Photo taken at the top of Waimea Canyon, overlooking Na Pali, Kauai
King and I Thai
When I was planning our trip to Kauai, I have to admit, I was nervous about what I'd eat there. I don't think the lack of vegan options should stop you from going somewhere you really want to go, but I'm always a little nervous when I'm going to a place (like an island) where I don't know what kind of options there are for vegans. I have been on trips where the only vegan options were potato chips, pretzels, peanuts, lettuce and tomato salads with oil and vinegar, a random fruit like a banana or apple, and Ritz crackers and peanut butter. When you eat like that for a while, you feel horrible no matter how fun your experiences are. I have to admit that over the years, the number of quality vegan options in remote places has risen dramatically. It's so much easier to be vegan now than it was, say, fifteen years ago. The fact that Happy Cow's Vegetarian Guide exists opens up a whole new world of vegan travel. There are definitely some places that are extrodinarily vegan friendly, where the food is as awesome as the scenery. One of those places is Kauai!
Before I set out there, I (of course) googled "vegan Kauai" (Sort of Obvious but Definitely Important Vegan Travel Tip: google the place you're traveling to with the word, "vegan" before you go. Print out or write down what you found, and bring it with you!). That led me to The Blossoming Lotus, which I've written about before. I knew then that at least there was a most likely delicious and wholesome vegan dinner option for us every night, even if it might be a little expensive. I also came across the Hindu Monastery in Kauai. I didn't have the opportunity to visit the monastery, but I heard it was beautiful. What is great about their website is that they have a list of vegetarian and vegan options for the Hindu pilgrims that make there way there. This list proved invaluable! The places we went to from the list were:
This is located at 4504 Kukui Street in Kapa'a, a city on the east coast of Kauai in the region known as the Coconut Coast. It's tucked away inside a little shopping area called The Dragon Building. There are a lot of raw options here, all of which are filling and satisfying. You can see their dinner menu here. My favorites included the Rockin' Moroccan Seared Tofu, the Thai Bowl, and the Monk Bowl. The summer rolls were an excellent appetizer and the desserts...oh the desserts! I still dream about them! My favorite was the raw coconut mango pie with macadamia nut crust and the raw fudge. Yum!!! Great place, highly recommended.
From the same people that brought you The Blossoming Lotus. Located across the street, actually. This is a little bakery/cafe that offers many raw and vegan breakfast and lunch options. My favorites were the live pizza (so filling!), the scones, cookies, and chai tea (spicy!). They also had toasted bagels made with sprouted wheat and vegan cream cheese. This is a great place to stop before heading out to the day's adventure, get your breakfast and some lunch to go, and you're all set!
Two locations: 4-831 Kuhio Highway, Kapa‘a in the Coconut Coast and 5-5161 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei (the beautiful, idyllic northern part of the island). This is a health food store with many organic and vegan options. We shopped here to stock our fridge (Vegan Travel Tip: try to stay in a room with a fridge and at least a microwave or toaster oven. That way you can buy food and prepare it at home. It's less expensive and gives you more options!). They had delicious homemade bread with sprouted grains. There is also an extensive natural "beauty aid" section with lots of shampoos and soaps and stuff like that in the Kapa'a store, in case you need some vegan soap-y products. The Kapa'a location is bigger, but they are both good resources for the traveling vegan with lots of mock meats and ready made options. There's also a cafe, though we didn't eat anything there. Both locations are clustered in a sort of nice mini mall.
King and I Thai
4-901 Kuhio Highway, Kapa'a, also located in a mini mall. This amazing Thai restaurant is not all vegetarian, so you can bring your omnivore friends there and they won't complain. The vegan options, however, are to die for! They were so rich and satisfying! The wait staff was very knowledgable about the many vegan options they had. My favorites were the pad thai, spring rolls, and the amazing coconut milk tapioca dessert. The service was impeccable!
Located in the Kapa'a shopping center, this is another Thai option. The food was good, the atmosphere was laid back. The stir fried eggplant with tofu and the satay tofu were very good!
Located in Hanalei, just before the shopping plaza with Papaya's and Java Kai, is a little seafood restaurant. It's usually crowded because apparently the seafood is very good. There are some vegan options there too. We had the thai summer rolls, the Francesca (a puttanesca with differing types of pasta and sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and Kalamata olives, sautéed in a sherry marinara sauce), the Shanghai (sautéed tofu and crisp vegetables with roasted cashews in a tamari ginger sauce, served over rice pilaf). They also had "Postcards’ Famous Chocolate Silk Pie" otherwise known as "The Vegan’s Delight" and coconut sorbet, but we realized halfway through our meal that they didn't take credit cards and we didn't have enough cash for dessert. Bummer! This place was a bit expensive for what we had (pasta and veggies), but I imagine that it would be great night out if you were traveling with fish eaters.
There are a bunch more veg-friendly options on Kauai listed on the Hindu Monastery website, but we didn't get to sample all of them. Also, if you love coffee as much as I do, you can't miss...
Above photo taken in Allerton Garden
If you're traveling to Kauai, I also recommend renting a car so that you can travel the island (there's poor to little public transportation). The Na Pali coast is unbeatable, the best way to see it is on a boat, where hopefully you'll also see some spinner dolphins, humpback whales, monk seals, sea turtles, and maybe even a whale shark. We went with the Holo Holo boat charter. The captain and crew were so nice and knowledgable, and the sights were unbeatable! Don't miss Hanalei Bay, Waimea Canyon (the Grand Canyon of the Pacific), Allerton Garden, and Poipu Beach (lots of sea turtles and monk seals). Staying in Kapa'a is a good idea, since you'll be centrally located (there is basically one major highway that goes three quarters of the way around the island) and most of the good food is there.
Vegan Travel Tip: check out happycow.net before you go to get a listing of vegan options and reviews. Also (very important) post your reviews to help out other traveling vegans! In my experiences there's a lot of vegan restaurants missing from Happy Cow. The more places that are listed, the more options we traveling vegans know about, the less stressful our trips will be. Happy traveling!