Vegetarian East on Oahu (Honolulu, Hawaii)

A couple of years ago, we took the most wonderful vacation to Hawaii.  We stayed at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Honolulu on the island of Oahu, snorkeled at Hanauma Bay, went scuba diving and even got in a cage in the ocean while sharks swam around us!  It was definitely a trip full of firsts for me.  Hawaii is so beautiful.  Everything is very green and the air is fresh and clean.  There are tropical flowers and pretty little birds everywhere. The water is the most gorgeous color turquoise near the shore and a rich, royal blue when you’re out on the ocean. 

It was incredibly easy to find vegetarian (and vegan) food in Honolulu.   The first night when we got in, I had been awake for nearly 20 hours and I was exhausted.  I hadn’t researched anywhere to eat that late at night and I was very hungry.  After walking the streets in a sleepy daze, we came across a brightly lit diner called the Rock Island Café.  There were statues of Elvis and posters of I Love Lucy everywhere.  They had a juke box, a gift shop, and a LOT of neon lights.  In the back, there was a restaurant where (lucky for me) they had a veggie burger.  I thought maybe it was just because I was so hungry and tired, but it was one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had and the fries were hot and salty and so good smothered in ketchup.  Everything tasted amazing!  Turns out it wasn’t just that I was hungry, their veggie burgers were actually really good.  We ended up eating there several times throughout our trip.  In addition to the burger, they also had a veggie pizza and an Elvis Peanut Butter Banana sandwich served warm (hello melty, gooey peanut butter!).

One of the places I did plan ahead to eat at was Ruffage Natural Foods.  I had reviewed the menu online before we left Birmingham and the menu is almost entirely vegetarian.  The only non-vegetarian items they offered were turkey and tuna sandwiches and a turkey chili dog.  Everything else was meat free, and menu items included a tempeh avocado burger, tofu scramble, veggie burrito and veggie chili dog.  Their menu distinguishes between vegetarian and vegan items; they have great fresh fruit smoothies; and they also have a little market in the back where you can buy Amy’s frozen meals, non-dairy milks, organic cereal etc. This is another place we went back to several times over the course of our trip.

We spent nearly one full day of our trip on the Diamond Head volcano.  We hiked up, enjoyed the view at the top, and then hiked back down.  At the top, there was a beautiful view of the ocean and the rest of the island.  When we got back to the bottom, we were very hungry and stopped in at the Diamond Head Cove Health Bar, another placed I had planned to visit.  They have fresh juices, smoothies, wraps and salads.  They do serve fish, but veg options include vegetable omelets, veggie wraps and what they call “Da Cove Bowl,” which has blueberries, strawberries, acai berries, organic granola and honey.  I had the jumbo hummus wrap, which is stuffed with spinach, grated carrot and an assortment of other veggies in a zesty dressing made with Dijon mustard and mirin.  It was so filling (and very flavorful) that I was barely able to finish my smoothie!

If you visit Honolulu, you have to make time to go to the Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium.  It’s a huge open air flea market with just about anything you could want.  They have items you might typically buy for souvenirs:  bags, jewelry, t-shirts, figurines, mugs, children’s clothes, magnets, beach towels, Hawaiian print dresses, etc.  They also have fresh-cut fruit, homemade baked bread, fresh vegetables, nuts and lots of other food that you can buy to eat while you shop or take home with you. Just be careful because they won’t allow you on the plane with certain plants, including some fruit – we learned the hard way that you can take a pomegranate into Hawaii, but you can’t take it back out!.  There is nothing better than fresh-cut, cold pineapple from Hawaii (the Dole farms are right there on the island) and they’re selling it everywhere!

So I found it really easy to eat veg (and healthy) in Honolulu.  I’ll take pics of the actual food on our next trip (perhaps next spring – fingers crossed)!

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