Saturday, September 25, 2010

Visiting Big Island??

Come play in Hawaii! I mean, train, rest up for the race, and enjoy the island after you cross the finish line. Every year I get asked to write up some scoop on Big Island for the athletes, coaches, sponsors, and their families coming to race in the World Championships. Truly, I love talking story about all things Hawaii...however, it always comes down to "matter of opinion", so these are, in my opinion, some helpful tips while here for the Ironman.

A few good places to eat:
My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE is "Da Poke Shack". It's fresh fish, sea veggies, and other yummy ocean eats right from the Pacific. If you want fresh, this is the place. Good portions for fair prices, clean, great service, they offer samples to all "poke rookies", and close to K-town. Location: Alii Drive, near Banyans Beach between mile marker 2.5 & 3. (old Pupu Pantry, 808-333-7380) Carbo Loading Places:
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Macaroni Grill: Located in Waikaloa (Queen Shops), about 25 Miles North of K-Town. Also try: BoldBoston Basil's: It's under new ownership and they can whip up some good pasta plates that are pretty filling. Located right in town, less than a half mile South of the Kona Pier. La Pasta: In my honest opinion, the food is super and you can get your carbs for sure...BUT... you need to order a lot. It has yet to fill me up after a long training day, so you might have to order 2 plates and it's a little pricey, but tastes good. Located on Hualalai Rd. If pizza is more your style the hit up Bianelli's. They are located inside Island Naturals in the Safeway plaza. Really amazing pizza for a "fast service, small shop" kind of place. Also, Kona Brew Pub: The name Say's it all-you can get Kona brewed beer there too! The menu has all sorts of things including salads and sandwiches. Eating outside is always a nice option if you aren't into the bar setting. Located across from the King Kam Mall, old industrial center.
Farmers Market: LOTS of "side of the road" stands sprinkled all over the island, however they aren't always in action, just depends if their fruits/veggies are ready, basically if you are driving and see something STOP and DROP. Yeah, that's right, most are on the honor system and they ask you to put a couple bucks in for what you take. Most of these can be found heading South to Captain Cook or Kealakekua Bay-lei stands are obvious along that route too.
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My favorite is the K-Town Farmers Market on the corner of Hualalai & Ali'i. It's open Wednesday-Sunday and have everything from food, flowers, and shells, to soaps. Kona Green Market is cool too, it's about a 30 minute drive South out of town, Captain Cook area on the upper hwy. That market has a lot of food from local vendors such as Mexican, Filipino, & Lotus Cafe. There is also a really good Filipino market in the New Industrial Market Place... but caution as A LOT of the other produce is actually brought in from Costco, so you aren't really supporting the local farmers. And of course, Waimea Market. Waimea is about a 45 minute drive North on the upper hwy and I highly recommend it as a scenic drive and to check out all cute shops & eats up there, but bring a jacket-it's windy & freezing!
Plate Lunch & Local kine grinds:
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My favorite plate lunch is for sure the Sumo Deli. (Located in the Sack n' Save plaza). I'm guessing not too many of you will try it out, but if you want to eat a typical plate lunch this is the best. It's rice with eggs and your choice of spam, ham, back, or Portuguese sausage. It's about $3 bucks a plate and you feel full and tired after you eat it...but you know, when on the island. Krua is AMAZING (located on Kuakini & Henry corner). It's Thai food but tastes like it came from a garden that sits in the restaurant! It's so fresh and not greasy like some Thai places. Lotus Cafe (Costco neighborhood-Old Industrial) is also a nice spot and in that same plaza is Ceviche Dave's. Super good mix of fresh fish migled with some spice and tropical flair. A favorite of mine, and they sell bikini's there!! You make the Roll (Hayashi's) & Saketumi are also good eats. You Make The Roll is the most affordable sushi in town and has been around since Kona pretty much got kicked into gear. Small family owned place, only a couple table outside to eat. Located in the center of K-Town down the back alley by the pub & Mexican resturaunt. Saketumi is more fine dining sushi as Kona goes, located in the King Kam Plaza (Wine Market shops). Teshima's is also a VERY well known local spot, it was one of the first restaurants on this side of the island and to claim it as GOOD FOOD is an understatement as one of the owners & eaters just turned 100! It's a little old fashioned. Drive about 20-25 minutes South out of town and you can't miss it on mauka side (left side) just before entering Kealakekua.
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Other Eats: If venturing local isn't really on your mind, I suggest Bongo Ben's for breakfast, Rosa's Cantina for lunch, Humpy's for dinner (you can mix them up anyway you like, they are all open most the day and located in town on Alii Drive).
Cool Eats N' Treats:
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It's hot, gotta cool off. We have TONS of places that offer "pour yourself" frozen yogurt or cold food, like dessert. The most popular picks are Orange Tree (located in the KTA plaza on Palani), Blue Wave (Located on Hulalai near the local librabry), Bastik Acai Bar (Located on Alii Drive in the Huggos parking lot), its Kainoa and I's personal favorite. Jamba Juice (Located in the KTA Plaza on Palani), and both Kona Gelato shop & Kona Soft Serve located in the Coconut Grove Market place. Also, the number one pick on the West Side for pies, cakes, and other baked goods is Epicure. It's located about 30 minutes South of Kona on the old Mamalahoa (Makai side). Below is one of the Epicure famous pies, we happen to stop there on really long hilly rides to refuel on the way home :)

