One of the underrated perks of visiting the Island of Hawaii or “Big Island” is that you are almost certainly in the epicenter of Hawaiian produce and farmers’ markets.
This may have something to do with sheer land mass.
Other islands have their own bouquets of special qualities. Oahu has the world-famous surfing, Kauai has the unparalleled nature, Maui has the serenity and the whale watching. None of these are exclusive to one island, nor are they unavailable on the Island of Hawaii. However, much of what makes the Big Island special is that there is simply more of it. A lot more.
The other 3 so-called “main” Hawaiian Islands are all comfortably below 1,000 square miles. Meanwhile, the Island of Hawaii is well over 4,000. You could put Oahu, Maui, and Kauai on the surface of the Big Island, and you would still have the biggest landmass in the entire archipelago left over.
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A natural use of this surface surplus has been to grow and make things. The Kona Coast is where the state’s signature coffee bean originates from. Diverse and distinctly Hawaiian crops like macadamia nuts, papayas, and various flowers are grown throughout the island. Until the mid-1990s, sugar was also a Hawaiian “cash crop” grown primarily on the state’s largest island.
What follows is a comprehensive guide to help you find when, where, and what farmers’ markets on the Island of Hawaii you should visit during your stay.
Kona is the most popular area to stay on the Big Island; so, statistically speaking, it makes sense we start there.
The proper name for this region is Kailua-Kona. Although technically there are no “cities” on the Island of Hawaii, this is in essence the island’s principal western city, and it is also generally where the resorts are located.
It is also a fantastic destination for farmers’ markets.
Perhaps the defining market in the region (as its name implies) is the Kona Farmers’ Market on Ali’i Drive. Held near the water, this sun-soaked market is open from Wednesday to Saturday, 7 am to 4 pm.
Another option is the Keauhou Farmers’ Market held at the Keauhou Shopping Center. This outdoor market is open every Saturday from 8 am to 12 pm and is put together by the Kona County Farm Bureau. As the bureau proudly describes, the vast range of 100% local produce you can find includes honey, flowers, coffee, macadamia nuts, meat, eggs, bread, jam, and lots more.
You can also stop by the South Kona Fruit Stand if you’re in Kona and happen to be passing through one of the most unforgettably-named places in the observable universe: Captain Cook. Located right off the Mamalahoa Highway, this is something of a cross between a road stop restaurant and a farmers’ market. It’s an excellent place to stop for lunch, and you’ll find plenty of fresh local produce on display as well. The South Kona Fruit Stand is open every day 9 am to 6 pm, except for Sundays when the hours shrink down to 10 am to 4 pm.
Unlike other islands, being on the opposite side of the Big Island genuinely means you may not get a chance to visit Kona (although it is certainly possible within a days’ drive). However, the island’s eastern side has its own set of farmers’ markets on offer, centered around the eastern side’s most notable location: Hilo.
The aptly named Hilo Farmers’ Market is a perfect place to start. This bold, colorful roadside market is open 7 days a week and has been visited by countless locals and even some celebrities. Tons of local produce, fresh fruit, crafts, art, and more are to be found here, at the corner of Kamehameha Ave and Mamo St. Hours are from 8 am to 3 pm.
Right nearby you can also find the Kinoole Farmers’ Market at 1990 Kinoole St, which conspicuously promotes itself as the “other” Hilo farmers’ market. This market is hosted every Saturday by the Hilo County Farm Bureau and has been running for well over a decade.
Yes. Even among the dramatic volcanoes in and around Volcanoes National Park, you can find an abundance of fresh locally grown fruit.
The Big Island’s southern regions are not known for resorts, but even here, perhaps during a day trip, farmers’ markets await your visit. In fact, at the Cooper Center in the very town Volcano itself, every Sunday is held none other than the Volcano Farmers’ Market. The mythological title is matched by an epic array of local goods, ranging from food, to clothes, to flowers, to art.
Lastly, if you’re staying up in the scenic northern portion of the island in and around Waimea, there are still numerous options.
The Waimea Midweek Farmers’ Market is held every Wednesday from 9 am to 2 pm at the historic Parker Ranch. Being on a ranch, you’ll find an exceptional variety of ultra-fresh meat and dairy products here.
For a change of scenery, you can also visit a unique market underneath a canopy of banyan trees. The Hawi Farmers’ Market, also fittingly nicknamed Under The Banyans Market, is an excellent destination for one-of-a-kind crafts, eats, and live music. This market is held on Saturdays from 8 am to 2 pm and Tuesdays from 12 pm to 5 pm, at the corner of Highway 270 and Hawi Rd.
All in all, these represent only a fraction of what is available all across this magnificent island. For each basic region, the premier markets listed are only a starting place. Hawaii is quite frankly a wonderland for those interested in farmers’ markets, and there isn’t a roadside stand you can stumble into that won’t be worth stopping by and checking out.