My 2011 trip to Kauai wasn’t my first visit to the island, but it was the first time going as a vegan. I was pleased to discover that it’s quite simple to find tasty vegan food all over the island. I had one bad experience, but hopefully it was a learning experience for all involved.
I vacationed at the Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club (on Poipu Beach) with my husband and parents (thanks mom & dad!). We ate local fresh fruit every morning and cooked most dinners in the condo. The lunch meal was typically the meal “out.”
I’ll start the tour of Kauai’s vegan eats on the South shore and work my way north…
FARMER’S MARKETS – You can’t beat the fresh fruit of Hawaii. At the beginning of your trip, find out where and when the Farmer’s Markets will be. Only then plan your other activities. Arrive early and bring cash!
LIVING FOODS MARKET – Located in the Kukuiula Village (2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka #24), in Koloa.
We picked up some hummus and tabbouleh to take hiking on the Alakai Swamp Trail.
DA CRACK – Located at 2827 Poipu Road, in Poipu.
“Da Most Bang For Your Buck” is true! This is a “take-out only” Mexican food place. I appreciated that the Veggie Burrito/Veggie Soft Taco are vegan. I didn’t have to say “No cheese, please!”
Puka veggie dogs are made from soy and wheat gluten. The bread is dairy- and egg-free. Have the Lilikoi Mustard and Tropical Relishes (dairy-free), but avoid the other sauces (which contain milk.) (Here is the Puka Dog FAQ page.)
PAPALANI GELATO – Located in the Poipu Shopping Village, in Koloa.
There is a whole section of dairy-free Sorbetto, and the sugar cones are vegan. With so many flavors, you’ll need to keep coming back! Here, I had lime on the bottom and pineapple on top…
ROY’S POIPU BAR & GRILL – Located in the Poipu Shopping Village, in Koloa
Our one bad experience. Here‘s the story…
Walking through the shopping village, I noticed the Roy’s “Vegetarian Menu” and the “Vegan Chocolate Souffle.” I figured that if a vegan dessert was on the menu, then Roy’s could accommodate vegans for dinner, too. The “Vegetarian Menu” looked perfectly acceptable. So, contrary to my usual frugal nature, I decided to splurge on fine dining.
Once seated, the waiter brought out edamame to eat while reviewing the menu. We stated that we are vegan, and immediately double-checked that the edamame was not cooked in butter. “No, cooked in oil.”
We ordered the Fresh Seasonal Vegetable Medley (“Chef’s Way”) and said, “That’s vegan, right?” Everything seemed fine, but when the waiter presented our plates, he described a risotto and used the word “butter.”
- “Vegan butter?”
- The waiter went to the kitchen.
- He came back, “It’s cream.” I had to explain that cream is dairy.
- The waiter was flustered. I was annoyed.
- We ate steak fries instead.
- Finally, I ordered the VEGAN Chocolate Souffle. At least it delivered! It was super decadent.
- I typed a complaint on the Roy’s website. I stated that I was drawn in by the Vegan Chocolate Souffle, and that I’d assumed that since Roy’s was offering a vegan dessert, it meant that a vegan could reasonably expect a vegan dinner, too.
A few days later, I received a phone call from the manager of Roy’s, who apologized to me for the debacle. Staff training was underway. She confirmed my suspicions that the appetizer was cooked in butter. Our $85 bill was refunded. 🙂
Moral of the story…don’t assume that vegan dessert means vegan dinner. We asked questions and explained our dietary preference, yet we still got into trouble. Hopefully some good came from our experience and the next vegan customer didn’t have to eat unwanted dairy products!
My Recommendation: Save your dinner dollars, but have dessert!
KAUAI EAST SHORE
PAPAYA’S NATURAL FOODS – Located at Kauai Village Shopping Center (4-831 Kuhio Hwy), in Kapa’a
Do your grocery shopping here! You’ll find every-vegan-thing that you need, to stock up your condo timeshare or hotel room. There are plenty of vegan options for a “grab & go” picnic lunch…check out the cafe. We picked up some Daiya Pepperjack Shreds to make nachos with fresh mango salsa…
RAINBOW LIVING FOODS – Located at 4-1384 Kuhio Hwy, in Kapa’a (behind the set of shops on the highway.)
I have a confession to make: I was almost too cheap to dine here. What a mistake that would have been! This Rainbow Veggie Wrap with Creamy Lime Dressing was probably the best meal of my trip (and I ate some good stuff!) I think it cost something like $11, which (for me) is a little pricey for lunch, but guess what? It was totally worth it. Don’t leave Kauai without stopping here.
KAUAI NORTH SHORE
THE HEALTHY HUT NATURAL FOOD STORE – Located at 4270 Kilauea Road, in Kilauea
It’s a small store, but it gets the job done.
KILAUEA BAKERY & PAU HANA PIZZA – Located at Kong Lung Center (2484 Keneke St), in Kilauea
Outstanding vegan cake! I had to try every flavor: Coconut, Banana, Macadamia Mocha, and Chocolate Raspberry. Hopefully they still sell them. I’d check ahead, because otherwise, this place really needs some veganizing!
As of February 2012, according to this website about the Kong Lung Historic Market Center, the bakery is advertising a gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan muffin. I’m not sure that sounds too exciting when on vacation. I hope that’s not their only vegan pastry option!
BANANA JOE’S FRUITSTAND – Located at 5-2719 Kuhio Highway, in Kilauea
Pick up some fresh fruit, but don’t leave until you eat a refreshing banana pineapple “Frosty,” made from 100% frozen fruit pushed through a juicer. This is better than soft-serve ice cream, because it’s naturally vegan. (Banana Joe’s inspired me to make my own homemade Frosties at home, with my Omega Juicer.)
HARVEST MARKET – Located at 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy, in Hanalei
This natural food store kicks some butt. Shop for your groceries or grab some food to take to the beach. I bought a scrumptious Tempeh BLT Sandwich and some Uncle Eddie’s Molasses cookies.
Fresh mexican food and seasoned tofu is available! Avocado instead of cheese makes a better taco. It’s cash only, so be prepared! This website has a picture of the walk up window…it’s another “take-out only” restaurant.
Admire the fishes…Don’t eat them.
June 2016 update–
See the post “Kauai Vacation 2016 (with a Toddler)” for our most recent Kauai trip report!