Coffee: Despite the fact I live in the land of fresh roasted coffee, I don't actually drink it. BUT I can recommend spots. Lava Java (on Alii Drive) is the most popular among tourists. The view & location makes it a nice place to relax. They also offer a few meals and of course their baked goods and fresh juices. However, heading South or driving along Hualalai is even better as most of it is literally picked, roasted, then served right to your cup (and without name dropping, a World Champ himself is often found in these shops as he prefers to keep away from crowds and appreciates the simple cup without distraction). It's a nice stop-out-of -town for sure. Oh, if you go the upper hwy route Kunitake Coffee is a MUST STOP (UCC). If you want to be closer, Green Flash Coffee near mile marker 1.5 on Alii Drive is home of fresh coffee and small sandwiches. Very friendly and pretty speedy service for Hawaii eating.

The AWESOME Pacific "Aquarium" Ocean :)
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The Pacific Ocean surrounds all the Hawaiian Islands. In fact we are so far from anywhere else in the world (as in another major land mass) that we are known to be furthest from anyone anywhere. We also hold the most Southern Point in the United States, next stop would be Tahiti. The water is warm enough all year long to be without a wetsuit, thus making the Ironman non wetsuit (Yes, that's a popular question). The Pacific Ocean is home of 25,000 islands, about 130 of them are Hawaiian Islands (we have only 8 main islands, Kauai the oldest and Big Island the youngest).
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The ocean should be approached with sincere respect as it is home to live coral, fish, dolphins, sharks and other life. The biggest dangers are surf, currents, & rips, and the occasional jelly sting if it is intense enough or you are allergic. Sharks are not a main concern despite they are plenty around the islands. The last reported shark attack was April 2010, 2009 only had 3, and 2008 only had 2. Most of these can be avoided if you don't show aggression towards the ocean life, avoid swimming near fishing boats or piers when fisherman are chumming or fishing, and often times sun up and sun down are feeding times. Take a swim buddy if you are nervous as ocean life can smell fear...

Sun Protection:
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While on the island sun protection is super important especially if you come from a place that has you in long sleeves most the year, so bring your sunscreen. One request is that you check the sun block you are using in the ocean. Our coral is alive and many sunscreens do not care about protecting the ocean and sea life, only about protecting the humans... if possible, please check your sun screen, if it has any of the following in it, buy something without before you swim. Octocrylene, Butylparaben, Octylmethoxycinnamate, and Benzophenone-3 (those are the ocean killers, try to avoid them).
A few things to do:
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The island is filled with hikes, adventures, and tons to explore. A good idea is to pick up a copy of "101 Things to Do on The Big Island". Its a free magazine that you can grab while waiting for your luggage at the airport, then you have 101 ideas. If you want to hike: Pololu'u, Captain Cook, Hualalai, Mauna Kea, Waipio Valley, Volcano, and South Point are a few faves. If you want to be on the water for a sunset family snorkel cruise where you can jump off the boat and slides (see above photo) hit up the Fair Winds, great crew for sure! Movies: Makalapua & Keahou are our 2 theaters unless you want an old fashioned theater with plays, check out the Aloha Theater. Children will love a visit to the Sea Horse Farm (located in the NELHA). Of course you can always check out one of the 274 different beaches, a waterfall, the volcano, zip line tour, parasailing, bowling, or just watch the Ironman on October 9th if you aren't racing :)Ocean Activities: If you are looking to try surfing this is my top pick for a little help. The beach boys are super helpful and really ocean intelligent. They have lessons and rentals, the beach is directly across from the shop. Located near the end of Alii Drive, Kahaluu Bay. And if you happen to forget your bikini, they sell BoomBoom :) Kahaluu Bay also has some of the best snorkeling, is safe for children, and easy access. Hyper Nalu is the best shop for SUP-ing. If you are looking to play on SUP boards this place as all sorts and are made with a lot of aloha. The family operated business is home of the fastest swimmer girls on the island too and they can help you with all things SUP, swim, and ocean. The shop is located across from the K-Pier, can't miss it!
If sitting in a kayak is more your thing then I suggest heading South to Kealakekua Bay. On the drive you will pass about 4 kayak shops, take your pick, each of them will strap the kayak to the hood of your car for you and send you on your way. Easy. Kealakekua Bay is beautiful and full of rich Hawaiian history as well as a lot of special land marks and burial grounds. If you decide to check it out PLEASE have kokua (respect) as the coral and reefs are fragile, don't climb on it or up it to visit the landing of Captain Cook himself, just admire it without touching, without killing the ocean life. By the way, this is where Captain Cook was stabbed to death, so really, respect the area okay...

