As far as holiday destinations go, Hawaii is up there in terms of scenery, friendly locals, activities, and, as I so gleefully discovered, vegan food.
I had the pleasure of spending a week in Waikiki recently, and though the main, tourist-heavy strip is laden with, let’s face it, crap food from American chain restaurants, walking a little further afield will open you up to a plethora of options.
First things first, let’s talk about what’s easy to get in most areas: poke bowls and acai bowls.
The world has become obsessed with poke bowls as of late, and it’s not hard to find poke places on most streets. Swapping fish for tofu and choosing the right vegan-friendly toppings will give you a healthful, bowl of deliciousness. If you’re on the go I highly recommend you pop into any poke place to get your fill.
Fruit is a big part of my diet, particularly during breakfast time, so acai bowls were an obvious choice every day. Most cafes in Waikiki have acai bowls on the menu, though they tend to come with honey or bee pollen. Luckily, each place I visited was more than happy to leave these ingredients out, and even topped me up with some extra nut butter.
If you happen to be walking up Diamond Head, then a trip to da Cove Health Bar and Café is a must. Their menu is a real treat with fresh smoothies, juices, and acai bowls, and given how busy they were it seems locals and visitors alike agree. I had the Mana Bowl (which they happily veganised for me by nixing the bee pollen and honey). It was refreshing and quite the generous portion (everything comes supersized in in the US it seems). Price-wise I found da Cove to be more than fair, given the fresh ingredients used are a far cry better than what you’d find on Waikiki beach.
3045 Monsarrat Ave #5, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
Quite literally after dropping our suitcases at the hotel, I made my friends walk a good 30 minutes away from the sandy beaches of Waikiki to King Street, where I knew of a little cafe that would suit me just fine.
Peace Cafe is a little spot that you’d most definitely miss if you were driving past. It’s an unassuming and small space, but bursting at the seams with whole foods.
The menu offers a mix of Asian and Western dishes, including the Poke Bowl and Tex Mex wrap (pictured below). The Poke Bowl was a resounding success to the group thanks to its refreshing ingredients — just the thing you need after a long flight.
The Tex Mex wrap was also a pleasant surprise, filled with quinoa and taco “mince” and coming with a spicy side sauce. I don’t think my quick photos quite do the dishes justice. The portions are absolutely massive so do arrive with an appetite or consider sharing a dish with a mate if you’re not starving.
I topped off my meal with one of their green smoothies which was just the healing goodness I was craving. I flew Hawaiian Airlines and they’re not exactly a vegan-friendly airline. I needed me some greens and I needed them ASAP.
2239 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826, USA
When I find out I’m visiting a new place, I spend hours upon hours researching restaurant options. I happened upon Roys Waikiki, and was thrilled that vegan options were on the menu. Being the hungry piggy that I am, I made a reservation for our second night in Waikiki – and what a treat it was!
Roy’s ambience is really lovely, and the staff are warm and welcoming. After informing our waiter of my vegan leanings, he let me know about their vegan set menu. I was sold. For $45 USD per person, this is what you get:
Kula Butter Leaf
Papaya Seed Balsamic, Pickled Onions, Avocado, Popped Quinoa
Small Kine Farm Mushrooms
Tempura Portabello, Roasted Kamuela Tomato, Black Garlic Puree, White Balsamic, Crimini Scampi
Kiwi Lime Parfait
Fresh Berries, Coconut Macadamia Nut Crust
The flavours were all beautiful and the first two courses in particular were well balanced. The avocado in the starter was deep fried, which is something I’d never thought to do to avocado (since it’s perfect on its own). While I’m not a huge fried food fan (my body just doesn’t agree with it), this was actually very tasty.
If you’re anything like me, you might find the Kiwi Lime Parfait to be too sweet. The lime flavours were prominent, offering some much needed tanginess, and the macadamia nut crust was great, but I couldn’t quite get on board with the parfait itself. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed the dessert very much and as a treat it was a great choice for a blow-out. It could very well be that these days my taste for sugar has dwindled somewhat, but if you have a serious sweet tooth then you’ll find it hits the spot.
226 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
Over The Hills…
You know how people say “when you know you know”? Well I knew it was love the moment I was warmly welcomed into Vegan Hills — by far the hottest spot to grab vegan grub in Honolulu. Since I visited four times, I felt it deserved a review of its own which you can read here. But if you’re here for a quick tip then remember this: Vegan Hills is the place you NEED in your life.
It was a little bit of a walk to get to this place (about 45 minutes from my hotel on Waikiki Beach), but you can take a bus, or Uber if you’re that way inclined.
I guarantee that you’ll fall in love with this place just like I did (especially if you try their Why Not Chos.)
3585 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816, USA