Forget the grocery store. In the Hawaiian Islands, farmers markets boast a lot of variety — from fruits to fish — in gorgeous outdoor spaces. Arrive hungry, and check out nearby attractions while you’re at it.
It’s a tradition that began more than 25 years ago. Every Wednesday and Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., 200- plus vendors gather at the Hilo Farmers Market. Located in downtown Hilo on Hawai’i Island, overlooking a stunning bay, the market boasts everything from ready-to-eat plate lunches to produce and crafts. Try the myriad seasonal tropi- cal fruits, such as mangosteen, rambutan, cherimoya, dragon fruit, soursop, bread- fruit and durian. Peruse the flower vendors patiently nurturing everything from orchid flowers to anthurium plants. For gifts, check out the carefully crafted koa wood bowls, shell lei and lauhala weavings, or opt for jarred take-homes like local honey, macadamia nut butter and jams made of local fruits like poha berry and passion fruit. What’s more, you’ll be treated to live island-style music while you shop.
Nearby Attraction: About 45 minutes from downtown Hilo is Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, home to Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Dress appropriately, because its 333,086 acres contain seven ecological zones with features like lava tubes and native rainforests.
Insider Tip: The market is a regular haunt for locals, so take the time to mingle — and don’t forget to try the fresh-pressed coconut water.
Held every Saturday, from 7:30 to 11 a.m. on Kapi’olani Community College’s campus, the bustling KCC Farmers Market brings together dozens of vendors to offer a variety of island-produced goods. Sure, you will find what you’d expect in Hawai’i — from papayas to pineapples — but stray from the norm and try things like sea asparagus, a distant relative of beets and spinach raised hydroponically on O’ahu’s North Shore, or taste poi, a staple of the traditional Hawaiian diet made from pounded taro root. For those with big appetites, food booths feature everything from local beef burgers to fish sausages made with opah, or Hawaiian moonfish. Take-home goods include Hawai’i Island-grown coffee, Hawaiian sea salt for cooking, and chocolate made from locally sourced cacao. hfbf.org/markets/markets/kcc
Nearby Attraction: Across the street from KCC is the [Diamond Head State Monument](http://www.dlnr.hawaii.gov/ dsp/parks/oahu/diamond-head-state-monument), home to a volcanic crater formed some 300,000 years ago. A 0.8-mile hike to the sum- mit climbs 560 feet — imagine stairs, and lots of them — and offers stunning views of Waikīkī’s coastline.
Insider Tip Seek out the food stand of the Pig and the Lady — a popular restaurant located in O‘ahu’s Chinatown. Chef Andrew and his mom, affectionately known as “Mama Le,” create a new menu each Saturday and target the theme of “Asian street food” with an emphasis on Vietnamese cuisine.
Located in Po’ipū at the Shops at Kukui’ula, the Kaua’i Culinary Market features products that are grown or made only on Kaua’i. Held every Wednesday night from 3:30 to 6 p.m., the farm-to-table experience offers fresh seasonal produce, vibrant tropical flowers, freshly baked breads and pies, and a delicious sampling of artisanal foods. Pick up a culinary trick or two at 5 p.m., when south shore chefs offer demonstrations using local ingredients — and offer samplings and recipes to take home.
Nearby Attraction: Walk to crescent-shaped Po’ipū Beach and be on the lookout for honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) and endangered Hawaiian monk seals often seen bathing on the shoreline. From December through May, keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales. Every year, more than 10,000 of these giant mammals travel from Alaska to Hawai’i to mate, give birth and nurse their young.
Insider Tip: The Kaua‘i Culinary Market is intentionally timed to serve as a pau hana (finished work) event. So act like a local and enjoy the live Hawaiian music, visit the beer garden and take advantage of the friendly atmosphere.
Maui’s Upcountry Farmers Market features more than 40 local farmers who ofer such treats as coconuts, Maui-grown cofee and macadamia nuts. Empty stomachs are welcome here; freshly pre- pared food such as sushi, Thai and Indian cuisine are on hand. The market is open every Saturday from 7 to 11 a.m., and located at Kula Malu Town Center in Pukalani.
Nearby Attraction: To see — and partake in — upcountry agriculture, go to the 42-acre Surfing Goat Dairy, where you can feed and hand-milk island goats. surfinggoatdairy.com If that isn’t enough, travel to the 13.5-acre Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm and wander among 55,000 lavender plants used for oils, teas, soaps and more.
Insider Tip: If fresh fish is what you crave, you’re in luck; local fishers offer their catch here.