Keeping It Fresh and Local While On Vacation

My wife and I just got back from a great vacation. We spent two lovely weeks relaxing in Hawaii, unplugged and offline. We’re calling it our second honeymoon, since we spent our first one there in 2008. This visit we spent half our time in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, and the other half on Maui in laid-back Hana and at Huelo Point near Paia.

typical breakfast in Kona (click on any image to enlarge)

We stayed in two condos and a cottage that all had full kitchens, and we ate most of our meals there instead of eating out at restaurants all the time. We stocked up on food mostly by visiting farmers markets and fruit stands, supplemented with some staples from groceries (and some homemade granola we brought with us). The food we got was of such high quality that I didn’t even miss our own fresh, homegrown food we are accustomed to eating.

one of many stands at Kona Farmers Market

We hit the farmers markets in Kona our first day there. The supply of fruits and vegetables was amazing, with most of it being local to the Hawaiian islands. There was much organic food available as well. We loaded up on ripe local papayas, bananas, avocados, limes, mangos, lilikoi passion fruit and pineapples. We had fresh fruit every day! We also found great pole beans, lettuce and other salad greens, and jicama so fresh that some of the green vine was still attached. The food was reasonably priced, and we found many of the vendors eager to reduce prices even more later in the day.

goodies from Kona farmers markets

I also did my best to support the local beekeepers there. I bought some lovely Macadamia Nut Blossom Honey from one vendor, after tasting a yummy sample. And I got some Ohi’a Lehua Blossom Honey that crystalizes almost as soon as it is harvested and bottled, making a lovely light-colored ‘creamed’ honey. There was a great supply of raw, unheated and unfiltered honeys to choose from, made by bees visiting many different exotic (to me) nectar sources. We even bought some lavender infused Maui honey while visiting the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. More on that visit in a later post.

strawberry papaya

Most of the world’s macadamia nuts are produced in Hawaii, and great deals were to be had at the farmers markets. I picked up a one pound package of raw nuts for $7! I can see some Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with mac nuts in my near future, as well as some mac nut pancakes. We also got some roasted ones to snack on. The last place we stayed at, on Huelo Point, had a large macadamia nut tree on the grounds that was covered in blooms. The sweet smell of those blossoms really perfumed the air!

macadamia nut tree blossoms

One of our favorite markets was the Saturday locals only Keauhou Farmers Market. We really enjoyed talking to Darlene and Earl from D Medicine Woman about making lotions and creams. We picked up a bunch of good stuff at this market, including some Lilikoi Jelly and Macadami Nut Spread. I even got some seeds of an exotic tomato relative to try growing here at HA, given to me by Bruce Corker of Rancho Aloha. Why should anyone be surprised at that?

Keauhou Farmers Market

And no trip to Kona would be complete for me without drinking, and buying, some of the world’s best coffee. A special treat was buying Kona grown coffee directly from a couple of the local growers. Talk about eliminating the middle man! It was great to stand and talk to some of the vendors who were proudly there to sell their goods. Anyone who knows me well at all knows how much I love talking to other gardeners and growers. It was hard to tear myself away from some of them.

food and other goodies from Keahou Farmers Market

We did a little research before we left home on where to find the best farmers markets. The Kona Farmers Market runs 5 days a week and is located on Ali’i Drive in Kona town, and we visited there more than once. And many more Big Island markets are listed on this webpage. I would have loved to visit them all! On Maui we mostly visited roadside fruit stands, which were numerous in the Hana area. The Hana Fresh Market and Ono Organic Farms both featured locally grown organic Maui fruits and vegetables. We got some great stuff from both of them. The Hana Fresh Market food was so good we even picked up a sandwich and salad there one day for a picnic lunch at nearby Wai’anapanapa State Park.

me sampling the goods at Ono Farms roadside stand in Hana

We came back from Hawaii relaxed, invigorated, and ready to go back to work on our various projects and passions. I also brought back over 1500 images I shot with my camera. I’ve got enough material for quite a few blog posts, and I’ll be sharing them in the weeks to come. In the meantime, I’ve got bread to bake and garden planning to do. I hope you enjoyed reading about our market adventures!

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10 Responses to Keeping It Fresh and Local While On Vacation

  1. Wow! It sounds like you had a fabulous vacation!

    I love the pics of your breakfast… I just got back from Belize and had the most amazing home-made breakfast on a Amish dairy farm! I’m kicking myself for not taking pics, though…

  2. Liz says:

    That all sounds wonderful. Macadamias are native to Australia so I its interesting that more are grown in Hawaii. Was your tomato relative a tamarillo? – I noticed you have some with your Keahou market goodies. If not do you know what it is you’ll be growing?

    • Dave says:

      You are right, that is a tamarillo in the photo! But the tomato relative I got seeds for is called Lulo (Solanum quitoense), aka naranjilla. It’s in the same photo, the round orange fruit behind the tamarillo. Do you perhaps have any experience growing it?

      It seems that the Hawaiian growers found some nice microclimates for growing the macadamia nut trees, along with another relative, the protea. I believe Australia is 2nd in worldwide mac nut production, if my sources are correct.

  3. Kaveh says:

    I visited Hawaii (Oahu and Maui) for the first time right before Christmas and loved it. Look forward to seeing more of your pictures.

  4. Daphne says:

    Oh what fun. I’ve been to that farmers market in Kona. I have a statue of Lono that I bought there. He is the Hawaiian god of agriculture so I figured it was appropriate to bring home to the garden. He now sits in the middle of the circle garden amid the herbs.

  5. Aimee says:

    Incredible – one of my dear friends just got back from Kailua-Kona four days ago!

    She also raved about the fresh food and the coffee – they visited some coffee growers while there and took some wonderful pictures.

    How great that you got some tomato seeds! Can’t wait to see how they turn out for you, and to check out your pictures when you get them posted. Welcome back!

  6. Rick says:

    Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. We have never been to Hawaii but it is on our bucket list! That was a great idea to eat from the local farmers markets while you were there. We will have to try that on future vacations.

  7. Liza says:

    We must be kindred spirits because I love visiting farmers’ markets on vacation.

  8. Mike Adams says:

    Awesome post! I love the pictures. We are going to Hawaii in June, we rented a condo with a kitchen so we can do exactly as you did. I am really excited to meet the farmers and try their produce.

  9. Debbie says:

    Having grown up in Kona and going to those same Farmer’s Markets when I go back to visit, your post brought back lots of good memories and literally made my taste buds come alive again. I miss the tropical fruits and veggies, mac nuts and of course my favorite coffee in the world. My parents actually owned a little coffee farm when I was a child.

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