14 February 2012

Romantic Vegan Destination: Hawaii

Aloha! When we think of tropical paradise Hawaii tops the list in more ways that one.  Hawaii is top notch, and a clever traveler can have a vegan beach adventure they will never forget!

We choose Maui and Ohau because they are the most populated islands and have distinct different personalities. Maui, though plagued with traffic, is very clean, relaxed and an island getaway at its best. Oahu, on the other hand is a vibrant city with the tourist trap Waikiki and historical sites such as Pearl Harbor and Iolani Palace.  With only one week to get away we split our time between these two stops, but clearly could have used an entire week on each island and never run out of excitement.
Maui - Perfect stay = Kapalua.  Kapalua is a small resort city flag shipped by the Ritz Carlton and while rooms run $500/night a smart traveler can stay at Kapalua Villas (and score an ocean front GOLD luxury Villa) for half that ($250) and still enjoy all the amenities of the Ritz PLUS the Kapalua Spa, while sporting a FULL modern kitchen and washer and dryer!

The beaches around Kapalua are among the best on Maui, you can rent equipment to snorkel, surf, kayak, sail etc. The vegan options are literally within walking distance, but you'll need a car (Jeep!) to get around Maui. There really isn't a restaurant in Hawaii where a vegan can't dine. Fresh produce, fruit, rice and tofu are abundant and all cater to the Japanese, who are nearly 20% of the tourist population.

    Beach & Pool
Get healthy bites to eat
Kapalua Spa - Custom healthy wrap (lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, & olives ..side of lemon juice) with a Chocolate Rice Milk and Banana shake.

Banyon Tree or Kai Sushi Bistro at the Ritz - Veggie Rolls & Edamame

Take this wonderful drive along an iconic path filled with treasures, such as black and red sand beaches, bamboo forests, waterfalls, fresh water pools and vegan ice cream stands and food trucks. Make sure to hike along the Ohe`o Gulch on the  Pipiwai trail to pass through a HUGE bamboo forest and waterfall.
Coconut Glen's Vegan Ice Cream - Maui Must!  This guys is CRAZY FUN :D :D

Cafe Romantica - Food Truckonly open 4pm-6pm ..weird!  The food truck owner was kinda rude too about it.. like tourist are supposed to know your restaurant is only open for 2hrs per day!!!!  I don't think he was down with making us anything oil free anyway :D

Before you begin you stop in Paia where you can grab snack items from Mana Foods the local organic market and deli, or have a sit down vegan lunch at Flatbread or Fresh Mint.   Don't forget to grab some vegan Ono gelato, too!
 Flatbread - Oil Free sauce cheeseless veggie Flatbread pizza (mushrooms, spinach, fresh tomatoes)

Ono gelato- Dark Chocolate Italian Vegan gelato (filtered water, maui cane sugar, dark chocolate (probably fatty), and coco)
Stop at Down to Earth and grab vegan sandwiches and snacks for your hike at the top.  Many people brave the FREEZING temperatures to see the sun rise... or ride down it on bicycles... Enjoy a hike at the top and a nice packed lunch in comfort, instead.  Best time to go is in the very early morning (6am) because  the clouds usually flow through the crater around late morning (10am).  It's about a 2hr drive to the top of the volcano so when you make it to Haleakala National Park Visitors Center make a quick stop for a bathroom break and free brochure.

Down to Earth- Custom Veggie Sandwich and Wrap (lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, spike and lemon juice)

Alive and WellNori Wraps
A good sized port city near Kapalua with the nightlife. On your way you can grab lunch at Choice Health Bar.  Lahaina is a bit of a tourist trap with Cheese burger in Paradise and parrot pictures, but its worth a stop for Ono Gelato (entire section is dairy free). Also, at night you can get a custom vegan plate at Pacific O, a nice restaurant right on the sand.

Farmers Deli Cafe- Small store with of okay selection dry goods and produce.  The only thing oil free in the deli was the salsa, there was a low-fat chocolate cake but it had oil in it:(
Choice Health Bar- Maui Must!!  The restaurant doesn't use oil but they use lots of natural fats.. booo!  Since we were on Vacay we indulgence anyway:)

Pacific O - Very romantic restaurant right on the sand!!  They custom made us a oil free salad and fabulous steamed veggie plate with tofu, potatoes, beets, carrots, quinoa, & lentil... AMAZING!

 Ono Gelato - Mint Pineapple and Apple banana Sorbet
    Snorkeling Trips, Helicopter Rides, Catamarans
are all nearby, too. We indulged in these on our first trip to Maui and if you have the time they are definitely exciting.

Transferring to Oahu! 
On Hawaiian Air is relatively inexpensive to island hop, with deals under $100. I recommend taking the earliest flight (7:40am) so you arrive on the next island with a full day to play! Waikiki is the place to stay, its a scary jam packed tourist mecca that caters to the insane luxury good spending habits of the Japanese, who have claimed Hawaii as their play ground. There is only one hotel worth the stay and that's The Royal Hawaiian, the pink palace. Its optimal location, chained off beach and lack of riff raff make it the perfect retreat amongst the horror show of Waikiki. We almost bolted when we arrived, but when we changed hotels to the the Royal the pink paint gave our sunglasses the rose colored hues of a perfect vacation. You can rent surf boards, take a canoe surfing ride, learn to stand up paddle, or just drink Mai Tais at the beach bar.

