The Flavor of Kaua’i
Here’s the thing about Kaua’i. All roads lead to some amazing food.
It’s an island that is working hard to grow more food to become self-sustainable. The costs of importing are high, but entrepreneurs from across the island are addressing it with new menu items, use of local ingredients, and flavors that will surprise even the most devoted foodie. We had the opportunity to spend time there, taking in no fewer than five food tours, visiting numerous farmers markets, and more restaurants than we’d have thought possible.
Kaua’i is unusual in that there is basically one road that goes around the island—and even that doesn’t go all the way around, thanks to the state park just offshore from the Napali Coast. It has led to an easy divide of the island into four different cultures: north, south, east and west. Each area has its own distinct flavor, so to speak.
North, South, East and West
The North Shore is perhaps the area best known to the nation’s rich and famous, boasting homes and vacation stops for luminaries rumored to include John Travolta, Julia Roberts, Sylvester Stallone and Mark Zuckerberg. It’s where the Kilaeua Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge is located; it’s where great hiking, great shopping, and great swimming are available, along the coast or in Hanalei Bay, as well as one of the more popular shave ice locations—Wishing Well Shave Ice in Hanalei.
The East Side is also known as the Coconut Coast, featuring the breathtaking Wailua Falls plus some unexpected food finds. Our Eastern tour introduced us to local honey, fresh kombucha infused with dragonfruit and other Hawaiian flavors, sesame ahi and laulau at Pono market, and Japanese-inspired American Street food at Kenji.
The Kaua’i South Shore is where we saw migrating whales right off the shoreline at Spouting Horn Park, where we watched one of the most beautiful sunsets ever, and where Monkey Pod Jam’s Carla delighted us with a tasting of Lillikoi jam on house made sweet chocolate chip scones. Oh, and Kickshaw, with its molecular gastronomy run out of a food truck? The South Shore offered so many culinary delights, you just have to check out the full stories.
Falling In Love With Hanapepe
Finally, saving some of the best for last, the West Side is where we actually started our food touring journey—falling in love with the town of Hanapepe, tasting our first authentic poi bowl, eating Okinawa sweet potato and an Eel Bomb from Grandma’s Kitchen, and getting a cooking lesson at Salty Wahina. The West Side is also home to Waimea Canyon, known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”—which we saw on a clear, beautiful day.
We break it all down for you, with help from Tasting Kaua’i and some of the local plantations, in a series of stories that will show you how to celebrate any occasion in one of the most interesting food locations of the world. From Sugarloaf pineapple, to apple bananas, to taro, shave ice, laulau, poke, bulgogi, saimin, poi . . . the list goes on and on.
Check out the full series of stories on our Hawaiian trip below. Aloha!
- Tasting Kaua’i Hanapepe Walking Tour (West Side)
- Tasting Kaua’i East Side
- Tasting Kaua’i South Shore
- Kaua’i Farmers Markets
- Kaua’i Restaurants
Partial promotional benefits provided by Tasting Kaua’i and Lydgatefarms.