• Nadia Santana

Vegan in Hilo, HI

Love Hawaii? Us too! Now check out some amazing vegan options on the Big Island

Hilo is a quaint town located on the Eastern side of the island of Hawaii. More commonly known as the Big Island, this Pacific Island is Hawaii’s largest, hence its name. Hilo is a sleepy town with access to some of the best and most beautiful sites that the Big Island has to offer. From lava flows, to volcanos, to plenty of exotic plants and foods, Hilo and the surrounding areas has it all! If you’re spending time on Big Island it’s highly recommended that you rent a car since public transportation is limited. This can be done at the Hilo airport as they have multiple rental agencies to choose from. However, both Uber and Lyft are operating on the island and is a viable means to get around Hilo town and the surrounding areas.

Dining and Drinks

Sweet Cafe Cane is a locally-owned vegetarian restaurant which can customize virtually any menu item into a vegan-friendly dish. There menu also offer several vegan options which are incredibly tasty and fresh. They have a couple of locations within Hilo, however, their main location on Kamana St. is by far the most popular. You can eat inside or outside, spending time in the Hawaiian sun while enjoying a vegan baked sweet treat. I highly suggest you get the mac nut (macadamia) spread on a sandwich or bagel, it’s delicious!

Conscious Culture Cafe, located in downtown Hilo, is known for their abundant and flavorful kombucha. This cafe has a plethora of locally grown cuisine and many vegan items on the menu. Have a seat at their bar, instead of ordering beer, you can choose from multiple kombucha flavors on tap.

New Chiang Mai is a quaint Thai restaurant also located in downtown Hilo, and around the corner from Conscious Culture Cafe. They offer live local music occasionally on weekends and have several exotic drinks on the menu. I highly recommend the yellow vegetable curry with jasmine rice, it’s incredible! They can also customize many of their dishes to be vegan-friendly including a delicious vegan Pad Thai.

If you’re in the mood for Indian food check out Kamana Kitchen, located in Hilo Shopping Center. They offer vegan-friendly items and their lunch special is very affordable and offers good-size portions.

Pineapples is another very popular restaurant where you can find tourists from all over the world dining or sipping on an exotic drink. This restaurant (which opens up to the outside) located downtown, is always packed to the brim. They offer an array of tropical cuisine and fun drinks and even have their own vegan menu.


During the day, Bay Front is a popular place for tourists and locals alike to peruse the shops of downtown Hilo. With gorgeous view of Hilo Bay, you can take a stroll outside checking out the numerous local shops, art galleries and restaurants. There is plenty of free parking available.

Despite Hilo not having much nightlife, Hilo Town Tavern, located downtown, offers live music and has a large outdoor patio. Thursday nights showcases excellent live music in a fun and upbeat atmosphere. They have a large menu, though most items are not vegan-friendly.

Aloha First Friday, also located downtown, is an event that takes place each first Friday of the month. With shops, restaurants and art galleries open later, patrons can enjoy complimentary entertainment while perusing the area.


The good thing about staying in or around Hilo town is there are a ton of day drips you can take. If you’d like to spend the day in Hilo check out Kalanianaole with its numerous beach parks. Driving down Kalanianaole you will see beach after beach usually with public restrooms, picnic tables, and a shady area which offers respite from the sun. This strip of road ends at Richardson’s Beach where you can spend the day sunbathing and sea turtle watching. There’s also a ton of lava to climb on. This is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike offering great views of Hilo in a tranquil setting. Remember, sea turtles are protected in Hawaii so if you’re going to watch them keep a safe distance and never touch or feed the turtles.

Akaka Falls State Park, located just about eleven miles North of Hilo, offers views of two waterfalls within the park. There is about a 0.4 mile loop where you can not only view the waterfalls, but also enjoy the beautiful tropical plants. There is a small fee for parking and also to enter the park.

Green Sand Beach, is a must see if you’re staying on Big Island. One of only a handful of greens sand beaches in the world, this rare sand is dazzling. Located on the Southernmost tip of Big Island, this isolated beach is somewhat challenging to reach. After a lengthy drive from Hilo, once you reach the parking lot you will have to hike 2.5 miles one way to reach the beach. The hike is incredibly beautiful often walking over rocks and grass with gorgeous views of the ocean. Make sure to pack plenty of water and food as it’s a long day and often hot. Once you reach the beach you’ll have to hike down to it. However, the lengthy trip is worth it.

Mauna Kea observatory is a great way to spend the day or evening. They offer activities throughout the year including star gazing at night which is incredible. Make sure you dress warm as it can be quite chilly up there. Make sure to check out their schedule to best plan your trip.

A drive up the Hamakua Coast is a real treat. You can drive as far as you like and return with beautiful views mountainous ocean views. There are many hidden parks and streams below the bridges which are fun to explore. Make sure to bring water and a snack as there aren’t many places to eat between towns.

If you’re on the Big Island you must see the lava flow at Kalapana. Once you arrive you can decide to rent bikes or hike 9.5-mile round trip journey across an area that was previously destroyed by lava. With the ocean in view while you make this journey, and the destination a giant spew of lava into the ocean, Kalapana is incredible. You can also make the trip at night for some epic stargazing. They sell water and snacks where the bikes are rented. Make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen as the sun can be very hot!

Hawai’iVolcanoes National Park is a gorgeous national park with lots of sites to see, trails to hike, and even a lava viewing area! You can also check out an array of steam vents located amongst the various trails. They have a visitor’s center, hotel, and restaurant within the park.

Volcano Winery, located near Volcanoes National Park, offers wine tastings in a calm and serene setting. They use no animal products in the filtering of their wine, however, several of their wines do contain honey. Bring a sweatshirt as it can get chilly and is usually much cooler than Hilo. Enjoy a glass of wine indoors or outdoors. Food is limited.

Hilo also has great yoga. Check out both the Balancing Monkey Yoga, located in Hilo shopping Center and Yoga Centered, located downtown. Both offer new student specials. There are also mats, and yoga props available.


Island Naturals is a local grocery store which has a plethora of vegan options including vegan baked goods and a hot bar with many vegan items. Whether you’re shopping to cook at home or would like a hot meal to go, they have more than enough options to choose from. The hot bar serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and also offers a great salad bar.

Abundant Life Natural Foods is another natural food grocery store Hilo. Touting a wide variety or natural and organic foods, this grocery store is conveniently located downtown Hilo.

Safeway offers plenty of vegan friendly food including a large produce section and plant-based protein and cheeses. They also offer plenty of plant-based milk options.

Target has a variety of vegan-friendly foods to choose from. Located right next door to Safeway, you can shop between the two stores if you’re planning on cooking a meal.


Whether you’re spending the day or an entire week in Hilo, there are tons of activities to participate in, sites to see and foods to try. Make sure you pack for both the rain and sun as Hilo can be quite rainy, often unexpected.  You’ll find Hilo and the surrounding areas a very vegan-friendly place to travel and lots of Aloha wherever you go.

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