Grilled shrimp

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Dramatic black lava beaches, verdant golf courses and ocean-view hiking trails are just some of the sights to see while driving around the Island of Hawai’i.

According to the Hawai’i Tourism and Convention Bureau, the Island of Hawaii (also known as the Big Island) has the world’s tallest mountain, Maunakea. Its altitude is 13,796 when measured from its base on the seafloor.

Visitors can drive 266 miles of coastline to five National Parks, botanical gardens and an array of casual beach dining, fine dining and immersive luau shows.

Planning a last-minute trip to Hawaii?

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Top 10 Big Island Restaurants

Here are the best Big Island restaurants to experience food, drink and atmosphere while on vacation in Hawaii.

Best Celebrity Chef Restaurant

Juicy steak. Image from Canva

Acclaimed Chef, Tyler Florence, recently opened a second Miller & Lux restaurant in Kailua-Kona at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai. Overlooking the 18th green of the oceanfront Hualalai Golf Course, Miller & Lux received its name as an homage to two immigrants: Henry Miller and Charles Lux. Founders of a butcher shop in the 1850s, they grew the business into one of the largest cattle ranches in America, gaining the title “The Cattle Kings of California.”

Miller & Lux is a steakhouse with a Hawaiian ambiance. Chef Tyler and his team source the highest-quality steaks,, providing impeccable flavor, from the best ranches in America. They also offer a fresh raw bar, just-caught seafood, and farm-direct vegetables and fruit.

Start with a Mai Tai cocktail, Bigeye Tuna Tacos, Steakhouse Wedge Salad and Crispy Lobster Louie served in a Kona lobster shell. Select a Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with the smallest steak, a Wagyu Skirt “Steak Au Poivre” or live it up and order the 52 oz. Prime Sustainable Australian Wagyu.

Golfers can sit at the bar after 18 holes to enjoy an M&L Burger with a local Kona Beer. Save room for the seven-layer coconut and white chocolate cake.

The price point at Miller & Lux is high.

James Beard Award-Winning Chef

Pupu Platter
Pupu Platter. Image from Canva

Roy’s Waikoloa is located in the King’s Shops. This high-end restaurant is by notable James Beard award-winning chef Roy Yamaguchi. He is a founding father of Hawaiian fusion fare in a contemporary setting. With his success, he has opened Roy’s – Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine worldwide.

Some favorite menu items include a Pupu Platter featuring Szechuan-style Baby Back Ribs and Hawaiian Kai-style Crab Cakes. Fresh fish entrees include Roy’s Misoyaki Butterfish with sizzling soy, bok choy, and Forbidden rice.

There is also Hibachi Grilled Salmon and Macadamia Nut Crusted Hawaiian White Fish. Finish with Roy’s iconic Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle or Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

The price point at Roy’s Waikoloa is high.

Stellar Hawaiian Oceanview Breakfast

Also at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, the ‘Ulu Ocean Grill offers a lavish breakfast buffet featuring fresh juices, sliced tropical fruit, a made-to-order omelet bar, sushi, plus an array of Hawaiian indulgences. These sweet treats include hot Macadamia Nut Cinnamon Rolls and Malasadas sprinkled with sugar.

Sip local Kona Coffee while enjoying breakfast and brunch items on the scenic outdoor terrace overlooking the beach and ocean beyond. There are also gluten-free items at this buffet.

The price point of the buffet is high, yet visitors can also order from the a la carte menu for a more reasonable price.

Best Sushi On The Island

Sushi. Image from Canva

During sunset, at the Four Season Resort Hualalai ‘Ulu Ocean Grill, diners will hear a conch shell being blown and a fire lighter runs throughout the resort lighting the tiki torches.

In the evening, ‘Ulu Ocean Grill is transformed into an elegant sushi lounge and seafood dinner venue. Beautiful wood and glass doors and windows open to allow the ocean breeze inside.

Guests sip a cocktail or glass of wine while looking over an extensive list of freshly made-to-order Maki Sushi, Nigiri Sushi and Sashimi. Specialty items include a Toro Rice Bowl, Chef’s Assorted Nigiri, Hamachi Carpaccio and an assortment of Sashimi.

Read More: Experience the Flavors of Hawaii on a Food Tour in Honolulu

Dine With Your Toes In The Sand

Skillet of shrimp
Skillet of shrimp. Image from Canva

In Anaeho’omalu Bay near the Waikoloa Beach area, about 16 miles from the Kona International Airport, is the Lava Lava Beach Club. Kick off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes as you enjoy menu items at this casual and lively Hawaiian hot spot.

