We Found The Mangoes

Mango-fans, have you ever noticed that finding a decent mango is like chasing the dragon? A good mango is hard to come by – even in Hawaii. They’re either under-ripe and piney tasting, or over-ripe and piney tasting. In Kona this past week, the markets were overflowing with organic mangoes which sent Court into euphoria. They’re his favourite fruit. I love them as long as they don’t taste like a Christmas tree.

The farmers markets on the Kona coast are geared towards tourists – with crafts, clothing, jewelry, and less fruit and veggie stands. Meh. Give me veggies.  Lots of fresh leis for sale which I can’t resist burying my nose into every time I pass them. Plumerias are my favourite scent -they’re like lilacs… but better.

We had lunch at a wonderful burger place called Annie’s a few days ago. It’s conveniently located next to Island Naturals (our favourite Hawaiian health food store) in Kainaliu. Some guests we met at Ka’awa Loa recommended it, and we weren’t disappointed! The atmosphere was unexpected for a burger restaurant. It’s a partial open-air setting with a casual-contemporary cafe vibe. When we walked in, Tiesto was was blaring throughout the restaurant, and at that moment I knew I was going to love our meal.

We ordered Longboard beers and a bowl of tomato-basil soup to start.

I’d been told the ‘Mala’ burger was amazing, so I had to try it. Chickpea patty seasoned with herbs, topped with tzatziki sauce and lime coleslaw. Purple potato salad on the side.  Sounded promising!  Someone in the kitchen went a little crazy with the sauce in both my burger and salad, which was disappointing. All I could taste was tzatziki.  It was still good and I’d order it again – minus the gallon of dressing.

Court had the ‘South Point’ burger with a side of fries that I helped him devour. His burger was outstanding!

To balance out the salt, we stopped by Gia’s Gelato next door for a scoop of strawberry-lillikoi and mint chocolate.

My gelato was sickeningly sweet and I could only tolerate a few bites. Serious sugar burn in my throat. Lilikoi is already such a naturally sweet nectar that it doesn’t need extra sugar added to it.

Gelato, ice cream or frozen yogurt – what’s your favourite? Fro-yo, hands down! (Yogurtland… taro… mmmm)

(Hawaiian) Foodie Highlights

Pre-run fuel: 1 apple banana, pineapple, raw hemp, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds with a splash of almond milk and a Yogurtland spoon.

Court picked me up 6 miles in and I immediately chugged 1L of water mixed with Emergen-C. Oh, my poor stomach. Must remember to hydrate slowly.

We then drove to Pahoa for one last small grocery haul at Island Naturals. In the box:

Eggs, taco shells, tomatoes, purple carrots, red Cuban bananas, sprouts, papaya, spinach and banana bread.

These bananas were a first for me – yum! The fruit is an orange hue. I immediately chopped one up and froze it in preparation for a smoothie.

While I waited for my banana to freeze, I snacked on a piece of Buddha Belly Baker ‘Bomb Banana Bread’ with peanut butter.  Bomb is right. It’s delicious, and has a pretty decent ingredient list.

Then it was time to whip up my lunch smoothie:

6 ice cubes
1 1/2  small frozen bananas
2 cups spinach
2 tbsp hemp protein
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp raw hemp seeds

I ate it with a spoon, in my swimsuit, standing on a lava cliff.

After digesting, we stopped by ‘Green Lake’ a freshwater lake located inside a crater. It’s on private property, and reservations have to be made ahead of time, followed by a $5 donation. The lake is surrounded by a wall of tropical foliage, and you can hike from the lake up to a summit with 360 degree panoramic views of the area.

Green Lake ended up being… in full algae bloom, and neither of us were about to get our legs tangled in weeds (is there anything more terrifying than lake seaweed?) while swimming, so we chose to hike around the area, then drive up the summit.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon prepping snacks and meals with our remaining produce. Fresh squeezed orange juice and pink grapefruit wedges made for a refreshing afternoon snack.

A few more recent meals/foodie highlights:

Roasted sweet potatoes and onion, roasted green beans, organic tenderloin steak, greens and basil dressing.

I love these raw chocolate ‘cookies’. They’re great for satisfying an emergency chocolate craving.

Power breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, 1/4 cup cooked quinoa, sauteed onion, zucchini and tomato with basil pesto.

Maui Blanc pineapple wine. It’s so light and refreshing, and it’s really easy to drink an entire bottle with dinner.

What are you snacking on this weekend, friends?

Waipio Valley

I ate a balanced dinner at Yogurtland on Wednesday night. Balanced meaning I had four flavours of frozen yogurt: Toasted Coconut, Kona Coffee, Devils Food Cupcake Batter and my favourite, Taro. Then, I added toppings ‘in moderation’ to the chocolate ice cream only. Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Oreo, cheesecake bites and toffee. For dessert, I put sprinkles on the Taro fro-yo.  Oh, the lies I tell myself. Am I a sociopath?

