Travel Dairy: Big Island Part II

Travel Diary: Big Island Part II


At the hotel I picked up the “Big Island of Hawaii Dining” in Paradise magazine. I was so excited when I saw one of the cover stories on Island Farmers Markets. Being in tropical paradise with heat and endless sunshine I couldn’t  imagine the abundance of fruit and veggies.
I could hardly contain my excitement. When I opened up to page 6 there was a full color photo of mangos, then a page of pineapples, green beans, sunflowers, herbs, and a vegetables I didn’t even recognize.
Hawaii is a special place and almost everything grows here. If you have a kitchen when you travel here, you’ll be able to partake in the variety of meats and vegetables grown by farmers and ranchers.
Can you imagine the smile I had while reading all of this? Can you guess what we did after breakfast?
 
We jumped in to the car and headed northwest to Waimea. Our first stop was the Waimea Town Market, where parts of the proceeds of the market go to fund a local school. I could hardly contain myself. We parked, walked around the corner, and stop.
There was maybe 10 stalls with barely any fruit or vegetables. Mainly artisans selling their wares. No pineapples, no mangos, no abundance of vegetables. I was disappointed, but we meandered through and chatted with a few of the folks. With only an hour left for the other market, I asked Kevin if we could just head to it, and we did.
When we were on our way to the Market we drove by a massive barbecue on a street corner. I hoped we could go back and check it out. We arrived at the Waimea Homestead Farmers Market and again, I had high hopes to be overwhelmed- Not so much.
It was bigger, but the only produce this one had was avocados, some papayas, and a lot of fresh lettuce. Hmmmm.

Travel Diary: Big Island Part II
Travel Diary: Big Island Part II


Travel Diary: Big Island Part II

Travel Diary: Big Island Part II

Maybe I was naive for since I have always had plenty to choose from in Calgary, but I was surprised in the little produce I saw. Even in Hawaii January is winter. We did end up going back to the barbecue on the corner, and ordered a plate of barbecue pork ribs to share. $7.95 was a great price and definitely fed us.

If you are in Waimea on a Saturday, I recommend stopping at this Philipino barbecue.

Travel Diary: Big Island Part II

Travel Diary: Big Island Part II

Travel Diary: Big Island Part II

After our lunch, we headed east towards the coast and Akada Falls. We had heard it was a must see and it was worth the drive. You also get the chance to see the different vegetation’s, climates and cultures. The Big Island has a huge Japanese influence and it is evident in the landscape.

Akada Falls is a 45 min hike through thick vegetation, large bamboo, and warm moist air.

Here are some photos of our hike.

Travel Diary: Big Island Part II
Travel Diary: Big Island Part II
Travel Diary: Big Island Part II



Travel Diary: Big Island Part II
Travel Diary: Big Island Part II
Travel Diary: Big Island Part II
Travel Diary: Big Island Part II




On our way back through Waimea, we stopped at Daniels Organic Cuisine. I ate scallops and gluten free risotto. They were quite good. The restaurant uses local, fresh and sustainable ingredients.

Travel Diary: Big Island Part II


 

Travel Diary: Big Island Hawaii Part III

Travel Diary: Big Island Hawaii Part III


Spam, Spam, Spam.
Why on earth would a gluten free blog have a story about Spam? Well, it seems to me that a travel diary about Hawaii has to include the subject. Why?
Well, I knew I was going to have to write a blog about Spam while here in Hawaii when I went to Target and they had Spam flavored Macadamia nuts. Spam FLAVORED nuts.


Travel Diary: Big Island Hawaii Part III


Really?
Then I found a whole section in Target dedicated to Spam paraphernalia. We’re talking about oven mitts, cookbooks, magnets, mugs, t-shirts, etc.


Travel Diary: Big Island Hawaii Part III


It seemed that everywhere we turned on the Big Island- Spam was there. You can find it in all grocery and convenience stores, even restaurants and most homes in Hawaii.


Travel Diary: Big Island Hawaii Part III


Travel Diary: Big Island Hawaii Part III


Why is Spam so important here? I did a little research.
Spam was first introduced to the Hawaiians by Americans in WWII. It was a staple for the American soldiers and Hawaiians loved it. Spam is a portable, durable meat that doesn’t require refrigeration. Spam is made of pork shoulder, ham, sugar and salt.

