spicy tuna furikake bowl at Kauai Poke Co

Kauai Poke Co.

Kauai Poke Co.Kauai Poke Co. is a fantastic food truck, featuring authentic, mouthwatering dishes focused on delicious fresh fish. 

The History of Poke

Poke is a dish first created in Hawaii, and very important to Hawaiian culture. Fish has always been a key part of the Hawaiian diet. Traditionally, Polynesian fishermen would cut reef fish into chunks, then season it with salt, seaweed, and ground kukui tree nuts. In the 1970s came the first written recipes for poke, a phrase meaning “to cut into pieces”. Poke has spread quickly to other cultures, producing different variations on flavors and ingredients. However, traditional poke is nothing like the mainland bowls in the contiguous United States– those bowls are full of rice or other grains, with an assortment of vegetable toppings and a very small serving of fish. Authentic poke is all about the fish and its quality. It is cooked in a specific way, using specific seasoning and oils and methods to bring out a rich depth of flavor. One of the biggest advocates of Hawaiian poke is Sam Choy, an island native and renowned chef. Known as Hawaii’s culinary ambassador, Choy has participated in Kauai poke festivals and shown live demonstrations of how the classic dish should be prepared.  

spicy tuna furikake bowl at Kauai Poke Co

Furikake spicy ahi poke bowl at Kauai Poke Co.

The Menu

Kauai Poke Co. provides an authentic Hawaiian experience. All their bowls are made with 100% fresh ahi tuna and daily made sushi rice. They have a selection of unique options, including the “plantation poke bowl” featuring inamona nuts and kabayaki, their spicy bowl with Japanese kewpie poke, and another spicy bowl starring furikake. They also have gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan options, utilizing fried tofu, sweet potatoes, and local greens and veggies. 

Kauai Poke Co. also offers scrumptious appetizers, such as furikake fries or shrimp tempura, and plates, such as fried ahi katsu, smoked kalua pork, Korean chicken, and more. 

Located at 3540 Koloa Road, Kauai Poke Co. is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am-2pm. You can even call or text in your orders: (808) 652-5767. It’s a wonderful way to experience the rich (and delicious) history of Hawaiian cuisine.  

Smith's Tropical Paradise luau entrance

Smith’s Kauai

Smith’s Kauai is a truly authentic Hawaiian experience. A lush tropical paradise located in Wailua River Valley, Smith’s is a family business, and it’s been around for over 50 years. They offer several different options for you to explore as you adventure in beautiful Kauai!

Poipu Village Shopping Center open air marketplace and restaurants

Poipu Village Shopping Center

If you want a relaxing place to discover local Hawaiian stores and eats, visit Poipu Village Shopping Center. Nestled in the midst of dense garden foliage, this shopping center is home to unique shops selling artisan goods, art, and clothing, as well as award winning restaurants. The center even provides authentic live entertainment!

Poipu Village Shopping Center open air marketplace and restaurants

Poipu Village Shopping Center is a lovely open-air marketplace of shops and restaurants

Shopping

Poipu Village features a wide array of stores that specialize in local goods. If you’re looking for a fine selection of locally crafted art, clothing, jewelry, home decor, and more, check out By The Sea or Elephant Walk

Ready to get out on the water? Honolua Surf Co. is a trusty place to go for high-quality items. Beloved among all the Hawaiian islands, Honolua Surf Co. has been around since 1996, and sells a range of beach and surf sports products to enhance your ocean experience. And speaking of the ocean, Making Waves offers Hawaii’s largest collection of swimwear! 

There’s plenty of other unique shops to enjoy, such as Crazy Shirts– they sell t-shirts and boast “original designs and the warm spirit of aloha”. Cariloha Bamboo sells only bamboo products! Their clothing, bedding, towels, jewelry, hats, and more are all made from solely bamboo blends. You’ll be blown away by Na Hoku’s fine jewelry– Na Hoku is Hawaiian for “stars”, and this store seeks to capture “the essence of Hawaiian lifestyle and tradition” through awe-inspiring craftsmanship. And don’t forget about Whaler’s General Store, the perfect place to get souvenirs, snacks, sunscreen, and whatever other odds and ends you need for your visit. 