Court got Devils Food Cupcake Batter, Toasted Coconut and Red Velvet, topped with brownies bites and chocolate chips. Chocolate overload in my opinion.

In all fairness, Court and I had just spent half a day hiking through Waipio Valley and the yogurt was supposed to be an afternoon treat. Then we realized it was 5pm and I had ruined my dinner appetite. Worth it! It was our very first trip to Yogurtland and it’s all I’ve talked about since then. I’ve already decided I’m getting *just* Taro next time and loading it with fruit. Oooh, I bet it would be good with mini marshmallows and shredded coconut.

Some highlights from Waipio Valley:

You need a 4×4 vehicle to get down into the valley. Not an AWD, 4×4 only. The road is no joke, it’s like trying to drive down an alpine ski jump. The vehicles that passed us on the road all sounded like the transmissions were going to blow.

We felt adventurous (and healthy) enough to hike down the road, and descending seemed to take more effort that going back up since you’re constantly bracing yourself. Sore quads today!

Waipio Valley is privately owned land, so you have to be careful not to trespass (or at least ask permission.) Once we entered the valley, we walked along a back road towards a waterfall, passing taro fields, wild horses and farms along the way. Portions of the road were washed out from recent flooding, so our hiking trails were limited, but we made it to the grey sand beach where we watched the surf pound the coast.

My outdoor fashion sense is amazing. Just gorgeous.

Our early afternoon snacks:

I was so excited to try the new Luna bar flavour – it’s good, but White Chocolate Macadamia and Peanut Butter Cookie are still #1.

As expected, the hike back up was a challenge, but we welcomed the exercise. After that, I probably won’t have to do squats or lunges for a year! It actually wasn’t that bad. I went for an easy 3 mile run later that evening.

The drive along the Hamakua coast is a must on the Big Island. As you descend from a higher altitude, the land transitions from ranch land to thick jungle. The best part of the drive are the numerous gulches and valleys – filled with waterfalls, lush vegetation and tons of palm trees.

Palm tree paradise?

We’re leaving Puna soon (Sunday is our last day) and we’re a little said to say goodbye to the cottage, and what’s been our ‘home away from home’ for the past month. South Kona is up next, and even though I’m excited to see what the west coast has to offer, I’m sure going to miss the jungle.

Hawaiian Fruit Addicts

Good Morning/Afternoon?

Post run:

I ran about 4 miles – to the public lava viewing area in Kalapana and back. I came home a sweaty mess. Literally drenched from head to toe. (My forearms and calves were sweating!) Gorgeous.

Later in the day, Court and I packed a picnic lunch and 4×4’d down into the coconut palm forest. Avocados are in season right now, and are ridiculously inexpensive. (25 cents – from a fruit stand or farmers market.) They’re so soft and buttery, and don’t require any ‘fork mashing’ preparation – just scoop and spread. (I already have plans to make an avocado ‘cream’ sauce for pasta this week!)

My version of egg salad: 2 eggs, mustard, salt & pepper, goat cheese, sliced olives and green onion. Topped with sprouts and lettuce.

With the exception of two hikers on the lava cliffs, we didn’t see anyone else for the entire afternoon. That’s one of the things I love about the Big Island; you rarely feel overcrowded or overwhelmed by tourists. I think a lot of people miss out on some of the best things to see and do when visiting. I’ve found myself saying “Think about how many people don’t even know about this!” numerous times.

On our way home, we stopped by a fruit stand and picked up 10 rambutan, 2 avocados, 1 large guava, 2 huge limes (the size of small oranges) and a lilikoi for a whopping $3. Filled the cars glove box right up! 🙂

I LOVE LILIKOI! Sweet, gooey, juicy nectar.

Our dinner plans to eat at the Kalapana farmers market changed once it started to torrential downpour, and decided to drive to Pahoa instead. After turning to my Bible, Trip Advisor for dining advice, we chose an Italian bistro (best decision ever, but more about that later.)

Before leaving Kaimu, we stopped by the market to pick up pineapple, and as usual, Court and I lost control at the sight of fresh produce. Help us!

Within 2 minutes we had:

4 pineapple
3 ‘Ice Cream’ bananas
1 grapefruit
3 oranges
4 heirloom tomatoes
4 papayas
1 lb green beans
1 mango
3/4 lb ahi poke

Good, Lord.

We have two days to eat mostly everything before the weekend markets!