Do I eat Spam? 
Absolutely not. I actually had Spam as a kid and never liked it. In fact, mention Spam and I tend to cringe. If you’re a fan of Spam, that is fine. But you will never catch this gluten-free girl eating it!
I do understand why Spam became so popular in Hawaii. Being a tropical climate, having a meat product that doesn’t need refrigeration and stored for emergencies is desirable in a product. Hawaiians eat alot of Spam, the average Hawaiian eats up to 12 cans of Spam per year, more than any other place in the world.
Hawaiians use it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is also popular in Asian cuisine. Hawaiian’s favorite dish with Spam is called ‘MUSUBI.’ Musubi is a fried slice of ham on rice pressed together to form a block, then wrapped with a strip of seaweed.
Spam is so popular that in Waikiki and Oahu they have a Spam Jam street festival. It celebrates the people of Hawaii that love of Spam.
So if you are in Hawaii and wonder why you see canned Spam everywhere, now you know why!


Travel Diary: Big Island Hawaii Part III

Travel Diary: Big Island Part VI

Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI


I hope everyone has been enjoying my travel blogs about the Big Island, Hawaii. I had a really hard time trying to condense our trip in to one or two blogs so that’s why we ended up with six!
This is the final blog on Hawaii.
Time for a teaser! The next few blogs are going to be 2 different gluten free bread machine recipes, dairy free coconut pudding, squash-apple soup and cabbage rolls. What recipe would you prefer first? 
*
Back to the Big Island! Our 2 weeks visiting the island were wonderful and I highly recommend a visit. We did a lot the last week, while still managing down time.
I booked the four of us with Fairwind Ocean Cruise on the Hula Kai for a snorkelling adventure. The cruise included breakfast and lunch. When I inquired about being gluten free, I was informed that there would be things I could eat but that I should bring my own snacks too- just in case.
Breakfast was croissants, fresh fruit, yogurt, and crustless mini quiches. Of course, I didn’t have croissants but everything else was fine. Then for lunch, they barbequed all beef burgers, buns, salad, pasta salad, and chips. I was able to have salad, a no-bun burger, and a bag of chips. Was it a 5 course meal? No. But I wasn’t left hungry which was nice.
Our cruise took us down the South Kona coast and we loved seeing the island from the water. We’ve taken snorkeling cruises before and it has always ended up being a great day.


Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI

We stopped at 2 different spots, one of them being Captain Cook’s memorial.
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
The Hula Kai is equipped with sea rockets which propels the snorkelling through the water. Of course, the guys had to try them out.
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI

Once we returned to land, we drove to the Kona Brewing Company to sample some local beer. Bruce and Kevin had a favorite flavor or two, however they didn’t have any gluten-free beer for me to try.
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI

One of the things I was very impressed with was the local grocery stores. In Waimea the Foodland carries a large selection of gluten free products, as well as the smaller store in Mauna Loa. Even the tiny Puako Beach grocery store carried gluten free supplies. Our flight leaving Kona was a red-eye, so after making a huge gluten free barbequed breakfast, we cleaned and packed up the villa and headed to Puako Beach.
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Carol had read that a Hawaiian custom was to release your lei into the ocean once it had dried up. Both Carol and I had lei’s and wanted to follow Hawaiian tradition.
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
While we were walking around Puako Beach, we found sea turtles, both swimming in the tide pools and sunning themselves on the lava rocks.
What a site that was! Many photos were taken of these graceful creatures. The only disappointing thing was that we were unable to swim with them. We had our luggage in the rental car, and didn’t have a place to shower before we left the island.
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI
Another gluten free discovery on the island was the large variety of KIND Bars. All gluten free travellers are familiar with these bars that are often sold at Starbuck locations around North America, especially at airports.
What I found in Hawaii was flavors such as: Peanut Butter and Strawberry, Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio, Peanut butter Chocolate + Protein, and Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew. Wow, they were delicious! They also came in handy for the beach or anytime a snack was needed during our 2 weeks. Wish I could find these flavors in Calgary!
Another yummy gluten free snack found on the island was a Bora Bora Bar with the flavor of, “Exotic Coconut Almond.
*Gluten Free Warning: The Kona airport is extremely small and doesn’t really have much to eat. I suffered with french fries, and a small Yoplait yogurt for my supper. Make sure you stop at a grocery store to load up on fruit, veggies and crackers to take on the plane. It can be a grueling flight when you are hungry and there is nothing for you to eat. There is also no Starbucks at this airport. We didn’t stop at a grocery store before our flight, assuming I could find some snacks.
We loved our trip and I hope I’ve made your next trip to the Big Island easier if you are gluten free. It was a shock on our system when we arrived in Calgary at 10:30am. When we left Hawaii it was +27 degrees Celsius, a cold snap had hit Calgary and it was -27 degrees Celsius when we landed. A difference of 54 degrees! Nothing like -30 below to welcome you home!
Brrrr!
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part VI

