We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Visiting Hawi

Which Hawi hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
2 posts
Save Topic
Visiting Hawi

My wife and I are planning a trip to the Big Island and very interested in Hawi. It appears to be a small town in the country. I am curious if there is a good forum out there that might give more helpful information than tripadvisor for Hawi? Also, we are interested in local favorites for dining and fresh fruit. Any advise is welcomed.

Hayden Lake, ID
Level Contributor
1,470 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Visiting Hawi

Lighthouse Deli

Island of Hawaii...
Level Contributor
7,943 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Visiting Hawi

No forum, it's just a few blocks of storefront, the rest is a small residential community. Tropical Dreams ice cream is a must have there. I also second the Lighthouse Deli if you want deli food. There are a few local hole-in-the-wall places there too, plus Bamboo. It's a tourist trap IMHO, but I would go there when John Keawe is playing.

Canada
Level Contributor
8,971 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Visiting Hawi

Blink...and blink again...oops you've driven through Hawi..

I like the little shop "As Hawi turns" for some interesting items.

Tropical dreams ice cream can be bought at Island Gourmet in Queen's Marketplace (WBR)

The North Kohala area is worthy of a drive with perhaps an hour of time to wander the various shops.Mondays are a great day to visit ..not too crowded

Bamboo is a total waste of time....throw your money up in the air for more enjoyment. Mediocre cold food served with mega sassy atitude. Oblivious management IMO

Charlottesville...
Level Contributor
647 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Visiting Hawi

Thanks for the tip about uncrowded Mondays. But then we wouldn't be able to taste the lobster tacos at Gill's Lanai in Kapaau since that is the one day they are closed. Hard to wait until September!

Edited: 6:46 pm, March 18, 2012
Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
36,669 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Visiting Hawi

Doesn't have to be Monday, just a weekday for fewer crowds.

There is a very interesting community in North Kohala that is almost invisible to people who visit on day trips. Hawi is so busy these days with tourists that it's annoying. Most residents will avoid it during the prime tourism hours. Kapa'au is a bit more real.

Best way to see a bit of real North Kohala would be to stay there and preferably have a host, one who would integrate you a bit. It's really a spot where you have to be introduced.

When I moved up there, we had an old friend from California who was the guy who knew everybody, so met lots of people. It is indeed a special small town kind of place. I went to a birthday potluck there in a big barn with live music and barefoot dancing and a hundred or so people with the whole family that was like the "old days" in the country in the 70's.

The little strips of business are not even a glimpse of the heart and soul of this place. The real life there flows around the tourist spots like an ocean wave around a row of rocks.

A few places residents go ... The Awa bar at night, maybe Pele's Bistro, used to be Nambu Cafe courtyard for lunch, Kohala Coffee Mill in the morning. Takata store and the post office. Read the bulletin boards at the store and the Kapa'au

Post office and wherever you see one for insight into the life there.

I do not know of a local forum. The community is not well served by either broadband or DSL, and it seems less plugged in to internet than is common these days. What I tend to see are email conversations to groups, but that's no help to you.

I don't know the lobster place, must be something kind of recent.

Los Angeles, CA
Destination Expert
for Oahu
Level Contributor
4,224 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Visiting Hawi

We had a totally different experience at Bamboo. We loved it! Loved the decor, great service and great food. Could hardly wait to go back.

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
36,669 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Visiting Hawi

Another place to try is sushi Rock, gets island grown wasabi root and very fresh fish, hole in the wall type ambience, very unique to Hawi kind of place.

Around sunset, locals like to hang at the Mahukona parking lot to fish, drink a little, and talk story. There used to be big parties there every full moon.

There is a forum called Sensible Simplicity, which is island wide but has some folks from North Kohala who post. It is hard core sustainability folks, not sure if you are into that but throwing it out there.

http://sensiblesimplicity.lefora.com/

Charlottesville...
Level Contributor
647 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Visiting Hawi

Speaking of Mahukona, I'd love to snorkel there but got the message in TA forum that it's best to leave it for locals. Wouldn't arriving for sunset or a full moon there be the same story?

LA
Level Contributor
9,326 posts
1 review
Save Reply
9. Re: Visiting Hawi

It's an OK place for a day visit but I wouldn't want to stay there.

Island of Hawaii...
Destination Expert
for Hilo, Island of Hawaii
Level Contributor
36,669 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Visiting Hawi

Hawi is a great place to stay if you are looking for what's left of real small town Hawai'i. It is not a vacation playground. It all depends on what you want. The OP seems to want something different from the average vacationer, more of a peek into the real community, so that's why I mentioned stuff I would not normally talk about at all.

kathy wrote:

>>> Speaking of Mahukona, I'd love to snorkel there but got the message in TA forum that it's best to leave it for locals. Wouldn't arriving for sunset or a full moon there be the same story?

Full Moon, yes, you would only go if you know someone who is going, and honestly I don't know if they are even happening any more. It was said as an example of how this community is different.

You can certainly go to Mahukona and snorkel, Kathy. I know that I said once it would not be good to start promoting it as a top spot for tourists. If it were to get over-run, I am sure the local residents would not be happy. (Nor have I ever heard it is a fabulous snorkel spot. The residents go there because it is the only place to go in without driving 45 minutes.) You can't see the sunset over the ocean from Hawi or Kapa'au unless you are oceanfront or way up the hill, so again, Mahukona is where people go.

At sunset, the vibe is quite local. You might not see a single rental car in the parking lot. There are certain tourists who are just very "touristy" and bring a tourist vibe wherever they go, who talk loudly and are oblivious to what is going on with residents, who don't mix, and have a way of ruining the moment for residents trying to enjoy their local spot.

If you are the type of low key person who drops into a situation and doesn't overwhelm the environment, you will be welcomed. People are very friendly there to people who get local culture, but they are not too fond of tourons as this is an area where people may work in the resorts, but when they go home they want to put all that vibe behind them.

I am quite sure you are not a touron, nor is the OP. It's ironic, but the very people who worry they won't be well received are the ones who have nothing to worry about. It's the people who can't grasp the concept that they might be barging in on people who are not well received, because they are acting obnoxiously.

Don't worry about it.

I have had some fun talk story at Mahukona. One evening, David Gomes ( a talented local guitarist who used to play KVR) was there with his wife and offered us some wine, which we sipped as we waited for sunset. The local kids are playing and it's popular for line fishing off the pier or the rocks.

Sometimes you get the locals who are playing the loud radio ... from several sources.

Get answers to your questions about Hawi