Dining

This shopping center has quite a few dining options, from casual to sit-down. 

french toast plate at Anuenue Cafe in Poipu

French toast plate at Anuenue Cafe

Anuenue Cafe offers a wide variety of Kauai breakfast options in partnership with different local companies, each with their own speciality– granola, meat, mushrooms, Kauai shrimp, local produce, and even coffee roasters. 

Feast on Italian cuisine at Pietro’s Pizza e Pasta, or stop by Island Taco for a quick bite with Hawaiian flavors. You can get a creamy treat at Papalani’s Gelato, and find authentic Thai at Bangkok Happy Bowl

If you’re looking for something delicious to sip on while you shop, Kauai Juice Co. specializes in cold pressed juices and organic kombucha. They also offer grab and go food, nitro coffee, supplements, and other options to promote a healthy lifestyle. 

For sit-down meals, Keoki’s Paradise and Poipu Rock n’ Roll Sushi are both all about the experience. Keoki’s is a tropical oasis featuring traditional and island favorites. Rock n’ Roll Sushi is Koloa’s premier fresh sushi bar. Both restaurants offer live music and/or entertainment, and great specialty drinks! 

Poipu Village Shopping Center free hula shows

Hula dancers perform at weekly free hula shows

Activities

The Village Market is hosted at Poipu Village the first and third Tuesday every month from 3:30-6:00pm. This market offers a variety of locally grown vegetables, fruits, and even tropical flowers, as well as handmade crafts and baked goods. 

Poipu Village also puts on a free authentic Hula show with live Hawaiian music every Monday and Thursday at 5:00pm. Hula takes the audience on a journey through Hawaiian history and tradition through song, dance, and stories.

NOTE: Be sure to confirm before going that the places listed above are still open, in the same location, or that any times listed are still accurate.

Pain au Chocolat (chocolate croissants) at Midnight Bear Bread

Midnight Bear Breads

The Midnight Bear Breads bakery and cafe in Hanapepe offers delicious fare! A favorite of locals, their pastries and breads are popular and get snatched up quickly, so arrive early in the day for the best selection. 

Midnight Bear Breads smoked salmon tartine

Smoked Salmon Tartine at Midnight Bear Breads is just one of their many delicious savory options

What Started it All

This bakery has been owned and operated by Ursa Swift and Evan McAfee for a decade! Midnight Bear Breads started out solely in farmers markets and grocery stores around Kauai, but in 2015, they established a retail location. This expanded their offerings and helped create an organic cafe in historic Hanapepe.  

Midnight Bear Breads

What to Eat

Midnight Bear Breads offer a wide variety of artisan croissants and breads. Their pastries include cinnamon rolls, morning buns, danishes, cruffins, pain au chocolat, and more. Their organic breads are made from a decade-old sourdough culture, and they offer a variety of sourdough loaves, as well as ciabatta, baguettes, and speciality flavors such as rye, cranberry walnut, roasted garlic, jalapeno & cheese, etc. 

But this local spot isn’t just a bakery– it’s also a cafe. The cafe menu includes scrumptious sandwiches– hot paninis, tartines, and deli– as well as specialty pizzas. They also have coffee and tea options, from lattes to cold brew to hibiscus passion tea. Customers rave about everything, from the pastries to the coffee to the sandwiches. The pain au chocolat is a standout favorite.

 
Pain au Chocolat (chocolate croissants) at Midnight Bear Bread

Pain au Chocolat (chocolate croissants) at Midnight Bear Bread

When to Visit

Midnight Bear Breads’ Hanapepe Road location is open Wednesday through Saturday, 8am to 3pm. They also sell their products at farmer’s markets and in grocery stores. On Saturdays, you can find them at the Puhi Park Market from 9:30am-12pm, or at the Anaina Hou Farmer’s Market from 9am-12pm. To pick up their delicious products in store, head to Papayas Natural Foods or Hoku Foods in Kapaa, or Healthy Hut in Kilauea. You can also order online for pickup! For the most immersive experience, head to Midnight Bear Breads’ retail location for a wide selection of fresh baked goods.