Travel Diary: Big Island Hawaii Part V

Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V


We are really loving Hawaii. The sun, heat, waves, and humidity are absolutely lovely. We live in Calgary, Alberta and it’s winter there, which means cold temperatures, snow, no-humidity, and mega dryness. When we left Calgary my hands were cracking and bleeding. So you can understand all the enthusiasm.
I would highly recommend the Hilton Waikoloa if you are looking for a large resort hotel with a lot of ammendities. Our ocean view room had us sleeping peacefully and waking up to glorious palm trees and blue sky every day. The property was well maintained, beautifully landscaped and had a lot of pools and restaurants. It was a great way to start our vacation.
We are now at Wai’ula’ula Villa near the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. It’s actually only 10 minutes north of the Hilton. We booked the villa through www.luxuryretreats.com since my sister and brother-in-law were joining us for the last week. I wanted a house for all of us to share.
And wow, what a place!
We have a wall of glass panels that open up to our own pool and hot tub. A high end kitchen with wolf appliances, even a Wolf barbeque and outdoor fridge on the veranda. Yep, not exactly roughing it up out here.




I love to cook (obviously) and couldn’t wait to go grocery shopping and pick up fresh fruits and vegetables.
My suggestion for everyone wanting to visit as well as for myself would be: to do the grocery shopping more inland in Waimea. Waimea is away from the hotels and tourists so the groceries would have been cheaper. Our grocery trips were to Safeway in Kailea-Kona and even though it’s in a major city centre- it’s still full of tourists.
Kevin and I were quite shocked at the prices. $7.00 for a loaf of bread, $7.00 for a bag of chips, $7.00 for a small bag of potatoes, $7.00 for strawberries. $7.00 seemed to be the price number for everything. What do you think the price for a single large navel orange would be?
$4.00.
Yes, you read that correct. $4.00 for a single orange- Yikes! These prices seem a little high huh? Well if you are living on an island in the middle of the Pacific, that would explain the inflated prices for groceries. Near Safeway was a Natural Market and I was able to find some gluten free goodies, even Kinnikinnick frozen products were available. At Target we were able to pick up a boogie board, suntan lotion, bottled water and a small cooler for our beach adventures.
The first day that Carol and Bruce arrived we enjoyed the pool, the property and a barbeque. Of course a lot of pina coloda’s were blended and drank. The following day we woke up early to make the 2 1/2 hour drive south to the volcano. It took us longer than 2 1/2 hours to  get there since we stopped to see Kona coffee, a roadside stand for a mandarin orange, and then a detour to the southernmost point in the US on our way there.


 
Kilauea Volcano was a must visit on this trip for my husband. We aren’t exactly familiar with volcanoes in Canada, so we weren’t sure on what to expect.
Our original plans was to rent bikes and bike down the volcano, however when we got to the visitor center we were informed that most of the National Park was closed due to toxic gases. What’s a tourist to do when that happens? You see what you can see, and know that you’ll just have to come back again for a visit- darn. ????
As someone who’s never seen a volcano, let alone been close to an active one, the site of the crater leaves you silent. You are in complete awe.


This volcano has been active for 20 years, and while it can be a spectacular live show of molten lava, a person has to realize it has also destroyed entire towns and subdivisions. One of the things we will do next time when we visit the island is to do a crater walk. You really need to be prepared with hiking boots, flashlights, sunscreen, bottles of water, rain gear and sunglasses. We didn’t have these things, so we didn’t get the opportunity to go down there.
We did go on all the hikes we could and walked along the old highway that parts fell into the crater when the volcano erupted. That was pretty freaky.

