian archipelago combined. That means among the active volcanoes and black sand beaches there is plenty of room for agriculture. Almost every tropical fruit imaginable is grown here and the local food movement is strong. The coffee game can use some upgrading, but a few pioneers are driving it in the right direction. The same goes for beer.
Everyone’s heard of Kona coffee, but few have actually tried and fewer actually like it. This is mainly because almost every roaster burns the sh*t out of Kona beans. Why? We may never know. However, now that you’ve been warned, don’t be surprised when you show up in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, and find yourself in a good coffee desert. In a place surrounded by coffee farms and seemingly everywhere serving local coffee, it’s very hard to find beans that aren’t burnt.
Ok, so you can’t get coffee prepared for you, but you can get some of the best beans in the islands here at the roastery. Located in Puna (about 15 minutes from Hilo and 2 hours from Kona), Big Island Coffee Roasters offers tours of their farm and roasting facility. They roast the best beans from Maui and the Big Island, so don’t miss them! The only place you can actually get their coffee made for you in Hawaii (outside of Honolulu) is at the Four Seasons resort.
Along Kona’s busy Ali’i drive there are plenty of places selling local Kona coffee. However, as mentioned most places just burn the sh*t out the beans, making tasting them pretty much pointless. Thankfully there is Daylight Mind, a spawling waterfront roastery and cafe where you can get local and imported beans that are roasted correctly. The place is big, so even when it’s busy, you can still find a nice seat with a view of the water.
Kona Brewing Company (owned by CBA/AB Inbev) was the only local beer game in Kona for 20 years. Now it’s got some competition from Ola Brew Co. This brewery and cidery works with local farmers to source their ingredients and makes great beer and cider alike. These guys are upping the game in Kona and definitely the place to go to drink local in Kona.
Located in the upcountry town of Waimea/Kamuela, Big Island Brew Haus exploded onto the Hawaii beer scene in the past year. Although these guys have been brewing great beer for years, their distribution has expanded and can now be found on tap lists in Honolulu as well as in Kona. Their brewery and tap room in Waimea/Kamuela is always busy, but worth the wait.
Folks on the Big Island love their kombucha. And why shouldn’t they when there is great local, all-organic kombucha from Big Island Booch. You can find their kombucha on tap and in bottles in many restaurants and stores on the island. They brew up their kombucha in Hilo and Conscious Consumption Cafe, also doubles as a tap room. There are plenty of flavors to try and even something called jun – which is essentially kombucha made with local honey instead of sugar. Very similar to a non-alcoholic mead.