Commonly seen birds at Kilauea Point Lighthouse National Wildlife Refuge

Kilauea Point Lighthouse

The Kilauea Point Lighthouse is an amazing historical landmark, located on a peninsula off Kauai’s north shore. Commissioned in 1913, the lighthouse has been guiding ships and planes—even saving lives—for over 100 years. It was restored shortly before its centennial anniversary, and was subsequently named after Daniel K. Inouye, who contributed to private and public funding for the lighthouse’s restoration.

Kilauea Lighthouse from scenic viewpoint

Kilauea Lighthouse from scenic viewpoint

Born into a working-class family in 1924, Inoyue’s whole life was spent in service to his country. After working as a Red Cross Medical Aid after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Inouye served in the decorated U.S. Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and, later on, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. After fighting in World War II, Inouye earned his undergraduate and law degrees, returning to his hometown of Honolulu to practice law. After being elected as representative and then senator for the Hawaiian territory, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1959, and then to the U.S. Senate in 1962, where he served until his death in 2012. Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in both bodies of Congress.

The restored lighthouse is now shining with an automatic beacon, and is located within the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, which was established in 1985. The 45-minute drive from Lihue is certainly worth it! Enjoy the breathtaking coastal view of the Pacific, as well as the wonders of seabirds in the refuge. A wide variety of birds can be spotted flying high, or even up close in burrows. 

Commonly seen birds at Kilauea Point Lighthouse National Wildlife Refuge

Commonly seen birds at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

The refuge is open Thursday to Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and reservations are required for entry. Book your Kilauea Lighthouse tour here! Adults 16 and older need a $10 entry fee to enter, and children under 16 are free.

Photos by Robin Gotfrid.

Kong Lung Historic Market Center directory map

Kong Lung Historic Market Center

The Kong Lung Historic Market Center displays the heart of Kilauea’s community and history. Visit the array of shops nestled among historic wooden buildings, merging the town’s plantation era with contemporary boutiques, home goods, and restaurants. 

Kong Lung Historic Market Center directory map

Kong Lung Historic Market Center directory map

The History 

The Kong Lung Store was constructed in 1941, its original wood was replaced with stone by the Kilauea Sugar Company. The store was operated by the same people it provided goods to: plantation workers. It was originally open from 2am to 5am, and workers would head to the plantation fields afterwards. 

Kong Lung Historic Market Center

Shopping

Browse a variety of goods handcrafted by local artisans, such as high end jewelry, authentic clothing, housewares, art, soap, candles, and more. These quaint shops are family-owned and make you feel like family as well! 

Dining

For a luxurious sit-down meal, head to The Bistro and enjoy fine Pacific cuisine. If you’re in need of a quick bite, stop by the Sushigirl Kauai stand for fresh sushi and poke bowls. Looking for more casual sit-down or on-the-go fare? The Kilauea Bakery & Pizza has what you need, including pastries and danishes, sandwiches, soups, salads, specialty pizzas, and calzones. Palate Market sells a wide variety of wine and liquor, and also serves fresh deli sandwiches. They even have a wine bar, with a curated selection of wines and a variety of small-plate-style food options. 

Attractions

One of the most notable places to go at Kong Lung Market is the Black Dog Gallery. This small gallery is dedicated to original works by contemporary artists, and provides children and adults alike with hands-on painting activities. Another famous attraction is the award-winning outdoor Photo Retrospective, “Recollections”. This large scale retrospective displays life before, during, and after the plantation era of Kilauea. 

The Kong Lung Market is a charming place to visit, from exploring Kauaiian culture and history and getting to know the locals!

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