This is my first ever visit to Hawaii, and I start my journey in the seaside town of Hilo, on the island of Hawaii. In total, I spend a week eating and exploring around the island and these are my 10 favorite moments from the trip.
10 Great Things to do in Hawaii
1. Eat Poke
My adventure begins with perhaps the most famous local Hawaiian food – Poke!
For those unaware, Poke is a Japanese inspired raw-seafood salad, usually with Tuna as the choice fish
At Suisan fish market in Hilo, I was fortunate enough to get a behind the scenes look at how Poke is prepared. Fresh off the boat, through the storage cooler, cut up for consumption and outgoing orders, Mike gives me a behind the scenes look at this dish comes to be.
Then, I get to try it! One of the most delicious and fresh fish I’ve ever tasted, and seasoned to perfection with a variety of different recipes.
My favorite was the spicy poke with yellow fin tuna.
2. Rainbow Falls
Less than a 10-minute drive from downtown Hilo, is the beautiful and captivating Rainbow Falls.
You can walk around the perimeter and even get lost amongst the massive old banyan trees.
3. OK Farms
OK Farms specializes in high quality crops like coffee, macadamia nuts and a variety of fruits and spices that I was unaware of.
It was so interesting to see how local farmers are trying to cultivate the land and grow locally sourced products and produce for the island.
You can take tours around the property and learn how everything works from Ala, a beautiful soul with a tremendous passion for this land.
4. Eat Loco Moco
Cafe 100, well known in these parts for serving up a local specialty that virtually everyone I ran into told me I needed to try – Loco Moco.
Loco Moco is served up a variety of ways, but the original is a layering of rice, gravy, hamburger patty, more gravy and a fried egg.
5. Akaka Falls
Akaka Falls State Park has two beautiful waterfalls, the Kahuna and Akaka Falls. The beautiful lush plants and trees along the walk are worth the trip alone.
6. Honomu Goat Dairy
The Honomu Goat Dairy is just down the road from Akaka Falls, and if you blink, you’ll miss it.
Here you can play with the baby goats and try a variety of delicious homemade goat cheeses and sweets.
The staff is so friendly and inviting, I could have easily ate my weight in goat cheese if I stayed any longer.
7. Eat Spam Musubi
Spam Musubi is an interesting dish because people tell me that’s its the best from small convenient stores, gas stations and mom and pop cafes like this.
It’s a fun combination of Japanese Sushi and American war-time cuisine that includes spam wrapped in rice and seaweed and seasoned with Japanese spices and sesame seeds.
As I mention in the video, it is a brick that will definitely get your day started in a hearty fashion.
8. Lau Lau
Usually made for celebrations or special occasions, Lau Lau is the most traditionally Hawaiian dish on this list. It is usually made for celebrations and special occasions
Lau Lau actually means leaf leaf because it’s fish, pork, and beef, wrapped in two leaves. A Ti leaf on the outside and an edible taro leaf inside.
I make new friends while eating Spam Musubi and take me over to a local farmer’s market in Hawi to find it.
9. Koa Tree
My final adventure of this maiden voyage to the island of Hawaii however, was for sure the most impactful.
I join a great local guide name Bobby on an off-road rally up into the foothills of Mauna Kea to learn about reforestation initiatives with Hawaii Legacy Tours.
Their goal is to restore a land that was cleared for sugar cane farming and cattle ranching.
I attempt to help the process, all be it in a very small way, by planting a Koa tree on the property. A rare tree that grows nowhere else on earth.
This was the perfect ending to an incredible diverse and delicious week on the island of Hawaii.
10. Shave Ice
One more bonus sweet treat before I flew to Moloka’i, came in the form of a giant colorful ball of sugary ice! In a small little red shack in the popular area of Kona, I find a delicious local favorite.
Unlike the crushed snow cones that I’m accustomed to at home in New York, shave ice (or ice shave as they call it in Hilo) are very finely shaved, almost snow-like ice bowls.
I went with the classic rainbow selection with three different syrup flavors (banana, cherry, and blue raspberry).
After the icy goodness, I made my way to the airport for my next Hawaiian adventure!
A big thank you to Hawaii Tourism USA for sponsoring this incredible experience. Start planning your trip to Hawaii here: https://bit.ly/2nrsjJD