Oahu TODOs & EATs

is the most important site in Oahu, and its FREE, even the parking is FREE and you get a FREE boat ride out to the Arizona memorial. Because its free you have no idea if you'll get tickets for the time slot you arrive at, we lucked out and didn't get there until the last boat at 3:00 and got the last set of tickets. You watch a movie about the bombing and then board the ship. In the area of Pearl Harbor you can visit DownBeat Diner for lunch and vegan shakes in the China Town area (try to get a meter, parking is limited and $5)

DownBeat Diner- We order a rootbeer float w/ soy ice cream (because we were at a diner, of course) Then a custom BLT Sandwich - Dry bread minus fried tempeh bacon and vegenaise + plus mustard & cucumbers.

is the only royal palace on US soil. Buy tickets for the tour and enjoy the movie in the room past the ticket office while you wait for your tour to begin to learn the history of Hawaii's royal family and how USA businessmen swindled it away from them and locked the queen in her room for eight months. Its a great audio tour and wonderful insight into Hawaiian history and should not be missed!
is directly behind Iolani Palace and is an amazing work of mid-century modern architecture. There are self guided tours available, read the sign posted near the elevators. You can also sit in on a session of the senate or the house! The entire building reflects many aspects of Hawaii, from the concrete palm trees to volcanic cones that host the representatives, its really amazing!
Peace Cafe, Loving Hut, Down to Earth are all on your way back to Waikiki for amazing vegan meals!

Peace Cafe- Oil- Free Moroccan dish was so fantastic we went back two days in a row to have it!  On top are an assortment of pickles.

Down to Earth- Oil- FreeVery Berry Bran Muffins w/ Sugar Cane Juice (sugar cane juice actually has less sugar than bananas, grapes, and apples..haha who knew!)
to see sea turtles, expert surfers and giant waves and fields of pineapple plants (don't give a $ to Dole Plantation, that place is a trap, just past the Dole you'll see real fields, only take a bathroom break there!)  Just as you enter town stop at the Beet Box Cafe for an amazing meal with the local surfers.

Beet Box Cafe- Baby Azul Smoothie (Blueberry, Banana, -minus Flaxseed, agave, and almond milk) with a custom burrito (steamed rice, oil free beans, and mango salsa).
is CROWDED, the beach is CROWDED, the water is CROWDED, you have to fight for a wave, but from your base at the Royal Hawaii in a newly renovated tower room that you got a deal on with your Starwood Points you're feeling transported back decades to before the insane crowds. The sunsets are beautiful, the water is warm all year, its great people watching and the small waves are perfect for surf lessons. Despite the chaos and shopping mecca you'll discover the peacefulness and relaxation.
You can grab wonderful spinach wraps at Mary's Organic across the street for lunch and at night dine on 5 star celebrity chef menus at Nobu and Roy's just next door!

Marie's Health Foods Organic Cafe- Spinach wrap (spinach tortilla w/ homemade organic hummus, organic soft tofu, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, spouts) -minus side of peanut sauce +plus lemon juice & fresh salsa.  Fresh smoothies w/ soy milk.. those weren't great but the wrap we ate everyday on the beach:)

Nobu Waikiki - you can never go wrong with a little FUN veggie sushi and sake!!!  With a creative vegan Oil-Free chocolate tofu surprise.

Roy's Hawaiian - Special Oil Free 3-course Vegan Prix Fix Menu w/ wine pairing..pure perfection! 

is a short hike up a steep concrete path to snap your iconic photo of Waikiki from the rim of an extinct crater! Make sure you have water and comfortable shoes on (no flip flops). Its only .8 mile, but due to the crowds it can take a while. Driving past Diamond head there are look outs (Here to Eternity Beach) where you can see whales breaching and spouting during the winter months. Pop in Whole Foods for lunch, or skip it realizing its the same as on the mainland and go back to Peace Cafe!

Where ever you go in Hawaii you'll have an amazing time!


Lex said...

Watch some Hawaii 5 O, Pearl Harbor, Elvis, or the new George Clooney movie The Descendants before the trip!

Brad said...

What a great post! My wife and I are planning a trip to Hawaii and your recommendations are awesome. I was surprised to see the amount of vegan options. Thank you for the information.

quarrygirl said...

wow, thanks so much for posting all this! i can't believe i haven't been to hawaii yet. definitely using this as a guide when i make it over there...

Anonymous said...

HAWAII 5-0 and the Merriman next year...the anticipation is building. Drooling at these pics!

Unknown said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am planning to move there next year but being vegan I was not sure if the place had any vegan options to eat out. After seeing this it's given me great confidence I've found my homefor life. Many thanks, Dan

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