It was a dream come true visiting hawaii. We were in oahu for 7 days, staying in a house with friends on the north shore, and while that's certainly not long enough we saw a lot and we were able to eat some great vegan food! If you're planning on visiting the island of oahu we would definitely recommend staying on the north shore as opposed to waikiki or honolulu. It feels more authentic and there's so much nature to immerse yourself in. As far as where to eat as a vegan... well that's where we come in. We found some great local spots and here's the breakdown.
First stop from the honolulu airport was peace cafe. It's a small, cute, and quaint cafe with a simple menu of organic and local ingredients. We definitely noticed the island pace kick in as soon as we ordered, but it was relaxing and exciting to be able to eat healthy like this the moment we got to hawaii. The food is filling, as there's lots of quinoa, tempeh, and brown rice involved, so the one regret is we were too full to try dessert. All the desserts are homemade including the coconut ice cream!
The tex-mex wrap was a special that day, and not normally on the menu, but it was definitely the highlight. While the bbq tempeh plate was a little bland and mis-matched with the rice, cornbread, and so much tempeh. We would suggest trying something else on the menu. But we were impressed by their beverage selection and their soy matcha latte was heavenly.
verdict: good and healthy, but don't go out of your way to eat here
if you're staying in the north shore there is no shortage of great places to eat, and even though we had an amazing house to stay in with a huge kitchen with everything we needed, we had to check out what the locals do. coffee gallery is the best option to get coffee on the go before you explore the rest of haleiwa. It's not all vegan, but they have a few food options that are different depending on the day, and they offer almond and soy milk. The coconut chocolate cookies were incredible and they just happened to be available that day, but I'm sure you'll get some awesome treats no matter when you pop in.
verdict: a legit stop that won't disappoint
The beet box cafe was a gold mine find! Not to mention it's located at the back of an amazingly stocked health food store called celestial natural foods. Go there too and try not to buy everything! We ate at beet box for lunch and breakfast and we highly recommend it. The 3 little birds sandwich - multigrain toast, chipotle aioli, tempeh bacon, avocado, tomato, carrots, red onion, sunflower sprouts - was the best thing we ate. I would pass on that beirut burger and try something else because it was a bit flavourless and dry. But 4 out 5 ain't bad! That beautiful acai bowl (mayan bowl) you see is a hawaiin specialty. You'll see them on menus everywhere and this one was a bit of a spin on the traditional bowl. It's blended acai, banana, maca, almond butter, mint, and almond milk as the base and then topped with banana, hempseed granola, and raw cacao nibs. Talk about a superfood head rush! I'm basically now addicted to this for breakfast and I'm trying to recreate it as best I can at home. No luck yet. And you can't go wrong with avocado on toast any meal of the day. This one at beet box cafe was especially yummy as it was oozing with homemade garlic ailoi. Apart from our picks, you can walk into this place and order an array of cold press juices, smoothies , teas, and coffees.
verdict: it's a must eat on the north shore
If you eat one thing on the north shore it has to be THIS acai bowl from haleiwa bowls. It's an inconspicuous little hut just as you enter the town of haleiwa on the main road in. We had 3 of them on the trip. It's healthy! Acai is one of those magical super foods that will make you live to 100... or something. We had never heard of acai bowls prior to this trip and I wish I had of thought of eating these foods together like this on my own. It's so simple and outrageously delicious! It's blended acai, blueberries, strawberries, and apple juice, topped with hemp seed granola, banana, and coconut. Vegans can get a drizzle of agave instead of honey. We guarantee you too will become addicted to this north shore delicacy.
verdict: go now!
You'll notice a lot of thai food trucks in town and you'll have no idea which one to try! We didn't either. Apparently there's only 1 or 2 that will make vegan pad thai and this happened to be one of them. It was quick and dirty pad thai, so don't have high expectations. But if you're starved from a day on the beach then this will do. Plus it was one of the few trucks with nice shaded seating and cute wild chickens roaming around for crumbs.
verdict: go for the vibe and a cheap meal
We drove through waikiki on our way to the airport just to see what it was all about, and we specifically sought out the downbeat diner and lounge based on the menu. Now you have to be a mock meat loving vegan to like this place. We don't eat it often, but it was necessary for a long plane ride back to Toronto. This place was definitely cool and you can tell it gets packed on a friday or saturday night. It's a rock 'n' roll kind of vibe with a great menu with vegan versions of nearly everything. It was all delicious, but we were especially in love with the vegan ranch dip for the hot wings.
verdict: a definite hot spot and based on our research this kind of vegan food isn't available anywhere else on the island
That's all the vegan adventures from oahu, but we did one more big thing. We climbed the infamous haiku stairs or "stairway to heaven". It's a steep 3922 steps, we're not sure if it's legal or not, but it was a life changing climb. With one quick google search and a couple of yelp review skims we were ready to go with very little confusion. The best source on what to do and how to get there is on exploration hawaii. Check it out and decide for yourself if you're up for the challenge. I did have an emotional melt down at the half way point; not knowing if we should continue or walk back down. But because I never finish anything, I had one good cry about it and a guy walked down behind us (I think he was our guardian angel) and encouraged us to keep going. He was totally right and couldn't have showed up at a better time. It was a rewarding view and we felt a huge sense of accomplishment once we reached the very top. It's definitely the craziest thing we've ever done.
verdict: challenging, emotional, risky, and rewarding, but you've got to add it to your bucket list