Shopping & Other Needs:
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Our shopping is pretty good if you don't mind looking beyond the shopping mall. If you do want a mall drive to Hilo, they have one. As you can tell by this grocery store photo, things are hit or miss and not always where you would expect them to be, like cereal in with baking things. Todays biggest questions was, "Bree, where can I get coconut water?" I told him second best to a fresh coconut is KTA on Palani (its the lowest price) but Island Naturals, Safe Way, Costco, and Sack N' Save all sell it. Intrique Hair Design: Best hair cut, perm, dyes, eye brow wax, ect. (located in the Kamehameha Mall). Ginger & Koi: Awards party dress and other beachy high fashion clothes/make up. (Kamehameha Mall) Massage: Healing Island Massage:808-756-1996, Chiropractor/ART/Physio: Makai Chiro: 808-327-7900Bike Shop & Bike rentals: Bike Works Kona & Bike Works Beach & Sport Waikoloa, Run stuff: Big Island Running (Coconut Grove Market Place) . Need a treadmill or gym: The Club in Kona Places to train: Other than the Ironman Course, Kona is jam packed with little spots all over the island. If you want to run long and off the road, Mana Road (Waimea, 45 minute drive North from Kona) is literally longer than a marathon on soft packed dirt, beautiful country land. BUT show respect there, locals aren't big fans of people leaving water bottles or gel packs so please respect. Another good run is Walua Road, again this is a neighborhood and they enjoy the quiet life. Tracks: Kealakehe High (near town, hot, gravelish type), Konaweana High (awesome soft track and great cool air).Swimming: The Kona Pier, Kealakekua Bay, Kona Aquatic Center (Kuakini/Old Airport area), Konaweana Pool (30 Minutes South, in the high school), Keahou Bay, and Hapuna are all super safe for swimming. Of course you can literally get in anywhere along the beach for a swim, just know-before-you-go as far as conditions for the day. Bike: Queen K, South Loop (Head South out of Kona to Captain Cook, small shoulders but great views and good climbs), Kaloko (super hill climb), Upper Highway (a good route to take back from Waimea rather than head towards Hawi hang right), Kohalas Loop. Okay, that's all I'm gonna say, can't reveal all the spots as we like to keep some secrets, but that should help a little...and please, even if you are smokin' fast or super hot, please don't ride or run in the middle of the road (see above), a lot of locals have to travel these roads everyday to and from work, school, and taking children to school, they appreciate you sharing the road too...


Surf Shops (for those all important moments when spandex is just not cool):
Waimea Surf Classics-2 shops, one in Kona (Sports Athority Plaza & one in Waimea-Starbucks Plaza known as Parker Ranch). In my opinion it has the best selection for family, they have all sizes for parents down to babies, skate & surf, beach fun too. Kailani Surf Co: This shop gets attention for the hand sewn bikinis by a local Kona girl, really sexy styles and bright colors (located on Alii Drive). Pacific Vibrations: Kona's original surf shop, leaders of the water patrol for the Ironman, one of the best surfers on the island is on hand as it's his family's shop, and a cool selection of Kona branded things (FBI). Kona Surf (South end of Alii Drive) home of the biggest selection of Boomboom bikini's on the island.
Sunsets: I just know you came to Hawaii for a sunset! Well, I won't tell you our secret spots because we like some spots for skinny dipping and won't share those, but we can share these: Kua Bay, Old Airport, Honls, Hapuna, Maks, Manini, Pawai Bay, A-Bay, Kekahakai State Park, Pine Trees, and pretty much any place you see along the coast :) ENJOY the island, take lots of photos, make a bunch of memories, leave only your foot prints, and I hope you find lots to smile about and tons to discover as you travel along the island...
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Much Aloha,
Bree

12 comments:

SHERRY said...

What an informative post, Bree! Wow! Now, if only I had a vacation planned! :-)

Thinking of you this week! Rest up well!

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Love hearing about the fun local spots! Wish I was there :-)

Furacán said...

Fantastic! It's better that Pilot Guides :-)

kerrie said...

awesome! so excited about 'da poke shack' since we are staying at the bali kai :). i bet i'll be there alot.
see you soon!

Lucy Francis said...

great Stuff! shame I'm not in the island. I would definitely eat at the sumo deli - they serve portuguese sausage!!!(I'm portuguese) and yes our farms here in England also leave their produce by the roadside with a honesty box so you can pay for what you take. thank you so much for sharing all this information with us just makes me want to qualify even more! one day I'll be eating at Da poke shack I'm sure
:-)

Samantha said...

Love this - and now I wish I had a trip planned *jealous*

Kris said...

This is *awesome*! My husband (who's parents are Maui natives) are coming over to volunteer for IM and he can't wait to hit 'da poke shack'! I have a feeling we'll be spending a lot of time there. Thanks Bree for the write up!

SSB said...

Yum. I'm staying right by the Poke Shack. We are all looking forward to it!

Lucy Francis said...

yep! your frieand from Da poke shack better catch a big fish to feed us all :-)

NJ said...

Your write-ups alone make me want to visit the Big Island! Maybe someday!

Hey, are you still making and sending Weezle balls? Is it possible to ship to Minnesota?

Andy said...

THANK YOU! Arrived today and had a late lunch at Bianelli's. YUM! Looking forward to watching you race!

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