Known for their Pupus (appetizers), the Ahi poke is served with sweet potato chips, and the Black Lava Lava Salt Ceviche on a crispy tostada. Servers will pass by tables with a hot sizzling Skillet of Shrimp served with garlic bread.

Other popular items include Pineapple Fried Rice, Fish and Chips and a half rack of slowly cooked on low-heat baby back ribs with coconut slaw. The fresh off-the-boat Fish Sandwich, Straight Up Island beef burger and Smoked Kalua Pig sandwich are also popular items ordered.

The price point at Lava Lava Beach Club is medium.

Sunset Luau

Hawaiian dancers
Hawaiian dancers. Image from Canva

Nearby at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is a Sunset Luau on Monday and Wednesday evenings. On the morning of the luau around 10 am, guests can watch the pig being prepared for a traditional blessing behind the pool area. Resting on hot rocks, the pig is covered with wet banana leaves and water-soaked muslin to steam and bake all day.

As the sun sets into Anaeho’omalu Bay, guests sip tropical drinks from the full open bar, while listening to classic Polynesian live music. While feasting on fresh Kalua pig and other traditional Hawaiian fare, guests watch traditional dances of the South Pacific.

The three-hour dinner, drinks and show starts at $158.

Feast and Fire Luau

Tiki torches
Tiki torches. Image from Canva

Kona’s new Feast & Fire luau show at the recently renovated OUTRIGGER Kona Resort & Spa delivers an immersive storytelling evening on the grassy lawn. Guests dine at sunset and watch a spectacular live show under the stars.

The sit-down authentic Hawaiian dinner includes tropical drinks, beer, wine and sodas. Instead of the traditional luau buffet, guests receive a plate filled with slow-roasted Kalua pig, Hawaiian purple potatoes, fresh pineapple, papaya, huli-huli chicken and a basket of warm malasadas sprinkled with sugar.

After the show, guests can meet the performers and have their picture taken with them.

The price point of this Luau is high.

Kona Coffee Drive-Thru

Stop by HiCO Hawaiian Coffee for 100% Hawai’i-grown coffee and Hawaiian-flavored teas. Two locations support local coffee grown throughout the island.

The island-inspired interiors are a community place for locals to hang out, grab a drink after surfing or work on projects. It’s an easygoing place to get a 100% Big Island espresso, Ube Sweet Cream Cold

Brew, Wai Meli Honey + Bee Pollen Latte and Superfood Lattes. The cafe also makes a variety of breakfast treats such as a feta and spinach bagel, avocado toast and chia oat pudding.

During lunch, they make a variety of wraps and sandwiches, plus have vegan options. The South Kona location is an ideal spot to stop at on the way to the Captain James Cook Monument.

The price point at HiCo Hawaiian Coffee is reasonable.

Best Mai Tai Happy Hour

Mai Tai cocktail
Mai Tai cocktail. Image from Canva

The bartenders at Billfish Poolside Bar & Grille at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel make a refreshing Mai Tai and other tropical drinks. Guests staying at the hotel receive their first Mai Tai free after checking in.

This casual al fresco dining spot is open for lunch, happy hour and dinner. Select from an array of pupu appetizers including crispy calamari and wild ahi poke. Sit under a grass hut by the swimming pool and watch the sunset behind the resort.

The price point at Billfish is reasonable.

Read More: Where to Stay in Hawaii: Our Editors’ Top Picks

Seafood and Steak Buffet

Seafood buffet
Seafood buffet. Image from Canva

On Saturdays at Honu’s on the Beach at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel displays an abundant Prime Rib and Seafood presentation. The buffet includes salads, poke, tempura vegetables and shrimp, sliced-to-order Prime Rib, baked island fish and long crab legs.

Arrive early to watch the sunset torch lighting ceremony at 6:15 pm, at the resort and lawn area. The ceremonial blowing of the conch shell and the lighting of the torch signifies the end of another glorious day in Kona.

The price point at Honu’s is medium.

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Author Bio: As an award-winning travel journalist and influencer for over 20 years, Jill Weinlein has shared her culinary travel experiences about destinations all around the world. Some of her favorite spots include Hawai’i, Bora-Bora, Peru and Croatia. Over 300 articles have been featured in various websites, newspapers, and magazines.

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One Comment

  1. Jill, congrats on an excellent article. Your descriptions transport me back to the big Island and to the feeling of Aloha!