West to East

Before departing Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, we enjoyed one last sunrise:

A final breakfast at the restaurant – actually Court did. I was still full from Roys. I drank coffee instead and watched him eat waffles topped with whipped cream, coconut syrup and local strawberries.

Our breakfast friends:

I ate a light breakfast at the beach while Court body surfed.

We went for one last stroll down the beach, climbed around a cliff and explored a cave.

Then it was time to hit the road. Next destination: the Big Island’s east coast, where we’re spending the next three and a half weeks.

We took a detour through Hawi and made a few stops:

A roadside bbq  featuring chicken, pork and beef ribs (Court was in heaven!) along with a few desserts.

This massive plate of food plus poi mochi (spongey fried donut holes) was a whopping $8. Roadside food and fruit stands are such a value on the island – everything is so fresh and delicious!

Sea cliffs: (Windy!)

Pololu Cliffs, where the road comes to an end. You can hike down to the shore, and is something I’d like to do if we’re in the area again.

We stopped in Hilo for groceries, and picked up the essentials, like Spam macadamia nuts. I couldn’t stop laughing. How is this flavour even possible?! (Court yelled at me to put them back on the shelf and wash my hands.) Actually, that part didn’t happen, but it’s something he would do.

I did however, grab some California Roll poke for the road.

And now, we’re ‘home’, in Kaimu. This part of the island has such a different vibe than the west coast. It’s much more relaxed and spiritual, plus the scenery is breathtaking. We’re in the midst of thick, lush, tropical jungle, and at night, the frogs and crickets are so loud I have to sleep with ear plugs! I’ll show you around the neighborhood tomorrow.

We’re still getting settled, but in the next few days, we have plans to meet up with our original farm host at his property. Exciting!

Island Eats & Treats

Fifteen minutes north east of Hapuna Beach is Waimea, a small town nestled among the clouds and rolling green hills. Court and I were in need of non-resort snacks and mini-meal options and headed there to stock up.

The Big Island’s diversity is unlike anything I’ve seen before. One moment we were surrounded by dry, barren desert; minutes later the landscape transformed into lush green cinder cones.


I love shopping in foreign (to me) grocery stores and finding things that aren’t available back home. Like these:

And whole squid. Once I figure out how to prepare and cook it, I’m going buy one from a local fish market.

Island avocados – nearly the size of my head. There’s nothing like a Hawaiian avocado – so soft, rich and buttery.

MYSTIC MANGO SYNERGY. I had no idea this flavour exists! It took every ounce of willpower to not chug it on the spot.

One of my favourite dishes in Hawaii is poke, a raw fish salad, with ahi being the most popular. It’s a real treat for sushi enthusiasts.

We chose fresh ahi poke that had green onion, seaweed, chili and sea salt mixed in, along with an octopus and seaweed mix.

The remainder of our purchases:

After lunch, I poured myself a glass of coconut rum and pineapple juice and joined Court on the beach for more swimming and sunbathing.

White, pasty Canadian complexions be gone!

First Impressions

I haven’t stopped smiling since we stepped off the plane last night, and am loving everything about the Big Island so far.  Court and I are soaking up some sun at the Hapuna Beach Prince Resort for two days before moving on to our next destination. (I’m really excited to share it on the blog!) By the time we reached the hotel, it was nearly midnight (but felt like 3am) and we were beyond exhausted.  We were welcomed with glasses of fresh pineapple juice and an ocean view room upgrade. Yes, please!

Court and I were both delirious from sleep deprivation, but we somehow found the energy to find a snack (veggie wrap) and eat it on the beach in pitch black darkness.Then we took some completely pointless and awkward photos.

Once we were (safely) back in our room (I’m surprised Court didn’t try to go for a night swim) we collapsed into bed. I woke up around 6am to what sounded like gale force chinook wind, but remembered it was the sound of ocean waves breaking on the shore. Oh, happiness.

I slipped out of bed, into my running gear (minus the shoes), and headed straight for the beach. I set out sprinting across the one mile stretch of sand, feeling euphoric and free.  Slowly, the sun began to peak through a grove of coconut palms, transforming the sky from pale grey to baby blue.  As I propelled myself through the sand, I was unstoppable and light as air. On my third lap down the beach, a man nearby called out to me. “Hey, do you wanna see something neat?” Under normal circumstances, this would’ve freaked me out, but I didn’t get that type of vibe. “Yes!” and I jogged over to where he was standing. He pointed to a shallow tide pool filled with a school of fish. “I’ve been waiting to show this to someone. Look. Gobis. They’re hiding from predators” he explained.    Well, now my bucket list is complete.

Some views from my morning run:

I can’t get over how beautiful the beaches are on this part of the Big Island. Miles of pristine white sand and calm, shallow water. My heart is so happy!


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