Eating a Raw Vegan Diet in Kona, Hawaii

Coming back to Hawaii has been a dream of mine for over a year now and I finally made it! I couldn’t wait to experience the tropical air, sounds, sunshine, fruit and ocean again after Autumn and Winter in Holland and Washington state.

I’m also in the middle of  a 30 day Raw Vegan challenge that began on January 1 so I was anticipating it being much easier being in Hawaii.

When I left Seattle I only carried enough fruit to get me through the flight.  Normally, I carry more but as I have only taken carry on for a six week trip, I was maxed out.  I did, however, pack quite a few Lara Bars for back up.

When I arrived, I didn’t count on finding ripe fruit immediately, so I searched for a smoothie for dinner.

Places to find smoothies in Kona:

Island Naturals 74-5487 Kaiwi St, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740.  Health food store, selling top quality items, produce and smoothies.   This is on the way to Kona from the Airport and would be a great place to stop on your way to your accommodations.

Evolution Cafe 75-5813 Alii Dr, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740.  This is a Vegan cafe, next to a Vegan dinner restaurant called Ai Pono.  They have very high quality smoothies and smoothie bowls.

Tropical Frozen Yoghurts  5-5807 Ali’i Dr # 7, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740.  They offer real fruit smoothies, however, to be safe be clear that you don’t want any dairy or sugar added.

Across from King Kamehameha Hotel in Kona there is a Shaved Ice stand that has a sign out front saying they sell real fruit smoothies. I have not tried them.

Smoothie bowl from Evolution Cafe

Kailua Village Farmers Market  

Location: At the corner of Hualalai and Ali’i drive

Opening Days: Wednesday- Sunday

The next day I went to the farmers market in Kona.  They had an abundance of fruit but not much was ripe and nothing organic.  I did find some apple bananas that were ripe and absolutely delicious.  In Winter, the pineapples and any non-organic papayas will be GMO at this daily market. I bought some bananas, avocados, lilikoi and a few imported mangoes.

Kona Daily Market

Super Markets in Kona

Next I went to the super markets for my greens and some veggies.  Sadly, on the Big Island there is a problem with Rat Lung Disease that can be found on produce and especially local greens  This disease comes from rat feces, which is then transferred to slugs, who then find there way on to local greens, mostly in the Puna area.

Rat Lung Disease causes Meningitis in humans and people have died from it, if they weren’t treated right away.  I have also read that you can avoid it by just washing your greens thoroughly as they aren’t sure if people are getting sick from accidentally eating parts of the slugs or the trail from the slugs as well.

Honestly, I  saw many people buying local greens, however, I wasn’t willing to risk it.

I decided to get greens from the mainland which are found at the supermarkets and much more expensive than local greens.  Unfortunately,  I had to throw away three plastic containers of mixed greens because they were old and slimy inside when I opened them.  The romaine lettuce I bought was excellent as they last much longer than other greens. I also picked up some Cara Cara oranges and Fuji apples that were both very good quality.

I went to Walmart, Target and Safeway.  Safeway, as expected had the most variety and the most organic produce. Walmart had the least variety and Target somewhere in the middle.  I’ve read that Target might be the cheapest as well.

Then, I made my way to Island Naturals to search for organic papayas.  They were out of them so I picked up a few other things like coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and dried herbs instead.

Apparently, Costco is the cheapest of all for most imported products, however, I did not go there.

Organic Farms

When I got home I looked online for organic farmers and contacted them, thinking that might be the only way to get organic papayas and other local organic fruit.  One farmer responded and told me he’d keep two organic papayas aside for me at the Saturday farmers market.  He said that other farmers would have organic produce as well.

Organic Farms on the Big Island:

Big Island Organic Farms

Keauhou Farmers Market

Location: Keauhou Shopping Center

Opening Days:  Saturday

The next day, I went to the Keauhou Farmers Market and I was in heaven.  There were many local farmers selling their high quality foods.  I bought much more than two papayas and an abundance of other fruit such as rambutan, tangerines and bananas.

I would not say this market was inexpensive by any means, however, the quality of produce was high, therefore, in my opinion worth it.

Farmers markets around the island:

South Kona Fruit Stand

About 30 minutes South of Kona you’ll find the South Kona fruit stand.  Here you can get some local fruits and fruit smoothies.  I have not tried them yet but if I head south I will keep it in mind.

Ai Pono Vegan Restaurant

If you are not eating raw the entire time you’re in Kona, you might want to try Vegan restaurant Ai Pono for dinner.  While I didn’t eat there because they only have one raw salad, their menu of cooked Vegan food looked worth trying.


My fruit stash!

Eating a Raw Vegan diet in Kona has been pretty easy as expected.  It’s easy because there is an abundance of fresh fruits on the island and easy access to greens and veggies.  Additionally, while I don’t find eating raw in a cold climate that difficult any more (I used to!), the warm weather is much more inspiring.

Top Tips

My top tips for eating raw in Kona are to search for and stock an abundance of fresh fruit and greens right away.  Also,  have a back up plan in case you can’t find them right away or have to wait for them to ripen.  A great back up plan is to buy smoothies, smoothie bowls and raw bars/nuts and seeds.


As far as cost goes, I believe my least expensive purchases that I’ve mentioned have been at the Farmers Markets.  However, as a tourist I did not find anywhere that I would call “inexpensive”.   Still, when I get a sticker shock, I try and put it in perspective and factor in that I’m not eating out at expensive restaurants twice a day and Im not shopping a lot or drinking any alcohol. In the end, I’m probably saving money compared to the average tourist.

Other Items 

If I would have checked a larger bag I would have brought the following items with me:

Travel utensils, a sharp knife, a small cutting board,  green powder for smoothies, dried herbs.

Because I’m staying in Airbnb’s, not hotels, I have access to utensils and a cutting board.  I also will have a blender in some of the places I’m staying.

What I eat in a day

At home and on the boat I often like to eat smoothies twice a day and either a salad or a more complicated raw dish for dinner.  When traveling I keep it simple, unless I have a blender.  I eat mono meals ( one fruit and one green at a time until full) mostly and then a simple, large, green salad at night with a home made dressing.  If I eat out then I’ll have a smoothie or a smoothie bowl.

Stay tuned for my next post were I go more into detail about what I eat in a day.



1 Comment