All of us were getting fairly hungry by lunchtime and being that I am gluten free I can’t just eat a hot dog, so we drove to Volcano Village and found a Thai restaurant. It was called ThaiThai and the food was really good. Nothing better than some hot Tom Yum Soup and Red Curry rice noodles when you’re feeling a bit chilly.

Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V
Travel Diary: Hawaii Part V



After our tummies were full and warm, we headed back to the National Park and walked through the lava tube. Then we walked along the crater edge to see the steam vents.
 

Around 5:30pm we then drove to the Jaggar Museum to get ready for sunset. When the sun is setting the cloud at the craters opening turns pink and red.
Tourist Tip: Make sure you bring a sweater or jacket! You don’t realize the altitude but it was very cold when the sun set.
Well worth it though, wouldn’t you say?
 

Travel Diary: Big Island Hawaii Part I

Travel Diary: Hawaii Part I
Travel Dairy: Hawaii Part I


We departed Calgary on January 3rd for the Big Island in Hawaii. Kevin and I haven’t been to Hawaii since our honeymoon 26 years ago. On our honeymoon we visited Oahu and Kauai, so we were excited to see a new island. My hubby was also really excited about seeing the Volcano.
Our flight was to leave Calgary, change and go through customs in Vancouver, then on to another aircraft for the ocean trek to Kona. Being gluten free I always bring food with me, especially in delayed departures and rerouted flights. I brought toasted Kinnikinnick, English muffins, some Brie cheese, gluten free crackers and granola bars. It would seem this flight would be no different than others. Our flight leaving Calgary was 45 minutes late which meant when we arrived in Vancouver we would have to hustle to get through customs and get on the plane. Thank goodness I paid $7.00 for some veggies at the Calgary airport because there was no time to grab anything in Vancouver.
We did make our flight, barely, and we were excited to be on the final leg to paradise.
After getting into our seats, I noticed no TV’s on the back of the seats but thought they were the shared ones that pop down- nope! An announcement came from the steward that we were on a brand new 2 week old plane that had not been fitted with TV’s yet.
“Really, in a 7 hour flight?” I thought.
Do we get a discount/rebate off our flight?
Well we survived the  flight, and thank goodness I had my veggies from Calgary with me. The complimentary bits &bites or cookie does not work for this gluten free girl.

We woke up the next morning to the most beautiful blue sky, palm trees, and ocean.

Travel Dairy: Hawaii Part I

Our hotel was the Hilton Waikoloa Village, located 20-25 minutes north of the Kona Airport. Kevin and I had the breakfast buffet, and I was very pleased to be offered gluten free pancakes. They were quite good. I also enjoyed an omelette, and fresh tropical fruit.

Travel Dairy: Hawaii Part I
Travel Dairy: Hawaii Part I


One of thing we found here in Hawaii is that the food is expensive, whether you are eating out in a restaurant or buying groceries at Safeway.

When we travel, we will usually eat one meal in a restaurant, then the rest of the day we will snack on groceries. However, even groceries are extremely pricey here.

Travel Dairy: Hawaii Part I

For the first 3 days, Kevin and I enjoyed relaxing under a cabana, feeling the sunshine on our Canadian white skin while watching and listening to the waves crashing into the lava rocks.

Travel Dairy: Hawaii Part I
Travel Dairy: Hawaii Part I


We had some Mexican food down in Kailua-Kona that was very good,

Travel Dairy: Hawaii Part I

a wonderful fish dinner at Huggo’s in Kailua Bay,

Travel Dairy: Hawaii Part I

and fresh catch fish at Bite Me Fish Market located at Kona Marina.

My only complaint was my meal at Roy’s in Waikoloa. My fish, potatoes and asparagus were cold, and there was no flavor at all, so very plain. I think chef’s get nervous around gluten free meals that they take out everything, even the taste of the food, just to make it safe. I’m not okay with that though. I want great tasting food like everyone else.

My husband really enjoyed his meal though, so if you are not gluten free, you will probably be happy.

 I will continue part 2 of this diary with our road trip to see some farmers markets.

Aloha! ????

Travel Dairy: Hawaii Part I